2020, Year of the Unknown

Well, it happened. I knew my career was about to tank; so many of us working in the hospitality industry have been sidelined. Who knows how long this will really last. It happened the day before my son’s 10th birthday. It was almost bittersweet. I say that with trepidation … it was a toxic workplace. I hate writing those words, but sadly, they are true. I was not the only one who felt this way, which is a shame. I knew Ben and his little brain full of fear-gears would worry his heart out, so we kept it from the kids for as long as we could. I needed to grieve a little bit, kind of like a break up. Sudden. Unexpected, yet expected. I knew it was likely. We prepared. I have never been fired before. It was nice to decompress for a while. Sam and I have been able to focus on mental and physical health. We’ve generated structured days; the kids love Thursdays the most, which is their cooking day. Even my niece got in on the action. Pick a recipe; find the ingredients; learn from Chef Sam. It was wonderful. But all good things must come to an end. The decompression slowly turns into worry, anxiety and fears of the unknown. Will there be any summer camps? Can I even try to hold down a job? Will schools actually open in the fall? What is going on here? It’s June 21, 2020 … and there are no answers. Assumptions. Presumptions, maybe safer to say. Sure, schools are already a cesspool of germs, kids do not fully understand social distancing, what are we expecting here? And how crazy am I for hoping my career in schools begins this year?

We have had many joys over these months in our little quarantine bubble, but lows linger for us. Unfortunately, our area now seems to be on the uptick for positive cases again. Our governor states that this is a good sign; there are more tests being administered, therefore, there are more positive results amongst the community of twenty and thirty-year-old adults who have returned to the workplace; but most of these individuals are asymptomatic. So … pray tell, why are 4,000 positive cases turning up after the phased reopening in our area? Our governor is trying to tell us that four thousand people without symptoms decided to get tested? Are these mandates for returning to certain jobs? Obviously not, as airport employees are still contracting the virus. This is a nightmare. The entire world was more prepared than we were. The incessant need for bickering and pointing fingers in this country today is despicable. It is embarrassing. We are the laughing stock of the world. Awesome. So how do we move forward? What does a banquet chef do when large gatherings are not allowed? This is a new world … or is it new at all? Maybe we cannot adapt as a society. Clearly, our “leader” is not adapting.

In other news (spoken as Isabelle), Animal Crossing New Horizons has taken over the Calabro household! Our island gained its 5-star rating after some sleepless nights and a lot of TLC. Little pieces of all of us are nestled somewhere on the island. It’s silly, really, to enjoy virtual gardening so thoroughly … but it has helped me through this pandemic. Mental health is so important. I set a goal to swim 4 days a week. Hello summer storms! Hello pollen! Hello green pool! Okay, so let’s set up some fans and get on the machine in the garage. Wait, your garage floor is flooded too?! Let’s try not to panic. Don’t panic. Do not panic. Breathe. Water your flowers. The cycle of stress and decompression comes and goes in waves. It always will. This is a storm we are weathering together as a family. The kids are equipped with amazing masks, (we are too, mine have paw prints, be jealous) we have hand sanitizer, antibacterial soaps, Lysol, bleach, wipes … we’re good. We are working through this. It’s been a weird few months.

It sucks when your creative energy isn’t drawing any motivation or inspiration. I have wanted to write. I have wanted to paint. I have wanted to use my camera. But snapping myself back to reality is hard when I do not know what the future of my reality is holding. What we do know, is our present reality, the reality of now. One day at a time. One storm at a time. One headache at a time. One hug at a time.

A lot of this post does not make sense and jumps from here to there, which is how my brain is currently processing the world.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads. It is odd not being able to see my parents freely … but this is the reality of now. Chaotic and calm, all at the same time.

Maintain virus awareness & please adhere to social distancing with masks during senior shopping hours!

Somewhere Amidst the Chaos

So I fell off the wagon. In recent weeks, my intention as mentioned previously, was to blog once a week. But then life happened. My little man, who has what I like to refer to as Peter Pan syndrome, does not want to grow up. He is fully unprepared to accept that he will be ten next month. Anyway, there was a surprise “F” on a report card. A “surprise” F? Yes. None of us knew … there was no warning. Evenings became a lot more intense with supervision over homework and then, it got better! Enter in from stage right in Alex’s Comedy of Realities … some misinformation from the dude, i.e. lies … big, fat, intentional lies. Sigh. So, a lot changed in a short period of time. Benjamin is a curiosity. His heart is delicate; he’s stuck in that awkward transitional period between momma’s boy and ten-year-old dude that is halfway to twenty. (Do yourselves a favor and casually drop into a conversation with your child that they are halfway to their doubled age, shock.) This made Ben stop in his tracks. Tears in his eyes … immediate realization that his upcoming birthday is half of twenty. Little man was shook. Haha, it was cute in a sad way, since it signified that moment of temporary acknowledgement that he has to grow up. Valid excuse, I know, but what about the evenings after the kids are in bed? Hello, Chiari Malformation migraines.

