Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Eight


May 1st

Yesterday afternoon, the doctor’s office called and said that I could do a telehealth appointment this morning instead of going into the office. I jumped at that chance, obviously. My appointment took around ten minutes, which is the same length it takes when I go in person, but the difference is that I didn’t have to drive twenty-five minutes there and twenty-five minutes back home. So it definitely saved time, not to mention, it means no exposure to The Rona. I did go to the pharmacy yesterday, and I’ll probably have to go back later this afternoon to pick up the prescriptions renewed at this visit. Also, yesterday afternoon I bid adieu to my hair and shaved it all off. I sincerely hope it never gets that long again! I felt like a hippie.


We are nearing the end of the semester, thankfully. One more week of “classes” and then final exams the week of the 11th. I’ll be slammed with grading on Sunday as I have writing assignments coming in from all six classes. Originally, I had my big 1301 and 1302 assignments due one week apart to make it easier on me to grade them, but with The Rona and all, I wanted to give the students as much time as possible to work on them. It makes for a more compressed grading window for me, but that is okay. I’m usually a fast grader anyway, and I’m going to get a head start tomorrow by grading everything that has been turned in up to that point. I’m ready to get this semester over with, as I’m sure my students are too.

As soon as it ends, I’ll turn my focus to writing my third book. I know, I know. You want to read Molly’s Song. I’ll be working on edits in the afternoons while I’m writing the first draft of the third novel in the mornings. I still hope to have her story wrapped up and ready to go by mid-October. I want to stick to my schedule for writing the third book. The bright side is that Molly’s Song and the third novel ought to come out in rapid sequence, so at least there is that, right? I have my days where I wonder why I spend so much time and expend so much of my limited energies writing books that, let’s be honest here, aren’t bestsellers. I don’t have a ready answer for that other than to say that writing makes me happy (while at the same time frustrating the ever living shit out of me). I don’t write for fame or fortune. I write because it is the only thing in my life that gives me a sense of excitement that approaches that which I felt in my previous occupation. On the subject of writing, I’m wondering when I should consider bringing my Journal of a Pandemic Year to a close. Our state is starting to re-open today and so we will not be in lock down mode much longer. I might keep it running for a few more weeks, maybe through 10 installments, and then evaluate where the state and country are at that point. (I think this early re-openings are going to cause a resurgence in cases, but that is just my opinion).

May 2nd

 The night before last, I made a new friend. I was sitting on my front porch around 8:30pm, and an orange and white cat came up and got in my lap. She looks like she is around eighteen months, maybe two years old. Her fur is in good condition and she looks healthy, so I am assuming that maybe she belongs to someone who lets her out at night. Last night, she came back to visit me again. She is very talkative. I offered her some food, and she ate a little bit, but didn’t seem all that hungry. I wonder if I’ll see her again this evening. I guess I’ll find out later.


My new friend. I call her Tatiana. 

For breakfast this morning, I had a piece of red velvet cake and a can of Ensure. My stomach has been angry with me ever since. Given my history of recurrent bowel obstructions, every twinge in the stomach is enough to send me into panic mode as it gives me flashbacks of NG tubes and weeks in the hospital, not to mention surgeries which rearranged my intestines. I’m hoping that it eases up soon. I’d hate to be in the hospital right now. That would almost certainly put you at risk of catching The Rona. Plus, I think the hospitals around me are not allowing people to have visitors, so that would REALLY be boring! And don’t even get me started on the fact that there aren’t any sports to watch either! No thanks. I’ll just hope this discomfort passes. This is a bad time to have either a bowel obstruction or The Rona given that next week is my final week of classes, and the week after is final exams and grade deadlines. I started this semester in the hospital and I absolutely do not want to end it the same way.

It’s kind of funny to think about, but apart from not going to work five days a week, the lockdown hasn’t really changed my life all that much. Other than work, I only leave the house for doctor appointments or trips to the pharmacy (and occasionally the convenience store). I’m not leaving for doctor appointments now, but I still make a once a month run to the pharmacy. Other than that, I’m in my room working on my computer while some television program mindlessly drones on in the background. At 6:30pm, I lay down on my ice packs for an hour and read while watching TV with Anastasia. I get up and sit outside from 7:45 to 9:00 and talk to my wife (and also the orange cat now). It is ice packs again at 9:00pm. At 10, I get up and have a snack. I turn the lights out around 11. I’m waking up around 7 or 730 these days, which is preferable to the 0530 wake up call during normal semesters!

