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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

My Pandemic Coping Musts

We've just passed one year of the first case of Coronavirus in America (I know it's probably not the actual first, but it was the first official documented case here), and it has made me look back at this year and reflect on the things that made me happy, made my life easier, and generally got me through the bad things and feelings. I wanted to share in case you are still struggling for some sense of normalcy in all this. 

I'm an introvert, so being at home isn't a big deal to me. Yes, I love to travel. Yes, I love to meet new people. Yes, I love going out and doing things and seeing friends. The thing is, aside from travel, I haven't really been living my life so differently. In fact, not having obligations or having to coordinate plans with people or tell them I'm not coming out on a week night, has been really stress-free for me. In fact, it's been very good for my mental health, which I know is a lot different than other people. 


Before the pandemic, we went out to eat quite a bit. Friday night was take-out and then we would usually go out for lunch and dinner on Saturday. Some weeks my mom and I would eat out on Thursdays. We can't do that anymore. I mean, we could do it now, but I'm still not willing to eat inside. We've only eaten out once, and it was outside, and then I felt guilty, so I didn't do it again. Instead, we make Friday delivery day, where I order a full meal from a local place I like on UberEats. I have the Eats Pass, which gives me free delivery and exclusive discounts. I usually spend that savings on top of whatever tip I'm going to give. I like still getting to "eat out" and being able to help both a restaurant and someone trying to pay their bills. 

Streaming concerts

While we can't go out and see shows or movies, streaming movies, plays, comedy shows, and whatever else have really made our time at home interesting and exciting. I hope when this is over, it remains an option, because sometimes we can't travel and sometimes we can't afford $150 for a ticket. If you're like me, a taller person always stands in front of me so I can't see. Sure, not being there in person sucks, but not being their in person means you can sit on your couch (or dance in your living room), in your pajamas if you want, eating food you made, and drinking non-$12 beers, and not having to miss anything because you're waiting in line for the gross bathroom that is almost out of toilet paper. 

Google Street View

When I feel like I really want to get out and explore, I sometimes just jump on Google maps and choose a destination and just "walk" around a neighborhood. At one point I took a "walk" around EPCOT. While I couldn't go on rides, I could wander the souk in Morocco and stroll through the gardens in the UK. I saw things I missed when I'd been there in person and will look for when I finally get to go back. 

You can check out some live views on Earth Cam and see what's happening right now around the world. A few years ago, I started watching the Dublin (Temple Bar) Earth Cam to see the St. Patrick's Day celebration, and then I got caught up watching on regular days just to see how people lived their lives. Sometimes people would come by, look up at the camera and wave, and then go back on their way. This is when I really started to use Google Street View, because I wanted to see what was happening at the end of the street that was just out of sight of the camera. It was a little like going on vacation. I highly recommend it.

McElroy podcasts

This is the year I really got into podcasts. There were times at work where I was the only one there doing things in the warehouse. We have a stereo, but Eric had got me started on The Adventure Zone, which I didn't realize only had one episode every two weeks. It is the three brothers and their dad playing D&D and other similar games. I decided to go back and listen to other stories from TAZ and found myself hooked. Once I'd caught up, I realized that I should go back and start back up with My Brother My Brother and Me. I had listened to quite a few episodes years ago when I was commuting 30+ minutes to work. I started on episode 75. They were currently on 569. Somehow, I was binging 5-7 episodes a day. I caught up in something like 4 months. Then I started listening to Rosebuddies, which turned into Wonderful (I'm up to pandemic times on that one) and I dabble in Sawbones when I'm feeling curious. 

The McElroy brothers are fun, and funny, and continually evolving to become better people. My Brother My Brother and Me started 10+ years ago when podcasts were pretty much not that big a thing. They based it on answering questions from Yahoo! Answers, and evolved into also answering listener questions. They don't give good advice, because that's not funny. Sometimes they don't give advice at all. 

