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Is it just me, or did this month majorly speed up? March 2020, the month that coronavirus ramped up enormously, was the longest month of my life. I know it was for many of you, too. By comparison, April seemed to go by in 10 days.
This month the hardest decision of my life — whether to stay in Mexico City or go home to Boston — came to its conclusion. I really don’t want to relitigate that decision, as it was agonizing, but I do feel like I am much less stressed out now than I was at the beginning of the month.
I know I’m lucky that things didn’t take a turn for the worst this month — not for me, not for my family. Let’s break it all down.
- Mexico City, Mexico
- Reading, Massachusetts, USA
Everyone I love is healthy. Nobody in my family has had COVID-19; while some of my friends have, they are in various stages of recovery. Honestly, everything else this month pales in comparison to that, and I sincerely hope this will remain the case.
A fun and successful Patreon launch. It went a lot better than I expected. More on that below.
A fancy dinner at home in Mexico City. Charlie and I unfortunately did not get to eat at Pujol and Quintonil like we planned, but he did discover a special event in town — four high-end restaurants were working together, creating a fancy multi-course tasting menu to enjoy at home!
The food was SO good, and there was a ton of it (as well as two excellent bottles of wine and a surprise bottle of tequila). We ate it over two meals. Burrata, ceviche, beets with goat cheese, salmon, beef mole, cheesecake, chocolate truffles…
Watching a tree get taken down. We had a windstorm in Massachusetts and one of the casualties was a massive evergreen tree next door. It fell on our fence; we’re insanely lucky it missed the house. That being said, watching the tree get taken down, chainsawed, and flown, spinning through the air from a crane, was honestly the most exciting action the neighborhood had seen in months. I wished my little might-as-well-be-nephews were there; they would have loved it!
Springtime walks. Beautiful spring weather in New England usually lasts about a week, sandwiched in between months of gloom, so I’m enjoying the flowering trees and sunshine as much as I can. Before that, I loved our walks around Avenida Amsterdam in Mexico City.
The absolute uncertainty of this time. More than anything, the horror of this pandemic is not knowing anything — when things will open up, when my income will return, when borders will allow foreigners to pass through. When we’ll have a vaccine.
It was additionally difficult being in Mexico with Charlie, trying to figure out when to leave, and worrying constantly about whether our flights would be canceled and how much worse it was going to get. By the time we left, we weren’t able to go grocery shopping together anymore, though we left before the hospitals became overcrowded. I got the last midday flight to Miami; Charlie got one of the last flights to Europe.
The worst part is being separated from my dude and not knowing when I will be able to return to the Prague and start the process of getting a Czech trade license for my business. The Czech Republic is doing a LOT better than many other countries, and they’re slowly beginning to reopen, but no word yet on when foreigners will be able to enter again.
Events being canceled. Including a wedding of two dear friends.
Flying home from Mexico City to Boston. It was a challenging and often scary journey, and I worried the whole time. I’ve written about it on social media and I’ve taken a ton of video clips, so I’m going to put together the video as soon as I learn how to properly video edit…
Strictly quarantining for two weeks. While there is no law mandating it, Massachusetts asks people from home to stay in their home for two weeks after international travel and to track their symptoms. It wasn’t difficult for me (despite all the travel, I could easily be a hermit), but being cut off from the outside was hard. I have a lot of sympathy for my NYC friends stuck in their tiny apartments.
Brain fog. Since getting home from Mexico, I have been having a very difficult time working. I can’t focus on anything; starting a workday is SO hard. I’m being kind to myself and accepting that this is an effect of trauma, but I hope it eases up soon.
IT SNOWED ON APRIL 18. Seriously! It snows in April every now and then, but never this late!!
More gray hairs. Three new ones spotted on my crown, one right on my part. I’m at peace with it. No more plucking them out; they are here to stay. I just hope I can go for awhile before needing to color my hair.
Embroidery! I’ve been thinking of trying embroidery for awhile, and this is pretty much the perfect time. I found a cute cactus patch to try! You can order the kit here on Etsy. It’s by Embroidery Art by Nat, a Ukrainian embroidery artist, and now I support her on Patreon.
It’s fun, calming, and perfect to do with a podcast. The only thing — don’t overdo it at first. I overdid it, and the repetitive motions led to soreness in my thumb and pain all the way up my arm to my shoulder. Take it easy!
Baby foot. Have you heard of Baby Foot? This is the perfect time to do it! It’s a foot peel, and while it takes days to take effect, it’s extremely effective.
You put on the plastic booties for 1-2 hours, and after 3-7 days with daily soaking, your feet start peeling. HARD. Like, the whole outer layer of your skin dangles off your feet like cheese from a grater. It is both gross and satisfying, and the process takes 1-2 weeks to fully peel.
