It’s March 19th and I’ve started working from home due to building closures for preventative measures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. My first inkling:
Great! It’s casual dress every day, less structure for my work and home responsibilities, and PLENTY of time to work on a better me! I’ll go walking daily, cook and eat better, get enough sleep, read for recreation, start a hobby, and on and on. I am actually looking forward to this respite from the real world!
Fast forward to mid-April. I could not have been more wrong!
What day is it? Literally, I cannot tell you what day or date it is at any moment. Of course I have wall calendars, and an easy click of my phone to illuminate necessary information, but I actually don’t know where I am in this unfamiliar lifestyle. What do scientists call it, the circadian rhythm? Whatever it’s called, I think mine is broken!
My day now typically looks something like this: I wake up staring at the ceiling trying to recalibrate who, what, when and where I am. I immediately turn on the TV news while also scrolling through social media on my iPad to see if the world has righted itself yet. Eventually, I transition from bed to desk where I check email, calendar and bank accounts (where the hell is the stimulus deposit?). There is an online meeting in 20 minutes which will require a camera appearance. I do a quick hair, face and top makeover, and then I’m ready to go. Earbuds plugged in, multiple screens open and a quick wave to co-workers. Do they realize I didn’t brush my teeth today? Or put on deodorant? Are they counting my chins from their view?
By 11:00 a.m., it occurs to me I haven’t eaten. It’s time to scan #FoodAGoGo. Do I want delivery or pickup? Does my car even start since I haven’t driven it in more than 10 days? I guess delivery, which means coming face-to-face with a masked stranger. Either situation means abandoning pajama bottoms for actual pants.
The day continues in a blur. How many “Breaking News” alerts interrupted my momentum? Did I already watch Lt. Governor’s white board tutorial, or was that yesterday’s? And the most looming of all questions: What have I actually accomplished? I know I was tethered to my laptop for eight straight hours in meetings, while also multitasking by sending and responding to emails, building slide decks and accepting invitations for MORE meetings, so why don’t I feel productive?
By evening I take a look at my surroundings. In the bedroom, my bed was never made, laundry—although folded—is still in the basket waiting to be put away, and how did I not notice the TV was left on? My kitchen looks like a hoarder’s dream, filled with canned and boxed goods, and clean dishes in a Jenga-like tower hovering over the sink. The living room is unrecognizable. The dining room table has been repurposed as a sewing station to make face masks, but the only quantity I can brag about is how many straight pins have impaled my heels!
And then there is the couch and coffee table area, cluttered with all the mandala dot art projects I was going to learn how to do while binging on Netflix. All I see are paint splotches, newspaper, and dotting tools scattered where they don’t belong. I take a deep breath, which is about the only thing I feel like I have control over.
As I look back at my aspirational goals of March 19, who was that person thinking self-isolation would equate to Shangri-La? I laugh, swear and cry. Rhett Butler said, “Tomorrow is another day,” and since I do “frankly give a damn,” I will give myself a break by realizing this new normal does not have to define a future normal. What works for me may not work for others, but hopefully through stories such as these we can continue to live, love and laugh, until we can live, love and laugh together!