Saturday, November 28, 2020

COVID Confessions

I have a confession. 

I hate hand sanitizer. 

I know COVID has increased the popularity of hand sanitizer by about a million, but elementary teachers have been sanitizing kids' hands since the beginning of time. Lining up for lunch? Everyone gets a small dose to rub into their hands to try to keep them all healthy and happy. 

That being said, when Keaton was little I emailed more than one teacher to request that they not put sanitizer on his hands at school. I don't think I have many helicopter mom moments, but this could be one of them. His hands were usually filled with deep cracks that would get infected and bleed and such, and rubbing alcohol all over them was not exactly helping him feel better. (I wish I had a picture of his childhood hands for dramatic effect, but I can't seem to locate one at the moment.) As soon as I pointed it out, every single teacher was happy to send him for legit soap-and-water hand washing instead (because teachers are awesome and will do whatever kids need to be happy and healthy even if they have helicopter moms).

This has nothing to do with why I hate hand sanitizer. It was a only slightly relevant sidenote. 

I shall continue. 

Hand sanitizer is the same consistency as snot, and snot is gross. 

I can handle blood, vomit, and any other bodily fluid. Someone having a disgusting medical emergency? I'm your girl. Working with kids and having kids of my own proves this to be true. I don't get rattled by the gore of life. 

Except snot. And hand sanitizer reminds me snot. I have always had this aversion, but there have only been a few times in my life when it became apparent to the rest of the world. 

The first time was when Trey and I were serving communion at church. 

A few years ago, our church started hand sanitizing the people who were going to serve communion. We have communion once each month, and church members serve to the congregation. Trey and I were in the rotation, and I hadn't thought one thing about the addition of the sanitizer. Until, of course, I was standing up in front of the church next to my husband watching one of our pastors passing it out, pumping a single dose, person-by-person, as we prepared for this holy moment. 


He was one person closer.


Closer still. 


I began to panic. He was getting nearer by the second. There was no where for me to go. I couldn't just leave - everyone was watching. I couldn't refuse the germ-killing snot blob that was about to be pumped into my hands in front of everyone - no one would come to my line. People will think I'm gross. That I'm germ-y. I started breathing hard. 

And then the pastor was standing in front of me. I took a deep breath, held out my hands, and tried to think about anything else as I rubbed my hands together and tried not to audibly gag. You know that feeling when you really want to gag and your throat is seizing and you can't breathe and you start sweating and think you might pass out? I did that in front of the whole church. 

I did that silently in front of the whole church during communion, of all times. It's a good thing I serve a forgiving God. 

The second time was this summer when some friends and I were shopping in Brenham. 

Mid-COVID, some shops seemed like there was no pandemic at all and some shops had their very best protocols in place. Almost everyone had a pump of hand sanitizer at the door with a sign that requested you sanitize before entering. A sign I could very easily pretend not to see so that I didn't spend my shopping experience trying not to vomit in the store whilst rubbing snot all over my hands. 

(You can judge me if you want, but you know I'm right. It's totally snot-like.)

Then, we entered one store where the person working stopped us at the door and asked us to use the sanitizer. Two things went through my head: 1) I am all for community care and I can do this exceptional thing in order to keep others safe, and 2) I am a rule follower. So I gave myself the quickest mental pep talk in history, and pumped it up. 

I'm pretty sure the thing was broken because one actual gallon of hand sanitizer came out directly into my hands. It dripped onto the floor, ran down my arms, and the pungent smell of alcohol made me dizzy in my terror. Frantically I rubbed and rubbed, but I swear it was multiplying. I gagged, audibly, while looking around to see if anyone noticed what was happening. My face contorted in disgust as I locked eyes with the employee. 

"I'm sorry, but do you have a paper towel that I can use to wipe this off?," I asked through gritted teeth.

She found one, and I removed the wretched almost-liquid, and I swore to never ever ever subject myself to that kind of torture again. I mean, a person has limits, and I have found mine. 

