Living with Post Pandemic Chaos

Living with Post Pandemic Chaos

It’s that time again, the moment when I look at the blog posts I’ve written recently and realize it’s been most of a year since I talked about my life outside of writing. I don’t mean to leave everyone hanging so long between updates. But I do consider my personal life one of the least interesting things I can talk about, especially compared to my characters and stories. (I’m trying to be better about that.)

It doesn’t help that 2022 seems to have ramped up the insanity. I think I say that every year since the pandemic started. Every year I can’t imagine how things could get crazier than they have been. It’s almost like a challenge to the universe, isn’t it?

I think what makes 2022 so chaotic compared to previous years, however, is that the pandemic restrictions have been steadily lifting. Life is slowly returning to normal. And as it does, we’re adding old routines back on top of new routines. So instead of returning to a pre-pandemic level of activity, we’re all doing everything we did prior to the pandemic as well as everything we started doing during the pandemic.

Turns out it’s a lot.

But I also think it’s the good kind of busy. And though I wouldn’t mind a few moments to breathe in between big events, I think things are also going better than they have since the pandemic started as well.

The Best News

The best thing about the lifting of restrictions is that we’ve been able to start visiting people again. Digital hangouts are great, especially when time, budget and other restraints keep people apart. But there’s nothing quite like gathering people you care about in the same room with you.

Last October, for Canadian Thanksgiving, we hosted three guests – my husband’s parents and my best friend. Since then we’ve been able to organize several other small visits. Friends we met during the pandemic were finally able to make the short drive between nearby towns so that we could connect in person for a weekend of food and a quick round of Dungeons and Dragons.

My in-laws came back for a brief trip in May to help us built raised garden planters in the backyard. These were quickly filled with peppers and radishes, which have since begun to produce a small but tidy harvest.

For the first time since 2019, my husband and I are actually planning to travel ourselves. We’ll be flying to Ontario to visit with family and another set of friends we met during the pandemic who have been eagerly awaiting a chance to meet face-to-face.

It’s surreal to think of stepping into an airport, let alone visiting a place on the other side of the content. For so long our world has been narrowed to just the four walls we occupy and the landscape immediately surrounding. But it’s exciting too. Lately I find myself longing for place I haven’t been able to go in some time, for the freedom and experience of a bigger world.

Of course, I experienced at least one moment of pure panic when I realized I needed to make sure our passports were actually up to date!

The Good News

On a smaller scale, there are many benefits to the lifting of the covid restrictions. We’ve been able to hold several small birthday gatherings, for example. One of our friends gathered a small group to attend a local combat guild sword fighting lessen. Which was understandably exciting for a fantasy writer. (I learned so much!)

My husband is a school teacher and the greatest benefit of the shifting schedule this year has been the return of extracurricular activities. It’s been two years since many of his students were able to participate in school sports. There’s been an explosion of excitement and activity, and the best part has been seeing the joy of students as they return to fields and courts long left unused. I can’t count the number of sports days we’ve seen proceed in the rain.

Everyone is glad to be using shared outdoor spaces again, and it shows.

Of course the addition of extra activities means a strain on the schedule. It’s hard to find time for all the things we want to do. No sooner does a month arrive than is every weekend packed full of the desired activities, often forcing us to push back other events we’re equally excited about.

On the one hand, this is a good problem to have. On the other, it reminds me how exhausting a social life is for an introvert. Especially an introvert who has grown used to either lack of contact with people or indirect contact via digital means. There’s been a fair amount of inadvertent double booking or having to rearrange last minute plans because something came up. (Including, on at least one occasion, a member of the group coming down with covid.)

But overall, I’m glad we’re able to do all these things again.

The Bad News

The chaos hasn’t all been good. As covid restrictions lift, delayed projects also resume. This means we’ve been doing a lot of house work we meant to do years ago, and our wallets are certainly starting to feel the activity. Structures also don’t break based on whether or not there’s a pandemic happening. So we’ve actually been lucky a few of these big projects managed to wait until this summer.

Case in point, on the first truly hot day of this summer, our central air conditioning unit decided it was done with this world. This was after I had been carefully monitoring its cooling for two weeks. (The death was not entirely unanticipated. But the timing was still awful.)

We have membership with a really great plumbing and hvac service in town, and they took good care of us. We only had to survive one hot day without the portable AC they loaned us. But it still took a week before they could get the new unit installed. The weather cooperated for much of that time, but there were some dicey days.

Meanwhile, the fence situation in our back yard has been growing ever more dire. Shortly before the pandemic, the neighbor on one side decided to replace the shared fence (with our blessing). But the other side was finally starting to fall over. We spoke with the neighbor and agreed on a style for the replacement. We also noted that the fence was ever so slightly off the property line in one spot, which would need to be fixed.

Unfortunately, the guys we hired to install the new fence were a little careless with their initial measurements. Which led to an attempt to steal three feet off of our lawn – right through our new planters! It was only a quick morning disruption. But added to the pile of other things that dropped at about the same moment, it caused a fair amount of chaos.

More Post Pandemic Plans

But while I would say that we have a higher number of things than usual to manage these days, I would also say that things are going well overall. None of the house repairs have taxed our bank account too heavily. (Hurray for small blessings!) And most of the activities keeping us busy have been things we’ve wanted to do for a long time.

Writing proceeds apace. I’ve had to spend a lot of time counting work slots to make sure I’ll be able to meet the rest of the year’s goals. But I think I’m on track for one of my most epic years yet.

As the big things settle down, I’m hoping we’ll be able to tackle some smaller projects. There are some shelves I’d like to hang above my desk, for example. (The better to display more geeky things on.) I’d also like to finally get some of the art we bought in England properly framed, now that we can actually visit art stores safely again. We also have a bunch of small home improvement projects like painting the doors and replacing the hardware that we’ve been putting off.

The to-do list is long. And seems to ever grow rather than shrink these days. But on the flip side, it feels good to be moving forward again instead of spinning in circles!

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