Roxanne?

94036578_10101438823448517_2274590301727227904_n

Roxanne?

Last week, we received the official word from the Governor that schools will remained closed for the rest of the school year.  While we all knew that this was coming, it was still a sad announcement for all of us.  I feel so sad for our seniors, but also so sad for our underclassmen and staff.  School is home for so many of us, and the idea that we won’t be returning “home” for six months is…just sad.

In happier news, on Monday, we adopted a kitten!  From a Rottweiler rescue! It was a strange and apocalyptic adoption, in a parking lot outside of a veterinarian office, with strangers hanging around in masks waiting to pick up their new pals.  She is five months old, black, fuzzy, and very sweet.  We’re trying out the name Roxanne (Roxy), but we’re not quite sure that it fits just yet.

Connected to my news, on April 17, 2020, Naomi Houghton published an article in The Union Leader titled,“NH Animal Shelters See A Sharp Decline in Pet Adoptions.” While

5e9ca6f6821cd.image_

Photo Credit:  The Union Leader

there have been many states reporting increases in pet adoptions, New Hampshire has actually seen a sharp decline in adoptions.  Because shelters aren’t able to have open doors to visitors, potential adopters have to rely on photos and descriptions and commit to adopting before having a meet and greet, which has turned some off of adoptions.  Many of those quoted in the article spoke to the importance of open houses, walk throughs, and meet and greets in the adoption process.  One rescue organization, the NHSPCA in Stratham, have been holding virtual adoptions, but animals are being adopted out as a slower rate than usual.  The good news is that many adoptable animals are in foster homes, so they aren’t in lonely cages without visitors.  However, without animals at shelters, employees have been furloughed (Houghton).

It makes me sad and surprised that New Hampshire has experienced a downturn in adoptions when so many other states are publishing pictures of empty cages on social media.  I do understand that people are wary of adopting based on photos and descriptions; we had these same feelings.  While Roxy(?) had a cute photo and was described as being social, who know how true that would be?  My husband was very hesitant to follow through with the adoption without first meeting her, which is completely understandable.  I’m hopeful that we see a dramatic increase of adoptions once shelters can open to visitors, although I am nervous about the impact of cat adoptions after recent news articles about the potential for COVID-19 infection in house cats, although there is no evidence that cats can pass the virus onto owners.  As I’ve said over these last weeks, I’m looking forward to this being over.

Work Cited

Houghton, Kimberly. “NH Animal Shelters See a Sharp Decline in Pet Adoptions.” UnionLeader.com, Union Leader Corporation, 17 Apr. 2020, http://www.unionleader.com/news/animals/nh-animal-shelters-see-a-sharp-decline-in-pet-adoptions/article_9fe2728e-bd29-5ba4-aee5-17c48ce9ec54.html.

So we’ve been publicly shamed.

This week has been better than last.  Over the weekend, I drove around town and ended up at Newfound Lake, feeling more like a normal human person.  While I’ve still been in the same routine each day, the weather is getting nicer and I look forward to my daily (sometimes twice-daily) walks.  Going to the lake made me feel more “summery,” even though I had to wear a hoodie under my down jacket while there.  I also set a goal this week of putting on “real pants” every day, rather than leggings, and it’s done wonders for my mindset.  Yes, I usually change into leggings or sweatpants around 5pm, but I feel like a human person during working hours, and that’s made a big difference in feeling like weekdays are weekdays.  These last few days of school have felt good.  I’m so thankful that we still get to “see” each other most days, although I miss them “for real.”

merlin_171345564_9389e09f-c9e3-4713-9d20-c3ba54617f8d-superjumbo

Photo Credit:  John Tully, The New York Times

Although I’ve generally been in good spirits this week, my mood took a turn for the …angrier? on Tuesday, when I saw an article in The New York Times by David Gelles, titled “This is Going to Kill Small-Town America” about how COVID-19 is having a devastating effect on small towns.   Why did this article have me fuming?  It’s about my town:  Bristol, New Hampshire. 

 

In this article, Gelles uses Bristol as a model of a failing, rural “everytown” in America.  He  interviews our town administrator, Nik Coates and a few other locals who discuss how New Hampshire’s stay-at-home order has affected  businesses in town.  Much of the article is focused on layoffs at Freudenberg-Nok, a globally owned factory in town that had to furlough workers in the midst of the crisis.  He comments on impending doom and gloom that these furloughs will have on the community.  He also speaks to Mark McDonough, owner of The Homestead restaurant, who spoke about having to close down due to slow business.  Many of the locals interviewed state that business has been slow and that they are worried about the future of their shops when our tourism season starts (Gelles).  The article is accompanied by gloomy photos, which I’ve used in this post.

merlin_171345594_c3740b61-62c2-4320-9d1f-d6d1159aad82-superjumbo

Not shown:  The beautiful house and farm to the right.  Photo Credit:  John Tully, The New York Times

We are not a failing, rural town. As someone who lives in Bristol, I can firmly state that this article is sensationalist journalism.  First of all, the photos, while beautiful, were taken taken through a dark lens on a cloudy day, at a time of year where there’s not much greenery to be found around town.  Many appear to be focused on spots of peeling paint, ignoring the beauty in our town.  One photo, taken on my street, of a bridge next to a playset, holds the caption, “‘cropped out the beautiful house to the right, located on a family-run, still operational, farm.

