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Pandemic Pod Panic: Is Your Social Life Causing Angst?

Have you spent more time worrying about your–and your child’s–social life since the pandemic hit? If so, you could be suffering from Pandemic Pod Panic, aka “P3” (I just made this up). I read this interesting piece in the Boston Globe that detailed how many of us have been gripping about how we and our families are left out of social activities during this time of social distancing and isolation. Is this you? I have been guilty of it, I must admit.

First off, let me define a Pandemic Pod, for those of you not in-the-know. It’s essentially a small cohort of families who have stayed together and played together throughout the pandemic. The Pod subscribes to the same level of concern about COVID and, for the most part, interacts socially with an equal level of discretion and safety. Some pods may have more stringent policies when it comes to traveling by airplane, riding the school bus, or dining indoors. Others may be a little less rigid and feel those activities are okay. Typically, what one pod member believes, so does the other. This is why there is not much cross-pollination of pods! And there can be apparent judgment of pods that do not think–and most importantly ACT-alike. This is sounding like a cult..

Let me be clear: I am not judging anyone here. And no one’s beliefs are wrong. Unless they are not mine. Wait, joking! No, I mean, be safe, people. Obviously.

Anyway, back to the topic at-hand: Pandemic Pod Panic. I have noticed that I don’t see or talk to some of the friends that I used to since last March, the onset of COVID. This has caused me to wonder if it’s because of something I’ve done, or how I choose to live during Covid, or if it’s just something about them wanting to isolate. Some of it, too, is because we don’t run into each other at soccer, for example, or during school activities.

I don’t really know. I think we can only assume that it’s that, but who knows!? This reminds me of my recent blog post, Too Many Friends = Too Much Drama, and the feeling of being back in high school. And then, when you find out that friend you don’t see or talk to is actually hanging in her own pod? Then you panic: is it me? Why am I not in that pod? Are we no longer friends?

COVID is killing more than our spirits–it’s killing friendships! (insert scary music)…

Um, that’s a little drastic.

Now, aside from myself, I sometimes wonder about my kids. My son, for example, isn’t as social as my daughter. He basically has lived like a sand mole in the basement and on video games for a year now. Well, that’s not entirely in isolation, though, because he’s on a headset laughing his head off with friends. I’ve wondered if he should go outside and play with our neighbors, but he really has no interest, and I get concerned. Like, is he antisocial? Is he going to have friends when this is all over? We can’t really invite people over who he hasn’t seen or been “podding” with, and hence the P3 begins (Pandemic Pod Panic)

I have been fortunate to have a nice group of friends in my neighborhood, and we have been kind of like our own Pandemic Pod. Our children are the same ages and have played since the pandemic hit. Similarly, we adults have met around the firepit and had some wine and been able to socialize while social distancing. But I have heard others lament that they don’t have those opportunities and feel left out. This sense of isolation is magnified when they see it posted on social media–revelry around a firepit with friends. In the Boston Globe piece, they recommended not posting those types of photos to social media so others don’t feel left out.

Wait. But I only post so others feel less-than, right???? (Insert Mean Girls voice). Just joking.

Anyway, what are your thoughts and experiences with this? Have you felt left out, or judged, or worried about social nonsense during the pandemic? Maybe we are just bored! Perhaps this is self-manufactured stress.

🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🥴🥴

#relationships, Self-Help, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Too Many Friends = Too Much Drama

Have you ever noticed that the smaller your world becomes, the easier it is to manage emotionally? I feel that way these days, as I go to work and home, home and work, with very little in between. I see my children, my boyfriend, maybe a couple of friends here or there, and that’s it. I keep it tight. I have, as my sister used to say, “Circled the wagons.”

She told me that circling the wagons was the the best methodology to avoid drama. The more people you interact with, and have in your direct sphere, the more chances there are for drama. While I thought that seemed sort of grim and isolating at the time, I now realize she had a point. It’s a self-preservation thing.

I think back, for example, to when I was the most social I’ve ever been as a parent (we can’t go all the way back…even though, obvi, I wish I could and stay there #ihearthighschool). So it was when I had my first child, and he was 2. I was so busy out and about with girlfriends, meeting at the playground with moms, going to “Mommy and Me” at the library, and chatting for hours on the phone. I remember I even had to get a new data plan on my cell phone, because I was on it too much. Now, I sort of hate talking on the phone, unless it’s Facetime over wine. 🙂

Anyway, at that time, there were all these fights and paranoia and, “Don’t say anything but…,” or, “No offense, but…,” and “Oh, you weren’t invited?” etc.

It drove me INSANE.

