How to enjoy the heat while in quarantine

This week has been the warmest week in a while. It would have been a good time to go to the beach, but I decided to be boring and do my part to quarantine. After all I can only really quarantine two days out of the week due to my work. So here are my ideas to have some sort of beach-like experience without leaving home.

  1. Read a book. If I was at the beach, I would lounge and read a book anyways.
  2. Eat ice cream.
  3. Open the windows and invite the fresh air.
  4. Since I don’t have central air conditioning, I have fans. So I turn on the fans throughout the house.
  5. If I had kinetic sand, I would play in a small box of kinetic sand.
  6. Watch beach scenes

What other things can one do at home to pretend they are at the beach?

On a serious note, the real test for the stay at home orders is this week. During this time in SoCal it is a good time to go to the flower fields or go to the beach. COVID-19 and what came of it have upended a lot of spring traditions. They cancelled graduations — I had to request a refund for my graduation regalia. Admission letters from colleges and other professional schools have been delayed. If we were not under stay at home orders, we’d probably go to the dog beach in Long Beach but now we will just have to wait.

COVID-19 diaries: …and now there are protests…

And now there are protests. I hate to make this about healthcare workers, but the purpose of social distancing is to help lessen the caseloads in the hospital. The other day we thought, “this is it. It is rolling down from here.” It does not mean that we will “go back to normal” the next day. I already anticipated it will take some time to “go back to normal.” Maybe in optimal conditions, “normal” may happen by late June or early July. Why so long? I work in a public hospital where we treat everyone regardless of status and ability to pay. I anticipate we will get our surge later on because many people have lost their jobs, and effectively lost their health insurance.

I am sorry to the people who feel these shelter in place orders have taken away their spring, their businesses, and jobs. I feel with people breaking these shelter in place orders, we will quarantine well into summer and into early fall too. The longer we stay closed, the longer it will take for people to re-open their businesses, to find jobs, and finally get back to normal.

Probation status

Disclaimer: This blog post talks about my experiences of racism as an Asian-American.

I was listening to Friday’s “The Daily” on the rise of racism on Asian-Americans as a result of CoVID-19. In fact, I listened to it twice. After work I went to a Chinese restaurant to pick up takeout to declare my support for Asian-Americans.

I unfortunately know some people who called CoViD-19 as the “Chinese virus” because it came from China. I want to tell these people that YOU think you can get away with it because you are a white Christian person. I don’t know a time when white Christian people experienced racism. I don’t think that white Christian people in America can understand racism beyond what they learned in a textbook. Here is the twist and I am almost embarrassed to say this, but these people are my friends. I have white Christian friends — I grew up in a mostly white Christian area of Los Angeles. Ever since I was of school age, I already knew my white Christian friends will never empathize the ugliness of racism. People always asked me where I am from, but they never asked my white friends where they are from. I found these micro-cuts to be somewhat paralyzing.

The thing I want to tell my white Christian friends that they may think it is cute nicknaming CoViD-19 a “Chinese virus”, but there are major consequences where Asian-Americans are getting slurs on the streets and are unwelcomed everywhere they go. At my work I had two international students from China who volunteered at the hospital who then ultimately decided to go on leave many weeks ago. I supported their decision and let them go on leave with no penalties. I can hear the other side saying to me I am encouraging people to slack off. They’re sheltering in place, they’re not relaxing at the beach.

source: vox.com

Anyways, back to the podcast. Jiayang Fan shares her Asian-American story. She was born in China, but spent more of her school years and beyond in the United States. It started her not recognizing these little moments as not racist to then getting older and finally recognizing it for what it is. I listened to it twice in one day because I deeply related to her Asian-American story and “otherness”. So here is mine:

I was born in the United States — Chicago, Illinois to be exact. We moved to San Diego, California when I was one because my dad’s job relocated there. A few years later my dad lost his job. My mom, sister, and I moved to the Philippines for about a year until my dad was able to look for work. When we returned, we moved to Los Angeles. We did not live in downtown LA…we lived in the far reaches of LA County. It was a mostly white suburb where the houses were big, bland, and look all the same. The lots were small. You know, the definition of the American Dream.