To conclude this post, let me provide some comfort for those of you who may think I'm part of the problem when it comes to germiness these days and may be inclined to put on your judgy-pants. I wash my hands like a boss about eleventy billion times every single day. I can move in and out of rooms in public without ever touching a blessed thing with my hands...feet, elbows, even wrists can be used to open doors, push carts, etc. 

Also, I have spray sanitizer both in my office and my house. It's a mist - like water (instead of snot) - and I use it all the time. I saw a commercial today for some Dove sanitizer that appears to be lotion-y, and I can definitely get on board with that. The Google tells me I can buy it at Walgreens, so I'll give that shot tomorrow. 

So don't judge me when I politely say "no thank you" if you offer me a pump of the traditional stuff. Neither of us wants to see my reaction if I have to use it. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Two things from 'Rona times

Two things. One is vastly more important than the other, but they share this post. 

Thing #1:
Today I went into two public bathrooms. In both, I had the same corona-induced experience. 

Now that we're not touching anything, I'm super careful to use a paper towel to open the bathroom door as I exit. In most places, the trash can has been moved next to the door so that the paper towel used for this purpose can be disposed of easily. It goes like this: 
1) wash hands thoroughly
2) use paper towel to open door
3) hold door open with foot
5) toss paper towel in the trash
6) exit

Today's complication (in TWO places) surrounds the use of trash cans that require you to step on the pedal at the bottom to open them. To be clear, I LOVE these types of trash cans as they do not require me to touch them to open them. They are great in non-corona times, but even better now. 

The problem becomes when you have to keep your foot on the untouched bathroom door in order to exit. Are you following me with the use of feet here, people?  

Today it went like this (twice):
1) wash hands thoroughly
2) use paper towel to open door 
3) hold door open with foot 
5) realize you need your other foot to open the trash can
6) mentally measure how far the door and trash can pedal are from each other to determine if you can actually do both
7) hold your hands out to steady yourself, make sure one foot is securely holding the door open 
8) attempt moderate splits to reach the trash can with foot #2, and toss the paper towel in the trash
10) remove yourself from splits position while still holding the door open with foot #1
10) exit the bathroom
11) see how many people were watching you acrobatically hold two separate things with your feet while throwing paper towels with perfect aim and trying not to fall down on the bathroom floor

Who knew going to the bathroom could be such an exercise in balance and flexibility!

Thing #2:
I listened to a couple of Brene Brown's podcasts today. In one of them, she made a statement that I said over and over again to myself to help me remember it exactly. I'm not sure it worked, but here's the gist of it: Shame is not an avenue for social change. 

Dear news, social media, friends and acquaintances and others, if you're publicly shaming someone because they don't agree with you then you are not working for change, you are being mean. So stop it. 

The end. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

I Ran.

Yesterday news broke about a black man who was killed by two white men who thought he was guilty of a string of burglaries. He was out for a jog.

When quarantine started, I started running again. It seemed like the best time to start because we didn't have anything else to do. I remembered that running is good for me - for my health and for my mind.

Back in 2016 I ran a marathon. I ran A LOT over that year or two, and while I'm happy I ran the marathon (hello, bucket list!), I think I got burned out on running. I realized as soon as we were locked down that I needed to see the sun and move every day, so I started walking. That made me think I might as well run, so I started a Couch to 5K program and starting running. And I remembered that I like it.

I like it even better when I'm just running. Slow. No goals to meet. No pace. I decided I would not run more than every other day because I don't want to hurt and be sore and stop running. So I walk, and the next day I run.

Never have I been afraid that someone will think I'm a bad guy and chase me down or hurt me while I run. Never have I worried that someone will think I don't belong here and call the cops on me. In fact, during quarantine I've been the world's friendliest runner - waving and smiling at everyone to get some kind of social interaction. Calling all kinds of attention to myself even though I'm not a svelte, runner-looking runner.

