Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Getting on the Water and Fire

I cannot believe it has been a month since my last post. Time in quarantine blurs and starts becoming abstract. The only things that keeps me semi-rooted are the days I have meetings. The long days are not helping either - not that I would prefer short days; they would be as disorienting and miserable.

The last month has had some nice highs.
The biking has gotten more frequent and easier. The high intensity cardio creates a great high and makes sleeping better. Is it just me or has the months of staying home screwed up sleep schedules?
I even got out on the mountain bike once. One of Bug's friends wanted to do a physically distant play activity and her Dad thought trail riding would be fun. Bug jumped at the idea. It was a nice day and she misses actually seeing her friends without a screen. I was less than thrilled since it triggered all my anxieties: How do I get Bug to wear her mask all the time? What if someone falls? What if the trails were jammed full of the unmasked? For the sake of the child's mental health, I did what I felt was a realistic accounting of the risks and decided it was within a rational person's risk profile: the other family has been following all the guidelines, our network of peeps has not had an active case, none of us are high risk, we would be outdoors, biking forces some distance, and I was mostly certain the other parent wouldn't pick trails that were technical or likely to be busy. It turned out to be fun even though I got a flat tire as we were heading home. It still felt like I had to reset my two week clock...
We started having physically distant play dates with gymnastics friends before the bike ride. We limited it to two other girls who bring their own equipment. The yard was measured to mark off space.
Now we are letting Bug back into the gym for practices. There were meetings and forms and discussions and more reviews of policies and skipping a week to let other parents be lab rats before we decided that the risks were with in tolerable limits. She still has to bring a raft load of her own equipment and shower immediately upon returning. The kids are kept distant, the coaches are all masked, and there are no skills that requiring spotting. Still it is better than nothing.
Some people think we are crazy for taking any kind of risk, but at what point does the mental health risks outweigh the viral risk? I guess if it were just me, I would stay locked in the house most days except for the occasional bike ride. Fortunately for the world, most people are not me.
Another highlight was our new fire pit. We got a BioLight fire pit. So far it has been awesome!!! It has a battery powered fan to increase airflow. It keeps the smoke down and makes lighting it super easy. The other cool thing is that its sides are all mesh, so it looks like the fire is floating in the air. Sitting by a fire with a cool cider or two is living.
I also, finally, got the boat on the water.
I was hoping to go on Sunday, but some food poisoning got in the way. That was less than fun. H spent an hour or so expelling food from both ends. Bug, who normally freaks out when people are sick, went to the edge. She refused to even come in the house until there was no other option. It was pouring rain and sitting in the truck was getting hot. Once in the house. she hid in the basement. To mollify child, and some of my own, anxiety I sanitized the whole house while also trying to take care of H and Bug. Fortunately, once whatever food that needed out was out, H recovered quickly. Again, I feel like the two week clock has reset.
Anyway, since it was so nice out today and the boat was on the truck already, I decided to head out to the Charles and go for a paddle. The put in was pretty empty, so there were no issues with distancing even though I still wore a mask. Being on the water was nice. It was different too. I still need to acclimate to the new paddle. I still think it was a great purchase and it feels great- just different. There were other people on the river and instead of being glad to see each other, we all did our best to stay out of each others way. I was also paddling kayak designed for playing on the ocean on a flat, calm river in the midst of a half urban landscape. I think I had my expectations ramped up to 11 and only got an 8. An eight is great and I am definitely going again, but this time with more realistic expectations.
I will paddle on the sea before the summer is out!!!

Monday, May 25, 2020

No Time Off

For most of the past week, things have been pretty normal (if you call being trapped in your house, only interacting with other people via screens, and wearing face masks outside normal.) Routines are wonderful things and we have finally hit upon a basic routine.