 

Mark McDonough, the owner of The Homestead and one of those interviewed,  owns a franchise of restaurants around the state. He closed his Bristol location, but his other locations are still open and successfully selling take-out.  Our locally owned restaurants, breweries, and winery continue to operate on a take-out/pickup only basis, and are supported fully by residents.  One local grocery store, The Newfound Country Store, has offered curbside grocery pickup and delivery to locals.   Our food pantry is full of donations, and many businesses are donating and raffling off gift cards, with proceeds going to those in the community in need.

merlin_171345444_cb65e07e-0fb0-419a-bd06-32a7e135dfb6-superjumbo

Photo Credit:  John Tully, The New York Times

In local Facebook groups, some stated that their statements were manipulated into a false narrative, and that if they had known that Gelles were taking this angle in his piece, they never would have agreed to speaking with him.  Nik Coates, our town administrator and one of those interviewed for the story, posted a response on the town’s website, detailing all of the wonderful things happening in our town, which directly contradict  Gelles’s “observations.”  Last night, New Hampshire’s WMUR aired a short feature on Bristol in the news, which focused on how the community has come together during this crisis.  These pieces reflect who and what we are as a town.

Shortly after this article went live, it came to light that David Gelles, the author of this article, has a family second home on Newfound Lake and recused there for isolation during the crisis, likely under the guise of writing this story.   The idea that he’s hiding from his city in our small town, which he publicly shamed,  is truly disgusting.  He should be ashamed of himself.

Work Cited

Gelles, David. “’This Is Going to Kill Small-Town America’.” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 14 Apr. 2020, http://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/business/coronavirus-small-towns.html?fbclid=IwAR0RA2HHbX4i55Z4eIrtRt-tWNEoa681aQ5lntFnnflnobAPKl3BTrXO9lM.

I woke up this morning in a gloomy state.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty depressed.  While my routine last week kept me mentally healthy, this week…I’m sick of it.  I’m tired of going for walks, I’m tired of salads, I’m tired of sitting in front of my computer all day.  It’s nice being at home all day, but it’s also nice to have human interaction with people outside of my household.  Today it’s raining, which is making things even more dismal.  I just want to go back to bed, but I’m forcing myself to stay engaged.

clink-national-guard-620-gettyThis week, I’ve tried to focus on the positive news, rather than the sad.  Last night, a friend of mine shared an article on Facebook about the Washington “overflow” hospitals.  This article reflects on Washington’s Governor Inslee and his (demanding) requests that an overflow hospital be set up in Seattle’s CenturyLink Event Center.  This hospital has held 250 bed, three operating rooms, and a pharmacy.  However, the city has not had the need for this hospital with their city hospitals below capacity.  Because of this,  our military has started to pack up and close this resource moving resources back to FEMA, waiting for another state in need (“Coronavirus:  Washington”).

This article provided the positive news that I’ve been hoping for.  Between articles about our recent, local deaths from the virus and news that animals can also contract the virus, it makes sense that I woke up this morning in a gloomy state.  But as I reflect on this article, it comforts me that in Washington, a state that was at the forefront of devastation, things seem to be looking up.  I know that we’ve got a ways to go before this crisis is over.  These hospitals aren’t closing, they’re moving to more needy states, like Michigan and Washington.  I’m looking forward to the day that they pack up for good.

 

Work Cited

“Coronavirus: Washington Releases Army Field Hospital at CenturyLink Field Event Center.” KIRO7, Cox Media, 9 Apr. 2020, http://www.kiro7.com/news/local/coronavirus-army-hospital-centurylink-field-event-center-getting-moved-another-state/XIDPHMLVOJAAREQ5YCL75367PU/.

Watching Schitt’s Creek and panic scrolling through my phone.

Yesterday, while on my 897th walk of self-isolation, I had the realization that I hadn’t been in my car since last Thursday, when I went to pick up take-out from Very Excellent Chinese Restaurant.  (That is not a pseudonym, that is actually the name of the very excellent Chinese restaurant in our town.)  My day-to-day routine has been the same for the last three weeks:  Teach all morning, go for a walk, make a salad, eat it while watching The Real Housewives of Somewhere, and then head back into the upstairs office to continue work.  (The absolute luxury of sitting down to eat a salad while watching trash television cannot be discounted.)  Some days, I am able to log out at 3pm and exist, but most weekdays, I log back into the computer a few hours later to teach again, at my second job as an instructor at a virtual charter school.  The routine is comforting, but it’s also exhausting in so many ways.

