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Bang For Your Buck: The Lucid Mattress Review

lucid mattress as the base of the cuddle pit

Among the many things I did not expect to do during 2020, buying a Lucid Mattress from Amazon is right up there with moving and realizing my heart lived out on the Washington Coast. It went completely against my initial plan…

Okay, my plan was more “I have an outline of things I need to do, so let’s do this one thing and see how the rest works out” so maybe the appropriate word here is idea or outline?

The initial line-item was to purchase the Zinus Green Tea Mattress. Not because I had ever slept on one, because if ApartmentTherapy raved over it, and the 14,00+ reviews did also, surely I would rave over it myself. I even had my Amazon Credit Card (my vice) at the ready, but hit a stocking snag. 

The Queen-size mattresses were out of stock. They also wouldn’t be in stock until after I moved into my new flat. The daybed is the largest piece of furniture I own and with it practically in the middle of the living room, it needed a mattress the day I moved in.

Okay, time for an adjustment. I read through some of the Green Tea Mattress reviews and ended up getting a little squicked out by some of the negative reviews. But since it’s Amazon and there’s a lot of mattresses on there, I did some research on the budget best-sellers. I needed:

  • fast delivery
  • Comfort
  • something not terribly hot
  • under 300$
  • not be a complete suckfest

I also wasn’t going to use my first mattress. That was already slated for my bedroom, which is still odd to say after 2.5 years of living in 400 square feet.

Wait. What?

I already know what you’re going to ask and I can go ahead and answer that question. For the first time in a couple of years,I have a separate bedroom. 

In my excitement, I did purchase a Zinus bedframe (that review is online also), because now I can shut the door between my living room/kitchen and my bedroom. The Tuft & Needle Mattress will live back there, which I should go ahead and post a review for that as well since I’ve been sleeping on it near nightly for the almost-three years. I love my T&N mattress. I may purchase a King-size for my next move with the same, but larger bedframe.

The Lucid mattress would live in the Day Bed that sits in my living room and is affectionately referred to as the Cuddle Pit. It would be sat on, sometimes slept on, definitely lounged on, and should expect to hold at minimum one body, but in upwards of three or four bodies, so good edge support would be required.

I know the adage is, “you get what you pay for”, but sometimes, you get a great bang for your buck, and in this case, that bang would be my Lucid Mattress.

The Lucid Mattress Specs

Measurements: 60” x 80” x 10”

Firmness: Medium

Amazon Listing

Disclosures: I’m an Amazon Prime Member, so I received free shipping.

Price at time of Purchase: $231.99

Current Price: $290

Review Count at Time of Post: 18,865 (4.4 out of 5 stars)

Initial Thoughts

Oh, it arrived early. A week earlier than Amazon slated, so it lived in my foyer for a week because the painters needed to be in the hallway.

There were a couple of bleary ones after unpacking. I had started moving in around 2 am that morning and got around to unpacking the mattress about… 12 hours later. This was after Chris H’s husband, Adam helped me reassemble the daybed with only three “I can’t find the damn hole” comments. Why Adam and not Chris? Well, she was seven months pregnant. Her only project was to “sit her ass down and look pretty.”

The first? “Is it going to expand on the corners?”

This is also one of the biggest complaints in the reviews I saw. But given Adam and I sort of rolled it out of the package and flopped it on the floor while we waited and moved everything else into my flat, I wasn’t expecting very much. You get what you pay for, right?

I’m pleasantly surprised when I say “not quite.”

The second? “Wait, it’s bumpy on the bottom.”

The third and final initial thought? “I expected it to smell funnier.”

Lucid Mattress Pros

My first pleased comment: It’s squishy. It is memory foam and the biggest complaint across the board about memory foam mattresses?

They get hot.

This one doesn’t due to the gel-infused memory foam. But heavier bodies will sink into it if you concentrate your weight in one spot. Like I do, when I sit cross-legged on it. 

It’s also great for naps that accidentally turn into all-night sleep. I’ve accidentally woken myself up with a sunrise once or twice and sleeping in my living room was not how I planned to spend that night, but that also means that sometimes, I detest moving from one spot. It’s so comfortable! 

A bonus is the Lucid mattress’s soft but pleasant firmness even knocks my hyperactive bestie down for the count when she “accidentally” falls over. I just wake her up and hour and a half later. She needs all the sleep she can get.

One of my requirements was edge retention, which on this mattress is pretty amazing. I can leave a leg or two over the edge for hours, in upwards of eight, and once you get up, you just watch the mattress reshape itself as if you were never there.

I mentioned noticing the bottom was covered in silicone bumps, not unlike those house slippers with the textured bottoms. Unlike my T&N, the Lucid mattress, once in place, will not shift on you which is great because the daybed has bunky boards rather than an actual frame for the mattress. 

I purchased the ten-inch Lucid mattress as I have a 10” T&N and felt that between the daybed frame and the mattress, it was a great height for short legs. I stand by that decision, though my mattress slip could stand to have an extra inch or two of height to fill it out better.  

Lucid Mattress Cons

Just two and they’re somewhat tiny but enough that I feel the need to mention them.

