Coronavirus, Day 28 – Uncertainty

April 13, 2020 3:55am
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It’s hard not knowing what’s going to happen next.

Over the last few years, I’ve learned that this plays a big part with my anxiety because I do much better when I have a plan to follow and specific things that I know I want/need to be focused on.

With this pandemic, though, everything is up in the air and I’m often working on the fly … which is why I’m still up writing this blog post at 3:18am instead of asleep in my bed like I should be… 😛

I’ve really been trying to tell myself that these are not normal times and you can’t expect a lot of anyone – including yourself – while we’re all in the middle of chaos, yet there are some things I’d love to see change in my current day to day:

  • I’d like to feel as if I’m not just cleaning in any spare moment that I have because no matter how much I get done, it feels like the three cyclones that are my kids manage to tear it all back apart by the time I get up the next morning.
  • I’d like to make better use of my work time. Right now it feels like most of my time is spent jumping from fire to fire, and admittedly that’s what probably too much of my job felt like a month ago before all of this started, too! But in general, I’d love to find a way to stabilize that so I can start working towards my actual goals again and not just spend all of my time treading water.
  • I’d also like to find more time for calm in all of this because, well, HA! I mean, I’ve been blogging and writing humor a little more, which I think is nice, and I had a therapy session over telemedicine on Friday that gave me a chance to just talk through a lot of random frustrations. From the tone that I find myself taking with the kids, though, I know that I desperately need more.

It’s tough because there’s so much to worry about right now. Will any of my family directly catch and struggle with the virus? Will our jobs make more changes … they’ve already made a few … that suddenly change our finances at home? Will politics or businesses continue to heed the advise of the medical community or will we find ourselves backing off from social distancing too early and end up making this thing even worse?

Are my kids getting anything out of their e-learning in the absence of their traditional school environments?

What about the damage from missing out on things like their in-home autism therapies?

And what about all of those people who aren’t even as lucky as me to be able to work from home and try to support this demanding e-learning effort???

It’s a lot to handle, and as much as it feels like we’ve already been doing it forever (in reality, it’s been about a month), at this point I still have a hard time picturing an exit strategy to get everyone back to work and school…

Maybe some businesses can make adjustments to their workplaces, but many (like mine) have switched to open office floor plans that don’t even give us the privacy of cubicle walls anymore.

Schools on a good day are basically filled with walking petri dishes, so I really don’t see the kids doing anything other than virtual learning until the fall.

And all of those large gathering places like theme parks and beaches … I worry those places might end up being where we have to learn the hard way because if my local Walmart can’t even limit the number of people coming in the door, there’s no way that Disney World is going to when they’ve got people paying $150 a piece and they’ve grown accustomed to packing them in like sardines. 🙁

Still, I get the opposing argument – we can’t just stay locked away forever, and if a vaccine could still be 6-12 months away … what then???

I don’t know the answer to that one. I just know that all of the answers that come to mind sound scary, and I hope that there’s a team buried in data and brainpower somewhere that has some better ideas.

And that when they’re ready, we have the wherewithal to hear them.

Until then, all that we can do is take this one day at a time and not make any rash decisions.

I think it’s really easy to feel lost right now, particularly if you’re like myself and notice that you’re feeling stressed, but it’s hard to put a finger on what about…

Maybe you’re still working, so money isn’t really a concern.

And you’re healthy. And you don’t personally know anyone who’s gotten sick from COVID-19.

Your pantry is full, and sure, maybe the house is a little more stressful than usual because the kids are there all day, but let’s be honest … it could be so much worse!

I’ve found myself likening it to the solar eclipse that we experienced a couple of years ago because I remember driving around after I’d taken my obligatory pinhole view of it and thinking that it just felt sort of odd out. Personally I was unaffected, yet it was clear that something strange was going on and affecting all of us together nonetheless.

So I think it’s good for everyone to know what kinds of self-care work for them because there are so many ups and downs from this bizarre, global catastrophe, and it’s ok to still be stressed out even if your family is safe and there’s plenty of TP stocked in your bathroom!

