Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Tuesday Slice: My office romance

I am entering my third week of working from home.  He is entering his second week.

Our routines used to be more separated and defined.  My four-thirty-am alarm, his six-am.  I would be finished with my morning tasks at the computer before he entered the study, hitting the shower as he drank his coffee, kissing him goodbye before he finished his first cup.  Unless I had the day off, he was always the last to lock up the house.  We wouldn't speak to each other during the day.  I would call from the car in the late afternoon to see which one of us was running later than usual.  If he got home before me, the door would be unlocked and ever-so-slightly ajar, enough that I just had to push it open, because he knew my hands were often full.

Now we're both having trouble with consistent morning routines.  I still manage to wake up before he does, but sometimes by just a few minutes.  My eighteen minute commute, his half hour, are now shortened to thirty seconds, tops, from bedroom to desk.  My setup is at the craft table in the study; he has taken over half the kitchen table, where our college boy usually sits when he's home.  We both log in before we're dressed for the day. His first tasks are sometimes accompanied by my workouts in the living room, but once we're bent over our computers, we can't see each other from our respective "cubicles".

He is an incredibly understanding and supportive co-worker.  I pass by him several times an hour when my Fitbit reminds me to get up and walk, our small house not affording much room for movement.  I sometimes pause for a kiss, and he hasn't reported me to HR (yet).  He is quiet while I am recording read-alouds or running a Hangout, and hasn't interrupted a single virtual meeting by getting in the frame.  Come lunchtime, we'll break for a quick walk around the block together.

They say office romances don't often work out...I think we'll be fine.  Quarantine or not, it's nice to be married to a coworker with a shared work ethic.  Just don't tell the boss about those midday kisses...

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

SOLSC '20 Day Thirty-one: Thank you notes

Dear Slicing Community,
Thank you for your inspiration, comments, and support for the last thirty-one days.  This is my eighth year of participating in the SOLSC, and the first time I never once lacked for a writing idea, even if it was just the form I would use for the day.  (This may also be due to another circumstance, but that's the next thank-you note.)  Poetry, memoir, six by six, photo walks...this community proves that true, meaningful writing is so much more than a five sentence paragraph, five paragraph essay, write-as-much-as-you-can-to-this-test-prompt-on-a-topic-you-can't-relate-to.  You held me accountable just by being present each and every day this month, commenting on my posts and responding to my comments.  You've made me a better, more thoughtful writer.  

Beyond the writing, it was the delightful search for connections with you that brightened my days.  Travels, classroom aha!s, laments, former pets, nature noticings...every day there seemed to be a shared experience.  A word in your teasers or titles would spark a memory and send me over to your blog to see what we have in common.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!--Chris

***********************************
Dear COVID-19,
Thank you for being such a source of inspiration for my eighth year of participating in the SOLSC.  On March first, I had no idea and no real plan for what to write about for thirty-one days.  (I am, after all, a seat-of-the-pants Slicer.)  But then you showed up, and bam!  Slice after slice after slice was influenced by your arrival and continuing presence.  The changes you caused grew exponentially as the days went by, first weekly, then daily, then almost hourly until they encroached on our living and working routines.  You may be a physical manifestation, but you have wreaked emotional responses by causing the separation of families and shortages in food, toilet paper, and more importantly, medical supplies.  You've also brought out the best in people, bringing tears to our eyes over displays of gratitude and acts of kindness.  And when emotions run high or low, writers write.

So thank you, COVID-19, for your persistence in controlling our lives this month.  You've given us plenty to write about.

--Chris

Monday, March 30, 2020

SOLSC '20 Day Thirty: Carney Park

"Post a picture of your travels" a friend prompted.  "We can take a virtual trip around the world."  She posted a picture from England, another from Paris.

I've lived in Paris (well, for a few months, as a baby).  And Bangkok, Naples, Stuttgart.  We took trips to wonderful places while we lived overseas, thanks to my adventurous parents.  I ran around Pompeii before I could name all our state capitals.

Wonderful trips, historic places...but the first place that popped into my head at my friend's prompt was Carney Park.

Carney Park was and still is an American military recreation center in Pozzuoli, Italy, outside of Naples.  It has the unusual distinction of being located inside an extinct volcano.  
Image may contain: mountain, tree, sky, grass, plant, outdoor and nature
I remember being fascinated by this fact as a child.  We would drive over what looked like a small hill into this huge park.  Standing in place and slowly spinning around, you realize that the small hills are on all sides...you really are in a crater.

We had lots of good times in this park.  My mother learned to drive stick shift in the parking lot of the drive-in movie theater as my brother and I played on a swing set.  My Girl Scout troop held annual Father-Daughter campouts on the campgrounds--it always seemed to rain on those weekends.  The Army-Navy baseball game was held on the Fourth of July, with fireworks after the game was over; I vaguely remember a streaker ran across the field one year, just before the lights went out.

I'm glad Carney Park is still up and running.  The current website shows cabins for rent now, a fitness center, wifi.  The baseball diamonds, soccer fields and golf course are still there,as well as the pool; I don't see the drive-in theater in the description or pictures.

Carney Park in Pozzuoli, Italy...my place to remember today.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

SOLSC '20 Day Twenty-nine: It's only been....