  1. The corners: I’m not sure what happened. I guess I didn’t let the mattress keep expanding, but the corners on this Lucid Mattress only expanded to about eight inches and not ten as advertised. This means sheets may fit a bit wonky since the corners aren’t filled out. This makes for a wibbly mattress slip, but nothing I can’t fix with mattress straps if it bothers me too much. It does look a bit weird though.
  2. Heat: Sometimes the Lucid Mattress gets warm. Which is great for the winter, but sucks for the summer.

The First Full-Sleep

Mind you, it was an accident. Because of the way I stage the Cuddlepit, a line of Euro pillows is my “sofa back” (technical term: scatterback). I am a firm believer in down/feather pillows because they have more depth to them, so we have seven pillows back there and that’s before I even start with the throw pillows, whose numbers vary because it really depends on my mood that week.

But I didn’t mean to fall asleep. I just meant to take a nap.

Which I wouldn’t advise to do at 11pm, but I was trying to be efficient with my time and wake up an hour and half later so I could go back to writing. Between the pillows and the mattress, and the warm embrace of a trusty blanket that lives in the cuddle pit (I clearly don’t need it elsewhere), I ended up sleeping for four hours.

I woke up to the sun being rude and shining in my eyes. Which was deliberate and why I put the day bed where I did, but semantics. But I also realized even with my sleep position, my back didn’t hurt. Which it does when I sleep on the other sofa by sheer accident.

Small win in my book.

Would You Buy the Lucid Mattress Again? 

Absolutely if I had a second guest room absolutely. If I had to give up my T&N for whatever reason, I’d consider it. There is another mattress I’d like to try also. I may even consider swapping my T&N and Lucid for a month to see how sleeping on it nightly fares.

Would I suggest the Lucid mattress to friends? Absolutely. Especially if they were looking for an inexpensive but good box mattress in a world of pretty expensive ones that don’t sleep well (looking at you, Casper).

So talk to me, have you played in the box mattress game yourself? If so, what mattress did you buy, and would you suggest it to others? Talk to me in the comments because I will rave for days about my Tuft & Needle mattress…

And I guess now I’ll also rave about the Lucid mattress too.

0 In Befores & Afters/ DIY/ Remote Life/ Resources

Death by Fluff: The Kotatsu Quilt Square

How to Kill Not One, But Two Sewing Machines

This post could easily be titled “More like how a kotatsu square quilt managed to damn near kill one sewing machine, made one metaphorically throw its hands in the air and give up on this project because it was too fluffy, and Natasha seriously contemplated an industrial sewing machine.”

I would have purchased one too if said industrial machines weren’t, you know, a cool $6,000 that I could be spending on everything else save a sewing machine for one project. Because oh, this quilt gave me fits.

Best part? It’s still not finished. My Heavy-Duty sewing machine decided to drop bobbin tension and gave up so I have the beautiful joy of hand stitching the last 20 inches.

</sarcasm>

So Why Did I Make the Kotatsu Quilt Square?

I didn’t HAVE to quilt a kotatsu square. But my god, I wanted to. Just to say I did. This was entirely a mess of my own making and I’m owning that.

However, let’s go back a few months to the day I’m on the Facebook Mobile Site (oh Zuck, why) and skimming over my local East Fremont Buy-Nothing group when I see one poster gifting an old kotatsu. He was no longer using it, it was just sitting in a closet and he had no real reason to use it anymore so he was gifting it to a new home.

Naturally, I took the topic to Twitter. Gimme’ that sweet, sweet dopamine hit, baby.

Do I Take the Free Kotatsu?

After the eighth “YES” – I hopped into the post with “if nobody else wants it, I can take it off of your hands.” I received the “when do you want to pick it up” DM about three hours later. Much to my complete delight.

That meant I had a bona fide mother hunking kotatsu and my little weeb heart was never happier.

A Natasha Thrilled with a Kotatsu

What IS a Kotatsu?

A kotatsu is a two-piece heated table hailing from Japan. In your average household, winters plus straw tatami mat floors made for some interesting times, because they burn easily. Really easily. Until someone came along, slapped a super weak heater under a table, dropped a blanket over it all, and smashed a heavy tabletop over it.

We can get into the laws of thermodynamics but that’s not my field and let’s just say the kotatsu is like a haven of warmth. It’s great! Just don’t fall asleep under one. I personally cannot fit under this one because I’m a fat American, but some folks can wedge their entire bodies under it without burning themselves. Your average kotatsu’s wattage would require a step-down generator, but since the previous owner wasn’t using one, I decided not to. Turns out, this particular kotatsu is American wattage-friendly.

He Just Gave It Away!

Wylder was happy (why, Wylder, why) to get it out of his flat. Even helped me put in my car. However, I’m pleased to announce, he now has regrets. I sent him the updated photos sometime before Halloween. Since he lived around the corner. Literally. I could have walked to his flat and carried the kotatsu home. But I had plans later that day, so the kotatsu lived in my car for a month. And then I moved, so it stayed in my backseat for a second month.

I brought it upstairs in early October, grabbed a forty-year-old quilt my great aunt, Juanita, made for my parents when they got married, threw it over the frame, set the tabletop over it, and well… 

…I hated it. It served its purpose just fine, but in my designed flat, it stuck out like a sore thumb. Which meant two things needed to happen:

kotatsu before a makeover
  1. The tabletop would need a makeover
  2. I would have to acquire a better quilt for it.

OR

I could just do it all myself.

