Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Unfocused

Three weeks into this stay at home business and things are beginning to be routine now.

I find that I can't write. This is a golden opportunity to work on my book project. There are some low cognitive things I can be doing on that, even. Things not too complex. But I can't find the attention span.

I'm having trouble reading, too. I find myself able to concentrate on a few pages at a time, but then I lose focus and turn to Facebook or Twitter, scrolling, scrolling.

That being said, there are some things that are becoming routine. I check the COVID numbers every day at noon. I check in on my students in Google classroom and leave feedback and assignments, even though I'm not to give grades at this time. I find that I am perfectly capable of mindlessly pulling weeds out of flowerbeds, cleaning out the refrigerator, and doing the laundry, but cleaning out the file cabinet is too much. Or my closet. Not happening.

I'm not sure why this is; nobody I know personally is sick or exposed (that I know of). I think it's just a general worry and anxiety that has my focus out of whack.

I am increasingly irritated at people who do not take this pandemic seriously.  These people who say that the flu is so much more deadly. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not, but we have vaccines and treatment for flu and we do not for COVID-19. This new virus incubates so much longer than flu and can infect so many more people because of that.

But whatever. I'm not going to argue the point with anyone.

I'm irritated with people who don't respect that six foot distance in the store. I try to avoid going to the grocery store unless it's a necessity. You still can't buy toilet tissue unless you are there at the crack of dawn and run around to multiple stores to check, and I'm not doing that. No Clorox wipes or anything like that in my grocery store, either. I had to make a store run this morning and was checking a carton of eggs to be sure none in the carton were broken before picking up the box, and a man walked up, leaned right in front of me, and grabbed a carton. WAY closer than six feet. No. Just stop that. Be patient and wait a minute!

Maybe I'm over reacting.

I've been obsessively following the story of Michael Bane, a fellow in Chicago who posted his COVID story on Facebook. His story is poignant and he chronicles his illness from exposure, the development and worsening of symptoms, then one scary night and near death experience, and now he is out of ICU and hopefully on the mend. I've been engrossed, and checking on his progress has become part of my routine.

I hope that this lack of focus passes and my ability to concentrate, focus, and do something productive returns soon.  I try to give myself tasks every day and I do feel some progress as I check them off my mental list, so that helps. I get outside in the sun as often as I can, and that helps, too.

How are your days going? Is this just me?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Rising Numbers

Glorious sunshine!  It is such a mood-lifter after days and days of rain and gray skies!

I wish the news was as bright. The daily COVID-19 numbers just came out. In Louisiana, we took a large jump in numbers; we are now at 2305 positive cases and 83 deaths. There are 115 cases in Caddo Parish and 32 in Bossier.

Stay home, people!

We are under a "stay at home" order but if you look at the list of what is "essential," nothing much has changed. Traffic out there looks pretty normal to me. I realize some people still have to work: the termite inspection guy was here yesterday. A plumber was working across the street. The electric company is working down the block right now. Lawn services are working. The grocery store is open. So is the liquor store. I mean, there are a lot of people still working and moving around.

Meanwhile, our numbers climb.

And what I'm seeing -- man, a lot of people are not respecting that six feet social distancing thing. Grocery stores? Not six feet. I had to make a quick run today, and people seem to think that social distancing does not apply in the store. They'll walk right up next to you.  I'm astounded.

I've also personally heard reports that two people in someone's office is confirmed positives yet nobody else that works in the building is quarantined or has been notified that they need to quarantine due to being in close contact with the person. And because of HIPPA their identity is not revealed, so how do you know if you've been exposed?

Meanwhile, exposure spreads.

I tried to do the online curbside pickup thing at my grocery store. I have never done it before; I put five or six things on my list as a test run. My order was going to take four days. Seriously. No. Just no. I cancelled it.

I am constantly sanitizing my house. Wiping door knobs down, handles, light switches, computers, phones, lawn furniture. I might be getting a little excessive.

I'm washing my hands All day.

The sun helps my mood. Plus, Dave Matthews is doing a concert live from his living room tonight. That will help a whole lot.  :)

Wash yo' hands, y'all.  And stay home.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Spring Cleaning

I'm not sure I'm doing this right.  This whole self-quarantine thing.

This seems like the golden opportunity that I've been longing for -- the chance to clean out all those closets, deep clean my house, declutter, write brilliant blog posts, make progress on my next book, do some fantastic yard work.... Yeah, none of that has happened so far.

I've done some (very) minor cleaning. I cleaned out a makeup drawer, tossing ten-year old eye shadows and dried out mascaras. I cleaned out under my bathroom sink: I discovered we have five -- FIVE -- bottles of baby powder. Why?!

Then I pulled a muscle in my leg while doing some minor yard work and it started raining so I just kind of stopped. I spent a couple of days scrolling Facebook, reading newspapers, surfing Twitter. Totally non-productive.

My attention span is short right now, for some reason. I haven't had any interest in binge watching anything on television. My reading has been sporadic and forced.

