At the end of 2019 I looked back on the previous months and was happy and grateful for the publication of my memoir, the generous support of my friends during this milestone event, and the subsequent book events in Seattle, Portland, New York City, the Bronx, Santa Barbara, Kahului (Maui), and Honolulu.
I also looked forward to 2020 and the possibility of connecting to more readers at upcoming book events. The New Year appeared welcoming, and the Lunar New Year in late January offered a refresh button if needed.
No one will never forget this Year of the Rat aka the Year of the Pandemic.
The Year of the Rat is the beginning of a new 12-year cycle in the Chinese astrological calendar. The last Year of the Rat was 2008, which brought the Bush Great Recession. I couldn’t help recalling this time and wondered what 2020 would bring even though I had no reason to feel anything but optimistic. In 2007 I had achieved my financial goals and quit my job at the end of the year to take 2008 as a gap year between jobs, a sort of “sabbatical,” to travel to Mexico, Ecuador, Hawaii, and China, then return to Seattle to do
a job search in the fall. I traveled as planned and returned to a life-changing financial crisis; I remained unemployed, took early Social Security, and launched into a completely new draft of my memoir. Not at all what I had expected.
How quickly our lives can change.
The first case of COVID-19 was identified here in the Seattle area in late January, the first death in February. In mid-March, we were sheltering in place. Waves of anxiety have taken over my life as my activities became more restricted to contain the virus. For weeks I couldn’t focus to write anything. I haven’t posted anything here for months. I have been home alone for eleven weeks now and sorely miss my friends and socializing with them.
I am lucky to continue my tutoring job online, but it has been exhausting and difficult with various technical issues to contend with. Many have lost their jobs and the uncertainty of what will happen with this pandemic and with the economy is creating daily stress, perhaps much more than some realize.
Some days are okay, some not so much. Isolation blues, you know.
Last year I was out in the world promoting my book. I have to wonder if I had not had time to write a new manuscript in 2008, would I have had a book published in 2019 and become an author? So, as difficult as 2008 was, it gave me time to write a new manuscript.
It’s Week 12 of staying at home. These days, when I leave my apartment to go shopping or get take out, it’s almost an event. Without knowing it, in 2019 I was gathering a reservoir of aloha and good will to get me through this extremely difficult time.
And who knows? As horrible as things are now, perhaps we’ll all be able to look back someday and see the blessings that resulted from this time.