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Take It Slow & Be Careful (Part One)

Moving is not fun. Not to me, you or anyone else. Since the pandemic began, we've moved from New Orleans to Dallas and now, after just 8 months, back to Louisiana. Memories from Mardi Gras 2020 continue to litter our social media news feed and stories of a non-existent festival season have been in the headlines. And as we prepare to move again, meteorologists prognosticated the Icepocolypse of the century.

Last year as news of COVID-19 spread around the world just as quickly as the virus itself, New Orleans was cleaning up after a party that had been very different than years past. The rubble of the Hard Rock Hotel collapse was looming on a corner of Canal Street with two dead bodies still trapped inside. It had been sitting like that untouched since October 2019. It had tragically fallen, killing people and trapping two bodies inside the mangled construction project. The City decided to not clean the mess up because of the financial impact it would have on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and of course ... Mardi Gras. I felt really bad for the families of those men. Also, several people were killed during parades by falling under or off floats, which rarely happens, so the juju felt off the whole season. I was working Downtown selling timeshare packages for Wyndam Destinations when the lockdown started. Also, I'd been working as a personal shopper with InstaCart on the side, so I transitioned to doing that full time and have been ever since.

We stayed in New Orleans for about a year total before we decided to move to Texas. The decision was a tough one. Kristin's hometown was just outside of Dallas and most of her family was still there. With the uncertainty of living in a tourist city hanging over us, moving West was the best choice at the time. It's a 500 mile trip one way. Plus, driving a 26' U-Haul truck while towing a trailer with an Explorer on top isn't for the faint of heart. Not only is the entire rig about 50' long, it has the steering wheel from a minivan. The interstate's full of 18-wheelers and other crazy drivers. Especially in Texas. It doesn't matter if you use the backroads or the main roads, nothing is certain. One thing had been consistent though. Everyone had the same advice. Take it slow and be careful.

Once you cross the state line, you just know you're in Texas. Everything is absolutely bigger. The trucks, the suburbs, the bbq restaurants ... and also the assholes. Growing up in Louisiana engrains a certain level of Southern hospitality in you. Whether or not it's part of someone's everyday life is their choice. But, it's down in your soul somewhere and it's there for life. When you're in the Lone Star state, there's a different vibration. The traffic moves faster. The horns honk louder. And the egos and pretentious attitudes abound. However, I knew on some level what I was getting myself into. At least I thought that I did.

It was the end of July when we moved into our apartment. We'd been to the complex a few times in the past because we have a friend that lives there as well but living somewhere is always much different than visiting. We had a 3rd floor unit and within two weeks, we received a noise complaint from the tenants below us on the 2nd floor. It was the middle of the day, during the middle of the week and Kris had music playing on the TV while she was cleaning. And apparently, the "Karen" downstairs worked from home and needed (and I quote) "complete quiet" to do her job. Well ... don't live in an apartment then! Also, our first two electricity bills were over $350 for a one bedroom apartment. Then, I went and spoke to the leasing office and showed them our usage statements. They agreed that it was unusual but stated we should contact TXU Energy as there wasn't anything they could do. So, I reached out the our electric provider and was told that there wasn't anything that they could do and to contact our landlord. While we're stuck in the middle and they point their fingers at each other, our bill was more than we could afford each month, so the Past Due balance continued to get bigger and bigger. We eventually had to request a "Deferment Plan" so they wouldn't disconnect it, the week in between Christmas and New Years mind you. The balance is more than you would believe.

While there were MANY reasons I didn't like being in Texas, it did give me a couple things that I'll be forever grateful. My Siberian Husky, Rajah, lives with Kris and I. She's our fur-daughter. And no matter what we do or where we go, she comes with us. We've taken her to the zoo, down Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras and on numerous road trips along our journey. Because she is registered as a Service Animal, we didn't have to pay a pet deposit or the pet rent that's normally required. I know. Pet Rent? Yes. Pet Rent.

One day while on Facebook, I saw a post from a friend of mine asking was someone interested in adopting a 2yr old Husky. Kris & I talked about it and came to the conclusion to go introduce Rajah and the other dog and see how things went. Rajah's usually good around other animals and rarely do I even have to put her on a leash. She really is a good dog. However, there are those rare occasions that she doesn't click with another dog. We'd let fate decide. It was a 45minute drive to Denton and we went to meet them at a dog park. As soon as they met, Rajah walked over and put her paw on the dog's back as to say, "I'll take this one."

