Happy Anniversary to me!

Guess what?! For the first time in well over a year, I am not going to write about some aspect of Covid. Not that there isn’t anything for me to write about – getting my EU Digital Covid Certificate, the rise of the delta variant, the on-going indoor dining debate, my upcoming travel – I’m sure I’ll get to all that in future posts, but this week was a celebration for me and I want to, well, celebrate that.

This week was my ten-year anniversary of becoming an Italian citizen. I still remember the exact moment on 13th July 2011. I would usually stop and get my mail from the box on my way up to my apartment after work, but my hands were full that evening so I didn’t. Later that night, I thought I might have a Netflix envelope (DVDs, remember those?!) waiting for me and I was bored and needed something to watch. So, I went down to my mail box and the letter that, quite literally, changed my life was waiting for me.

It had been such a long road to get to get that letter and at so many points along the way I thought it wasn’t going to happen. But I stuck with it because I wanted it so badly. But wow, the process of getting your Italian citizenship is a long haul. I got my citizenship through my maternal great grandfather and the final application was three inches thick. It took more than two years to get together with all sorts of bumps along the way.

The biggest was that my great grandfather’s records were destroyed in the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake. I ended up hiring Peter Farina who had a burgeoning business (Italy Mondo) helping people like me put their applications together. He went to the village in Abruzzi where my family is from, met with cousins of mine I never knew existed, who took him to the parish priest (church records are as legit as civil records in Italy). When that proved a dead end, he made a call – to the Vicar of Rome. He then drove to Rome for an appointment with said Vicar and was able to find what we needed in the Vatican records. Incidentally, the charge for Peter’s “worry-free citizenship” service was $1500 and it was worth every penny. Peter’s business has since taken off and the same service now starts at $8000. It would still be worth every penny but I’m glad I got in there early!

Once the application was done, I thought I was home free. Nothing left but the interview, right? Hah! That interview was one of the most stressful days I can remember. I was living in Los Angeles and my interview was at the Italian consulate in April 2011. For those who know LA, my appointment was at 9:30am – I lived in North Hollywood and the consulate was in Westwood. Yeah. And there was a last minute issue with one of my documents and I had to find a place along the way where I could receive a fax from Peter in Italy. (DVDs?! Faxes?! I swear, this really was only ten years ago!)

During the interview there was an issue. A big issue. A dream-derailing issue. One of my documents was a church document from the US because the civil document couldn’t be located. As I said, church documents are as valid as civil documents so we didn’t think this would be an issue. But Raffaella, my interviewer at the consulate, said that she couldn’t process the application unless she had the equivalent document that would have been filed in Rome. My heart sank. Finding that document in Rome was not going to be possible, I just knew it. So, that was it. My dream was dead. It took all of my self-control to not burst into tears right then and there.

But then Raffaella told me to hang on a minute and she left to talk to a colleague. I’m sure she was gone for about five minutes but it was an eternity to me. When she came back she basically said “never mind” and approved my application to move forward to be processed. I was so relieved and happy it again took all of my self-control to not burst into tears. Raffaella told me that the current wait for an application to be processed was 18 months. I knew that and was prepared to wait. But then, for a reason still bewildering to me, Raffaella decided that I shouldn’t have to wait that long and she marked my application to be expedited. In the span of 30 minutes I’d gone from the lowest low to the highest high. And what should have taken a minimum of 18 months, took me only three months. In the time I should have been waiting to hear about my application, I was already planning my move to Ireland.

And speaking of Ireland, I am now waiting to hear about my Irish citizenship application. This application was much simpler and more straightforward but my wait is definitely going to be longer. My application went in in September 2020. I’ve friends who sent in their applications in November 2019 and February 2020 and they haven’t heard anything yet, so I’ve still got some time to go. The average time for an application to be processed is 12 months, but between Brexit and covid, things are obviously taking longer. I’d be thrilled if I heard before the end of this year, but I’m prepared to wait longer, for as long as it takes.

And when it does (hopefully!) happen, it’ll be my Italian citizenship that made my Irish citizenship possible. I look forward to celebrating both in the future!

Ireland, Unlocked…

Things are looking up here in Ireland.

A lot of our restrictions were lifted on June 7th, including pubs finally reopening after 15 months – if they have outside space, that is. No indoor dining allowed until next month. Covid cases remain stubbornly high – we never seem to get consistently below 300 per day. But as of today, hospitalizations are down to 58, with 22 of those in ICU, which are really promising numbers. And the vaccine program continues to chug along, with it looking like Ireland will have one of the highest uptakes of the vaccine in the world.