Let’s Start with the Makeover

Going in, I knew the kotatsu was showing its age. The plastic top was discoloring from red to pink, the felt under the tabletop was discoloring also, and it was starting to fray around the edges. The plastic edge trim was cracked and taped into place and honestly, it would have been super cute in its heyday.

Right then, it looked tired.

I had a ton of butcher-block contact paper scraps from the bookcase project and pattern-matching wouldn’t be a concern or issue. The paper would hold up to the heater and oh, I could always change the pattern out if I got bored or damaged the contact paper in any way.

Supplies Needed?

  • A knife (I used my ever-handy box cutter)
  • Contact Paper
  • Patience
  • Flat edge – remember the cardboard I used in the bookcase project? I used that here because it was within arm’s reach.

The Tabletop Process

  1. Start in the Center of the tabletop: Lay down your largest piece of contact paper so it covers the middle. If it doesn’t reach from end to end – no big deal, it’s why you have multiple remnants.
  2. Go side to side. Finish laying the paper along the middle. This is how you’ll match your patterns once you start working on the edges.
  3. Oh look, you have gaps. That’s going to happen when you work with scraps. Start in the middle of the edge and lay down another piece of contact paper. You can match the pattern if you’re feeling froggy. If there’s excess, cut it off once the entire side is finished. Do the same on the opposite side of the tabletop.

The Tabletop Corner Edition:

  1. Corner time: Grab more remnants. Pattern-match to the best of your ability. I gave up and hoped for the best.
  2. The corners themselves will need a little more attention. Get those bubbles out to the pattern to the best of your ability and use a thumbnail or your razor (gently) to smooth those corners out. The sharp edge of your nail will go through the vinyl for a smooth curve. Warning: It’s Sexy and sort of distracting. Your mileage may vary.
  3. Just the tip: you’ll need the tip of your razor blade and run it along the edging trim slowly and gently, cutting away the excess paper and leaving a gorgeous surface behind.
  4. Ta-da!

And It was Fine… sort of

Honestly, it was fine for a while. But I had started to tear and rip my quilt in odd places because it was so threadbare – the quilt itself was in its 40s, okay? Fabric doesn’t age that well when you’re constantly using it.

But something else was needed. I needed more pop and something to hold the heat in better. I needed one of those quilts I saw in the anime that were super fluffy and I could just design the damn thing.

So I did, from scratch. Remember, I created this mess all on my own. I’d do it again too, just with a heftier sewing machine.

The Kotatsu Quilt Square: Initial Phase

  1. Decide how the square will look. Mine was a teahouse tatami-esque pattern with a wide edge. I wanted the edge to be white because quilt sheeting is 118” wide, came in two colors of white and eggshell, and I was going to soak the entire thing in fabric protectant. Because lugging this thing downstairs to wash on the regular – no thank you.
    
  2. Draw it up! This is where I decided how big the square was going to be (85” x 85”). How fluffy would it be? Very fluffy, what materials would I use, etc.
    
  3. Order the materials: in this case, I only ordered the quilt sheeting. The rest of my supplies were either around my apartment or oh no, a trip to IKEA to buy things. Heavens. Whatever would I do? (I bought 6 of those comforters.)

The Kotatsu Quilt Square Supply Breakdown:

  • Gray velvet: leftover from headboard project
  • Hunter green broadcloth: initially slated for a duvet cover, but I had a 3-yrd piece because fabric comes in 22yrd bundles.
  • Hunter green velvet: leftover from a February 2020 sofa project
  • Stuffing: 3 IKEA comforters
  • Quilt Sheeting: Ordered from FabricWholeSaleDirect.
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Patience
  • A Sewing Machine capable of handling 15 layers of fabric. (It doesn’t exist on the consumer market.)
  • More patience
  • You thought I was kidding about patience?

The Kotatsu Quilt Square Process Part 1:

  1. Wash the sheeting: It’s 100% cotton, it would shrink in the wash. Pre-shrink it first.
    
  2. Iron everything. Which meant spending some quality time ironing 108” of 118” wide fabric. I wasn’t looking for pristine flat fabric, but I needed to iron the bigger wrinkles out.
    
  3. Cut your fabric to size.
    
  4. Assemble the top layer. My first sewing machine handled this part perfectly.
    
  5. Assemble your fluff – sew three comforters so they’re one squishy fluffy sandwich. Leave 20 inches free on one side so you can flip them inside out into one big puffy cloud. Don’t worry about sewing this part shut – you won’t see it once the quilt is assembled.

The Kotatsu Quilt Square Process Part 2:

  1. Assemble your quilt: Lay your quilt sheeting down on the floor > fluff > top layer.
    
  2. Fold up your edges and tack into place with a needle and thread. The corners will need to be faux mitered.
    
  3. Faux miter your corners – we’re not actually mitering the corners. They’re too fluffy. But we can fake it! Flip your corners over to cover the fluffy bits. Now fold in your straight edges so it looks like you painstakingly mitered the corner. Tack into place with needle and thread. If it just happens to look like an uncut penis, well, it’s because this author is mentally a 12-year kid and I can’t unsee it.
    
  4. Tack your inner square down to the bottom sheeting. We could pin everything, but there’s too much fluff. The average quilting pins are not up for the job. Guess how I know? Go on. I’ll wait.
    