Like, I was 40-years-old and legit cried to my partner about a girl fight! I was 40–and in eighth grade! I was so crazed, in fact, about this one fight, that I literally lost my geographical bearings and drove straight over the Bourne Bridge off of Cape Cod, where I live, headed towards Boston. I was, in short, deranged.

Um…now, circling back to my point of circling the wagons (double circle here), I never feel that anxiety anymore with my friends. I never feel that, “Oh my God, is she mad at me,” or that “Wait, what did I not get invited to” feeling. Ya’ know why? ‘Cause I do nothing! Yeah, that’s right. Naturally, the pandemic has something to do with it. But, even before that, I have found that keeping my social interactions to a minimum has made me feel more at peace. This seems counterintuitive, as I am super social and gregarious and I’m not good at being alone. But, keeping it tight and small, that’s the way to go…for me.

That’s the one issue I have with social media. It’s like the tight circle is inevitably larger, because you are seeing what everyone else is doing, which you are not a part of. Suddenly, your small circle is now 800-people wide (well, except the algorithms make is so I see the same 10 people). Sometimes, I’ll see two people I know socializing, and I’ll feel this sense of FOMO, like I’m missing out.

But, then, I get over it.

And I feel okay and am grateful for the peace.

It’s kind of too bad it is that way, but, I mean, for me it was. How about you?

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Revisiting Being a Stay-at-Home Parent

I am revisiting being a stay-at-home mom since the pandemic and brazenly quitting my job. I haven’t done this since 2007, and I have to say it’s interesting? Well, first off, looking for a job, particularly now, is fairly rotten. I hit up all the job sites, like Indeed and Glassdoor, in addition to going to actual websites of places I might like to work, and I have not had much success. It takes forever, and you have to enter a lot of search filters, leaving you eventually tired, exasperated and cross-eyed. Plus, I don’t even know what I want to do. I clicked on a wide array of positions, including being a Door Dash delivery person, an online social media designer, a development director, and a reporter. I freaked out that I’d get murdered with being a delivery person, so I opted out of that search.

But, then, I stumbled upon what may be my real talent and niche: Camp Counselor Philanthropist! Since school has yet to begin here in our town (first full day is October 13 #brutal), I started Camp Alex: Endless Summer. It’s essentially impossible for working parents now when kids are home all day, so I am helping them out while simultaneously entertaining my own children by having them over for camp. Win-win!

Here’s a look at Camp Alex. First, we have Puppy School, in which the dogs do math and get grades. The kids do “drop-off,” bringing the dogs upstairs with treats, and I do “pick-up.” At this time, I am versed on how well they behaved. For example, today, Poppy got an A+ and Winnie struggled with some addition and got a B+

Didn’t make Honor Roll

Around noon, we have lunchtime, which consists of whatever I can find in my fridge that they might like: edamame, french fries, grilled cheese and gummies.

Healthy!
Questionable

Next, we have play time on the trampoline and on the slide. One of their favorite games, which I created a long time ago as a disciplinary method, is “The Crab.” It’s really quite simple: find some tongs, and chase them around with the tongs biting at their ankles (gently, of course) and their knees. This is the crab! They absolutely love it, and it only costs a pair of tongs! Cheap, officious and fun. Next, we have pool time, in the baby pool, and finally quiet time with puzzles and crafts.

It’s interesting how we fall into things and unknown talents, like me being a camp counselor, during difficult times. I’m making the most of my staying at home during COVID, because I know it could be short lived. I don’t miss being in the office cubicle even one bit. The paycheck? Er, well, that’s another thing. For now, though, these kids laughing is a pretty good payoff.

My kindness rock garden

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I Got Into Columbia, But I Can’t Get Into Roblox

I graduated from Columbia, but I can’t get into Roblox, because I’ve failed the verification test too many times. In case you are not sure what that entails, it is simply clicking arrows to put a a goat or a buffalo cartoon image right-side-up. You have to do this eight times, and you have 7 seconds to do so for each image. I failed for the last hour. I can’t set my daughter up with an account. Question: Why is Roblox Fort Knox? Bigger Question: What is wrong with me (don’t answer that) that I can’t determine how to set a goat or buffalo upright? 

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I got this message about 20 times

Perhaps this is because I am not upright.

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I may be upside down, but look at my patent leather shoes!

In other words, I’m kinda struggling here– with the pandemic, the decision to send the kids back to school, and looking for a job. The job sitch is almost as grim as the fact that I can’t prove I’m not a robot on Roblox. Yesterday, I applied for three jobs. Two were promising. The other? It was an Amazon remote job, in which I’d be available to talk to people about their FMLA and Disability. I mean, does this really suit me? Probs not! My career pivot looks less like a pivot and more like a circle–or just a cliff dive.

