Normalcy is a word thrown around often and rightfully so. It is normalcy we are craving, desiring, and begging for as we continue living in the most unusual times. As we move forward, we are heading to a new norm; or a normal redefined. My honest opinion is that the foreseeable future will produce unusual changes much like was seen across the world after 9/11. Today marks the 60th day that I have been self-isolated at home in New Orleans. Saturday we begin Phase 1 of the return to normalcy.
Since February there has been a lot going on yet not a lot given the circumstances. One of the coolest parts (no pun intended) was going to Wisconsin with the Marines to evaluate training. It was very cold, but before I departed I did get to see a Marine buddy I had not seen for over a year. Shout out to Andy and Wisconsin cheese curds! After getting back from that trip we had plenty of work to do before the next exciting thing.
At the beginning of March (pre-Corona shutdown) I took my grandma on the Disney Cruise sailing out of New Orleans! The port arrival experience was exciting because the port is a 5-minute drive away from my house. One quick Lyft over to the port and we were there! I typically cruise out of Port Canaveral where you drive an hour and park; all while paying for tolls and parking. It’s not cheap! I am glad Disney brought Disney to me here in New Orleans.
We sailed on the Disney Wonder for 4 nights while making one stop in Cozumel, Mexico. This was my first time on the Disney Wonder so I was glad to add it to my list of ships sailed. We had a huge porthole in our room, but because of a small issue in our stateroom we were moved/upgraded to a verandah room! Of course no 4-night sailing is complete without a brunch at the adult’s only restaurant, Palo. Delicious! One of the experiences I was most interested in was eating at Tiana’s Place restaurant. This name sounds familiar because it is Princess Tiana’s restaurant straight from the film “Princess and the Frog”. The coolest part of Tiana’s Place, besides the authenticity of the atmosphere, was the people. During the huge Second Line show we had New Orleanians fresh off their Mardi Gras high making the experience extraordinary. Tiana’s Place is by far my favorite restaurant onboard the Disney Cruise Line fleet.
After returning from the cruise I showed grandma some sites and then it was back to work. We worked for a week and then Corona came to town. March 13th we left work and were told to stay home and telework. Everything escalated very quickly and by the time St. Patricks Day rolled around, Bourbon Street and the city was shut down. An intense deviation from normal life began with no clear end in sight.
This shutdown, as difficult as it is for many, has encouraged me that the drive to overcome adversity still lives within the American people. In New Orleans alone we have stayed home for the good of others and we have given generously to those in need. There is a local BBQ place that started giving away meals every Saturday for all musicians and service people who were laid off. Schools have donated their lunches to keep the city’s children fed. At one point the homeless were given access to hotel rooms that were otherwise sitting empty. Local people taking care of local people.
The Lord has blessed me with these activation orders to work here in New Orleans. If I wasn’t activated with the Marines then I would be on Day 60 with no income whatsoever. It seems like I say this on most of my posts, but God never ceases to amaze me with His provision for my life. Nobody knew over 14% of the American workforce would be unemployed, but I am privileged to be able to work even during these trying times.
What a time to be alive though! We are a testament to history. Conveniences in our society have now become a lifeline for many. Honestly! We now order from Amazon because the store is closed. Walmart’s online grocery pickup used to be for picking up your groceries on the way home from work. Online conferencing systems were for global connection and now they’re for connecting people around town. It’s like we were preparing for something like this to happen without knowing it.
The current normal for me is to wake up and make my bed. Yes, I still make my bed. Of course there is coffee involved every morning as well. Working from home is simple enough as I open my work laptop and connect to the network for essential business items. Lunch is usually grilled cheese. Dinner is usually frozen pizza or tuna and rice. I have gone crazy a few times and cooked legit meals or baked things like biscuits. Sometimes I end up doing funny things or thinking of funny things that I share with the world via Twitter. Like these:
Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@johnstonjai) for random tweets during quarantine.
This Saturday we begin New Orleans’ plan for a return to the new normal. As we all move forward in this time, please contact me and let me know what you have been up to during this time. Has it been fun, annoying, eye-opening? How can I can pray for you? Please contact me if you just feel like talking. You are loved. Until next time: Be strong. Love God. Love others.