working out of a backpack:  adventures of an IT worker in a pandemic

When the shit hit the fan last March I found myself working at home, pretty much overnight. Our campus was notified that Spring Break was going to be extended to two weeks instead of the traditional one, and the faculty were told to get their classes ready to be delivered remotely. On Friday, the day before my birthday, I packed up all the pieces and parts of my office I thought I would need and that was that. I went from driving to campus and working in my own dedicated office five days a week to working in my pjs with the cats “helping.” I was also in the midst of a triangular move involving Mom and Lancelot, but that’s a whole other story that I’ve told before. Anyway, I started working full time from home and found that when I was able to setup my very own dedicated office at home I really rather enjoyed it.

There’s a ton of flexibility to be had when you only have to really be “dressed” from the waist up, like you can put in a load of laundry when you take a break to stretch, and you can start cooking dinner whenever you need to. Access to the fridge, freezer, and pantry was also pretty damn nice. Shoes? Who needs shoes! It’s rather heavenly. Plus, no commute other than to pick up Lancelot from his job in the morning and for me there was almost no temptation to go out to get food. Living in various states of lockdown and being afraid of catching the plague absolutely sucked, but work wasn’t the same source of stress that it had been.

One of the other added bonuses for me is that I was able to see Lancelot more than I ever had. I still had to keep my working hours during the standard day time, but having him just in another part of the house meant that I could grab a quick hug if I needed it. That emotional support was amazing.

The team I work with proved, well beyond any shadow of doubt, that we could not only perform our necessary functions working remotely but we could offer an even higher level of service than we did before. Working from home helped us to hone some of our skills and forced us to find ways to do more and do it better. And because demand for our services grew exponentially the team expanded in a big way.

So much so that there’s no longer enough physical space for all of us in our designated office suite, even if we weren’t needing to continue observing social distancing guidelines (which we are). We now rotate who is there which days so that we can each have a space for that day where we don’t have to wear a mask the whole time. It’s not awful, but it sure is strange.

I’ve worked here for 20 years. I’ve had 9 different work areas. I’ve never had to share my work area like this. I’m not kidding you when I say I work out of my backpack. I had to figure out what all I need to carry with me every time I go in, including my personal office supplies. I do have a shelf in a closet where I keep a few “kitchen” type supplies for myself but that’s it. Everything else I carry with me on my back, every single time.

It’s not awful but it’s also not great. I always used to joke that my office was my home away from home, and it looked like it.

That was how it used to look. Very personalized, very me.

What’s actually hardest for me is the going back and forth. I work on campus two days a week, Thursday and Friday, and going between home and campus is rough. I can’t keep to the same routines every day, I don’t have my same supports in place, and there are no orange kitties on campus to walk on the keyboard. The funny thing is that I wouldn’t mind going back to working on campus full time, because that would be consistent. It’s the inconsistencies of this that throw my bipolar off kilter.

Even after all this time, 15 years now, it never ceases to amaze me how much of a creature of habit I have to be in order to maintain my sanity.

things to celebrate

For all that she is a raging pain in the ass sometimes, Dog Blossom is a good pup and pretty damn adorable

Let’s see, where to begin…

  • I’ve had four days in a row of 5000+ steps
  • I’ve tried some new recipes that were mostly successful
  • we’re having a small group of friends over tomorrow night to celebrate a late St. Patrick’s, early birthday, and the start of our vacation
  • I have now lost 24lbs
Spaghetti squash cooked in the instant pot and then mixed with a little butter, olive oil, garlic, grated Parmesan, and low fat ricotta

I’m quite excited about how things are going with the weight loss. I have been trying to make sure that I not only get my steps in but I also pay attention to my calories and eat a good variety of food, including healthy fats, and that I’m getting plenty of water. It’s a process, to be sure, but there are definitely pieces of this that are just second nature now. And that, probably more than anything else, makes me ridiculously happy.

Well, also, my pants are starting to be way too baggy. That makes me pretty fucking happy too.

Tomorrow morning I’m going with Mom to get a manicure, something I haven’t done since right before Lancelot and I got married last August. I certainly don’t feel like having the one shot is going to magically make me bullet-proof, but it gives me hope. I do feel like there are a few more things I can do, still carefully, and that I don’t need to worry quite constantly or quite as much. It will still be many months, if not until next year, before I feel safe to travel anywhere other than by driving our car. I’m just not ready for planes yet.

I am ready for restaurants, and that’s pretty exciting. We’ve done a lot of take out in the last year, generally just once a week but still. There’s just something about actually going in somewhere and enjoying a good meal. I’m even going to get spiffed up. For my outing on Sunday with my folks I have a black dress that I’ve never worn that actually fits very nicely now.

