We’re just a day away now from New Year’s Eve and everyone keeps asking me what I’m doing to celebrate the holiday. I am absolutely doing nothing at all. I’m not even sure I’m going to stay up long enough to watch the calendar date roll over. The New Year feels more like an event to accept this year than to celebrate. A thing to get on with than to spend any time acknowledging.
The truth is too; I feel guilty for how much I have been out shopping and visiting with family over these last few months. I took some precautions, but it’s hard to break from norms and old traditions and isolate yourself entirely.
It doesn’t help how starved I have felt for anything to get out of the house, to see people, to laugh, to talk, to feel normal again. The cold and dreary weather and this awful monotonous routine of work, then home, then work, the home, then work is wearing on my willpower. I gave in to these needs and, quite surprisingly, to the holiday spirit.
So for the next few weeks at least I plan to stay in and stay away from anyone outside of my household as much as I can. Unfortunately, I still have to work, though even there I will do better to social distance.
The news broke yesterday that the first U.S. case the new, even more contagious strain of the coronavirus was found in my state and in someone who apparently had no travel history, at least not to the United Kingdom. That means it’s already spreading through the community and knowing this, my state of panic has been restored and my resolve renewed.
“I just think that we’re at this incredible time of mourning as a world. We’re all grieving our lives and grieving the lives that we’ve had before and worried about what’s going to happen in the future, and we’re all sort of stuck in a state of suspension. And some of the grief therapists that I talk to, the counselors, they say when you lose someone you love deeply, you want the world to stop. And the world has stopped. We’re all like in this collective place of reflection.”
Understanding the stages of grief is a start. But whenever I talk about the stages of grief, I have to remind people that the stages aren’t linear and may not happen in this order. It’s not a map but it provides some scaffolding for this unknown world. There’s denial, which we say a lot of early on: This virus won’t affect us. There’s anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities. There’s bargaining: Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right? There’s sadness: I don’t know when this will end. And finally there’s acceptance. This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed.
— Scott Berinato, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief“
I had a late start due to a late end to the day before and an anxious night tossing and turning but I still managed to get a 20-minute jog around the block in before heading off to work.
Having to beat the sun to rise in order to get a little exercise in is a drag, but there really is no better way to start the day. The world is so quiet and the ordinary streets around me are so beautiful under the mix of twilight and artificial light. I’d planned to workout in the garage every other morning, but I love these scenes so much I might end up jogging much more often.
The work day was a lot quieter than I expected it to be. It wasn’t my turn to teach CPR and First Aid, so I hung back in the corners and helped clean and complete paperwork instead. I won’t have to teach again until Friday and then after that I won’t have to stand in front of another class for nearly 3 weeks. After just one week, I already need the break.
While staying out of the way I managed to get a little work done on a personal essay I’ve been turning over in my head for a while. Of course, it’s growing into something entirely different from what I meant for it to be. I’m trying to decide whether to wrestle it in or let it be free.
By the time I got home, the day had exhausted me. My health is in a gradual decline and naps are required at regular intervals now. The doctor has ordered me back up to the original doses of medications I’d been trying to taper off of for months now and the constant worry about how bad things might get this time is only making matters worse. Two steps forward, another two back. Progress never lasts, but neither do the setbacks I suppose.
During the quarantine my wife and I developed a morning routing of waking up around 7:00, going for a 45-minute walk, coming home and eating breakfast together, usually bagels and lox, and then separating to tackle out individual goals and projects for the day. I’m so happy we’ve held on to the habit at least for the weekends if not the week days.
By now she’s already off to grocery shop and to pick up supplies for her new “weekend project”. Since we are still coming home early from work most days (for Covid-19 reasons) these “weekend projects” no longer need to be confined to Saturday and Sunday only. This week she’s putting in a new shelf behind the couch complete with “hers and hers” outlets and mood lighting. I’m excited!
As for me, it’s understood between us that I will tackle the little day-to-day chores like the dishes and the meal prep and work on my writing.
And that is exactly what I’m trying to do now. I’ve broken down my essay writing schedule over the course of the next week. All I have to do today is choose a topic, question, or argument, decide on direction and goals, and jot my ideas into a document. That is, it’s brainstorming day.
Tomorrow will be research day where I find useful quotes, read other works on the subject, mine my own memories, and put together an outline. For three days after then I just write as much as I can. At the end of the week I will edit and schedule the post. My fingers are crossed for a new piece come next Thursday.
I thought today was going to be a good day. I got through my first CPR class as the official instructor yesterday without any major mess ups or gaffs and I figured today would be even smoother but almost from the beginning it has been awful.
I don’t want to say too much about what happened because it may result in an awkward HR battle and some serious consequences but I will tell you at least that during my class today while trying to enforce our workplace mask policy, someone who doesn’t believe coronavirus is a serious or even real threat and was infuriated by having to wear a mask vented his anger, frustration, and quite possibly disgust by spitting near me.
The incident happened quickly and I’m still processing my emotions. I’m furious. I’m afraid. I’m sad. I’m hurt. I blame him. I blame my superiors. I blame myself. I feel sorry for myself. I think it’s a big deal and I want to believe it’s nothing. I want to let it go and I want to take this is far as I can.
Most of all I’m shocked. I’ve read about this happening to other people but most of those stories were about customers, not fellow employees. I’m shocked too because I do my best to always be professional and kind when I’m training people. I’m hurt because too often my kindness is taken for weakness and between my male coworkers and I, I’m always the one that gets the push back and has to work harder for respect and compliance.
After work I sent an email out to just about every one of my bosses across all locations to explain the incident and to establish my boundaries. For my part I will be much more firm when explaining the policies and the consequences of our precautions and I will not tolerate for a second anyone skirting or refusing to adhere to them. I also ended by asking that the man who did this to me be reprimanded in some way. I don’t need an apology. I need documentation and consequences at the very least and I won’t let this go until that happens. I need him to know he didn’t win.
But all that will have to wait until Monday. Until then I’m going to order my favorite Mexican comfort food, drink a couple of hard ciders, and spend time with the one who makes me feel safe. I’m going to take time to take care of myself and prepare for a war.