So today is my day fifty-four of being shut-at-home trying to avoid catching the pandemic coronavirus. It has been an interesting time. I have to admit, if just a few months ago someone had told me I’d soon be staying inside my house for nearly two months with no end in sight, I would have thought they were crazy.
I often think back to just how much my life has changed in such an incredibly short time. Then take another step back and realize how much life has changed for almost everybody on planet Earth in that same time period.
A couple of weeks ago I had reason to talk to a computer help desk person. As we were waiting for our computers to do stuff I asked where he was. He replied “India” and I asked about conditions there. The man explained he was working from home, was in a planned twenty-one day nationwide lock-down but expected it to go longer. I shared what I was doing over in my small part of the world – working from home in lock-down with no end in sight. When we finished and were signing off, we each wished each other “good health to you and family.”
We were two people from opposite sides of the planet each simultaneously dealing with the same fears. But, for me the beauty was for just one moment, as two strangers we were able to make a human connection of shared concern.
Catching Up on Home Projects
My paid work has been nearly non-existent as I’m presently between contracts. A lack of paid work means I have more free time to pursue my schoolwork and personal hobbies. At least, hobbies that don’t involve leaving the house, which pretty much limits me to Internet stuff. I’ve had time to do some tech work on this site, build up my second website “Charest Consulting.com,” and even work a third site for an organization I’m involved with. One current school project involves designing and performing UX testing of a training-themed website. So, I find myself simultaneously working four different websites I’ve built.
While I enjoy the free time to pursue my personal interests I’m also feeling restless. I frequently get the feeling of being torn in different directions. Of wanting to do several things simultaneously but don’t know which way to turn. In the “past” (pre-coronavirus days) I often had that feeling of wanting to simultaneously do multiple things, which would cause me to lock-up and do nothing. I don’t get that locked-up feeling now, and I think it’s because I’m more relaxed.
Not having to spend three-and-a-half to five hours commuting each weekday has made such an incredible difference in staying relaxed. I knew that the daily commute was grinding me down. But I didn’t appreciate just how much toll it took on me until I could spend several weeks not commuting. I actually needed a couple of weeks to figure out what to do with the extra time each day.
Now, I’m wondering if I really want to go back to that old life again. I’ll be turning 64 this summer and permanent retirement from daily commuting looms large in my windscreen. Winnie and I have been talking a lot about packing it in and retiring now. I do think if I wasn’t trying to finish my graduate degree I might very well retire early.
In addition to working on four different websites, I’ve also had time to catch up on my genealogy project. Partly, this is a result of regrettably loosing more members of my extended Charest family. On Sunday, April 26, my Aunt Claire Forand passed peacefully at her nursing home in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. She was 95, and the second-to-last surviving sibling on my dad’s side of the family. Three of her daughters still live in Woonsocket, but because of the coronavirus they were not able to visit for her last few weeks.
Just a few days later, On Wednesday April 29, I lost another family member. My Uncle George Papagno, husband to my late Aunt Noella, passed at his nursing home in Florida, age 101. Aunt Noelle was another of my dad’s sisters and passed about three years ago. So, of the nine members of my dad’s family only one is still with us, my Aunt Lucille Duclos. She’s also in her 90’s and living in a nursing home somewhere in Maryland.
When someone in the family passes, I’m able to catch a lot of photos and other information for genealogy records. At this point I’ve captured a decent collection of old family photos and other documents, but there’s still a lot of gaps in my records.
The Daily Routine
So, my daily routine has become fairly “routine.” I tend to wake up most mornings between 4:00 – 5:00 AM, without an alarm clock because I’m so used to getting up that early. I shuffle downstairs for my morning tea and catch up with the daily horrors otherwise known as “news.” Once starting my second cup of tea I shuffle down to my basement den/home office/man cave and get online.
Winnie usually gets up between 7:00 – 8:00 and will get breakfast going. After breakfast, I’m back online doing more “stuff”; either schoolwork, working on one of my websites, or just puttering around. About 11:00AM I make a point of exercising on our stair-stepper machine while watching a movie. After I cool down and clean up I’m back online again.
Winnie makes a late lunch, which has become our main meal of the day. After lunch; back online, again. I’ll work until about 6:00PM and then quit for dinner. We’ve settled into a routine of having some fruit, cheese, nuts, and sometimes crackers for our evening meal. Then watch a movie or show on Amazon prime, and bedtime. I’m not surprised I keep waking up early as I don’t do anything now to actually make me tired.
Like commuting seventy-plus miles each day.
So, there’s life in the twenty-first century coronavirus pandemic. Unlike many states, we have a Governor who’s actually trying to do things right and has not announced when stay-at-home rules will be lifted. My expectations are sometime in early June but still with very limited mobility. All-in-all, I have a lot of time and energy to think through what I want to do after the pandemic ends and life goes back to some semblance of “normal.”
But, I don’t think the new post-pandemic normal will be anything like the pre-pandemic normal. Ever again.