Currently // March 2020: Everything Has Changed

“March is the Month of Expectation.
The things we do not know—”

— Emily Dickinson, March is the Month of Expectation

March, typically, is one of the most boring months of the year. If it weren’t for the start of Spring and for the designation as Women’s History Month, March would be wholly unremarkable. But this March has been something else entirely. This March has been one of the hardest and, frankly, terrifying months I have ever lived through.

When the month began, life was essentially normal. I was working and worrying about an upcoming interview for a new position at work. I was anxiously counting down the days until Spring break. I was so looking forward to a trip down to Texas for a conference. Life was good, and everything was looking up for me. Then the news reports, the ones that had been increasing for weeks and the ones I had dismissed as media hype, were growing increasingly concerning.

There was a new virus spreading quickly, and every day the numbers of the infected grew higher, and grew closer. Suddenly I was hearing words like incubation period, quarantine, and pandemic. Suddenly there was hand sanitizer everywhere. Suddenly we were being told to stay home if we were sick. Suddenly there were lists of vulnerable populations on the news and a list of vulnerable workers at my job. As the first couple of weeks of the month wore on, rumors began flying everywhere. Rumors about how bad things would get and the severe measures that may have to be taken. Then, suddenly, everything changed.

As I write this, my wife and I have been off of work and hold up at home practicing social distancing for nearly three weeks now. Almost every business in the state has closed their doors, and the Governor has issued a “stay-at-home” order. Last I heard from the school district I will return to work on April 20th, but I am hearing rumors again. Rumors about how much longer this will go on and how much worse it will get.

As for me, I’m getting through it the best that I can. I’m one of the lucky ones. I not only have the opportunity to stay home to protect myself and others, but I’m being paid to do so. I’m only being asked to endure isolation and boredom. I’m choosing to make the most of this time partly because I feel guilty for resting so much while the world burns around me, but also because I need to keep my mind occupied.

Going forward, I have no big aspirations. April will be a month of simply coping and doing what small things I can do to keep myself from falling victim to loneliness or depression. I’d like to read a few books, write a few posts and essay, and perhaps create a few collages and poems. I’d like to take better care of my physical and emotional health and complete a few projects around the house. I’d like to spend time with my wife and give my pets and plants the attention they deserve. I want all the things I always wish I could be doing when I had to work instead, but before I do, here is what I am currently:

Writing a couple of real blog posts. I’ve been using Google docs not only to track my daily to-do items and store my daily logbook lately, but to work on my drafts and essays too. I’ve been able to free write, take notes, add comments, and perform searches for quotes and facts right from within the documents. It helps to avoid distraction (when coupled with the use of a timer) and in this time of social isolation I feel like I finally have the time and a system in place to get my ideas organized and perhaps get some real writing out there instead of just talking about it.

Making lists. I’ve written a little about it already and plan to write a lot more about it soon, but I’ve been working on a new to-do list and logbook system I shamelessly stole from Jeff Huang. I’m incorporating suggestions from Cal Newport on adding time blocking and action plans and recently discovered a whole blog dedicated to Plain Text systems. I’m using Google docs to facilitate accessibility across devices and working on a system to incorporate calendars and links to other documents to track an editorial calendar and easily write and publish new blog posts.

Planning for a lengthy stay indoors. To be honest, nothing can be planned for at the moment. We don’t know when we will be able to go back to work, see our loved ones, travel or attend events. Everything I had been planning for or looking forward to had been postponed indefinitely, and all I can allow myself to plan for now is a day or two in advance. The silver lining is that for the time being I can live in the present and focus fully on spending the time I have today the best I can. One day at a time is the only way any of us can hope to digest the future that awaits us.