After some what we call anti-social behavior last weekend, this weekend seems to be more under control, with people just happy to be out and thankful for the lovely summer weather June has brought us. It certainly helps that one can now go to a restaurant with your mates. And Dublin City Council finally waking up to the need for portable loos and places to sit is an improvement for sure. The difference between this weekend and last is quite remarkable – kind of too bad it took last weekend to get some of the needed changes, but I digress. Today, let’s focus on the positive.

As mentioned in my previous post I am now fully vaccinated and I’m therefore feeling reasonably comfortable in resuming certain aspects of my life. Gyms have reopened and I’ve been there five days this week. The lockdown has not been kind to my waistline and home workouts in my small apartment have just not been cutting it. I honestly never thought it would feel so good to sweat amongst strangers, but it does. It feels great. 

In a normal year, I’d have been leaving for a week in Annecy today – the best week of the year, as far as many in the animation industry are concerned. But instead, I’ll be having lunch en terrasse with one of the people I’d be partying with at Annecy. It won’t be the same, not by a long shot, but I’m still looking forward to it with more glee than one would think necessary. 

There may not be travel to Annecy this week but travel is getting started again, and I’ve dived in full force. The luggage I got for Christmas 2019 that has done nothing but collect dust for the last year and a half is finally going to do what it was made to do. First up, I’m going home. I haven’t seen my family since Christmas 2019 which is, frankly, complete bullshit. So, I’m going home for the month of August and working from there. And I’ll have some travel-within-my-travel when we all go to Vermont for a week as well. 

Once I’m back, I’m really planning to hit the ground running with more travel. Days after returning to Dublin, I’m planning to head to my beloved Paris for a week – I’m determined to get there before the two-year anniversary since my last visit in October. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without being in Paris and I’ve missed it more than I can verbalize. There’s a chance I may need to be in Toulouse for week in later September and then in October I’ve a London weekend planned with a friend. In November, I head to Bristol for a friend’s wedding and then immediately back to the States, where I’m planning to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas to make up for missing the holidays in 2020. I’ve a lot of travel to make up and I need to get started!

I’m feeling more hopeful and more normal than I have in a long, long time. We’ve learned the hard way with Covid that things can change on a dime, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy the normal. 

 

End of the Tunnel?

I had a pretty decent week. It was my birthday on Tuesday, which is neither here nor there, but it was an excuse to open one of my better bottles of rosé. I got my haircut yesterday for the first time this year – and my hairdresser gave me a 50% discount for said birthday. Score! But what made this week really momentous for me was that I got my second covid vaccine jab on Thursday. In two weeks I’ll have full immunity and perhaps normalcy will begin to creep back into my life. 

I actually ended up being one of the first of my friends here in Ireland to be fully vaccinated. I got a call four weeks ago from my GP, where I’d registered for the vaccine. They had extra doses and could I get to the clinic like, now. I haven’t moved that fast in years. I got the Moderna vaccine, which has its second dose administered after four weeks, which is why I’ve ended up with my second jab before some friends who got their first jab earlier but got Astra Zeneca, which has a twelve-week gap between jabs. My side effects have been… not fun. I had a fever that spiked to 102.1° on Friday night, along with chills and muscle aches and still today my arm at the injection site remains stubbornly red and swollen. I haven’t felt that poorly in a long time – and it was totally worth it.

I’m actually starting to think of my life beyond covid. I love you, Ireland – but I’m beyond ready to start traveling again. My hope is to go back to the States and see my family for the first time since Christmas 2019 for the month of August. I’m contemplating a couple weeks in Paris in September. My friend and I are hoping to do a long weekend in London in October. I’ve been invited to a wedding in Bristol in November and then planning on another extended stay in the States for Thanksgiving through on to New Year’s. 

I am feeling very hopeful. And very lucky. 

But even as I feel so hopeful and lucky, I am very aware that there’s a long way to go. News from the States is that herd immunity won’t be reached, which is disappointing but perhaps not unexpected given the high threshold of vaccine uptake required. There are so many countries, most of them poor, who don’t have the vaccines they need. If rich countries like the US and Ireland don’t help out in getting people in those countries vaccinated, covid will not be stopped any time soon. The way this virus is currently ravaging India is heartbreaking. A young Indian man who worked at one of the animation studios here in Dublin went back to India recently to see family, caught the virus, and died. Who knows where it might strike even harder next? 

