The Flow of Time Under Quarantine

If nothing else I can keep track of time based on how ratty my nails are.

As this blog is going up, I am in my seventh week of working from home.  This week marked the end of the state-wide stay at home orders, though they remain in effect in Denver, where I live, through the next week.  My job itself is not planning on moving people back into the office for at least a few more weeks and doing so in stages, of which I’ll probably be one of the later groups to return, but will be returning at some point.  Cases of people getting sick are continuing to grow, but at least locally the curve seems to be flattening on most statistics, and with the promising developments with research on treatment options and potential vaccines in the works, there is a feeling that things might start returning to normal again.

A lot of that remains to be seen, and I have a pretty measured view on it.  The curve in Colorado has flattened because of the stay at home stuff, and removing those restrictions—if done poorly—may cause it to spike up again, which—if responded to properly—may cause the restrictions to go back into effect.  Up until the point where a reasonably functional treatment plan reduces the mortality rate of COVID-19 to levels more similar to the common flu, and/or a vaccine that mostly works is available, I’m not sure that things will ever go back to all-the-way normal, but some of this weirdness could start winding down and turning into a funky memory about “early 2020” pretty soon.  On the other hand, all this positive hopefulness could be manufactured by people with the agenda of reopening business in service to the economy, regardless of the human cost, so maybe things are set to get a lot worse before they get better.  Only time will tell on it for sure.

Time will tell.  A lot of people I’ve seen have been talking about this quarantine situation with a really abstracted view of time.  They look back on stuff from February like it was something that happened decades ago.  The time spent in quarantine could have lasted for just as long a time, or also could have started yesterday for the way it feels.  Things are simultaneously too boring to stand and so overstimulating it’s suffocating.  Everyone is starved for human contact and would kill for some real, legitimate privacy.  It’s a world of paradoxical extremes.

I’ve been able to weather this crisis from a place of pretty steep privilege.  My job’s viewed as essential and was very well equipped to be converted to remote work.  Considering the availability of overtime and decrease of expenses for things like commuting, I’ve seen an increase of income over the course of this crisis.  With a rigid schedule and the vaguely modular nature of my work desk/home desk setup, weeks feel about like how they always feel.  And I am a bitch who always would kill for some real privacy and never wants to spend time with anyone.

Okay, I’m joking about that last point, and while my heart goes out to everyone who is in the opposite position than I am for the first one, it’s that second one that I’m finding pretty interesting.  This stretch of time has been hard, and work is certainly different than it was before all of this stuff started happening, being busier, emotionally more daunting, and more difficult to “escape” from after clock-out time thanks to the lack of space for a truly defined Work Area vs. Home Area, but my schedule feels relatively the same as it did before.  Things are the busiest at work at the front of the week, start tapering on the other side of Wednesday, and wraps up on Friday, leading into a weekend where I try to recharge a little and get the majority of my “at home” things done.  Then it starts up again.  I’m not leaving my house to do all of that stuff now, but it’s still happening, lending structure to my days and the framework of a seven-day schedule to my week.  Time flows at its usual, sorta mercurial rate of “a terrible crawl when I’m bored and surprisingly fast when I’m trying to savor something.”

For a lot of people out there on Quarantine Time, there might not be the structure of a set work week.  A lot of people might be freelancing, or waiting for a lay-off or furlough to be reversed, or stuck in the nebulous space of being between jobs, with everything on hold from structure until things do go back to relative normalcy, whenever that is.  And while an ol’ nine-to-five is a great way to get that structure, it isn’t the only way to do so, and striving for that is something that I think it highly recommendable.  Build something for yourself to do day to day that adheres to a schedule and start following  it until you’ve regained an actual week again.  Keeping Quarantine Time in an actual perspective is better for your mental health, I think.  When this is both something that’s Always Been, but also just started, it’s easy to fall into a cycle of mental despair and anxiety.  Time moving forward at the normal, expected rate in spite of the quarantine makes that despair and anxiety easier to shrug off.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still there, it’s just easier to step out from under and see some hope on the horizon again.

This is where I pivot to suggesting language learning as the routine to build your week around, but honestly it doesn’t matter what you do.  Learn a language, teach yourself to code, work on painting, redecorate your room, build a car, get really good at Dark Souls, whatever compels you, just do it on a schedule until you’re in the groove.  If you’re interested in language learning, I wrote a blog toward the start of this crisis giving some suggestions on places to start that you might want to check out.  CGP Grey released a video recently about keeping your head together through all this, and he said that you should to try to be better than you were before the start of quarantine, and that strikes me as a great way to look at it.  Work at being a better you by the time this all ends.  When we come out the other side, maybe we can be stronger for it.

Now then, let’s take a look at the numbers for the week.