Reading It by Stephen King, still. I’ve been chipping away at this tome for months now and though progress has been slow, it has been made. I expect that by this time next month I’ll have finished this and two or three more. I hope to close the two book gap between where I am and where I should be by now if I want to beat my 2020 reading challenge. Going forward, I’m going to make an effort to read more digital books. I have an old iPad I’m repurposing as a dedicated e-reader. I have plenty of gift cards for Amazon, Google, and Barnes & Noble that I can use for this experiment and plenty of time on my hands to work on my comprehension and focus when reading from and screen.

Watching the news. I’m trying not to watch it all the time but, like most of you I’m sure, I’ve had to check in regularly not just with national news, which I did all the time even before all of this, but with world and local news too. It’s helped to be informed, but I’ve had to be mindful of where I get my news and how often I check it to avoid panic and speculation. I watch for an hour or so in the morning while I make my coffee and eat, and when I’m done, I turn it off and don’t allow myself to look again until after dinner.

Learning about International Women’s Health and Human Rights on Coursera. I’ve been trying for over a year to complete this course, but I have always failed to make the time or to do the work consistently. Now that I am off of work I have whole days to devote to studying and writing and, hopefully, finally marking this course complete. I’m ready to move on from this (and from my Modern & Contemporary American Poetry course too) and it has been this desire to move on that has kept me from finishing, but the only way out is through and there is no better time than now, when I have all the time I could ever want. 

Anticipating my birthday, I suppose. Normally, I spend the whole month of April celebrating my birthday. I tour all my favorite museums. I eat out at my favorite restaurants. I always do something extra special with my wife and I plan multiple events with family and friends, but this year I’ll have to spend it quietly indoors and away from everyone I know. I’m a bit bummed about it but I know I can still make it special if I try. I still have my wife here with me and we can cook my favorite foods and I hear she’s already ordered gifts for me. I can still call my family and friends and perhaps we can plan a hiking trip if the parks are still open.

Reflecting on all the ways life has changed and how easily it has changed, how easily it could have always changed before all of this if we’d all been better, stronger, more kind, more imaginative. We’re seeing now what was always possible and when this is over we are going to have to answer for why we lied to each other and ourselves for so long. We’ll have to face that universal healthcare, housing assistance, and paid sick leave at the very least we’re always possible, affordable, and in all our best interest. We’ll have to face that some things will have to stay changed for the better.

Fearing this virus making its way into my circle of loved ones or into my home. I’m afraid for my parents, who were forced to work far further into this pandemic than I was comfortable with. I’m worried for my wife, who’s asthma has grown more severe over these last few years. I’m worried for my siblings living in other states that aren’t yet taking the measures my state has. I’m worried for myself being on medications that leave me somewhat immunosuppressed and needing to make regular trips into the clinic for care. Every step out of the house is a risk, and so much is out of my control.

Hating the impact this virus has had on my own life and these past weeks. I know it’s a bit selfish, but I’m giving myself permission to be angry over missing so much I had been looking forward too. There was a St. Patrick’s day dinner and a movie date I had planned with my wife that was cancelled. I was planning a big trip to Texas for work that was cancelled. I just got a promotion the day before the district closed and I haven’t been able to have my title or my pay scale changed. I had a class scheduled to become a Crisis Prevention and Intervention instructor that has been postponed indefinitely. Spring has come, and I haven’t been able to fully enjoy one day of it. I’ve lost time, I can never get back, and it’s okay to be angry about it.

Loving how we’ve all come together to beat this thing. I love seeing that so many of us are doing our part by staying home, by sharing supplies, by volunteering, but donating money or supporting local business by ordering delivery. I love that we have chosen to keep each other safe rather than to indulging in petty wants. Even if I am disappointed in the fact that it took this pandemic for life to change, I love that we were able to change for the better so quickly and easily. I’m proud of us all, and my faith in humanity has been restored.

Needing to see some sign of hope. I need to see that what we are doing is helping and that lives will be saved but all I see is more death and more to fear and everyday I grow more depressed and hopeless. I desperately need my spirits lifted and I know I’m not alone. Everyone is feeling this same anxiety and dread and a little good news in these terrifying and uncertain times could go a long way, but everywhere I look there’s nothing but bad. I know the media is keeping us informed and I know they tend toward what keeps us engaged and nothing does that more than what incites panic but please, please, please, show us something good too.