So even though I am personally doing reasonably well, even though the US and Ireland are doing reasonably well, there is still a ways to go before we are doing reasonably well on a global level. There is a light at the end of the tunnel – we just need to make sure it keeps getting closer for everyone rather than closer for some and farther away for others – which really means farther away for everyone.

Saige and Time…

Everyone is more than aware that we’ve reached the one year mark with covid. For Ireland, March 13th was the day that everything changed. I went to work that morning and that afternoon we sent the entire studio home in taxis with their computers, which is how we’ve been working ever since. The pubs were closed down. St. Patrick’s Day was cancelled. It was a Friday the 13th to rival them all. 

A year on, the pubs are still closed down. St. Patrick’s Day is still cancelled. But vaccines are rolling out (glacially slow in Ireland!) and there is hope that we are at the beginning of the end. The pandemic has been hard for everyone (some more than others of course). And everyone has had different things that helped get them through it. And you know what’s helped me the most? 

Saige. 

Saige is my 7-year-old niece who lives back in the States. Her parents allowed her access to facebook messenger for kids and she just started calling me one day when the lockdown first started. And she’s been calling me nearly every day ever since. I’ve lived in Ireland the entirety of Saige’s life, so my time with her had pretty much been limited to my visits home in the summer and at Christmas. Well, there were no visits home for me this past year, but Saige and I got to know each other better than ever through our virtual visits. 

We did all sorts of things on these calls. She called me yesterday to show me what she got at Target (for those interested – a blue raspberry and cherry slushie, sunglasses, tic tacs and a kinder egg), Saige taught me how to use filters on my phone – though I’m still not a fan of them. We played a “dice” game called Pass the Pigs. I met all of her dolls and stuffed animals, learning everything there is to know about LOL dolls, Shopkins and Beanie Boos in the process. I watched her dance. I listened to her sing. I watched her draw and paint – she was very excited to start working in acrylics. We baked huge oreos out of regular oreos (I don’t know. It was something she saw on youtube). We made paper snowflakes to decorate for Christmas, and we both got matching Baby Yodas – hers from Santa and mine from… her. 

When we first started our online exchanges, Saige would complain that she wasn’t smart and that she couldn’t read very well. But I’ve been able to witness her reading getting stronger and stronger first hand. At Halloween and Thanksgiving, she read me some poems she’d collected in a binder. She has written several stories for school – including “Kalli’s Big Leap”, starring her real-life dog. She now dabbles in both fiction and non-fiction. She also reads to me regularly now. Our current favorite is the Sesame Street classic starring Grover, The Monster at the End of this Book. Recently she even messaged me picture of a poem she wrote about writing a poem. Mind. Blown. 

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t inform you all that she also got a 100+% on her math test last week – the + is because she got the bonus question right. She was nearly jumping out of her skin when she called me to show me that test. I’m not sure who was more proud – her or me. 

I know that eventually, Saige won’t call me anymore. Like with my older nieces and nephews, school will get more intense, there will be sports and clubs and friends and jobs and everything else that goes with being a teen today. And that’s okay. I know that’s how things go. But Saige and I have had something really special over this past year. I’m not sure she’ll ever understand this, but Saige has truly helped me survive this pandemic. My lockdown would have been so much harder, so much lonelier, so much worse, without her. 

As we enter the Covid pandemic’s second year, I truly hope that all of you have managed to find your Saige and that your year has been made even a little bit easier as a result. Everyone should have a Saige to help them get through these difficult, unprecedented times. 

Saige loves filters. I hate them
Saige called me when I was walking back to my apartment. I asked her to give me five minutes and then call me back. I got these texts in the meantime.
Saige’s family got a dog this year. Kalli often joins us for our chats.
A couple weeks ago Saige messaged me this picture of an orange. I still do not know why.

Are you blue?…

Apparently last Monday, January 18th was blue monday, the most depressing day of the year.

It’s all pseudoscience based on an algorithm that takes into account the distance from Christmas, the amount of daylight, the number of broken resolutions and some other stuff. I guess it’s been a thing for a while but it received lots of attention on the news over here this year because, well, because of the year we’ve had.

While blue monday is silly and not a thing, it did bring attention to Seasonal Affective Disorder (often known as the winter blues), which absolutely is a thing and something I’ve dealt with ever since moving to Ireland. Dublin winters are cruelly dark. And this year has been worse as we are in our third wave of covid. We’ve had daily case numbers in the thousands for the past several weeks, the vaccine rollout is achingly slow, and it was just announced today that we are looking at another six months of strict lockdown. That’s enough to make anyone blue.

