Okay. We have pivoted, home quarantined, stocked up pantries, filled closets with TP, stretched Wifi limits, set up workspaces in our living spaces.
We’re going from reducing screentime to it being all the time. Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! go the days.
Social distancing is a universal concept (well barring one orange topped refuser). Stores are doing their best to convert to shipping points and home delivery services. Schools, universities are closed, and educators are jumping, scrambling, WTFing to extraordinary means (a few are doing ridiculous ones) to maintain something of a continuum of learning. Or that looks like it
I worry deeply. Because this is just the phase of adjustment.
I cannot say I have read every single thing, but I see little speculation about what happens as this plays out for months or more. This idea that a switch will flip and return to some nostalgic toned vision of what is “Normal” is fantasy.
What happens when our patience gets frayed? When food and money get scarce? When we get tired, bored, frustrated of quarantine? And that;s for those with the means to even do this. When it feels like this situation was forced on us by some fill in the blank entity?
Everything changes–and I see signs of it through contacts— when the virus comes home, when it’s someone in your family or friend circle in a hospital. Maybe it’s a hospital in a state that could not barter enough to have respirators. How can there not be enough life saving devices?
This gnaws at me quietly.
This makes my focus act like a flitting bug.
I feel extremely fortunate for having two years ago moved to a really quiet part of the quietest part of Central Canada. Cori and I are on the edge of a tiny village, the isolation is easy. Each day we can walk out the front door down the lane and relax under big skies, talk to the neighboring horses and llamas.
And this difference from the US. Canada was proactive in in seriously addressing the threat of COVID-19, the government is rolling out a regular array of measures to help it’s people. The country’s leader is leading– every day with direct addresses and living with the situation himself.
Unlike south of the border which is playing out a pandemic like a badly scripted TV show.
Add to the worry pile my friends, family, who sit in harm’s way because of… He Who Real Remain Dumbness.
Each day I tell myself not to read the news… as I am there scrolling through it.
On the work front, doing this from home is not novel; this has been how I worked for 14 years now. The mechanics just that. And I have a large pile of projects. My video meetings are a bit more frequent but not like the back to back day filling ones I read about like from D’Arcy. Video meeting fatigue is real
We may all have our own theories, likely debatable, but the worn feeling is real. I knew this in 2018 when remotely taught a NetNarr course and a grad student seminar for Kean University both by me being distance on camera (students were in a classroom).
I ended each session both rewarded from the experience and physically tossed. I found strain in trying to communicate and listen continuously when it was hard to see and hear clearly a room full of people through a Hangout screen. You cannot naturally read a screen room they way you can an in person room. It takes sustained effort.
Yet we know this contact is vital. The current students in the current NetNarr I am co-teaching with Mia Zamora are all close, and the bonding when we just talk is important to them. We are dropping, adjusting, re-aming all the plans for the rest of the semester, so we can do what is humanly possible. Yes, content, projects, readings may be let go, but think about what we might gain in emerging from this experience? We have more to learn in the process here than the content.
I find solace to when I can deep dive into some coding rabbit hole tinkering on SPLOTs, which have been put to use tremendously lately in proud ways.
I’m in private communication with a colleague seeking to use a SPLOT to build a story site for a colleague now in the hospital for that damned virus. I am working on a new project hoping to collect stories of Extraordinary Efforts in Open and Online– things educators are doing to help students (feel free to drop one in).
What really helps is… cooking. There is something extremely rewarding about putting together ingredients into something not only edible, but pretty damned good.
Pies yes, and the regular grilled pizzas, fish/shrimp tacos, guacamole but in the past year I’ve added bread to the repertoire, improvised squash soups, crockpot ribs, beef stew. Nothing exotic, but with a home stocked with supplies (a freezer full of beef from a local rancher), there is an assured feeling that we can make food as needed. We’ve been eating better, more rounded meals than BC19 (before COVID-19), when we were eating out or rushed.
And another thing helping us now in this house…
Yes, we have gone feline. Cori’s daughter returned home from her last semester at UBC (safely driving across the mountains), with classes, graduation deferred. She really wanted a cat, and thus Felix has a new friend named “Mags”.
Felix is the sweetest dog ever, but he’s been known to chase cats (ask Kim Jaxon about the month she and Jeff cared for Felix when I was in Australia). And he was very focused on the kitten in an almost worrisome way.
We read things about making the introduction slow, controlled, calm, with small rewards. Much of what we a read said it could take weeks.
But we have dog and cat playing and pals in 8 days.
Small joys count large in COVID-19 era.
It’s not all dark and gloom, but there is no break from the background hum of worry. Yes, we can make all these shifts to go into this quarantine phase. What will it take to maintain over a longer stretch?
What now? Will we see normal again? Did we ever?
Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons image “File:Normal Ave, Chico.JPG” by Ryanx7 shared under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA license placed atop 2012/366/23 The Day the MacBookPro Died flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license