Social Distance

Spring Break 2020! Wooo! Accountants gone wild!

anastasiia-chepinska-_Yem7ebXHwE-unsplash

I ran a longish route today. Longish? Long starts at seven miles, at least in my mind. I don’t know where I got that, but I’ve believed it since 1988, when I started running long-runs. Six is a run, seven’s a long-run. Just like that, inarguable. I’d love to hear others’ opinions on this. I called today’s run longish because I’m not exactly sure about the distance, but more than six. Oh, and I walked two of the hills. So not absolutely long.

I’ve been sick. Weeks ago, I caught the flu. Not the Wuhan flu, the normal flu. My symptoms matched the typical flu symptoms: cough, aches, stuffy nose, but also, I was dizzy. Vertigo. My head spun. In high school, still getting used to alcohol, I drank for hours and then went to bed. And the room spun. They call these bed-spins. This is how I felt during my four days with the flu. Drunk.

Ever since, I’ve coughed nonstop. In the month since my flu, COVID-19, became a thing. This isn’t the greatest time to have a persistent cough. My coworkers give me disapproving looks and keep asking if I feel OK. Other than the cough, I’m fine. Except the dizziness. That never went away. Running’s been on the back-burner. A few short ones with Susan, nothing long, nothing on trails—too dizzy. This week, I got fed up and went to my doctor. I have an infection in my sinuses. Yes, you could say I have a sinus infection, but that phrase is used so frequently, interchangeably for ‘runny nose,’ it makes me roll my eyes whenever I hear it.

Three days of antibiotics and I’m running again. Or trying.

I feel like a gate slammed shut on Thursday. Wednesday was before, Friday was after. Possibly, I’ll feel this way for the rest of my life. On Wednesday night, Trump gave his flaccid speech, patted himself on the back and pointed fingers at China, Europe and anyone else he could find. Thursday, the market tanked (again), the world railed at Trump for his lack of leadership, and it became clear to me this was really happening. The world is shutting down, retrenching, trying to wait out the coronavirus.

On Friday, my kids’ school (along with half the schools in the country) shut down for two weeks, and a couple of hours later, so did my work. So while everyone is scared or at least nervous about what’s coming, there’s a bit of festivity air. It’s spring break—something my kids have never experienced. Schools in Gettysburg get out at the end of May. Summer starts for Sophie and Eli while their cousins in Maryland, Massachusetts and Maine go to school for three more weeks. How is this achieved? Well, they start school in the middle of August, and they don’t get a break in the spring. Okay, our rural America public school district actually celebrates Christian holidays, so they get Good Friday off, but nothing else. This year, they get two weeks, just like everyone else.

I’m an introvert. I like reading, writing and running above all other activities. I social distance naturally every day of my life. I know many people are worried about quarantines, about their governor shutting down their state. There will be nothing to do. There aren’t even any sports to watch on TV. For me, this is a dream come true. If I’m told to stay home, I’ll keep myself occupied. Especially if I can go out for a run.

The trail I ran today circumnavigates the majority of the Gettysburg battlefield. Much of it is tucked away in the woods, some of it passes through a historic farm, and about a mile crosses a large field. I run this trail frequently. I’d say I see someone else out on the trail one out of four runs. Usually it’s a horseback rider, sometimes another runner, and on rare occasions, a hiker. Today was different. People are looking for things to do out of their house but not around people. I probably saw forty hikers today. Sure, it was a nice day, I’m not surprised some people were out, but I’ve never seen anything like this. Couples, families, dog walkers, even some groups of teenagers.

I’m not making light of the coronavirus, anyone who reads my blog knows I’ve been freaking out about it since January, but I can see some real benefit in the changes taking place in our country. People aren’t in their living room watching hockey. They’re not at TJ Maxx shopping for what ever catches their eye. At least in Gettysburg, they’re out hiking a trail. They’re social distancing, which to me looks like people spending time outdoors with their family and friends.

I hope those hikers had a great time today. None of them seemed particularly happy when I ran down the path huffing and puffing my possibly infected breath, but a few smiled and said hi and seemed reasonably comfortable in their setting. Maybe when the coronavirus is an ugly receding sight in our collective rear view mirror, some of those people will choose against shopping or TV sports and go out for another hike on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

29 thoughts on “Social Distance

  1. Jeff, as one of those whose default setting is set to introvert, the shutdowns have had little effect. I am more concerned about others encroaching on my “normal” quiet time. Sorry to hear you have a sinus infection, they are not any fun. Mine always impact my ears and when I feel dizzy, an infection is my first thought. Stay well and enjoy your time with your family.

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    • Ha. Glad I’m memorable. Things are getting as bad as I expected they might, but I’m much more at peace with the outbreak. I pondered this on my run today. What I came up with is that I’m relieved that everyone else is freaking out now too. I am a bit concerned that my government REALLY doesn’t seem to have any idea what to do. I guess I thought there were people with plans already prepared. Oh right, Trump fired them.

