Old Dog New Tricks

Moses is failing. A few weeks ago we had a vet come for a house visit after he spent an afternoon and evening dragging his lower half through the house. His leg muscles are deteriorating, said the vet, it’s degenerative. But try tylenol and CBD and look for more bad days than good. This dog still has some life in front of him.

Sure enough, Moses recovered and we’ve had three goodish weeks. But then he started tripping more, legs shaking, and, every once in awhile, dragging his back legs. The stairs to the yard are steep and unavoidable and more frequently he ends up flat halfway down (if he won’t let us carry him). I may not have mentioned – this is 80 pounds of best friend we’re talking about.

The vet assures us this doesn’t hurt him and there’s no whining or yelping to accompany his collapses. Just a general sense of indignity wafting off of him. His brain is utterly perfect. His faculties intact. He still wants to play and go for walks. Rather, drags, since about halfway he starts struggling, no matter the length of the walk.

At some point, probably soon, he will become incontinent or “have more bad days than good.” How do you decide to say goodbye to your best friend when everything about him but his legs works just fine? And why is this happening when our regular vet isn’t available? Fuck you COVID and degenerative myelopathy both.

Rain, Rain

It’s funny how some things seems so much…bigger…when you’re stuck at home. What’s the right word? Confined? Restricted? Locked up? I mean, I could leave at any time so it’s much better than it is in some parts of the world and if I go outside and pass someone, I can still worry about rapists and the virus in equal parts. As an aside, will it be regional, do you think? Corona on the west coast, ‘Rona in New York, Covid-19 in DC, Covid in the surrounding areas, and SARS-CoV-2 in Atlanta? What about the racist names? What are the history books going to settle on?

I’ve gotten off track. I wanted to talk about the dismal weather we’ve been having. It’s bleak and cold and entirely unwelcome. I know it’s spring and April showers bring May flowers and all that but May 1st is tomorrow, it will be 66 degrees and I’ve had just about enough. Not that I’m pleading for it to be hot and mosquito-ridden, I’d just like a bit of a happy medium for enjoying my time in the house, working, in front of a window that is, for most of the time, displaying a steel grey sky and dripping wet plants.

I’m cloudy myself at the sight of it. I feel grouchy and irritable and generally bleak about everything. It feels like nothing will be better until the sun finally comes out for more than a day. Can you use light therapy to forget we’re social distanced, the economy is crashing, and people are dying?

I Think We’re Alone Now

Lots of adult conversations happen in our house. Are the pipes really failing? What’s the budget look like right now? Is she ever going back to school? How are interest rates? Should we refinance the house? Are we going to have to put the dog to sleep? And how does this pandemic affect…well, everything? Lots of adult conversations and very little adult time.

You know what else we have? A pair of little ears that want to know about EVERYTHING. What are you talking about? What does investment mean? Why doesn’t the grocery store have food? Will I miss school in the fall? What do you mean no camps? Most of the time we catch ourselves before we launch into adult talk but she seems to always be there.

I know we’re not alone in this (we’re never alone it seems) so what is there to do but send her to play in her room? She desperately wants to know what we’re talking about so she doesn’t want to do anything else but listen. It’s like we’re the most interesting people on the planet. Maybe during a pandemic we are.

Technology

You guys, thank god for technology. But why doesn’t my wireless support three zoom meetings at once? #privilege

Head in the Sand

In November 2016, I stopped reading the news. Just stopped. The hype of the election and the devastation in the aftermath was, for me, more than I could handle. I didn’t want to see the dissection of what went wrong for the first female candidate for President (yes, I would have voted for any woman running regardless of party) and I didn’t want to see the shambles that was quickly unfolding at the hands of the newly-elected President. No news was better for my mental health and so it was.

I wasn’t reading the news in 2017 when my dad died and white supremacists descended on Charlottesville. The grief was sickening that year. It must have been 2019 when I reactivated my subscription to the Washington Post and started following headlines on the New York Times. I didn’t go to any news sites, preferring a feed reader to dull the sensationalism.The world didn’t get any brighter in those two years. It appeared that many things were still in shambles, including my mental health.

