Monthly Archives: March 2021
The sounds of silence (sort of)
Badger and I sipped (okay he sniffed) on the balcony this morning. Birds busily tweeted their morning chores, a lonely school bell pinged its shrill on centuries-old stone and brick, construction vehicles groaned, growled, gnashed their way through steel and earth. With all that action, you know what wasn’t included in this morning’s orchestra? School children squealing their last bits before the bell, impatient drivers using their horns to hammer out their frustrations, and pedestrians staggering on cobblestone to get to work.
We’re on an “Easter pause.” We’ve been mandated to retreat back into our living rooms — our year-long game of hide and seek with those spiky corona particles. Belgian schools have closed a week early (basically getting a 3-week spring break) while employers have been warned there better be a darned good reason for any of their employees to be coming to work versus working from home. This apparently doesn’t apply to construction workers. We also didn’t hear the scrape of train moving on rail, but that’s because they’re on strike (again). That’s one way to get an extra break (and good timing since it won’t affect a lot of folk).
Shops also can no longer be visited without an appointment, and you can forget about getting your hair, face or nails done. They’re closed for a month. The sun, of course, is out. It’s become a local joke that if we go into stricter lockdowns, the sun comes out. I’m okay with it because I can take long walks during my breaks. My school has gone virtual for the week. Since it’s the end of our grading quarter, we have more planning/grading time built in, so I’m happy about having this extra time to do the things I need to do. I’m not happy about having to delete some difficult stuff because I just don’t have the time I need with the kids. They, on the other hand, are pretty darn excited about having easier work. Fingers crossed they don’t get too enthralled in their video games and forget to do the easy stuff, which then means me pestering them and their parents with “oh child” emails.
I do, however, LOVE getting to sip my morning coffee on the balcony. Sure I can do it on normal work days too, but it’s rushed because I’ve gotta get dressed and factor in my commute time.
Spring is most certainly here with all of her glory. Since I’ve had both my shots, I didn’t mind visiting our Sunday market yesterday where I bought some adorable seasonal plants to spruce up my home.
Well the gin was from a local store, and it’s quite nice with Italian citrus soda — my now after-work balcony beverage.
So yeah, here we go again. We’re getting good at this work from home, celebrate via take away, don’t leave Belgium thing.
So, there you have it folk. I have a week of lovely weather and the chance to walk in it to look forward to. I also have a week of accomplishing more planning than I normally would get the chance to, and then I have two weeks off to look forward to (I plan on reading, walking and sipping my little heart out). So, while I’m bummed that our hospital numbers are again rising too rapidly for anyone’s comfort, over all I’m thankful for the time to enjoy my time at home (while plotting and planning for when I can also travel again).
Anniversary of sorts
Well we’ve hit a few milestones. Last week was the one year anniversary of lockdown. This week was the one year anniversary of teaching virtual (although we haven’t done that in a long while). On Friday we finally had the accreditation visit we were supposed to have last year — virtually, so class visits won’t happen until next school year. Etc. etc. And we’re still in blahsville. Numbers are going up again, bars and restaurants still closed, uncertainty still very much apart of it all. Planning vacations is a bitch because, well, you don’t know if you can go anywhere. That said, I have two vacation homes booked this summer. Regardless of what the world holds for us, I am going to see my kids and grandson this summer. My poor grandson is going to be so disappointed when he sees me face to face. On video calls, his first words are always “Filters!” Then he sticks his tongue out waiting for butterflies or rainbows to pop out. It’s going to be a mindfuck when he realizes Oma in real life does not come with photo filters.
Life is rolling along as it always does with not a whole lot of new to report, but I guess here are the newish things that I can remember happened since the last time I wrote:
*My dog is on more meds than a nursing home patient, including a new monthly shot to help with pain. LOL he’s all excited and puppy like for a bit, and then sleeps for hours to make up for that extra burst of energy. That said he’s still wagging his entire body and greeting me at the door at the end of my workday, and he’s still tripping me up while I’m cooking in the kitchen, hoping I’ll drop something good. He’s so old he even gets excited over dropped carrots.
