Coronavirus Diaries – The Beginning

All things considered, I decided to title this post ‘the beginning’ as I know that from all indicators out there, this social isolation we’re doing is likely not going to be short term.   That frightens me quite a bit.   I have the resources to get through this, but so many don’t.  I am lucky to be able to work from home, but I recognize that there’s so much uncertainty out there, who knows how long things can maintain?  We’re in unprecedented territory – the entire world is basically shutting down, for an unknown period of time.  Our government leadership is a fucking mess and are far too late and far too incompetent (accidentally, willfully, and/or arrogantly) to be trusted to manage the situation, with headlines bearing that out every moment.   A day feels like a week.  It’s just….unbelievable this is happening.

I’m relieved Larry isn’t here.   I think I mentioned that elsewhere in a post?  Maybe it’s just in conversations with others – the idea that if Larry were undergoing treatment now, and him having a weakened immune system because of it, and that if somehow he caught coronavirus from me or someone and that was what caused his death?   It’s utterly inconceivable –  my mind literally can’t deal with that.   I miss Larry so much, and I do wish I had healthy no-cancer Larry here as I am definitely feeling quite lonely and isolated.   I’m obviously not alone in that regard as everyone is feeling that, but a lot of people still have some kind of roommate or family to comfort or be comforted by.  I don’t.  I have my friends via text messages, phone calls, and that helps quite a bit.  But god I miss having my husband here.   Of course my first caveat stands – cancer Larry is not someone I could deal with having here at this moment.

Last week, Stacie and I moved mom into an assisted living facility.   Not much has gone right in my life this past year and a half, but in this case, we got that process started at the exact right (and as it likely turned out, last possible) moment.  She has her own room, all the cable she needs, her own bathroom and shower, and a big closet.   It’s a very nice set up, and there’s someone available 24/7.  She had a few nights where she was able to partake in going to the dining room and meet people, but obviously the older population (especially over 70) is at risk, so they’ve quarantined everyone into their room for safety and they get meals in their room now.   I know it’s not ideal but knowing she’s there versus being by herself at her house when the caregiver isn’t there would have also been a giant amount of stress for me.   Our timing couldn’t have been more critical in getting her there before this all started.   Mind you, the last week was very hard and there were some seriously annoying bumps doing it, but in the course of a week, I can barely even remember something that before might have driven me to still be angry about.  She’s there, she’s safe, and I was able to see her Saturday as I brought some additional things she needed, but now I know I won’t be able to see her again for a little while.

It’s crazy.  How is this happening?   I mean, I literally can’t believe what life is right now.   I watched my husband die just 2 months ago.  I buried him and tried to mourn and grieve him.   I thought that was the lowest I’d have to be, but guess what, my intuition was right.   I knew I couldn’t say ‘things can only get better’ as there’s no bottom in this world anymore.

I persist though and try to occupy my time:

  • I continue to work as hard as I can at my job – I don’t want to lose it as I’m supporting more than just me now.
  • I stay in touch with my friends, but god I miss actually seeing them and giving and receiving a hug.
  • I’ve been playing video games to pass the time.   The new VR set I got earlier this year is pretty fantastic and helps pass the time in a really immersive way (No Man’s Sky in VR is ridiculously cool).  I’m also playing The Division 2 (although the setting is a post-pandemic USA, so maybe I shouldn’t?), Dead Cells, Anno 2250 (ah, a future where things are so nice)….yeah, video games are definitely a way for me to forget the world a little.
  • I find myself falling down a Twitter hole and that is no good for my psyche.   It’s good for staying informed but the emotions there are all extreme, good or bad.   I have to take a break after a bit.
  • I’ve been very consistent with doing yoga every morning with the Yoga with Adriene Youtube channel – she’s amazing.   I found her when looking for lower back relief exercises and I have been a follower ever since.   It’s a wonderful and much needed way to start each day.  If you’ve ever thought of doing yoga, she’s super chill and a very friendly guide who is easy to follow along with.   I contrast it with Rodney Yee, whose ‘beginner’ series I bought, and man, that is false advertising, as his routines are very difficult.   So it was good to learn there are other approaches.
  • I’ve been reading.   I read Tom and Lorenzo’s book “Legendary Children” which covers LGBTQ history through the touchstone of Rupaul’s Drag Race.  It’s fantastic.  I learned so much about our history and the world of drag from it’s beginnings through to its evolution and persistence.   They’re good at telling the history and making it compelling, not that it needed all that much help.
  • Of course television is a mainstay:  Schitt’s Creek‘s final season has been fucking incredible.  I finished the latest season of Project Runway (very enjoyable!).  Just started Westworld Season 3 and am intrigued.  This latest season of Survivor (Winners at War) is epic and I love seeing an all-winner season where everyone is there to fucking play.  There’s others, but this is just me riffing.
  • I picked up the guitar again!  Larry bought me a guitar a few years back after the one I did have in NYC was stolen from our Duarte storage unit (along with my Transformers and childhood Legos, ugh!).  I never got the motivation back to get back into it as like any skill, it takes work and practice to be good at it.  But now I have time and I remember that working at the guitar was a nice way to calm down.  I found an app that is probably a little too simple but honestly, I’m here for slow and steady.   It’s interactive so it can hear what you’re playing and let you know if it’s wrong.  Kinda cool.