Tuesday 4/28

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 15% of Diarios de Motocicleta, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, 1 episode of Arte Divierte, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Wednesday 4/29

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 15% of Diarios de Motocicleta, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of The Witcher, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Thursday 4/30

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 15% of Diarios de Motocicleta, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Friday 5/01

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 20% of Diarios de Motocicleta, ~120 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of La Zona Cero, 1 episode of Andrea Ga, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Saturday 5/02

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 5% of Diarios de Motocicleta, ~30 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Kiwillius, ~120 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Sunday 5/03

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 2% of Estirpe de Reyes, ~30 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, ~120 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Monday 5/04

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 7% of Estirpe de Reyes, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes
  • Total Duolingo: 140 XP, 0 minutes
  • Total reading: 4/5 books read, 540 minutes
  • Total watching/listening: 13 YouTube episodes and 1 tv episode, 540 minutes
  • Total speaking: reading out loud, 210 minutes
  • Total Time: 18 hours 0 minutes

Nothing that out of the ordinary here.  I finished off Diarios de Motocicleta this week, which was a difficult and kind of boring read.  The language used was often florid—and I suspect a touch old-fashioned, leading to me not being as familiar with some of the vocab—and covered lots of events in a pretty matter-of-fact way.  It really read like an actual diary a lot of the time, giving benign details about things like the food they ate and how they organized sleeping arrangements alongside the actual things they did that might have otherwise been noteworthy, everything delivered with the same level of importance.  We ate this, I read that, we went here, then we went to bed.  Parts were compelling, but most of it was dry and dull.  It was short, though, so I survived.

Switching gears on books, I got back to Riftwar with Estirpe de Reyes, and was immediately relieved by the return to actual narratives.  These books are pretty potboiler and I couldn’t imagine them earning any accolades for amazing wordsmithing, but they are fun and engaging in a way that the week had been lacking up to that point.  I’m starting to work on figuring out what the heck I’m going to read after these last two are done, because things are getting to that point.

I’ve been bouncing around on some longer form playthroughs on youtube this week, but I also gave The Witcher a try.  The soundmixing on the dub leaves a little bit to be desired, but the first episode piqued my interest enough I might give the rest of it a go.  Seems a little bit like low-rent Game of Thrones, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This week also marked the end of April, so let’s look back on the month as a whole.

  • Total Duolingo: 600 XP, 0 minutes
  • Total Watching/Listening: 24 tv episodes, 58 youtube videos, 1 movie, and 2 podcasts, 2,190 minutes
  • Total reading: 1 and 3/4 whole books read, 2,320 minutes
  • Total writing: 1000 words written, 120 minutes
  • Total Speaking: reading out loud, 900 minutes
  • Total Time: 77 hours 10 minutes

And here’s the breakdown for money spent.

  • Una Oscuridad en Sethanon, Fiction, Ebook, Amazon, $6.66
  • Netflix Subscription Standard HD Plan, Television and Movie Streaming, $10.99 per month, $10.99
  • Disney+ Subscription, Television and Movie Streaming, $6.99 per month, $6.99
  • Amount Spent on Fiction Books: $6.66
  • Amount Spent on Services: $17.98
  • Total Spent: $24.64

Keeping on with the streak of good figures here.  My workload has been pretty stable since the worst of it in March ended, and having the escape of a book to read here and there helps the day go by, so it’s easy to keep up.  That said I don’t feel like I made all that much practice this month, though.  That might just be a perception thing, since I ended the month on a rough patch of difficult, frustrating reading.  Reading’s usually my easiest focus, so having that not go well felt like I was stuck in place a little.  Couple that with listening practice that’s going well enough but still feels like it’s lagging behind too much and the month feels like a waste.  May’s at least starting off on the right tone in regards to reading, so hopefully things smooth out there.

My writing for the month has continued to flatline on the fiction front, with me only getting writing done for blogs, totaling 7.606 words for the month.  I am, however, sticking with what I said at the end of last week and not dwelling on that.  This is an unusual situation that the world is in, I do not have the mental focus to be writing while dealing with everything else, I need to accept that and give myself permission to let writing wait.  If I feel compelled to get back to writing before all this stuff returns to some semblance of normalcy, I will certainly do so, but for now I’m not sweating it.  Not sweating the lack of emotional energy to consider working on speaking practice with Spanish, either.

Looking forward into May, it feels weird trying to make actual plans considering the world at the moment, so I’m just not going to.  I’m planning on keeping on with this current pace to the best of my ability, nothing more, nothing less.  Maybe that’ll change and it’ll be easier to look forward at the end of May again.  I hope that’s the case.

Anyway, that’s enough for this one, y’all stay safe out there.  TTFN.

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