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  2. I’m STILL not overly concerned about COVID-19, but the panic hit my suburban city Friday. Ben’s school cancelled until after Spring Break which means 3 weeks at home. We right away ordered his ‘juice’ and some snacks. I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription so I figured I’d pick up a few groceries too. I got to see what an empty TP aisle looks like. I laughed and took a picture. I don’t understand the panic-buying.
    I’m not planning on going farther than the corner market for a few days. Besides, it’s been raining & cold in SoCal for a week and doesnt look like we’ll see the sun for a few more days☹Boo!👎

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  3. I usually love being home alone too but right now I’m just hoping and praying that loved ones near and far will be able to navigate their way to South Australia for my son’s wedding in two-weeks time, without any country and Australian state borders closing down. Glad to hear that you are feeling better 🙂

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  4. It is a very unusual time, everyone’s on a unpaid vacation in a way, what will we do with our free time? I like your observation that we’re not passively watching sports or movies in theaters anymore, and instead are out hiking. I hope the trend continues long after this virus leaves.

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    • We got the word last night that we’re on liberal leave. Weeding and ordering will be the principal activities. If our staff doesn’t stay home, I’m not sure how they will keep themselves busy. My duties won’t appreciably change.

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      • My work announced that it’ll be closed to the public, but staff show report as usual. I agree that I don’t know what we’ll be doing for 7.5hrs without any patrons, all week. There’s only so much weeding, etc that can be done. I guess they are trying to help the staff to have continued income.

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  5. Besides empty shelves of TP, the effects of COVID-19 are not really felt here yet. Our prime minister seems to be in a competition with Trump to see who is the most stupid leader (or in this case, who lets the most people die). I’m not really panicking, but I wish people would be more careful. And like you, I don’t mind a bit of social distancing! I’ve got running and books to keep me occupied.

    Glad to hear you’re getting better. Sinus infections (the real kind) are no fun!

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  6. I, like you, have no problem with social distancing. I saw an article on the local news last night that Walmart and Kroger are cutting their store hours to allow time for disinfecting and restocking. Taco Bell is converting their company stories to drive-through only. I agree that it would be great if more people learn to use their free time to enjoy the outdoors more.

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    • Well, my one day social experiment showed lots of promise on people getting outside. I’ll likely go for a hike today so I’ll see if it’s real or just a one off due to an exceptionally nice day.

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  7. Lots of people out strolling in the park yesterday in NYC as well, but unfortunately if my Twitter feed is to be believed, lots of people were also out at bars and restaurants Friday and Saturday night. I saw a graph that said that 20 to 29 year olds with no symptoms who were tested in South Korea were the largest vector for the virus. That’s why shutting things down is important. My daughter and son-in-law are both university teachers and their students are pissed that classes are cancelled, but they are the exact demographic to need to go home and stay there!

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    • I read that too about younger people. Compounding the problem, they aren’t remotely worried about getting sick. They know it will come off as a mild cold… no skin off their backs. My seventeen year old daughter intends to spend time with her friends during the break. As she’s a senior and they’re all about to part ways, I can’t blame her, But hopefully she won’t bring anything home to her almost senior father or her very senior grandparents.

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  8. Bob had a cough that lasted forever this winter – thank goodness that is over. Glad you are medicated and feeling better. A year ago I would say a long run is 10+ but now, I agree with you 7+ is a long run. I am hoping to run a bit more now that I will have the time. Some long runs. I got a little freaked yesterday when I heard they are shutting all the liquor stores in the state on Tuesday. Not for the liquor, but it finally hit me that things are going to shut down. I was at Target this morning trying to load up on cat food and dog food. Two stores later, no cat food. That darn cat. I don’t need to say it – social distancing is my jam. I’m all for all of us being house bound. I saw it too – whole families out walking yesterday. Really a nice sight.

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    • Liquor stores! Sheesh. People are going to freak. I can’t imagine how much wine I’d be buying right now if I still drank. We stocked up on cat food, but perhaps we should buy some more. Our shortages here seem to lag a few days behind the real world.

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  9. We have yet to see what will happen I guess but I’m a person who looks for the positives and there seem to be plenty . Yep plenty of scary uncertainty but why dwell on what we don’t know? Btw my husband has a persistent cough – has had it for ages – I make him up essential oil inhalation’s which help a lot but he is so conscious of it now. People are on edge is all – we will adapt – off things will become the new normal and we will get through this.

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  10. I’m not particularly fearful, even though I’m in the higher risk age group. But I am paying close attention and modifying my behavior. Yesterday the gym closed, which was expected but still a blow. I can use my road bike indoors and out, and we have dumbbells in the building’s exercise room, so I will manage. Going for walks is always pleasant for me. Maybe the biggest irony is that a month ago I met with a lawyer to draft a will, and I am scheduled to sign it Thursday. Who knew what was coming….

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    • Well, hopefully you won’t put your will to the test. My work kicked all employees out yesterday and there is limited work I can do from home. Right now my biggest concern is keeping myself busy and not feeling like I’m slacking.

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  11. I wish that infection of your sinuses would go away. At least, you sound like you’re managing okay, Jeff. Fascinating observations about the potential positive effects of all this madness.

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  12. My grandson’s school in Colorado just went from a 2-week break to a 4-week break (until April 17). I would not be surprised if the schools around here don’t re-open until September.

    Glad to hear you’re running again. My dividing line between a run and a long run is between 7 and 8. 7 is a long-medium run; 8 is a short-long run. 🙂

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    • I can see the seven/eight split. Maybe as I build my endurance this spring I’ll try to adjust my mindset. But because of my current pace, seven is over an hour. and anything that lasts more than one hour is long.

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