I am not entirely sure if my headaches are back for good again or not, but I do know that being under fluorescent lights and in front of monitors 40 hours a week is adding to the weight. Valid excuse number two: I do not want to look at my laptop after my work day. I hate even having to type those sentences and question my level of pain and discomfort in comparison to life before the decompression surgery. If I decide I want to sing my heart out on the karaoke machine with the kids and my niece, but then I pay for it with a migraine on top of the regular pressure headache x1000 for the next week … I guess it is safe to say yes, at this point, that a lot of my symptoms are slowly reappearing in clusters again.

The most important valid excuse is the eventual acknowledgement that my depression has been dragging me through the ringer since August of last year. I increased my visits with the psychiatrist and we worked through a series of dosage modifications, which I think we have just successfully found this month. I am so fortunate to have such a supportive and loving husband by my side through this. He has been holding my hand and supporting my every season. In holding myself accountable, I needed to retrace why August was significant to me. Other than for a couple of obvious reasons, it was actually a follow up psychiatrist appointment where I was prepared to meet my new year, with infertility on the doorstep again … and this is where I found myself battling a deeper depression than I was expecting. I knew it was at its heaviest when I did not want to write. A writer not wanting to write? Done. Fix it now.

In the grand scheme of things, I needed to focus and find my footing. I kept my bubble small and had to shut out the world for a bit. This included some of those closest to me. I did what I needed to get through the hours, the days, the weeks … just until I felt like me again. So here I am. Working in hospitality and tourism, when we have a global coronavirus pandemic … I hate germs and I have anxiety … my down swing of depression has flipped into the anxiety up. Present day, Monday the 16th of March, 2020, is technically my Sunday. Tomorrow, I head into work with a lot of uncertainty. I like the idea of maintaining routine, but there are a lot of question marks at the head of this virus. How much longer will I have a job for? Will I have a job to go back to if we are put onto some kind of lock down? Central Florida is going to dry up. 2020 is a wash.

This is chaos, it really is like nothing any of us have been through before. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing Italians to choose whose life is more important? This is a serious threat. Anxiety is at a peak in the world. Wash your hands. Please … please, please, please.

Sammy and I have been putting together our business plan and new business models for two years, but never with more than a few hours at a time to dedicate to polish it off. This is kind of like, the breath of new life for entrepreneurs in this country. I ate Mesquite smoked ribs with Chef Sam housemade rub and Kansas City style housemade barbecue sauce last night … and it was the best barbecue I have ever had in my life. I am not just saying that because he is my husband, but because they were the best ribs I have ever had in my life. Period. He’s nailed it … and since the coronavirus shut down our town for two weeks … we get to make our future from ground zero. We aren’t 100% ready to unveil, but I imagine that will change soon.

I guess I could enter another valid excuse. Vote. In January 2019, I became a Naturalized Citizen of the United States of America. This is the first Presidential election that I have ever participated in. I’m nerding out over it big time. I am following campaigns, I am educating myself and find myself to be a political nerd at the moment. Sammy also introduced me to The Wire on HBO. Oh! Also, we watched the Trump docuseries on Netflix and the McMillions docuseries on HBO. Both pretty great, I do recommend. Back to the valid excuse … I am proud to be able to contribute my vote and voice to this country. Voting is not to be taken lightly, especially in this era and now with the impending financial crisis of our country … so I have been digging into that world in my spare time.

Kona, not Corona

Kona takes up a lot of time, but she is doing so well and she is still the perfect addition to our family. She fills that little void from the miscarriage too, so she’s a spoiled little puppy. We have been working on socializing Kona – she is still afraid but protective. We have had one successful and one unsuccessful trip to the dog park. Training a puppy requires dedication, which we have, but we are not sure what tools we need to teach her that other people are not a threat. She’s got a big bark for such a clumsy, lumpy pup. She’ll keep those coronavirus germs away, for sure.

Closing thoughts, I am always going to try to write … whether it’s once a day, once a week or once a month – I am not going anywhere. We are also not going to the James Arthur concert they just refunded our tickets for … in MAY. Waaaah. Anyway, I might have to blog once a day as we go through this pandemic together. Maybe I will do some sneak peak photos of some of our meats. Mmmm.