COVID Chronicles is a series from Auxiliary Services Marketing attempting to document experiences in the UCCS community during the CODIV-19 pandemic. Our first entry is from Holly Murdock, director of Auxiliary Services Marketing. If you’re interested in sharing your own experiences, email firstname.lastname@example.org with any submissions.
I’m sitting here in borrowed oversized red plaid flannel pajama pants in the would-be extra guest (when guests were allowed) bedroom. My project desk is now a “real” desk, and my screens are propped up with the thickest books I could find on our shelves. I read an article recently reminding me that this is not “working from home”—this is “working from home in the midst of a worldwide pandemic”. THANK YOU for the reminder. A decade ago, I worked from home for 3 years, and THIS. IS. NOT. THAT.
I don’t think there is anything to prepare you for the world going on its head.
My spouse is immunocompromised, so while I’ve discovered that I’m pretty cavalier about my own health, I am in constant terror for him. Suddenly a quick trip to the store leaves me feeling like a heartless hussy playing Russian roulette with a germ gun.
We’ve hunkered down, like two middle-aged bears anxious to hibernate. We were lucky enough to have accidently pre-stocked up on toilet paper from Costco. Flour, cereal, canned goods, dog food—we’re all OK. But when I needed ingredients to make a birthday dinner, I was disappointed: plenty of fresh produce at the store, but there were 2—THAT’S TWO, PEOPLE—cake mixes on the shelves.
Nevertheless, SOMEHOW, I have acclimated to shopping in partially empty stores where meat and toilet paper are rationed out. I found the last quart of Tillamook ice cream in Safeway and snatched that sucker up—didn’t even care about the flavor. I obey the blue-taped lines sketched out on floors at check-out stands and breathe exclusively through my nose in public. I cringe at TV commercials with crowds of people, and after posting a picture from February’s family reunion on Facebook last week, I was duly chided for being in a group of over ten people.
I love to bake, but low on yeast, I decided to give sourdough a go. I posted a plea on my neighborhood social media, and a kind stranger indicated she’d share. I felt obligated to thank her, and since I don’t carry cash (have you SEEN the lines at the bank ATMs?), I opted for the next best thing: when I took the grocery bag hitched over her front door handle, I left another in its place—a fresh roll of Kirkland’s best toilet paper.
I AM ACTUALLY TRADING FOOD FOR TOILET PAPER.
But that’s all the weirdness. There are good things in my little world too: the dogs couldn’t be happier—they get a lot more treats. I’m around all the time, and the spouse is pretty thrilled about that too. I haven’t disturbed the “work clothing” section of my closet in weeks, and I got back 2 hours each day with the reduction of my commute to 12 feet. I sleep longer, exercise more, spend less, never feel introvert-guilt for choosing to stay in, and have started weekly zoom calls with my parents and siblings. I’m not certain there can ever be a “bright side” to a worldwide pandemic—especially when you consider the shockwaves of economic disruption, unemployment, fear, loss and illness. But I won’t lie…I’m not exactly hating my enforced quieter life.