How I Survived 2020

Even though 2020 will forever be connected to the COVID-19 pandemic and remembered as one of the worst years in the history of the country, perhaps even the world, those of us who were fortunate enough to survive, indubitably have stories to tell.

Like many, or maybe even most, my life was disrupted in ways I could never have imagined pre-pandemic. As a professor, my teaching practice abruptly shifted from in-person instruction to remote teaching in a matter of two weeks. It was the Wednesday before spring break that I learned the campus where I’ve been working for the last 6 years would be indefinitely shut down. Students, staff, and faculty were told to pack up and leave campus by the end of the day on Friday. Faculty got some Zoom training during spring break and our classes resumed remotely the week after spring break. I’ve now be teaching all my courses on Zoom for the last 30 weeks. Distance learning has become the norm and will continue to be the norm for me for the foreseeable future as all of my classes for the spring semester 2021 will be on-line again, and I will not, in fact, cannot, return to the campus until the virus is no longer a threat.

How have I adapted to working from home? For starters, I get up much earlier than before. In fact, most of my classes are in the morning. I have even been teaching a course that starts at 6:00 am for international students who live in different time zones; in some cases, there is as much as a 13 hour time difference. On most days, I’m done teaching by 10:00 am. Rather than go back to sleep, I lesson plan, grade papers, attend meetings, and then, weather permitting, I go for a walk to clear my head. In the spring and early autumn, I also went fishing nearly every day at a local pond. I eat all my meals at home and occasionally pick up some take out. Since I am up so early, I eat lunch late morning and dinner in the late afternoon. I may watch a little TV, mostly news programs or car shows, read some, write a little, and then hit the hay by 9:00 pm. It has been a somewhat boring routine, especially during the winter months when it’s more difficult to get out.

And while being holed up in the house for large stretches of time has been frustrating, I have used the time to explore new interests, which have included following a vegan diet, learning to play the guitar (still just playing chords and scales), putting together jigsaw puzzles, podcasting, and writing haiku. Except for veganism and fishing, I doubt that I would have pursued these interests if it had not been for the pandemic, so there’s a silver lining there. And speaking of silver linings, here’s one I just now wrote in the form of a haiku:

armed with a vaccine

the virus will run its course

by the new year’s end

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