I’ll update more this weekend, I swear.

I’m still working from home, and I’m grateful for the paycheck, (and hey, isn’t it awesome how the US ties our health care to employment, so we just threw 10 million people out of work and also off health insurance during a pandemic?)

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a contractor and have been for years, and normally it’s fine, but this week two things happened: I participated in a conference call with the company where I work (not my employer) and heard what they’re doing for their employees to help them out, and I got an email from my own employer.

The contrast was, um, striking. The employees are getting cash, extra paid time off, flexible schedules where possible. Someone asked if the company would do anything for the many, many contractors who work alongside the employees, and the answer was, “We’re trying to keep them working.” In other words, nope.

My own employer, source of my paycheck and health insurance, emailed us to say that they’re not doing anything extra for us, but hey, if our contracted positions go away we can always apply for unemployment, and good luck with health insurance. So, yeah, that was this week.

By yesterday I really could feel my nerves fraying; I think we’re all just starting to wrap our minds around the fact that the normal we knew before is never going to come back in quite the same way. We’ll get through it, most of us, but we’ll never be the same.

A friend shared a wonderful, darkly hilarious and profane essay by Chuck Wendig on Facebook. I’ve shared the link to it below; go read it. The entire essay resonated with me, but this part in particular:

” You cannot meet abnormality with increased normalcy. It just doesn’t work. There’s no countermanding it that way. We’re told we can be more productive, that we’re all work-from-home now, but lemme tell you: this isn’t your average way to work-from-home. This isn’t how to accelerate productivity. It’s like being told to work-from-home during a locust plague and a forest fire.

Read the entire excellent essay here.

Adjusting to the Abnormal.

Arrgh. I haven’t updated in almost a week. It’s been a period of adjustment.

Another work-from-home week is in the bag, and it’s almost starting to feel…normal-ish. I’m getting into the routine of conference calls and dog walks and emails and another dog walk, and stuff is getting done, mostly.

I’m horrified and paralyzed by what is coming. Florida is going to be the next epicenter of this pandemic, partly because our governor is a Trump Worshipping Dipshit who lives in fear of pissing off his Orange Overlord. So yeah, it’s all a fucking disaster, it’s terrifying, but all we can do to stay sane is follow the advice from the CDC and smart people, and try to survive.

Disney is closed for the foreseeable future. This is personally heartbreaking, this has never happened before (like so many things we’re living through) but the economic effect on THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of residents of Central Florida who were either directly or indirectly working for the Mouse is almost impossible to imagine.

So we’re all crazy, all over the world, but unexpected things are happening too, as we try to find our way through this.

Check it out: I built myself a desk chair! It had been sitting in its box since I ordered it in February as part of the office makeover. I admit I was not looking forward to assembling it, but after week one of working from home, I had a sore neck and knew something had to be done, so yesterday I faced the assembly challenge.

It was a breeze, and I needn’t have feared it. The assembly was really easy and it is comfortable, with decent lower back support. The casters are smooth and solid, and the pneumatic seat adjustment is better than my chair at the office. This counts as my major accomplishment of the week.

But that was nothing. My daughter dragged out the old and barely used sewing machine I gave her at least a decade ago, and she is teaching herself to sew clothing. Without a pattern. This is like witchcraft to me; I could barely operate the damn machine without injuring myself and never could sew a straight seam, and found the whole sewing business incredibly frustrating. So the machine sat in my closet until I gave it to her, when it sat in her closet, because she didn’t have time to mess with it. Now she’s making clothing without a pattern, guided by a sewing blog.

Actual, wearable clothing, created without a pattern. Witchcraft, I tell you.

I’ve been crocheting granny squares again, and then got a wild hair and decided that what the futon in the office really needs is piles of smooshy handknit throw pillows.

The pillows there are from IKEA, and while they’re cute enough, they’re kinda blah. I don’t want to spend money on Disney-themed pillow covers right now, but I do have a fairly substantial stash of yarns leftover from other projects, and I can re-cover those IKEA pillows with something less bland and mass-produced. I’ve dug out some leftover Cascade Sierra cotton. I think the first one will be neutral cream, but in double seed stitch so it’ll be all texture-y, and it’s a mindless thing I can do at the end of the work day.

I did order a rectangular pillow form from Amazon when I ordered more of my weirdly-sized AC filters today, because my nice new chair would be even nicer with a cute pillow for my lower back, because the days are long and Grandma’s back isn’t getting any younger.