Here are a few things that work for me – feel free to piggyback off of them if you’re struggling and just need something to help get you through the day…

  1. Write something. It honestly doesn’t even matter what.
  2. Find a pair of headphones and listen to my waves.
  3. Go for a walk.
  4. Try to meditate and tune out the world.
  5. Play a retro video game.
  6. Build a Lego set.
  7. Take a nap.
  8. Watch something mindlessly silly on YouTube.
  9. Go back and relive things I’ve already written.
  10. Grab a cherry coke slushy.

Sometimes when you’ve had a really stressful day…

February 3, 2019 3:21am
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…all you really need is an epic video about a man overcoming his fears and sitting in his friend’s lap.

Goodnight, Internet.

Desperately Seeking Normalcy…

February 2, 2019 7:17pm
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I’m not going to lie – I’m really, really overwhelmed right now.

I feel like I got a few things accomplished last week, but looking around and staring at my to-do list, there are more and more that got put off so that I could focus on the others … which just doesn’t work.

There’s only so much me to go around!

Our house is a disaster. I haven’t done dishes in a week and it’s almost impossible to use our kitchen sinks. I started cleaning up last night, but got distracted and stalled out mid-living room.

I wish that I could just pay somebody to clean the house for us, but money is so tight that it’s nowhere in the cards.

Our AC has been broken for two weeks. For a lot of the time it didn’t matter because it was freezing, but today was a little better and now the house is really hot. Not sure what’s going on with my go-to AC repair guy because he was supposed to come out last week and I never heard from him.

I’m kind of dreading picking another guy on Monday to try because the first one has always been good to us – prompt and great prices – but looking at next week’s forecast, we really can’t put it off any longer.

Also … money! I hate living on the edge like we have been for the past 6 – 12 months where we’re literally putting off one bill on a given week to pay another. I think we’re on a path to stabilize things, more or less, but any bit of turbulence (i.e. expensive AC repairs!) could easily fuck those plans up royally.

absolutely hate having to ask my wife the second she gets home from the store how much she spent so that I can update the running tally in my head…

And creative stuff has been going really good, for the most part, although I’ve got a list of about half a dozen things that I need to play catch-up on. I know if the list gets much longer, I’ll need to start abandoning things because otherwise I get to a point where it’s just too much catch-up to ever reasonably push through.

But I did have a pretty good month for January from a writing income standpoint, which I don’t want to let myself gloss over because it’s still a pretty exciting bit of progress.

That said, it also sets up even bigger goals for February that bring along a lot of pressure, so I need to be able to get to work on them and not be bogged down with all of this nonsense!

Ok – all of that is out of my head now, so in theory I should be able to stop dwelling on it and instead start doing things that will actually make a difference towards it. Let’s see how that goes… 😛

Celebrating the Many, Many Joys of Christmas

This is an essay I wrote today about struggling with not getting to do every last thing that you wanted to do for Christmas.

Things like putting up lights on the house make me sad when I miss them because I know how much the kids would love them, but sometimes you just need to put in perspective the things that you have done and not beat yourself up over the ones that you didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s tough. But Christmastime is way to much fun to spend it being down on yourself over a few strands of garland or some Christmas cards that everyone will have thrown in the trash in a month anyways…

For a while now, I’ve said that time is my most precious resource.

I have a young family, a stressful job, and more ambitions than I have the time I’d like to fully indulge in, so often I find myself watching the clock even more so than I do my checking account balance. I can always make more money (sort of!), but no matter how hard I try, there are still only so many hours in a day at my disposal.

So for the last four years – specifically since the day that Christopher was born – I’ve been a telecommuter, working out of my home office and only going in for meetings that couldn’t be handled over the phone … which let’s be honest, in this day and age were few and far between!

