Well, masks are back! The un-muzzling lasted about a month and a half. My office and my yoga studio re-initiated mandates. And at the CDC recommendation, I’m voluntarily wearing one indoors.
It makes me cranky! I’ve been living a limited life for 16 months. I’ve sheltered-in-place, worked from home, and gone without seeing friends and family. I did it to keep myself and others safe. Last March, I got vaccinated. I was fully vaccinated on April 24th. Since then, I’ve been spending time with as many people as I could. In June, I begin doing it without a mask. I started saying things like ‘during the pandemic’ as if this nightmare was over. The hardships of isolation were blurring into an endurance memory. Something from the past that I weathered or even conquered.
Well, masks are back! The Delta variant is extremely contagious. Only half the country is vaccinated. COVID continues to survive and mutate and kill. It’s only August and here we go again. To all those folks who believe wearing a mask or getting vaccinated infringes on their rights. I say Go F#ck Yourself! Your inaction to end this pandemic is infringing on my right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You do NOT have the right to drink and drive because you could kill someone. Your judgment is impaired by alcohol. And you also do NOT have the right to not get vaccinated because you could kill someone. Your judgment is seriously impaired by Trump, Republicans and Fox News. Get vaccinated!
Honestly, it feels good to write it out loud.
And despite this never-ending pandemic, I continue to find gratitude in the slivers of my life. It’s Sunday afternoon. I’m still in my pajamas. My windows are open. It’s 72 with a light breeze. And I’m writing! What could be better?
July came in quietly. After a very active June, I spent the first part of the month chilling by choice and necessity. I had Ellen over for “Cruella” and dinner. And then, I went to her casual 4th of July BBQ with her crew. Bill and I had a couple lunches and a couple walks. Fun, laidback times! Then, the second weekend, I had all my wisdom teeth out. James volunteered to be my driver so I chose to be put under. The whole process was awkward and gross! Since I was very compliant with all the instructions, the only painful ramification was the $1,700 after insurance.
After some recovery time, I cranked it up! I went to “Black Widow” at a movie theatre with James and Ellen. I LOVED it! (Sidenote to Scar-Jo: I’d be more inclined to support your lawsuit to Disney if you were giving a significant amount to charity.) And I went over to Bilger’s for dinner.
Then, I drove to Nashville to hangout with Jen on Thursday. On the way down, I stopped in Indianapolis to visit my friend Jim in from London. It was a perfect break from my solo road trip. When I got to Nashville, I was greeted by Jen, a cheese board, good wine and an incredible view. Her dad’s plush house is on the Cumberland River. Our gal-time included renting a pontoon and cruising down that river. This is a picture of us at the end of the adventure. Our smiles are a direct result of the ride being over. The massive river was incredibly treacherous littered with sunken trees and all kinds of debris. Our orientation from the marina flunky was stay between the red and green buoys. The buoys weren’t always visible. Some were on the riverbanks. And the stripped-down pontoon rental had a temperamental motor. It sputtered and idled and basically terrorized us. We laughed a lot! And celebrated a victorious finish over wine!
On Saturday, I drove from Nashville to Diamond Lake for my mom’s birthday. The majority of the family (sans two nephews, a niece, and a brother-in-law) was present. We were all together for the first time since the parents’ anniversary in October 2019. It was wonderful! On Sunday, I drove back to Chicago with Abby. We giggled through major traffic to get her to Ohare en route to LA.
The next week got a little dicey with activity. I had dinner with Collin at Patrick and Duraj’s on Monday. I had dinner at Bilger’s on Tuesday. I had dinner with Josh on Thursday. Friday at noon, I drove to Diamond Lake hung out with Jenny and attended her regatta in the morning. On Saturday afternoon, I went to Grace’s musical “Grease” with the entire Eitler clan. I then drove back to Chicago for Michael and Joe’s party at Route 66 in Wrigleyville. On Sunday evening, Mike and Steven (my favorite Wood regulars) hosted Collin and me for a lovely Mexican feast. I even got homemade cookies to take home. Monday morning I picked up my parents from Amtrak and drove them to South Bend and got back to Chicago five minutes before my noon meeting.
After that, I did a lot of nothing last week. On Friday, I joined Ellen’s gaggle to pack-up and move her kitchen. And last night, I went to two BBQs. First, Jen B-B and her husband had Maureen, Joe and me over for a smoker influenced spread of salmon, brats, and pork chops. I tasted everything! Then, I went to Bilger’s for their large gathering of friends to wine and mingle.