So I’m knitting, my daughter is sewing, and my granddaughter got a similar wild hair and decided to teach herself to draw Manga-style cartoon characters. As with everything this child decides to try, it turns out that she’s quite good at it, and her mom’s going to order her a sketchbook and some real pencils so she can learn shading. (She’s using a #2 pencil and a lined spiral notebook right now.) Her dance studio is sharing lessons on Zoom and YouTube, so she’s been able to dance a bit. Online school starts next week.

So we’re practically a freakin’ Jane Austen novel here in Pandemic Valley, with our crafty-ness and artsy-ness and dancing and educational activities; all we need is a lovely country house and invitations to socially distanced garden parties, where we will nod at one another from six feet away, and sip punch while wearing gloves.

Even the dogs are benefitting from this enforced confinement. Gidget has decided she likes people just fine as long as they maintain proper Social Distancing. She’s much braver, and even talked shit with my neighbor’s asshole Chihuahua. He always does that “lunge and bark fiercely” thing when he sees my dogs, to the embarrassment of his mother. Gidget used to hide behind me, but she now runs toward him and barks sternly, then prances into the house for a treat and a “Brave Girl!”

(Although this newfound courage still applies mostly inside the neighborhood. I tried taking her for a walk around the block again, she spotted two ladies and a dog coming from the other direction and she turned around and headed home. The world outside the four streets of our condo community is still a Nope.)

Cosmo, my daughter’s Frenchie, is going on so many walks around the neighborhood he’s finally learning leash manners. See? bright spots!

Tomorrow I’m going to hit Publix as soon as it opens, with a list and a plan. I’m going to be working from home until mid-April at the least, and the company is preparing for this to be a long slog. I’ve been eating somewhat decently, but rather randomly, and it’s been pretty carb-heavy.

I’m going to go through my recipes and improve my diet: more fruit and vegetables, more salads. Publix has done a great job of keeping the produce department stocked in the last week or so. I’m going to become like one of those bullet journal YouTube chicks who has all the meals written down – in my case, it’s so I remember what I bought and why I bought it. I’m going to try really hard not to waste anything, so meals will be simple, and as fresh as possible. I’m craving berries, salads, and iced coffee.

This weekend I’ll check in with the Asheville contingent to find out how they’re coping. I know they’ve been hiking a lot.

So we’re coping, creating, trying to make the best of all of this, but damn, I miss normal. I wish I could feel confident we’ll ever have normal again.

The First Weekend in Captivity.

My downstairs neighbor was sitting outside again, alone, when she called to me. Her company had gone home, and she was visibly more relaxed and pleasant. So I’m going to chalk up her weird behavior to the tension of house guests that overstayed their welcome and were on her last nerve, and forgive and forget.

The work laptop and the Elderly iMac (circa 2011) traded places, and I had my desk back for the weekend. I’ll swap them again in the morning, but it’s important to me to have MY STUFF in its normal place during my personal time. When this is over, assuming there is an “over,” and assuming I still have a job at the other end, all things I cannot count on at the moment, I’m buying myself a new, bigger, better iMac. I have been saving toward one, but under the circumstances I think I’d better hold onto that cash.

I cleaned the house like a madwoman, including deep cleaning Ellie’s bathroom. A large cat with hairy paws tracks litter everywhere, and it’s gross.

Before the virus hit the fan, so to speak, I had started turning my spare room/”office”/general crap catcher into a Disney-themed home office, and finally hung the Disney themed art I’d collected at various festivals.

Snow White is a digital image I got for being a passholder, or credit card holder, or something. The Walt Disney quote actually came from Amazon, which is a surprising resource for cool Disney art.
I bought this print at this year’s Epcot Festival of the Arts. This artist also has a really cool print of Walt and Steamboat Willy. I covet it, but I’m not buying art at the moment.

At the time I had planned to create a Disney blog as well, but that’s on hold.

And we had confirmation that the runDisney Star Wars Weekend has been canceled. Not postponed, not “to be rescheduled TBD,” but nope, it’s not going to happen in 2020, and we’re giving everyone their registration fees back.

That’s both disappointing to me personally, because I was excited about that 5k, but an alarming sign of how long we may be living like this. Although Disney World is officially closed through the end of March, they went ahead and sent the college program kids home when the parks closed, and now the cancellation of a major event in mid-April is a clue that they don’t anticipate reopening anytime soon.

