Quarantine vacation (and cooking)

Vacation 2020...a parking lot across from our apartment

I've been on vacation for the past 10 days. What was originally planned to be a 2 week trip to Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa, and Ha Long Bay) and Los Angeles to visit C's family turned into a staycation because of the global coronavirus pandemic and quarantine. While I have it better than most, only having my spring break cancelled but otherwise safe at home, it's been a different vacation than I'd hoped. 
In addition to our collective grief regarding the global pandemic and an essentially nationwide quarantine, I've been personally grieving this vacation. While again, this is so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, our trip was planned more than a year in advance and it was the first time I was going to visit C's hometown. Instead of making new memories, I could only look back on memories from years past.  Spain in 2019, Italy in 2018, Japan in 2017, China in 2016, Southeast Asia in 2015. I was mourning the loss of this trip but also mourning the end of travel for the foreseeable future. I've been scrolling through photos, rewatching videos, and rereading blog posts to fill the travel gap, not knowing when the next time I can travel internationally or even to the next state over to see my parents. The other day my sister and I commemorated our Spain trip this time last year on FaceTime, playing a drinking game while watching Rick Steves tour Andalucia, drinking wine and eating tapas on opposite coasts. 
I think it would have been easier if I were able to save my vacation and continue working but instead I've been forced to slow down with nowhere to go (my phone still taunts me with calendar alerts from our cancelled flights that I forgot to delete). During my vacation, C has continued to WFH, a logical move to save his vacation when he can actually travel again, but it was difficult for me as I felt like he wasn't available to hang out while I was free since he was of course, working. In our second week, we have also adjusted and we've found more of a groove working and living together around the clock. 
Thanks for taking pics of me in an empty parking lot
So what have I been doing on my vacation? While everyone is dealing with quarantine differently, I was determined not to sit around at home for two weeks. I've been reading for pleasure, organizing my notes, cleaning out my desk, applying for jobs, working out, and finally put up the gallery wall in our apartment. I haven't been bored yet! Oh, and plenty of cooking. But in a twist of fate (I have always loved to cook), I felt like I was spending too much time cooking during my first few days of vacation (i.e. making dumplings and empanadas from scratch), so have since dialed back and relied more on prepackaged salad, rotisserie chicken, and easier meals the second week. Turns out I would not make a good stay at home mom. Nonetheless, here are some of the quarantine eats and other staycation snaps from my two weeks at home. 
Nashville hot chicken
Okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake)
Homemade wontons with chili oil
Dumplings and wontons in process
Homemade Chinese food after a weekend of bingeing "Tiger King"
Homemade pizza (including dough) on our patio
We've gotten  a lot of mileage out of this Amazon patio table I ordered just before quarantine started
 Chinese takeout for my birthday
Hummingbird cake, a new fav for my birthday, followed with a Zoom party with some my favs
Bought a dim sum steamer from our local Asian grocery store :D
The insta-famous Dalgona coffee
Homemade curry puffs....couldn't find pastry dough so I made my own empanada dough. Still not as good as mom's!

 Breakfast cookies going strong, 6 years later. Pinch of Yum's vegetarian walnut chili simmering.
Healthy-ish salad bowls
Savoring slow mornings with a book, coffee, and avocado toast
Sushi night 
Udon and sushi
 Sunsets around the lake on our nightly walk
 Chrissy's scallops
 Workouts on the lake dock outside our apartment
 Hawaiian night--spam musubi
Teriyaki chicken, mac salad, Chrissy's coleslaw. We finished a whole bag of rice in one week lol. 
Weekly date night/take out from a local restaurant (Perch)
"You can't make me smile on demand"
Chrissy's banh mi and herby-tangy slaw
Mojitos with all the leftover mint
Chinese breakfast (mix of Northern and Southern dishes) 
I vetoed his Shiba poster
We finally finished the gallery wall! 
Major accomplishment of the staycation 
Next week, I return to work but with a generally lighter schedule. We are doing the majority of our visits as telephone or Zoom visits. Our conferences have moved to virtual, allowing us to sign in from home. There's a possibility in the coming weeks that specialists such as myself may be called upon to help with the surge of patients in a disaster scenario, but so far it does not appear needed. There are signs that the coronavirus outbreak are finally slowing. Cases and deaths in New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic, are plateauing (though still devastatingly high). Less populous states such as Virginia and states that quickly sheltered in place like California may never experience the horror of New York City, and for that we should all be grateful. 

As talk begins of how and when to reopen the economy, we must keep in mind that the coronavirus pandemic is a marathon and not a sprint. Not just for the patients, the health care system and the economy, but for our mental and emotional wellbeing. In this extra downtime, I alternate between wanting to be super productive and also slowing down and savoring the time I have to read, workout, and cook every night. Yesterday I transcribed a bunch of my notes and applied to a few jobs, and today I wrote this blog post. It's all a balance. In the absence of evidence based research telling us when it's safe to return to "normal," we need to prepare to stay at home for the foreseeable future, likely months (my guess is June-ish). And so balance is all any of us can hope for at this point. Hang in there! We're all in this together.


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