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Fire season, furniture, and our political future

We’re in week 25 or so of restrictions put in place in our community due to the pandemic, which means we’re rapidly approaching six months. It’s a little difficult to believe how different our life is than it was when we got off our last flight after the final conference we went to just 26 weeks ago.

I miss my family and friends a lot. Even as an introvert and loner by nature, that never translated in wanting to never seeing anyone but my immediate family. We have the townhouse in Philly specifically so we had an east coast base to visit family and friends out that way. Conferences and other events were my key way of seeing a lot of my friends, and with those canceled or put online indefinitely, it’s been really hard sometimes.

Difficulties were compounded a couple weeks ago when an incredibly rare thunderstorm rolled through the bay area. It didn’t bring a lot of moisture, but it brought us a stunning thunder and lightning show for several hours that Sunday morning. News and social media that morning were full of the lightning and storm sunrise photos, including a sunrise photo of my own. Much attention was paid to why this storm had occurred (a tropical storm off the shore of Mexico).

An unusual sunrise accompanied the thunderstorms

Then the news about the fires started rolling in. I wasn’t thinking about it much, but of course a low precipitation thunderstorm was a terrible thing for our area right now. Lightning sparked fires in areas around the bay area that had not had wildfires in recorded history. By Tuesday night smoke had made it to our area and, when combined with a continued heat wave, triggered power companies across the state to start enacting rolling power outages to deal with the excess load on the grid. Several folks I know here in the bay area had to be evacuated, either due to fire risk or dangerous air quality. When combined with the pandemic, I definitely had some rough days. Not going out much was hard enough, but not even being able to go outside for a walk has been really hard for all of us. Plus, Adam and Caligula don’t understand, so they’re particularly upset at us for keeping them indoors when they both love going out so much.

Smokey sunrises make for eerie red sunlight

It’s not all smoke and doom though. I keep an eye on the air quality indication websites and let everyone know when it’s safe to go outside. About half the time, it clears up enough to spend a little time outside in the evening. Last week we had a full day when the winds shifted and we all spent a fair amount of time outside.

In house news, we had a new couch delivered last week! But they ordered the wrong color. It would have actually been a mistake we could live with if we didn’t already have a matching chair for the set. Thankfully they think they can get the replacement in more quickly than the first two month wait we had. Still, it was pretty disappointing. The crib for kiddo number two has arrived, and it’s the correct color, hah! It’s sitting in a box downstairs, and we’ll bring it upstairs and hopefully assemble it this week.

The current plan is to have the new kiddo take over a section of my home office while I’m on maternity leave, so not to constantly wake Adam throughout the night with them sharing a room. I’d rather wait until later in the pregnancy to start making adjustments to my office, but with the pain I’m dealing with in this pregnancy it’s becoming increasingly clear that we need to get as much done as possibly early on. Step one was moving the sofabed from my home office into the family room, and moving the chair we use for infant feeding into my office. It was actually an easy swap, with MJ doing all the heavy bits and me mostly guiding the furniture as he slid it across the floor on a blanket. I will keep the crib out of camera view at least, I do have several more months of work and events before my leave, after all! But things are definitely moving along. Bonus: it’s actually really nice to have a sofa in the family room.

Work is going well, but busy. We had a big community launch a couple weeks ago, and we’re now a couple weeks away from a large conference, which occurs the day before another conference that’s related and I’ll be participating in. Between some extra hours, and working around the increasing number of doctor appointments now that I’ve entered month six of the pregnancy means I’m definitely looking forward to calmer times. I’ll also mention that the flexibility that my employer provides for family has always been great. But the increased amount of support offered during the pandemic has been really valuable, even when I’m not taking advantage of it, knowing the safety net exists allows me to focus on my work instead of worrying about how we’ll cope if something gives.

Finally, a brief moment to pause and talk about politics. It’s not something I talk publicly about much, but it has weighed heavy on me this year. We continue to be at what feels like a crossroads in our nation with this upcoming election. Many of my friends have legitimately suffered under this administration as they lose equal rights and protections. Protests demanding justice and equality continue to erupt across the country, even amid a pandemic. My white privilege blinded me to so many of the problems in our country prior to this, or gave me the ability to ignore it, but I’ve done my best over these past three and a half years to get up to speed by expanding the types of content I consume, who I consume it from, and really listening.

I’ve also tried to understand my conservative relatives, but this is something I’ve not quite succeeded at. When I found myself somehow subscribed to the political campaign for a GOP politician in Texas, I took it as a learning opportunity, but ultimately unsubscribed after a month because I couldn’t stomach the number of lies the repeated about Democrats and liberals. I know social media has played a huge role in this misinformation campaign, but I still struggle with it. I also don’t understand how skeptical and paranoid many of my relatives are of experts and scientists, but will then believe random people with questionable credentials on YouTube and websites that are well-known right-wing propaganda machines. The left certainly isn’t immune to conspiracy theories and spin, I call my fellow liberals on it when I see it, and have fallen for it myself, but I have changed my mind and re-evaluated positions when presented with evidence.

I continue to have hope that we’ll come out of this intact and continue along our progressive path, but I do have very serious concerns.