Child has regularly scheduled online classes and daily assigned school work to complete along with some other basic expectations like getting some exercise, maintaining personal hygiene, and cleaning up after herself. (Yes, she does fight against the unbearable amount of toil that her unimaginably horrible, "the worst, most rude" parents ask of her.)
H has finally started just excepting that her job is basically just punching a clock to meet requirements since one really cannot do much one on one counseling when students don't show up, parents stay in the room, and there are no "classroom" issues to really address. (Yes, there are still periods of angst about being a total failure because one of her colleagues has much needier students who do show up for sessions and another one is a type A childfree busy body.)
Aside from running interference, doing 24/7 tech and emotional support, and trying to keep child focused o doing school work, my job is still the same clock punching, frustrating slog to provide tools to over privileged worker bees who toil away making it easier for the 1% to suck the 99% dry while using the least amount of the 9% possible. (Yes, the facts of my job and my general sentiment that the world should be more fair do cause some inner turmoil. However, I am at heart a very practical misanthrope who is willing to do what is necessary to stay in the 9%. I also take solace in the fact that my wife's work does actually help make the world a better place and that my child's skill set also tend to lean in that direction even if developmentally she is still in the "world exists for my pleasure" phase.)
Friday, however, I was near to murder. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed to start. Then during one of of our corporate rah, rah sessions, one of the biggies made some comment about how great it is that during this time of crisis we have been busier than ever and that it was great that none of our employees hadn't taken any time off. That lit my short fuse. No time off, really!!! Sure nobody has taken any vacation time; there is no place to vacation!!! We are all in varying states of house arrest!!! Time off though....
If you have a school aged, or younger, child at home you are either not working a full work day or not sleeping much. I don't take at least an hour or two off everyday to help child troubleshoot a Google meeting or some worksheet her teacher scanned into a Google doc and didn't put in text fields to answer or help her to hunker down and get something done or listen to her complain about missing her friends or fighting with her when she insists that a worksheet calling for full sentences is complete when she provided one word answers. And let's not forget all the time I don't take off doing tech support or emotional support for my wife who has to completely relearn her job. Seriously, the only people not taking time off are childless, have live-in full time childcare, have miracle children who don't require help with school, or are just plain neglecting their kids.
Maybe with high school kids, or college kids, or adult live at home kids it is is different story. They are either mostly adults or at least capable of being adults if they choose. You can probably just let them do their thing most of the time. But I'm sure that even they require attention more that we are all trapped in our houses together.
Maybe what I really needed to hear was not rah, rah everything is awesome, but a sincere recognition that we are all doing a good job during a difficult time; that we are somehow managing and that our corporate overlords recognize this.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Getting Out and Meltdowns

As this drags into a third month and the realities of canceled summer camps, vacations, and the very real possibility of schools not reopening in the fall starts becoming an inescapable reality instead of some worse case scenario that one can pretend will never happen, the house has gotten more tense and more predictable. It may sound like a contradiction, but we are starting to slide into a schedule. The schedule does include some periods of crying, yelling, stomping, and other behaviors that signal on going emotional strain and possible issues that require intervention, but the episodes are getting predictable. I can generally sense when they are coming and have started picking up patterns in how they play out.
Predictable and tolerable are different things. There are many days, when I watch the clock on my work day tick away as I coax my child to do mathwork or figure out what to do with herself in the absence of a screen, or talk my wife off a ledge, that I reach the end of my tether. Usually, it is work that suffers, but work is really the lowest priority (other than that it pays for the privileges of having a nice house, health, safe access to food...) Work has always been little more for me than a means to end; it pays for the things that matter.
My patience for my coworkers has never been a strength, but I used to have some reserves to make it functional. Now there are more days where it is a liability.  Also, the general amount of work I am producing has dropped. I do have the benefit of knowing where many of the bodies are buried which buys me a little leeway. Hopefully it is enough leeway so I can continue to pay for the things that matter.
I actually got to the point this week where I just needed to get away so bad that I pulled the road bike out of the garage and hit the streets. I was so frazzled that besides what has become normalized behavior, like wearing a mask, didn't even cross my mind. It was nice to just ride until my lungs burned and my legs felt like jello. I didn't even care that the Garmin told me that I had likely overdone things....
The roads were not empty, but the few other riders all did their best to keep distance. The experience gave me a glimmer of hope. It feel like at least one thing that reenergizes me is doable.
Hitting the trails still feels out of reach because there is no way to be distant on single track. Kayaking, at least until the water warms up some more, is still a no go because H worries about accidents.
Road cycling is doable and better than just plodding around my generic suburban neighborhood with the other mask wearing zombies.
So, things are looking up-ish.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Week 8 or is it 9?

We were watching the school districts update on home schooling expectations and the assistant superintendent said that school has been closed for 8 weeks, are not opening for the remainder of the school year, and that they may or may not open in the fall, but they definitely will have a plan, a backup plan, and a contingency plan.
I knew it had been a while, but I thought it was like 6 weeks or 10 weeks. I have lost track of time. Everyday is just another day. Somedays I shower; somedays I don't. Most days I exercise, meditate and have at least one internal melt down.
I have largely lost patience with the small child on more than one occasion.
I get that things for her are hard. School through a screen sort of sucks. Log into a Google page, watch some videos, do some worksheets, rinse, wash repeat. Oh and the expectations keep changing. At first it was just a few review things, then it was class meetings and daily review work, now there are daily zoom classes, and new material. Virtual playdates in Roblox and Zoom gymnastics also sort of suck. She is not exactly anxiety free, imbued with a strong internal sense of self, an overpowering urge to read, or super amounts of focus. She is an energetic, extroverted nine year old with a strong need to control things and a strong need for external attention.
I am an introverted, emotionally dead, ball of anxiety with a surplus of focus, who has spent years working through a screen. Unfortunately, I also have a bad habit of procrastinating which does not set a good example for the child.
The better half's job has also been getting more and more demanding, so she has less time and energy for child as well....
It is basically a spiraling mess. Child knows we are distracted and have to get things done. She either demands help on everything, avoids work by doing the absolute easiest things for which she can get credit, yells and pouts when things are hard and we try to help, or she hides out in her room playing Roblox and watching TikTok. She avoids messaging friends who do not play the games she likes on Roblox, because making small talk and expressing interest in others is hard when you spend most of the time worrying about what your friends are thinking of you.
It not only child that is spiraling. My tolerance for anything has worn very thin. I have to censor every e-mail I send and count to ten before responding to most questions....
Spending 24/7 in the same 1500 square foot house is not always good for an introvert. Walks through a deserted neighborhood wearing a homemade mask and avoiding the few people you do see hiding behind masks on is not exactly rejuvenating....

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is always a slightly complicated holiday. We all have complicated relationships with out parents.

The quarantine makes it more complicated.
Bug did many nice things for H today. She made a cake and followed an actual recipe. It turned out a bit Nailed It. She also made a frozen yoghurt root beer float and planned a girl's night sleep over. It was a nice break in the storm. But is only a break in the storm; Monday will bring new battles....
For H things were a bit more complicated. Her mother is in the final stages of dementia and just stares at the walls. H not been able to see her in weeks and her nursing home has an active COVID outbreak. At least in the past we could stop by, deliver a card, brush her hair, and say hi.
For all the mothers out their keep on fighting the fight; we all need you whether we admit it or not.

Saturday, April 25, 2020


I got the COVID antibody test back and it was negative. I have not been exposed, as far as the test can tell, to the virus.

The results do come with a very long list of warnings. Like that it can take up to 5 days post exposure for antibodies to show up in the test. That is not a big deal for me personally since I've spent most of the last month more than six feet away from pretty much everything....
While I though that a positive result may have made me feel better, after reading the caveats that come with the test I'm pretty sure I would have spiraled. It doesn't mean that you are immune; it just indicates that you have been exposed. I would have spent the next two weeks waiting for the worst....
Now I'm just back at my baseline state of perpetual low grade fear.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Quarantine Week ?

My mood lately has been generally less bleak with bouts of extremely bleak and extremely anxious.

The news about not reopening schools was, while not unexpected, still hard to take. The kid misses seeing her peeps and, despite her protestations, likes the structure and challenges school presents. We like, despite loving her deeply, not having to manage her full time while also getting our own jobs done.
The school announcement also made it clear that summer vacation plans are in jeopardy.
Will there be summer camps? The kid is desperately looking forward to spending a week doing gymnastics at overnight camp and always looks forwards to her two weeks of farm adventures.
Will Santa's Village, the AMC huts, or any campgrounds open? Will they lift restrictions on trail use? Will mountain biking clubs start up trips again? Will kayaking trips get scheduled?
The curve will come down, but when and what will it take for things to restart? Maybe kayaking with close friends who you can be certain are not carriers will be OK since kayaking is mostly socially distant, except in emergencies. Maybe beaches will stay closed?
Maybe summer will be fine and schools will start up in the fall and things will go back to mostly normal with occasional quarantines and official contact tracing as opposed to the sorts that Google and Apple already do....
Maybe the recent studies that are showing that the infection rate is way higher than expected, and therefore the mortality rate is way lower than expected, will turn out to be true. Couple that with the studies showing that people are showing some sort of lasting immunity means that herd immunity is closer than we think. Then all will be fine.
Maybe of course they are bunk since the tests are not reliable. Or maybe it does not matter what the mortality rate is since it does make a decent number of people very, very sick while leaving way more  people to be Typhoid Mary.

I also read an article saying that the most difficult thing about treating this thing is that by the time most people show up in the hospital they are in critical condition without even knowing it. The O2 levels are so depleted and their lungs so clogged that they should be very sick, but because of how the virus does its damage the patient's body is not reacting in the expected ways. Apparently we feel short of breath when too much CO2 builds up in our blood, not when the O2 gets low and COVID allows your lungs to shed CO2 just fine while blocking the O2 from getting into the blood stream.
Super fun time there for a hypochondriac. Now I think I am likely sitting on deaths door with no way to know. I did do a very hard interval ride on the trainer after reading that article just to prove that I could. The fact that I felt tired and a little high afterwards was worrying, but some water and TV sorted that out. I also did a fairly strenuous walk the following day and my VO2 Max is improving, so that calmed my nerves a bit.
And then night time comes and the monsters in the closet come out....

The most stressful thing I've done in weeks was today. I actually ventured out of the house to see my doctor. It was a routine check-up that was scheduled months ago - and that I had rescheduled once already - and was seriously planning on rescheduling again. H said getting out would do me some good.... I'm not convinced she was right, but I did go.... I brought plenty of disinfectant and wore a face mask when outside of the car. Other than the office staff, I was never within six feet of anyone. The office staff all wore masks - as did I - and reminded me that they only see one patient at a time, wipe down everything between visits, and do not see anyone with any symptoms.... Made me feel better at the time. Sitting here typing this now, I'm not so sure it really helped that much.
I feel like the two week clock is completely reset.
Anyway, he said my lungs sounded good. My blood pressure was fine. My temp was normal. I need to lose 5-10 lbs. He was glad to hear that quarantining and general anxiety had upped my exercise routine although he wished that I was doing more exercise for less crazy reasons....
He also had me take an anti-body test to see if I have had the dreaded COVID. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Do I want to know I've been exposed and likely recovered? I'm not sure if that would make feel better or worse. Logically, it should make me feel better knowing that I'm unlikely to get sick from this thing. However, it is likely to just make me anxious because I know I've been exposed and will be waiting to get sick. Or what happens if I test negative? Then I have to continue living in fear of getting it and possibly being one of the unlucky ones.... Although, in general I do tend to only get minor symptoms from colds, so I probably do have to worry too much.

Yes we are the lucky ones with homes, secure jobs that afford us the luxury of food delivery, and good health insurance and good health. Still we are not doing great.... The kid nearly missed a dance class and an online meeting because the adults spaced on time. It is getting harder and harder to remember what day of the week it is. The kid spends too much time in front of a screen before we notice and then we overcorrect.

Today the kid did an awesome job getting her shit done with minimal adult supervision because I was trying not to have an anxiety attack while driving to the doctor's office and H had full day of meetings. Then, because we all spent all of our collective emotional energy in the morning, bed time was a disaster.

We are the lucky ones. Pray for the ones who are not as lucky....

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Quarantine Week 4+

Last week was the roughest yet.
Somehow I keep thinking I will slip into a routine and adjust to the new normal. It is not true.
Thursday and Friday were black days. I was angry and on edge both days for no particular reason. I couldn't even find my way to get some movement. I was actually too angry, or craving control, to allow myself to exercise. The stairs pissed me off; the thought of sitting on the damn stationery bike with barely working gears disgusted me; walking around our deserted neighborhood wearing a mask like it was the god damn zombie apocalypse depressed me.
H had spent the week stressing about getting groceries. We finally got a curbside pick-up scheduled for Sunday, but it was curbside and we needed to make sure we stocked up enough for two weeks. There were times I just didn't care if we even had food; I just wanted to stop hearing about getting food. It probably didn't help that we were digging into the left over food in the back of the freezer for dinners...
My work sucked. I was spending more time fixing a tiny bug in an obsolete installer and answering inane e-mails than I was getting new work done. That was in the small bursts of time I had to actually work between H's meetings, Bug's incessant need for attention, and the less than occasional flare ups.
H is still trying to find her legs doing her job remotely. Her job really does not lend itself to being "remote". There are privacy issues; privacy and internet are oxymorons. There is managing parents expectations when every school district is doing something different, there is no central leadership, and no end date in site.
Bug is actually starting to adjust to home schooling, but it is still a struggle for her. She is not a sit quietly and do work person. She is move around and do stuff person. She is capable of great things but like most people would rather not paddle up stream into the wind without knowing there is a payoff. She misses her friends even though she talks to them and virtually plays with them as much as possible. She gets too much screen time and rebels at our attempts to restrict her and get her to do things IRL. She does not get enough space to make mistakes without us being around to notice and, without us, with the best intentions, trying to use them as teaching moments.
The weekend was better. I did actually leave to house for walks. It was depressing, but the sun was nice.
Getting food was strange. All the information on the available says food is safe, but we still spent an inordinate amount of effort decontaminating it. Having some more food in the house is nice.
This week has not been much better. The rain on Monday was depressing and work was interminable. Then we found out that our early summer camping destination was postponing registrations again. Bug's summer camps sent out notices about how they are hoping to still run programs, but are putting all sorts of restrictions in place.
Tuesday I forced myself on the bike which was the right thing to do. I at least slept better.
In short, the longer this drags on, the more it is grating on me. Yet there is no end in site. Maybe we can stop being trapped in the house before June, but all models point to a repeat lock down in the Fall. In between, there is still no telling who is carrying the apocalypse and we'll get to witness the devastation our months of lock down has wrought.
Still we soldier on....

Monday, April 06, 2020

Quarantine Week 3

This was a rough week. It would have been a rough week even without a global pandemic trapping us  our houses and throwing all of our lives into turmoil.

The weather was dreary and work was a slog of learning new things that are unlikely to see the light of day or even be noticed.
Waltham's school system has started providing more structured learning. Bug meets with her class twice a week. Her teachers are providing some writing prompts and other activities. Next week they will be ramping that up by starting to do some actual instruction and providing work packets. This is a small blessing. Bug puts up less of a struggle when the work comes from her teachers. It also means less time we have to spend coming up with activities for her do. She actually admitted today that she misses school.
Her dance school is doing weekly lessons which also helps. It gives her at least one hour of structured exercise a week. One of the Mom's from her gymnastics team is also setting up some get togethers for the girls. Friday night they spent nearly two hours doing gymnastics and stuff over Zoom. Yesterday she spent like an hour doing gymnastics over some other video chat thing with another friend.
There are still constant struggles about the technology. She chafes at the fact that we don't let her access technology during what would normally be school time. She gets pissed when we limit her time on Tic Tok and Roblox. She doesn't like it when we try to coach her on social etiquette on phone calls.
Most of it is normal kid stuff. It is just that much more intense since her world is so small now. We normally wouldn't listen in on her conversations with friends, but now instead of happening at school they happen in the kitchen. We have an open floor plan....
The craziest part of it all is that I often have to be the peacemaker. Yes I am the most mentally unstable person in the house, the one with an actual, diagnosed anxiety disorder that requires medication; I'm the loner of the family who actually requires alone time to function well; I'm by far one of the most misanthropic, inpatient, and emotionally stunted people I know; I'm the guy at work that people don't talk to for fear of setting me off. Yet in my house, I am the one who cools situations down. The one who lets the child vent until her overheated emotional system cools back down to normal nine year old levels of rationality while trying to remind her that we are not evil and that she is not the worst child ever born and reminds the wife that she is doing a good job and letting her vent until she returns to a much more mature state of rationality while attempting to remind her that part of the reason the child picks on her so much is that she knows how much her mother loves her.
Let us not forget that I am also the one who is the most germ phobic and prone to health based hysteria..... After my experience trying to go for a walk last week, I was less than enthusiastic about attempting walks this week. Fortunately the rain, general gloom, and seemingly incessant demands between my job, H's job, and child, kept me inside for the most part. The creaky old bike is holding up pretty well. It only has two functioning gears, but we work with what we've got. I also discovered that pacing up and down the basement stairs for 30 minutes at a brisk pace is quite a workout.
I did actually go outside for walks twice this weekend. We stuck to the streets and steered very wide of all people. I will be wearing a face mask from now on and have been very consistent about changing my clothes when I come back into the house, putting the contaminated clothes in the laundry, and immediately showering. H thinks it is a little crazy, and I am not going to attempt to say it is, but we do what we need to stay sane. It also forces me to shower. Before yesterday, I am not certain when the last time I showered. It is also not really creating more laundry since I also am not sure how often I change my clothes anymore.
I found that doing calendar in the morning with Bug is a challenge. When everyday is an inside day, it becomes hard to remember what day it is....
We only had to venture out once last week to pick up some prescriptions. I made H disinfect all of the bottles and did, briefly, consider if taking the pills was worth the risk. None of them are for life threatening conditions - well maybe the anxiety is a life threatening condition I'm just not sure whose life would be threatened.
Deliveries and take out food are stressful as well. H does a heroic job of disinfecting things before they come into the house. Non-food packages sit for at least a day before being opened. Food packages are unloaded in dedicated spots, all items are thoroughly washed, and then placed in holding. Takeout food must be hot food and transferred from the delivery packages into clean plates with exacting care and then microwaved for at least 45 seconds before being consumed.
I have to give credit to my poor wife who takes the brunt of the child's wrath, is doing most of the shopping and cooking, and tries to meet my decontamination standards all while trying to figure out how to do her job remotely and using entirely unfamiliar digital tools. She is a direct service provider for special education students - not exactly a job that lends itself to "remote" delivery. Like every teacher in the state/country/world she is trying to relearn how to do her job on the fly under ever changing guidelines with no clear game in site. People all hope that schools will reopen before summer, but nobody knows if that is even realistic. At this point nobody knows if any summer camps will open, or if school can start in the fall.
She also has to deal with an elderly parent in a nursing home whom she cannot visit and whom she cannot call on the phone. She too is a people person and while doing Zoom hangouts with friends and Zoom meetings and texting and Facebook help, it is not the same as seeing people in the flesh.
I know that we will get through this and science will find treatments that make this disease less deadly and eventually even find a vaccine. I know we will all eventually adjust to a new normal. I know we will all get back to kayaking, hiking, camping, and mountain biking. We will see our friends and families again without needing a screen.
It will take time to get through the the darkness. Some good leadership would help. We are fortunate to live in a state with a Governor who understands this and can provide it. We are fortunate to live in a city with a Mayor that understands thins and can provide it. I have given up hope that the "leaders" we have elected to the Federal government either understand or are capable of providing leadership and feel for those who are not fortunate enough to have local leaders to guide them.
I thank all of the people: doctors, nurses, EMTs, fire people, police officers, public health officials, food service workers, scientists, public servant who toil away in obscurity to make sure things continue to run despite the darkness and chaos from the top.
Hopefully, when the sun comes out again and the dust clears we will learn from this and demand more from those whom we empower to lead our country.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Quarantine Week 2

So we have made it two weeks largely isolated from the rest of the world without killing each other or showing any signs of plague. There have been several close calls on both fronts. Small child, as small children are want to do, put up several good fights about why it is unfair that she needs to do school work when her friends aren't, why restricting her time on electronics is cruel to the point of torture, and why it is actually healthier to stay up until one is actually tired. Every sniffle, cough, twinge of sore throat, or chest twinge has set off alarm bells.
Last week H had a lot of flexibility to maintain structure while I continued to slave away for the man from the confines of my bunker. This week H's work was trying to figure out what distance learning looks like when kids are out of school for at least six weeks. We struggled to keep some semblance of structure with just one kid. I cannot imagine how people are managing with multiple children.
OK, I do know how some manage it based on frequency of calls, texts, and other pings Bug got through out the day. It is amazing how connected todays kids can be. For a child who needs social contact, the internet is a small blessing. There are virtual playdates in Roblox and FaceTime lego challenges and Google Duo make up parties and Messenger Kids games and virtual classroom meetups. It is crazy. It can also make small child crazy. There have been a few nights where disconnecting her triggers something akin to coming down from a high. It was like she was going through detox....
I cannot say that all the connectivity would have changed my life at all or improves it in anyway. I am actually much happier working away from the office. All the noise and drop in distractions and constant cleaning was crazy making. The virtual connectivity options are nice because they can be muted and otherwise managed.
I'm still exercising like a fool. The overcast weather forced me onto a creaky old exercise bike. 30-40 minutes maintaining 130-140bpm is a great way to get the stress out. Of course when I'm breathing heavy afterwards, I do freak out a little bit.
I'll be totally honest and say that it is not just the clouds and rain that is keeping me inside. On Sunday, H wanted to get us out of the house and we went to a nearby beach. We were able to maintain way more the 6 feet from any other people, but it totally stressed me out. On the one nice day this week, I did go for a walk. I started out on the streets in my neighborhood and was able to keep far, far away from others. The roads are wide and not busy, so crossing to avoid people was easy. Then I hit a part of the walk that was in the woods and of course, the trail was packed with people. I got way off trail to avoid people the first few times. Then I just gave up.
My crazy got the best of me...
We have also had to deal with grocery acquisition without going to stores. We did find a local store that has a great curb-side pick up and have managed to get other stuff from Amazon. H goes to great lengths to ensure that everything is properly decontaminated. OK, I probably, make her do way more than necessary.
I keep reminding myself of Anna's big song in Frozen II: "Just do the next right thing"
I keep eyes on the next immediate thing. I exercise. I meditate. I focus on the people I love.
I do not look at the news. H has even cut down on Facebook. It is all too scary and depressing.
This will pass and things will work out. I am still hoping that summer happens and we can all get back to paddling and biking and camping and hanging out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Quarantine Week 1

I've been in social isolation since last Wednesday. My kid had a stomachache, which was probably nerves; I WFH on Thursday; Friday they closed the schools for three weeks.... Or more likely until May or September.

Aside from some seasonal allergies and anxiety induced crazy, we are all fine.
We are taking our temperatures like 100 times a day, washing our hands every 10 minuets, and sanitizing everything regularly for at least the next week to make sure we stay fine. 2-14 days is what the current information says is incubation time.
Maybe then my health focused anxiety will lessen. I can turn feeling short of breath and tired from a killer mountain bike ride and turn it into a cardiac issue without any cause. My doctor, despite his best judgment, had me take a stress test (with imaging) to mollify my fear of impending cardiac doom and I'm still not 100% sure I won't just drop after a hard workout.....
One way I deal with this is to push myself a little just to prove to myself that I am OK. So if I'm nervous that I am going to keel over, I will go for a bike ride or a long walk figuring I will either prove myself right or prove myself wrong. Neither option is really good. Proving myself right means, at a minimum, a hospital visit. Proving myself wrong just makes me feel bad and doesn't really prove anything.
The current health scare has me doing similarly silly things. I was feeling a little tired and tight chested this morning after sitting on the cramped little couch in my office typing on my cramped little laptop doing some tedious work thing to help the rich stay rich by testing some publishing platform that is glitzy but that our team is unprepared to use because they still think people read books on the web, so I decided to brave the damp, chilly air and go for a two mile power walk on some of the biggest hills in my hood. (I kept at least 6 feet from all other human beings.) What did I prove to myself.... That I can walk 2 miles; that it is hard to do given that I usually do not walk that far up that many hills; that physical exertion makes one breath heavy..... On the plus side, if I keep it up walking up steep hills for several miles will just get easier and easier and if hiking season doesn't get canceled I'll be more than ready for our multi-day Hut Hike.
We have all also cut down news consumption to once a day. At least I have and H says she has. H does look at Facebook more than is probably healthy. (I think the simple act of logging in to Facebook is unhealthy, so I'm not a good gauge.)
Aside from being generally crazy, the house is running as smoothly as can be expected.
H is doing her best to keep child on a schedule that involves school work, creative endeavors, and problem solving. Child keeps trying to sneak in FaceTime and iMessage chats with her friends or TikToK time. It is the age old struggle - just now we cannot offload the majority of it to the underpaid and under appreciated teachers who are typically on the front lines.
We are fortunate to have access to countless online resources and two college educated adults. Child is also fortunate that she has so many ways to stay in touch with her friends. (Not that I can understand the need; I've muted the chat rooms at work because I prefer the quiet.) She has been having a daily Lego Challenge playdate with one friend over FaceTime. We also have incredibly dedicated teachers who are sending out regular online assignments and links to resources.
I cannot imagine how hard this is for families without access to technology, the ability for both parents to work from home, or the ability to put good food on the table everyday. Our school system is providing two squares a day for families in need. The local Y is running daily programs for parents who truly need daycare for their children.
For now, I am counting my blessings and hoping that the storm will pass with the least damage possible. Hopefully in a month we can all come out of our burrows and get on with life as normalish.
Stay safe and as sane as possible.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Pool Play

My luck with pool sessions this season has been pretty bad. Nearly everyone has fallen on the same day as a gymnastics competition.
Don't get me wrong, I love watching my daughter and her friends compete; they are amazing athletes.
Still a little bit of water time does have a certain restorative power that sitting in a gym cannot match.
Fortunately, this weekend the rolling session and the competition fell on different days!!! Saturday was spent doing gymnastics stuff (competitions can be an all day affair despite the fact the each kid only spends a couple of minutes doing stuff). Sunday got to be pool party time!!!
It was also the first time I was going to get to see how rolling with the new Kalleq. It was a very exciting time.
I started off just getting a feel for the paddle by maneuvering around the pool, doing some sculling draws, and some sculling for support. Then I took the plunge... It wasn't the prettiest roll, but I ended right side up. The Kalleq has a surprising amount of power when rolling - more than any of the wooden sticks I've used - yet feels very light. I can usually feel it in my shoulders when I power my way through a roll, but with the Kalleq.
I did get some very good pointers about watching my paddle tip while rolling. I also got reminded to keep my head down. Once I started doing that, things went much smoother.
Once upon a time, I was a pretty balanced roller. Once upon a time, I paddled three times a week. Now I definitely have a strong side and a weak side. Fortunately, all the practice that I used to do means that I can stay relatively calm under water and switch sides in a pinch.
The Kalleq even made me confident enough to try rolling without extending the blade like a Euro paddler. It was surprisingly effective. I think I got like 95% of the rolls I tried. It was a little weird because I could feel the back side of the paddle bumping against the hull.
Tim M. tried out the Kalleq for awhile as well. He seemed OK with it.
While he used the Kalleq, I tried to do some rolls with my trusty Lendal.... It was far less rewarding then I had hoped... I struggled to get the angle of the blade correct. I did manage a few rolls, but none that made me feel confident that I could do it in the wild. (It is a good thing I didn't consider that I may not be able to roll with the Lendal during the Gales....)
I also did some re-entry and rolls which are always a good thing to have in the back pocket.
Watching some of the regulars did make me a little jealous. The Tims and Gary have bombproof rolls that mostly look effortless. One of the Tims was even doing rolls with half a paddle after doing a rat swim to get the paddle.
Then I remembered why I don't paddle three times a week anymore; I have an awesome wife and kid at home. The bombproof roll can wait until the kid turns into a teenager who is too embarrassed to hang out with her dad.
After the pool Tim M. and I grabbed coffee. It was nice to catch up and unwind.
I returned home energized and looking forward to summer.