An expert I saw on the news suggested that’s if you are feeling blue, it might help to write down what you are missing during lockdown – don’t ignore what you long for, acknowledge it. And that did get me thinking about what I’ve really missed during this year of covid.

  • Obviously I miss my family back in Buffalo. It’s been over a year since I was last there and I hate it.
  • I miss travel. I’m normally someone whose suitcase is always in some state of being packed or unpacked.
  • I haven’t had an actual holiday since November 2018 – I could really use one.
  • I miss the various industry events I normally travel to. Not only are these events good for me professionally but they are a chance to unwind and have fun with others in my industry, many of whom I only see at these events.
  • I miss going into the office/studio. I’ve worked from home at various points in my career and I take quite well to it. But I miss my colleagues and the collaboration that goes with being in the same place.
  • I miss my friends. Friends here in Ireland, friends in Paris, friends in LA, friends in Buffalo – I haven’t seen most of them in far too long.
  • I miss pubs. Pubs are a way of life here in Ireland. I miss going for a pint after work on a Friday. I miss randomly meeting up with friends on a whim. I miss nipping into my local on my own for a glass of wine.
  • I miss Paris.

And now, when I think of these things, I am trying to think of them with hope rather than sadness. Easier said than done sometimes, but actually acknowledging what I am missing is helping to make my winter blues slightly less blue.

If you are really having a hard time this winter or if you suffer from clinical depression, which is a serious and deadly disease, please do seek help. Here in Ireland there are several supports and services that can be found here: https://www2.hse.ie/services/mental-health-supports-and-services-during-coronavirus/

Things will get brighter I know. For me. For you. For all of us.

From the threshold…

Greetings from Lockdown #3. Sigh.

Here in Ireland, we are at a record number of cases and hospitalizations. The UK variant has arrived and is causing the virus to spread faster. Sure, the vaccine rollout has started but it feels glacially slow and experts are saying we will be lucky if the majority of the population is vaccinated by August.

Again, sigh.

But 2020 ends tonight and that, my friends, is something. I know there is no guarantee that 2021 will be better. I realize that covid doesn’t just end because the year does. But it’s hard not to view this as a milestone, as something significant. As something hopeful. Hope. I think that is what many of us are clinging to as we not so much ring in a new year as give the current one a good kick in the arse out the door.

I could focus on my loneliness as we face a lockdown that will probably go into March. I could focus on my anxiety regarding the rising numbers. I could focus on my anger at the selfish people who still aren’t taking this virus seriously. But I think instead I shall focus on hope. I’m hopeful about many, many things as we bid adieu to 2020 and say bienvenue to 2021.

  • I’m hopeful that my friends and family (and me!) will be able to get vaccinated sooner rather than later.
  • I’m hopeful that I’ll get back to Buffalo to see my family and friends.
  • I’m hopeful that I’ll get to take a holiday somewhere fabulous.
  • I’m hopeful that I’ll enjoy a night at the pub again.
  • I’m hopeful that I’ll get to see my Dublin friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in over a year.
  • I’m hopeful that I’ll get back to my beloved Paris.
  • I’m hopeful that I’ll become an Irish citizen (and maybe at some point get my passport back!).
  • I’m hopeful that my friends who have experienced devastating loss this year will start to find some semblance of peace.
  • I’m hopeful that 2021 will be better than 2020.

I always like to include a quote in my New Year’s posts. This one from Alfred Lord Tennyson seemed quite appropriate:

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier.”

I hope he’s right.

Happy New Year, all! Here’s to 2021. And 2020, seriously, feck off!

A Very Covid Christmas…

Christmas is coming. But for just about everyone, it’s not going to be normal – just like pretty much everything else in 2020.

For the first time in my life, I’m not going home to Buffalo for the holidays. I don’t like it, but I’m resigned to it and I’m going to make the best of it. In another first, I’m hosting a couple other stranded expats for Christmas Eve. It will be a hand-sanitizer-infused, windows-open-with-fresh-air-circulating, socially-distant Christmas Eve, but it’s something. And honestly, the bigger danger might be that I’m actually attempting to cook. But I knew that if I was going to stay in Ireland I needed to do something on Christmas Eve – it’s always been bigger, more important, and more celebratory than Christmas Day for my family. So, sitting alone watching telly was not an option. But that’s exactly what I’ll be doing on Christmas Day! I’ve no plans for the 25th, and I’m okay with that. Eating leftovers, drinking prosecco and watching Elf and Love, Actually on a loop sounds like a not-so-bad time.

