Friday, April 17, 2020

Settling Into A Routine

Like everyone else, I've been trying to adjust to being home-bound. Yesterday, I tried my hand at making a mask so that I could go out. I needed to drop off my tax documents. The office I've been going to for two decades was about to close as it usually does on April 15 (even though this year the deadline is in July). If I had missed the person I've worked with for years I would have had to the branch office that was remaining open and work with someone there by email or phone. Since my person knows all about my writing deductions I opted to make a quick trip to give her what she needed.

What surprised me was how anxious I felt when I ventured out of the house after being on shutdown (here in New York) for four weeks. I have been having everything delivered -- and, yes, that really is a time-consuming process. Way too much time involved in trying to think about what you might want to eat two weeks from now because it takes five days to get a delivery slot. Also a problem to have to order veggies that quickly go bad if you don't cook with them first.

But going out yesterday reminded me that I need to get some fresh air. I need to step out the door and go for a walk at least every other day. I also need to get a routine in place. This afternoon, I ordered the supplies I need -- printer paper, files, storage boxes, and a larger shredder -- so that I can bring some order to my home office.

 I'm alternating organizing with working. I have a proposal to get in, and I need to finish my book about gangster films. At the same time, I am teaching two classes online. That's a learning curve that I and a lot of other teachers are experiencing right now. I normally do hybrid courses, but now I need to do  Power Point slides. I rarely do a complete Power Point presentations for my in-class lectures. So Monday and Tuesday I focus on classes. The rest of the week, I'm doing research and writing. I'm also attending Zoom meetings.

Of necessity, I've becoming more skillful in navigating virtual meetings. I'm learning how far to sit from the camera and to pay attention to what's on my desk. Or behind me. I realized in the middle of one meeting that my cat's litter box was visible on the screen. I use a litter deodorizer, and it's okay there (the only convenient place to have it out of the way). But anyone looking must have wondered. Anyone who saw this little dragon must have wondered about him, too.

 I always wonder about what I can see of other people's rooms.

There is also the question of what to wear for a virtual meeting. With celebrities dressing down and showing us their unmade-up faces and just out of shower hair, everyone else seems to have followed the trend. But I still feel as if I should at least tidy up enough not scare people when my face pops up on the screen. I do have this hair thing going on. Like some other ill-advised people, a few days ago I decided to trim my own hair. Now, the gray is really showing. I can't decide how I feel about it. I've been seeing gray hairs since I was in my 20s, and I'm really tired of doing touch-ups every two or three weeks. Now that I'm house-bound I could see what I look like if I don't. Except for those Zoom meetings where other people are seeing my experiment.

I think I need a hat. Maybe I'll knit one with that beginner's knitting kit that I bought a couple of years ago and never time to use. Knit while I learning about French culture from a Kanopy course or taking a Master Class (now that I have a year's subscription). I could knit my hat while I'm learning how to make something really interesting for dinner.

Except I need to stay focused. I want to get back to my 1939 historical thriller. The delay has given me a few ideas. Although Sleuthfest was cancelled, I had a character-naming opportunity in the auction. The winner offered me two names to use. I decided to use both, pairing them with another couple whose names I had already offered to include. As soon as I thought of that, I could see the four of them chatting together on a train bound for New York City. They are discussing the World's Fair that both couples plan to attend. The sleeping car porter, my protagonist, is moving about in the background -- an echo of the scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. But instead of telling the two couples about the man who hasn't been seen since he boarded the train, my porter will be worrying about his own problems. The perfect set-up for a flashback. . .

So that's the news from here on my sofa. It's late and I should go to bed. Stay well, everyone.


Tanya said...

Hi! If you don't have to be "visible" to your colleagues during meetings, you can turn off the camera and use Zoom with audio/screen share only. I've been working from home for years, and I never want to bother with hair fixing or makeup for what are basically glorified conference calls. And you can post a photo if you want others to see something while you're talking. I vote for low-maintenance routines so we can focus on the important things (like hugging our cats during work hours!).

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Hi Tanya,

I was invisible the first time I attended a Zoom faculty meeting with my new camera on my new computer. It wasn't intentional. It just took me some time to figure out what was going wrong. I actually needed to do my committee report while I was no more than a name on the screen. Then I got on and there was my cat litter box. I think I will work on my background before my class meeting. But I think my students would enjoy seeing Harry himself. He has lots of personality and could be a virtual therapy animal while we're discussing research papers:).