Living in the Daily Disaster

Recently I was organizing my pantry, and among other things, that meant that I emptied out the last remnants from one of my “disaster preparedness” supply bins.

I had actually started stocking up on groceries in February as the virus loomed. Eventually we realized that we’d still be getting to the grocery, and we’ve chipped away at that initial supply. You can tell this stuff’s from a while ago because of course I don’t buy Goya anymore. You can also tell that I believe that chocolate and peanut butter are essential doomsday supplies.

I feel like we’ve readjusted lately from Emergency Survival Mode to New Normal mode. For example, for months I didn’t go to Target. Now I’ll go, even if I’m wearing my mask and I don’t linger and some of the aisles look like this:

Have I mentioned that I pretty much hate New Normal mode?

On that recent trip to Target, I got pretty frustrated because J’s finally started school and we needed to pick up some school supplies. But because, in a normal year, she’d be weeks into school already, the corporate powers-that-be had pretty much packed away supplies and switched to Halloween in spite of the fact that all the local public schools just started last week.

How’s school going, you ask? J started 10th grade and declared it, “Not as terrible as I thought it would be.” There we go with managing expectations again. She is attending school in person on alternate days, and on the days that she stays home, she “attends” online. It is tough to be social at all when you are wearing masks, maintaining 6-foot social distance, and walking single file through the hallways, but if all of that sounds terrible and depressing, compare it with just hanging out at home all the time, and suddenly you’re grateful for a change of scenery and a bit of structure to your days, at least. Or at least that’s J’s perspective. They’ve basically got a four-day rotation, A day in-person, A day online, B day in-person, & B day online. On her B days, her last two periods are lunch and study hall, so I’ve secured permission for her to leave school early. When I asked about this, I figured it was a long shot, based on the rules they’d set at the beginning, so I was pleased that the administration went along with this reasonable suggestion.

Of course, all this online learning means that J’s spending a ton of time in her room these days. Right before school started, we decided to repaint her walls. A few years ago J had switched from what I’ve always thought of as living-in-an-aquarium turquoise to a milder turquoise, and at the time she was delighted (and I shared a corner of her room for the before-and-after here). But she’s evolved some more, and the turquoise no longer really matched with her aesthetic — here’s that same corner again:

I’d known for a while that she was sort of low-key not-entirely-happy with her current walls, but she isn’t one to complain and we’ve been busy with more pressing matters. But then as the new and uncertain school year loomed, it suddenly occurred to me that it would be excellent for her mental health to live in an environment that she actually liked, especially if I wanted her to plan to do her online learning in her own room. So we hopped to it and got the room done quickly enough that it was dry and organized before the first day of school. Here’s that corner again:

She is delighted with the results and she’s hoping to have some fun new decor from her birthday wish list coming soon. I am really hoping that she doesn’t end up attending school from this room full time, but if it comes to that, at least we’ve done what we can to make it as pleasant as possible.

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