Tag Archives: health

Finding inspiration in a pandemic world

As I mentioned, so far I haven’t been getting much creative work done due to the pandemic distractions. I can understand if you out there aren’t either. However, I think COVID-19 is still a valuable learning experience, much as it’s a class I’d rather skip.

A week and a half ago I went into the grocery store to pick up some emergency supplies. I’d figured it would be early enough nobody would be there, but there was a big line and very few staffers, so the lines crawled. I was standing there, surrounded by people. No way out without just abandoning my purchases. Would one of them be the carrier who put me in the hospital?

I was, quite simply, terrified. I didn’t leave and got through the line, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a situation that scared me simply by having people around. Maybe not since dealing with bullies in junior high. And even then it was specific individuals, not just the idea of being out with people.

This is close as I will ever come (at least I hope so) to that classic thriller situation where the guy is wandering through a crowd, conscious any one of them could be an assassin with a knife sent to eliminate him. If I were writing that situation, I’d use what I felt: the desperate desire to be somewhere safe with nobody around. The constant awareness of my surroundings. Second-guessing whether my decision to stay or go or to pick up X or Y is right.

Next, there’s fears about my health. I’ve had those before but constantly evaluating my coughs (is it mucusy? Yes? Phew!) or feeling relief because I just completed a workout and I’m not short of breath is new. If I had a character worried about this kind of issues, either serious or funny (obsessive hypochondriacs are a staple of humor) this would certainly give me fresh perspective. Hopefully the pandemic won’t show me personally what it’s like to actually have a serious illness.

Then there’s the general sense that we’re staring at a sea change in the world, not for the better, and having no idea how it’s going to play out. Will it be over in a year? Will the restaurant TYG and I were going to eat my birthday dinner at still be there? Will any of the non-chain restaurants around here survive? Can I honestly cope if this drags on for months? How can I help?

I’ve long been fascinated by the realization that people living through WW II had no idea how it would end. I used to read old issues of Time for that reason (my local library in Florida had them going back to the 1950s), to see what the world thought of events as they were occurring. You’d be amazed how often victory in Vietnam was imminent, for instance (Time in those days was conservative and anti-communist). And that by the mid-1960s, it was obvious students at American colleges had no interest in protesting or getting involved in politics — they were in it for education and career, nothing more!

Now I’m living in one of those events, along with everyone else. It gives me fresh appreciation for songs like When the Lights Go On Again, All Over the World or The Last Time I Saw Paris. Again, I don’t have anything that immediately gains from this insight, but hopefully it’ll come. I just have to remember the feelings … and somehow I don’t think that’ll be hard.

#SFWApro. Fear-filled cover image by Carmine Infantino, all rights remain with current holder.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal, Writing

Love in a time of cholera? No, it’s a birthday in a time of pandemic!

And it’s kind of freaky.

I had a perfectly nice birthday. Lots of FB greetings. Spent the day reading bookmarked online articles I’d never gotten around to, some of which turned out to be quite useful in various ways. I took a walk, hung out with TYG and the dogs, bought stuff online with birthday gift certifocates and enjoyed a frozen pizza for dinner. I’d picked it up just for food, but in lieu of going out it made a nice birthday meal. I’d kicked myself earlier this year for not making any plans for a big party, but in hindsight, I’d have been bummed if I did.

But hanging over all that was the awareness of what I couldn’t do. No going out to eat. No going anywhere to shop. No going anywhere this current weekend. We’re both at high enough risk that social distancing isn’t only good for our community, it’s good for us. Mensa events: canceled. Writing group: canceled. Vegan potluck: canceled. We’re unlikely to make it to North Carolina Zoo before our membership (my anniversary gift last year) expires. Not going to movies. Not going to plays, even if they weren’t canceled or postponed. Not that I don’t have books and streaming shows to occupy me, but it’s pretty freaky.

And the year ahead? I got no idea what’s coming. I’m not sure anyone does. Who’ll be affected? How many? How long will we have to stay at a social distance? How much will it change society? A lot of the changes won’t even be visible: the people who stayed home and never met each other, or died younger than they would have, the kids who aren’t born to become the discoverer of cold fusion or the next Timothy McVeigh. Of course this could be true with any random decision people make, but somehow, when all of society is shaped by something, it feels bigger. This is the kind of event they write about in history books. I’m getting a crash course in wondering what it felt like to live through WW III or the Depression or AIDS in the gay community with no idea how things would end (I can safely say I do not like living in interesting times).

The economic ripple affects will shut businesses that would have thrived, and they’ll hammer even freelancers like me. As the economy slumps, fewer people buy books, magazine staffers get sick and issues don’t come out (had a couple of sales deep-sixed by that in the past) — it’s scary.

But so far, I’m in first-world problems stage. TYG and I can both work from home. We’re comfortable spending more time together (we don’t work in the same room but even so). We have the dogs. We have savings to draw on. And so far, no corona.

That makes me way better off than some of my friends who are jobless with no way to make up the shortfall (fingers crossed the government sends out some checks soon). If I were living alone, I’d be as shaken as Superman in Ernie Chan’s cover. Even in my 20s, when spending the day at home alone, watching videos and reading, was my idea of heaven, it was balanced by doing theater in the evenings.