  • It's only been eighty-nine days since China released news about an outbreak of pneumonia.
  • It's only been eighty-one days since The New York Times reported on the virus.
  • It's only been forty-seven days since COVID-19 was named by the World Health Organization.
  • It's only been twenty-nine days since Nicholas Kristof asked "Is This the Big One?".
  • It's only been twenty-seven days since we were asked to think about international travel.
  • It's only been twenty-six days since the first news of toilet paper shortages in stores.
  • It's only been twenty-four days since the NICU cancelled its volunteers.
  • It's only been eighteen days since our annual state library conference was cancelled, and I started receiving emails from hotel and theater chains about their sanitizing efforts.
  • It's only been seventeen days since the school field day was cancelled, and our son's college announced it would close in-person classes the following week and begin transitioning to online classes.
  • It's only been sixteen days since we went shopping with our collegeboy to stock him up on food and yes, toilet paper.
  • It's only been fourteen days since we cut our spring break road trip short.
  • It's only been thirteen days since our school district officially closed through April 3rd.
  • It's only been seven days since my first online meeting with campus colleagues.
  • It's only been five days since Austin enacted shelter-in-place restrictions, and I hurried to my campus to pick up supplies.
  • It's only been four days since our school district extended its closure through April 13th, and online teaching and learning became a reality.
  • It's only been three days since I began working with a team to put a teacher-help site together.
  • It's only been a day since I finally made a video to say hi to my students, to tell them how much I miss them.


Who knows how many days it will be until I see them in person again.
I've learned that a lot can happen in only eighty-nine days, or eighteen, or four...

Saturday, March 28, 2020

SOLSC '20 Day Twenty-eight: Thoughts in orbit

A friend of mine shared an article from National Geographic about astronaut Chris Cassidy's return to the International Space Station.  He's been twice before, and is looking forward to seeing familiar faces.  
This will be the first time that you've been back to the International Space Station since 2013. What are you most looking forward to about returning?
I'm really looking forward to seeing familiar faces—floating through the hatch and seeing Drew and Jessica [NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir] and giving them a big hug. That's a great moment. Those emotions, if you see them on TV—the smiles and the laughing—are real. We're friends, colleagues, and coworkers, but also we're humans who are experiencing something super cool together. That first couple hours, I can't wait to experience that.

Of course, looking out the window is always fantastic, but we'll have limited handover time [before Morgan and Meir return to Earth], so I just want to soak up their experience for that week before they disappear on me a few days later.
(by Michael Greshko, accessed 3/28/20)

He is looking forward to seeing his friends.

Think about that. We've reached an era of space travel in which we now have a decent-sized community of people with repeated shared experiences in orbit. This isn't just a once-in-a-generation moon landing anymore. These people are working like you and me, only with a longer commute and a high level of social distancing (pun intended).

With all the weirdness going on in our world today, it's nice to know that the now "normal" work of the astronauts of the ISS continues.  Pretty amazing, when you stop and think about it.  

Friday, March 27, 2020

SOLSC '20 Day Twenty-seven: Need to get a grip in six by six

Up past bedtime reading last night.

Ignored alarms and woke up "late".

Late for what?  Days have changed.

Summer hours in spring...doesn't fit.

I crave some kind of routine.

Next week, I will do better.



I was inspired by Book Dragon's six by six word post yesterday.  Since I tend to be wordy when I write, I wanted to try to do the same.  Not much inspiration this morning, other than waking up and hour and a half later than I would have liked.  When one is only seen from the chest up in online meetings, though, preparation for work can take on a different meaning....

Thursday, March 26, 2020

SOLSC '20 Day Twenty-six: This work from home thing

Yesterday was better than the day before.

The day before, I was discombobulated by a change in plans, a long meeting, technology issues.  I self-medicated with a McDonald's #2 breakfast meal (Sausage-Egg McMuffin with cheese, hash browns, large Diet Coke) after the scurry into school for supplies, and a DQ Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard, size medium, after the long meeting and tech finagling.  This furlough has not been good for my waistline.  I was exhausted by evening, but not the good kind of exhausted after a fulfilling, productive day; a grumpy, bad exhaustion like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  I had buttered popcorn for dinner, just to cap off the day of unhealthy eating.

Yesterday, I got up a bit earlier.  I made my coffee, read, prayed, wrote a Slice and commented on a few posts.  I started a load of laundry, did a quick aerobic indoor workout, and had a wonderfully productive Google Hangout with my ITS (despite some tech issues).  We made plans for tutorials and our broadcast team, in case we move to distance learning.  I was able to support some teachers via email.  I gained remote access to important library functions, and have a list of tasks to accomplish.

Yesterday, I spent time in the sun.  I walked around the block during one break, swept and hosed down the front porch during another, read a professional book while sitting on the back porch.  I ate some veggies and fruit, and even cooked dinner, ready just in time for my husband's return from work.  It was nice to sit and enjoy a meal together, after a few days of just picking through the leftovers in the fridge before he came home.  I ended the day by posting my usual Wednesday library blog, as sad as it was without anything to actually report from the library itself, though I did include directions for accessing our ebook collection. 

I'm still unsure how this work from home thing will look if we begin distance teaching and learning.  But yesterday was a good start, a balance of computer time and fresh air, healthy food and food for my mind and spirit.  If this continues past April 13th, though, I may be asking for a standing desk at home; my waistline, back, and hips weren't built for this much sitting.