I cannot seem to maintain a blogging practice even under these circumstances. The delivery was successful and with a lifeline and a little time my anger over my situation faded into acceptance and meaning.
The weekdays passed fast enough, with actually doing work and stuff. While limited to my iPhone, I could be productive enough and ask for help when needed. Furthermore, the world continues to spiral downward and my inconveniences are more and more the folded into the mix of fear, worsening restrictions, the spread of the virus and shutting down of daily life.
Starting yesterday, China is no longer accepting foreigners with any kind of valid visa into the country. And any and all people entering the country will have to undergo the 14-day quarantine in centralized state facilities such as where we are at. I am so grateful that we made it back into the country before the borders closed. In less than a week I will be home and with my dog. This will be worth it.
Today was another boost to the quality of life in room 1217. A fan! It has helped to pull in cooler air from outside, it continued to be so miserable. The woman that answers my texts and takes my orders at the corner grocery store ordered it for me and had it delivered. The kind gesture from a strange brings tears to my eyes and add back a little hope in humanity.
I have found this week that the many hobbies and movies are just not suiting my needs during quarantine, and I’ve let go of what I “should” be doing to maximize this time and have been delighting in “The Great British Baking Show” most of all. I completed a jigsaw puzzle I brought in my suitcase (how did I lose two pieces?), been reading “My Little Friend” by Donna Tartt, episodes of the latest season of “Survivor”, and texting and video calling more than ever. Using the app Glo for morning yoga on the titled space in front of the bathroom. In my suitcase, I had smuggled in both water and milk kefir grains and now I got my fermentation station going with a steady sugar and milk supply. Don’t I sound busy? There is some pacing, some crying, some staring out the window. A bit excessive checking the stats of the spreading virus and reading the New York Times live updates. But overall, life has slowed down, simplified and is manageable. There is light at the end of this quarantine tunnel.
The heat of the room and the food are my two biggest issues. There is no air conditioning functioning and the room is hot and stuffy, its probably mid 80s in here. I talked to a colleague of mine, who is also in this quarantine facility and her room is boiling as well. So it’s not a room specific problem.
The food. For the first two days we were given food twice a day and I was using instant noodle packages from my suitcase to supplement. There is no microwave here, only a standard Chinese hotel room electric kettle. You can imagine the noodles were a bit more than al dente. Starting yesterday lunch showed up, but we didn’t know if it was indeed lunch or early delivery of our 2nd meal. So we only ate half of it to ensure having dinner. Then dinner came. See the picture below of it.
It made both me and Husband feel a bit ill. I don’t want to feel ill for any reason, because if our temperature goes up they take us out of here and to a hospital, and I don’t want that. I wondered if the meat was maybe the culprit and it is distinguishing so I asked to have no more meat. You can see that breakfast this morning got smaller….I guess no meat will mean less food overall:
Last night we received a text message communication with common questions and answers for our quarantine time. There is a section on food and the rationale why we cannot order deliveries on most things. (China has an amazing delivery system for both groceries and restaurants). They claim unsealed food may result in food poisoning and it will be confused with CoronaVirus. Yet today for lunch, after I said no meat, I was served seafood pasta with shrimp and mussels and other identifiable things.
Here is the text message:
My coworker who is here ordered from a nice restaurant last night had her delivery confiscated, $50 worth of food. She had not been given the information about what was acceptable to order, I sent it to her this morning. Hopefully she is going home today and won’t need to order.
Of my suitcase food, this is what I have remaining to supplement my prison slop:
I’ve been reusing 1 tea bag throughout the day, enjoying the subtle flavors that emerge after the 5th or so use.
I’m trying a grand experiment tonight to help get some better food and supplies into my rations. I put in an order today with a corner shop near my apartment for these things to be delivered at 6pm tonight. Let’s see what makes it through from my list. The clerk even sent me a nice little video for me to check the items. So nice!
After 2 months of being in America during the outbreak of Corona Virus in China, my husband and I decided to heed the call of our school to return to Guangzhou. We knew there would be risks associated with our decision. And it seems that the worst case situation has actually taken place for us. Usually my life is so charmed, how can this be?
Well, I got time to tell you. Lots of time. Like 12 more days in a shitty hotel room amount of time.
Let’s start with a little context with a favorite organization tool of mine.
Husband and myself. All people entering China from “epidemic areas” which includes the USA since a few days ago. Teachers from my school who were told to return by March 15.
