Finding Normal (Plus Some Poetry)

3 min read

Since COVID-19 came to town, things have been different. Some parts of my life took on a more important impact and some things have fallen off my radar almost entirely. Also, some poetry inside.

My personal life and extracurriculars tend to traditionally take a back seat during difficult times, and the Time of the Virus has been no exception. I basically hunker down and focus on the things in front of me. There are worse ways to handle crises, but I feel pretty bad afterwards for letting other things slide. If you’ve noticed a lack of responsiveness from me, that’s why. Things are finding an equilibrium now, so I should be following up soon.

And it’s true, the days are finding a routine. I’m so profoundly grateful to have a job at this strange time, one that can be done remotely and seems stable for the time being. However, as someone who works the university system, the recent news of Johns Hopkins University’s plans to not just furlough but cut contributions to retirements and lay people off makes me nervous that we’ll soon be seeing that elsewhere. I don’t imagine myself invulnerable to such things.

It all makes me rather want to put my head between my knees and try not to scream.

But for now, things are moving along well. We have groceries and we recently found some more toilet paper (it’s the small things, these days, isn’t it?). We go on nice, long walks of an hour each day, as much for the physical exercise as the mental benefits. Those walks have been one of the best parts of this whole mess.

Somehow, I’m on vacation

It’s with a measure of irony that I’m taking a certain amount of leave from work before the baby comes. I’ve had a lot of feelings about doing so. Mostly:

  • Anxiety! It feels terribly foolish to be away from work at a time when I most want to emphasize to my employer that I’m useful! I’m helpful! Don’t fire me!
  • Rationality! I’ve earned a metric ton of leave that will be sucked up by parental leave if I don’t use it, and my supervisor supports me using it. It would be foolish not to take it… right?
  • Frustration! I spent years saving up my leave. It’s nice to take time off and putter around the house, but that doesn’t really describe what I’d prefer to be doing with it. So it feels a little like flushing hard work down the drain.
  • Guilt! It’s hard to reconcile being paid to be off work in any capacity with the literal Great Depression levels of unemployment in the country.
  • Enjoyment! Time away! Huzzah! I don’t take much time off in a good year much less one like this, and it’s with a bit of pleasure that I peek in on the emails filling up my inbox with absolutely no responsibility to answer any of them.

In general, this so-called vacation is anything but. Because my sleep has been incredibly disrupted by the sheer state of being pregnant, I’ve been napping a lot. As first time parents, we’ve got a lot on our mind regarding general how-the-hell-do-we-care-for-a-kid-ness. We’re also house-hunting, hoping to be first time home owners this year. It’s, um, a lot.

But naps are great. Get yourself a nap.

Some poetry for you

The University of Maryland’s English department is putting on a poetry contest called #HaikusFromHomeUMD. It’s a cute idea and I’m sharing a couple noodles I submitted for it:

"Taking vacation during covid-19"
Paid to sleep, stay home:
Like spitting in the face of
Twenty-six million people.
"Interesting times"
First-time: Home-buyers,
Parents, global pandemic.
Countless long, slow breaths.

Photo by Chloe Evans on Unsplash

2 Replies to “Finding Normal (Plus Some Poetry)”

  1. It is certainly a strange & trying time. You have a lot on your plate so you need to give yourself some slack for feeling so many feelings. You’re doing what the health officials have asked you to do…a patriotic act! You’re preparing for a family…a historic moment and in keeping w/evolutionary requirements!! 🙂 You’re exploring new homes, new possibilities & new responsibilities. Take it a day at a time. You’re doing great! You’re going to have a son to cuddle soon…enjoy the moments, even though their not your typical times & know that in the near future, things will get back to normal & you’ll have some sagas to tell your boy.

    1. Thanks <3 I need to get back to journaling my days. I was doing it at lunch at work, but with the upheaval my routine has changed a bit. When I’m old and gray, I’d like to be able to refer back to what life was like back when, and share it with my son!

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