When I was in elementary school in America, I had to take ESL (English as a second language) classes. I took ESL from 1st grade to 5th grade. What a way to make me feel like I was an “other” from the rest of my class considering English is my FIRST language. I was born in the United States. Even living in the Philippines, English is predominantly spoken. When I was in 4th grade, I read a lot of English literature for fun — many years later these same books were assigned reading in high school. My parents were really trying to pull me out of ESL classes. It took the school about five years to realize that I spoke English and decided I no longer needed ESL. Later on, I met other people who have shared similar experiences. If you have taken ESL classes in elementary school, you probably recognized your “otherness” early on. Since most of my classmates were white, I already knew I looked different the moment I started school.

That was one of many moments of my Asian-American experience. The older I got, the more I realized that Asian-Americans will be the perpetual foreigner even if they were born here and even if they have never spoken their ancestral language. I’ve observed this with other ethnic groups too. Our presence is probationary; if we excel in everything, if we speak English “correctly”, if we don’t eat “weird” food in public, have “normal” names, if we don’t get upset and offended — then we are welcomed to be here.

I remembered a few years ago, my Asian-American supervisor brought up a complaint about me that a someone on the other end did not understand what I was saying over the telephone. At first I was perplexed, but then it quickly escalated to being annoying. The thing that took me over the edge was that the recipient stated I had some sort of accent. My supervisor reminded me it was not the first time someone brought it up asked me, “what was I going do about that?” What did he mean? Should I get an accent coach? Also, he reassigned this recipient to another coworker. Deep down, I was concerned about my job. It was just one small thing, but I worried how much more until I become obsolete?

As much as I wanted to make speech on racism and unfairness to make my Asian-American supervisor understand what I am thinking about, I instead resorted the shortcut. I called him nit-picky and told him how I am not looking to change. Also, how dare he take their side? He concluded that I was stressed out at work and suggested to take the rest of the day off. Maybe I really needed the day off, but in retrospect, the situation was handled poorly. Nothing meaningful came out of it other than throwing tempers.

I was afraid to cry out the r-word. It was easier to throw everything else instead when I snapped. Since then and until I stopped working there months ago, I was always afraid to make phone calls and give speeches. When I started working at my current job, it was like I regained all my confidence. I credit that the people I work with and the people I serve are far more diverse.

It is hard to call racism for what it is. In the podcast, Jiayang created a scenario if she had a conversation with her mother about what she has gone through. Her mom would ask back, “were you hurt? Did they take anything away from you? Why are you making something out of nothing?!” That last part was incredibly relatable. I remembered when I left work early that day, I went to visit my husband at work to tell him what happened. I cried about it too. My husband is an Asian-American, but he seemed to have a hard time understanding why I was really upset. Then again, I feel my husband has met all the criteria of being welcomed here — I don’t know of anyone who complains about him. I talked about it with my parents, they advised me to speak slower even though that was not the complaint. Sharing my story felt like a losing battle…was I making something out of nothing? I decided to shelve this incident, along with many of my incidents of my Asian-American experiences. That was until “The Daily” episode came along on Friday. It reignited me to share my own.

COVID-19 diaries: Just genuinely curious

For the last few days I’ve been driving to work instead of taking mass transit. I have to admit, driving to work is awesome — especially since it only takes 20 minutes from my house in the Valley to downtown LA. I am thankful for everyone who followed these orders to

My husband and his coworkers wanted to go hiking today. I wonder if I they found a place they can actually hike. All parks and hiking trails are closed. Maybe it is at the back of someone’s apartment complex. Are they just walking up and down a neighborhood. They’ve been egging me to go along too. But I decided to do my part by staying in and enjoy my quarantine. Isn’t that weird to say? I’ve been out of the house nine hours for five days a week, I preferred staying in.

Then something occurred to me. I wonder how life is like staying in all day? It sounds out of touch of me to ask, but I am not trying to be facetious and ridiculing — I am genuinely curious. It’s been so busy at the hospital in the past several weeks preparing for the surge, handling donations, and continuing to do my regular duties, I really look forward to my Friday nights in well into Sunday.

COVID-19 diaries: Coronakindness

The last few days have been incredibly busy at work as we have been restructuring how each department is managing the pandemic. Right now the hospital census is low as we are taking less patients to protect our healthcare workers. The census at the ER is incredibly low too. We also stopped taking visitors a few weeks ago. Though it appears calm, we have been preparing for the surge in the background. Think of it as being tasked to build an ark to prepare for the flood.

