• Jana

Drifting Between Life Before and Life After the Pandemic. Coronavirus Update - Day 152 and Counting

Okay, I don't care what kind of mood you're in when you hear Adam Ritz's eccentric voice on Yacht Rock Radio, how can you not feel just a little bit better? It's impossible not to. Smooth rock from the '70s and '80s. Pour yourself a quarantine cocktail and pull up a deck chair. Keep Calm, stay smooth, with music from Yacht Rock Radio. These are just a few of his inane plugs for the sappy summer-only channel on Sirius XM. Sappy is good during a pandemic, from where I sit. 


I sat down at the dining room table this morning to resume the now-infamous photo project. It had been sitting there, untouched, for countless weeks. Before embarking on the rat's nest (oh, I mean the photo project) I pulled up the Sirius XM app on my phone and tried to decide what genre of music might help to ease my anxiety. I saw Yacht Rock Radio and knew that was the ticket. I was sure that bad 70's and early 80's music (okay, in all fairness, only forty percent of the songs are grating), punctuated by corny announcements from Adam Ritz, would be just what the doctor ordered. 


In my defense, I have run out of photo album pages, so I have been a bit stuck. I order all my supplies from Exposures (now called Personalizedthingsbyexposures for reasons I don't understand). I have been eyeing the site every few days, for months, looking for a sale. Not a single sale in months. Strange. I order so many supplies from them for this project and they are so expensive, that I have vowed to only make purchases on sale days. After calling them for close to two months, I finally got a human being the other day, who informed me that the sales are not listed on their website. Rather, the promotions are sent to my email and not under the name Exposures, where I had been searching, but their new name, which is a lame rebranding, in my humble opinion.  


Well, now that I have that sorted out, I am planning to hit the next big sale (fingers crossed) on Labor day, to restock. In the meantime, I had countless piles of photos ready to be sorted and go into the 2017 album, where I am stuck in time. I want nothing more than to get these photos off my dining room table, where they are now just collecting dust.


Catherine was sweet enough to help me finish sorting them this morning and getting as many as we could in the album with the pages that remained. The rest we will pack away and await the sale next month. I hate to lose the momentum we have going, but finances must prevail here. 


Catherine and I spent quite a few hours sorting through the photos from August to December of 2017. Similar to what happened the last time I worked on this project, I felt depressed. Before the pandemic, I just used to get a headache doing this project, due to its tedious nature. However, I also managed to derive some pleasure from revisiting lovely events that had taken place in our lives, even if it did mean staring at 100 photos of the same event and trying to whittle them down to 5 or 10. 


Now, as I gaze at all these photos I feel an unquantifiable sense of loss and also as though my nose is being rubbed in what is now referred to as normal life (pre-pandemic). Looking at these photos and feeling these feelings also makes me realize that I go through most of my days in denial, trying to numb myself from our current reality. I know that both these coping mechanisms are somewhat normal, especially in a crisis, but also I realize just how much I am utilizing them every day to survive. 


In addition to pouring through hundreds of photos from the summer and fall of 2017, I also edited photos on my computer from the same period, just two years later, the summer of 2019. How similar those two summers looked to one another, in photos, and yet so drastically different from the one we are living now. Camp every day; weekly family barbeques in Hidden Hills; little summer trips to Carlsbad and Ojai; birthday lunches out with friends; family celebrations with my mom in attendance; everyone dressed up for the first day back to school; kids meeting and hugging their new teachers for the first time; the much-beloved annual Fiesta in Hidden Hills (an entire weekend of fun-tilled parades, parties, horse rides, and a carnival), and Halloween. Not one of these has or will take place this summer or fall, or for the ones that do, not in the way they used to. 


What hits me the hardest when I look at these photos is the innocence that we all had then. As I look at each event I think to myself, We were so naive. Little did we know that excitedly heading off to the first day of school would be a thing of the past. Of all the events, I think seeing the kids' first days back at school broke my heart the most. There were so many. things we all took for granted. We had no idea where life was headed.  


I can see why I. live in denial and numbness every day. If I. were to feel the feelings I do when I. pour over the photos of life. before this monster took over the world, I couldn't function. If I allowed myself to go to that place, I would be curled up in a ball, in tears. That is not practical, so denial it is!


Instead, I put on Yacht. Rock Radio, listen to hokey '70s. and '80s tunes, punctuated by Adam Ritz's ridiculously corny phrases, and try to focus on life 40 years ago instead. That just seems a little less raw and painful than Catherine and Graham's birthday trip to Ojai last summer, which feels so close I could touch it and yet completely out of reach now. 


2017 - Ladies lunch with Joan at Bloomingdales in honor of Catherine's 5th birthday. We haven't seen Joan since Christmas dinner last year because of the pandemic.



2017 - Celebrating the twin's 5th birthday at Legoland with Shelley. We have only seen Shelley once since the pandemic started and Legoland is as unrealistic now as going to Mars.



2017 - The kids enjoying the Fiesta in Hidden Hills with a wonderful marching band from El Camino High School There will be no fiesta this year.


2017 - Halloween. I am not sure what Halloween will look like this year for children in the U.S.? Trick or treating will certainly not be on the docket.



2017 - Mom and Catherine on Christmas night. We have not seen my mom since Miles' birthday in February, almost six months ago. She resides in an assisted living and is not allowed to leave or receive visitors, unless it is medically necessary, due to concerns about Covid-19.



2019 - The twins'7th birthday. We celebrated in Ojai last summer. This year we will have a quiet celebration at home with just the five of us.


2019 - Everyone dressed in pink and ready for their first day back at school. This year will look nothing like this. i am just hoping they change out of their pajamas before their first Zoom meeting next week.



2019 - Graham cuddling up with his new teacher, Mrs. Stevenson, on the first day of school last year. He will meet his new teacher over a computer screen this year. We are praying that he meets her in person at some point before the end of the year.



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