My feet were insanely dry due to the climate in Mexico City, and this returned them to smoothness. Highly recommended! It’s $25; Google around and you can find a $5 coupon.
Korean skincare. I’ve long heard that Korean skincare products are so much better for you, higher quality, and great value for money. Might as well try out 10-step Korean skincare! (I’m justifying the expense by blogging about it in the future.)
It’s a lot of steps…but I love it. My skin is looking amazing. I’ve actually been using sheet masks every night and they’re not just for fun — they’re insanely moisturizing!
I am ordering my products from YesStyle.com, which is cheap and safe. You can take 10% off your first order with the code ADVENTUROUSK. Delivery took only a week from Korea to the US. (Do not order Korean skincare products from Amazon — they’re often counterfeit.)
Cooking. This month I made Alison Roman’s internet-famous caramelized shallot pasta, which was very easy and turned out delicious! Yes, it has anchovies, but they add salt, not fishiness.
What Happened on Patreon This Month
Patreon is the platform where I create exclusive content for you to read, including stories I’ve never told before, in exchange for a small monthly fee. You can see my Patreon here.
If you sign up, you get one never-before-shared long-form story per month, as well as lots of shorter personal posts, a private Facebook group, and free access to the Book Club. In higher tiers you get access to monthly videos and private video calls with me. I’m also working on a NEW perk for the $10 tier that’s coming out soon.
We have TWO long-form stories so far: the first is The Ghost of Montenegro, a story of me being haunted for five days in Kotor, and the second is Antarctica Lovers, a collection of love stories that took place among the passengers on my trip to Antarctica (some sweet, some kind of disturbing).
So far 153 of you have joined, which is FANTASTIC — I was anticipating around 100. After Patreon’s fees and taxes, this income stream is providing enough money to cover my health insurance premium IN FULL each month, as well as 60% of my web hosting.
Healthcare in the United States is grotesquely, immorally expensive, so I can’t tell you how thankful I am that you’re helping me cover that expense during a health crisis.
If I get about 52 more patrons, it should be enough post-fees and post-taxes to cover my health insurance and most of the blog’s monthly expenses that I’ve pared down to: my hosting (keeping the site online), ConvertKit (my email list, which I’ve been ROCKING this month), Gsuite (my business email), Zoom (so I can have calls longer than 40 minutes), Calendly (for booking paid One-on-One with AK appointments), and Adobe Creative Suite (for photo editing).
And good news! I said that I would publish the ghost story publicly on the blog if I hit 100 patrons and kept them for one month. I hit 100 on April 7 — so the ghost story will be published here next week!
But join and you’ll get access to the Antarctica story, as well as other stories and the community. I am LOVING this outlet, writing the kinds of creative stories you love and were missing.
Join a Travelers’ Night In Call!
Bored at home? Want to have a “night out” with cool, travel-loving people? Join a Travelers’ Night In call! They take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 PM Eastern Time. I keep the groups small to facilitate good conversation, and we usually end up telling stories and laughing for hours! I ask for a $5 donation.
Here are the upcoming calls:
Book Club This Month
The first-ever Adventurous Kate Book Club meeting is taking place on Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time.
We will be discussing If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha this month. It just came out in April. UK and European readers, it is available — but it’s exclusively at Waterstone’s until July, so you’ll have to buy it there.
I’ve already picked the book for June’s meeting, and it’s much easier to procure. It’s by a queer woman of color and it takes place in a country that doesn’t get enough attention. Details at Book Club!
You can sign up here. Tickets are donation-based.
Funny Moment of the Month
My friend Alexa (you might remember her from that concert in Dallas with the singer I wasn’t allowed to name) had a birthday and we had a Zoom call for her, including four friends and two toddlers. The mom of one of the toddlers told him to “Blow a kiss to Auntie Alexa!” and he ran to the Amazon Echo (a.k.a. “Alexa”) and blew it a kiss!
Most Popular Post
Breaking Up with Amazon — WOW, this post went crazy! After I’ve decided to stop using Amazon as much as possible, I was delighted to hear that so many of you feel the same way.
Two Weeks in Mexico: The BEST Yucatán Road Trip Itinerary — If you’re considering Mexico for next winter, this is a GREAT road trip that is easy to do, yet off the beaten path.
Introducing Adventurous Kate Book Club! — I hope you can join us for the first meeting on May 24.
Which of These Comforting TV Shows is Right for You? — All the best shows to binge on Netflix and Hulu during troubled times.
Most Popular Photo on Instagram
The first leg of the journey — an Uber from La Condesa to Mexico City’s airport. I had no idea what awaited me, and I wasn’t feeling so good because Charlie and I killed the bottle of tequila the night before…
For more real-time updates, follow me on Instagram at @adventurouskate.
