The Movable Pandemic

I was watching footage of Chris Rock on this past weekend’s Saturday Night Live when I got the calls. Of the five people invited to my place for Sunday lunch, one had hurt her back (ironically while doing her back exercises), and my sister had “mild but COVID-like” symptoms. Since I had been around my sister within the week, it seemed prudent to postpone lunch.

But I was bummed. There are so few things that we can do safely during this pandemic, and a social-distance get-together with a few friends in my back yard seemed like a modest plan. I had put quite a bit of effort into making a giant pot of white bean chicken chili and fresh guacamole. But that was exactly one of the points that Chris made in his comic routine: we all had plans. One of his, pre-corona, had been to attend his sister’s wedding, for which he had paid a cool $80K for the musical talent (this might have been a joke; I wasn’t sure. He is a comedian. But he’s also rich.) Either way, it sounded like the wedding was off, or reimagined.

My little cancelled lunch didn’t even come close to the magnitude of Chris’s nonrefundable wedding gift. But when I recently moved from SoCal to NoCal, I definitely came with some plans. First, a little back story…

In my blog post “On the Move During COVID-19,” I lamented some of the things I was leaving behind in my adopted city L.A. after over 40 years: home, view, pool, friends. What I didn’t get into was the things I planned to do as part of saying goodbye. Favorite restaurants I wanted to eat in before leaving. Campgrounds where I wanted to sit by a firepit I probably wouldn’t visit ever again. Old apartments and jobs, the campus where I’d taught for over 20 years. The karaoke parties to make music with some friends for possibly the last time. But I wasn’t able to do any of those things—thanks to the new coronavirus, the closures, and the shelter in place orders.

Then there were the moving issues, always stressful, but now all magnified by the deadly virus. How to sell my house in a pandemic? I’d been quarantined, but now I might have realtors, buyers, appraisers and inspectors trooping through. And what about the move itself? Trucks that had just held other people’s household goods, and possibly their viral particles. Men carrying furniture, sweating, coughing, apologetically needing to use the restroom. And what about where I was moving to? I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone to see a place advertised as “cozy,” which turned out to be “closet-size,” or “rustic,” which meant “filthy and falling apart.” UGH.

Lucky for me, those issues worked out incredibly well. A SoCal friend bought my house, and a NoCal friend offered me one to rent. Yes, there were movers, etc. But they wore masks (mostly), and a part of me just had to give up control and hope for the best. I had a LOT of help from friends and sister.

But back to those plans I came with. As much as I‘d loved my home, I was looking forward to nesting into my rental cottage. It was smaller, a good opportunity to “downsize” (“stop hoarding.”) I hadn’t lived in an older place for decades, and this one was the good kind of rustic—with charming touches like a vintage stove, built-in china closet, and luxurious claw-foot tub. My cat settled onto her cat tree overlooking the yard, with its shady fruit trees and a misting system in lieu of a pool for those scorching summer days. Perfect! (Almost.)

Did I mention how much I like bubble baths?

My other plans, though? Way less perfect.

My sister had fallen in love with Old Sac, so reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans. We’d planned to eat in the seafood restaurants and drink in the bars and shop in little specialty stores for chocolates and socks. But thanks to the virus, most of them are closed. She had also gone on the Underground tour of that part of town, and I was eager to see it, too—basement saloons and brothels from the Gold Rush, right up my alley! Except, in a pandemic, no tours.

I wanted to find a writing community; nothing yet. And don’t even ask me about dating during a pandemic.

One of the things I knew I would love would be going with my friend (a Sac native) to swim in the American River. She knew exactly which residential neighborhood to park in and walk a short distance on a trail to find a semi-private little sandy beach. I knew because she’d taken me there before. And I, poor swimmer that I am, had never gone fully into the river. But, now, after all the practice in my SoCal pool, I was ready! Hold up, she said, it’s not the same; with so many things closed, the ‘private’ little beaches are now overrun. FUCK.

So much for plans, fantasies, any hope of a happy future in my new city.