Today I can't stop thinking about this man. I've so appreciated how my runner friends of various skin colors have shared that they think often about how they'll be perceived when they are out on a run. How someone might think they don't belong in the neighborhood they're running in. How they feel they have to be extra aware. My friends who see their own children in Ahmaud Arbery. I'm glad they speak up.

I am newly disturbed. I know this exists in the world, but suddenly here we are again. A black man was running and some people cornered and killed him. In America in 2020. It's incomprehensible. I feel helpless to change it.

I don't know what to do about it. I have no giant solution. I told my boys (again) how important it is to me that I am raising men who know that others cannot be judged by their color or religion or orientation or anything else. That people are people and deserve our respect. They tell me they know. That they really do know. For the future of our nation and our world I pray they do.

Today I added an additional life lesson. Never, under any circumstances, is it acceptable to chase an unarmed person down, corner them, and kill them because you think they might be guilty of something. Never. Nothing makes that okay.

So today I ran. And I thought of all the people I know who run, and I prayed they feel safe while they do so. Because it's all of our responsibility to make sure they do.

Friday, May 1, 2020

TCC, Day 47: The end?

Today Texas opened back up. Basically that means that restaurants can have customers dining in, but can't go over 25% capacity. Does that mean quarantine is over?

We tried to go to The Dixie Chicken. It's spring, and sitting on the porch at El Pollo del Norte would make me extraordinarily happy. It seems everyone else had the same thought because the line outside was long. Perhaps we will try again later this weekend.

My next favorite porch is at Torchy's. They aren't open to dining-in yet, so we pulled over in the parking lot and ordered online, then took our tacos to go.

Eating dinner with my husband in my kitchen with Flatland Calvary on the radio is never a bad thing, even after 47 days of social distancing. It's crazy to me that we haven't eaten in a restaurant in 47 days.

Today I was stressed about work and making up things to worry about my kids and stir crazy and generally crazy. Trey came home, we drove around town looking for porches to sit on, and I word-vomited all of my crazy on him. And then I was better.

Today's pro tip: Marry someone who makes you feel better about yourself and also just generally makes you better. Trey is really the very best person I know, and sometimes I can't believe I get to be married to him. Find you someone like that or don't waste your time.

I'm not sure what The End looks like. This may be it. Or maybe it's months or years in the future. Will we even know when it comes?

I don't know.

The end.



Thursday, April 30, 2020

TCC, Day 46: Video and Parks & Rec

My friend and colleague asked me to be her guest speaker for her school's morning assembly online program this week. I had to record a video about writing - why I write, tips for writing frequently, what to write about, etc. Today was the day it went live. I was honored she asked me, and I was so happy to talk to kids about writing (even if none of the kids were actually in the room and the ones who are at home may or may not watch it).

I put it off until the last minute because seeing myself on camera is not my favorite. Then I had to get it done, and I was tired and had had a super busy day at work (let it be noted that "at work" means "at the computer in my home office off my bedroom"). I made some notes, channeled my inner elementary principal, and went for it. Maybe I put on some lip gloss first? I don't remember. Preparation of my appearance was minimal.

After one take, I listened to it without watching too much because, again, seeing myself on camera is not my favorite. I liked what I had to say, so I didn't record it again. This was not about what I looked like but about talking to kids about writing.

Looking at it today, I have some pro tips. Primarily, if you have a 17 year old camera man he will not tell you that you should sit up straight so that it doesn't look like you're trying to create as many rolls as possible in your midsection. Also, dry shampoo doesn't look the same as actually washing your hair.

Trust me.

*insert clever transition here*

Right at this moment Trey and I are watching a salute to Parks and Rec, possibly the most hilarious television show of all time. Coming up next we'll watch the updated episode of how the characters are coping during quarantine. I am so excited about this I'm giddy!  I suppose it's the little things...

Best things about Park and Rec:
*Little Sebastian
*Ron Swanson
*Treat yo' self
*Galentines Day
*The Knope-Wyatt Unity Quilt
*Evil April

I could go on and on and on. If you haven't watched this show, what are you doing reading this?  Stop it right now and go watch every episode and don't eat or sleep until you're done! 