No, honestly, I’m excited about some of the opportunities. But it’s hard to find something remote. And, if I do, when I search on Linked In, it will say there are 122 applicants ahead of me. I mean, I know I’m a solid pick, but 122? That’s kinda rotten chances. I‘d be better off just going to buy a scratch ticket and heading to the beach with an Italian sub.

Speaking of Italian subs, I am not going to eat those anymore, or at least for today, because I decided I’m going to get really skinny. Like, I want to be a coat hanger. I know a lot of people don’t think of that as an attractive image, but I think all clothes look good on hangers, and some of the ones in my closet are really pissed at me that they’ve been benched.

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My ideal body #goals

With that, I’m going to go for a long walk, since apparently I won’t be able to play Roblox!

 

 

 

 

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Flying the Covid Skies

I flew on an airplane recently and everyone seems to ask, “What was it like?!” Well, I’m here to tell you what it’s like. I should begin by saying I’m not exactly the world traveler; Vasco Da Gama has me beat. In fact, prior to last year, at my niece’s wedding in California, I had not been on a plane in seven years. I know this, of course, because when I wheeled my suitcase out from the attic, cobwebs intact, I unzipped it, and my son’s pacifier from when he was 2 fell out! And a baby spider was sucking on it! Wait, no, kidding. But, I think you can imagine then why I didn’t travel after that…It’s called spawn. I had another one shortly after this trip, and then hunkered down for seven years in toddler-dom. Who wants to fly with toddlers? I didn’t.

I digress.

So, to start, I got to Boston in an hour and fifteen minutes, which would normally take about two hours and then some in traffic, because, well, no one is going to work. I pulled into Central Parking, and it was like a dark, apocalyptic field with a plethora of parking. Next, the real stuff came into play: the Covid Costume, equipped with two masks, ’cause one is just not enough, glasses (kind of like the goggles I wore in Chemistry class), a hat (cause no one wants the ‘vid on the locks), a coat with hood, and rubber gloves. No skin was showing. This is what I looked like.

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Once you get into the airport, there are few people roaming about. Let’s just call them the Bold and Not-So-Beautiful. We “bold” ones decided to take the pandemic by storm and risk our lives for loved ones. You can tell which folks are taking this seriously and which are not. Some are dressed in the CC (Covid Costume), while others, who are mostly venturing to or from a Southern region, it appeared) are in shorts, with exposed, tan legs, flip flops, and a mask dangling from one ear. My favorite are the ones in the masks who don’t cover their noses. Like, why bother? You may as well just sneeze on me.

I breeze through security, with about four people six feet in front of me. There are little markers delineating where to stand, kind of like in the game of Twister.

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Guuuuuuuurl, back on up! That’s not six feet!

This all was impressive. Next, I cruise towards the gate, with only two venues open: Hudson News and Dunkin’ Donuts (this is slowly changing, but don’t count on a quick beer or Fireball shot before you get on the plane–no restaurants/bars are open). Then, the real challenge sets in, having to venture into the bathroom. Now, this might be easy when not dressed as an Eskimo, but imagine having to zip back up your pants with rubber gloves on. Not only did the top of the glove on my index finger get stuck in the zipper and tear off, but my glasses were fogging up with the mask, I was sweating to high hell, and my bags were crammed against my knees in a tiny stall filled with pandemic possibility. I might suggest a diaper for the next run.

Anyway, so I get to the gate, and there are reserved seats that have ribbon-like banners across them, telling folks to social distance. It’s sort of like a Covid Miss America banner. With one torn glove, I get my sanitizing wipes out of my backpack and wipe down the entire chair and arm rests. People are staring, but also kind of jelly that I thought to do this. Finally, I sit, still sweating with fogged glasses, and I can relax, but it’s hard to text on my cell phone with gloves. So I risk it and take them off.

The rest is fairly simple. We board the plane, everyone in masks, walking down the tarmac, semi-spaced (there, too, are Twister dots), and we sit in our seats (post-wipe-down on my part) with masks required. The plane is about half-full, because no one is sitting next to you. They are, however, not six feet in front of you. I will say, most everyone complied with the masks. The only issue I saw, when swiveling my head around to make sure everyone obeyed the rules, was a few folks with the nose exposed and one or two with the mask dangling off the ear like an ear-cuff.

 

The stewardess corrected them, though. I was a bit dismayed that there were no drinks or peanuts served on flight, but we did get a Ziploc bag with a bottle of water and some kind of snack bar. So if you’re thinking of flying, it’s really not that bad. As a recovered germaphobe, I was fine! Thank you to #JetBlue! Enjoy your trip…