It’s the uncertainty of everything that is the hardest to deal with. I have put the balcony project on hold for the time being. I can’t be sure how long I’ll have a paycheck, so yeah, that nasty old carpet can just stay there for now. If I do get laid off, I may tackle it myself. The idea of ripping up something I hate feels really satisfying and would be a great stress reliever.

In the meantime, while I wait to see what the future will bring, I’m going to organize my photos and plan my Disney blog, because this will be over someday.

I couldn’t find a taker for the old futon, so yeah, I have an office couch.

It’s hard to see the posters over the couch, sorry about the glare, but they were actually quite cheap and cool and from Amazon.

I’m Old. How old are you? I’m old enough to remember Eastern Airlines. And the coordinating Delta poster from 1971? How could I resist?

I’m on a no frivolous spending program for the foreseeable future, but I foresee some classy Disney themed throw pillows replacing the existing ones from Ikea. I think this one and this one would work, and I can see myself knitting a few pillow covers to mix with the Disney-themed pillows.

So, I have some plans to cope with this weird new world. Tomorrow, back to back to back conference calls start at 8:30 a.m., and we’ll get an update on the company’s plan on how we’ll cope, and yeah, it’s all totally fine!!


Happy Friday.

I’ve made it through the first “work from home” week without killing anyone or losing my mind. (Though if I lost my mind, would I be able to tell?)

Things I’ve learned: Getting out for a walk in the morning has helped my stress level, as long as I avoid the unfunny neighbor. I’m going to add yoga to the rotation; depending on my conference call schedule there are some days when a morning walk won’t happen. It’s already very hot here, and the HOA has warned about a new, very large bear sighting, so I prefer to wait until the sun is up before I walk.

I really miss my two big computer monitors at the office. I’m wondering whether, if this goes on for an extended time, we’ll be able to go in and take them home.

I had been beating myself up a bit for being a bit of a hoarder earlier this year, buying craft supplies and whatever just because it “was a good deal.” I am no longer beating myself up about that. It may be the thing that keeps me sane.

I’m glad I trusted my inner neurotic and bought one of the last giant packs of toilet paper available on Amazon. After I ordered, I thought I was crazy, and surely this bizarre paper products shortage would sort itself out in a few days. So far, it has not. Otherwise, Publix has rallied and the stores are pretty well stocked.

I have a lengthy and thoroughly uninteresting work project I’ve been putting off that I must deal with today. I also have some very ripe bananas on the kitchen counter, and I think I have all the ingredients for banana bread. A loaf for now, and one for the freezer – that’s the plan for this afternoon.

And I hope Chewy is able to sort out their delivery issues; I’m running low on Sophie’s prescription food. Poor Sophie; she’s not d0ing very well. It’s like she’s become an old dog; though she’ll be turning 11 next month that’s not really old for a small dog. She’s sleeping a LOT, snoring deeply, and has definitely lost a lot of her vision.

Yesterday she lost her footing going down the stairs, and I felt the leash tighten in my hand so I was able to “fly” her the rest of the way in her padded harness and help her land on her feet at the bottom. Thank God she’s a small dog and I can do this with one hand. I try to handle it calmly so it doesn’t upset her further, but it’s a new weird development in a time of great weirdness.

Time to begin another day in the Upside Down.

Day Three, Under Surveillance.

So, this morning I woke at 5, though since I’m working from home I could sleep later. Just because I can doesn’t mean my insomniac brain will let me. So I got up, walked the dogs in the dark while watching for bears, drank coffee, and before 7 a.m. I fired up the big work laptop that now occupies my desk. I checked/responded to the 30 emails that had piled up overnight (most were crap I could just delete without response, fortunately). After about an hour of this, I realized the sun was up and one of the advantages of working from home was that I could go out and walk before it got too hot. Yes, it’s very hot here already.

So I filled my water bottle, put on sunscreen and sunglasses, and headed out. My neighbor and her sister(?) were in their usual spot, smoking – I wasn’t paying attention because I was listening to a podcast and looking forward to some exercise.

I became aware of motion in the courtyard: My neighbor was on her feet, dancing around, miming making a call: “calling my boss.” I tossed, “Really not funny, but go right the hell ahead and call!” over my shoulder and kept going, while they cackled, laughing at my back. Later, she “apologized” – “I hope you realize I was only joking!” Of course I do, you stupid bitch, you might be aware of where I work, but you don’t know what I do, or that I control my own hours and can take a fucking walk if I want to take a fucking walk. I didn’t say this – I’m still trying to be somewhat diplomatic – but just said I had been up and working since 7.