Just, fuck.   I was talking with folks at work on a conference call (obvs – we are all required to WFH now) and this truly is a moment that will be changing the world.  Just like 9/11, things were different after, forever.  Things will definitely have to change after this at a government preparedness level as well as how work and business function going forward.   Even just thinking about when finally we get to see other people in person again, it’s like, until there’s a cure/vaccine, you’ll be paranoid.  And then if another virus comes up, which of course it will, is the world going to be prepared and ready to do what needs to be done to prevent the world from stopping like it kind of is now?   So yeah, just, fuck.  Ha, as I write this, it sounds like I’m commanding you the reader to go fuck.  Maybe that’s not a bad idea either, if you can.   I know I miss Larry for that comfort too.   Having someone to hold and hold you, warmly and/or passionately, is something that I miss so much right now.  I didn’t know that feeling as a man in the closet, so when I did get to finally know what that was, and to now have it taken away for who knows how long?   It’s kind of awful.  I don’t know, it’s just all so much.

So why not some pictures?  Here are some from my first few days of social isolationing:

In Los Angeles, we’ve been getting TONS of rain.   There is occasional breaks which is good so it can kind of dry out, but we have a lot of rain still in the forecast!   And with less people out and about, our air quality is quite good.   I’ve seen news reports that the pollution around the world has dramatically improved due to this – maybe the coronavirus was the planet’s way of making us chill the fuck out on pollution.

Two Months

This weekend was two months since Larry died after his year-and-a-half battle with cancer.   It’s still hard to deal with and reckon with.   To allow myself to really let it sink in just brings in the emotions and tears, which happens quite a lot still.  This past week was notably more painful for some vague unknown reason – Fran had the same heightened emotions as I did.  Maybe it’s just that it’s been two months, and it is not a temporary thing, like he’s just been gone back east and I had to stay here.   There’s no un-doing of what happened.  Larry has died and I am alive to deal with the fact that he is absent from the world.  I am talking with a therapist one-on-one every week or so, and later this year, I hope to be joining a therapy group for people who’ve lost spouses.  These things are all good and necessary, but they don’t undo the fact that the love of my life is gone.  I tell myself frequently that he’s free from suffering, which helps me to cope, but what I really want is to believe that somehow his presence is still around us, in some way.   He’s in my heart, I know that.  He’s not forgotten.   But it would make me feel better to know he’s some kind of angel or ghost.  I don’t know why that would matter – maybe it’s to know that maybe he’s able to be happy when I do something he liked.  It wouldn’t feel so empty.

I am trying to make things work for me here in reality.  I’ve been fairly proud of myself in attempting to cook meals much more fancy than I ever would have pre-Larry.  They’re not fine cuisine, but still, I cooked a filet mignon yesterday and that is pretty cool, right?   Cooking has been the thing that for me is what makes me feel closest to Larry, so I’m not keen on stopping.  I have his recipes that he used to make all the time, and I’m going to dive into those.  The Instapot has been amazing too, and Nicki got me a Mediterranean Instant pot cookbook that has some delicious-looking recipes I can’t wait to try.   If the coronavirus doesn’t kill us all.   That’s another thing – I am honestly glad Larry isn’t around in his weakened condition during this pandemic scare – I hope it ends up not being a complete disaster, but it’s impact probably isn’t going to be minimal, regardless.   And with a compromised immune system, if he had gotten coronavirus and that would have been the factor that caused his death, I’d be even more devastated than I already am.