May 3rd

 I’ve discovered a new epic period drama to binge watch. It is called Love in Chains and it is free for those who have an Amazon Prime account. You can find it here. It is a Ukrainian production, but filmed in Russian. If you do not speak Russian, don’t worry…it has English subtitles. It’s a love story set in the mid-19th Century. The landscape and the costumes are stunning, as are quite a few of the actresses, if I may say so myself. It ran for two seasons with 48 episodes total, so it’ll fill some of your days if you are finding them empty. At times funny, at times brutal, it is a worthy companion to other great Eastern European period drams. I try to watch a certain amount of Russian language programming each month to keep my comprehension skills up, but I’ve been a bit negligent in that regard during The Rona.


Love in ChainsNo….it’s not like Fifty Shades of Gray, despite the name and image

My stomach is feeling a little better today, actually, it started to feel a little better last night. So I’m fairly certain now that it wasn’t a new small bowel obstruction, or, if it was, it cleared on its own. It could have been due to the large piece of red velvet cake I had for breakfast. Perhaps that was not the wisest morning meal. Otherwise, I feel okay, apart from the usual stiffness and pain in my spine. I’m used to that, or a certain level of pain. I only notice it if it is worse than normal. The orange cat has come by every night and she also stopped by this morning. I am calling her Tatiana. I think that’s a good name for a girl cat. (Kind of like my “little” princess Anastasia). I saw some news footage from down the bay in Galveston yesterday. It was packed with people and no sign of people wearing masks or social distancing. Admittedly, it was a beautiful day yesterday. But do you want The Rona? Cause that’s how you get The Rona. I guess some people think it is worth the risk, yet they’ll be the first ones bitching when they get sick and can’t get immediate care due to all the others who also got sick from not adhering to the guidelines. We saw this all the time in fire department. The very same people who love to talk about how much they support first responders are the first ones to complain if it takes us more than thirty seconds to get to them when they call 911. Human beings are not rational creatures, despite what we may believe about ourselves. I don’t know if I believe in aliens or not, but if they are real, then it is no surprise to me that they won’t come down and visit us. I’d stay away too.

May 5th

 I skipped an entry for yesterday, May 4th, because very little of note happened. It was Saint Florian’s Day. He’s the patron saint of firefighters and so it is also International Firefighters Day. That’s not really a day that I know how to celebrate though, especially seeing as how I’m no longer on the job. For my bitch session for yesterday though, my college sent out an email yesterday afternoon with a mandatory two hour online training we have to do that is due the same day our grades are due. It’s the end of the semester, and we are all swamped with everything that goes along with that, and now we get this dumped on us. The email said the training is to comply with a new bill that passed the legislature. But…..the bill isn’t new. It passed in May of 2019, and this training has been made available at other institutions weeks ago. For example, my wife did the exact same course in early April. So I’m very curious as to why we are just now being made aware of it.


Saint Florian, pray for us.

This morning, I typed a final exam for my 1301 course and uploaded it to Blackboard along with a new review sheet. That took up a few hours. Tomorrow, I’ll tackle 1302. The end of the semester is in sight and it cannot come soon enough for me! Given the way the semester started, I was already ready for it to be over and that was before The Rona. I’m looking forward to seven weeks of no emails and nothing to do school wise until it is time to prepare for my Summer 2 courses. That’ll take some work though since I’ve never taught a 5 week course online. Usually, I teach face to face in the summers, but that is out the window now. For evening distraction, I downloaded a new game for the PlayStation. I wanted to branch out and play something outside of my usual games, so I bought a hockey game. It’s been fun so far, and somewhat educational. My knowledge of hockey is limited to the fact that I know the US beat the Soviets in 1980. That was about it before I started playing the game. Now, I know what a power play is and what offsides and icing are. It kind of reminds me of basketball, but with skates. Incidentally, I have never been ice skating. In the 80s when roller skating rinks were popular, I couldn’t make it five feet without busting my ass on the ground, so I avoid any chance to ice skate since, at least to me, that looked a lot harder than roller skating. However, I will gladly defer to someone more knowledgeable about both than I am.