What I Watched This Month
Ozark — all 30 episodes, start to finish. Ozark was one of those Netflix shows I had been meaning to watch forever. It was time! Jason Bateman plays a money launderer who is forced to move his business and family to the Ozarks in Missouri, a beautiful vacation spot with a seedy underbelly home to bizarre characters.
It’s probably the closest heir to Breaking Bad — a “normal”-seeming family where the father is engaged in crime, set in a lesser-known scenic location and shot exquisitely. Ozark is darker in a lot of ways — there is a lot more violence and in the first two seasons, it’s full of extremely dark, barely lit scenes (glad they backed off that in the latest season).
And watching all three seasons definitely pays off. Season three starts slow, but the final two episodes are outstanding. The acting is superb.
What I Read This Month
Now that I’m no longer linking to or buying from Amazon, I am linking to Bookshop.org when applicable, and IndieBound or the author’s site when not. Bookshop.org compensates small local bookstores when you make a purchase. And I get a tiny commission if you happen to buy anything through my Bookshop links.
It does seem to be an ethical way to purchase books. I’ve heard from local bookstore owners that while they earn less from Bookshop.org than they would in-store, they don’t have to handle the shipping — which makes it a good trade-off.
In Pursuit of Disobedient Women by Dionne Searcey (2020) — Feeling ennui in Brooklyn, New York Times journalist Dionne Searcey decided to go out on a whim and apply to be the paper’s West Africa Bureau Chief. She moved to Senegal with her husband and three young kids, and spent three years reporting all over West and Central Africa, breaking extraordinary stories about Boko Haram and the women they forced to be suicide bombers.
I absolutely LOVED this book and am recommending it to everyone! What an exciting career; I want to read more books by foreign correspondents now. You guys know how much I love reading memoirs about work. I loved learning about different parts of West Africa, and the Boko Haram stories in particular were incredible. I also appreciated that Searcey wrote candidly about the toll a job like this can take on a marriage and family, even when you and your spouse have a strong relationship.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (2019) — This novel tells the intersecting stories of 12 black British women. They’re high-powered executives, avant-garde theater directors, and house cleaners; they’re queer, straight, cis, and nonbinary; they live in the heart of London and on farms in Yorkshire; they’re immigrants from Nigeria and St. Lucia and British-born with roots in Guyana and Jamaica. This book won the 2019 Booker Prize.
I love the stories that Evaristo wove throughout this book — including some surprises that absolutely paid off at the end of the book! This is a rare book that not only centers black women in Britain, but centers so many queer women in the narrative. It’s also written in an unusual way, a poetry-meets-prose form where each chapter forms a single sentence. Definitely an interesting and worthwhile read.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (2014) — What happens if you pare your business down to the work that gets results? It could lead to growth, revenue, and happiness. Essentialism is all about eliminating the nonessential work and focusing on what makes an impact. Not everyone can do that in their work, but a lot of entrepreneurs can, especially if they’re able to outsource.
This book was great — one of the best business books I’ve read. I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be, as I’m currently in a throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-earns stage, but I found it enormously helpful and it got me thinking of all the work that’s time wasted. In fact, as soon as I read the chapter about how important it is to get a good night’s sleep, I closed the book and went to bed!
I also appreciated its emphasis on leading a meaningful life, not just what earns you the most money. I know a lot of travel bloggers say that it’s not worth writing a post that won’t bring in SEO traffic long-term, but I disagree — monthly recaps like this one earn me very little money, but they’re the posts you guys enjoy the MOST. My loyalty is to my established audience first, and I plan to keep it that way.
Carrie by Stephen King (1974) — Carrie is an outcast at her small high school in Maine. She has no friends and is cruelly mocked by other students; at home, her religious-bordering-on-insane mother keeps her from living a normal life. It all comes to head at a school dance, where Carrie gets revenge on those who wronged her through the power of telekinesis.
This is the first Stephen King novel I’ve ever read! (I’ve read his memoir, On Writing, which is very good.) I asked my friends for recommendations and they had tons — but Carrie, being his first novel, seemed like a great place to start. I enjoyed it and read the whole thing in an afternoon.
Though I have to say that it has a lot of awkward #menwritingwomen moments, especially when it comes to menstruation. Granted, it was published in 1974, and I wonder whether he’d make the same mistakes today. And I enjoyed the slow, suspenseful lead up to the action much more than the action itself. Will I read more by him? Sure! Maybe Misery next.
Coming Up in May 2020
More of the same, folks. More of the same. And continuing to wait and monitor the situation in the Czech Republic. Hopefully it lets up and I’ll be able to book a ticket back.
Massachusetts is peaking right now, and while the stay-at-home advisory expires May 18, there will be few changes. New Hampshire, which is about half an hour from my house, is about to relax a ton of restrictions — and of course, they’re afraid of too many Massholes coming up!
Until then, continuing to stay at home. Hoping that things get better.
What did you enjoy this past month?