I probably did the same amount of socializing as June but it was squashed into half the days. When I wasn’t playing with people or driving, I was recovering and doing some other stuff too.
- Work! I continued to work one day a week at the office. This month, we even had a leadership retreat, nine of us in the conference room and four connecting virtually. It worked out. I enjoyed seeing people in-person for the entire day. With the return of the mask mandate, I’m reconsidering my weekly commitment to the office. This month, I also ended up taking 2 1/2 vacation days (Nashville, parents) plus a 1/2 sick day (wisdom teeth).
- Working Out! In the beginning of the month, I got a yoga class in. Between the wisdom teeth and the traveling, I missed about four workouts with Josh. This past Wednesday, my knee felt that inconsistency after a particularly strenuous session. I’ve also dipped again into more days of not hitting 10K then days I do. I realized yesterday I hit 9,975. I missed it by 25 steps?! I need to focus this month on getting my steps.
- And I hit level 5381 on Candy Crush.
I’m continuing to adhere to my new practice adoption based on James Cleary’s Atomic Habits. My morning ritual is to first read for 30 minutes to an hour. I also used all my driving to listen to my books too. In July, I read 5 1/2 books.
- I finished The Corrections by Jonathan Frazen. Epic! Frazen’s storytelling is so layered, it’s hard to leave the story behind. The characters become real and their lives authentically messy. It’s a good, long read that forces self reflection on choices.
- I picked up Jack Kennedy Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews off the pile again. Maureen loaned it to me …6 years ago. I had previously read 25% of it. It’s a detailed account of the short life of JFK. My big takeaway was how Kennedy’s life was riddled with illness and pain. It’s amazing he overcame these chronic issues to become a war hero and the president. He used long stretches of being bed-ridden, as a kid and adult, to read and learn. Matthews does a nice job of chronicling the politics of the era. Kennedy’s success was a combination of ambition, charisma and family influence.
- I listened to Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It was my third Reid book this summer and my favorite. It’s the story of the children of a musical legend. Reid goes back and forth in time between the boy meets girl story in the 50s and their adult children figuring out their own lives in the 80s. It’s captivating!! There are several chapters describing this huge party attended by the rich and famous. I was driving and listening to it. I kept gasping because these guests were horrible people. I loved the ending, the siblings’ closeness and an underlying theme of choosing to love.
- The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. This book was fine. I didn’t hate it and I didn’t love it. It’s the story of a woman’s husband that goes missing. There is plenty of intrigue as Dave pulls you through the mystery. My issue was some of the storytelling. Parts didn’t seem to fit together. I questioned plausibility on a few plot points. Loose ends didn’t get tied up. The mystery’s conclusion seemed rushed and forced.
- Maureen had also loaned me Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill. It’s the Jackie O story during JFK’s administration from the perspective of her secret service person. I found it fascinating and a perfect pairing with Matthews’ book. Hill gives the inside scoop on the private First Lady. He talks about her in a very loving and respectful way. She did not like the structure of her First Lady role. She challenged the secret service protocols. I also was blown away by the secret service per diem in the 1960s was $12 when traveling. That amount covered meals, dry cleaning and hotel accommodations. And Jackie was always traveling. She was rarely at the White House especially on the weekends.
- Michelle sent me The Everyday Philanthropist by Dan Pallotta. It’s a powerhouse read about fundraising. It’s written deliberately to be easily and quickly digested. This quote says it all “To put it in perspective, all the money that Americans give to all health and human services charities in an entire year is about equivalent to Apples’ sales in just three months.”
When I’ve been home, I’ve continued my smoothie habit with spinach, fruit, protein powder, cottage cheese/greek yogurt, milk. I’m calculating 50+ grams of protein in each drink. I’m enjoying the ease of it as a nutritional morning option. And it’s tasty. I look forward to it. My third habit of ending the day with a cup of decaf coffee has gone unsipped. Part of it is all the socializing and coming home and crashing into bed. The other part is already being home, super chilled and forgetting. Maybe it’s not a necessary habit. Maybe it’s become an option to enjoy as needed!
July was calm and chaos swirled together. I had quality time with my favorite people! Plenty of laughs and hugs. I also am proud of myself managing all the activity with a sense of humor and a focus on staying balanced. I shifted a few things to ensure I was taking care of myself and not over extending. And I’m proud that although I hate going to the dentist and the cavity that was the impetus to my oral extractions, I got it done before it got worse.
So, August is here! The pandemic is not in the past. It’s all around us. Stay safe, mask up and get your f#cking vaccination. And when you need to, stay in your pajamas all day. Sometimes, that just how you need to take care of yourself.