  5. Slowly sew your quilt. Start on the straight sides. I used black thread here. I say slowly because there’s a lot of fluff involved and your machine may not quite be able to handle it. It’ll try. My 20-year-old Brother was not up for the task. My Heavy-Duty Singer sort of gave up when I had to reset the bobbin.
    
  6. Give up on using the machine and hand-stitch the rest.

Next Steps

  1. Soak in Fabric Protectant and Waterproofing solution. Ignore how the green bleeds into the white underneath. It’s FINE. (Warning: Pomegranate seeds will test this. Why did we use white? BLEACH.)
  2. Toss over kotatsu frame
  3. Smash tabletop into place
  4. Enjoy!

Final Lessons Learned

First Lesson

Not even a 20-year old Brother sewing machine that could and had handled eight layers of upholstery velvet without blinking, couldn’t handle this project.

Second Lesson

Humans will packbond to anything. My mother heard me in tears over the phone because I was begging my Brother Machine to not hate me because I purchased a second machine.

“Natasha, are you apologizing to a sewing machine?” 

“Shut up, Mom!”

Third Lesson

My HD Singer tried to handle it and lost bobbin tension with 20 inches left. Consumer heavy-duty machines are not quite up for the task of a quilt this fluffy. Death by fluff, RIP sewing machines everywhere.

Final Lesson

Pomegranate seeds are the bane of my existence. That wasn’t the lesson I learned though. The actual lesson was this would have been a hell of a lot cheaper if I had just bought a kotatsu square on Amazon or something. It wouldn’t have been as fluffy and probably would have been uglier but this square is luxury-level cost, effort, and has velvet on it and we are in love. 

Initial Quilt Cost:

Comforters: 30$

Sheeting: 27$

Stain Solution: $12

Fabric: Free

And then I was forced to upgrade my machine. So…

Final Cost: $400

0 In DIY/ Life Lessons/ Mental Health/ Remote Life

Emerald City Quarantine Diaries Week 2: Stay-At-Home Order

Week 2 was when things took a turn for the well, I can’t say unexpected, because California issued the Stay-At-Home Order before Washington did, so it was expected, but nobody expected it to hit quite as hard as it did. I launched a couple of projects this week in order to keep my own spirits up and realized that I could actively help others who felt like their wings had been “clipped” by the Stay-At-Home Order.

The Stay-At-Home Order

Governor Inslee announced the Stay-At-Home Order on March 23,2020. It was rumored for the previous week, but after the rising number of COVID-19 cases here in Washington State, the move was beyond required. The only reasons we’re allowed to leave our homes are:

  • Grocery & Pharmacy Trips
  • Taking medical care of someone else
  • Exercise

Doesn’t sound like fun, huh?

The Quaran-Tea-In

Because it’s not. But that’s okay, I am a creative creature and since I am a remote employee, I know many ways to stay social while keeping my backside at home. I joked on my side Twitter account that I would start a weekly chat that I jokingly called the Quaran-tea-in. It went live on Wednesday that week and is a weekly chat where a lot of the Friday Afternoon Tea regulars can pop in, fill their social spoons, and then leave at their leisure. My parent company may view it as a slight against their resources, but I’m slotting my use of the Professional Google Meet network as a way of helping out my community. Some days, the Quaran-tea-in is the only thing I look forward all day or week.

craft-n-chat-weekly-google-meet-invite

Which is another way I realized I could help others. Several friends reached out to ask me how to stay sane and level during the Stay-At-Home order and I hope this can help you also.

One Thing To Look Forward To

Find One Thing to Look Forward to, Every Day. Just one thing. You can have several things you want to do that day, but just have one to look forward to. Then go do that one thing and relish the feeling when you do the thing. Why?

Because some days, being at home, seeing the same walls every day will mess with your head and even I’ve fallen into the trap of “I’m going to be alone forever” and other very dark thoughts. Or I can pivot and find one thing to look forward to each day. It could be as simple as a cup of coffee, or basking in a sunbeam, or the dance party I’ll have by myself at 2pm to an invisible audience of 30 thousand viewers. I didn’t say that it had to make sense. Just that it’s something you look forward to doing. That week, my one thing became planting trees. That week, Brandi J, over at Hey Brandi, introduced me to the Forest App.

Forest Focus App

I’ll admit I have a phone addiction. Born from Anxiety, my phone provides a distraction when I’m uncomfortable, bored, scared, or lonely. It’s an outlet to the outside world around me and a guard for when I need it. But I’m also reaching for the said phone when I shouldn’t be. Brandi kept mentioning she was growing trees in our shared Slack channel and introduced me to Forest, a focus app that lets you “plant trees” and grow the trees for as long as you put your phone down. Pick it up, the app will tell you to put it back down so the tree can grow. 

Quartz Forest App Screencap

Your goal is to plant 25 trees a day to fill up your forest. You pick your tree, set your timer for however long you need to focus, and then go do something else. Once your tree has grown, you can collect coins to put toward:

  • New trees
  • Ambient noise

Planting Real Trees

Or upgrade to the Pro edition where you can actually contribute to real trees being planted in exchange for you focusing for up to two hours at a time. Bonuses are baked into the app like:

  • Double coins if you watch ads (the longer the focus – the shorter the ad)
  • Double trees once you go above 60 minutes
  • 4x the trees at 120 minutes of focus

The game has been a delight and helps me audit my phone time. Which is great on days where Executive Dysfunction is running rampant, but also is a fun conversation starter for those who are bored at home. A trap I also fall into when I’m not crafting.