You know what, though? That is faulty thinking. At least for someone like me, who is, against all odds, a mostly optimistic person (I think). I love my little temporary home, and I enjoy picturing my SoCal buyer in ‘her’ new pool. Yes, I’m getting old, my clock is ticking, and that concerns me. But I’m also still healthy (mostly). I have a pension and health insurance and the opportunity to work part time if I choose (men in search of a sugar momma: it’s a modest pension, so buzz off). Best of all, in these times: I don’t have COVID-19.

What I do have is the ability to VOTE on November 3rd. I will vote for the candidates who show intelligence and compassion, because those are cornerstones of my own life and belief system.

And if you’re still in doubt about voting, please visit this past post. Meanwhile, now I’d better go eat some chili and guacamole. Because I sure have a shit-ton of it. 🙂

78 thoughts on “The Movable Pandemic

  1. Hello Professor Hoggan,
    Congratulations on the new move and next chapter in your life! It definitely is scary making changes right now due to COVID19 because of the risk, but I’m so glad to see you’re doing okay and made that leap! I enjoy reading your blog posts and I really hope you find a little writing community of your own. Stay safe, and stay well! Thank you for the read(: (Also, I AM READY TO VOTE and let’s hope for better *fingers crossed).

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  2. Enjoyed the read. We are so lucky to have a roof over our heads, food on the table and a monthly retirement check. We also moved during this difficult time so I understand the frustration. The stress of every thing that is going on in our world is getting to me. I feel guilty complaining as so many people are really suffering. Hope things settle down for all of us soon.

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  3. hello professor hoggan! I enjoy your reading your blogs and I am too ready to vote! I’ve have been trying to keep up with the debates and anything political going on! Now that I think about I have never gone fully into a river or lake either. I always assume there is creatures swimming under me and I freak myself out!

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    • There is aquatic life there for sure, but mostly they leave you alone. I was worried that the current would be too strong for me, even though it looked mellow and my friends made it easily across. Good for you for voting! And thank you for reading!

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  4. Hello Professor Hogan,

    I am glad that you had a safe and fast move to Nor-Cal! I have a few friends up North and they love it there, hopefully I can go by the end of the year to visit my friends from Nor-Cal. Best wishes to you and I hope you are doing well. Hope to hear from you soon!

    With Gratitude,
    Adriana Flores

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  5. Famous or not this pandemic is taking us all on a rollercoaster that we don’t know which direction we will turn next. It really is hard to try to plan a small gathering that isn’t too risky especially with everyone living their own lives, then trying to get together hopefully Covid free. I’m glad you were able to safely move, I moved into a new apartment during these crazy times as well! Getting back into a normal lifestyle is definitely challenging, but we can only take it one step at a time. Stay safe and good luck on your next adventure!

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  6. Hello Professor Hoggan,

    It is so true that the pandemic is really plaguing everything literally under the sun. Your aforementioned experiences alone are all relatable happenings for everyone. It sucks that you cannot reconnect with your loved ones physically because of this virus. Also, moving from one place to another is like starting from a scratch. Reading your post, I can formulate the idea that you are the type of person who adjusts easily, and that is a good thing! You have also mentioned politics in your post. Sharing my thoughts, I also support the blue- side spectrum. My main idea of supporting the blue side is that they rely on Science and they are treating this pandemic seriously. We cannot disregard all the American lives which were lost during this sad and stressful times. To be exact, there is an approximate value of 300,000 lives lost and it is not a joke.

    Overall, this blog was a nice read! I also hope that you find your true love soon(as cheesy as it may sound). You need someone to take care of you during your gerontology years. Stay safe Professor Hoggan 🙂

    – Type A (a pseudonym)

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    • Thanks for reading! Yes, this pandemic really sucks, although as long as we stay alive that’s the most important thing. But it’s only part of the reason why I vote blue (the focus on science) – the other is the greater focus on social justice. Black Lives Matter, get refugee kids out of those fucking cages, protect women’s right to control their own bodies, etc. I smiled at your phrase “your gerontology years.” 🙂 You stay safe as well.

