I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s this thing called COVID-19 in town. At least, it’s in my town. If it hasn’t reached you yet, it probably will.
Flatten the curve
May you live in interesting times.– Apocryphal Chinese proverb
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve been working from home. I was very keen on this option from early on, basically as soon as news broke that COVID-19 had reached Maryland. Although I’m not in the most at-risk demographic, there are still a lot of unknowns with coronaviruses and pregnancy. There are cases where this family of viruses have had adverse impacts on pregnant people (see SARS, MERS), but it sounds like there’s too little data and research to make a firm statement.
In any case, I’m playing it safe by teleworking and doing as much social distancing as I can. I’m so grateful to have this option, because I know how many people don’t.
Since this mess began, I’ve been gently accused of freaking out. To which I reply: Italy literally closed its borders. Countries are restricting travel. There are places in our country on lock down. My state and most others at this point have declared national emergencies. I’m not advocating for (or participating in) resource hoarding (f— those people). But social distancing and pushing for telework seem like reasonable responses in the face of an actual pandemic.
Furthermore, I believe we have a communal responsibility to keep each other safe. That means limiting community exposure and lessening the burden on health services, so that those who really need them have access. Immunocompromised and otherwise need to participate equally in things like social distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions.
Flatten the curve, people!
Working from home
So what’s it like working from home? Previously, I teleworked once every two weeks. It was nice to be able to change up your working environment, but not frequent enough for me to get a real sense of the thing. For an amusing briefing on it, Chuck Wendig put together a funny blog post: So, You’re Working From Home.
Once it became clear that COVID-19 was moving across the US, my day job started preparing various contingency plans. Unfortunately, the plan in place is basically one of my personal nightmares: I’m back to answering tech support questions over the phone. Why? I work closely with our service desk and it’s now understaffed for various reasons. People who normally wouldn’t do this are being pulled in to help.
I’m actually more stuck to my desk now and working longer hours. All the inanity of resetting passwords and all the misery of dealing with the public. I’m not a fan of the public. I like a lot of screening processes between me and the masses.
It’s my twenties all over again. NO, THANKS!
“A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”– Kay, Men in Black
On the bright side, I’ve found that coming back to it, even for this temporary time, has been a different experience than I remembered. I’m a different person than I was in my twenties (thank god). I’m more centered, less delicate. An angry customer is just an asshole instead of a reflection of my self-worth, a reflection of some failure on my part.
So it’s not all doom and gloom. Take this imagined Office script, for example:
New short story
Lastly, I’ve been making really excellent progress on my latest short story. It’s not an lie to say I’m the most excited and pleased with how the planning for it has gone of anything I’ve written. The last few years have taught me what a story and an individual scene needs and how I can best address those needs.
As I was working on it, I felt capable of not only seeing the shape of what I was putting together (hook, rising action, climax, denouement), but how to fix what was missing. This is the kind of progress and skill that only work and effort can produce.
I’m optimistic about the feedback I’ll shortly be getting, and I’m looking forward to writing the first draft. And it looks like, with the virus in town, I’ll have plenty of downtime to do it.