Open Kitchen Series — It’s More Than Just the NFTs
A blog from our team member YY— What I learned about Covid, Death, and the Pieland Community
I joined Pieland in mid January as things were really heating up. The team was working seven days a week at all hours to prepare for the February 10th mint. I was leaning in hard the night my friend Bonfire, who runs LiveToken, talked to me about his work with NFTs and asked me to help out with content.
I felt privileged and excited to join the team, with a couple of NFT community regulars in this space, Luke McIntyre and Daniel Bimke, and dive into this crazy new Web3 world. But it was also the worst possible time for me to be doing anything new. I found out both my parents, in their 80s, contracted Covid around the start of the new year.
My folks lived in the Los Angeles area, where the Omicron variant was circulating widely in early January. By the end of the first week of January, LA County reported over 43,000 daily cases, setting a new daily record at the time. My dad, who had suffered a couple major strokes 13 years ago and had many severe health issues, was bed bound and hadn’t left his hospital bed at home in over six months. Still, Covid came into the house where my parents lived by themselves.
My mom, who was vaccinated, eventually recovered. But my dad never did. They both took an at-home antigen test on Jan. 7 and tested positive. Within days, dad’s oxygen level started dropping well below 90% despite having an oxygen concentrator running at the highest flow. He was silent, nonresponsive, and his eyes were closed. He was slipping away with the lack of oxygen going to his brain. His kidneys started shutting down five days before he died on Jan 19.
Despite our concerns and pleas to take Covid precautions, my mom refused to allow my brothers or me to visit. She didn’t want us to get Covid. I kept a rollie suitcase packed at the front door anyway. I purchased and canceled one-way tickets from San Francisco to Los Angeles multiple times. Each time I announced that I was coming, Uber on the way, my mom turned livid and stubbornly threatened to lock me out of her house if I flew down. The pandemic was raging hard everywhere, and so was my stress level.
Meanwhile, the entire Pieland team was pulling many late nights to prepare for the Great Bake Sale, when 10,314 Octopie NFTs would be available to mint. I edited a lot of Luke’s posts about Octopies, our projected roadmap, and Pieland’s carbon negative guarantee. I’m an NFT newbie so there was a steep learning curve for me. But I found sanity in learning about gas fees, what LFG and WAGMI meant, and differentiating between a Doughbot Octopie and a Pieborg one. (Well, maybe not that last bit. Tbh, I’m still not sure which is which.)
I flew down to LA to be with my family a few hours after my dad passed. We said our goodbyes as the people from the mortuary came to take my dad’s body away in a minivan. It was near midnight and I was beyond exhausted, but I wasn’t ready to go to bed. I did some work, editing an article about how our artist Ryan Eiad was upgrading a cog on an Octopie’s head and giving an Octopie smile lines to appear more cheerful. To focus on something so unrelated and not sad felt calming to me. I went through the Pieland Discord to research more images and stumbled into the #pet-photos, #sports-chat, and #memeland channels. There, at my childhood home late at night with all the windows open and cool Pacific Ocean breeze blowing through, I found myself connecting with fellow Pieple.
Experiencing grief is strange. I have people in real life, like my husband and good friends, who are there for me. And everyone keeps asking me how they can help. But mostly, I found comfort in listening to lots of music and in the Pieland community, which took me by surprise. In the past, I worked at a gaming company and a tech company with very impassioned fans, but I never felt connected with the communities. Work was just, well, work. With Pieland, there was something about coming up with ridiculous pie-related puns, reading all the chatter from the Pielievers, and working with Luke and this super nice team that made me smile. Whether we wagmi or not, I’m grateful for the Pieland journey.
My dad was finally cremated three weeks after he died. The mortuary consultant said it was the earliest date we could get due to the crush of Covid deaths in January. I flew back to LA to join my mom and say goodbye one last time and burn incense to send dad’s spirits to the heavens before he was cremated. The following day, Pieland’s public sale of Octopie NFTs began, and the doors of Pieland opened to everyone.