Pandemic Year 2, Day 6*

(also known as St Patrick’s Day, 2021)

One year and six days after the proclamation of the COVID-19 global pandemic, I was immunized against the disease. Most days in that time period felt like an eternity. It is an incredibly short time to develop test and roll out a vaccine against a novel disease though!

But Kate! You’re not THAT old! It’s true. I wouldn’t otherwise qualify, but I have accepted a position as a part time admin clerk at the vaccine clinics and immunization is required prior to starting. I’m guessing that’s so people don’t go catching COVID AT the clinic!

But Kate! Didn’t you just quit a perfectly good job because you’re crazy busy with the end of grad school and everything? True, true. I did. There’s a few reasons I applied to the vaccine clinic job. One is I need to practice leaving the house for longer periods on a regular basis and this seems like the safest way to do that. I also need to get used to being in a room where there are bunches of people all talking or moving around and just doing the things people do. It’s been over a year and being near groups of humans is dizzying. I want to reacclimatize to in-the-flesh humanity before sitting with it in the therapy room.

Valentine also needs some practice. He has no idea that humans normally spend long periods of the day away from the house. He’s never had to try to not pee or to stay entertained for five or six hours on a regular basis. I’m going to be concerned at first and I don’t want to start sitting with clients post-internship, wondering how my dog is doing. I want a more sure footing than that.

And up to now, my experience of the pandemic has been hiding from the pandemic. It’s been the right thing to do because outside of dog walks and groceries, I don’t have a lot of reasons to leave the house. I don’t know what it’s like to wear a mask for more than half an hour or so. I want a more active role in the story. I want to be a part of getting vaccines into willing arms. I want to be sitting up close to watch the coming dawn.

*a friend posted about Year Two of the Pandemic and is sank in hard and real. She goes by the day we were told to go home alone and stay there; I’m going by two days prior when they deemed COVID-19 a pandemic. I found an ugly online clock to count by. Do you know a better clock?

New Year Resolutions, 2021

“Bottle of Stories” by Tammy Routley (2018)

The mornings are brighter; the days, longer. Hope steals into my life.

My last entry was dark. I think it is important to note the dark and I think it is worthwhile to sit in the dark when you know you have the strength to stand and turn to the light. Leave some breadcrumbs, both ways.

I do have some resolutions for the new year. Let me speak your name. I have intentions for 2021. Anyone with a past in sales is accustomed to goal setting. Several of my notable goals will be achieved in 2021 because of work I did last year. I have additional goals for this year. I have stretch goals, too. Stretch goals are there for additional challenge and additional reward. You won’t get fired if you don’t hit your stretch goals, but you’ll be rewarded if you do. I have Pandemic stretch goals. I have Holiday stretch goals. With my CRB days gone, rewards might be harder to generate; though actually, the attainment of these goals manifests its own reward.

Resolutions are not stretch goals – they’re straight up targets. Not that I can get fired from the job of living my best life if I don’t hit my targets. It’s important always to recognise that these targets are flexible, editable, subject to change. I do not know where I will be working or living at the end of 2021; this makes visualising harder. I will trust that my family, social, spiritual, financial, and artistic lives will take care of themselves without goals or resolutions.

Resolutions, 2021

  • Lose net 10 pounds, which brings me to a healthy maintenance weight. In 2020 I gained 10 pounds, and I lost 15.
  • Develop a plan by which to gain the strength needed to prevent injury. I’ve noticed that it’s easier to hurt myself now, and harder to heal. Again, and always, I am so glad I reveled in my youth when I had it.
  • Open my psychotherapy practice and have one – or more! – client. It sounds like a small goal but there are ten times a kabillion things to learn before opening such a business.
  • Related; drop the “Qualifying” from the ‘Registered Psychotherapist’ designation I have just applied for.
  • Have Valentine certified as a therapy dog. We both need training.
  • Develop an Obsidian practice that incorporates books read, lectures intended, process journal, research notes, and more.

Things I Said in the Spring

I recently finished a journal notebook – now labelled May 30, 2020 – Nov 24, 2020

May 30 “…I might forget how to have real live conversations with people…
It’s cold out. Our weather is all over the map. May held the coldest May day on record and the 5th hottest May day on record. last night was 2 degrees….
Maybe I can get through it better if I frame it as ending in January. I can always reframe in November.
My dog is bored. I should mow the lawn. Get beer. Do all the things. Pass school. Do my job. Lose weight. Be an ally. Stand up. Save the world.”

June 1st “Yesterday I called Valentine Domino and the kids laughed because “that was so many dogs ago” – we are telling time by dogs.