Hoping we can all keep this up. I know the longer it goes on, the antsier we all get, the more we begin to relax the rules and lose our sense of urgency. We start venturing out. We start letting the kids play together in the park. We start visiting the friends and family we’ve been missing so much. We start to believe that things aren’t as bad as the media would have you believe and that the recommendations to stay home have been overblown. I hope we can, for once, keep foremost in our mind what must be done and that we can, for once, find the collective courage and discipline to do it.


So, yeah, all in all, March was an absolutely horrifying month, but there has been some small good in it. I am happy and healthy and so are the people I love. I got the promotion I’ve been working so hard for and one day, when all of this is over, I can do all of those things that I missed out on. I’ve learned to be present and we’ve all learned that we’re all connected and we cannot get through this without the help and cooperation of us all. March has been, at the very least, eye opening.

But what about you? How have you navigated these changes, this fear and uncertainty? How have you been impacted by this virus? Have you stayed well? Have you stayed at home? Do you have enough toilet paper?

Let me know in the comments.


The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love

Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash

Shifts for April

1. Focus on the reality of the process and not the end result in your dreams. Too often we circumvent discomfort, doubt, and fear by playing perfect scenarios over and over in our minds. We enjoy a sense of accomplishment without having to do the dirty work. Dream, and then put the dream away leaving nothing but space for the real work.

2. It is true that you should not waste time reading books you don’t like, but before you give up, you should consider first whether what you are reading is simply challenging. Reading, like anything, shouldn’t just be about what is easy. Sometimes what you don’t like is that it’s hard and sometimes you will find that greater joy can be found by sticking with what challenges you rather than giving up because it’s “not for you”.

3. Begin before you are ready. The truth is the first attempt will be bad, no matter whether you start now or a year from now. No matter how much you plan or research. No matter how you rework or rewrite. No matter what classes you take or how many “how-to” articles you read. The first attempt will suck because no one is ready the first time. Better to fail now than later.

4. Don’t be afraid to write about it more than once. Write about the same thing every single day if you want. Study it from all angles. Practice it until it’s right. Put it in a new order, a new light, a new place, context, and time. Write it for me, for her, for you, for people living a long way ahead, and write it again for people long gone. Write it as a poem, an essay, a letter, a story. Write is as a truth, then write it as a lie. Write it to death.

5. Don’t give a second of your time to feeling guilty for giving up what other people want for you. Your aspirations may only be comprehendible to you but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valid, worthy, or possible. People can be pushy in their bid to control the direction of your life but don’t feel bad for giving up the opportunities and advice they offer if they do not lead to the life you want for you.

6. Know when to rest. It’s good to have so much expectation of yourself and to work so hard building so many good and admirable habits, but not everything can be done every day and it better to fall a little behind and rest, that to fall far behind when you finally collapse.

7. Move your body. Sweat. Get up from your desk and exhaust yourself. Cultivating the mind and living in virtual and abstract spaces is not the only way to improve the self. There is much to be learned in nature too and the mind appreciates physical exertion as much the body. Balance the mental and the physical, both are part of you and both need the other.


Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by Kat Stokes on Unsplash

Currently // March 2019: Seeds of Possibility

“March is the Month of Expectation.
The things we do not know—
The Persons of prognostication
Are coming now—
We try to show becoming firmness— 
But pompous Joy
Betrays us, as his first Betrothal
Betrays a Boy.” 

― Emily Dickinson, March is the Month of Expectation

March has never been a month that carried much weight or meaning for me. There are no birthdays in March. There are no major holidays, or none that I am interested in anyway. The only thing that marks the month for me, is the long-awaited start of spring and the beginning of the part of the year when I feel the happiest and the most free.