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  7. Greetings Professor Hoggan,

    Thank you for sharing your unique experience on what it’s like to move during a pandemic! I really liked how you realized that you aren’t the only one missing out on things and how others are missing out on bigger events such as a wedding. Also how you are choosing to enjoy the little things such as your new home or imagining someone enjoying your old home. That speaks volumes about you and how considerate you are. This really humbles us to think about how others could be going through worse, but however all us are being impacted in some way. I loved your closing message about voting! I am a dreamer and I want to thank you for voting blue as I read in one of your comment above. This election meant a lot for not only me personally, but many other people so thank you!

    Best wishes,

    CR

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    • Go Dreamers! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, we are all going through things during COVID, and I don’t want to minimize that. At the same time, many have it so much worse. Keep on with your “dream,” you will never regret it.

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  8. Hi, Professor Hoggan! I found this entry ironically full of “left turns”. Many plans and events for the year have been cancelled leading to circumstances of additional obstacles so as to keep clear from direct impact [by covid]. “Unprecedented” is a term now predictably used in many various cases my so many. As unsettling as it may all seem, it’s nice to know sometimes circumstances with a “hope for the best” attitude are managed through.

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    • Yes, I agree – except please don’t confuse doing something that HAS to be done and ‘hoping for the best,’ with taking unnecessary risks with things that DON’T ‘have to’ be done. Take care and stay safe, please!

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  9. Thank you for sharing your experience during the pandemic. I still have some friends who do not “get it,” and despite my Public Health education, they want to argue with me about what being responsible during a pandemic looks like. Social distancing gatherings have been taken loosely, which highly irritates me. Not to mention, their false claims of saying, “we’re all COVID free, come through!” My biggest questions for them are, have you been COVID tested? Did the test come back negative? And did you quarantine from the time of the negative test until now, this gathering? Likely, the answers to those questions are no’s, which means that they cannot claim to be COVID free. The responsible thing to do is what you did, and I am glad to have read your approach, and your concerns in regards to your move. Moving in itself is stressful, and I cannot imagine what that must have been like. I hope you are settling in to your new home!

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    • Wow, I’m really impressed that you are listening to public health instead of “friends.” And as you probably know, things are about to get way worse (for awhile anyway). Please continue to take care of yourself, and thanks for reading.

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  10. Hi Professor Hoggan!
    I enjoyed reading your blogs, they are extremely genuine and relatable! My sister and her boyfriend also moved during this pandemic. Although it was just a few blocks away from their old apartment, they said it was a bit odd doing most of it online and were able to do a walkthrough without the owner of the place. They also said it was nice since they didn’t have to worry about meeting new people and being exposed to the virus.
    I hope you’re enjoying your new home!

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  11. hello professor, I really enjoyed reading your journey moving through this pandemic and how you went to live in NorCal. I hope its going good for you there and enjoying the time there and not letting the pandemic ruin it for you. My favorite part was when you talked about going into a river and knowing me I probably wouldn’t go in there because of the creatures that are in there but seeing you do it and how you had fun, is encouraging me to try it one day.

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  12. Hello Professor Hoggan,
    I am a student of Professor Naluce. I have been reading some of your blogs and they are very interesting. I think you have great material for a book. I am also a fan of old Sacramento. My wife has family near Sacramento. Every time we visit them we got to make sure we visit old Sacramento. Our favorite part is the train museum. Even though we live in Hacienda Heights we purchased membership to the museum. So anytime we visit our visit will be covered. Hope you are enjoying your time in Northern California.

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    • I haven’t been to the museum (or a lot of places) due to closures for COVID-19. And it will surely be months before things get better. But I do look forward to exploring the city in the future. I have been to old Sac and it’s charming!

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  13. Im glad you are so safe with covid.There are too many people that don’t seem to be too concerned. the threat of getting covid and also spreading it to my family has caused me a lot of anxiety. Its comforting to see other people really taking precautions. It has been frustrating to watch others do what they want with no care for others. I love how you compared your experience to Chris Rock’s; it reminded me that everyone in the world is experiencing the same thing. Some handling it better than others but it’s happening to us all. At the beginning of quarantine I was so marveled by this and constantly talked about it with my friends.To me it feels like the first time that everyone in the world is experiencing the same event. But I know that we are not really united by it and that it has affected people in such different ways. I feel lucky to be in a safe and healthy environment and have the resources that I do. I just hope that some of the severity of the virus can ease off in the new year. It is also such a relief to finally know that trump was voted out!!!!

