Almost everyone is effected by the Covid-19 pandemic in some way. Here in NJ, we’ve been in lockdown for over two weeks. In that time, NJ has become the second-most infected state in the country. Both my wife and my youngest son (a high school student) have been working from home. My oldest son works at a bank, which has thankfully transitioned to drive-thru only service. We have seen our parents, siblings, nieces, or nephews since all this started. I have extended family here and abroad that have been exposed to C19 and I worry about them.
Given my medical history, I’m considered a high-risk. Should I contract the virus, the odds of it becoming life-threatening are significantly worse. I try not to think about this too much, but it’s always there. Knowing what friends in China and the Seattle area went through ahead of us, I started my emergency food shopping earlier than most and have only ventured out to resupply once. I can’t describe how stressful that trip was and how particularly irritated I am by facemask-wearing individuals who think the 6ft rules don’t apply to them. (While I was there, the announced that they were adopting elderly and high-risk only shopping times for high risk individuals. They should be restricting pickup and delivery services to those groups too, but aren’t.)
Given that my job is pretty much run out of my house, the daily routine is only changed by the presence of others–who largely keep to themselves during “work” hours–and stress. I try to minimize the number of times I look at the news and social media. It just makes me angry or depressed, often both. There have been cleaning sprees and I’ve decided to wage war on the ever-encroaching thorn bushes and honeysuckle that have been reclaiming many square feet of our backyard. You can call these coping mechanisms.
On some days work is… difficult. I had been keeping the response time for our slush pile to 24 hours or less, but around Wednesday, I just burned out and didn’t look again until this morning. I have acceptance letters to send, an editorial and introduction to write, some stories to edit, and a couple of ebooks to format. I don’t seem to have the energy for any of it at the moment. Maybe I need to go play a videogame, clean some more, or just listen to some music (though a number of people in the house would just hate that).
I’m used to not seeing a lot of people for extended periods of time, but I figure I’ll eventually feel like doing it again, particularly as more and more of the conventions I had planned to attend this year have canceled or rescheduled. To combat this encroaching isolation, I’m trying to set up a few online video panels for April. I expect them to be four-person panels, about an hour each, scattered around the month. They will be free, but since the hosting services have participant limits (unless you are wealthy), there will be limits on who can participate through the built in chatroom. Fortunately, it looks like we can stream it simultaneously to our YouTube channel, so any people beyond that limit will be able to watch there. The idea is to keep it casual and fun. We all need that right now.
So, yeah, a bit stressful, with this sword hanging over me. It’s not the first time I’ve had one over my head though and practice doesn’t make it easier. It does give some perspective though. We’re healthy right now. That’s the thing I have to focus on. Just have to do what is in our control to stay that way. I wish you all the best of luck in the weeks and months ahead. Stay safe.