Harley is now a part of our family. We couldn't imagine life without her. Having her has even given Rajah more spunk. When we were in New Orleans, Rajah was around Jax, my friend's Pitbull. He's a lazybone and they didn't play very much. But with Harley, it's like Rajah and she are the same age because they play rambunctiously all the time. Some people don't understand those of us who are so passionate about our pets. It's hard to explain, if you aren't an "animal person". I enjoy the company of my pets more than I do most humans. They have a place in our lives just as a person would. The eat, sleep and enjoy life with us no matter where we go!

When I tell someone that I have two birthdays, that statement usually generates the same response. The one you had just now. Two birthdays? I was born at 11:59pm on 11/04 & 12:00am on 11/05. I literally came into the world partially on one day and partially on another. It really messes with my horoscope readings. For anyone that knows me personally, this may explain a few things. November 2020 was my 516th month alive. I'll let you do the math.

As with most things, last year gave all of us a lot of surprises. Some we experienced together. Some were more personal. Some we enjoyed. Others, not so much. No matter your political views, it's safe to say, you didn't agree with something that went on last year, as well. November 4th, 2020 was the day after the election so you know what was going on. Kristin hadn't been feeling well for about two weeks. Although she wasn't showing all the telltale signs of the coronavirus, we'd heard of people that had gastrointestinal symptoms that may be a variant of an unknown side affect or something so were starting to get a bit concerned.

Quick flashback. We were in New Orleans for Easter 2020. While folks were heatedly debating whether it was appropriate to hold in person services, COVID-19 was spreading faster than anyone could even comprehend. The weeks leading up to Easter Sunday were absolute craziness. Kristin got a job at Winn-Dixie as a cashier to help supplement our income as I was InstaCarting full time but funds were always tight. She worked there for about 10 days before she found herself feeling sick with strange symptoms. So, as it turned out, while a section of society spent their Easter Sunday in what would come to be known as "super-spreader events", we spent ours in the COVID Unit at Ochsner's Medical Center.

The tests have a 20% false positive/negative, so even if the result is one way or the other, it still may be incorrect. Luckily, both of our tests came back negative, but we were told to quarantine for 72 hours anyways just to be safe. About a month afterwards, we received phone calls from the State of Louisiana about insurance coverage. I lost our coverage through my job in March and we didn't have any at the time. But, instead of asking us for money, they told us that we'd been approved for coverage through the state. Okay then. Thank you? I know that it had to do with getting the COVID tests paid for but who was I to argue. Now, where were we.

I'd decided to take off work on my birthday several days before. As we got closer to the date, Kris still wasn't feeling well. I told myself that if she wasn't feeling any better by that morning, we were going to do one of two things, go to a doctor or to get a pregnancy test. When I made the suggestion, she laughed and also said she wasn't interested in going to the hospital either. We had been watching the election results all morning on TV & YouTube. Although our political views may not align with yours, we more than likely watch a wider variety of news outlets than most. I do watch all of the mainstream media stations, however, I watch progressive, liberal and right wing channels online so I can get a full context. Limiting context creates plot holes and then people add "alternative facts", which allows for any narrative to move forward.

I ran to Kroger to make groceries and get a couple pregnancy tests. She took them soon after I got home and left them sitting on the bathroom counter. When she walked out, I asked, "What'd it say?!?!" Her response was, "I don't know. I didn't even look. It's probably negative." Taking a pregnancy test and a COVID test are very different. However, I felt like I was waiting when we were waiting on the results just a few months earlier. Our attention was turned to the television. Trump was on claiming the election was stolen and that he'd won. We both started to discuss the possibility and forgot to look and the tests sitting in the bathroom. After 30 minutes or so, I realized we'd never looked at them. As Kris came out into the living room, her face turned to shock and her had slapped her forehead. Life just got a little bit bigger.

Before we came to Dallas, all we heard is how many jobs were here and how many opportunities there were. If I bust my butt during a normal week at InstaCart, I make about $17 to $22 an hour. Obviously, there are expenses because of gas, vehicle upkeep and so on but I make my own schedule, don't have a boss and earn as much or more than most in the retail or service industry. Health insurance is an issue. Although it's offered through a third party, it's more expensive for less coverage than what we had with Wyndam. When Kris found out she was pregnant, we applied in Texas for state insurance. But in the meantime, we found a baby doctor in Shreveport because who knows how long it could be to hear anything back about the application results.

It wasn't long before we received notice that she'd been denied pending some additional paperwork. So now, we were stuck in the middle. Did we take the chance and cancel the Louisiana insurance while we waited for Texas to answer? And keep the doctor in Shreveport and drive back and forth until we figured something out? We'd also heard of someone being denied because she was "too far along", so that was another concern. Kris really liked her doctor and wanted to keep her, if at all possible. We had an appointment upcoming and everyone we talked to made sure to tell us .... take it slow and be careful.

PART TWO IS COMING SOON!!! Thank you for your support!!

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