Just another day in the Coronapocalypse

Things just keep getting weirder, don’t they? I mean, life is still kinda normal, but then again it really isn’t. Today when I went out on my after-work-from-home walk, I saw this little dude, probably 3 years old just cruising down the street by himself. At first I was like, “oh, his family is probably right up the street.” There were a few groups of socially distant folks walking around and we were near a school. Then he crossed the street, albeit a slow side street.

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As a former preschool teacher and a mom, my Spidey sense was going a little bananas. Then he stood on the corner eyeing the busier street (which, of course isn’t very busy right now and was a 4-way stop, but still). He stood there a bit and then went for it, crossing the street with impunity. That’s when I knew this kid was definitely a corona-jailbreak and I’d have to do something.

Normally, while this would be an unusual situation, it wouldn’t be that weird. I mean, I live in a very safe neighborhood (so grateful!) with lots of children around. However, in this new socially-distant-act-like-you-have-the-virus-at-all-times-or-you-might-kill-someone’s-grandma age, I was certainly hesitant to get too close. But, I mean, I had to do something. I knew I couldn’t just let this little guy keep heading down the hill towards even busier streets and the bay!

I asked him where his family was, while staying a safe 6 feet away, and he just said “I live right up there,” pointing uphill. I told him he needed to go back home and proceeded to follow him from a safe distance. He knew I was on to him, but kept on walking until we reached the next corner. Then he stopped–busted! Now, on a normal non-Cornona day I would’ve taken him by the hand to cross the next street, even though there was but one minivan passing by, but I knew I shouldn’t touch him.

Luckily, this guy had a good sense of direction and was sensitive to social cues, so he hung near me, but kept walking. He pointed out his house, as if I was just going to leave him to go on alone (love that independent spirit, but yeah…not right now) and I walked with him until he got there. Luckily his older brother (probably about 5 years old) was out on the deck looking concerned and enough like his younger brother to know they were related. He confirmed it was his brother and he lived there and I demanded to speak to a grown-up.

The older brother said she was in the back yard and wanted me to go back there, which I normally would’ve done just to check out the scene, but yeah, Coronavirus, so I was like, “I have to stay here, please just get me a grown-up.” Eventually, a woman came out with a baby in a backpack on her back and I explained how I had found the 3 year old down the street and he had crossed kind of a big one. She was horrified, of course and I felt bad for her raising 3 kids under 5 in these times.

I would’ve offered to help more in days past, like maybe take the older boys to the playground or something. Now that’s just not possible with the playground closed and all this social distancing. Even just holding the baby for a few minutes is out of the question. It’s sad!

The rest of my walk was pretty uneventful except that I saw a circle of vehicles in a neighboring church parking lot with their hatchbacks up. It was a Corona tailgate party of folks parked 6 feet apart and talking from their tailgates. Wow. That’s just how it is now, I guess.

Anything weird happen to you lately?

 

 

Now I kinda like working from home

I wrote a half blog post on Wednesday: “I’m on day 7 of working at home and I have to say that I am getting WAY more done at home without all the phone calls and other distractions at the office. Today I spent the whole day in a data-migration with a consultant halfway across the country that would have been way harder to do at the office. I was so much more focused than I would’ve been had I not been at home. And it was so nice to be on a Zoom meeting ALL day with someone working from home (WFH) whereas it would’ve been kind of a pain from the office. It’s way easier to ignore an email than to ignore someone standing right in front of you! Also, just hanging with someone all day was nice, even if it was online and we were working.” OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Okay, so it’s like Saturday now and I’m just not feeling that optimistic. Yeah, my cat is happy. Yeah, I can do laundry at work and wear yoga pants ’til the end of time. But this is staring to suck. I’m a total introvert, too, so this isn’t about social stuff like going to bars. I’m actually worried about life as we know (knew) it and the economy and stuff like that.

 

I used to read every apocalypse book and watch every movie and what I noticed is that the sequels were ALWAYS dystopian worlds. Just thinking about that…and gardening and going on walks, taking photos of rainbows and eating, but thinking, too! What about you?

 

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Deeper into the Corona

It’s been a weird week for everyone, I know. We’ve all been addicted to the news as we adjust to whatever this new normal is going to be. Our Zoom board meeting went well and it was interesting to get such a personal picture of everyone’s space (those who joined with video that is). I did a Zoom webinar on Thursday and learned how to make cool fake backgrounds so nobody can see your messy house or whatevs. Not sure the etiquette on that stuff, but it’s one more thing to learn in this new digital workplace.

