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I had to get out of the house today. A piece of our back deck has been falling off, and we needed some rope and a new ladder to fix it, so off to Home Depot we went.

Yesterday the governor recommend that all citizens, when venturing out and entering places where social distancing are difficult, should wear a cloth covering or mask over their nose and mouth. My wife made some no-sew masks out of old shirts and hair ties last night and though I felt very reluctant and uncomfortable wearing them I sucked up my apprehension and anxiety and did what I needed to do to protect others.

For me, the mask didn’t make me feel any less anxious or protected. I felt more afraid and uncertain. I felt further convinced that the world was falling apart around me. It made the danger more real and more threatening than ever. It made me not want to leave the house ever again. We got in the store, got what we needed, and as much as I wanted to browse around, that mask was fogging up my glasses and making it hard for me to breathe so I paid and got back home as fast as I could.

As nerve-wracking as the trip was, the sun and fresh air still did me good. The warm weather has returned, and the neighborhood was alive again. It felt good to hear them all working in their yards. I could hear the dogs barking and the kids playing outside and for a while it sounded like a typical Saturday, like nothing at all was wrong in the whole world. It felt so good my wife refused to let me turn on the news tonight. Let’s let this peace last a little longer yet.

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The announcement I have been waiting on has finally been sent out. The rest of the school year will be conducted remotely. It’s unclear what that means for those like me who work in transportation beyond the fact that are not going to be returning before at least the end of May. Summer school is up in the air along with just about everything other aspect of society and life. I’m going increasingly worried about what our finances will look like and how I will cope with possibly two more months quarantined indoors.

I’m also thinking about what I could do with this time too. After I finish this blogging challenge and I’m looking at all the blank days of May with the practice and confidence of April under my belt, maybe then would be a good time to start something new. A chapbook or a zine, perhaps? I’ve always wanted to self publish a little book of essays or poems. A whole month of free time might just be enough to do it. Even that possibility is too far away to be real. Let me get through these next few weeks. Let us all get through the next few weeks, and then what is possible will be much clearer.

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When I woke this morning, it was already drizzling, and the temperature was low enough to freeze the rain to every surface it touched. I warned my wife, but she insisted on taking the dog on her regular walk, anyway. I admire her willpower, but I will be spending all my time indoors where it is warm and safe today.

Writing did not come as easily this morning, and I am ashamed to say that I almost gave up on the second day of the challenge. My mood is low. Partly it’s the weather and partly it’s everything else. I keep trying to tell myself there is nothing to be stressed out about or afraid of but every once in a while it hits me just how uncertain and dire a position the world is in. Everything is falling apart and no matter how reassuring the politicians try to be they have no idea what they are doing and this a could go on falling apart for a very long time. The world has changed too fast to cope with and I imagine every single one of us is in need of a few therapy sessions at least.

But I can’t do anything about any of that, all I could do was wrote these stupid words. Instead of giving up on my Discover Challenge prompt I reminded myself that “it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to exist” and I kept on going. Part of learning how to write better is writing all the ugly and incompetent pieces first. By the end of this, if I can keep it up day after day throughout April, I have a feeling not only will I have, hopefully, improved but, hopefully, the inspiration and the words that follow will come easier and easier and bigger more ambitious projects can become possible.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Take it one day at a time. Wake up early and give yourself time to think. Make coffee, drink water, eat a little breakfast. Sit near a window, open a blank document, and do the work.

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And just like that, a new month begins.

April brings with her tiding of Spring. Temperatures are soaring near 70 this afternoon and I can hear the neighborhood coming to life outside the open window. It seems everyone is getting what little sun they can while they can. This weather isn’t going to last. Snow and frigid winds are forecasted for tomorrow and in anticipation I’m getting out of the house too. It’s the first day in a week or more that I have walked and it felt really good. My neighborhood is so quiet under normal circumstances that even in these times of social isolation I can almost forget anything is wrong at all while I’m out there.

Today was the first of the WordPress Discover prompts and I found it nowhere near as difficult to write as I feared. I’m sure the rest of the month will be more difficult, but the energy and enthusiasm I felt from my desk this morning encourages me. It reminded me of my old blogging and writing days when i was submitting work and entering contests. Writing seemed full of so much possibility, and I was filled with so much potential. I wrote over 1,000 words today. Imagine if I could do that every day, or even most days. Imagine what I could accomplish then.

The news came today that the local school district will be following the new CDC social distancing guideline and keep school closed at least through the end of April. I’ve already been away from work for nearly three weeks, I can’t imagine another four! I have a feeling that the year really is over now and instead of another four it’s going to be another eight at least. I don’t feel like I can wrap my head around what that means. I can’t even wrap my head around what is happening today.

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Another productive day, though not as productive as yesterday.

The month is finally about to end and I am so ready to let it go. There was a time a week ago maybe when I started to believe the month would never end and we would be trapped in this purgatory forever, but the calendar is about to change over and prove that time is in fact marching on. I’m ready but still resentful over the time lost.

I’m not the kind of person who believes the universe is listening or that any petty wishes or wants of mine are heard but I’m painfully aware now of all the time I wished the world would stop so I could rest for a while and I long to take the words back. I keep thinking, “This is not what I meant. This is not at all what I meant!”. Now all I want is for the world to start again, please?


