Like a lot of kids, I started college the semester after I graduated from high school. And, like many kids, I went to a community college instead of aspiring towards Ivy League life; I didn’t long for the “college life” of dorm rooms and living out of state, massive loans and being away from everything and everyone I’d ever known. I didn’t even know what I wanted to get out of more school… I mostly coasted through high school as it was, and didn’t know what I wanted to be when I “grew up”.
Now, I’m a 37-year-old man. And on my 37th birthday, after having dropped out a few times, I logged in one last time to my final online course. I finished my Associate of Arts degree in English (technically two degrees, also English for Transfer) almost exactly 18 years after I started it.
The world’s got pretty weird over the last year and a half or so, hasn’t it?
I wanted to write something before now, but I honestly had no clue where to ever start, and the longer I waited, the more I felt like I had nothing to say. Much like the end of 45’s presidency, every week felt like something new… a new announcement from the CDC, new mask mandates (or lack thereof, goddammit Florida), new virus strains. Being perfectly honest, trying to keep up with reality as it is… it’s exhausting.
And that’s not even taking into account all the regular struggles of humanity since this pandemic began.
But even without a global pandemic that brought the world to its knees,, all the normal and abnormal of 2020 and 2021, this has been some of the most wonderful, painful, satisfying times of my life. And it’s time I shared a little bit.
Hello, internet. It’s been too long since we caught up.
One of the best-selling consoles of all time, the Nintendo Game Boy is a unique beast in the gaming landscape. It wasn’t nearly as powerful as its competitors, the screen was about as awful as a screen could be (even in its heyday), and the games… there was a lot of garbage developed for it. Yet with nearly 119 million units sold in the Game Boy line, from the original gray brick in 1989 until the final Game Boy Color rolled off the assembly line in 2003, the 8-bit juggernaut was a console that couldn’t be ignored, even when it was being absolutely overlooked.
I started working from home partially on Wednesday afternoon, March 11th, with my first full day from home the nextday. So in essence, it’s been about 10 days since this lockdown really started for me. It was optional at first, our office put a plan in place for our office, especially for those of us that commuted in from outside the big city. But pretty quickly, as we saw the number of community-spread infections start to rise, everybody stopped going to the office.
Today, I want to kind of break down what that means for me, and the best ways I’ve found to get around the dispiriting sensation that it’s caused. I didn’t think it would be this… unsettling.
I’m a natural introvert, but even for me, the immediate withdrawal from human contact was unsettling; I work for a fairly compact company, and if a few aren’t in for the day, it can feel pretty empty. The last day I spent in the office, less than half of the normal staff were in, and for clear reasons: they didn’t want to get sick, and they have people are home they need to protect from getting sick. But it was so weird, being there that last day, realizing that I wasn’t going to be sitting at my desk for the foreseeable future. For all the same reasons.
And don’t get me wrong, I love being home. I can spend time with my wife throughout the day, share a joke here and there while I’m working, pet the cat and stretch easily enough. I have everything I need within arm’s reach. But my daily routine is uprooted. Working from home isn’t new for me, but resetting back to that environment and mindset is… unsettling.
It’s the new normal, so we need to deal with this. For everyone, first of all, let’s stop calling it “social distancing”. Human beings are social creatures, and we have all kinds of ways of doing so now that don’t involve physical contact; the fact that you’re reading this (probably from my Facebook account) only proved that point. We shouldn’t be restricting our “being social”, but keeping from physically contacting one another in order to stop the spread of COVID-19… so “physical distancing” makes a lot more sense.
And when you do interact with someone in a physical proximity, keep a safe distance, of course. Just today, we shared supplies with a friend (from about 6 feet away), and I didn’t know how comforting it would be to see a nearby friend in person, even if hugs weren’t possible. Being in the vicinity of a friend, showing they’re OK, is a wonderful sensation.
In the meantime, connecting through phone lines, chat rooms, social media, YouTube, Skype, whatever you can access and whomever you can access will be the key to staying… human. This is a perfect time to reach out to people you haven’t spoken to in a while, or anyone you’ve meant to contact and see what they’re up to. Old college friends, childhood friends, former co-workers you always liked, anybody that’s been on your mind. That’s in additional to older relatives that would be most at risk with a disease like this; any parents or anybody with compromised immune systems, or someone with conditions that may make such a respiratory disease worse (like asthma), you should totally be reaching out to them online if you can.
Please stay in contact. Even if you don’t chat with someone often, getting a message during this trying time can make a world of difference to someone otherwise locked up at home and away from people they care about. I need to be better about it myself, but typing it here–even if you know–can hopefully help.
Stand Tall, friends. The best way to get through is together (even if physically separately).
Still stuck at home. The virus rages across the landscape, and all we have remaining are boxes of mac and cheese. And burrito stuff. And rice, and Huy Fong sriracha, and yeah. We’re actually OK.
As much as there may be to do at work, there are still in-between times. And in those in-between times, you have to find a way to keep yourself busy. With limited options for “going out”limited (beyond “DOES TARGET HAVE TOILET PAPER YET WE NEED TO GO NAO RUN RUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRU-“) , you’ve got to make your own fun.
Now then, what to actually do in situations like these…
Recently, I hit the local flea market with my girlfriend looking for fun trinkets with a crisp $20 in my pocket. And we were lucky that day, since we both came away with something we had been looking for. In my girlfriend’s case, it was a snazzy new pair of jeans. And in my case, even though I was looking primarily for old video games, I ended up coming home with this:
It’s been too long since I wrote something in here last, but I’ve had a bit of a trying few months – both good, in that tomorrow is my one-year anniversary with a lovely young woman I adore, some more personal issues, actively working hard to have stories worth publishing or requesting representation for, and good old-fashioned procrastination. But never fear, today I’m posting something I wrote in the aftermath of a fateful Monday morning, when I received bad news in public.
That’s always a good time, ain’t it?
You’ve probably guessed what it is from the title of this post, but I wanted to put some thoughts together after it occurred – crystalize what’s going on in my head, how I’m feeling about it, what I’ll be working to do going forward. This one isn’t a “good” post, but it is a reflective post, and one the likes of which I’ve (sadly) written of before.
Should you choose to, thanks for reading, friends.