pandemic diaries: weeks 50-52

Well, here we are, one year later. I'm not sure if I'll continue these pandemic diaries past the one-year mark, which is today (marking the anniversary as the last day my kids attended school in-person). I'm glad I've done it, but there are at least half-a-dozen other topics I'd like to write about over the last couple of months that I've put off because it takes all the wee bit of extra time and energy I have every few weeks (with respect to this blog) just to update this. So we'll see. I guess I'll check in with myself in 2-3 weeks and go from there.

Grandma Rose at the John Day Fossil Beds in Oregon in 2007.

In the meantime, here's how the last three weeks have gone. The biggest, saddest news is that my 94 year old grandmother, who I was so relieved to learn when I talked to her earlier in February had just received her first COVID vaccine, passed away one week ago today. I'll write more about her later, because she was a really special and important person in my life. For now, I'll just say that I take some comfort in knowing she died in her home, surrounded by her adult children, not alone in a hospital. But even after a wonderful, long life, it's not easy to say goodbye. I got to talk to her just hours before she died. I hope she heard my words. I'm double-masking and making the short flight up to Bend, Oregon, tomorrow so I can be there for her funeral on Monday. All of this happening on the eve of this pandemic anniversary week made this article about our collective grief particularly resonant.

Otherwise, I guess the main thing to note for prosperity's sake, when I look back and read this after it's all a distant memory (LOL), is that Oakland students are still in 100% remote learning with no end in sight (meanwhile, the county entered the less restrictive red tier allowing for things like indoor dining, reopening gyms, etc.). No updates from the district or the union while neighboring districts have reopening plans with kids going back nearly full-time as soon as March 29th. Given the plummeting COVID numbers and mounting evidence around the safety of reopening schools (set against all the harms we know well about keeping kids isolated and staring at screens all day), I'm feeling rather cranky and impatient to the point that I'm not sure I can stick it out in this school district past this school year if they're not committed to reopening full-time BY the fall. What that means I'm not totally sure yet.

I will give you a hint, though. It might involve moving. I have incredibly mixed emotions about the thought of leaving Oakland (again), but it was an idea we were entertaining independent of the school situation for awhile now. It's complicated, but in a nutshell we've narrowed it down to Sacramento or Portland (I know, I know, such a cliché). Most likely. I'm still somewhat SoCal-curious and of course ponder moving even further north into the greater Pacific Northwest. But Sac and PDX are the two cities we're considering for now. It's a long, slow process, given COVID, set against a very hot market in Sacramento in particular (turns out we're not the only Bay Area family eyeing a city close enough to "commute" into San Francisco for the occasional, important work meeting but far enough away to get a little more bang for our buck).

Not completely unrelated to the school situation, I've written a lot, way before the pandemic, about how challenging it can be to juggle kids and work, both creative and/or paid. Lots of folks are talking about this now, since the pandemic, while it didn't create this childcare crisis, has certainly exposed and exacerbated it. This is probably one of my favorite things I've read on the topic over the past year. I hope we can indeed seize this moment while there's momentum to confront this crisis. As Kathryn Jezer-Morton writes, "There will never be more political will than there is now, in the wreckage of this pandemic."

Anyway, in preparation for a possible move in the next 6-18 months, following up on the great purge noted in the last update, I've been slowly making progress weeding through and organizing the kids' writing and art projects from school over the past, well, decade. I'm putting flat things in plastic protective sheets in one or two 3-ring binders and bigger, bulkier stuff in, hopefully, one bin per kid. I finished Daphne's stash a couple of weeks ago and hope to finish up with Elias's next weekend. From there I'll move on to the family photos pre-digital. It's a big project.

In good news, I can finally find Fresca again! Nature is healing, as they say. Also, San Francisco art museums got the green light to reopen a week or so ago but I've yet to convince my kids to visit.

March 10, 2020, in the Laurel neighborhood of Oakland, CA.

'Tis the season for incredible sunrises and sunsets. Above is one from March 10, 2020, on the eve of the pandemic, if you think about it, with the WHO declaring the global nature of said pandemic the next day.

And here are a few from the last couple of weeks. Sunrise, above, and sunset, below (taken on the same day, March 2nd).

Speaking of taking pictures of the sky this past year, KQED reporter and Rightnowish host Pendarvis Harshaw wrote this excellent piece on the gravity of the past year, anything but a "fluffy reflection on COVID-19," that risks glossing over this and the many other crises of the past year.

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