An Anniversary of Sorts

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

This month most people in the States will be observing their Covid-19 anniversary. It’s the last day they went into the office, the last time they ate inside a restaurant, the last time they went to a bar with friends.

My anniversary is March 16th.

That was the last day that the library I work at was open “normally.” I use quotes because even though we were open for our normal hours of operations and people weren’t required to wear masks yet, some changes had already started to happen. We’d taken out the seating and the soft toys, had gone to touchless checkouts, were sanitizing everything, and were washing every item that had been returned with bleach water. That last day was a mad house because the state lockdown was looming and we all knew it.

Our library director along with the board had decided that if the schools closed for spring break early, then the library would close as well, and that’s what happened. That Friday, the governor ordered the lockdown.

And now here we are, a year later.

Over on my Twitter timeline, I saw people starting in late February warning folks about their Covid anniversary, how it might hit them harder than they thought it would. I thought that made sense. Some people were harder hit by the pandemic than others. I consider myself one of the luckier ones. I didn’t lose my job. In fact, I got paid when the library shut down and I was paid my regular hours when I was working much less than that once we were allowed back into the building. I haven’t had Covid (yet) and I haven’t lost anyone to it (yet), though I know many of my friends have. I didn’t think my Covid anniversary would be much of a big deal.

At the monthly meeting, our director said that we were going to do a small acknowledgment among the staff for our Covid anniversary, a thank you to all of us for being so flexible over the past year, which I think is great. We’ve all been busting our asses to serve our patrons during a difficult time. It’s nice to work for people who recognize that.

In the past week, as other people I know have been celebrating their Covid anniversaries, I’ve been working harder and harder to convince myself that mine isn’t a big deal. Because I’m feeling it more and more.

I’ve hit a couple of walls during the pandemic. Just splat into the brick of exhaustion, of frustration, of anxiety, of I-want-to be-done-now-thank-you. And I realize that I’m hitting yet another brick wall just in time for my anniversary. Maybe it’s because of the anniversary itself. Maybe it’s because now instead of arguing with people who don’t want to wear a mask because they think this whole pandemic thing is bullshit but we’re still requiring masks according to the CDC guidelines, I get to argue with people who don’t want to wear a mask because they’ve been vaccinated but we’re still requiring masks according to the CDC guidelines. Maybe it’s because with the vaccination, the end is in sight and I want so badly to time-jump to that point. Whatever it is, I am tired of this pandemic and everyone in it and I am splatting against this wall with all I have.

I, like everyone else, am done.

And, like many people, I am looking forward to the end of this.

I don’t want to celebrate a second anniversary.

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.