Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Three

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March 27th

 Today was a full day, even though I decided to step away from working on my classes for the day, apart from sending and replying to some emails. It’s a funny thing, this switch to virtual classrooms, I’m actually busier now each day and indeed, I have longer days, than when I’m teaching a normal semester. But normal this semester is certainly not, so I rewarded myself with having a bit of a free day. I started watching the AMC series The Son. It is pretty interesting. Granted, I’ve read the book before (technically, I listened to it on Audible) and so I roughly know how it is going to play out, but it is nice to see how they converted it to the screen.

At 4:45pm, we had our first virtual happy hour. It was fun. A colleague and I intentionally dressed alike (white shirts with red ties). I think we had 5 or 6 people there at varying points. Hopefully we will do it again soon. It’s nice to see colleagues, even if it is on a computer screen. I’m lucky because I’m not along at home. My wife is here, and most importantly, my little girl Anastasia Colleen. I went to bed around 2300 hours, but I woke up every two hours all night long. Probably because I’d drank more water (and kool-aide) during the day than normal, so my bladder was a bit more active than is typical.

March 28th

Though perhaps best known for their song Eye of the Tiger which plays on an endless loop in boxing gyms across the country, Survivor has another song called Moment of Truth (which, if memory serves me, was used in the Karate Kid movie). There’s a line in the song that says, “Deep in the night, a dream is born. One that you can’t ignore.” Why am I quoting that here? Well, Dear Readers, while I was laying in bed around 0130 this morning, I got to thinking about something. I was mulling over the plot of my third book, which I planned on starting to write here in a few weeks’ time. Everything is sketched out from characters to plot outline to chapters. I have it set during the Russian Revolution, at least I thought I did. As I stared at the ceiling, I got to thinking. What if I lifted my plot out of Russia and transported it to our side of the world, and dropped it into the Mexican revolution? It would work. Both revolutions were happening more or less simultaneously, though Mexico’s started earlier. Other than the setting, the plot would not need to be changed all that much, only tinkered with a bit. Revolutionary Mexico is as fascinating an era as Revolutionary Russia. In fact, my minor field in graduate school just so happened to have been Revolutionary Mexico, which is why I speak Spanish in addition to Russian. And, since I live in Texas and it comes in handy, I speak Spanish a whole lot better than I do Russian. I haven’t decided for sure, but I’m leaning heavily towards shifting the setting.

March 29th

 Today is the last day before the Great Online Course Migration begins, or rather, the first day of virtual classes begins. I had to do some last minute preps that stretched into the entire day, mainly because after two weeks of working to get all this shit set up, I’m tired. One of the reasons I don’t much care for teaching online classes is that they take three times the preparation compared to face to face classes on the instructional end. In a typical semester, I only teach one online section, out of six classes, but now all six will be online for the duration. I’m also scheduled to teach two sections during the Summer 2 semester, but the jury is still out as to whether or not those courses will be in person, online, or even held at all. I have a sneaking suspicion that they will be online, but we’ll see. The cats are enjoying us being home. Or at least they appear to be enjoying it.

March 30th

 Today is D-Day. Classes have resumed. When I checked my email at 0930, I already had four messages from students. For sake of comparison, I’ve had three student emails total from March 6th through the 29th, so I guess this is a harbinger of things to come. Of course, the college is bombarding us with emails this morning too. As if they don’t know that we are getting lots of student emails today and the demands the college keeps sending out could wait a day or two…it isn’t urgent. But those who aren’t instructional, have time to send emails out in a constant stream all day to make it look like they are working, and so I have no doubt this will continue unabated until the end of the semester.

On the writing front, this is a big week. Molly’s Song will come back from the editor on Friday. I’ll take a look at her feedback and then start on revisions. It’ll go back for a copyedit in June. Right now I can’t give a firm timeline for when the book will be published. It could be late fall…or even later. So stand by for information on that as I will keep you updated as things go along. And now I must go back to checking emails.