*It’s been two weeks since my second Moderna shot, so I’m good to go. Joe is still waiting on his appointment for his first shot. Europe is discussing a vaccine passport deal, which works for me but not him so far. Fingers crossed he’ll be on his way to being all dosed up too.
*Thanks to stress, hormones, and age, I experienced an influx of heart palpitations and vision migraines, which motivated me to get checked. The hospitals with known English speakers had longer wait times, so I went with another clinic where I got to experience health care Belgium style. Luckily, work also provides medical liaisons who will translate over the phone when needed (pantomiming, Google Translate and my choppy French worked just fine).
While there were issues with my not fully understanding instructions, all went well. Everyone was kind and as helpful as they could be. I had a series of tests, including having to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours, which also included no douche (that’s a shower, people). I did discover that aint no one got time for modesty. The nurse tells you to take off your shirt, whalla you do it right there in front of her, sit your fat ass on the table and let her hook you up while doctors, nurses, whomever of all genders walk in and out. I joked about it being obvious I eat too much croissants, the nurse (who was thankfully bigger than me) joked about it being about beer (I love that they share my passion for alcohol).
The day I got to meet the cardiologist, the same nurse told me “Doctor speak Englaise.” I yelped Magnifique and we were both pretty damn pleased with our obviously bilingual selves.
The cardiologist, however, while a nice enough man, wasn’t much for talking. “Who sent you here?” I explained what was happening and that the clinic at work sent me because of my symptoms. “Your report shows palpations, but for you (via facial and body language says — you know chunky, premenopausal) normal. Everything is very good.”
Then he looks down, and I’m waiting for him to say something else, he looks up “anything else I can do for you?” And that was it. I’m healthy — a fat, hormonal wreck, but healthy. He then returns my paperwork and says “for reimbursement.” You see since my insurance is American, I have to pay costs up front and then my insurance will reimburse me. I broke the bank at 33 euros.
Good news is most of the stuff that was causing me stress is now officially in the past, and I’m back to normal. I’m also walking more and attempting to eat healthier — hence the carrot and broccoli droppings in my kitchen versus chips and sausage.
*Folks are getting restless, especially the young. Our local police prevented a vandalism outbreak yesterday, but yeah we’re all sick and tired of being sick and tired. I get it, but I don’t get breaking shit because you’re bored. It is super hard to face another spring break with no where to go and no bars or restaurants to gather and no legal parties to whoop it up at. Don’t get me wrong my neighbors are certainly whooping it up, but it’s in smaller groups. We even broke the rules by going over to a friend’s place to eat a traditional dish from their home country (yum!) and sip some bevies, BUT we were home by curfew.
It’s even harder when we see people being able to frolic mask free in other parts of the world. As a friend of mine would say, “Come on man, it’s a mask. What’s so hard about wearing a mask?” Agreed. And not going to a bar is a lot easier than it is for those who can’t work and earn at that bar, so while I hate lockdown, I also know that again I am one of the lucky ones. Joe and I are also fully aware that if we didn’t have our local restrictions, we’d be out there mingling until the mingling did us in, and with our unhealthy lifestyle I doubt it would have been just a really bad cold or mild flu.
This time last year I would never in a million years have expected to still be here not going anywhere, but the key is I AM still here. It’ll be interesting to see where we are this time next year. Please tell me on a beach with sand in my ass and chilled rum in my hand.
As for work, I’m on the downhill. While there is no debating the extra stress this year has caused all of us, I am glad I got to work face to face with my kids. Was it the healthiest or smartest thing? I honestly don’t know, but my time with them has been as good for me as I believe it was for them. So, I’ll take that positive and cherish it. My job, as frustrating and unfair as it can sometimes be, is truly a gift, and I am so very grateful it is where my path has taken me.
On that note, the sun is fighting its way through our haze, so I should probably go take a walk — lol and then reward myself with a mimosa (it has vitamin C).