You can see where this is going. But I was doing better! I didn’t have such a visceral reaction to the horror of the news. Wildfires, a shameful national leader, the loss of healthcare for millions, and so on and so forth. Still horrible but my skin was thicker. Apparently, not thick enough.

This virus and its impact have been crushing. It’s not the dying thousands really, although that’s horrifying, it’s the children wearing masks. It’s the decimated grocery stores. It’s the forced distance from others for fear of something we can’t control or vote out in an election. It’s fourth grade at home. It’s not going to an office each day and abandoning a spring break trip. Did I say it already? Can I say it enough? It’s the children in masks.

Debra sent this video yesterday. It’s light-hearted and upbeat, considering the subject matter. I cried. I can’t not cry. Yes, the environmental changes are amazing. I can see the bright side through the tears, at least. I’m not sure my therapist (and yes I have one) can help with this. It’s worldwide grief this kind and I have to stop reading the news.

Privilege

For as much time as I spend wondering if we’re qualified to homeschool our child, I spend time thinking about how privileged we are as a family. RR has comprehensive lessons provided by her teachers, not just math and reading but co-curriculars, like music, ecology, and art. She has multiple devices with which to do her work and multiple rooms in the house where she can do it. She uploads her work and gets feedback from her teachers. She still has a book club and her friends are all there (who also have fast enough internet) and parents to keep them on track with reading. As I reread that paragraph, I realize I haven’t done it justice.

RR’s teachers have not only replicated her school experience, they have enriched it. The personal attention is still there plus some. She’s getting individual attention from learning specialists whom she normally would only have seen in a group setting. Her teachers hold office hours, including the technology teachers, to help with anything that might go off the rails. At times her lessons seem like private tutoring. Not to mention the fact that she has two adults attuned to her every educational need.

Her workspace is large and well-lit, there is a whiteboard, printer, scanner, clock, calendar, chest of small plastic drawers stocked with pencils, art supplies, paper, notebooks, etc that the school provided. She has everything she needs for an optimal learning experience and she appears to be soaking it up. She has us. We have jobs that are flexible enough to allow us to be with her.

We are so very lucky.

Pandemic Boss

It occurred to me after I titled this post that it could be construed as me being some kind of superstar in a pandemic but, sadly, it’s more of a literal thing. It also occurred to me that you all might write your titles after writing, which I rarely do. Maybe I should rethink my strategy so we don’t end up starting from some sort of confused alternative world where I’m saving the universe and generally looking hot while doing so.

Instead, we’re reorienting from that tangent into reality wherein I have had three bosses in the last two years. In an industry that doesn’t see a ton of turnover – at least, not THIS much turnover – it feels both a little nerve-wracking and frustrating. The latest one started recently and I had my first meeting with her last week. It went well enough, for video chatting with someone I’d never met before.

I’m pretty comfortable with zoom, our (and everyone else’s) platform of choice for work. I can make small talk, get down to business, engage people, and generally, feel pretty adept at both running and attending meetings virtually. I’m probably better at it than I am in person since silences aren’t as painful somehow when I’m not talking with someone in real space. The first meeting with my boss went okay but I felt constantly awkward.

My wife says I wasn’t awkward, an opinion that means something since she was sitting in the room with me when my boss and I were talking (the joys of working from home!). But, well, she loves me so I think that takes off a few points. It’s weird to work from home with your entire family, Reader, weird. Still, I felt a little awkward and I wished we could have had at least one meeting in-person.

Having a new boss is intimidating. Doing it during an epidemic where you have to rely on facial expressions alone is daunting. Having the preferred method of conversation be on screen when you’re both getting emails and chats every few seconds doesn’t make it any easier. Each time her eyes slid over to what must have been a new message (and mine did as well) I wondered if I had said something I shouldn’t have. So here we are, new boss, new way of being. Just shy of terrifying.