So yeah, I’m just trying my best to make him proud, and to make myself not hole up and surrender.   I’ve been doing a Yoga program on Youtube (Yoga with Adriene – I LOVE IT) every morning and I do feel better doing these things – notably in my lower back, as I think it’s helped undo a lot of the tension-building the last 43 years of my life have stored.  We’ll see.  I’m also trying to be up for going or doing whatever friends are suggesting, within reason.  It’s been good to get out.

This week is tough as it’s when we move mom into the new home.  It’s for the best, and will give some peace of mind.  But I just need a fucking break.  But I don’t think one is coming.   C’est la vie. In the meantime, here are some pics from the last week or so with friends and at home.  Enjoying life as best I can.   Larry is never out of my mind and I miss him so fucking much.  Sometimes it makes me smile, but a lot of times it just makes me sad and cry.

Pot Roast – March 3:

Firefly dinner with Barb – March 6:

Seeing “Couples Therapy” comedy show at The Virgil with Nicki – March 7:

Just Sunday – March 8:

Goodbye, Oviatt?

Well, this was a surprise bit of news to discover!  I had been looking at my wedding websites that I’d bookmarked back in 2015-2016 and was like, let’s look at the Oviatt website!  And then I got a ‘no content here’ webpage and was like, uh what?  So I did a google search and Yelp has it listed as CLOSED and I’m like, uh what?   Then I start searching more and it’s like, OH DAMN.   The company that ran the Oviatt Penthouse venue, Truly Yours Catering, is shut down since mid 2019 and the owner basically disappeared.   There were 7 events planned and none of them got any notice, even last-minute notice, that their venue was no longer available.  It’s not clear if they were able to get any money back, but I doubt it.   From what I can see, the owner has no contact info anymore and might have gone to Thailand?  I feel so bad for those folks as it actually was a super wonderful place to have a wedding and I was a huge fan of the catering too.  I’m sad that it’s not a place I can go visit or take a tour at anymore – as that’s a little bit of the reason I clicked on the website in the first place as I was thinking about maybe going back there for a tour.  But regardless, Larry and my wedding there is not something that can be taken away from me as the memories are just so magical.

I’ve linked to the local news station’s stories about it:

Brides Warn Of Wedding Scam After Venue Reservations Disappear

https://abc7.com/5292100/

Duvet Cover Update

To soften that heavy last post, here’s some pics of the duvet cover that I got at Pottery Barn on Saturday.   I love it, and after two nights with it, I’m happy with the sleep.  It adds a bit more weight to the blanket which is something I like.   We’ll see how the summer goes though.  Might have to revert back to just the blue.

Anyway, my mom’s assessment is today, so we’ll know what they think and how much care she really needs.  I’m nervous.

I’m making Larry’s pot roast recipe today in the slow cooker.   It smells delicious in here, and I hope he’s proud in some way that I’m still trying to cook his favorites.   I went to the grocery store yesterday to get not only ingredients for pot roast, but also the baked ziti and spaghetti carbonara.   The recipes are there but I know that there’s probably gonna be issues, but I gotta try.

Another Tough Stage

Obviously my last year and a half have been difficult, because obviously what Larry was going through and doing what we all could to fight for his survival and then make his death as comfortable as able.   There’s been another aspect of my life that has been very hard to deal with that ran concurrently with all of the above, and that’s about my mom.

Last January (in 2019), she ended up having to get fairly emergency surgery on her neck as the discs in her vertebrae were pressing against her spinal column.  It had manifested already in her having numb hands and feet, but it wasn’t sure what was causing that.   It could have been carpal tunnel and docs weren’t quite sure.   But when she went to the hairdresser and was getting laid down into the hair sink, her legs gave out as something pressed just too much on the spinal column during that action.   At the hospital, the neurologist was able to see surgery was necessary to release the pressure on her spinal cord or else much worse damage was to come.   The surgery to replace the discs and reduce the pressure was successful, although it didn’t really undo the numbness in her hands and feet.   Recovery was unfortunately necessary but it couldn’t be at the hospital, so we had to find a convalescent acute care facility for her.   Needless to say, that was a lot of stress for her.  2 weeks of that, and then she went home.   By then, she was already stressed out about her neck and head, and had a collar to keep her from moving it too much.