Over the last few days, we’ve been receiving a lot of donations from medical equipment, PPE, and meals. Oh yes, the meals! People from the community have been sponsoring meals and we deliver them to various units in the hospital. These surprises have lifted our spirits. What lifts our spirits even more is hearing people and their reason to donate; they felt sponsoring meals was a big way to say “thank you” for taking care of their family.

Lately on my Instagram feed, I’ve been sharing more #coronakindness. I have been seeing more anxiety-filled posts — most are reasonable and some come up with awful conspiracies. I also see posts where people are indifferent and they feel like quarantine is a glorified mass grounding. There is also a lot of fake news. I thought to turn things around, sharing #coronakindness in the hospital could show people who cannot go out what the world is like. Yes there are bad parts like the increased daily count of confirmed cases and the neverending news cycle, but there’s also plenty of good too.

COVID-19 diaries: You're grounded!

So the last few days my laptop charger was not functioning properly the last few days. I thought about going somewhere to get it replaced. Thankfully, my husband fixed it.

What is new in Los Angeles? Well, over the weekend, I had friends who hiked in the trails in their neighborhood to only find it incredibly crowded. One of my friends described it as “the most crowded” he has ever seen. There were people who drove out of their way to go to a hiking trail or the beach and posted photos of how counter the behavior is to social distancing. As of yesterday beaches, hiking trails, parks, and even dog parks in Los Angeles are closed. I have only been walking my dogs around the neighborhood each day. Every time I see a person walking my direction, I change directions to practice social distancing.

I did find some good news about these past few days. Los Angeles County purchased several thousand coronavirus testing kits for the public. The wildest thing about it (by American standards) is that these testing kits are free for everyone. But maybe wilder is that across America, there is a cost attached to getting tested. For a private clinic in Houston, the cost of testing is $150. I find it awful how healthcare providers have the nerve to capitalize on this pandemic.

What have I been doing the last few days?

  • Reading. I am currently reading The Warrior Woman by Maxine Hong Kingston and Circe by Madeline Miller.
  • Exercising more. Since I’ve been driving to work instead of taking subway, my activity has significantly decreased. I would go to barre and I hit my step goal from walking to the subway and walking to work and back. Now it is whatever walking I can do at work, do house cleaning, walk the dogs around the block, and do a variety of workout videos.
  • Dealing with pregnancy. I am 10 weeks pregnant. I found out I was pregnant a couple of weeks ago. More to come about that. While in self quarantine, I have been focusing on giving myself a lot of rest rather than baking up a storm like I normally would on my days off from work. Also, I am trying to get my husband’s head out of the pregnancy and baby industrial complex.
  • I have a new work schedule. Instead of working Tuesday through Saturday, I now work Monday through Friday because our office will be temporarily closed on Saturdays.
  • Playing social media games with my friends

COVID-19 diaries: Employment situations

Starting tomorrow my husband is working from home. I think he is the lucky few. I have to report to work because I work at a hospital. Though in the last few years there are articles that say things like “working from home is becoming the new normal” there are many jobs where people do not have a choice other than working at a site. Some might consider his situation a luxury.

Today I was going through my feed and a family friend posted how he just received a call from his manager that he got fired from his job. He worked at a large hotel chain. He is one of many people on my feed who shared they are out of work a month or two or indefinitely (err…fired).

My cousin is a flight attendant. She asked if I knew if anyone is hiring. She is looking for part-time work since she is getting many days off. It is hard to say if my job is hiring because human resources is not taking any live scan appointments — I doubt they are recruiting and placing new postings. I suggested her to look into working for the census. It is considered essential work.

Let me turn this post around. So good news….China has zero new cases. Their lockdown strategy was incredibly effective. Hopefully it turns around in California with the stay-at-home order.

Supporting small businesses during your corona-cation

Today at work, my supervisor brought in pastries from her friend’s shop. I asked her what was the occasion. The occasion was supporting her friend’s business especially since it has not been doing well due to the city-wide shut down. She reminded me that I need to go and continue to support my favorite businesses during this tough time. I know I mentioned earlier that we spend more days eating in than dining out (err…taking out), but it would be completely devastating if our favorite places went away.