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    • Oh yes, Trump out is the best thing that’s happened in a long time! He and his selfishness are literally costing people their lives, whether from COVID, police brutality, hoarding money for the rich, etc. And I agree with you that in a way this did feel like the first truly worldwide event. It is sad that some aren’t taking it seriously, and they (or those around them) will pay the price. Selfish!

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  14. Hello Professor Hoggan,
    Thank you for being so open and relatable about the struggles a lot of us are dealing with during this pandemic. I too had a lot of hopes and plans for this year, that unfortunately had to get postponed. It’s been an adjustment, but I can relate to what you said about being a mostly optimistic person. I have tried to look at this as a time to focus on the things that really matter in life like relationships, family, friends, work, school, and most importantly myself. My mom and I were watching this new Netflix show the other day called Emily in Paris. The show mentioned how American and French culture differ most because the French work to live, while Americans live to work. We started researching European culture and leisure/vacation is ver important to them. They stress enjoying life and slowing down. So I think despite all the tragedy that has hit with this pandemic, it has been a nice change to slow down and really take to what is most important in life.

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    • What a great attitude! And what we saw when we did that was the environment get cleaner, and wile animals be safer. Now I fear we’ve forgotten it all again, and we’re paying the price in rising cases and deaths. All we can do is make the best decisions for ourselves. I love picturing you and your mom watching this show! (I’m going to watch it!)

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  15. Congrats on the move! Ever since the Covid19 pandemic I’ve found it more frightening to due certain things like eating at a restaurant for example. But I’m optimistic that soon that we’ll reach the normalcy that was Pre-Covid, then after that I can finally make plans to move.

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  16. Lynda,
    You know I live in the wonderful world of mountain living, currently snowing it’s butt off but believe it or not “I LOVE THE SNOW”. However I never really thought about what life would be like off the mountain.. I always thought to myself when i get older i’m going to have my own little place, shop the little shops for salt and pepper shakers (my little addiction) and walking alone the lake for some peace and quiet time. I’m in my 40’s but little by little I will get it. Hows your serenity?

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  17. Moving is never easy especially during a pandemic, I always dread the packing and unpacking. There are more outdoor activities, parks and greenery up north, so maybe take a friend and go on a hike or bike ride with you. I hope you are enjoying at your new home and wish you safe.

    I really enjoyed your bio 5 class 🙂 take care!

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  18. Professor Hoggan,
    Congratulations on the move and hope you can enjoy the city and saloons soon! I also feel your frustration with cancelled plans, I think it’s so frustrating because they come so abruptly. It is my daughter’s 1st birthday on Tuesday and I am bummed because my dad has COVID right now. He contacted it through work and now him or my mom are not able to celebrate with us. As recommended, we have only been seeing a little amount of people (my parents and my in-laws) and I just hope things get better so we can visit family again. Wishing the best for you.

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    • I’m sorry about the change in birthday plans. But better to have everyone around for the next birthday. Whenever I feel frustrated with how life has changed, I try to remember the many who have lost their lives, and died alone without their family there, and the grieving families. That helps to put it into perspective for me.

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  19. Hi Professor!
    It is an interesting experience reading your blog. I am glad that you have settled in NoCal with family, friends, and a favorite bathroom. Moving is really complicated. I don’t like moving to somewhere else since I have hoarded lots of stuffs. Especially, during this pandemic, we don’t know who is infected and the viral particles are all around, moving is harder. But again, I’m glad that you moved safely. Thanks for the blog! It makes me laugh.