Maybe that's excessive, but you should really watch it. It's a happy show with happy people who take care of each other. Even Jerry.

If nothing else good comes out of this quarantine we at least got one more episode.

The end.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

TCC, Day 45: Haircuts and Mexican Food

I didn't write a post yesterday. I was busy. Busy at work all day, then I went for my walk, then ate dinner and cleaned up. We attempted to install a new smart light switch in Keaton's room and it wasn't quite working like it should, so that took a bit. Then we played what Tucker said would be a "short" game of Skipbo that ended up taking ten hundred years. Then it was bedtime.

On Monday the governor made announcements about his plans to reopen Texas. This Friday restaurants and retail stores can reopen as long as they only have 25% capacity in their businesses. They have to adhere to social distancing practices and some pretty specific requirements. Salons and gyms can't open yet. If everything goes well with phase one, then on May 18th more business may be able to open. We're hoping for hair salons and Keaton's gymnastics gym! 

Some people are scared. They think Texas is reopening too soon and that doing so is dangerous. I certainly understand their feelings, but personally I'm happy to be taking a small step toward normalcy. We'll keep social distancing and limiting our interactions with others while hopefully helping local businesses to stay afloat.

Trey and the boys haven't had hair cuts in more than six weeks. They usually go about every three weeks, so they all feel like they have super long hair. Only Keaton actually has super long hair, and it's curly and getting bigger by the minute!  He let Tucker use some clippers to trim up the sides because it was driving him crazy. It's funny to me that the thing my family collectively misses the most might be haircuts. Stylists have definitely earned some new appreciation during this pandemic!

Tonight we ordered Coco Loco for dinner - our favorite local Mexican food place. We haven't had it in months. It was soooo goooooood! Like, the best meal I've had in my whole wide life. With green sauce on top. Did I mention it was delicious? 

That's all I've got for a Wednesday. At least I think it's Wednesday. 

The end.

Monday, April 27, 2020

TCC, Day 43: Croissants

I started making croissants nine days ago. I started a levain from scratch. I thought levain was a special croissant thing, and then as I was re-reading instructions I realized it's just "starter" in French. So I started a starter nine days ago, only it was fancy because I called it levain.

I'm not convinced the starter is exactly right. It worked fine, but there's something about how it gets watery that may or may not be like it should be.

You feed the starter for at least five days, and then you're ready to start the croissants. You do a tiny step, refrigerate overnight, do a tiny step, refrigerate overnight. On the last two days, you do a tiny step, refrigerate for two hours, do a tiny step, refrigerate, etc.

When you make the dough, you also make a butter block. Softened butter formed into a perfect 7x7 square. I liked doing that.

When it comes time to start forming the croissants, you place the butter block on the square of dough and you fold it like origami. And you roll it out. Refrigerate. Origami. Roll it out. Refrigerate. Origami. For like two days. You get the picture.

Before you complete the final step to create the croissants, the dough has this really awesome layered look and you feel like you accomplished something very impressive.

At one point I misread the directions and did two steps in a row without refrigerating in between, but what was done was done. We went with it. The croissants were a little fatter than they should have been, and I think it was a result of my error.

Then they rise and you cook them and you say little prayers that nine days of croissant making aren't a total waste.

And then you have croissants!  Some of them look a little blobby rather than croissant-y, but I just put those on the bottom for the picture - problem solved!  They are bread-ier than I think they should be. Is that a thing? I wish I new if it was my starter or the step I missed. I'm thinking of getting another batch going and adding chocolate chips when I shape them. Even if they're still bready they'll also be chocolaty and that can't be bad.

Tomorrow for breakfast I shall have a made-from-scratch croissant with some honey and butter. It will be lovely.

In corona-related news, the governor announced today that some things will be opening up again on Friday with social distancing guidelines. Perhaps I'll talk about those tomorrow.

Today I wanted to talk about croissants.

The end.