But before Christmas, there is another very important date in the Celtic calendar – the winter solstice. It happens tomorrow and it is the shortest, darkest day of the year. But after that, we start to gain light. Just a tiny bit at first – in Dublin, we get an additional four seconds on Tuesday, then eleven seconds on Wednesday but by the end of the month, we will gain more than a minute of light daily. And it just keeps going from there. It may seem like small amounts when looked at on a daily basis, but all those seconds and minutes add up and, sooner than we might realize, we will be back in the light. Literally.

But also figuratively.

I am daring to be hopeful about Covid in 2021. I know that cases are still rising and a new strain has appeared in London and we are heading into another lockdown after Christmas. But the first vaccine is set to be approved by the EU tomorrow and up to 5000 people could be vaccinated in Ireland before the end of this year. My sister, who is a doctor in the States, got her first dose of the vaccine last week. So, it feels like maybe, just maybe, we might be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are just at that “four seconds” point, but still, it’s something. And like the daylight we will be gaining, I am hopeful that we will continue to make gains in this fight against Covid and that we will return to something resembling normal over the next several months.

Christmas isn’t going to be great for any of us in 2020, but for so many of my friends, too many of my friends, it’s going to be especially cruel because this is their first Christmas without someone they love who passed away this year. My heart breaks for all of them, and reminds me that though it’s going to be different, this Christmas for me and my family is going to be just fine.

So, dear readers, for those of you grieving and for those of you just spending the holidays a bit differently this year, I am sending you lots of love… and lots of light.

Vaccine Dream…

Greetings from week 5 of lockdown 2. Things are going… not great. Cases here in Ireland started plummeting in the first weeks of this new lockdown but now that progress has halted and we are back up to new cases per day in the 300s and 400s. Level 5 restrictions were supposed to bring us down to 100 or fewer cases by the beginning of December but that feels quite out of reach now. Sigh.

But some good news that not only Ireland, but the world, has recently received is about the vaccines. Two of them – one from Pfizer and one from Moderna – have been shown to have effectiveness of 95% and 94.5% respectively. I think the world did a collective fist pump and “YES!” when this news came out. Could it be that something is finally going right and the end to this covid nightmare could be in sight?!

The vaccines now seem to be a question not of “if” but of “when”. For me, the “when” cannot come soon enough but I also think that my “when” will actually not be any time soon. Obviously, health care workers, other front line workers, the elderly and the vulnerable will be given priority. I will fall into the category of “general population” so I’ll be down the line. And I get it. Those being prioritized should be prioritized – doesn’t make me any less anxious about when I’ll be able to get my jab though!

Dr. Anthony Fauci has been quoted as saying that in States “… starting in April, May, June, July — as we get into the late spring and early summer — that people in the so-called general population, who do not have underlying conditions or other designations that would make them priority, could get (shots)”. I hope it will be the same in Ireland, but I worry that people like me will have to wait even longer, well into next summer. I’ve a trip home planned for April/May of next year (replacing my Christmas visit) but can I still go if I’m not vaccinated? And what if I’m away and miss my place in line here in Ireland? Would I, as a US citizen, be able to get vaccinated in the States instead? So many questions!

Now that it looks like we will have at least two approved vaccines by the end of the year, the emphasis switches to logistics and distribution. Ooh boy, this could be rough. Ireland really impressed me when the covid crisis first hit but now I am not filled with a great deal of confidence, especially when it comes to things involving logistics and communication. For feck’s sake, at one point during our second surge people who tested positive for covid were instructed to do their own contact tracing because the government test and trace system was overwhelmed. Utterly ridiculous and shambolic. Though in fairness, things have now improved.

And Ireland’s communication to the public, which started out so strong, has crumbled over the past months. We have often been left guessing (and stressing!) about what the government is going to declare and when they are going to declare it. Tensions and in-fighting between the government officials and health experts is becoming more apparent, which doesn’t instill a lot of confidence to those of us watching. Communication about who gets the vaccine when and exactly how and where, is going to need to be crystal clear from the get-go. The government cannot issue one set of guidelines (with a fancy chart) and then a couple weeks later release a new plan. We need clarity and decisiveness – both of which have been in remarkably short supply in recent weeks.