June 5th “It’s going to be another hot day. I’m figuring on buying asparagus. I’m figuring on gassing up the van. I might be OK living like this forever.”

June 7th “The dog is chasing a bumble bee. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to teach him to catch flies but not bumble bees… I like this quiet life. I want to write letters and learn things…. I haven’t peed anywhere but home for over three months. Weird.”

***

Basically I have liked many features of this slow, quiet life. I liked it more when I had a small bubble of people I could hug. If I could hug, hold hands, and dance to live music – and see clients in person. Oh, no, wait – also dine with others. Maybe thinking I’m fine with all that’s gone is simply because it’s been gone so long.

The new journal notebook starts “This winter will be soups and soft blankets – if this were my house I’d hang heavy curtains on all the windows and reflect within that crushed velvet hush.”

the penultimate* day of July

I must have blinked once or twice; July is almost over. Classes are over I haven’t written anything remotely academic for two weeks. I’ve been learning new skills and engaging in almost daily new challenges. I volunteer for the Crisis Text Line once a week. I have psychotherapy clients over phone or video through my internship. I’ve been practicing juggling for the theology class that ended <time has lost meaning> months or weeks or ten years ago. I get afraid the new skills won’t stick – I’ll forget to write a paper when I try to write the juggling / spirit / community paper.

My puppy Valentine has been learning new tricks as well. Some of them are not entirely welcome; he has recently learned the trick of barking incredibly loudly without stopping at anyone who stops by to visit in the backyard. But he has also learned to jump through a hoop!

Look at that focus!
Look at that focus!

Which is to say I taught him to jump through a hoop, meaning I learned how to teach my dog to jump through a hoop. When the hoop and the kibble come out, he concentrates his energy on waiting for the command and then jumping through the hoop, and then getting his reward of kibble and praise. Nothing else matters. He’s a dog of course – what else could matter? I find I learn best of perform best when I can get into that single minded focus. When everything else drops away and nothing else matters and the essence of my mind and being is aligned with my purpose. Since COVID, and the requirement to learn and achieve all things in the same space, I’ve found it incredibly difficult to get that keen focus. That Mind of Dog. In the juggling, in my classes, in my job, internship, and volunteering; it is so hard to prevent the stressful elements of one from distracting me while I try to engage in another. I need a hoop and some kibble I guess.

What I need is community, and not online. I need a variety of spaces to live my life in again. We all need these things, to differing degrees. I find that this is another area where spirit and community are entangled. As community recedes, it is easy for spirits to fade. In our course we learned that for many cultures, community was needed to fully engage with the Divine, as each community perceived the Divine to be. Maybe this is true for reaching transcendent states in learning or arts or psychotherapy. Maybe we can’t always do our best work alone. We need someone to hold the hoop for us, so we can focus on the jumping.

*I wrote this last night but was so tired I forgot to hit publish twice!

Pandemic Puppy

I am adorable. Love me.

I wonder sometimes if Valentine thinks he’s a ghost puppy. It’s like maybe people see him, but he’s obviously adorable and yet nobody pets him. Squirrels see him though, and they’re scared of him and this pleases him 🙂

On our walk today we passed a house with loads of decorations and statues in the front yard. One statue near the middle of them all was a really realistic one of a duck. There was a real squirrel, sitting on the fence, and as Valentine stepped toward it, the duck statue quacked and flew away. Startled us both!

On CBC they talked today about profs who used to bring their dogs to school so students could get dog therapy back in the Beforetimes when people were near to each other. Then we all went to our houses and didn’t come out again and the students missed their dog friends. So the profs set up dog office hours online so the students could watch their friends sleep or dig holes or do whatever the dogs chose to do on camera.

It got me thinking, maybe that’s how I can help. I can’t nurse or doctor, and I’m only very recently recovered from COVID symptoms myself. I haven’t quite been granted the right to practice psychotherapy. BUT! I do have an adorable puppy.

Thinking I’ll try to do a daily live stream of him being a puppy. It’s hard because he’s not too fond of my being on my phone and I don’t think I’ll get him to understand that he is the focus of the screen time! But my friends who don’t have puppies can get puppy time, right? And once I’m certain it’s OK within guidelines, I’ll start offering puppy play time to friends where they can play with Valentine in the backyard. I’ll be present, a safe 2-3 meters away until I get confirmation that I’m immune and not contagious. So no children until then, because I wouldn’t want to have to intervene – Valentine doesn’t know any children yet.

What do you think? Would you enjoy a puppy live stream? He IS adorable 🙂