167// Beat the Sun to Rise

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.

166// Brainstorming Day

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.

165// Justifying

My family is getting together today for the first formal family day we’ve had in months. I was a great time and I’m so happy we got to have even the short visit that we did. I’ve missed the kids and there’s so much that has happened I need to catch up on. I love that now matter how long I’ve been away or how much I’ve missed, I always have that little place just for me. I’m loved. I belong. I’m wanted.

Still, there is always some underlying negative feeling. I kept thinking about how left out I felt too. Not because they left me out on purpose, but because of the quarantine and social distancing. I know they’ve seen each other during the quarantine but I’ve been social distancing much more strictly and doing my best to stay home not just to keep my wife and I safe but to keep them safe too.

Knowing I was the odd one out made me feel sad, lonely, guilty, and stupid. I’m struggling with those feelings as I watch the world open and see my friends and loved one’s venturing out to restaurants and bars to see each other and enjoy the world while I just work and stay home, work and stay home.

I guess the real emotion I’m feeling is jealousy, and anger. I’d love to be having fun too. I miss being social and having experiences too, but I’m trying to do the right thing. I’m angry that so many others are not trying to do the right thing.

I feel myself trying to justify my own tiptoeing back into society too. I’m trying to find my “new normal”. I have to get out there to find a way to go about this new normal life safely. I can’t stay in forever and it’s better to go out now and find the way than wait.

Those are just excuses and they hardly make sense. I’m just trying to make it okay to give in to my wants and cravings, my needs, but I have to stay strong and so do more of us. I know life is dull right now and a chance to smile and forget any of this ever happened is what we need the most, but it’s only what we need now. We have to have a longer view. We have to make the long term the immediate.

But today wasn’t the day for willpower or lectures. Today was a day to give in and give up because I’m human. Perhaps the other side of this battle isn’t so hard to understand after all.

164// I’m Hurt

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.

158// I’m Already So Different

My living room is looking a little chaotic right now. My wife and I started a new “weekend project” that I have a feeling is going to take a lot longer than a couple of days: replace our very old and very broken evaporative cooler with a small “through the wall” air conditioning unit.

We got the old swamp cooler out, but it was a lot harder than we thought and required calling in help. Of course once it was out we learned it had never been properly installed in the wall and found a bit of mold had been growing in the wall as a result. We also found out that the new sleeve is too big and the new unit doesn’t exactly match. We’re going to have to cut a larger hole, build a frame, and make some adjustments to the installation instructions to make the unit fit. We’ve got to make it work, though. Wish us luck.

I’d hoped for more time to write, but this is so important. We cannot, we will not, spend another miserable summer roasting in our own home. I have a feeling between this and my upcoming work schedule, my writing projects will (once again) have to be put off. I’m not doing nothing though. I’ve been forming ideas and jotting down what I hope will be seeds of future pieces.

We’re living in a very inspiring time and right now I have a chance to pursue new ideas and ways of thinking and seeing from so many thinkers, speakers, writers, activists, and causes before I settle down to focus on one idea at a time. It feels right to focus on input over output right now and there is so much being offered for free right now. Here’s a short list I’ve put together:

I’m compiling a longer TBR list of books by authors of color to follow and being mindful of who I follow on social media. I’m seeking people and ideas that inspire me to think, write, and act. There is nothing more important in the world than the change I know we can affect right now and it has to start inside each of us. I’m already so different from the version of myself that began this year, we all are, and rather than lament it I’m leaning in. I may very well be unrecognizable by year’s end.

157// Changes

I’m back at my usual location and time at work. It’s another easy day but I’m anxious both about my classes next week and about the changes that are happening and the uncertainty beyond them. I had a plan for how to distribute my time and energy between work and outside of work but slowly my superiors are make changes and there is a steady increase of hours and responsibilities and it’s getting harder and harder to establish balance.

I’m also tense because of the continued protests. I support the protests of course and I even go so far as supporting the call to defund and disband police departments but I work in a place where opinions are very different and though I haven’t heard anything I have found offensive I spend much of the day bracing myself for the possibility.

On top of that I have my own anger, and grief, and guilt, and helplessness. I can’t unsee that video of George Floyd’s death, not that I want to. That video, though disturbing and distressing, made me aware of how little I have done for my part against police brutality and all the structural obstacles and bias that leads and feeds it. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Part of it is not knowing my own small place in all of this. I know what I believe but I don’t know what I can claim. I know the work is mine to do but I don’t know where to begin. I have so much I’d like to say but I feel reluctant to speak up in fear that my voice is not welcome. My own history around race is charged and confusing and even if I can’t affect change in others I feel more motivated than ever to at least unpack the way the racist history of this country has made its impact on me.

Perhaps that small contribution can be part of the collective healing too.

156// Observing

I’m out working at a different location today, observing a coworker teach the same CPR course I’ll be teaching beginning late next week. I’ll have the opportunity to watch this class four times before it will be my turn and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. Nothing helps my anxiety like being able to ease into a task or change. I already feel so much more confident.

Observing someone else teach class was very informative. I have a much better grasp of the flow and just have to get down the routine of videos, discussion questions, practices, testing, and breaks. Right now things are a little different than they would normally look because of the coronavirus. We’re not doing mouth-to-mouth directly on the mannequins but instead using masks and we are forgoing some of the optional First Aid practice items to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between employees.