The COVID-19 journal: Keeping your spirits up

Yesterday, there were currently 94 cases of coronavirus in Los Angeles. Today, there are currently 144. There are still no cases admitted to our hospital. The medical school pulled the students from doing their residency. I find it kind of weird because where else would they go? Gladly, these students are coming back on their own volition to volunteer their time at the hospital. Hearing that lifted my spirits.

Today at my department we did a team huddle about every one to two hours. It was like breaking news to discuss what temporary change has unfolded or perform a quick report within the next hour to send to the big boss. There was even a possibility of our department closing during the outbreak. I was not sure what it would entail. Would it mean we disperse to support other departments? Or does it mean we get furloughed without pay? The latter is something I cannot afford.

We host many events at the hospital inviting the community throughout the year, but they have all been cancelled or postponed. When things get cancelled and everything pulls you in every which direction, it can be hard to keep your spirits up.

How do you cope with dealing with COVID-19?

For me, I found at work, it helps to:

  • Keep a sense of humor
  • E-mail your coworkers a list of link of good news — everyone could use some good news.
  • Enjoy my drive from home to downtown LA. My average time is 30 minutes each way.
  • Since my drive is short, I can sleep in. I can have productive mornings exercising and pack my lunch.
  • I prefer to sit outside during my lunch breaks, but because it’s been raining for the last few days, I get cooped up in the cafeteria. I instead go back to the office to nap or read. Maybe I’ll try some office exercise.

At home:

  • Enjoy the sun. This morning the sun was out and there was no rain for a few hours. I finally took my dogs out for a walk.
  • Journaling my observations about how people behave around COVID-19. The hospital is fairly serene compared to going to the grocery store. On Saturday, I went to ALDI for a few groceries. When I arrived around 5 PM, they closed. The posted closing time is 9 PM but because they ran out of a lot of food, they closed early.

Things to do while I self-quarantine

We currently have 94 cases of coronavirus in Los Angeles County. This number is relatively small compared to King County, Washington at 488 cases and New York City at 463 cases. The United States currently has a total of 3,487 cases. If being called to action means staying at home sitting on the couch, we will do so to flatten the curve.

So effective yesterday, many Los Angeles businesses shut down. Bars are closed. Restaurants are take-out only. We can’t go out to the movies or go to gym. To me, out of all these things, not going to the gym is the hardest to let go. Not only I enjoy exercise, but the social interaction when I go to Pure Barre or walk my dogs around the park. I can do fine with just eating in for the next several days and not going to restaurants. I can spend evenings watching Netflix and Hulu instead of going to the movies.

What I also find hard is not going out to see my friends or family at their homes or invite them to mine. But we got to do what we have to do.

As of yesterday I only got out of the house to go grocery shopping, go to work, or walk my dogs — if the weather permits. The weather has been so awful the last several days. I think my dogs are starting to get bored.

To be honest, it has been a rough 48 hours of self-quarantine. A lot of my time involves planning for social events in the future, but those need to be put on hold. With this social distancing, I have to think of activities to help pass the time. So far I have the following:

  1. Follow workout videos. Gladly my gym will be uploading workout videos. I have to record a video of myself doing the exercise video and send it over to get it counted that I attended class. Since I spend a lot of time lounging and not reaching 10,000 steps, I do more workout videos through FitOn or Youtube. Yesterday, I did three. One was a 45-minute Pure Barre workout, 20 minute cardio exercise, and 15 minutes of yoga. It was spread all throughout the day.
  2. Clean and declutter
  3. Blogging. I am a forever journaler. I would not be surprised if I blogged everyday of this quarantine. It is a historical moment.
  4. Listen to podcast.
  5. Watch Netflix and other streaming services. I don’t think I’ll be the person who streams all days. I barely touch the app during the week and reserve it on the weekends.
  6. Read. If you’re bored, then go read a book. I am thankful for apps like Overdrive since the library is closed.
  7. If the weather is better, walk the dogs.
  8. Do our taxes. Ooops. Those things are due soon.
  9. Learn a foreign language.

I’m not 100% quarantined. I still go to work during the week — I work at a hospital after all. I know some people were forced to work from home. Some people may like the idea of working from home, but for me, I found it incredibly distracting when I had to work from home in my last job. I felt I ended up putting in more working hours at home than at the office.

How are you dealing with the self-quarantine or social distancing?