March 2020: quarantine month 1

March lasted one thousand years, plus I’m very late on writing this so now I hardly remember what happened. It’s amazing how time becomes very fluid and subjective when you’re at home all day every day.

It was a month of contrasts: for the first half of the month, we were going everywhere and doing everything. And then for the second half, we were going (almost) nowhere and doing nothing.

The calm before the storm (the storm before the calm?)

We saw my partner’s parents the first weekend of March because they’d come down to Maryland for my partner’s brother’s lacrosse game. We hung out with them all day Saturday (and whoops, got the first sunburn of the year), and then I worked my second job on Sunday (for the last time).

The next weekend we took a three-day weekend to go visit my parents (why go? We’d been scheduled to go, plus scheduled to go see Les Mis, which got cancelled the day we got there 😭) and take the long way down to go on some socially-distanced wedding venue visits. While there, I got the notification that everyone at my company was getting the next Monday and Tuesday off as admin days in transition for everyone going remote (except for a select few essential people in my department since we had a very crucial project happening that required us to be in the building).

I actually ended up going into work that Tuesday since I’m local and can walk (and could also therefore grab my laptop in preparation for working from home!), but by Wednesday it was clear that even the skeleton crew we’d been working with wasn’t going far enough in light of the pandemic and everyone in my department was going to be staying home. That Tuesday was my last day in the office and I’ve been working remotely since. I’m extremely lucky that I’ve been able to do so, and even more lucky that my boss and our upper management have made it clear that our health and safety is priority number one and productivity comes second to that. Lots of people can’t say the same thing.

I obviously am not working my second job right now, and I’m lucky that my food service job was my second, weekend job for extra money and not my full paycheck. Not having that extra money is a huge bummer—plus I legitimately enjoy that job and hanging out with my coworkers!—but I am very thankful to be in the position I’m in.

My partner has also been working from home since mid-March, so we’re both doing fine (or as well as can be expected. “Fine” changes day-to-day).

Twisted trees we saw on a hike/nature walk in NC

Moving??

What I didn’t mention was that while we were at my parents’ we also looked at some homes on the market. We’d pretty much decided at that point that we weren’t going to buy a house yet, or even move: a pandemic is not the time to shake up your life like that!

We did, however, put in an offer for a house in March.

On the way to one last wedding venue visit (right before the VA shelter-in-place orders went out. I specifically pushed for us to go for a day trip that weekend because I knew those orders were likely coming and we needed a wedding venue and date booked now before even more couples needed to reschedule their own weddings), we had a conversation about moving in which we made our peace with staying in DC longer than we’d planned.

Unbeknownst to us, sitting in our inboxes during that conversation was an email from our realtor saying that the AMAZING house we’d put an offer in for in February was likely not going to close and did we want to put in a backup offer?

After all that deliberation where we’d decided to stay, we made the decision to put in the backup offer. We’d be able to delay closing until mid-July (ideal since our lease ends in July), plus we offered $5000 less for it than we’d originally offered (not that that mattered. The house was a fantastic price).

After all that, it did close and our backup offer wasn’t needed. We were super bummed AGAIN that the beautiful, extremely reasonably-priced house that needed NO work on it slipped through our grasp for a second time. But we were also very much relieved. Because the beginning of a pandemic is not the time to be shaking up your life like that.

Some tulips and a monument. No major life shake-ups here yet!

Stressful, non-distanced hikes

When social distancing/shelter-in-place orders first went out, we went for two hikes that first weekend, figuring that it (plus don’t blame us, we don’t even have a goddamn patio with this fucking basement apartment we live in and distancing on the sidewalks around here is a joke that involves lots of walking in the street). Bless us, naive babies that we were. The first hike we decided to do midday, and it’s a very popular spot and a relatively short hike. It was PACKED with people. And not just regular hikers. It was packed with families and people who obviously aren’t usually hikers, including lots of college kids and people very obnoxiously blasting music from their bags.

We didn’t bother getting anywhere near the edge of the overlook because it was swarmed with people (luckily we’d done this hike before!). We sat long enough to eat some trail mix and decided to get our asses off the mountain. Instead of feeling relaxed and accomplished after that hike, we felt stressed and annoyed.

We thought the next hike would be better: it was longer (7 miles versus 3), a bit more out of the way, and we went earlier in the day. Not quite early enough, though. The first half of the hike was relatively fine, and when we got to the top there weren’t that many people at the overlook (and those who were there were very good at keeping their distance/not spreading over the whole overlook/not camping out for ages). But as we got back to the trail head, there were more and more people to have to avoid. Which meant we got off the trail and let them pass instead of trusting they’d do the same for us (spoiler alert: most people don’t), which was even more frustrating because it slowed us down when we just wanted to get the hell back to the car.

I think we’d both been fighting off some anxiety in the car on the way to the hike, and luckily we didn’t finish that hike feeling nearly as anxious as we had the first hike.

On our hikes since those two, we’ve gotten up at 6 am. It SUCKS to get up that early, but it’s not worth otherwise having to deal with lots of people who don’t already know the rules of the trail, let alone give you some goddamn space. That shit is stressful, and I could just stay in my (tiny) apartment and not have to deal with them.

A fiance I don’t even recognize anymore since this was pre-quarantine beard

Numbers

Rent $700.00
Internet and utilities $53.08
Groceries $224.15 Costco runs hurt the budget. Especially when you’re stocking up for quarantine, go figure
Restaurants/bars $64.80 We’ve started ordering takeout once a week from a local restaurant (and then we get a walk in going to go pick it up)
Gas $52.16 I drove down to NC, taking the extremely long way around
Transportation $3.00 A parking fee at a mall when we met up for dinner with one of my cousins who was briefly in town
Barre membership $104.94
Misc dues/subscriptions $31.05 Patreon
Entertainment $90.06 A ticket to see Hamilton in July which -sob- I hope is going to happen
Personal care $64.15
Other shopping $171.48 Including books, blue light-blocking computer glasses, and, very importantly, puzzles
Vacation $161.81 Prepaid for a vacation at some later date, plus food/other spending while in NC
Charitable giving $50.00
Annual fees $19.99 This could’ve been $200 more, but I cancelled my CSP (damn you, Chase, for not waiving annual fees) and called CapitalOne to waive the annual fee for another credit card
Total spending: $1,790.67
Paychecks and other income $1989.70
Retirement contributions $2381.75
Side hustle income $420.65 The last check from my second job for…?
Taxes $92.00 Federal refund
Total income: $4,884.10
Total: $3,093.43
Savings rate: 63%

Not bad for what was a very hectic month (that also lasted approximately 23986 years). We’ll see how quarantine spending gets adjusted and how my savings rate gets impacted by not having my second job for what looks like will be quite a while.

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