It’s easy enough though and I’m looking forward next week when I teach my first classes under observation and finally become a full fledged instructor myself.

The rest of the day was rather dull. I spent my free time consuming the news, watching videos of protests and further police brutality, and trying to catch up on the sweeping and swift cultural and legal changes happening all over the country. Just here in Colorado, a police reform bill has been introduced and Denver Public Schools has ended their partnership with the police.

Seeing these big changes happen gives me hope and I’m excited by the momentum and the possibilities. My faith in humanity has been somewhat restored though I have deep fears about the growing backlash. They don’t have the numbers but they have always had the people at the top and a disturbing willingness to resort to cruelty. I hope everyone stays safe and hearts turn toward the light faster than they are consumed by the dark.

155// Still So Uncertain

Today was an easy enough day. I still have next week on my mind so its hard to stay mindful and in the moment. I’m very nervouse and it’s hard to think of anything else or find anything else important in the wake of such anxiety. I’m trying hard to rememeber what I learned all those months ago in my CPR instructor course and to mentally prepare some points and anecdotes for my first classes next week.

I did manage to stay busy at least and by the time I got home I was as exhausted as usual. After lunch I lost my daily battle with fatigue and spent the early afternoon sleeping off the morning. I regret it of course. There was so much I wanted to do instead and so much to get ready for tomorrow and now I have to rush through or put off all of it.

I’m struggling to be firm with myself, to be and stay mindful about how I’m spending my time, and to keep my goals in the front of my mind. It’s been difficult to put distance between my cravings and immediate needs and wants so that I can have some choice in how I spend my time. I keep hoping it will get easier but the moment I get used to one schedule and think I might be able to find the time, energy, adn focus to start working on my projects something changes: my hours increase, my responsibilities change, or my location is moved.

Everything, from my work schedule, to my health, to the stability of society, is still so uncertain and that makes planning for the future and meeting my goals hard. It makes being enthusiastic, curious, and imaginative impossible. I suspect I either have to lean into it or shut myself off and protect my mental space more fiercely.

154// It Gives Me Hope

Work was as exhausting as ever. Nothing big or bad happened. No one bothered me or expected too much. No one was unfriendly or inconsiderate. I was just tired and longing for the days when I spent all my time doing whatever I wanted rather than what I had too. Still, it’s nice to see people I have missed and to know I have been missed too. It’s nice to have people ask after me, after my wife and my loved ones, and for me to hear that though I work for such a large district very few of us have been impacted by the coronavirus.

I made sure to take some time to put my headphones in and escape the best I could when I needed too. I’m encouraged by hearing so many of my favorite podcasters and commentators express support for the protests happening all over the country. I’m happy to hear so many make the distinction between the protestors and the looters and to call out the police wherever they incite the very violence they condemn. I’m hearing more of that talk creep into major news network reporting and I can feel this time that something significant is very different. It gives me hope.

Around midday I received news I would be teaching my first CPR and First Aid classes next week. I’m extremely anxious, it’s been a few months since I took my instructor class and I’m afraid I have forgotten everything they taught me, but I’m doing my best to breathe and to trust in my skills. Luckily I get to watch two on my counterparts teach for their first time before I do and can learn from their mistakes before I make the same.

This evening is my first “No TV Tuesday”. It isn’t strictly “no TV” since I still watch a show with my wife over dinner, but since then I’ve been in the creativity room. I haven’t been particularly productive but that wasn’t the goal tonight anyway. I only meant to make sure I could turn it off and commit to keeping it off all night. I spent some time sharing journal posts I hadn’t finished and drafting a few pieces I plan to write and in the coming weeks but social media got in the way of any more than that. I think next week I’ll need to put both my phone and brower into “focus mode”.

And now, as twilight drops and the cool breezes are begining to blow through the open windows I’m off to find a more comfortable place to try do some reading and not watch another episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender before bed. I downloaded two new ebooks I found for free today: Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? from Haymarket Books and The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale at Verso books.

Stay safe everyone.

153// On Edge

This Monday is turning out to be a rather quiet one. I think the tension on the news and around the city has trickled down into through our everyday routine and leaked between the individual relationships. We’re all on edge. It’s as if each of us is carrying a great weight or as if we full of emotion and trying to avoid exploding so we are avoiding one another.

This morning my wife brought up the idea of us joining the protests. I want to very much but, if I’m honest, I’m afraid. The rubber bullets, the tear gas (and my wife’s asthma), the police brutality, the fact that we are both women, the coronavirus, it all makes me want to stay inside where it’s safe but there are so many who are never safe and who need us to use our privilege, to speak up, and to show support. I think we’ll get there in the next few days.

For now, we’ve decided to pick some bail funds and charities to send donations to. If I can’t offer my time and presence I at the very least should offer my money.

Off subject, my results came back from the antibody test I did last week. I tested negative, but they stress that the test can be inaccurate. I weirdly feel disappointed. I had hoped for the best-case scenario: having been an asymptomatic carrier with possible immunity now. My wife is looking to do a test too, and it turns out the same company is offering testing to the general public nearby and as soon as my own insurance company offers the test I will take it again. Even if it offers me no peace of mind, it contributes to the public health data analysis.