At this point I feel almost like Bilbo Baggins returning to Bag End at the end of the Hobbit. I’ve been away for so long, I half-feared I’d find a distant cousin selling off my intellectual property.
I don’t know if you’ve been worried about me or not, and I’m sad to say I haven’t kept up with you as I’d have liked. I truly hope you are faring well.
As I said many weeks ago, my mind has just been overwhelmed. I stopped reading, running, and writing. It’s like I can only focus on the necessities of work, eat, and sleep. I’ve found a few pleasant distractions, but overall nothing has been close to resembling normal since May.
I’m sure many of you feel the same.
There’s been a lot going on in my life, and part of that is why I’ve been largely absent from social media. If you follow me elsewhere, you might have noticed that I’m not posting nearly as much/often as I had in the past. I’m trying to interact with folks, but there’s not much content coming from me.
So, what’s been happening?
First, the biggest news is that I will not be returning to teaching in the fall semester. This was a difficult decision made after many months of careful thought, and while the future is quite uncertain, I know this was the right decision at the right time.
For now, I’m an academic advisor at our local community college, and I’m enjoying it immensely. For now, it’s only through December; we’ll see what happens after that.
Second, my father’s not been doing well. I may or may not have talked about his illness before, but he’s been battling prostate cancer off and on for the past fifteen years or so. Now it’s to the point that, absent a literal miracle, things will not improve. The cancer has spread into his bones and spine, he can’t navigate stairs, he can’t drive, and now he’s not supposed to take long trips. He’s not a candidate for surgery due to heart conditions.
And so, in the midst of COVID, we’re left trying to decide if it’s safe to socially-distance visit before the bad days outnumber the better days, or it becomes too late to visit at all. While we want to see my dad, we also don’t want to risk spreading this disease to him, God forbid.
Third, Krystal’s begun battling cabin fever as she enters her sixth month (or thereabouts) of working at home. Has it really been that long already?? We should have been seeing friends and attending conventions and working on cosplays and purchasing lots of great art. And, as most of those things have been cancelled, it’s taken an emotional toll.
I’d say that I’m immune, but that’s not true. I could count one hand – maybe two – the number of close friends I’ve made over the last twenty years. Not friends in general, but *close* friends; you get the difference, right? Anyway, I’ve realized that I became so used to just being alone that I confused introversion with loneliness. Now, I’m still 100% an introvert, but I’ve found that I need people, too.
We’ve been staving off the madness in three ways.
First, we began playing a certain TTRPG once a week. Krystal made some Instagram friends, they asked her to join their new campaign, and then graciously asked me to join, too. So now, for five hours a week, I get to play Brynwick Nibnibbler, a gnome cleric acting as the sarcastic voice of morality for our company of misfits known as The Third Family. It’s become somewhat more of a game as we’ve developed actual friendships in the group: we care for each other and communicate throughout the week making sure we’re all okay – or at least as okay as we can be. We talk, we vent, we support – and then we try to save the world.
Second, we’ve been buying art from our friends. Conventions might have been cancelled, but artists still need to eat and pay bills. So, as we’ve been able, we’ve tried to support them.
Third, we’ve been having zoom calls with my brother and his wife in South Carolina and my brother and his family in California. It’s been good to “see” and talk with each other.
Oh, and I’m still working on podcasts. We recently wrapped up Core Curriculum Series Three on the poetry of Sappho, and now we’re planning Series Four, which will cover Homer’s Odyssey.
I need to start running again. I need to start reading again. But for now, I’m surviving.
How are you holding up?