He’s fucking adorable when he’s sleeping. When he’s awake he bites leaves off my plants and then go racing off with them in his mouth. Captain Naughty Pants indeed.

the things this life has taught me

I’m not a fan of this plague bullshit, not at all. We’ve now reached the point where Lancelot and I agree that the less interaction I have with humans who are not him, the better. The community isn’t getting any safer here and our governor isn’t doing fuck-all about it. So it’s time to step up my own personal vigilance even further.

So I guess that’s a big part of what brings me to today’s post. Interestingly enough, there’s a tie within a tie here. I’ll get to that. I want to start with a list of things I’ve learned as a result of living through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

***Disclaimer: I am not a licensed mental health practitioner, though I play one in my imaginary world. Like everything on this blog these are just my observations. Your mileage may vary.

  • There is immense joy to be found in the small moments, such as an unexpected hug from a loved one or a favorite cup of tea.
  • There is no shame in working in your PJs, provided you work at home.
  • If it takes a village to raise a child, why do we think it doesn’t take a village to keep an adult human healthy and happy?
  • You don’t have to buy new stuff. Move your old stuff around. Get rid of some of it. Put the stuff you really love back in new places. It’s called Shit Shifting and it’s amazing.
  • You might not like Pumpkin Spice. You might think that Christmas shouldn’t appear before Thanksgiving. But it’s been a shit year, and those things make some people very happy, so just STFU and let them be happy.
  • I never would have tried ordering my groceries online for pick-up had it not been for this fucking plague. Now it’s the only way I shop and I love how much time it saves me.
  • I wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget any of my ideas for this post and I knew I didn’t have much time this morning when I went to get Lancelot so I finally learned how to make a voice recording on my phone.
  • Don’t save the good china / your good jewelry / that cute dress / insert appropriate thing here / for a special occasion. Any day you suck oxygen is a special occasion.
  • We’re going to come out of this stronger than we were before, I promise you that.
The hooligans are making me very leery of putting up a tree, but I feel amazing about having some of my snowflake ornaments hanging in the front windows

So far I’ve finished three gifts. I still have two left to make; hopefully I’ll start another one tonight. Today has been super rough so I might just go pass out somewhere. It has snowed off and on all day and it’s just cold. Of course Garth has been sleeping right next to the heat vent in my office all day so that doesn’t really help.

This is what I woke up to this morning. It should have told me everything I needed to know about today.

surviving a pandemic is harder than advertised

First things first – this shit is HARD. And by “this shit” I mean “life” right now. I won’t pretend that I had any idea what this whole Rona Plague business was going to be when it all started, but I certainly didn’t figure it would be like this. And I had NO FUCKING CLUE that my fellow humans had the potential to be so ridiculously stupid about all of it.

I think it’s probably safe to assume that we’re all struggling, at least a little. It’s still difficult to get certain supplies, like toilet paper and seriously what the ever loving fuck is up with that? We’re still not supposed to gather unless it’s outside or with people that already live in our homes, and in many places there are still mandates to wear face masks (which I FULLY support). I haven’t seen a movie in a theater in so long that I can’t tell you what the last movie I saw was, we haven’t been to any live concerts or theatrical shows, and I still don’t get the deal with the TP shortage.

And we’re scared. There’s proof now that someone who had the virus and recovered has been re-infected by another genetically different strain. So yeah, WTF?

We need some social interaction that doesn’t happen through a screen, but how do we get it safely? That is a fabulous question. According to my psych doc the time has come to get a fire pit or space heater and a warmer coat, you know, so we can have some friends over but stay outside so that we stay safe. Maybe we’ll build a snowman, who’s in? (no snow yet but it’s coming, oh yes, winter is coming…)

At any rate, we’re a “red” state again (still?) so I’ve decided we aren’t going out this weekend. I’d rather stay home and play it safe than go out anywhere unnecessary. Besides, there’s plenty of stuff to do around the house. We are actually going to have a very small Halloween party in the garage. I purchased an electric space heater and I found an idea for using Sterno cans to make little fire pit things for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. I am very much looking forward to it, and yes, we’ll be keeping it safe.

So there are a few things to do to get ready, and there’s always knitting to do. I’m still working on the shrug I started but it’s just boring right now. I like boring sometimes, but I also like something that requires a little more concentration. With that in mind, and as always trying to find something that was already wound up and would work, I started Off Kilter last night. I’m using a solid fuchsia pink (again, it’s what was ready to go) that I think is going to be amazing.

I’m not typically one to spend money on apps for my phone but I decided to break down and get the Row Counter app (links to Google Play store), in part because I can download patterns I have saved in my Ravelry library right into it. I had been using the free version but the upgrade lets me put in more details, photos, and track not only my row but the repeats as well. So far I really like it and find it to be worth the $9.99/year price.

The boys approve