Life in the Time of Isolation

In the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett there’s a novel called Interesting Times and in it is a curse that goes something like, “May you live in interesting times.”

Pretty safe to say that we’ve all been cursed.

Covid-19 is no joke. It’s turned the world upside down and inside out. Or should that be outside in given how many of us are in quarantine, in isolation, sheltering-in-place, safe-at-home, social distancing, or whatever other euphemism they come up with that basically means we’ve all drastically altered our lives in an attempt to flatten the curve and minimize the damage of this awful virus.

My descent into interesting times happened back in March.

Monday, March 9th it was business as usual at the library. By Wednesday, we were sanitizing the public spaces more often. By Thursday, we’d gone to a touchless checkout to minimize personal contact. Friday, the public computers were spaced out, homebound deliveries had been suspended, and we were sanitizing every book that came into the library. Saturday, all events at the library were canceled, chairs were removed to discourage patrons from hanging around, and the meeting rooms were closed. That next Monday, we were washing everything that came in with soap and water and allowing patrons to stay in the building for no more than an hour.

March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, we were closed to the public and the building has been closed ever since.

A week before it had been business as usual and then…

Interesting times happen fast.

Interesting times are stressful.

The first week, week and a half after the library closed I found myself stress eating quite a bit. I think a lot of people did. But I’m not normally a stress eater, so it was a little disconcerting. By the time I got that under control, shelter-in-place had been extended and I was told I wouldn’t be back to work until May 1st at the earliest. At least, not back to work in the building. The library staff have been doing our best to do some work from home, doing projects to keep our online patrons (and some of our offline ones as well) engaged. I think we’ve been doing a swell job, given the circumstances.

Other than not leaving the house to go to the day job, a big chunk of my daily routine has remained unchanged. Actually, in some ways it’s improved. The time off work has let my knees heal, which in turn has allowed me to get my fitness schedule back on track. The end of March was rough because of the stress of everything, but here we are in the beginning of April and I feel on track, productive even. The excessive anxiety that had been plaguing me since the beginning of March has finally lessened and I think I’ve gotten my sleep straightened out. At the very least, I’m sleeping through the night more often. My dreams are still pretty stressed out most of the time, though.

That’s not to say that everything is fine. The world still feels like it’s on a massive tilt in a lot of ways. I dread going grocery shopping even more than I did before all of this started. Running errands used to be a chore; now it’s a gauntlet.

As an introvert with a dash of social anxiety, staying at home hasn’t been that much of a challenge. Sitting out in the backyard, reading a book, feeding the squirrels, life feels almost normal.

But it’s not.

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