But Ireland has been known to surprise me and I’m sure the government knows how important it is that they get this right. And the big thing to not lose sight of is that finally, finally, Ireland – and the world – has something that has been far too fleeting since March…

HOPE.

Exhaling…

After watching nothing but CNN since Tuesday, I am watching the Irish news this morning and I think Ireland might be as excited about Biden winning the election as I am. And why not?! Ireland hates Trump nearly as much as I do and being surrounded by people who shared my feelings made the past four years somewhat easier. Plus, Biden has Irish roots. His ancestors are from Ballina in County Mayo. And I can’t help but wonder if Joe Biden Plaza will be appear there soon much the same way Moneygall in Country Tipperary, where Barack Obama’s third great grandfather lived, now has this:

I seriously did not know what I was going to do if Biden lost. It’s no secret that I hate Trump with a passion. But it goes deeper than that. The things he did literally hurt people. He fomented racism and white supremacy. His immigration policies were cruel at best and criminal at worst. He has pretty much ignored the coronavirus pandemic and more than 200,000 Americans are now dead. He took the US out of the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization. The Trump presidency was traumatizing for so many people, not only in the US but around the world.

But now, we can all exhale.

I truly feel like I can relax now. I feel l like I’ve been clenching my shoulders and holding my breath for four years. And I’m an upper middle class white woman who doesn’t even live in the States anymore. I can’t even begin to imagine how the marginalized people of the US must be feeling. Relieved doesn’t even begin to cover it, I’d think.

Yes, there is still a lot of work to be done in the US but I believe that Biden will strive to do that work. And do not get me started on our new absolute queen of a Vice President, Kamala Harris. A woman, finally. And a diverse woman at that. We have adults in charge again!

I was messaging and chatting with so many friends while everything was happening this week. One of them on Wednesday evening said “It’s gonna be fine.” I didn’t believe him at the time, but it turns out he was right. It’s going to be a long road but I’m feeling hopeful for the first time in a long time. I really think that maybe it will be fine.

Everybody exhale.

Spewing Rainbows…

Ireland has gone into a Level 5 lockdown for the next six weeks. Six. Weeks. We had been warned all along that a second surge was possible, and probable, but in those long-ago days of July when we had less than ten new cases per day, I (and I’m sure many others) thought that Ireland had triumphed over covid. But we didn’t. Restrictions were lifted and covid came back with a vengeance. And so now here we are. For six weeks.

And if going into another lockdown wasn’t bad enough, Ireland entered winter time today with the clocks falling back, and that triggers my seasonal anxiety. I absolutely hate losing the light once daylight saving time ends. At least in the first lockdown, we had the “grand stretch in the evenings” to help us through but now, we’ve got darkness at 2pm (okay, I’m exaggerating, but not by much!). Normally at this time of year, I can at least start looking forward to my trip back to the States for Christmas. But not this year. For the first time in my life, it looks like I won’t be going home for Christmas.

I was feeling quite sorry for myself earlier this week. My anxiety was kicking in big time and everything felt rather hopeless. And the thing with covid is, while it is unifying in that everyone is going through it, I also always feel the need to asterisk my feelings by acknowledging that so many people (including many people I know and am close to) have suffered so much more than me during all of this. They have experienced immeasurable loss, they have had to bear far, far more than I have, their stress and anxiety is, justifiably, so much greater than mine. And so I feel guilty for feeling bad about my situation. Yes, things suck for everyone right now, but there are degrees of suckage, and I feel I always need to remember and acknowledge that – and I still always feel guilty about it.

I was messaging my sister about this and, as she often does, she got real with me. She said that just because my situation isn’t the suckiest doesn’t mean I have to spew rainbows all the time. You know what? She’s right. And knowing that I didn’t have to spew rainbows made me feel better in that moment – well that, half a xanax and a FaceTime from my niece where she recited Halloween poetry for me. But still, I felt better.

And today, I’m even feeling a little rainbow-y. It looks like the level 3 restrictions that started a couple weeks ago here may be working – we had our lowest number of cases in two weeks on Friday. While it does look like the second wave is starting to hit the US, Western New York State, where my family lives, seems to still be doing well – so, yay! I may not get to go home for the holidays, but I think I’m going to invite a couple friends over (restrictions allowing) and host my first ever Christmas Eve celebration.

Hopefully things will continue to get better here in Ireland, and in the States and, well, everywhere. But when I need to, I’m going to allow myself some slack when it comes to rainbow spewage – I hope you all allow yourself the same kindness.