Last fall my days had a fairly enjoyable rhythm to them: I was working from home part time, helping in the middle school library two or three days a week, volunteering with hospice, and I had a regular gym routine.

This year there is only my job. Everything else is either upended or suspended, and I keep thinking how a year ago I probably would have said that I was living a small, repetitive life that was more than a little dull, and what I would not GIVE to have that ho-hum life back.

I’m grateful to be working, for sure. I miss being able to work from coffee shops (specifically, I miss being able to work somewhere, anywhere, other than my living room couch), but I recognize that I am lucky to still have work at all, much less work I actually enjoy at an organization I truly respect.

The gyms are open around here but masks are required during exercise, which feels so unpleasant to me I haven’t been able to stick with it. Instead I’ve been doing things outside or working out from home, which is fine-ish, except we’re heading into the inside-all-the-time season and I’m not working out nearly as much or as hard as a gym class will push me and honestly working out from home is kind of the worst when there is never a single solitary second of having the house to yourself.

I miss helping in the library so much. It was great to feel connected to the school and staff, it was nice to feel like I was providing some value to the overworked library clerk, it was unexpectedly soothing to put away books and dust shelves, it was delightful to chat with the kids.

It’s difficult to imagine when schools will even have in-person libraries again, never mind parent volunteers who are allowed to mingle with students. It’s even harder to imagine when hospice will bring back patient volunteers — I think back to how I would sit, so closely, next to a dying person’s bed, and maybe even touch their hands. How such a visit, even if it were to be allowed, would feel like being a loaded weapon now.

We are all missing things, we are all living different lives than we did a year ago. I realize I am extraordinarily lucky in many ways, but I still have a challenge before me to figure out how to make the most of this new way of life. How to get back into some sort of routine after all these endless weeks of not even knowing what the hell day it is, how to rediscover how I can feel useful, how to be more connected in this isolating and far-apart world we’ve found ourselves in.

Maybe some of it will be temporary, maybe some of it is changed forever, who knows, but I guess I’ve spent 6 months waiting to see what’s next and it’s time to decide what’s next.

We are a week into virtual school and it is going … okay, I guess.

Riley is completely self-sufficient and while he doesn’t TRY particularly hard to be a good student he gets by quite well on minimal effort (at least so far, he’s now in high school honors classes which I assume will eventually require him to break an academic sweat now and then). He basically disappears entirely for hours at a time, emerges to complain about Zoom, and he’s done for the day.

Dylan is having a harder go of it, which is par for the course with him and school in non-pandemic times, but the all-computer all-the-time vibe is not remotely ideal for the way he’s wired. Riley has always been a kid who can happily watch screens nonstop while Dylan has always been more active, we’ve never had to hammer him about screen time because he’s got a limited capacity for it. So now this kid who struggles with attention span issues/needs physical environment changes to stay engaged/loses focus and gets headaches from screens/learns best from high-energy teachers is slogging through online assignments and videos (all via a baffling new learning platform) while his butt is essentially superglued in front of an outdated school-issued iPad for hours at a time and it is of course all a Big Fat Bucket of Suck.

Well. Who among us is not feeling the Big Fat Bucket of Suck vibes, right? Nearly everything sucks right now and it’s sucked for months and there’s no end to the suck, THE SUCK IS ENDLESS, which is also my new Pornhub channel but surprise, it’s about vacuum lines.

In other sucky news one of my favorite trees in our backyard just fell right the hell over during a blustery afternoon this week:

No damage except to the tree itself, but it felt, like, classic 2020.

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