Even though quarantine has officially ended, the effects of COVID-19 are worse than they've been in months. I haven't had to fill my car up with gas since I left work in March. I haven't driven anywhere outside a 15 mile radius. I've spent more days inside my house than The Shining's Torrance family. And yet, I've made the most out of a crippling situation. So, what have I done with my time? The list below details my favorite moments since leaving work on March 16.
1) I've spent countless hours with my immediate family.
Watching my son grow up from a baby to a toddler this summer along with my wife and his grandparents has been nothing short of a blessing. Every day is a new development with him - from the words he speaks to the things he can do. I see some of myself in him, but I also see things in him that are his own person. This was almost like another paternity leave and was by far the greatest part of this horrible pandemic. It gave me something positive to hold on to during the most negative of times.
2) I've written on this blog every day since April.
After reading in Stephen King's book On Writing, where he said that he writes every day and that he encourages writers to do the same, I pushed myself to follow his advice. It hasn't been easy. I get up by at least 6 a.m. to beat the time when my son wakes to eat breakfast and to try to pound out one of these posts in the short half hour window before he makes noise on our baby monitor. But it's pushed me to be a better writer, to continuously think of new things to write about, and to keep my mind and writing fresh. With work coming up, it will be that much harder to write daily, but I did do it before when I wrote my novels. I will just have to get up a little earlier.
3) I finished my novel Neighborhood Watch.
I'm most proud of this novel, and it's the longest one I wrote at about 105,000 words. I added much more detail and character development than in my previous books, and I am eager for when the copy editing process finishes up so that I can submit queries to publishing houses. Fingers crossed!
4) I started a book of short stories and submitted one to The New Yorker.
It's only at about 21,000 words thus far, but I think there are some real gems in there. All the horror tales in there all based on true stories, and it's refreshing to write something different. I know submitting to The New Yorker is the longest of the long shots, but who knows? You don't know unless you try.
5) My Lego Harry Potter world is almost complete.
I've been busy these last few months building my Lego Harry Potter world. I'm only a couple buildings and some landscaping away from completion and then I intend to make a video of it for this blog. It took me two years, thousands of bricks and lots of patience to build, but it's almost there. I don't know what I'm going to do when it's done!
6) I've watched almost every Simpsons episode.
This might be a little sad, but sometimes you need something to take your mind off of things. I had already watched every episode through about season 12, but I never watched the newer ones. They are about as bad as advertised with a couple jokes and one or two episodes that stand out. But they offer me a fresh nostalgia and an escape from all the craziness in the world. It's still sort of funny, even if it can't touch the classics with a ten foot pole.
7) I made our backyard into a secret garden.
Our backyard was full of overgrown bushes and weeds, so I pulled them and trimmed them back and planted a bunch of perennials and transplanted some daylilies. My wife bought some gnomes and I forged out a path from the pine needles. Now you can walk underneath the pine trees and check out the hosta, daylilies, astilbe, coral bells, and coreopsis.
8) I walked a lot.
In the month of June I accumulated almost 340,000 steps, and had at least 10,000 steps a day. I'm on pace to break that number this month. I feel like exercising is one thing we can still control and it makes us feel better when we can't do much else.
9) I read books and then watched their TV shows.
I read Little Fires Everywhere, Big Little Lies, and The Outsider. They were all excellent reads and good shows. It was interesting to find the similarities and differences in the shows and the books and then write about them on this blog. As I have time, I will continue to find books that line up with shows and/or movies.
10) I've been planning for this crazy school year.
This has been taking up a good deal of my time as I have been researching sites to make my lessons more interactive, restructuring units, attending an AP Zoom meeting, meeting with a coworker for planning, etc. I've done more work in prep for this year than I have in quite some time, but hopefully it will pay off. We don't know how this will exactly go down, but I'm sure we'll learn as we go.