This particular March was much more stressful than most but somehow turned better than most too. My fiance and I accomplished a lot together and I made a lot of progress on my own though not exactly in the ways I’d hoped. It wasn’t a good writing month, but it was a good learning month and a good planning month. I gained confidence in March and began to practice the art of discipline. March was a start, I hope.

And now it’s time for April, my favorite month of the year. My birthday month and the time when winter’s grip loses its hold, and the air grows friendlier and love buds in our heart as the leaves do on the trees. April is when I was born and constitutes a kind of second New Year for me. It’s when I begin the trip around the sun again and deep and fervent thanks for whatever may come.

But before I do, here is what I am currently…

Writing little blog things. I’m still finding my feet here and still trying to figure out how to revive Zen and Pi, but I’m not giving up. I’m still sharing my daily journals, though I have to stop letting the digital replace the physical, and working on drafts book reviews and personal essays. By summer, I’ll be publishing proper long-form blog posts. I’m exploring submitting to other publications again too and making writing my second job rather than something I do when I feel like it. I’m scheduling time rather than waiting for time and working at the hard parts rather than doing what comes easily.

Making an effort. There are things in my life I have taken for granted and gotten lazy about. My relationships, my goals, my home, my work, and even my health have all been slowly falling into a state of disrepair on account of simple carelessness and fatigue. I’ve let things go and left things half finished telling myself I would come back and when I didn’t I fooled myself by saying there was plenty of time. But when you leave things they do not wait for you to return, they simply fall apart while you are away. Though we may grow weary, there are just some things in life that require a constant effort. Like a heartbeat, if you stop, they die.

Planning a possible NaNoWriMo project! My last NaNoWriMo attempt failed miserably, and I haven’t had the courage to try again since but this year I’m rethinking not only the genre, topic, and feeling of my project but also intended audience and means of publication. Suddenly more possibilities mean more possible and I want to give myself the best chance by starting now. I want to throw my future self the life jacket she is going to need to stay afloat. I’m taking notes, collecting and cataloging ideas, and keeping an outline in mind.

Anticipating another awesome birthday month! Most people I know hate their birthdays. They dread them, minimize them, and treat them like any other day, and for the life of me, I cannot understand it! My birthday is the most important day of the year to me because if I had not been born none of the other things in my life would matter. I wouldn’t be here to love, to learn, to hate, to grow, to experience any of it. So I celebrate not just my birth but every year I have been gifted on this planet because there have been so many times I could have left it. This year I’m planning a big dinner with at least 12 friends in addition to the family dinners and a planned “perfect day” with my wife to be.

Reading Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson, still. I expect to finish Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race within days, but Emily Dickinson may take the rest of the year or more since I’d like to analyze and understand every poem. I’ve just finished One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and have to say it was possibly the most beautiful book I have ever read. I had a hard time with it at first but once I chose to trust that Márquez was leading me the right way and that he would reveal the answers to my questions at the right time I had a much easier go. Next on my list is Notes From the Underground and Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoevsky and We the Animals by Justin Torres.

Watching American Gods on Starz and Barry on HBO in preparation for the new season premiere this weekend. I’m also watching The Magicians, my new guilty pleasure and Grey’s Anatomy my old guilty pleasure I cannot wait to be rid of. Honestly, though for the last few months, I haven’t been in the mood for TV but I know that will very soon change. Many of my favorite shows are returning this month including Game of Thrones, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Killing Eve, and The Chi. My weekends will once again be spent on the couch.

Learning a lot! I got to attend a conference for work and while I can’t say I learned a ton but I really was inspired and walked away with a lot to think about. I’ve also been making up for lost time starting my New Year’s Resolution to take some Massive Online Open Courses. My goal is to complete 7 for the year and I already have 2 done! Granted, they were short and sweet ones, but I’m already enrolled in 2 longer ones and I’ll start a 3rd next month. To keep track, and to encourage others on their own journey of independent learning I made a new MOOC list page to track all the courses I’m taking and the ones I’ve completed.