Crafting

I finished my massive wall art this week. The final product included cotton rope and two colors of wool roving,  two moon phase wall hangings that I purchased (retail therapy is a coping method), and then had nowhere to actually hang them. The final product measures six feet wide by 4 ft tall and I pet it every day to marvel over how well it came together. But mainly because it kept me busy and focused. I’ll walk through the project in a separate post at a later time, but it finished my kitchen in a way I did not expect.

black and cream macrame wall hanging surrounding wall sconce with moon phase metal attachments

Wall Ledges

Up next on my “slow apartment makeover during Social-Distancing” were these bamboo picture ledges I acquired from IKEA. I had the White Mosslanda ones for about two years, but the bamboo sang its seductive song and I found my original color scheme for the past (entry here) wasn’t quite “me” anymore.

white ikea mosslanda picture ledges on a wall with colorful art

Change is a constant, so I put up the first two to see if they’d even work for the space. If they didn’t, I’d have taken advantage of IKEA’s super generous return policy. Or I would have if the retail stores weren’t shut down with the Stay-At-Home Order. I’d finish putting the shelves up the following week, but so far so good. I’m in love with how much warmth these ledges infuse into my flat.

bamboo picture ledges provide an altar

Euro Shams

A few weeks prior, Friday and I finally finished reupholstering her sofa (images will be posted on Instagram within the week). But then I realized I had 12 yards of hunter green velvet left, (2 sets of curtains), so I decided to make her a set of Euro Shams and a Canadian Smocked Pillow. Those will also be written up in a different entry (I’ll revisit) since they turned out pretty well. I’ve decided to make a few of my own while in lockdown. Except mine will have button closures. I do not have the patience to deal with three more sets of zipper closures. It doesn’t leave me with enough spoons to help others.

hunter-green velvet euro sham and canadian smocked pillow

How I Coped This Week

Your mileage may vary. Some days, I’d be honest with whoever asks and admit that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Even my own patience with myself is tested. But I am the queen of distraction, so I like to host the occasional game on Twitter I call “WhatChaDrinkin?”

Maybe it’s because my best friend owns a teashop with a fairly rabid social network, but the game gains traction after a few retweets. Tea makes this lockdown business that much easier to deal with. Another method I’ve been employing is a tried and true coping method.

I own an inflatable T-Rex Costume. Yes, one of those. They’re hilarious to watch on Youtube and in-person and while they are a pain in the ass to wear if you’re 5’4” and the facing seam is hitting you in the eyes and forehead, the sheer delight I see on others’ faces when I wear the damned costume makes the effort worth it.

They’re even funnier when a friend owns their own costume. Sarah and I decided to meet up at a socially-accepted distance of six feet at her townhouse where we’d suit up and take advantage of dead streets to well, do a safety walk in the T-Rex Costumes.

We took our spectacle onto 45th Street and watched the cars go by, half of the drivers would drive super slow to get photos (of course they did) and the rest would honk their horns because there are two dinosaurs sitting on a bench and watching cars go by. It’s unexpected. It’s hilarious. Our neighborhood needed a laugh. I know I needed it, especially after how many times I uttered: “what the hell” as the news of the week came in daily or in one case, hourly.

What the Hell?

Did you know FEMA uses Waffle House status’ to determine how badly a disaster-affected an area? The 24/7 breakfast chain doesn’t close unless the store has been damn near demolished. If the Waffle House is closed, you keep driving because something awful has happened.

Waffle House closed 365 stores due to COVID-19. Just in case you didn’t take COVID-19 seriously, the corporation behind Waffle House certainly is. 

I know staying home is hard, especially when it’s mandated, but come Week Four, our staying home will help flatten the curve. In the meantime, if you need to vent, talk, share what’s working for you to help you cope with Stay-At-Home Orders, my comments are open to you! 

See you in Week Three!

0 In DIY/ Life Lessons/ Mental Health/ Remote Life

Emerald City Quarantine Diaries Week 1: Social Distancing Lessons

Disclaimer

I, Natasha, am not a licensed medical professional. But I can do research just like anyone else and I have a super unhealthy fascination with Epidemiology. Resource links for those who are licensed medical professionals will be scattered through this post because that’s where I pulled my information from. As of April 5, 2020, if you’re not practicing social distancing, please do so.

So What the Heck Is Going On?

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), or as it’s currently referred to as “the Coronavirus”. Which sends me into fits of “well, actually” and yes, I did subject a dear friend to a “well, actually.” It wasn’t a good look, but I was so tired of hearing “the coronavirus” when that reference just isn’t accurate. Give me 10 seconds, I have my reasons.

Coronaviruses are the family of viruses whose protein structure looks like it’s wearing a “Corona” or a crown. Which will be hilarious if Cells At Work decides to tackle the virus once this mess has peaked and it no longer qualifies as a pandemic. Coronaviruses are responsible for 20 to 30% of your average Winter/Spring colds and tend to go dormant in the summer. Turns out, the viruses do not do well with heat. Which is relatable, because I don’t either.

Novel Coronavirus is a new strain (hence the “novel”) that the collective doesn’t have immunity (herd or otherwise) to, unless you suffer through it. I will refer to the virus through this entry as COVID-19, as it was discovered in December 2019. The United States (at least the general public) started hearing about it right around the beginning of January, when it was ravaging through the Wuhan province.