Don’t get me wrong:  I know that I am lucky to still have one job, let alone two, and I am grateful for both of them.  I love that I am still able to meet live with my students every day, and that I can connect virtually with my colleagues multiple times a week.  However, at the end of last week, I felt like my brain was bleeding from all of the screen time.  I turned everything on Chrome into forced dark mode:  (chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark) and ordered a pair of blue light blocking glasses, which arrived a few days ago.  I’m feeling better, brain-bleed wise, but I really miss…going to school?  Driving my car?  Walking into the store for groceries without feeling like I’m breaking the law?  Not seeing random strangers walking around in masks and gloves?

case-mapA few nights ago, while half-watching Schitt’s Creek but mostly panic scrolling through the news on my phone, I saw a map posted by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.  This map details the current reported cases of COVID-19 in our state.  Currently, there have been 415 identified cases in our state.  Of those 415, 58 have been hospitalized, 91 have recovered, and four people have died.  The most cases have been reported in our most populous cities, Manchester and Nashua, while zero cases have been reported in the northernmost parts of our state.   My town is reported here as having 1-4 reported cases (“Novel Coronavirus”).

Of course, this is only official data.  We have no way of knowing whether or not Coos County is actually free from COVID-19 or whether they are simply not testing that far north.  When news of COVID-19 started breaking, we talked about it in class on a weekly basis, thanks to Kelly Gallagher’s Articles of the Week.  Because this was breaking news in California and Washington at first, it felt removed from us.  We felt safe.   I felt safe.  Now that these statistics are a part of my every day life, I feel…uncomfortable.  I live in a town of approximately 3,000 year-round residents and we’ve made it onto this map, into this part of history.  So I worry.  I worry about my family, I worry about my friends.  I worry about my postal carrier.  I worry about the strangers I’ve never met and the strangers I meet outside these days.  I worry about myself, even while convincing myself that I’ll be okay.

Work Cited

“Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).” New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, State of New Hampshire, 1 Apr. 2020, http://www.nh.gov/covid19/index.htm.

Crazy hair, stress pimples, and a different hoodie every day.

I’ve been so overwhelmed with figuring out how to do my job remotely that I haven’t quite had the time to process the impact that COVID-19 has had on my day-to-day life.  As I have been reflecting on this experience over the last few days and nights, I’ve found a lot to be grateful for.  I really  miss going to school each day and seeing my students and colleagues, but I am grateful that I still can do my job from home and am still receiving a paycheck.  I’ve been going stir-crazy at home, but I’m grateful that I live in a naturally beautiful neighborhood to walk around in.  It’s been a tough two weeks, but I am grateful that I have a home and life that makes this self-isolation tolerable.

weirdtimesbrightspirits-34-720x900-1One of the most thought-provoking pieces I’ve seen over this last week was a photo essay by a professional photographer in Tennessee.  Tausha Dickinson, a photographer in Franklin, Tennessee, wrote on Facebook that while self-quarantined, she also needed an outlet for her creative work.  She posted in her neighborhood group that would be walking the neighborhood with her camera and invited her neighbors onto their front lawns, steps, or doors and windows, doing whatever their heart desired.  Five hours later, from a safe distance, she walked the neighborhood, capturing the essence of self-isolation agains a backdrop of gorgeous Southern homes.  The photos range from cute, romantic pictures of couples, cute pictures of families, and hilarious photos of bearded, gun-and-whiskey toting men.  She calls the piece “Weird Times, Bright Spirits”  (Graves).

weirdtimesbrightspirits-4-900x600-1This photo essay reminded me a lot of the photos I studied in school of families living through the Dust Bowl, but clearly  not as depressing.  While the subjects of those famous Dust Bowl pictures were intended to show the despair of their lives, it seemed like Dickinson’s essay was to show the beauty of family and community in an otherwise horrifying moment in our history.  I loved this piece because of  how different the photographs were.  My favorite photos were those that were staged, like the gun-and-whiskey toting men, which is hitting close to home for me, as my husband came home yesterday with a shotgun and $200 of canned goods.  Some of the other pictures seemed like they could have been from an engagement session, and you’d never have known that these families were isolating in their homes unless you saw them in this context.  It also made me think about what someone would see if they took a photo of me at home during this self-isolation period:  crazy hair, stress pimples, and a different hoodie every day.  I could probably work on that.

 

 

Work Cited
Graves, Liza. “A Neighborhood-Wide Photoshoot Captures Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” StyleBlueprint, STYLEBLUEPRINT, A SB MEDIA COMPANY, 25 Mar. 2020, styleblueprint.com/everyday/a-neighborhood-wide-photoshoot-captures-community-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/?fbclid=IwAR01EBWi8IrDvCzSQSJldT_Yuolb0Qi0eliyf1eNxyH4rJiS4RSYfajC1-c.