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  20. Hello Professor!
    Packing and moving is always a hassle, but once you get settled into the new place it’s all worth the trouble! You mentioned that you made a big pot of white bean chili for your get together, do you have a favorite recipe to share? I tried to make it once and it came out awful, any tips and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

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    • Haha, I cooked that chili the way I do many things – I look up a couple recipes online and then tweak them the way I want. So I can just give you generalizations. I use boneless chicken breasts, 2-3, baked and cubed. About 3 different cans of white beans such as navy beans, cannelini beans, etc. 2-3 small cans of chopped green chilis. A can of corn is optional. 1/2 onion and about 2 celery stalks sliced up. Also a jalapeno cut in thin circles. The main dried spice is cumin, check the internet recipes but I usually use more. Also salt and pepper and ground garlic powder. One beer plus chicken stock as needed. Cook for 2-3 hours covered; uncover if the liquid is not absorbing. Serve with grated cheese and chopped green onion and cilantro.

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  21. Hi Professor,
    Congrats on your new house move! It looks and sounds so cozy. I’m glad that you were still able to acknowledge the good things that were coming out of this pandemic. I believe a lot of us are more grateful for those little things we took for granted. I enjoyed read your article!

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  22. Wow! It sounds very stressful to have to move during a pandemic! I have been very quarantined with my family and I cant imagine that stress that would cause! I totally understand what you’re saying about how unfortunate life is when its not safe to do anything! Life has been so sad since march 2020, I didn’t even get my high school graduation. All of this seems small though when I remember how lucky I am to be healthy and have not caught covid!

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  23. OMG, congratulation for your new home professor. I hope you create tons of memories in your new place. Besides this, I can say that you were almost about to experience that stress that you went through when moving during the coronavirus. My uncle and aunt were upset because I go out once a week to see my boyfriend. They were so upset that they wanted to kick my family out of the house. Those weeks were stressful and worrying for my family because we did not even know where we were going to find a place to rent. But in the end, they did not kick us out because my parents talked to them and they understood. Thank God and my parents, we are all fine and we continue to live with my uncles.

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  24. Hello Professor Hoggan,
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience during this awful year. A lot of people that I know have taken social distancing as if it was a joke and still gathers and a lot of people I know have got tested positive for COVID19 because they were not being responsible. I am so glad you have been able to go through moving peacefully. I hope you are all settled and enjoying your new home. Happy almost year moving. You did it!

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  25. Hello Professor,
    Its Muhammad. I’m happy to hear that you have moved to the next chapter in yours. I can’t even imagine doing all that stuff like packing during the covid pandemic, I feel like we all so stressed already imagine going through packing and unpacking is just much. The part I hated the most about it is that I dreamt of going to prom and having a Graduation but COVID-19 all ruined it. Anyway, I really enjoyed reading your blog. It makes me realize the thing we didn’t get to do that we expected to happen.

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  26. Replying more than a half a year later, and I certainly hope you are enjoying your time up in NorCal. I also hope that you finally were able to enjoy the little private beach you wrote about without the crowds, and that you had a make-up get together with your friends! And just like your party and Chris Rock’s wedding I had some pretty big derailments in my plans last year. I was supposed to move up to the Bay Area since I was finally transferring out of Mt. SAC but then Covid happened and with that all my plans went down the drain since school was going to be online and there was no point in moving up if all my classes were going to be over Zoom. Although, it was a bitter pill to swallow since I was looking forward to a new chapter in my life, I did look to the bright side and realized that it is nice to save up on rent (especially ridiculous Bay Area rent).

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    • I’m sorry your plans got hijacked! Hopefully you are still going to transfer up north, with more $$$ in your pocket. I am still not as settled in Sac as I’d hoped to be. Covid plus some other health issues of mine. But I’m still planning to get into more. I did find a great writing group.

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  27. Hello Professor Hoggan! I enjoyed reading this. It’s interesting to hear how the pandemic shifted the plans of others. In your case, I’m very sorry that it impacted you in a stressful way, seeing as how your plans involved completely changing a new chapter in your life. I’m glad it worked out for the better and that you are able to enjoy this new part of your life. I hope with everything slowly going back to some form of normalcy that you have been able to experience your new environment much more. Stay safe and stay healthy!