Feeling very tired. March might not have been important, but it sure was busy! We had my brother’s wedding; we made progress in planning our own wedding, and we spent a lot of sleepless nights stressing about both. Some of my family came to visit and my fiance was out of town for nearly a week visiting her’s. I already mentioned the conference plus we had spring break though we both worked through it. The city shut down for 2 days because of a blizzard and my fiance had 2 photography jobs to work and edit for. March was packed and I am in desperate need of rest though my expectations for relief in April are depressingly low.

Reflecting on this episode of The Partially Examined Life on Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. I had heard the name Hannah Arendt before but I never knew how influential a philosopher and thinker she was. I’m intrigued by her argument not that evil is common in the world, but that each of us is capable of doing great evil for no other reason but that we are stupid, strongly inclined to follow along, and far too eager to please. It’s far easier to fall into committing or enabling cruelties to occur than we are willing to accept and this is why we will go on committing and enabling them. She believes only through acknowledging this weakness can we prevent future mass atrocities from happening.

Fearing the next election cycle. I know it’s a bit early to be anxious but looking at the scandals rocking the current administration, the unwavering support of the far-right, the ever-widening field on the left, and the rise of hate and violence all over the world, things are starting to just feel bad. I don’t predict the world will end, but I do predict a lot more turmoil and a lot more lives lost. The scary part is when you look at who is being affected and whose lives are being lost you can recognize your own face in their place. I’m afraid, not just of what will happen to me but how my character may be tested too. I’m afraid for my loved ones, and for a future time when we will all be judged by subsequent generations. 

Hating the American healthcare system. If you’ve been following along, you know that I have struggled through the month of March to change from one medication to another to treat my ulcerative colitis. Because the medication is so expensive I have to apply for financial aid through drug companies, each with a different set of requirements and each with a different procedure for reimbursement. This time I had the added stress of my insurance provider putting a hold on my request so they could decide if they wanted to pay for it and all the while I’m slowly slipping into a flare. I’m happy it’s over, and I know it could have been worse, but I still hated it. It was still frustrating, stressful, and scary. The American healthcare system leaves you feeling powerless, confused, and afraid.

Loving my fiance. I love her every day of every month but this past month we’ve really had to come together as a team, support each other, push each other, and comfort each other through a lot. I don’t talk about everything here, some stories aren’t mine to tell, but I can tell you that I know I am one of the lucky ones. No matter what life throws at us, no matter how uncertain the world gets, no matter how much we fight amongst ourselves, we know there is somewhere where we are always safe. That love and safety has been crucial to my healing and enriched my life beyond words. 

Needing nothing but to believe in myself. The more I look at my life the more I see I’ve come quite accidentally to live nearly the life I want and need to live. I am lucky not just to have love, and work, and passion, but to have such small and quiet aspirations that can easily be pursued even if they cannot so be easily achieved. I just need to know I can do it. I need to quiet the doubts, silence the self-hate speech, and stop trying to divine what other people think of me. I have everything I need to be who it is I am trying to be, including the strength. I only need to believe it.

Hoping that more and more of our schools become places that are welcoming, supportive, and safe for our children. This month I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation on the benefits of moving toward a reflective and restorative based disciplinary system in our schools. Our current disciplinary system doesn’t teach kids to be disciplined adults, it teaches them to be compliant and complicit adults. I want to see more social-emotional training that teaches kids how to process emotions, build relationships, and connect with their communities. I’d love to see more schools, smaller, poorer schools servicing the most vulnerable youth being given the political and financial support they need to teach children not just how to pass tests, but how to live in this world, together.


So, yeah, all in all, March was a month of many things. It was busier than the two that came before and I have a feeling that while it doesn’t feel like it meant much now, come the end of the year I will look back and see that seeds of possibility were planted here.

But what about you? How did March treat you? Did winter hold tight til the last? What good did you do? What trials did you meet? Are you excited for April?

Let me know in the comments.


The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love

Photo by Damiano Baschiera on Unsplash