Hello, happy Sunday, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.
I was up early this morning, but my internal clock is so thrown off it took me a while to get moving. I’m so thrown off by the social changes, cancellations, and disruptions that I can’t grasp what I should be doing. I suppose that’s because there isn’t anything I should be doing. This is the most relaxed Sunday I’ve ever had. For the first time there is no Monday to plan for, to panic over, to resent or look forward too. There is no beginning to the week and no end, there is no order. I’m free floating this Sunday and I’m not sure at all how I feel about it.
So, please, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. Everything else may be uncertain, but there is still coffee to ground us. In an effort to hold tight to the familiar I’m brewing the usual: blond roast grounds steeped in the French press with frothed sweet vanilla oat milk to sweeten and temper. Let’s talk about last week!
“Sometimes when you had nothing at all and it was raining and you were alone in the flat, it was wonderful to know that you could have something even though it was only a cup of black and bitter coffee.”
― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week was chaotic and completely disorienting.
Most of the week was spent worrying about the novel coronavirus outbreak, both at home and at work. My wife and I are both at-risk or vulnerable individuals. She has asthma, and I have a chronic condition that requires medication to suppress the immune response. She’s already been fighting off a tough respiratory infection, and I’ve had to fight to stay healthy on both fronts. I’m shocked I haven’t caught anything…yet.
At work we started the week by putting out hand sanitizer and hanging new signs in the bathrooms. Then we started disinfecting the buses on a daily rotation and wiping down surfaces, keyboards, and door knobs multiple times a day. By the end of the week though the virus had become more widespread and prevention seemed too big a task to handle so the district I work for and the surrounding districts all announced they would be extending Spring break by a week or more.
I honestly think the district did the right thing. Even if we could have prevented the virus from spreading through our ranks, the panic was rising to levels just as dangerous. We could not effectively do our jobs with all the time required, for cleaning and covering routes would become too great a task as more and more employees opted to use their paid leave to stay home.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I feel incredibly lucky to have been given this time off. Normally I work straight through Spring break but the district has said no one, absolutely no one, can come into their buildings during this time. I’m also very lucky that the district has agreed to pay me during this time off too. It won’t be as much as I usually make, but it will be something and that is so much better than what many people will get during this crisis.
Actually, now that I think about it, it might turn out to be more than I would normally get paid! On Friday, even though the district was preparing for the closing and everyone was busy cleaning, my boss agreed to go ahead with interviews for the new job position they had been working on putting together for me and my team. I won’t say it was the best interview I could have given, but I did well enough and have been doing well enough in my current position that they offered me the job!
The only problem is, the pay hasn’t been finalized so though I will get back paid for this time I am off; I have no idea right bow what the hourly rate is that they will be paying me at. I’m not complaining though. I know it will be more than what I’m making now.
I’m very excited to start this new journey. Much of the job expectations and responsibilities are in flux and my time and I will essentially be “making it up” as we go along. I’ll get to go on doing what I love and to start doing more of what I have been dreaming of doing too. I’m proud of myself, and my whole team for finding a way to make our voices heard and for pushing and pushing and pushing until we got what we knew we deserved. I’m also beyond grateful to work for people who push me and who see my potential and believe in me even when I don’t.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that at first the idea of having two weeks in a row (at least) away from work sounded wonderful, but two days into this forced “staycation” and I am already feeling listless and lost. I’ve never had this much time off of work, and I’m not sure how to spend it, but I do know that I don’t want to waste it. I want to spend it doing all the things I always say I’d rather be doing when I’m at work. I’d rather be writing. I’d rather be reading. I’d rather be spending time at home, with my wife, with the dog. I’d rather be completing projects. I’d rather be sleeping.
So, that’s the plan, and the prayer is I don’t lose sight of that and waste this precious gift. Starting today, I’m back in my “creativity room”. I’ve been working on my “calendar, to-do list, and log book” strategy I adapted from Jeff Huang using Google docs and calendar. So far it’s working. So far I have been able to keep on top of tasks, events, and thoughts without the system itself becoming a time suck. I plan to write a proper and thorough post about my system once I’ve been at it for a few months and have worked out all kinks and worked in all the tweaks to make the system work for me.
My hope is that the system will keep me on track and motivated during this time of directionlessness.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that social distancing is going to be a lot more difficult to achieve than it would seem on the surface. Normally when I am off I savor the time to be away from people but looking ahead to all the alone time, the time cooped up; the time staring at these walls is making me feel a little claustrophobic and crazy. People need people and though my wife is here with me, I know we’ll eventually get tired of one another. People need other people, you know?
Yesterday we ventured out to the grocery store for snacks and other inessentials, to see the state of the world, and to be among other people. I know the risk we took and the risk we put other people at, but apparently there is a difference between choosing to stay indoors and being forced to stay indoors and the latter quickly becomes unbearable.
We brought hand sanitizer, used wipes for surfaces and carts, avoided standing too close to others, and were careful not to touch our faces until we were safely back home and had washed our hands thoroughly. It was good to get out, but it was nerve-wracking too. I may have gotten it out of my system for the next few days at least.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I already had a couple of appontments and events scheduled for this week and though it was a hard choice to make I’ve decided to honor them as long as the establishments I’m patronizing are open.
I have a CPR Instructors course on Tuesday that is, according to the Training Center’s website, still on. There are additional precautions and guidelines being observed. As soon as I enter, I will have to wash my hands and before going into any rooms I will be required to use hand sanitizer. I’ll have my own pocket mask and one-way valve and will have to use gloves and alcohol during the class itself. I almost wish they would just cancel class rather than require all these extra steps.
After the class, I have tickets to a St. Patrick’s Day movie event at my favorite theater. I’m debating whether or not to call and ask for a refund, but we have been looking forward to this for a long while now. The theater sent out an email earlier in the week with all the extra precautions they are taking right now including sanitizing the arm rests and tables between showing and all door knobs and surfaces throughout the day. I plan to bring my own wipes and more hand sanitizer along too.
After Tuesday I will probably adhere to stricter social distancing guidelines but so much has already been cancelled for me that I can’t, I won’t, give up any more unless I have too.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the sun has moved on to the west windows and though I have nowhere I have to be and no work week to prepare for, there is still a lot I want to accomplish. The house needs the same cleaning and it wouldn’t hurt to start the week with the same preparations. I can’t let myself stray too far from the usual routine, you know?
I hope you had a good week. I hope you and those close to you are well. I hope you have the luxury of working from home, or of not working at all during this outbreak. I hope you have someone sweet to isolate yourself with and if you don’t I hope you know you can always reach out to me if you need someone to talk to.
Until next time.