Going home was a whole scary event, but Stacie and I had gotten a caregiver service to be there 24/7 for her while she recovered.   Well, that basically kept her going but her anxiety and paranoia only got worse and got to the point where she stopped eating and sleeping because she was sure a piece of cheese was stuck in her throat and that if she slept, she’d stop breathing and die.   A trip to a psychiatrist got her drugs that calmed that anxiety down.  This was in March and it had been an exhausting time for all of us.

Throughout the rest of the year, instead of getting better and feeling more secure, she only got more scared about everything.   It took 2 months before she let us take the collar off her neck, which had absolutely not been necessary that long.  She refused to go upstairs and sleep as it was scary.  So she lived on the ground floor in the living room, sleeping on the couch.   She started to forget short term things, things that we had just talked about.  She couldn’t manage her own medications anymore, and wouldn’t go out with the caregivers to the store as she was afraid of falling.  She became utterly dependent on the walker we had gotten her, and her posture became the worse for wear and she wouldn’t walk upright as she was afraid she’d fall.   She stopped doing physical therapy, she stopped going upstairs at all for the shower, and she won’t watch anything but a few channels of TV as that’s I guess the only things she will watch where she won’t feel bad?   No movies, none of her other regular shows, just game show network and HGTV.

Visiting her was always bittersweet this year.   She does have memories and does know who we are.   But she’s been completely crippled by her fear, and some obsessive compulsive behaviors about food, sleeping, and moving that we are helpless to break at this point.

I’ve sped through what has happened this past year because it’s not necessary to detail the decline each day.   Who she was last January compared to now is shocking.  Stacie and I had talked about a home, but it wasn’t a giant priority at the time as I had to deal with Larry and Stacie was out of town starting her new career.   But now it’s time to act.   We visited some assisted living homes this past Friday, and found one that we both think she’ll be good in.   It makes me so sad to even realize I have to do this for someone who is only 71, but it’s no longer safe or beneficial for her to live at home and have a caregiver there.   I went yesterday, meeting Stacie there, to talk to mom about this decision.   We’d had discussions about it with her before, and of course the conversations were never great, but I think she always understood it was for her safety and benefit, even if she really wasn’t a huge fan of going.   But it’s time now.   She listened and understood, although of course you could tell it wasn’t great news for her.

I don’t really have any other options except to do this.   It will sound defensive of me to say, but fuck any of you who think this is me pawning off some kind of responsibility to give up my life and become her caregiver.  To be frank, I made a choice with Larry, and I had to do all that with him at the end.  I’m done with that.   I’m not qualified or willing to be a nurse, clean her shit, shower her and feed her.   Maybe there are others who would happily do that and to them I say god bless.  But fuck you if you think I’m now obligated to have to basically end my life doing this for the rest of what “youth” I do have.  I welcome your judgment though, and can’t wait to tell you, if you do have that thought, to go fuck yourself.   Where have you been this last year to help?  No one has been there for her, not her sisters, no one besides Stacie and me.   So yeah, get the fuck out of here if you think you’re going to judge me.

Having said that!  Yesterday after talking with mom, I left with Sveta.  She had come with me as I needed a witness for some paperwork to sign, and on the way back, we thought maybe to go grab some food.   So we went to Burger Basket, a place from our Monrovia childhoods.  Then after that, we made our way to Pasadena for a brief Starbucks stop, meandered around the Best Buy, and then drove to Michaels for some craft stuff as I’m trying to figure out what to do with me and Larry’s rings.   We then drove to Old Town Pasadena for a nice afternoon drinking at Rocco’s and shopping along the street.   We both got new sunglasses, and I got a new duvet cover for the bed, and bought some clothes at Lucky Brand.   All in all, a nice afternoon for what had been a pretty stressful week.  Then that night, I went to an absolutely hilarious improv show at the Largo called Middleditch and Schwartz.  Best improv I’ve ever seen, and ridiculously funny.

Anyway, I love you, mom, and I’m sorry what this last year has been for you.   I honestly think there’s a good chance you’ll be happy at this new place when we do this, and you’ll get some good chances for socializing, security knowing someone is always there, and just having that comfort.

Some Pictures from Saturday, Feb 29: