This is the second installment of my Journal of a Pandemic Year series. If you missed the first one, you can find it here.
March 19th: Night
My wife and I sat on the porch tonight between the hours of 8pm and 9pm, as we do every night, pandemic or not. The internets is rife with rumors of martial law (which people misspell as “marshall law”. I don’t believe the rumors. That’s the negative thing about social media. These things spread like wildfire. Still, we only have enough supplies for one more week. If people are believing the rumors, it might cause another run on the stores, so my wife and I decided that she would venture out to Dollar General in the morning. (I can’t go out due to my health and with my damaged spine being what it is, I can’t lift groceries anyway). When I got in bed an 9pm, I decided to watch the movie 28 Days Later. I’ve seen it one time, many years ago. The scene in the church when the infected priest appears still scares the shit out of me. I only made it halfway through it. I’ll finish it tomorrow. I went back outside at 10:15pm or so until around 11pm, and then it was time for bed. I’m having a hard time falling and staying asleep right now. Inevitably, I toss and turn until around 2:30, then I’ll manage to sleep for a couple of hours. I get up and go to the bathroom, but then I lay awake until around 7am when I crash hard for an hour and wake up groggy at 8. This is an every night thing and has been since I started Spring Break back on March 9th. What’s odd is that I normally don’t have this issue during breaks from school. I’m not sure if it is stress or something else. My back is killing me, so it could be due to that, but I think it is something more.
I made it out of bed around 8:15am. I had an Ensure and a big slice of red velvet cake for breakfast. The pandemic breakfast of champions! My wife left around 9:30 to run her errands, returning home at 10:15. She wore gloves. While she was out, a friend sent her a text message of a grocery store in a nearby town with people lined up around the corner. That’s why she went to Dollar General instead of Kroger. She was able to get most of what we need and top off our supplies. We can make it around a month without leaving the house again. When she got home, I wore gloves to help put the food away and the empty bags went directly into a trash bag that we then placed outside. Then we wiped down the cabinet door, the front door, and the fridge door. I washed my hands all the way up to my elbows under water hot enough to be scalding for around four minutes and my wife got in the shower and put her clothes directly in the washing machine. If the virus finds access into our house, it’ll be through this but there was nothing else we could do. So we tried to be as safe about it as possible.
California has ordered the entire state into lockdown according to the news which broke last night. Governor Newsome announced it. I’m in Texas and though we are urged to do the same, it isn’t really mandated yet. With those measures taken by California, I wonder if other states will follow suit. Probably. I had to check my work emails this morning and didn’t have much that needed my attention. Now it sounds like New York is doing the same as California. I turned on the radio and there was a press conference on, but I missed the beginning of it.
This afternoon, I started working a script for my favorite podcast, All Bad Things. I won’t tell you what it is about as I do not want to spoil the surprise, but I hope it will be good. I also binge watched Season 8 of London’s Burning on Amazon. I replied to a few emails and did very little else of value. I have a rough plan of how I’m going to proceed with the semester and I will start working on the details next week since technically the college is still closed this week. Around 7;45pm, my wife and I sat outside for an hour and fifteen minutes or so. I didn’t listen to much in the way of news this evening, as I figured it wouldn’t be anything good anyway. I did, however, get an email that informed me that my novel, So Others May Live, has been selected as a finalist in the War & Military Fiction category of the Forward Indies Book Awards, so that’s one piece of good news!
Last night I tossed and turned until the wee hours of the morning. I really don’t know what is wrong with my sleeping patterns. My back felt okay yesterday, but it doesn’t today. I had an Ensure and some yogurt for breakfast, a bit healthier than what I had yesterday. Today, I’m planning on working on the script a little more. My co-worker set up a meeting on Zoom for us scheduled for 1:30pm to test out and see how it works. I spent around 30 minutes this morning setting up an account and I made a virtual background with a photo of my history crush Maria Nikolaevna. 😊
In the afternoon, I had my Zoom conference. Everything worked fairly well. I then checked my emails, talked on the phone to a colleague, and watched funny YouTube videos. That evening, I decided to go back and play one of my favorite PlayStation games, Red Dead Redemption (the first one). I am a creature of habit and I take comfort in familiar things, so I often watch the same movies/shows over and over again. And I play the same games religiously too. I’ll probably keep playing it for the duration of the crisis.
I slept…okay…last night. I fell asleep around 11pm and slept until 3:30am. I woke up and got out of bed to go to the bathroom and sat outside for a little bit. I fell back asleep around 4 and slept until 6:45am. I didn’t want to get out of bed that early, so I messed around on my phone and fell back asleep around 7:30 only to wake up groggy and confused at 8:30. This has jacked up my whole schedule for the day. For breakfast, I had ham and eggs, though the eggs were regular colored and not green. I worked on the podcast script until lunchtime. I’m getting close to finishing it. I am hoping to get it done this evening some time. Tomorrow I have to start back to work on my class stuff and try to get everything set up for the students when they virtually return to class on March 30th. I have a pretty good plan for what I’m going to do, now I just have to do it.