Seattle is a port city, so it’s usually the first stop planes departing from Asia make once they’re over the Pacific Ocean. We, the general public of Seattle thought we were okay, until folks started getting seriously sick after PAX Unplugged 2020. But it wasn’t RSV or the flu. And those folks did get better, but it took about a month until they were baseline again.

Things got worse in February.

The Timeline + Some Salt

I filed for two weeks off back in December 2019. Day Job makes taking said time off damn near impossible and I had 45 days to burn, so I did the same thing that I did last year. I applied for the 10 days surrounding and including Emerald City Comic Con, where I’d sling tea for one of Friday’s best revenue-driving weekends for the year. Two weeks prior to that, things got weird.

Real weird.

COVID-19 hit Washington State in January and made headlines with it’s rapid spread, enough that Reed Pop decided to postpone ECCC due to attendee, exhibitor, and vendor concerns. The con tends to see around 40,000 people and last year’s Con Crud was this fun mix of Bronchitis and Pneumonia. I say this, because I fell ill and was miserable for three weeks following Con. This year, I prepared for it, hence the 10 days PTO.

But after some pressure from said day job, which had told everyone to just work from home anyway and to avoid crowds of over 500 people, I shaved my PTO down to 4 days. And then shaved it again down to two days when ECCC was postponed until August. The environment was starting to get tense and weird. Like overly weird to the point of concerning and I needed a break from work because my brain was fried.

We (coworkers and myself) were asked to socially distance ourselves and if all else failed – stay home around the beginning of March 2020.

Thus Begins The Emerald City Quarantine Diaries

This series is where I make attempts to stay healthy even though I am a sucker for physical affection and love my people. Even if I haven’t seen 75% of them in weeks now.

This series will cover projects I’m doing to help stay sane in my solitude, why I’m all but staying home, the dangers of COVID-19, why it’s so contagious, and how I leverage my studio space and the dance pole in the middle of my kitchen.

Week One started off odd because Monday and Tuesdays were my two days off. I began working on my latest project, a large-scale piece of Macrame Wall Art. Otherwise, it was very much an ebb-and-flow, especially when I learned that a majority of my daily routine didn’t change. 

I am an introvert after all.

Introvert Life

I’m a homebody. There, I said it. One of my Seattle Bucket List items was to see my apartment featured on Apartment Therapy, so I pour a LOT of time into my 400 sq. feet. I go to the grocery store twice a week, usually on foot, take walks around the neighborhood, but since a lot of my fitness classes are already streamed, I don’t really step foot in gyms. I usually spend one or two days a week at the Tea Shop nearby to see other humans, but for the most part, I tend to keep to myself unless there’s a social activity to which I’ve been invited.

Those ground to a halt. I miss them. But Social Distancing needed to happen.

Why Social Distancing Works

I’ll link the image I found that explained it pretty well for me, but generally speaking, imagine a line of matches. Light one and next thing you know, the rest of the matches are going up one after the other. 

line of matches on fire until one steps out of line

A line of matches on fire until one steps out of line

Now remove a match from the line and the flame now has nowhere to go. That’s how Social Distancing works, but it is so hard when humans are social creatures and you live by yourself. Seattle isn’t exactly the greatest at it (looking at you, Greenlake), not because we don’t like staying home, we love to do that. But Seattle is not built for social distancing, especially our sidewalks, our roads, hell, even our grocery stores. So you are urged to stay home. Some are struggling with how to stay sane.

I am one of them. Sort of?

How I’m staying sane

I am a creature used to solitude. Since I live alone, I make it a point to lightly obsess over various projects and up to this point, I was nursing a pretty hefty interest in some sort of a wall art project for my kitchen.

I rediscovered Macrame. Week 1 at home was a mix of Day Job and working on my new wall art. Using this tutorial, I did half of it before I winged the rest. I also learned a valuable lesson when it comes to rope projects. You’ll want to order about twice as much rope as you expected to need. I knew if I kept busy, I wouldn’t feel quite so miserable about staying at home for longer than expected. Below is my tentative plan to keep myself steady. 

Note how I didn’t say positive, I know better.

Crafting:

If I keep my hands busy, I can flow along with the crafts and physical labor. My project list is tentative per the ability to get supplies.

  • Large-Scale Macrame Wall Art
  • Replacing Flat Picture Ledges
  • Sewing a slipcover for the sofa.
  • Figuring out how to wash cotton velvet without dry-cleaning.
  • Create a website.
  • Canadian Smocked Pillows

Social Media hangouts:

Slack, Google Hangouts, Google Meets, Zoom, and my favorite, text messaging all come into play here. I work from home, therefore video calls are not a new thing in my world. But dammit, I wanted a new background for said calls. Because that spot in my kitchen gets amazing natural light throughout the day.

Exercise:

Sure, going for a walk is always a good thing, but when you need to stay six feet away from everyone else, it tends to fall to the wayside. Which is why I own booty bands, resistance bands, a yoga mat, a dance pole, and a coin scarf. By reembracing dance in the forms of Pole and Belly Dance, I can avoid the weight gain that tends to come with a traumatic experience like a global pandemic. It’s going about as well as expected. As of this entry – it wasn’t going at all.

