- Busy Jan/Feb, then Coronavirus
- Marriage Separation
- Working at Home, Layoffs Pending
- Some Exercise
- Getting Back to Writing
- No Math Contests
- Solitary Existence
- Overall, feeling pretty good
I haven’t posted to the blog in 3 months. That’s because the first three months of 2020 were astoundingly busy. At least, the first two months of 2020 along with the first week of March, were astoundingly busy. The rest of March was, well, March. A March haunted and altered by the coronavirus epidemic.
January and February I was busy with work deadlines, and running about 8 math contests, and taking a Writing The Other online class, and trying to exercise, and just trying to keep up with the rest of life. I was stressed, I was tired, I was realizing that I was overloaded but there was nothing I could change about it I just needed to get through it.
By the time I left for the Rainforest Village Writers Retreat at the end of February, I was worn out. Luckily the Retreat was incredibly relaxing and a great recovery. I could feel the stress just melting away on the drive from Portland with Dale Ivan Smith, and the four days there were a tremendous recovery. I was also very productive with writing as well!
While there I heard that there was a coronavirus outbreak in a nursing home in Seattle. Fellow attendees mentioned that family members told them there were shopping runs on toilet paper and cleaning products and milk. But still, we didn’t worry about it too much.
I came back from Rainforest for a few days of work and then the FOGCon sci-fi convention in the SF Bay Area. By then, we were all more nervous about coronavirus so we made sure to practice non-touching greeting (the Vulcan Live Long and Prosper was the favorite) and wash hands all the time. FOGCon was nice, I saw people I hadn’t seen for a while.
After that it was a week of more coronavirus news from China, and Italy, and Iran. The new was getting more and more dire. The Bay Area had a recommendation for people to work at home, and that recommendation was quickly becoming a requirement. We were hearing similar things in Sacramento and Yolo Counties (where I live and where I work).
Monday March 16 I took home most of the computers I use at work, for both development and testing. Wednesday of that week Yolo County issued a mandatory stay-at-home and the work buildings closed. Luckily, I was well equipped and could be productive at home. I actually have the best development/test setup of any of the engineers, so while I’m primarily architecture and development I’ve been doing a lot of testing as well.
In the middle of the start of coronavirus and the job issues, my spouse and I separated. The separation had been a long time coming. We’d drifted apart over the years, and a few years ago realized the relationship wasn’t working. We started therapy sessions to understand what happened and where we were and what we wanted to do about it. The result was there wasn’t really enough connection between us to keep the marriage going.
So last October we agreed that separation was what we both wanted. We held off doing anything until we could talk to our daughters (who are 25 and 19). We were going to talk to them at the holidays, but didn’t because our younger daughter was stressed about school. In February my spouse moved into an apartment, so at the end of February we went down to Santa Barbara and told our younger daughter, then told our older daughter when we returned. They both did okay with it. We were all sad, but we emphasized to them that this was an amicable separation, we were both still friends, we were still a family, and they would always have a home.
So I’m in the house right now, just me and the dog. Longer term, my spouse’s plan is to work in New Zealand for at least 6 months starting in August. I’ll stay in the house until she returns, then I will likely move to Davis, where my work is.
That is, if I still have my job.
Two weeks after we started working at home, it was announced that layoffs were coming. Business had decreased dramatically (we are adjunct to the oil and gas business), so dramatically that the money from corporate along with our own revenue wasn’t going to be enough to keep everyone employed. I’m in software, and we’ve long been told that software is a critically understaffed resource in that every project needed software and we didn’t have enough software people (one of the downsides of being fairly close to the Bay Area). So we’ll see how deep into the software group the cuts go, and if the cuts take me with them. Supposedly, the decisions have been made. I’m assuming we will hear this week, quite possibly Monday (April 12).
I’m surprisingly mellow with the layoff possibility. I’m lucky in that I’m in a desired field, and more importantly I have a lot of money saved up. And I don’t get my health care from work, but through my spouse (for now). So if the layoff happens, I plan to take some time to consider what I want to do next. I want to work in robotics for the rest of my career, so I’m wiling to make changes to make that happen. I could see moving to pick up a job I really want, versus just taking any job that comes along. After all, I’m not tied to this area. I can really go anywhere.
In the middle of the busy January/February, exercise and fitness suffered. For my birthday, I used a previous work bonus to get a basic, but good, bike, and once I moved home I started riding it at lunchtime. This was a tremendous help for my fitness, but also for my sanity and well-being. The rides have been brief, but intense, and really help burn off stress and anxiety. I’ve also started doing basic bodyweight workouts a couple days a week as well, and those too are very helpful.
In the midst of all this, writing suffered. I hadn’t done much in January and February. I took the Writing The Other class, but immediately fell behind and wasn’t able to contribute as much as I would have liked. This was a shame, as the class was excellent and exactly what I was looking for.
I also applied to Clarion and Clarion West, because why not? I was not accepted to either workshop, nor was I waitlisted. I wasn’t surprised. I honestly don’t think I’m a good enough writer to get accepted and that my writing is not as fluid and literary as I believe both workshops are looking for. No worries, I’m just going to try to improve and keep applying.
But I have been bringing writing back the last week, writing a couple mornings and doing some on the weekend. I also linked up with the Pulp Stage Players in Portland (run by Matt Haynes) and have been contributing to their writing collective, so hopefully I can finish some pieces which get performed in Pulp Stage! My involvement is really bringing back the old theatre bug, and I’m enjoying the experience.
No math contests, of course, since math contests are very much an in-person experience and thus would be great locations for coronavirus to spread. So, we’ll see when they can come back safely. I have been doing some online coaching as part of what would have been prep for the nationwide ARML contest.
So here I am. My weekdays I write or workout in the morning, work all day with a lunch break to ride my bike or workout, then in the evening I either email or chat with friends or watch some TV and keep the house clean. I’ve been doing a lot of ZOOM video sessions with friends and family on the weekend, some math coaching, and general hanging out in the house (catching up on TV/movies).
One thing I’ve realized is I need to start minimizing my life. My goal is to be living in only part of the house so that when I move to an apartment or smaller house in a year I’m not overwhelmed with stuff.
It’s funny. My mental model had been that once my spouse and I had separated, I’d take time to just be myself and figure out who I was, and what I wanted, and how I wanted to live. Well, now I have plenty of time to be myself and be by myself. I’m finding I like it. I do miss being around people more often, but I like doing what I want when I want and how I want. I guess I’m an introverted extrovert or extroverted introvert. Or something along those lines.
But overall, I’m in a surprisingly good mood. I’m less stressed, amazingly, I think because I have less going on in my life. I’m looking positively towards the future.
A lot has occurred in the last month (March felt like FOREVER), and since the start of 2020, and even in the last few years. My life is changing and will keep changing. I feel like I’m at the start of a new phase of my life. I’ll just have to keep moving forward and see how much “new” I get.