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And just like that, February 2021 is a thing of the past.

For the most part, it was a relatively uneventful month. Jim remains unemployed. Holly continues to find a balance between dance, work, and school. We are still settling into the house, with Jim’s main project for the month being our master closet.

As for me, I did start a new part-time position at a local healthcare facility. The work is beyond easy. Embarrassingly so. I only work four hours a day, in the morning so that I still get to spend a large portion of my awake hours at home. The thing is that I spent the month experiencing insomnia and nightly nightmares again for the first time since I lost my job last year. Also, I have had a near-constant migraine since I started work as well. Wearing blue-light-filtering reading glasses helps slightly. As for insomnia, it is not the kind that prevents me from falling asleep but rather the kind that has me waking up way too many times every night, preventing me from entering REM sleep and feeling rested. While the work is easy with no responsibilities or duties beyond the regimented work, there is something about the work environment that really does seem to be detrimental to my health. I promised Jim that I would give the job ninety days to see if I can make it work. Thirty days down and I remain unconvinced this is the right direction for me.

Because I now work in healthcare, I do have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. So far, I choose not to get it, not because I don’t want it but rather because we still continue to run into shortages or missed shipments every week. As a relatively low-risk person who is by no means an essential worker, I choose to let someone with a much higher risk factor than myself get the vaccine ahead of me. Hopefully, the vaccine will become available to the general public and not those at risk, and this will be a moot issue sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, we all continue to wear our (double) masks and exercise caution. The exception, which I felt was odd, was at Holly’s first dance competition, which required masks for the audience and all of the dancers except when they were on stage. Then, they could dance without masks, no matter how many dancers were onstage at the same time. To me, it was an unusual, and risky, decision. that seemingly defies logic. After all, most of the dances required dancers to be closer than six feet apart. After four hours of dancing like this, having to put on a mask when not on stage does nothing to avoid the fact that all the dancers risked exposure. Still, it was great to see Holly on stage again. I know she missed it more than she would say.

The year being more or less constantly at home did surprisingly take its toll. As a major introvert, I never truly enjoy the large crowds of dance weekends because I find it so soul-draining to be around that many people and that much activity. While this year’s competitions are cutting down on the crowds by limiting crowd size and scheduling each studio to dance in an individual block of time, I found myself nervous and uncomfortable for a completely different reason. The year that wasn’t caused me to develop social anxiety in a way that I never previously had. It wasn’t the activity that got me. Nor was it the people, as I didn’t really interact with anyone. It was the mere fact that I was out in public with others who most definitely had different opinions of mask-wearing and social distancing than I do that bothered me the most and caused one hell of an anxiety migraine. I imagine that while all of us long for the chance to go out and socialize again, there are going to many others who will experience the same sense of anxiety and dread that I did when actually faced with large numbers of people in a public place again. After all, the pandemic did nothing if show us that crowds are dangerous for so many reasons and that our ways of interacting can be detrimental to our health. While we might say we want it, I doubt that life will go “back to normal.”

On a more promising front, while Jim remains unemployed at this time, he spent the last several weeks traveling to upstate New York and Southern California for final interviews. As he puts it, he has “four irons in the fire,” with promising responses for all four. Two would require us to move, one is local, and one is remote but would most likely mean a move within two years. None of us are excited about the thought of moving, but if either opportunity turns out to be the best option, he would be a fool to turn it down. I think I speak with confidence when I say that no matter what happens, all three of us are anxious for a final decision and to be done with this uncertainty.

As I type this, the sun is out, and I can actually see patches of grass for the first time in weeks. Granted, it is going to take a long time for some of the piles of snow to disappear completely, but with temps in the upper fifties this week, there is most definitely a hint of spring in the air. I love winter, but the sun and warmth are welcome after a month of weekly snowstorms. and almost two feet of snow on the ground.

So that’s all the news from my neck of Southern Wisconsin. What has been keeping you busy lately? Favorite movies? TV? Books?

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