I’m considering joining a blogging challenge for the next 30 days. I need something long term to keep me going and a push to write more than just these journal entries. I had thought to join the A to Z challenge, but I have no theme and no letters planned. I found out today that the nice people of WordPress are doing their part to spread the sense of community by offering daily writing prompts through the month of April.

I’m not promising to write any certain number of posts for any certain number of days, but I think I’d like to try my best and see where a little regular and focused micro-blogging might take me.

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I’m feeling much more productive today than I was yesterday. I got up a little later than I meant to, but I got started right away on cleaning and marking off a few persistent items from my to-do list while my wife ventured out to find us some groceries.

It took her two stores, and she still didn’t find any toilet paper. We aren’t low, and she may try again in the morning. She also had to stop by her job for a few things to continue working from home. It terrifies me every time she leaves the house, but we need things. We have no choice.

Soon I will work on writing something and perhaps, if I don’t wear out my will or motivation, I’ll get around to finishing one of these damned books I’ve been struggling with for months.

Today marks 90 days into the year and nearly the end of another month. Who would have thought the year would turn out like this? Who would have thought the Spring would bring such tidings of fear and death? I always think I’m being over dramatic or weak, but every day the numbers of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths increase and the projections and predictions grow more dire.

I hate being stuck inside. I’m bored and irritable, but it’s the only place I feel safe now.

Goals // Week 14: Find a Way to Stay Sane

This week will marks our third of social isolation. I had hoped it might get easier as time went on and as I settled into acceptance and a new routine, but it has only gotten harder. I am surprised to find I do not have the urge to leave or to find things to do, but rather I’m fighting a strong desire to sink further and further into apathy and lethargy. I’m also experiencing irritability and mood swings and a new kind of anxiety that, though it is duller and less defined, is quite large and widespread. This week I expect things will get harder not just for me but for everyone, everywhere and we will all have to find a way to stay sane through it all.

This week I will:

Practice more self-care. When you have nowhere to go, it’s easy to let yourself go. For me work has always been my reason to wake up on time, to shower, to get dressed, to do my hair. Without the prompt of going to work, I found I simply forgot that I still needed to do those things. It will be late in the day when I remember I’m still wearing pajamas and haven’t eaten anything at all. This week I want to start a new “wake up” routine in which I carefully and deliberately take care of my basic needs before doing anything else.

 Teach the dog to roll over. The dog has been loving all the extra walks, extra play time, extra attention and cuddle time she’s been getting and I figure why not take it a step further and make it extra learning time too? She already knows sit, lay down, stand up, turn around, shake, back up, jump up, fetch, and “drop it”, but roll over has eluded her. She loathes to be on her back and most of my efforts so far to teach her have resulted in confusion and frustration for us both. I have a new technique though and I think this week we just might get it.

 Be more active and see more of the sun. The mornings are still too chilly to get back to my old jogging habit but the afternoons have been warming by the day and are just as good a time as any for me to get out and around the neighborhood. I’ve been too cooped up and though I crave to sink further into this isolation, the best thing I can do for my mood and spirit is to remember there is still a wide world out there to return to. I need to get out of this house and out of my head, and the only way is to grab the dog and spend some time in the sun and spring air.

Spend time away from screens. I had been doing a commendable job curbing my obsessive consumption of news in an effort to quell my anxiety but over the last few days I’ve slipped back into my old bad habit of watching, scrolling, and searching for updates all day long. These devices are just too tempting to misuse, and it’s too easy to make excuses to get around my own rules and boundaries. This week I will set up a schedule for screen time and tie that I am to put away my devices and find more analog things to do with my time.

Finish reading It by Stephen King and book eight from my Penguin Little Black Classics book set, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift. I’ve been getting a lot more reading time in these past couple of weeks, and I cannot let myself lose the momentum. I have just over 100 pages to go now for It and less than 10 for A Modest Proposal. Those are both entirely reachable goals for the week. If I keep up this pace, I’m sure to catch up and ultimately get ahead of where I should be by now if I want to beat my 50 book challenge for the year. Bonus: Finish book nine too, Three Tang Dynasty Poets.

Get more cleaning done. I have been lax about disinfecting the house, especially after either my wife or I has left and come back or after bringing in items from the store or having items delivered to the house. I’ve read a lot of different timelines for how long the novel coronavirus can live on various surfaces but the CDC had a handy page of guidelines for how to clean different type of surfaces and materials and recommends going over “high touch” areas daily. The is the second most important thing I can do for my family right now, the first is to…

Stay home. It’s hard to stay in and when we start feeling cabin fever coming on and loneliness creeping in we make excuses for why it’s okay to head out for a little non-essential travel. I’ve seen videos of people visiting friends and family and congregating far too closely in public spaces. I’ve been guilty myself of going to stores not just for groceries but to simply browse the aisles, anything just to get out of the damn house! But doing these things puts us all at risk and the truth is no matter what your gut tells you it just isn’t worth it.

This week I will not let the walls close in. This past week the President announced that the CDCs social distancing recommendations would be extended through the month of April and I have serious doubts I will return to work before the summer. That means I have to make peace with this seclusion and find a way to joy and fulfillment within this tiny space. I have to learn to self start, self motivate, and self sooth. I have to get used to not having time away, or alone. I have to use my imagination and to start where I am using whatever I have on hand.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 13.

Photo by Jason Krieger on Unsplash