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  28. Sorry to hear about the stress you had during the pandemic. The good news is we are getting better! Soon, the pandemic will be over. we are able to more safely be with our friends and family as long as we are vaccinated. Horray!

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    • I’m also optimistic, although still cautious. There are still variants and many people choosing not to vaccinate. But I must admit it’s great to finally feel a bit safer to go outside the house! 🙂

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  29. Congrats on moving from SoCal to NorCal! I bet you do miss the sunny days in SoCal except having 90-100+ degrees haha

    The past year and half has been stressful for everyone, so you’re not alone. Our state seems like it’s going back to normal, but were still not quite there yet and we will get there! Hope everything goes well, and have a blessed day! 😊

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  30. Wow! It is great to hear that your moving experience in the middle of a pandemic went smoothly because I can definitely agree that this virus has taken a toll on everybody. Thankfully, your are free of COVID-19 and your are living the best life can offer. I hope all is well, continue living an adventurous life in your new “cottage.”

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  31. Many people think that this pandemic can go away fast and everything will be back to normal but we are going to get back how we were but its going to take time and patience. I think that I have never felt the heat of San Bernardino, CA there’s times that is 115 degrees and there no way that I am going out of the house.

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  32. Wow I can’t imagine trying to move in this chaos, I hope you get to make up that lunch meet up. Covid has been one crazy ride this past year.

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  33. Hello Professor Hoggan,
    Wow! What a whirlwind you went through. I’m glad that you were able to overcome the obstacles and hopefully enjoying your new home. I related so much to your sentence about losing control and just hoping for the best during the pandemic. I recall how hyperconscious I was when the pandemic started. Though I work in the hospital setting and had all the appropriate protective equipment, I was always worried about contracting the virus at work and bringing it home to my family. I finally told myself that this was not in my control and just had to pray for the best. What I really took from your writing was that despite all the plans you had and though you were let down by the shutdown, you were still able to adapt and accomplish your plans. I hope you are enjoying every bit of it!

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  34. I can imagine moving around during the pandemic. I was one of the lucky ones I didn’t get covid-19. I can’t imagine how You felt. Especially during the times in 2020. I did get lucky I had a job and but the only thing is I had to work a lot of overtime sadly. A lot of people were calling off and getting sick left to right. I hated it!

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  35. Is life much different now living in Sacramento? Have you gone visited the capital? walked Berkeley downtown neigborhood?

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    • It’s hard to say, Ramiro, because I have only lived here during a pandemic! But I will be finding out more in the coming months and years. I do think the city is more beautiful than most, with two rivers and tons of trees.

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  36. Wow Professor Hogan moving during the pandemic that is brave of you. It’s a good thing you were able to sell your So Cal home quickly and not be stuck with it. You definitely sold at a good time though, i heard it was a sellers market. I like old homes I am sure your house is quaint hope you can soon buy something comfortable. Now that COVID restrictions have gone down a bit have you been able to get to know the town or come back to SoCal and visit some of the places you wanted to say good-bye to?

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    • Unfortunately, I’m still something of a shut-in, due to some mobility problems (waiting for hip surgery, which is delayed because of all the COVID delays). But things will change in time. This is really a beautiful city (“city of trees”), and I look forward to seeing more of it. I do miss SoCal though!

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  37. After living through the pandemic for the past year and a half, the first few months were definitely the hardest because I never got to enjoy the last year of high school with my friends. Most people do not understand but not being able to attend your own high school graduation was one of the most heartbreaking news. It was an event I was personally looking forward to throughout high school because it meant having my whole family supporting and shouting my name while I get my diploma that I was not ensured of in my sophomore year. There are many things that we missed experiencing though this pandemic, but it has taught us a lot about ourselves and our society as a whole.

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  38. Congrats on the new home and moving while a whole pandemic was happening. I bet it was stressful. But I can’t imagine how you did that, because for me if that happened, I would be very stressed out and on top of that going to school online would be a whole horror show. But I love how the cottage homes are, and how you’re surrounded by trees which I assume peaceful but also the sound of the birds chirping.

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