I found that working from home was a good fit for me because it kept me in close proximity if Sara needed any help with the boys during the day. She still handled most of their daily care, but if she needed a hand changing a particularly messy diaper or wanted to share something adorable that they were doing, I could take a short break and come help.

It also made it so much more convenient that she could run to the store or go pickup Christopher from school while the twins were napping because I was still in the house with them doing my work.

It was a great system that came crashing to an end recently when my employer announced that they were ending our telecommuting policy. No discussion, no exceptions – they just wanted everyone back in the office to facilitate collaborations, despite the fact that we’re a global company and most of the people who I collaborate with are located in other countries… 🙁

I’m not going to rant and rave about that because this isn’t the time or the place, but what I can say is that over the years I’ve definitely learned that office life really isn’t for me. At least not right now it isn’t – the fixed schedules aren’t conducive to my life with three young kids, the commute is a giant waste of precious time, and in the end I know that I’m personally far more productive working privately at home without all of the distractions that come from working in the same building as 500 other people.

Sometimes other workers have a negative opinion towards telecommuters because they think that they’re just sitting at home, goofing off all day long.

I know because for a while I was one of those people who hated hearing that somebody was working from home that day because often times it was tough to get a hold of them, and frankly there was probably a bit of jealousy in wishing that *I* was sitting at home on my couch with my laptop instead of stuck in a stuffy cubicle for 10 hours a day, slowly watching my life flash before my eyes, too!

But the thing that I realized once I started enjoying the comforts of telecommuting regularly for myself is this – just because someone is physically in the office doesn’t mean that they’re actually doing anything productive with their time.

You can screw around at the office just as easily as you can at home – wandering from one co-worker’s desk to another for just a few minutes of idle chat, meetings that are booked for far longer time than they actually require, aimless web surfing and social media browsing, or even just taking an hour for a task that should take any reasonable person five minutes … don’t let anyone claim credit for being busier than you are just because they did it wearing pants. 😉

So needless to say, my world is even a bit more chaotic than normal right now because I feel like my precious time is even more constrained than ever. Not being able to throw up a load of laundry or wash a few dishes to help reduce the pile in the sink on my lunch break is already starting to take its toll and tensions within the family are higher because we don’t see each other nearly as much as we used to.

In a way, it really makes me think about work and why it is that we work the way that we do because it doesn’t always have to be this way.

Some jobs, of course, require a physical presence – retail, dining, hospitality, shipping – but for jobs that put us sitting at desks for 50 hours a week and with so many online tools to allow people to work together from all corners of the globe, the reasons are few and far between why people should be tethered to one certain desk to put in their time and it’s hard to see how the positives could possibly outweigh the negatives when you consider how freeing it can be for an employee to have more control over how they spend their day.

Right now I’m struggling to adjust – I’ll get by, but I’m not really happy about it. The upside is that it’s forcing me to reconsider some things that I’ve let slide for far too long out of a sense of just being comfortable. I’ve got a few ideas for ways to change things up, and I’m getting to the point in my life where I’m less willing to take no for an answer – 2,400 hours a year is just too much time to spend discontent.

I suppose we’ll see what happens! 😉

So I just posted the essay that I’ve been working on about taking a break from social media – go check it out over at Scott’s Guide to Life and then come back here for a few of my expanded thoughts…

The Social Media Cleanse

I’m not really sure what I want to do at this point because I do miss things like sharing goofy links and random parenting observations, but not at the expense of making myself feel awful when I get into fights over politics or just allow myself to get wound up by the immediacy of a news cycle that reacts first and asks relevant questions later, if ever.

Very briefly I pulled up both Twitter and Facebook to make sure that the links to my post showed up correctly, and I’m not exaggerating that after only a few minutes of scrolling, I felt my anxiety building until I finally just gave up and closed out each of the tabs. They were the same as I had left them a week and a half ago – like the shit cyclone has just been spinning this entire time, new Trump issues, same Trump channel.