An old cubicle neighbor from a prior job and I have big plans to use Google Hangouts to simulate the coworker experience next week while we’re both stuck working from home. We used to chat all day facing opposite directions with a cube wall between us, so it’ll kinda be just like the old days. Nice to connect with an old friend, too.

On Friday I rode my bike to the office to check the mail, scan stuff, get stamps and envelopes to send out checks, and make some bank deposits. I was also running some personal errands and as I cruised around downtown, it occurred to me  that this is the “note on the door apocalypse” because every single business had some kind of a note on their door about COVID-19 and the changes it entailed. From the herb store only accepting call-in orders to be picked up by appointment to the banks doing only drive-up or night drop, to the restaurants only doing carry out, everywhere has a sign on the door–and there is almost no one around.

I found out today that my brother is in actual quarantine from a meeting with a coworker who tested positive for the virus. He’s feeling great, but I feel bad for him literally stuck at home with no choice to go on a walk or run errands or anything. That would be the worst. At least I can go for walks, bike rides, go to the store, and little stuff like that. I can’t imagine not being able to leave at all. He only told us today, but he was exposed on the 12th, so it’s already been over a week and it’s good to know he’s okay. Still, this thing hits closer to home every day.

On my walk today (so grateful for this sunny weather) I came across a maybe 11 or 12 year-old girl writing positive messages on the street with sidewalk chalk. She wrote “Just Read” and drew some books, and “It’s okay to be afraid” and “You’ve got as much chance as everyone” on the road. It was cute, but kinda sad, too. These poor kids! I was about that age when Chernobyl happened, but life went on as normal and they didn’t cancel school or anything. It’s gotta be so scary to be young right now–and old!

How are you doing out there?

Adjusting to the new normal

As of yesterday I am working from home and so far it’s pretty good. I never really wanted to work from home because I really like chatting with my coworkers and just getting out every day to do work. Now that it’s not a choice anymore, I’m learning to adjust. The last two days I worked in the office nobody else came in and most of the other businesses in our building were closed, so it was actually a little eerie there anyway.

So far, I’ve been getting up at my normal time and done my usual morning routine. I’ve been going on a walk around my neighborhood in the morning while I would normally be commuting so that when I get home I can feel more like arriving at work. I plan to take an afternoon walk every day, as well to simulate getting home. Luckily, we’ve had amazing sunny weather here and we’re still allowed outside.

My cat is loving having me home and it’s pretty cool to be able to run laundry and do a bit of extra tidying throughout the day. I even set a calendar reminder for 2pm today to add veggies to the tagine simmering in the oven.

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Yesterday our small staff chatted in a practice Zoom meeting that was pretty hilarious at first. We had our usual comedy of errors with everyone figuring out how to use it, including some of us holding up pieces of paper saying “can you hear me?”, hahaha. I forgot you could use chat, but I’ve got that down now. We’re having a big board meeting via Zoom tonight, so that should be interesting.

Otherwise I’m trying to avoid the news as much as I can (it’s not that easy) as it seems to just get worse by the hour. It’s great to see folks working to help vulnerable members of the community, though. That’s where our focus should be for sure.

How are you getting along in this new world?

Coronavirus and Blogging

Somehow the coronavirus has inspired me to blog again after a two or so year long hiatus. I guess it’s the fact that all this physical social distancing stuff is making me crave online connections. Plus, I’ve always been obsessed with the apocalypse and here it is on our doorstep–at least it feels that way here in Northwest Washington State.

For me, it got real last Friday (the 6th)  when I walked into a restaurant at lunch with my coworkers and a TV news report was on announcing that all classes at UW were moving online as of Monday.  I remember thinking that I would probably remember that moment forever as the one where I knew this coronavirus stuff really was going to change everything. It’s kind of like how all of us old enough to remember 911 have that moment etched in our psyches when we found out about the attacks.

We proceeded to eat lunch and discussed canceling our big fundraiser dinner scheduled for the 28th. Our events gal was resistant, but sent the text to the venue asking for new dates anyway. I went out on the town more that weekend than I had in years, and bars and restaurants were so packed it took us a few just to get a table. A week later, they are mostly ghost-towns.

On Tuesday I was riding the bus home from work and an old co-worker of mine was riding, too. He told me he had just read on Facebook that our county had its first official confirmed case of COVID-19,  Again, I was thinking I’d remember that moment forever, as well and I was just glad that I heard it from a friend instead of reading about it on the stupid news, which I’ve been way too addicted to checking lately.

By Wednesday everything was getting canceled and by Friday the 13th we heard the announcement that all schools would be closing for six weeks. Today it was announced that all the libraries, museums, and public spaces are also closed. Basically, the world is canceled so go home and twiddle your thumbs I guess. Hahaha. But we’re better than that!

Yeah, this is getting super crazy super fast and it’s easy to want to panic and go buy a bunch of toilet paper and hand -sanitizer (oops, too late!) and cases of wine and whatever else you might not want to live without. But, for those of us with the luxury to work from home and to continue working in general, this might just be the perfect time to get to all those tasks and backlogs that we’ve been too busy with meetings, etc. to get to.

I don’t know about y’all, but for the last year or so, I’ve been shocked at how fast time has been passing. It’s like there is never enough time in the day to do it all and everyone else seems to feel the same. Yet, suddenly comes this virus and life is slowing down on so many fronts. We’re all being asked to go inward, tighten our circles, distance ourselves, and, yeah, it’s kinda sad and scary, but I’m looking at it as a chance to slow down and catch up on all those things I’ve been meaning to do, but haven’t (like blogging again and cleaning up the database at work).

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So, here are some ideas on what to do while there are fewer distractions than ever. The trick is to focus, which I know can be really hard when there’s a new bombshell on the news every five minutes and suddenly your kids are home for six weeks with not even a library to distract them. Yikes!

  • Write about it: even your kids can do this if they are old enough to draw. Set aside writing time and start/finish that novel, write an auto-biography, or just write about your feelings and experiences in this wild time of coronavirus.
  • Read the classics: seriously, you can get most of them online for free these days.
  • Plant a garden: this might just save your life if this all goes really sideways.
  • Go on hikes/walks/bikerides: So far, this is still legal and it’s always uplifting to get exercise and be in nature and fresh air.  Plus, it’s pretty easy to keep that social distance outside and also just nice to see other people right now, even if you aren’t supposed to get close.
  • Re-arrange your room or paint or just organize something. Spring cleaning!
  • Write or find a play and act it out with family/friends/neighbors for friends/neighbors on a small scale  outdoors. Think Mansfield Park without all the drama!
  • Take up a skill like sewing, carpentry, weaving, etc. I mean, if this really is the apocalypse, that stuff will come in handy!

How are you feeling about this new, quickly-changing landscape?

My January in Books

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. I totally loved this book! The world building and characterization were amazing, as well as the writing and just the vibe. Seraphina is a strong female character with just the right amount of self-doubt to make her lovable. Also, the dragons in this book are unlike any I’ve ever encountered. Hartman says a lot more about humankind through her dragons than the mythical dragons we are used to reading about. The romance in this book, though understated, is also really sweet. Thanks to my son for a great Christmas gift. He knows me well.

A Walk Across the SunA Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison

So sad, but this book actually gives me hope that at least some of the victims of human trafficking will get help. The story shows the lives of 2 young, intelligent Indian girls who not only suffer the death of their entire family in the great tsunami, but are then taken into the world of sex and drug trafficking as a result. Alternate chapters follow a jaded lawyer who finds his calling in India working with an agency that targets traffickers and aims to rescue the victims. It’s an intense story but well worth the read.

Are U 4 Real?Are U 4 Real? by Sara Kadefors

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I accidentally bought this book thinking it was Who R U Really? but this book was still a fun read. According to the jacket, this book is Sweden’s all time bestselling YA novel. I do like how it is supportive of gays and a stereotype buster for teens. That said, it is definitely a heterosexual romance, and very realistic for modern teens.

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Creepy and unsettling ending, but a real page-turner in between. Can’t wait to see the movie.

Eye ContactEye Contact by Cammie McGovern

Quite an interesting murder mystery told through the eyes of mostly special needs children. A real page turner, but also enlightening when it comes to the lives of autistic children and their parents. Fascinating.