I did see today that my city has the third highest number of Rona cases in the county. Lucky us, right? And yet everyone here is going around congregating in public places with no masks and no gloves all because the governor said that it is okay to re-open things. We’ll see an explosion of cases in the next ten days, no doubt. Also…finally…the painters are supposed to come back this afternoon to put another coat of paint on the rails around the porch. They were supposed to be here this morning. It is now almost 3pm and they aren’t here yet, but will allegedly be here in around thirty minutes. That’s great. But…we have a strong line of storms that is going to start pushing through the area at around 5:30pm. Which puts us right back at square one.

May 6th

 The painter managed to finish in time to let everything dry before we got pounded by more storms last night. It is a typical pattern for this area in the spring. Once a week or so, sometimes more, it’ll be hot as hell all day and then a massive line of fast moving storms will blow through around sundown. Thankfully we are far enough south that the weather has usually started to break up by the time it gets to us, so we avoid the hail that often accompanies it. At least now, with the new roof, things are a little more secure. Though I’m sure that if it got damaged, the insurance would figure out another way to deny it. And on that front, still no word from them in regards to the additional documentation they submitted. The documentation was submitted on April 16th. I emailed them to check the status and they said it was “in review” on April 28th. (Funny how it took less than a week to deny the claim but they are dragging their feet with the review). I’ll send another email next Tuesday and tell them that if I haven’t gotten an update by the end of the week, I’ll be turning it over to my attorney. It is bullshit that I have to do all this for a $7500 claim which even their own adjuster said was wind damage. Now, I’m going to write my 1302 final exam.

I got excited earlier today because I had a call from a 512 area code. I knew it would be the insurance. It was! But all they said was that the claim had been forwarded to a different department to review and that I would have a decision in two weeks. That’ll be six weeks since I submitted the additional documentation and close to two months from the time of the original claim. I guess I should just be happy they haven’t said no yet, but I’m sure they’ll say no in two weeks. The important thing is that it is fixed. The bad thing is that I need the insurance money to be able to replace the wiring. Patience is a virtue though…or so I’ve been told.


So I finished the 24 episodes of Love in Chains. I’m hooked and eagerly went to start Season 2. That’s when I discovered Amazon’s tactic! Season Two is not free for Prime Members and instead, costs $19.99. Of course I paid it! Like I said, I’m hooked!

May 7th

 And just like that, another week has gone by. Time is passing pretty quickly. Yesterday evening, I learned that I was nominated to be the Task Force to Re-Open the College. I guess we will come up with a phased plan for re-opening. I guess we’ll be meeting via BB Collaborate or doing everything by email. I have a sneaking suspicion that my inclusion is due to the email I sent back before Spring Break with a laundry list of things we should be doing to prepare for what ended up becoming a reality. That coupled with the fact that I am unable to say no when asked to handle something or do something work related. It was the same way in the fire department. I always ended up doing extra stuff (for no extra pay, mind you) when asked. I guess I’m of the mind that if it has to be done, it may as well be me doing it.

My final exams are made and I’m caught up with grading for now. It’s all over but the crying. I am fairly certain that, with all our students taking all their finals online, that Blackboard will crash at some point next week. My guess is that it will go down around 8pm on Wednesday when every student tries to log in and complete every final at the last minute. (The deadline is 11:59pm on Wednesday the 13th). Blackboard is a great course delivery platform, but it does tend to be a little buggy and it has a tendency to crash during periods of peak usage. That’s the nature of the beast, but we’ll make the best of it since that is all we can do.

I cannot begin to tell you how ready I am for the semester to be over. It’s not that I have big plans for the summer or anything. I’ll still be socially distanced at home. It was a bad semester for me before The Rona, and it didn’t really get any better as time passed by. Next week will be a headache, for sure, but once I’ve submitted grades on Thursday morning, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief. I’ll take that weekend (15th through the 17th) to mentally switch gears, and then I’ll dive into writing the first draft of Dark Raven on the 18th. Getting lost in Imperial Russia and swept up in the Revolution is just the ticket to put a taxing semester behind me. Who knows, maybe I’ll run into my Машка or my literary crush Aksinia. On that note, your homework assignment for the summer is to read Quiet Flows the Don and The Don Flows Home to the Sea. They are technically one book, but were published as two when translated into English. There is no need to write a book report for me though, just read them and enjoy them, as I have many, many times.


Я люблю тебя, мой голубоглазый ангел.

Until next time, Dear Readers, take care of yourselves, and each other.

While keeping a safe distance, of course!


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