She got “mad” on my behalf “but that’s not your normal work hours!” (How the fuck would she know? How long has she been watching?) and I said I was a professional and controlled my own schedule, and could work early or late as it suited me. She seemed apologetic or at least trying to fake it as much as she could, so, I thought that was settled.

Now, one would THINK that after two days in a row of being told that I don’t appreciate her keeping tabs on my activities or her “humor”, she’d just shut the fuck up and just say hello when she sees me, BUT NOOO!

This afternoon I went to the supermarket, which is still out of paper products but did have produce, because I needed a few things. I came home and The Deplorable and the Other One were just sitting outside the front door again. This time she called, in a sugary tone, like awful adults use when addressing a child: “Did you get all your work done today?” I just stopped and stared at her. I took a deep breath counted to ten, and said, “No, there’s more for tomorrow, that’s why they call it a JOB.” and turned my back and went up the stairs.

I’m seriously at a loss here. How do I MAKE IT STOP, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD??? I may be working from home for weeks, and I’m already ready to kill this bitch.

Living in Captivity.

I’m working from home for now. We’ll see how this works out. I might be better off going to the office, if few people are there I’ll be suitably socially distanced there, and it would be easier. Logging in remotely is slow af, and some systems just freeze up randomly when asked to do anything. And I miss my two giant monitors at the office. My job involves a lot of GIS maps and reading drawings and spreadsheets, working between documents, and it’s really hard to work on a single laptop screen.

I’m deeply regretting putting off my eye exam, but right now close, face-to-face contact with an eye doctor is probably unwise for both parties. Even the vet’s office sent an email saying they were postponing routine appointments for a couple of weeks, but will be there for any truly sick or injured animals. So I’m muddling through with inadequate everything, trying to get something done.

And working from home might lead to a confrontation with my downstairs neighbor, she of the “I’m a Deplorable,” t-shirt from 2016. She sits on her front porch a lot. I really don’t get this, as all of these condos have very nice screened lanais in back, and ours all face the golf course so it’d be a much more pleasant view, but yeah, she sits in her front porch area and smokes. She has company staying with her, I haven’t been introduced but I’m assuming it’s her sister, because she resembles her and also sits on the front porch and smokes.

I was up early as always yesterday, was on my work laptop at 7 am, was at the office for a mandatory meeting on this work at home plan at 8, and got back home and set up in my home office by 11-ish. I walked the dogs for about 15 minutes at lunchtime, and worked from then until after 4, when I took the dogs out again around 4:30.

My neighbor called to me from her chair, “I’m going to call your employer and tell them all you do is walk the dogs!” I guess she was trying to be funny? I’m tired, stressed, struggling to get work done, and this didn’t strike me as amusing. I tried to be pleasant – I’m not sure what I said, something like, “Oh, my work day started at 7 am!” and led the dogs away.

As we were coming back a few minutes later, (Sophie has slowed down a lot and doesn’t enjoy walks as much lately) she repeated it: “I really am going to call your employer!” Har har. So funny. What the fuck is wrong with people?

Then she actually offered me the use of a computer monitor she’s not using, and before I could protest, jumped up and ran went inside to get it. I’m still trying to be polite and she’s “being neighborly” so I said thanks, I’ll see if I can use it with my work laptop – knowing I can’t. I don’t have I’ll leave it on her porch with a note this morning. I’m hoping I can avoid further contact, because seriously, one more crack about how she’s going to call my employer and I might fucking snap.

And that was just day one! This is awesome.

Looks like I’ll be working from home for now, maybe?

I think? It’s Monday morning and I have no idea what’s going on.

My employer, which is not the same company as the place where I go to work, emailed around 8:30 last night to say that the place where I work is “reviewing” its contingent workforce to determine who needs to report to a physical location, who can work from home, and who should just… wait around to see if they’ll get paid again. It is 6:30 a.m., I’m on my second large mug of coffee, and in a bit I’ll fire up the big honkin’ work laptop (I call it the flat screen TV, because that’s what it feels like when I’m carrying it), and see if there’s a message there about my status. I can work from home to a degree; and actually could get a lot of organizing done in peace if I’m allowed to do so.

I don’t have face to face contact with customers in my role, but if local governments are going to be thinly staffed as well, the odds of my getting anything done are pretty low – my job involves a lot of chats with engineering and public works people. And I have no idea what anyone else in my group is doing, I haven’t been contacted. We have contingency plans for hurricanes, but not this.

I needed some time off, but not like this. Yikes.