I need to get back on track. I need to do something productive.

To my credit, I have been busy on Google Classroom, assigning work and giving feedback to kids. Most are checking in there and doing the assignments but I'm troubled by those who haven't even joined Classroom. We've used Chromebooks in class a lot, almost daily, so there's no reason why every kid on my roster should not have joined the class, but they haven't. This bothers me.

I feel like this is all going to go on for a long time. Longer than a lot of people are anticipating. It seems to have the quality of something new, quirky, a challenge. The funny memes on social media, for example. I feel like as the monotony settles in people are going to become more and more frustrated and short-tempered. I hope I am wrong.

I keep encouraging my students to write about these days; I don't know if any of them actually are doing it.

Okay, so today I will clean out a closet, a kitchen cabinet, something. I will get on NetGalley and request a few books. I will write the reviews for the books I've finished there. Then I will cook something for dinner tonight. That should be good for one day, right?

I need sunshine. I need the clouds to go away and for the temperatures to warm back up. That will help.

Won't it?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Corona Chronicles Day 3

The conspiracy theories abound.

The more conspiracy theories I hear, the more willing I am to self-quarantine!

I've heard everything today from the martial law rumor, to all stores being closed down, to -- and this is my favorite -- the virus is a conspiracy propagated by the grocery store industry to boost their lagging sales.

I love that one.

Another: the National Guard is going to take all the sick people out to camps at Lake Bistineau and leave them to die.

Oh and this one is good, too: "the Coronavirus can be cured by intravenous vitamin C, but big pharma doesn't want you to know that."

Where do people come up with these?!

Seriously, I'm a little worried about people right now. Things are surreal enough without all this rumor mongering.

Stop it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Surreal Times

These are surreal times, aren't they?

I just went through my planner marking off one event after another due to COVID-19. I need to order a new planner...mine is a teacher planner and ends in June. But what will I fill it with? Right now, when the immediate future consists of moving from the living room couch to the porch swing to the occasional stroll around the block with the dog, it's getting difficult to imagine when things will go back to normal and what those days will consist of.

As a writer, I believe it's important to write about these days and to record what is happening. I don't anticipate that it will be great reading material for anyone later, but things are changing at such a fast pace, day by day, hour by hour, it seems important to nail it down by writing about it.

Our school year is still up in the air -- suspended -- but I feel fairly certain that soon we will hear that it is simply ended. I've never been a fan of the word "closure" as it seems so vague, but I do feel like there has been no closure to this school year, should that be what officials decide. My students were working hard toward specific goals. What now? It seems strange.

The COVID-19 news across Louisiana, and the nation, is obviously scary. The number of cases jumps exponentially, more so as tests become more accessible. As of right now, March 18, 2019, Louisiana has 257 positive cases, with 634 tested. Seven deaths. That number changes really quickly.

We are only a few days, less than a week, into this shutdown, but it seems like longer!

How are you spending your days?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Recording COVID-19

What a difference a day makes. One minute I'm on an airboat in the Atchafalaya Basin enjoying spring break and the next day I'm trying to figure out how to get all my students to sign into Google Classroom so we can do virtual schooling.

I teach ninth and tenth graders ELA. One of the things I told my students is that it's important that they write about what is happening right now. Just as Pearl Harbor was a watershed moment for my parents, and 9/11 was for a much later generation, my students will remember this moment for the rest of their lives.

One of the first things I posted on Classroom was a sort of check-in assignment. I did a Google form and posted four questions, mostly just to be sure they were checking Classroom and also to see what their concerns are. The responses began to come in quickly; these kids have a lot of anxiety about what is happening.

Many are worried about End of Course tests and AP Exams. Others are afraid they will be overwhelmed with online work. Some have anxiety about computer and wi-fi access. There were questions about graduation, prom, and other events. And yes, there are a few that see this school closure as a vacation and are pretty stoked, but those are by far the minority.

At this time, our district has told us to only assign supplemental and review materials. Since reading and writing are things we do every single day, that's the kind of assignments I'm posting.

We all have so many worries and concerns right now; I'm worried about friends and neighbors who have lost income and in some cases, their jobs. There is a lot of stress right now about making ends meet and just surviving. I am hopeful that everyone will come together and be mindful as we try to find ways to support each other and to help where we can. The long term economic repercussions of this is something I can't begin to wrap my head around.

Meanwhile, we stay busy. We are VERY early into this social distancing business, this stay at home because there's nowhere to go business, so finding ways to stay busy and engaged will be a huge challenge for some people.

For me, I have flower beds to weed, yard work to do, a garage to clean out, closets to clean out, and stacks of books to read. Oh and another book to write. So, I will be fine. Other people are already stir crazy. We are all going to have to adapt because I think this is all going to drag on longer than we may think.

One way I want to stay engaged is to revive this blog and get back in touch with people that way.

So, if you're here, leave a comment: tell me what you're doing with yourself these days. Maybe we can all help each other.