Day 16 Of Sheltering In Place
Groundhog Day, on steroids.
In a relative way, every day is the same. I get up, I write. I eat breakfast. I read the news. I write an article. I publish if I can get it done before the kids find me. On weekdays, I emerge from writing to see my family before I commute to my office in the basement for my day job. I work for 8 hours, venturing upstairs only for food. Then at the end of the day, I emerge from my office again to be with my family.
Other than a couple of short walks and a trip to the gas station at Costco, I have not been out of the house in 16 days. I have not been within 6 feet of another person outside of my family in as many days. I am supremely circumspect about traveling, too.
I had bought a ticket to California a few days before the epidemic became a pandemic. I wanted to visit my dad, my mom, and my brother to celebrate his birthday. I bought the ticket without flight protection thinking that things would be OK. They weren’t. It was $135 I’d rather do something else with, but if that money can keep someone employed at the airlines for a little while longer, I’m OK with that. I won’t be going to California tomorrow.
My younger daughter is in preschool. She can’t go to school, so they set up packets that we can pick up and she can work through with pencil, crayons and the like. She won’t be going back to school, even before the end of her final year of preschool. I just don’t think they will open again on May 1st.
The preschool reduced its rate from $175 a month to $125 a month, until June. I’m sure many other parents have canceled. We didn’t cancel. They have done a great job with both of my daughters, but I’m sure they are seeing a huge drop in revenue. If our money helps them, then let it help them. We will finish out the term for our daughter at home. We’re OK with that.
My older daughter misses school. She misses playing on the playground, seeing her friends, applying herself to the challenges they give her at school. She likes to help other kids. She likes to be out of the house, among the other kids, and she enjoys the social atmosphere that the school provides. I know that she’s bored here. I know what it’s like to be bored at home, but I didn’t have a pandemic when I was a kid.
When I’m not working, I’m with the kids. I’m with my wife. I’m reading, writing, doing something. I’m eating, too, but lately, I just haven’t had much appetite. I still have my sense of smell, so I know I’m OK, but food has limited appeal to me.
My wife and I have developed a nice habit of playing table tennis after work. I love table tennis. I love seeing the ball loop through the air. I love the effect that some wicked spin has on the ball. I have sticky paddles to play with, too. We usually play for an hour while the kids play with each other. Yesterday, the younger one wanted to try some and she played until she lost interest. I tell them that if they play every day, they will only get better.
When sports are done, we have dinner. We bathe. We play Fish and Uno. We spend time together. We settle down for bedtime.
Once the kids are asleep, I watch TV. Lately, I picked up a free month of CBS All Access just to watch Star Trek Picard. So far, in 3 episodes, I’m seeing a great story, a mystery, and everyone on screen is reveling in their parts. Patrick Stewart plays a memorable and geriatric Jean Luc Picard directed by Jonathan Frakes who played Number One in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The nostalgia is there, but it doesn’t overwhelm the plot. I’m glad we have this on tap.
Over the years, I’ve built a sort of man cave in my basement. I have a nice big TV, big speakers, a little ambient lighting, and a smart speaker nearby. I have an audio receiver that has Bluetooth so that the smart speaker can play music on the big speakers. I can cast music from a tablet, laptop or my phone to the smart speaker and then on to the big speakers.
Right now, I’m playing the album, “Thursday Afternoon” by Brian Eno while I write. It’s one slow, undulating song, an hour of chill, and it’s perfect for writing. Rudy Adrian, Steve Roach, and Meg Bowles also have some great music for writing or spacing out, too.
To break up the monotony of sitting at my desk, I’m sitting on my couch today. I’m writing on my laptop while listening to music and I put a clock on my TV to keep track of the time. I enjoy the solitude of the morning. I keep things dim or dark in the morning until the sun comes up. I write until I’m “empty”. And then I edit and publish.
On the weekends, I’m the babysitter. I’m the father. My girls are becoming adept at using computers and there have been a few power struggles over them. But I’m working things out with them and with my wife to avoid the power struggles, set reasonable limits, and to give them something to do.
We have games, board games, kid games like tag and hide and seek, and computer games. Even Google Assistant has games like musical chairs, hangman, and blackjack to play. So when I’m not working, I’m engaged. Playing blocks, Candyland, hide and seek, and generally goofing around with my kids.
When the girls want to watch TV for an hour, I’ll read while I’m in the same room. I encourage them to watch something on Netflix, Disney+ or PBS Kids. We have a television station the Salt Lake Valley that plays kids programming non-stop, 24/7. Any time of the day or night, I know that there is at least something for my kids to watch that is not trying to sell them on something besides math and reading.
I live a life of relative peace. I’m not perfect. I’m not fantastic. I’m just real and I’m here. Waiting it out. Waiting for the winds of the pandemic to die down. The trends are not very encouraging now. Millions of people are unemployed. More than 1200 Americans have died, and the number of deaths doubles every 3 days.
I have hope. And that hope starts here, with me. I worked hard to get a day job that allows me to work from home. There was some luck involved, sure. But I was present, reliable and efficient enough for my employer to keep me planted with them. I am honored to serve with them, and I do feel lucky to still be there with them. I honor that job by showing up, helping others, and being there.
I see that Congress is working on something to help all Americans. I know that we’ll get there. Americans are a resilient bunch. We’ll get through this regardless of who is in office and the mistakes that everyone has made. We’ve all made mistakes and the fortunate thing about mistakes is that we learn from them and that we can share our experience with others so that they learn from us. If anything, America will be smarter, stronger and more resilient after this pandemic.
We don’t have any choice in the matter. Either we learn from our mistakes from the coronavirus or risk another event like this one. I have a fair amount of confidence that we will learn something from this one and that America will adapt, America will transform into a better country from it. The alternative is pretty grim, so I avoid talking about that, imagining that, or planning on that.
I believe in the law of attraction. I think and imagine a positive outcome of the things I can do and I do them. I walk the walk as best as I can, every day, every hour, every minute. Even while sheltering in place.