Pretending:

Yep, you read that correctly. When you have mental health issues, a global pandemic isn’t just a crisis – you are retraumatized every damn day. So some days, I pretend that the world hasn’t changed and that for me, it’s business as usual. Look, I didn’t say it was a good coping method, it’s just a method that’s working for me.

Routine:

I created a very loose one and I’m trying to stick to it. Once I can establish that I am actually sticking to that routine, I’ll add something new and hopefully adapt into a routine that benefits both my physical and mental health. We’ll see how this goes!

What’s the point, Nat?

This series is an experiment and honestly my way of documenting a global crisis while trying to handle social distancing. If anything I do in here is something you can adopt to help yourself cope, then great!  Because humans are indeed social creatures and social distancing is effective, but it is so hard.

I’m here if you need someone to vent to, talk to, and since we’re all online now, let’s be internet besties! My comments are moderated but are indeed open to you. Because the only way we’ll get through this is together.

See you on the other side of the Stay-At-Home orders!

0 In Finances/ Mental Health/ Remote Life

Housekeeping: Outsourced Edition

About three months after I moved to Seattle, I um, outsourced my housekeeping. Oh, I heard all of the retorts, not one of them applicable to what I was going through at the time, and what I still fight with. cleaning-supplies in a bucket

“Oh, you’re just showing off.”

“You’re lazy.”

“Your place is tiny, you can clean it within hours.”

“You work from home, you can clean through the day.”

“You’re a perfectly healthy adult, now go be one and clean your flat.”

“What a waste of money.”

“You must be rich.”

And one helpful, “that must be nice.”

You’re probably reading this post thinking along those same lines. I mean, those were the general reactions I heard when folks asked how I kept my space relatively clean. But save for four people in my life, not including my landlord, many do not understand why I hired cleaning help.

“Oh, you’re just showing off.”

Except I’m not. I hired help back in Ohio too. To be honest, I was completely overwhelmed between the cross-country move, my shifting day job to accommodate said move, my own brain not quite figuring out why I wasn’t going out every night as I had in Cincinnati, and my own chemistry deciding to throw a wrecking ball into the feelings mix.

I found myself incredibly lonely, sitting in a trash bag flat and feeling like a wreck in both myself and my apartment. What else can life throw at you?

In my case, it threw a helping hand.

“You’re lazy.” 

Working from 6am PST to 6pm PST in order to shift my day job, running a blog, maintaining 4 websites, writing a novel, writing a screenplay, trying to have a social life, keeping my apartment clean, cooking not one, not two, but three meals for myself each day, washing up afterward, and trying to have the spoons to do all of those things within 24 hrs a day? I barely had enough gumption to clean my own flat, much else do anything else that required not sitting in a chair for 12 hours a day.

In order to gain some semblance of control in my life, I gave up some of it to someone else.

“Your place is tiny, you can clean it within hours.”

Sure, 400 sq. ft. is not a lot of space. But when you’ve all but sat in one spot for 12+ hours a day, the idea of cleaning 20 ft. worth of counter space, doing dishes, cooking food, and making sure your bed is made when you feel like garbage is the last thing you want to do with your time. Or you can at least keep things tidy until you can get help with the deep clean.

“You work from home, you can clean through the day.”

For those who have day jobs, do you clean your house while you work? At the office? Impressive.

But I actually can not clean through the day while at work. Primarily because I’m working. The way I bill at my day job is by 15-minute increments. I can’t just sneak away to go wash dishes when a client needs a task completed. Management tends to frown on sandbaggers and since I do work remotely, I have to prove myself as a competent employee twice over compared to somebody working from one of the office hubs.

Unless it’s a slow day. When those arrive, you study.

“You’re a perfectly healthy adult, now go be one and clean your flat.”

Also not true. I have a multitude of mental and physical issues that rob me of energy daily. Add in Executive Dysfunction and things get weird and just don’t get done. Once the Anxiety kicks in, because adults should be able to clean their own flats, it’s a downward spiral that ends up with a lot of frustrated dishes being done. 

Fortunately, I can ask for help. I did ask for help.

“What a waste of money.”

Hardly! I researched Seattle cleaning companies when I moved. They were asking for $140 for two hours’ worth of work. Or I could just hire the person my landlord uses and her rates were significantly more accessible. We’ve both discussed just what a deal I’m getting there, so I tip her the difference of what she’d usually charge other homes. If that means skipping a dinner out twice a month, it’s worth it for the peace of mind her cleaning brings.

“You must be rich.”

Nope! I am learning how to budget for things I need and things I want. Hiring Hjordis made more sense than getting SNS manicures twice a month.

“That must be nice.”

You’re right. It is nice. Knowing that Hjordis will sweep in, put things to rights, and grant me the opportunity to walk into a pristine space when she’s finished or keep me company as she works, is such a relief. It’s a visible relief because I’m not sitting trying to come up with a cleaning plan, failing at it, and then things spiral out of my control. These days, I just make an effort to keep things to a mild mess, and then Hjordis does the deep cleaning I do not have the energy for.

“So how much is this woman?”

Sixty dollars. Yeah, a steal. I only pay $60 to clean my studio. I tip her excessively, because it is a deal, and I know I’m getting off easy. The trade-off being the help with keeping my head above water some weeks and she’s a joy to chat with when we are both feeling social. Figuring out what to snip from the budget is a tiny obstacle that I conquer monthly.