Wonderful! is a a show that the youngest brother, Griffin, does with is wife where they talk about things they like and think are great. It started out as Rosebuddies, a show that talked about The Bachelor franchise, which I loved, but also once it became questionable in nature, they felt they couldn't morally continue to talk about it. I equally love the passion they have talking about fun things they like, no matter how mundane. Some of my favorite episodes talk about bubbles, Japanese pop bands, and their favorite restaurant that served sushi and teriyaki and had jazz shows.

Sawbones is a show that the oldest brother, Justin, does with his wife who's a doctor. They talk about weird medical things, like how we tried to fix people with various ailments before modern medicine came along. They talk about the history of vaccines, the danger of laudanum, and  blood letting, among other things. I've learned quite a lot about how things have evolved in the medical industry and they've done several episodes this year on pandemic-related things, like quarantining and masks. 

I sometimes listen to Schmanners, a show done by the middlest brother, Travis, and his wife, where they talk a lot about manners and etiquette. I have to be in the right mood for this one, but if you feel like you want to know how some etiquette traditions evolved, this is one to listen to. 

All three of them do other shows as well, but these are the strictly family ones that I enjoy, because they feel like family to me now. They've really helped me pass the time with laughter, even during the really hard months. In the past year, they've given tons of money to charity (trans rights, racial equality, women's rights) through direct donations and proceeds from items bought through their merch store. 

Curbside coffee pick-up

Since I can't go sit in a coffee shop like I used to, I haven't been drinking quite as much away from home. I was worried about my local shops, so I started ordering ahead and picking up. Then I discovered the Joe app (<---use that link to get $5 added to your account when you sign up). Joe has a bunch of coffee shops that allow you to order and pay in the app and you can choose counter, window, or curb-side pickup. As much as I like going in, often there are people waiting in line or inside and I just feel it's safer for everyone involved to order, and either run in to grab my order off the counter or have them bring it out to me. You get notified when your order is ready and if you choose curbside, you can let them know you are there in the app, too.

My backyard

Is it weird to be grateful for a thing I have had for over a decade? This year it has been especially nice to have a yard, where I can be outside and not worry about being around others. It's also where we do our Destination Date Nights (or afternoons) when it isn't freezing outside. Not only that, but I can watch wildlife out my back door. Squirrels and birds come right up to the door and often run around in the backyard. It's a nice little slice of nature. 

If I don't force myself out of my bubble, then I can very well not leave the house or talk to anyone other than my husband for 5 days. This is why I am an officer for Geek Girl Brunch and plan monthly brunches or other get togethers for a different group of friends and I volunteer for my local chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance. When the pandemic hit and I couldn't do any of those things, I had to do some different things to socialize. 

Showing off our favorite masks


I know that some of my friends have a hard enough time getting away to see us for those once-a-month brunches, but they always said they loved coming and hanging out, so I decided we could still do a new at-home brunch. Zoom has allowed us to do weekly Sunday morning brunches. We don't make it serious. You either show up or you don't. Sometimes we have 4 people and sometimes we have 12. We encourage dressing up (every few brunches we'll have a theme), but we don't require it. We encourage people to post their meals/drinks (because I like to see everyone's dishes at real brunch, but I also want to make sure people are taking care of themselves). We tell people they don't have to have their camera on if they don't want, they don't have to even have their microphone on if they don't feel up to actually engaging with people.   

We talk about current events and share fun stories and ask how everyone's week was. This allows us to learn new things and see people that we don't live with. We also give each other recommendations for shows, movies, restaurants that do delivery/take-out, outdoor activities. And then we do things like show off stuff we bought or made (like all our masks). It helps a lot with sharing feelings. I know many people are Zoomed out right now, but I actually rather enjoy it.

And that, my friends, is how I'm getting through this pandemic. I have friends, food, family, and fun that I fill my days with (besides work and running this blog). I hope some of these things will help you as well. What's helping you get through this pandemic with your sanity?

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