The Zoom conference went well. We are going to try and have a weekly get together (virtually) with some other co-workers. It should be fun. I didn’t do much in the afternoon/evening other than play my game. Tomorrow, Monday, I have to get back to work for the college (at home, of course). I also finished up my script this afternoon and sent it over to the All Bad Things podcast.
Well…shit. I flat out could NOT fall asleep last night again. I tossed and turned until around 3am, so on the day I really needed to buckle down and do shit, my back was killing me again. I soldiered on though. Using Zoom as my recording platform, I pre-recorded three lectures for my 1301 class for when they start back next week and also got their syllabus adjusted and updated the course Blackboard page, so they are all set to go. It took me most of the day to do it, but I also got a head start on setting up my 1302 courses so that their Blackboard is done and all I have to do tomorrow is record three videos.
I’ve found that recording the videos on Zoom is kind of fun. I don’t have much to say for today, since I was mostly working. I wanted to record a video with me standing in front of a planet so that I could say to the class, “Look, everyone! I’m lecturing in from Uranus!” My wife wouldn’t let me do it. I made it to the missions which are set in Old Mexico on Red Dead Redemption, so that is where I’ll be tonight. And hopefully I can sleep some too. I also decided to shave off my goatee tonight. It was starting to turn white. This is what happens when you marry a redhead.
Thank God for small miracles. I managed to sleep from 11:00 – 0200 and then again from 0215 until 0600. So I’m somewhat rested. Tomorrow morning we have a Zoom coffee hour and today I have to record 4 mini lectures for my 1302 students. The first one will be a short introduction to the new way the course is structured. The second one will be about prostitution in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The third one is about Prohibition and the Jazz Age. And the fourth one is about the Great Depression, which is depressing. But at least I’ll get to do WW2 lectures after that! Yay! I might share some of my WW2 lectures on my blog. We’ll see.
I’ve been too busy to follow much on the news, but I hear that in the US we are inching closer to 50K identified cases in the United States with close to 1K in my state. (I say identified cases because of the issues with testing that have no been resolved yet). There’s a lot more of it out there than we know. I’m happily getting my work done, though I wish I had time to start writing my next novel. (Molly’s Song is out with the editor at present). I’m going to try and get as much done for setting up my classes for the duration this week so that I can have time to write moving forward. We’ll see how that goes.
It’s 5pm and I can now say that my classes are all set for the first week back (March 30th). I’m going to spend the rest of the week trying to get two more weeks done so that I’ll have half of the remaining weeks covered. That’ll buy me a little time in which to work on writing. That’s the plan, anyway. We’ll see how it goes. I think that this evening, instead of playing my game on the PlayStation, I’m going to read a book and listen to an old time radio drama or something. And enjoy a cigar out on the porch.
I listened to part of a radio drama as planned. Instead of one from the 40s or 50s, I listened to the BBC radio adaptation of Bomber by Len Deighton (you can find the radio version here) as I am about to start recording my WW2 lectures. (Some today and some tomorrow). Last night I slept like the dead, though I guess that isn’t an appropriate analogy to use during a pandemic. I ate some cereal for breakfast and at 9:30, had a coffee hour with some colleagues from the Sugar Land campus on Zoom. After that, I set up the Zoom Happy Hour for Friday. I hope people show up. It would be kind of awkward to host a happy hour for co-workers and have no one show up! But I’m sure enough people will to make it worthwhile. I enjoy talking to my colleagues, even if it is through a computer screen. On tap for today, I have to do some small detail oriented things for my classes before lunch, and then I’ll do some recording in the afternoon. Oddly enough, I’m having a blast recording these mini lectures. I plan on using them for my regular online classes in the future. One challenge is making sure I change shirts in between videos so that it doesn’t look like I’m wearing the same thing every day. (I’m not, but honestly I’m just wearing an undershirt around the house, but that wouldn’t look right in a video!)
March 26th: Day
Last night I fell asleep watching TV. It was around 10:15 or so. I awoke to my wife taking my glasses off and covering me up with a blanket. Needless to say, I ended up sleeping fairly well. I woke up at 0645 fairly well rested and didn’t fall back asleep. That’s the good news. The bad news, and it is a wicked trade off, really, is that when I sleep well, I’m in more pain in the morning than if I tossed and turned, so today will end up being an extra medication day.
My wife has a bunch of video conferences today, so I’m taking advantage of it to record some more lectures. I got half of the WW2 lectures done, which means I now have two weeks of material for my 1302 courses. This afternoon, I’ll start recording the rest of the WW2 lectures. That will carry me into tomorrow when I’ll handle weeks two and three of my 1301 course. It’s a brave new world we have entered into, and I’m not sure how all this is going to play out in the end. I’m going to stop this diary entry here so that I can post it.