Semi-retirement (AKA Shelter in Place)

♫ It’s the end of the world as we know it… and I feel fit.

This morning while working on a spreadsheet, my computer locked up. After much head-scratching and poking about, I rebooted my PC. A few minutes later, it locked up again. And then again. I’m the only one at work this week. I work at my county’s library system. Due to the coronavirus, we shuttered our branches on Saturday. And on Monday, we sent all our employees home on emergency leave. Most of my coworkers get a two-week paid vacation. The salaried employees are expected to get as much work done as possible, recognizing that there’s only so much you can do to run a closed library from your kitchen table.

I can’t do any of my job from home. I don’t have a PC. Okay, that’s not entirely correct, I’m writing on a laptop right now, but Susan uses it during the day to do her job. Her boss insists she works from home, and I have no interest in running complex spreadsheets on a laptop anyway. So I go to my office.

Like my salaried coworkers, I don’t have enough work to fill an eight-hour day either. I feel semi-retired. I get to work at nine, and I come home at one. For the rest of the day, I keep my eye on email. That’s it. I find it rather relaxing.

So, what am I doing with my extra time? Exercising. Each afternoon, my family takes a walk. We live on the edge of the Gettysburg battlefield. We have miles of lightly traveled roads in a park-like setting. This week, we walked some of my favorite sections of the battlefield: the “Culps Hill” loop; the “pretty road behind Devils Den;” and a trail through the woods behind my house into “the boy scout camp.” After each walk, I came home and immediately went running or rode my bike.

When my PC broke, I texted the IT guy and left for the day. By one-thirty, I idled on the couch reading coronavirus news, and Eli idled in a chair of his own watching TV. He and I decided we better go biking.

March 20: the first full day of… summer? Eighty degrees and high humidity. This is going to be a brutal year. Eli and I rode a shortish out and back on the battlefield. When we got home, Susan was dressed for a run. I switched shoes and headed out the door with her. Midway through my run, I caught myself about to complain about the heat. All winter I eagerly awaited spring’s arrival. Now it has, and I’m already bothered by it. Later in the afternoon, when it cooled down, Sophie and I went out for a walk.

This isn’t how I envisioned a pandemic crisis. I feel great. I’m relaxed. I’m sleeping well from all my exercise. I write daily. We’re making excellent meals. And because we’re all trapped at home, I’m spending tons of time with my family. I know bad days are coming. For thousands, they already suck. But right now, I’m shocked to say, I’m enjoying myself.

The coronavirus is now in my county. A girl on Instagram posted that her father tested positive. I verified it on a state website. Over the next week, we’ll see how well social distancing worked here. Although I read online that we already have three additional cases.

This evening, my boss forwarded an email from the Governor’s office. I’m getting booted from the workplace effective immediately. I need to work from home, shelter in place. This weekend, I’ll try to score a loaner laptop from the library and set up a workstation in my living room. This change will make me less effective at my job and probably provide me with even more free time during my day. I envision longer runs, walks and bike rides—at least until the Governor tells me I can no longer run, walk and ride. While it leaves me feeling a bit guilty, I plan to make the most of the time I’m locked up. Now I just need to stay healthy.

You stay healthy too.

27 thoughts on “Semi-retirement (AKA Shelter in Place)

  1. I am glad you are relaxed. If I’m not mistaken you were kind of freaked out about it a few weeks back. I get like that, too, sometimes – where the fear of something is harder than the actual event. Except childbirth. That hurt like a mofo and I’d gladly take a panic attack again over pushing kids out my body. But, back to you: soooo glad you are calm. You are going to be okay. You got this! And, also, I kind of want to write you offline about something but don’t know how to do that. Email me at Andrea.Paventi@Gmail.com and I’ll tell you what it’s about. Nothing cryptic or flirty – I promise Susan! 🙂 It’s related to blog convo we had a few weeks back and I thought you might find the info useful.

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    • I AM freaked out but I’m also calm. The freak-out is sort of a low-level simmer that only threatens to boil over when I think about all of this in terms of my daughter starting college next year. Worked this morning on getting my in-house workspace set up. Settling in for the long term.

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  2. I am also glad you seem much more upbeat! I was worried your OCD was gonna send you into a horrible tailspin.
    California is on lockdown, but the school district where Ben’s autism school is says they still plan on reopening on April 6th. Keep your fingers crossed for me. He’s been off one week and already had a 90 minute meltdown with more holes in the walls and more bruises for us.
    I’m more afraid of forced lockdown with Ben than I am of the virus🙄

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  3. How blessed to have so much open space nearby! Was great to hear you so relaxed and happy, especially given the circumstances. I’m home for the duration now. Might walk the block after dark.

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  4. So good to hear! I feel really bad for those infected with the virus, but I am really enjoying this time right now too. We hit the “life” pause button and are forced to spend time with the family – and we are playing games and going for walks. It’s great!

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    • Right. I’m just back from an amazing five mile hike with the fam. Really alone in the woods. We saw four mountain bikers the whole time.I look at the map and see New York is getting clobbered, but here it feels quite distant. I guess I should give it a week or two.

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  5. Good to hear that you’re doing well, Jeff. I’m on family death leave, but everyone at the library where I work is working remotely, (beginning on Wednesday I will too). My son is getting school lessons online, so I feel like I’m home schooling him. It’s fun, I’ve always wanted to home school him. I feel like I’m on vacation at home which = retirement too. In a strange way the situation is allowing me more time to grieve my mother, spend quality time with my son, do art projects, binge on documentaries and movies, de-clutter my home, write. I feel relaxed. The only times I don’t are when I’m at the grocery store or I watch updates. I want to enjoy the life we have while it’s here in front of us, being present in the moment = my sense of peace right now. I’m not worried about the virus directly, I’m worried about the after effects of it. I’m hoping to start meditation again too.

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  6. I’m glad you are feeling food and sleeping well. It’s harder here in the Big Apple to get good exercise and maintain social distance, and I haven’t been as good about working out in the apartment as I would like. But, I will do better!

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    • Things seem scary in New York. Here, half the people could be infected and you could still go out to do stuff. We just don’t have many people. I went to Lowe’s this morning and it was empty. More staff than customers. Stay safe.

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  7. I’m happy to know you are managing to get through this… for the most part, at least. You were worried about this craziness before most of us saw the effects it would have on our families, friends, communities, and global society. Keep walking and biking … and writing from your newly defined space. Take care, Jeff.

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    • Thanks Mark. I have an immature need for it to be recognized that I’m no more freaked out now than I was 2 months ago. I know for you extroverted types, this period is doubly hard. I hope you find community through whatever avenue is open to you.

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    • I’m so terrified that Wolf is going to take away our running, hiking and biking. That would send me into a tailspin. Meanwhile, for tomorrow I’m cued up for a longish run on a warm, sunny spring day. That should help my mood immeasurably.

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  8. Glad you are enjoying yourself Jeff! It feels good to slow down doesn’t it? Im just now getting into an exercise routine. It’s been a little bit of a challenge, but I’m on it!! Our trails are inundated with people, so, I’ve been riding my indoor bike….joined some challenges and such. The sun has FINALLY been out lately, but snow is on the horizon for tomorrow. BOO. Bring on summer.

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