And yet, there’s still great, hilarious stuff like this…

Part of me wonders if it’s worth trying to trim up my friend and follow lists to get them to a more manageable level, again because there are a (relatively small) handful of people who I genuinely want to keep up with either because they’re fellow writers, they make me laugh, or they’re just really good friends. 

Still, I think part of the charm of being away from social media has been not having that never-ending feed of updates to suck at my every waking idle moment. In a way, it’s been kind of nice to sit there watching TV at night and not have my phone in my hand, blindly scrolling through posts just as quickly as my social media master can serve them to me!

Sara says that maybe I should try using Facebook like she does – she rarely logs in, and when I say rarely I just mean weekly instead of hourly, and when she does, she tends to read messages in a few specific interest groups and keeps scanning her regular news feed from friends for last.

To be honest, I actually prefer Twitter to Facebook because I follow more like-minded people there, so maybe I need to do something like that, just on Twitter instead.

I recall exchanging a few emails trying to learn more about social media with fellow humorist Erik Deckers a few years ago and he recommended using it like a stream to dip into from time to time rather than a giant pool that I felt obligated to read every post from every person who I followed – that’s probably another good idea to help calm that feeling of being overwhelmed whenever I pull up my feed!

Combined with my mountainous concerns about Facebook oversharing personal data, being ravenous bastards with regards to their advertising program, and harboring the same walled garden principles that have turned me away from other networks in the past, I need to find a better way to make social media work for me so that the positive aspects outweigh the garbage.

I’m not sure if that means starting new accounts altogether or pruning the hell out of existing ones. Or possibly figuring out how to filter very limited versions of my friends lists so that I really only have to read those few that I genuinely enjoy.

It’s kind of funny because more than once I’ve actively noticed on Instagram where I’m clearly checking my feed too often because there might only be a half a dozen new pictures and the rest I’ve already seen before!

So if I’m concerned about Facebook and Twitter being a time suck again, maybe that’s a part of it – trimming down my lists until reviewing them becomes a once a day activity instead of all day, every day.

Still, Facebook and Twitter are a lot easier to post on than Instagram…

It’s so complicated, and it shouldn’t have to be!!!

It really makes me wonder how many other people struggle with using social media effectively versus letting it run/ruin their lives because I know I can’t be the only one who is driven crazy by the ever-spinning shit show.

#poopemoji

Politics is so exhausting lately.

It seems like every. single. week. something new is being set ablaze – this week was the Paris Agreement and claiming that the U.N. owes us money for defense, last week was bragging about firing FBI director James Comey as a result of the Russian investigation, and before that we had a budget worthy to be aligned with the mega rich, questioning why the civil war happened, inviting the national treasure that is Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent – a guy who threatened to kill President Obama – into the White House for a photo op…

*sigh*

Seriously, is this how conservatives felt from 2009 – 2016 when President Obama was advocating for the Affordable Care Act, supporting same-sex marriage rights, and turning around the recession?

I feel like whereas most Republican issues circle around money and where we should and shouldn’t spend it, Democrats focus on more wholistic goals like protecting the environment and civil rights and keeping our economy afloat, and so now with this extreme conservative voice dominating the federal landscape, every action feels like a stab at something vital to who we are – whether it’s making it easier for Christians to discriminate against people they don’t like or cutting benefits that help the poor or trying to ban entrance to our country to people who did nothing wrong but be born in a country that bad people also happen to be from.

Those on the other side of the aisle will make it sound as if we’re taking it too personally, as if it’s completely normal to hack and dice the work of the previous party once the government changes sides, but that’s not how this should work.

The things that the GOP is so quick to dismantle are essential parts of the larger pie:

  • The American economy will flounder worse than it does today if we had over public education to the greedy hands of privatization.
  • Healthcare in the greatest country on Earth will be even more of a joke to the rest of the industrialized world than it is today if provisions aren’t protected for even the most basic of services and conditions.
  • Our position in the world community relies on America being an ally, not a bully for hire.
  • And of course, none of it will matter if we allow our industries to pollute and ravish our environment in the name of short term financial gains.