March 31st

 There’s a wrinkle in the self-isolation plan…the pharmacy. I had to submit my refills this morning via the Walgreens app, but I’ll have to go or get my wife to go to pick them up. I can go through the drive thru, of course, but I still have to give them my card and, of course, they’ve touched the bottles. I can wear gloves, I guess. I’m not sure how many cases we have in the immediate area, since the news doesn’t say specifics other than over 1000 cases in the Greater Houston area. But the Greater Houston area encompasses quite a few counties and the total population is larger than many states.

I’m not suffering from cabin fever, quite the contrary. There’s plenty to keep me occupied by work related items and stuff on TV to watch. I had a nice surprise this morning. The SyFY Channel is hosting a 24 hour Twilight Zone marathon! Normally, my New Year’s Eve tradition is to watch the 48 hour marathon they host at the close of every year, so it is nice to have a 24 hour mini marathon. I know what I’ll be doing today apart from replying to student emails! At 0830, they showed “Time Enough At Last” which is one of my favorite episodes. That bodes well for the rest of the day. In the spirit of quarantines, I think they should also show “The Shelter” and “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street.”

April 1st

 I’m afraid it has happened. Yesterday afternoon, I developed a nagging sore throat. I took various sore throat remedies to no avail. Overnight, I had a hard time getting to sleep. When I woke up this morning, my throat was still sore, though perhaps not as pronounced as last night. However, I feel kind of weak and shaky. I am not running a fever as of yet. The thing is, for me to have caught The Rona, it would mean that it travelled in on bags from my wife’s last trip to the store. She wore gloves when she was there and I wore gloves when I helped put everything away. All the plastic bags went straight into a trash bag. And when we finished putting things away, we wiped down all the surfaces with Lysol, including the doorknob. So if I have it, then it is truly a durable virus. I guess time will tell. Either I’ll develop a fever or I won’t. That will be the telling symptom.

In the meantime, after much reflection and a few sleepless nights, I’ve decided to keep my third novel set during the Russian Revolution as previously planned. This epiphany occurred to me as I was laying in bed last night looking at the photo of Maria Nikolaevna that I keep by my bed. I don’t think my guardian angel would approve if I moved the location, especially seeing as how she was to make a cameo appearance in the book if it were set in Russia. I think I owe it to her to keep her there. I’m planning on starting to write it on Monday (it’s already plotted out), assuming I don’t have The Rona, that is. If so, all bets are off.

April 2

 Yesterday, I admit I was a bit lazy and did very little other than reply to emails and watch funny YouTube videos. As of yet, I have not developed a fever and, assuming I can make it through the next 24 hours without getting one, then it is likely that I do not have The Rona. Today, however, I have been sneezing up a storm this morning which does tend to reinforce the notion that this is allergy based. I have some more videos that I need to shoot, but I don’t want to risk a sneezing fit on camera, so I am probably going to put that off until the weekend and then do some binge recording.

I was planning on doing a giveaway when my Instagram account hit 400 followers (you can find me @LeeHutch_author ). However, due to the virus, I can’t mail out the books even though I’ve surpassed that number. In fact, the author copies I had ordered to send out won’t even arrive until today due to Amazon shipping delays. I’ll have to put gloves on to open the package, then wipe the books down with Lysol, and then place them in quarantine until such time as I can get to the post office. And Lord knows when that will be.

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I don’t have a whole lot on tap for today other than to keep up with some work-related items and at 3pm I have a therapist appointment. (It is a telehealth appointment, so I’ll be socially distanced). I neglected to mention this earlier, but on March 30th I learned that So Others May Live is a finalist in the General Fiction category of the Independent Audiobook Awards. That’s kind of a big deal. It’s the small/indie press equivalent of The Audies which are like the Academy Awards for audiobooks. I had a stellar narrator, of course, and all the accolades on this one go to her.

And I’m counting down the hours until I get Molly O’ back from my editor. It is, of course, amazing to me that seeing early drafts of my novels haven’t driven her into early retirement.

Until next time, friends, take care of yourselves. And each other.

(From six feet away, of course!)

L.H.

2 thoughts on “Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Three

  1. So glad for the update, and personally delighted that you decided on Russia. Not happy to hear that you are not well, and praying it is only allergies and that they take their leave post haste!! Texas…an allergy capital!😕 Thanks again. To your devotion to your family, students and your readers! God bless you and yours!🙏😊💕. Mrs. K

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