If you also work from home, or just completely overwhelmed with being domestic on top of your own work, outsource it! It sounds extravagant, but if it’s just you managing your entire life on top of your family, cleaning can often fall to the wayside and it’s not worth the emotional labor. At that point, it’s a lifesaver.

“How do I find one?”

Google is a big help here, but also word of mouth. Ask your friends who hire help for their suggestions, or your neighborhood facebook or Next Door group. You’d be surprised just who outsources their own housework because it does feel like a luxury, but if your budget can support it, you also get those hours back that you’d otherwise spend cleaning.

Sound off in the comments if you also outsource your own domestic work and the area you live in. Your own suggestions may help someone else in a similar situation.

0 In Remote Life

Surviving Remote Life

Working From Home – In 400 Sq Ft.

I grew up watching my mother work from home. She everything you could possibly need for it too. A supply closet, phone line, fax line, you name it, she had it in a dedicated office that baked in the summer since it was on the western exposure.

So I guess you could say that remote work is in my blood.

I started working from home in April 2014. The commute to the parent office was over two hours and my entire day job can be done online with a VPN (virtual private network) connection, so as long as I have a laptop and a wireless connection, I’m pretty golden.

That’s also oversimplifying it.

My other colleagues have a far different setup than I do. They usually have a dedicated office, with an actual desk, ergonomic chairs, and you know, office supplies.

I don’t. I have a comfy chair, a lap desk for when I work from home (tables suffice when I’m working from cafes), and I keep my kit really light so if I wanted to work from the beach, I could (and have).

I also live in Seattle, so everyone in tech works from home at least once a week. Now that we’re undergoing the #SeattleSqueeze due to the Highway 99 closure, if you live North of Downtown Seattle – you’re probably working from home if you can.

Now I know what you’re thinking and I can already hear the questions, so I’m going to answer them.

  • Isn’t it hard to work from home?
    No. I’m an introvert who gets really distracted by everyone walking around my cubicle. In this case, there’s no cubicle and nobody to hear me scream into a pillow out of sheer frustration.
  • Don’t you get distracted a lot?
    For the most part, no. Some days, I’ll sneak off and do laundry during conference calls that don’t require my attention, and a few days – it’s all I can do to make 8 hours of work go by and even those feel like 16.
  • Don’t you get lonely?
    Yes! I’m fortunate enough to live in a building where if someone isn’t retired – they work from home, so I pretty much just knock on someone’s door when I need my “human being” fix. I also live within three blocks of a delightfully nerdy tea shop owned by my bestie, Friday. So every Thursday, I work from the tea shop for a few hours and it’s usually enough to help stave off the loneliness.
  • How do you separate work from life if you don’t have an office?
    Oh, this question is easy now that I don’t have a dedicated workspace. Are you ready? I close my work laptop and I put it away. That’s it. Because once that company-owned machine is out of my site, the day job is too.
  • How do you handle work/life balance?
    I don’t. I’m a confessed workaholic and if I’m not working on day job things – I’m working on personal projects to keep myself busy and to help avoid Galaxy Brain.
  • How do you help mitigate stress?
    I… still struggle with that one. But since I’m at home, I can walk away whenever I need to. Granted, it won’t be very far – but I can ignore the laptop for 15 minutes or so without actually hurting anything or being missed. Now that my pole is up in the kitchen, I can dance for a little bit and distract myself until I can calm down.
  • How do you find time to take care of yourself?
    I make it. I wake up a little earlier than I would in order to work on this blog or exercise. Lunch hours are spent working on dinner and personal projects. And I take my PTO in nice two-week chunks, which is just enough to forget how to do my job until I come back.
  • If you’re at home all the time, do you clean it all the time?
    No. I try to keep things tidy when I can, but I actually pay someone to clean my space. Because if I let it get too bad, it gets overwhelming, and then I feel guilty about it, and then I get overwhelmed by the guilt, or I can just pay Hjordis to visit for three hours and handle it for me.
  • But you’re home all the time, you can clean too!
    Do you clean while you’re at work? Unless that’s your job, I doubt it. Guess what I’m not going to do while I’m also at work? You’ve got it. I don’t even make dinner during the week. All meal prep is done during the weekend and I just heat up whatever I can grab from the fridge.
  • What do you bring with you when you work from a cafe?
    Glad you asked! I keep my kit pretty light and enough to fit into a trusty backpack of mine. I usually bring the following with me:

    1. noise-canceling headphones with a microphone – Earbuds with a mic are also nice for conference calls, but I find the visual of the huge headphones deters anyone who tries to talk to me – unless I want to carry on a conversation.
    2. A three-plug extension cord – Sometimes I can’t hog a whole outlet, so I can use my extension cord to charge my laptop, phone, and a brand new friend’s laptop while I’m at it. And I don’t have to sit right on the outlet. I get about 8 more feet of space from it.
    3. Notepad to help me make lists to help get through the day and track my time.
    4. Pens to write in said notepad.
    5. A wallet – because it’s rude to sit in a cafe without buying anything.
    6. A sweater – because some places are cold. But it’s easier to dress in layers than it is to wear a heavy sweater and overheat.
    7. Work-issued laptop with power cord. For that actual work part.

I figured that as long as I can complete a task that needs to be done that day, I’ve succeeded at working from home – and you can too.