View all my reviews

Goodbye 2016

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2016 was an intense year. My cat is still grumpy about having to move this year. While we are nicely settled into our new home, I’d say moving dominated the year. We had this little bird visiting the yard this morning, bringing another round of snow with him.

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I know 2017 is going to bring a lot of changes so here’s to hoping they are all for the best! I finished Nanowrimo and liked what I had written, but I haven’t touched it since December began. Nor have I blogged at all. I really hope to get blogging more regularly in 2017 and to finish the novel I started during November. Also, I may be changing jobs soon, too. I like my job, and love my coworkers, but the winds of change are blowing and I do have to say I hate my windowless little cave of an office.

What are your goals for 2017? Thoughts on 2016? I’d love to hear about it. Happy New Year and blessings!

 

The Importance of a Good Title

One thing about getting published by traditional publishers is that most authors don’t get to keep their original book’s title. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers sad about this, sentimentally holding on to their working title when a publisher changes it. Even self-published folks should consider their titles carefully, and here’s an example why.

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I was looking for a new show to watch recently when I came across a show called Lovesick on Netflix. That sounded like my kind of show. Then I realized that it had previously been called Scrotal Recall and I remembered seeing Netflix recommend it to me highly, but ignoring that. Scrotal Recall sounded like a show for 20 year old dudes, not me. But I freaking love the show. Turns out, with the original title the show flopped. Now it’s doing a lot better.

One of the novels I’ve written has a crap title, I’m realizing, and learning about how a title can really change peoples opinions about anything helps me to let go. I still have a ton to learn about picking a winning title, but letting go of a bad one is half the battle. What do you think? Any advice for picking winning titles?

I hope to blog more often now that Nanowrimo is over. It was a lot of fun and I’ve got a great start on my next novel. How did you do?

 

 

Nanowrimo: Keeping the Momentum Going

Well, we’re deep into week 2 of Nanowrimo and this can be a time when writing starts to get harder. The new shininess of the idea can start to fade around 20,000 words, and some folks are already feeling like their writing isn’t what they hoped it would be.

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One of my writing buddies emailed me saying he feels like his novel is lame and he wasn’t sure what to do. I know I’ve written about a day’s worth of words on a character that I will probably scrap in the end, but I’m keeping those words for now and just moving on. That’s the thing about Nanowrimo, you just have to keep looking forward, keep writing, and hopefully, unlock your inner magic. Worrying about what you’ve already written will only bog you down.

To be honest, my novel feels like it’s writing itself, and I’m loving the feeling of free drafting, but there will be edits. There will always be edits. That’s just life for a writer. So, to all of you out there who are feeling like your novel isn’t the shiny gem you hoped it would be, don’t lose hope now. If there is a place you feel your plot took a wrong turn, go back to that spot and change it, but don’t delete what you already wrote. Just re-write from that place where you went wrong and keep on going. You still wrote those words earlier this month, they still count, and maybe there are some hidden gems in there that will surprise you in December when you read through your November madness. Magic happens!

Good luck in the coming weeks. My blog has been a little more quiet than I’d like, but this is such a busy time of year with Nanowrimo and the holidays fast approaching. I will definitely be more active in December on the blog.

Another last tip for you Nano Novelists: If you’re feeling stuck, go outside and take a walk or a bike ride, or whatever. Nature is the best cure for writer’s block and exercise really gets the blood moving and back to your brain. You might just have an epiphany while out on the trail. I did yesterday, and it really helped.

Are you doing Nanowrimo? How’s it going?

The Cat in the Top Hat

Just thought I’d share a photo of the top hat I made for my familiar (a stuffed black cat) as part of my Halloween costume, but now belongs to my real cat. He’s so dapper and seemed to feel right at home in a top hat. It didn’t bother him at all. Such a gentleman. He always wears a white tie, so he’s ready for any occasion.

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It’s day 4 of Nanowrimo, and so far I’ve written just a smidge more than the required 1667 words per day. I have a big weekend planned, so I will probably fall behind, but I know I can catch up. Here is a tip for all of you participating in this crazy novel-writing adventure:

When you find yourself struggling to remember a character’s name, eye color, etc. or identify a place that needs research, just insert a symbol and a note there instead of letting these little details slow your writing down. It’s way easier to fix that stuff when you have time to edit than to go back to find the information, or to distract yourself by googling a detail and falling down that rabbit hole. Just keep writing! Edit in December 🙂

Have a great weekend, y’all!