As the pandemic grows in both Europe and the USA, it has largely subsided in China. The Chinese lockdown measures, albeit Draconian, have worked and life is returning to normal, schools soon hope to re-open their campuses. Daily international travel has become more and more difficult, with cancelled flights, transits blocked of different nationalities, among other things. My school specifically told their staff to return by March 15 so we could be ready to go back to work when the government allowed schools to reopen. There is a 14-day in country quarantine required before returning to work so the school wants boots on the ground.
The global pandemic has made so that the rules of the game keep changing. We left Portland, OR on Wednesday, March 18. We travelled through Vancouver, CA with a direct flight to Guangzhou, China. On that Wednesday Trump announced that the board with Canada would shut soon, maybe the next day? The flight to Vancouver was very empty but the flight to Guangzhou was completely full.
As we entered the plane, the stewardess handed each passenger a plastic bag full of stuff. This was our rations for the 13-hour flight: 2 small bottles of water, a variety of prepackaged rolls and cookies, 1 fun-size snickers.
When we arrived at the airport, we sat on the plane for over 2 hours and then it took another 9 hours of waiting, forming lines and filling out the same information on different forms before we were loaded into busses meant for different sections of the city for the night quarantine. All this time there was no access to food and water.
We are in a hotel room, room 1217 to be exact in a non-descript ugly hotel. I believe it is costing us $100 each night to be here. Take away, cheap and small portions of food are left outside our door 2x a day. The wifi is mostly non-functional. The TV is all in Chinese. Our window is locked shut, the heat is turned up too high. My supplemental food and instant coffee will soon run out. We were not prepared to be here for 14-days.
We are caught in quarantine here because our apartment complex refuses to let us fulfill our 14-day quarantine in our apartment. They have made up some excuses about potential work on water pipes, but probably it is just xenophobia. They don’t want to deal with us and scare the other people who live there who will assume we have the virus. My principal wrote a letter to our Board to plead with them to intervene, basically because if we are here for 2 weeks we can’t really work. And to my school that is my only and limited value.
I'm sitting in my father-in-law's house with the morning sun shining in on me. I have coffee, a cozy chair, upcoming plans for the day. I am in Portland, OR and not China right now because of the Corona Virus outbreak last month. With the outbreak and the global scare that it has caused has been a mixed blessing for me.
It was Chinese New Year when news of the virus made headlines, and my husband and I were in Hawaii visiting friends for our this vacation time. The news was unsettling. All of it: the virus itself and how it was spreading, the implications for work and our life there, our dog Dolly who was staying with a colleague. There was so much unknowns and so many decisions that we needed to make without any good information, and my imagine was running wild, especially around the safety of our dog and my responsibility for her.
We stayed in Hawaii for over a week longer, waiting to hear news about if it was safe to travel back, if our school would postpone it's opening, fretting about decisions over losing our tickets, lack of equipment to work remotely, where to go that felt safe and not cost a lot more money. We ended up each buying Chromebooks so we could work, we bought plane tickets to Portland, we accepted we wouldn't get a refund on our tickets to Guangzhou. We bought winter clothes and shoes. We will have to buy plane tickets back to China. We will probably loose money from our planned trip to Japan in April. But it is just money after all.
We have been blessed that we have been able to stay places rent free and with the use of a car. We have friends and family who are thrilled to have us nearby. I have been able to interview in person for a job in Portland (totally worth buying a suit)...I'm waiting for the news about next steps since I learned yesterday that I advanced to the next round. I can work remotely with ease. I reactivated my library card, I've been hiking in the woods, going to yoga classes and balancing the work with the play. I am okay.
Our addictions divide us, addiction tells us we don’t have a problem because we are not as bad as someone else. It holds us in a place of aloneness, where our pain and struggles are unique and justified excuses for addictive behaviors.
Recovery does the opposite. In recovery we see that addiction is a sliding scale, and others may have fallen more down the path...that we are on as well. Recovery opens up the connection to others that we all carry pain and struggle and our common story of pain and suffering, regardless of the source, is the birthplace of addiction.
The above quote in my title works really well with the following substitutes:
”Shame looks for differences, compassion looks for similarities”
It's the isolation of shame leads to addiction. The compassion of “I’ve been there too” opens connections to see that we all can feel unworthy, ashamed, alone in our dark places. We just aren’t alone. The more we can share that message by connecting with others, by sharing our shame and sharing compassion when others trust us with their stories, the more we heal. The more we can change the direction of addition.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp