I started this post when it had been 100 days since the first COVID-19 case was reported to the World Health Organization. Now it has been over 6 months. Half of the year. I have been working from home for exactly 4 months today – since March 17th. How can I even describe all that has happened in the last 6 months? I’m going to try to write it out so I can look back and remember. It’s also a way to process some of the overwhelming feelings bouncing around in my head.
It was New Years Eve when the first case of COVID-19 was discovered in Wuhan China. Well maybe it has been around way longer than that disguised as flu like symptoms before we knew about Coronavirus but who knows. Brian and I were celebrating the upcoming year with our friends in Nashville. Just like every NYE, we were hopeful for all that the new year and new decade would bring. Our 2019 was pretty epic so we were stoked to see what 2020 had to offer. Nothing could have prepared us for a worldwide pandemic and all the craziness that 2020 would hold.
In January, I started hearing about Coronavirus because I work in manufacturing and it was affecting all of our factories in China. As January turned into February, Chinese New Year hit and they had a mandatory extension of the holiday to keep travel to a minimum. I kept reading articles on the internet about the spread of the virus and trying to learn as much as I could. It was tricky to know what to believe with the Chinese government having such an impact on what the media reports. I feel like that sentiment hasn’t gone away in my mind as the virus has spread and come closer to home. I don’t even want to think about how the US has handled this crisis because I don’t have positive thoughts. There is a lot of noise around all the information with different people feeding their own personal and political agendas. I remember talking with some coworkers in early February saying “I wonder if this is like in a crazy movie when everything feels normal because the chaos hasn’t gotten to us yet.” And slowly but surely, it started creeping closer.
Personally, Brian and I had a trip planned to go to Europe in the middle of April. We were flying into Barcelona then going to Nice for a few days then meeting up with some friends in Tuscany. Brian hasn’t used his passport at all yet. I have never been to mainland Europe. We were so stoked for this trip. When COVID-19 began to hit Italy hard and they started to go into lockdown, I still didn’t think it was going to be so bad. I thought it was just part of Italy and wasn’t worried because we were going to be traveling much further south than that. Then it became a waiting game for more updates. We didn’t know what the airlines would do if we wanted to cancel and our trip was still 7 weeks away. A few days later, our friends who had rented the villa in Tuscany where we were staying told us that they were postponing the trip for a year. At that point we were contemplating still going to Europe and changing our return flight to not be out of Rome. A couple weeks later, we just decided to cancel. Luckily, we cancelled online and American refunded our flights.
Other than our Europe trip planning, our beginning of the year was pretty casual. We tried new recipes and cooked a lot! We celebrated our engagement-iversary on January 23rd. It was our first midwest winter which was definitely an adjustment. Luckily, this year was a “mild” winter for Wisconsin. I went to some puppy yoga sessions. We explored Madison in the winter which was fun. The frozen lakes are gorgeous! I jumped back into working out. Oh, and I joined a golf league at a driving range in town called Vitense. I met my mom in Florida to find a venue for our wedding next year. It was definitely nice to get to warmer weather outside the winter that I was living in in Wisconsin. Brian and I went to the ice bar at our neighborhood bar, Cafe Hollander, while it was open. We did shots in ice shot glasses that we were able to smash afterwards. Brian led a tequila tasting class at our apartment. We went snow tubing at Tyrol Basin. I sliced my pinky with a mandolin slicer. Our puppy was born on March 7th! I got my hair dyed and cut for the first time since July! Margarita March Madness was happening in full force and I had plans with friends to show up every week. Life was pretty normal for us.
In early March Italy completely went into lockdown. I watched a video of Italians recording messages for Americans telling us to take this seriously because we were only 10 days behind them and it was brutal in Italy. They said that they didn’t think it would be that bad and they underestimated the virus. I started to get nervous about how COVID would hit The States.
On March 17th I started working from home. No one knew how long that would be happening because everything was unclear. We were all trying to “flatten the curve” and “social distance.” Brian’s bartaco shut down on Friday March 20th. He had to let his whole hourly staff go but the management team stayed on. The management team cleaned up the whole restaurant over the next few weeks then months. Brian and I have had a lot of extra time together since we had nights and weekends with each other. We cooked even more than we already had been doing because all the restaurants were shut down. Some places did have takeout so we supported a few of those. Domino’s has been our biggest takeout go to over the past few months because they have the delivery game down to a science. Although we try to support local restaurants with takeout, we have realized that we thoroughly enjoy the whole restaurant experience and that it is a huge part what we love about most of the restaurants that we frequent.
I stopped looking at my 2020 planner because there really wasn’t a way to plan. Nobody knew when anything would go back to “normal” or what the world would look like on the other side of coronavirus. This is the only time in my adult life that I haven’t had any trips planned for the future or even if I do buy flights, we aren’t sure if the trip will actually happen. We are planning our wedding for next February and I’m start to get nervous about changing plans because of COVID. I’m sooooo very thankful we weren’t originally trying to plan a 2020 wedding and it was always 2021 that we were targeting.
Some fun quarantine/coronavirus silver linings have happened. We celebrated Neptune’s 5th birthday with a cake about which she was unenthused. My friend Jacqui had a quarantine birthday so I compiled a video for her! Brian tried yoga for the first time. We explored our neighborhood and found a walking trail and a cool dock on the water. We learned about Jackbox games and starting playing those a lot. I had virtual happy hours with coworkers to replace our normal after works hangs. Brian made copycat hot chicken that was perfect! Heartburn and all.
April came along. The Vibrant Badass theme I had chosen for April was “EXPLORE” but that looked a lot different in quarantine than the original Euro trip plan. My new sub-themes under explore were movement, food, tutorials, books, social, planning, wine, self-care, puppy prep and community. My friend Emily did an April self-care challenge that I participated in. Brian had a bout of pancreatitis that led him to the ER. He is okay and healthy now but it was not a good time for him. We found Parfrey’s Glen Natural Area after a friend suggested it which was a beautiful hiking trail with a waterfall. I got an update from my company that I needed to take 3 weeks furlough time throughout the rest of the year starting in the middle of April. Brian made spaghetti and meatballs for the first time ever. We played lots of Sequence, Phase 10 and Uno. The power of the internet and facetime helped us play beer pong with friends in Nashville. We had Sunday funday on the day we would have been flying home from Rome with crab legs, gin cocktails, French 75s, Italian rosé, and pizza.
In May we celebrated Brian’s birthday. A lot of our friends sent birthday video messages and cards to help celebrate from a distance. Brian got a new grill for his birthday which has stepped up our cooking at home game. Burgers, steaks, ribs, and shrimp have been our staples so far! On Brian’s birthday, we went golfing with our neighbors which was my first time ever playing golf with Brian and he was excited about my skill level. I’m obviously not great because I’m a very beginner but he expected my base level to be much worse. It is a fun new shared hobby for us that we have had time to pick up in the last few months. On May the 4th we brought home our little Star Wars puppy named Naboo. She was an 8 week old bundle of spunk and joy. Spending so much time at home has been great for bonding with the new little pup. I have posted a few blog posts with pictures of her and you can find pictures of her and her sister on instagram by following @neptuneandnaboo 🙂 It was our first Cinco without bartaco in 4 years. Usually Cinco is Brian’s busiest day of the year so it was surreal to make margs at home and have a chill day. When the pandemic first hit us, we were hoping bartaco would reopen in early May just in time for Cinco but that did not happen. I really miss pork belly tacos and duck quesadillas. Workout wise, I finished a 30 day squat challenge with a coworker, finished the Centr6 workout program and started another 6 week program called Centr Unleashed. The morning after Memorial Day we got a call to find out that one of our best friends in Nashville had been shot at her home the previous night. It’s not my story to tell so I won’t go into detail but following a car break-in, she was shot in the calf while she was on her second floor balcony. Thankfully and luckily, the bullet only hit muscle and no bones or nerves but it has been a long, emotional healing period for her and I cry every time I think about it. The whole situation could have been much much worse and she is recovering well but it should never have happened in the first place.
As June came along, there was a new level of unease in the country with racism being exposed on a higher level than ever before. There were peaceful protests in lots of cities and a bit of rioting as well. Some people participated in blackout Tuesday where they silenced their feeds to let the messages coming from BIPOC accounts to have more visibility. I decided to not post on social media for the whole month of June. I have been doing personal anti-racist work in my own life to learn more about the society that we live in and how it is different for people that are not my same skin tone. Also in June I started going back into my office a couple of days per week. It was kind of weird to have a commute again but it was nice to have a desk and bigger monitor than just my laptop screen. Brian and I were trying to reign in our food budget and decided to make sandwiches as our main food staple. We got a panini maker to help hold us to this. We made lots of fun paninis, wraps, and quesadillas. On June 13th, Brian and I celebrated National Rosé Day with lots of wine. The following weekend we took a quick trip to Nashville to see some of our best friends and surprise our pregnant friend for her gender reveal party on her birthday. The surprise was a success! It felt so good to get out of town for a few days and just relax. We spent a day on a boat that was the least stressed I had felt in months. Naboo kept getting bigger and bigger and we take her on lots of walks around the neighborhood. I finished the Centr Unleashed program and was very happy with the results.
Brian and I have loved hanging out together and we haven’t gotten tired of each other yet. Our friends joked that this is a good experience to make sure that we want to marry each other. This time has only strengthened us. He is so good at being spontaneous and going with the flow and I have tried to let that rub off on me during this very uncertain time in life. We have each other and that is worth a lot. Even when we start to get annoyed at each other, we let it happen and get over it. One of my favorite things about us as a couple is how much we enjoy whatever we do. We laugh with (and/or at) each other every day. Even with so much up in the air right now, I know we will be fine and figure everything out together for our future. We have our wedding planned for next February in Florida. It is such a weird time to plan a wedding but I cannot wait to marry the love of my life!
At the beginning of July, Brian started to travel for bartaco. The new plan is for him to travel for 2 weeks then come home for a week at a time until there is a plan for the Hilldale location. While he is away, I have been trying to eat a lot more veggies. I’m very thankful to have Neptune and Naboo to keep me company in babe’s absence. My friend gave me a fitbit a few weeks ago so I have been trying to hit my 10,000 steps as many days as possible. The fitbit also tracks sleep and water so I do my best to get 7-8 hours of sleep and drink at least 64 ounces of water. Another thing I have been working on while Brian is away is more organization in the apartment which has been a nice change! Right now he is back for a week and I’m soaking it up. He is very tired from his two weeks back working 12 hour days but we are still making some time for fun things. Brian took Naboo to her first puppy kindergarten class. We have hit up a few restaurants for Burger week. I’m definitely looking forward to a spa day on Sunday when we are getting couples massages.
I don’t know when Coronavirus will be under control in the US but I cannot wait to travel again. Brian doesn’t know when his bartaco location will reopen. There are a lot of uncertainties for everyone. I am doing my best to stay positive everyday and keep up hope for the future. For now, I’m just gonna roll with it and try not to worry about things that are out of my control. Be safe, y’all. Wear a mask and be nice to other people. We are all dealing with this crazy crisis together. Cheers.