Following such numerous issues is a constant struggle and it seems like the previous isn’t even brought to close before a new problem comes over the horizon, yet at the same time despise extraordinary fatigue it feels almost un-American to turn a blind eye and ignore this reality as our country is transformed by the business man that some insisted upon instead of the patriotic leader that we really needed.

Bamboo Closure (with Pics!)

November 7, 2015 1:21am
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I wrote about my ongoing battles with bamboo in this week’s humor column, but for a bit of added closure I wanted to share some photos that I took throughout the process. You know what they say, a picture’s worth a thousand stalks of bamboo… 😛

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All in all I think I spent between 6 -8 hours across about 4 days gutting this crap out of my backyard – you can see in the first picture how it was so bad when I started that you literally couldn’t get around the corner unless you were a koala or perhaps one of the tiny lizards that we see scurrying about here in Florida!

Apparently whenever you plant bamboo, you’re supposed to put in some sort of barrier to make sure that it stays within the area that you want it … and even then I guess a lot of the time it just manages to poke right on through anyways. 

If I had a backyard that was bigger than, oh say, a sidewalk, it’s actually a pretty neat plant and would be neat to see grow into a natural privacy wall over the course of a couple of years, but when you can literally stand in between my pool cage and the fence and touch both of them at the same time, it’s just too small for such an invasive, wild plant to grow.

Also, would you believe that months earlier I first actually tried my hand at cutting this stuff down with a regular hand saw?!?!?!

This stuff is crazy, and the next time I see it coming up underneath my side of the fence, I’m poisoning the entire thing. Sorry, neighbor, but know what in the hell you’re getting into before you plant such an insane plant/tree/shrub/grass right next to your neighbor’s fence… 🙁

What. A. Week. 😯

Where do I even begin?! It’s been a week of tests, a week of chaos, a week of hospitals.

Yes, I said hospital(s) … as in plural … multiple hospitals!

Ok, well it was technically the same hospital, just with multiple visits… 🙄

I was actually going to write about visit #1 the other day, and I didn’t even get a chance before we were on our way to visit #2! So yeah, that’s how my week has gone… 😛

The first trip surprised us just after lunchtime on Tuesday, and stemmed from some overnight tests that the doctor’s office had just gotten the results back from … you know, one of those gross, pee ones!

I joke about it now, but that was a pretty scary moment in time because the way it was presented to me was – “They want me to go to the hospital because I might be preeclamptic and they might have to deliver the baby today.”

She’s only 33 weeks right now and it’s definitely too early, so I raced home as sanely as I could manage – on the way, Bob Marley’s Jammin’ came on the radio, which I took as an amusing, little sign that I needed to calm down and do what I needed to do! 😉

Thankfully, everything was fine and after a couple of hours of monitoring, we were on our way and even still made it to our final childbirth class that night, which was nice because it was probably the most beneficial of the three!

It was a little crazy, but we figured that everything was ok and went to our first of two doctor’s appointments today when, just before leaving the high risk doctor, she decided to take Sara’s blood pressure and then came back, “So I’m going to send you to the hospital…”

Don’t get me wrong – it’s actually fantastic that they’re being so cautious with everything, even though my wallet isn’t exactly feeling the same way because I think in total we’ve been to hospitals four times since we got pregnant last August. Ironically, the most recent hospital is currently working on renovations, so maybe this is just how I’m supposed to do my part – I don’t know! 🙄

Anyways, today’s visit was only a couple of hours, too, and we made it home not long before company got here for Sara’s baby shower this weekend. As far as we can tell, the baby shower is still on for Saturday, presuming I get a day off from taking her to the hospital and all! The nice thing is that I’m getting really good at driving down there, and she’s already got a bag packed from the last two times … so I guess if anything, this has been good, expensive practice???

As a side note, the delivery date has basically been moved up to mid-month and now I’ve pretty much been relegated to doing just about everything from dishes to laundry to painting the baby’s room, etc… No pressure there!

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