For the coming year, most of my plans (travel, explore Durham more, have more people over) are deep-sixed. I’ll settle for staying healthy, finding ways to stay connected, writing more, and getting organized for the new normal (including exercise — it’s time to fight the “COVID 15” as my spouse puts it). And squeezing as much fun out of this strange situation as possible. And finding ways to help.

Given the number of stressed-out posts I saw on FB just yesterday, that I did have a happy birthday makes me appreciate how lucky I really am.

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

1 Comment

Filed under Personal

And the Red Death shall hold dominion over all

Okay, not that bad. But COVID 19 did majorly disrupt my work week (which is, obviously, far from the worst thing about it. First world problems).

The big change was that TYG started working from home, which is great for her (more time to spend with Plushie) and fun for me, plus I get a bit more of a break from the dogs when she takes them upstairs. However it also changes the rhythm of the day — when she gets up, when the dogs come down for breakfast, when she or I walk them at lunch — and it throws me off. Sometimes I start work, then the dogs have breakfast a quarter-hour later and by the time they’re finished I’ve lost momentum.

It’s a fixable problem, but this week it threw me off. It was, after all, on top of the daylight savings time hour-ahead weekend, which always leaves me sleeping poorly and feeling a little groggy. And I’m way distracted by the pandemic we’re in. It was hard not to stop whatever I was doing and check FB every so often, or browse the news, or Tweet to President Tinybrain about how he’s being a coward and putting millions of Americans at risk. I did it even as I was typing this post.

So most of what I accomplished this week was Leaf. Actually more than my usual quota: they had so many interesting articles I wound up doing 14 rather than 10. I’ll cut back some next week to make up. I really dislike doing that — somehow I never recapture the time I wasn’t spending on my own projects — but then again, my mind was so fractured, I don’t know how much good I’d have done on my own stuff.

I did look over the story I hoped to redraft this month, now titled Laughter of the Dark. And I rewrote the next chapter of Impossible Takes a Little Longer, which went much easier than expected. I will be thrilled if the next chapter goes as well, as it’s a twist and a big reveal that I’ve been struggling with ever since I dropped the core of the original novel. I have no regrets about the change, but I am a little nervous that it won’t go well at all.

And that was pretty much it. I think I’ll do better next week. I may even skip working on the weekend, seeing as I’m not handling the dogs all day, and see if I can put in more hours Monday-Friday.

In the minor annoyance department, I tried renewing my prescriptions online today. Turns out that as our new health coverage has an entirely different mail-order pharmacy, all my prescriptions are effectively reset to zero. Fortunately I’ll be seeing my doctors before I need refills.

And now the weekend, when I shall endeavor to chill as much as possible.

#SFWApro.

1 Comment

Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

This week’s challenges: Sickness, snow and scheduling

The scheduling issue came up Sunday. I’ve been putting in three hours of writing on Sunday for a couple of months now as I get so wiped out at the end of the Monday-Friday work days. Three hours Sunday, I can stop earlier and give myself a little break before walking and feeding the dogs. But as my lunch breaks have been quite short this month — with Trixie’s leg, they aren’t getting long walks — so I figured I could skip Sunday, get my work done in the afternoons and still finish up before dinner walkies.

And I mostly did, but there much less of a break at the day’s end than I’d expected. Either Plush dog got a longer walk than usual or there was some other distraction I was dealing with on lunch hour. For example, Wisp demanding petting. Plus, I suspect the sickness that has me in its grip today was already dragging me down.Wisp, has by the way, been a constant companion on our short walks. I wish I could capture just snuggling with the dogs but Plushie sniffing her but is as close as I’ve managed so far.

Sickness has been a bigger problem. TYG caught a bug last week, probably by the usual transmission process of kids to parents, parents to coworkers, which means her. At first it didn’t seem like there’d be much of a problem, but the past couple of days I’ve had the inflammation and irritation in my throat I repeatedly get. I’m doing my best to stay relaxed not talk and talk all appropriate meds as I have some presentations to make at the end of next week (details will follow). I’d really, really like to be able to make them and losing my voice would make that impractical.

And of course, feeling sick does not do my writing any good. Today I just wiped out in the late morning, so I did this blog post and I’m calling it a day. Unless I revive in the afternoon; I’m not betting on it.

And then snow, of all things, descended on us (and the rest of Durham) yesterday. Given temperatures we thought it wouldn’t stick, but it has. Fortunately it looks like the roads are clear so we should be A-OK if we need to drive anywhere. And TYG picked up food Thursday morning, so that’s taken care of. As long as we take care walking the dogs, we should be fine.

Now as to work … I did my Leafs for the week, though in my depleted state they took much longer than they should have. I also drafted Impossible Takes a Little Longer up to Chapter 23, which was my goal for the month; I won’t have much time for fiction next week so that’s a win. I also worked on a first draft and got a big leap forward this morning when the bad guy finally emerged from my unconscious. I might have finished the draft today but … no. I might squeeze it in next week

I also tidied and footnoted the first section of Chapter Seven of Undead Sexist Cliches. It’s on sexual harassment so there’s no shortage of examples.

Wish me luck for a better next week. I have a lot I want to be in good health for.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

1 Comment

Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book