Bart waking up

Anti-Virus, Week 9 – Routine Maintenance

It only took nine weeks of quarantine, but I think I finally managed to settle into a morning routine.

I’m a routine kind of guy. I get more done more consistently if I do it the same way every morning. The only problem is that I notoriously and spectacularly fall out of routine on a regular basis, and when I do, it’s difficult to reestablish. In fact, I’ve tried to write a morning routine blog on at least three separate occasions, but every time I start writing the blog, or almost write the blog, I fall out of the routine and feel like I’m not qualified to write it. Even this time, now that I’m finally writing it for real, I biffed the routine twice in the last four days, so I really need to step it up this week and reestablish before it all falls apart. I hope that actually writing this blog will help hold me accountable, as well.

Go on….

Scott and Picard have a drink

Anti-Virus, Weeks 6-8ish – Puking into the Dilithium Chamber

In reviewing my previous two blogs, I came to the conclusion that they stink.

No, it’s not because of the quality of the writing. Although, that wasn’t very good, either. But dang, it’s just a blog, not a TMZ article. Give me a break.

Truthfully, they were just too negative. (Not to mention they were me complaining about unimportant personal problems while there are a lot of people struggling out there with real problems right now. Pretty serious loss of perspective there, champ.) In each blog, my negativity hinged on my age-old enemy: time. I’m reminded of a Jean-Luc Picard quote from Star Trek: Generations, which I’m sure is technically not a very good movie, but it’s a sentimental gem because it was my favorite TV show brought to the big screen. When that happens at ten years old, it’s a monumental deal. My brother took me to see it. It was a lot of fun. Give me a break! The score is good, too. Anyway, Picard says,

“Someone once told me that time is a predator that stalks us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, and reminds us to cherish every moment, …because they’ll never come again. …What we leave behind is not as important as how we lived.”

Big surprise—insightful words from the Captain. The guy could be actively puking his guts out into the dilithium chamber after the O’Briens’ wedding reception and still be capable of saying something eloquent and wise.

Go on….

Futurama - Garbage Ball

Anti-Virus, Week 5 Plus Video Game Talk

You know what? Forget even doing the one news dump a day. I’m just not checking the news at all. I’m better off living in ignorance than being disappointed in people. Or, maybe I’ll just get all my news from NPR from now on, as it seems as boring and unsensationalized as possible. Is that true? I don’t know; I haven’t checked.

Another challenging week at home has come and gone. I felt far less unease than last week, and although I thought I was doing well, I apparently am not. I fear I am becoming a less and less efficient employee as I continue to work from home—no focus, slower output. I’m short-tempered again, irritable, and prone to angry outbursts. Yesterday, I got irritated at people honking their horns at each other to say hello at the intersection outside. Amanda said, “See? You need social interaction. You literally just got pissed at people saying hello to one another.” I didn’t even notice that this was going on, and now I am ashamed of my behavior.

Go on….

The Twilight Zone - Time Enough at Last

Anti-Virus, Weeks 3-4

Week 3 can be summed up as, more or less, a duplicate of Week 2. In spite of what was happening in the world around me, I felt good about the use of my time and stayed positive and productive. I was Burgess Meredith in “Time Enough at Last” right before his glasses break.

Week 4? Oof. Not so much. I have been unfocused and distracted all week, and a general sense of unease looms.  Amanda and our little one are back, and that has been great and makes things feel more normal at home again. But, I can’t deny that it is taking me some time to adjust to being a husband and father again, even after just one week of being away from them. I apparently fell completely out of parenting shape while they were gone—my patience is still not quite at the level it should be, and I’m not proud of that. I need to do better. Easter was pretty good, but the day before, I hit a low point when I sat her in front of a cartoon just so I could have some time to veg out and do something for myself. This is something I rarely do—well, other than when one or more people in the house are sick with influenza or a stomach bug. For the most part, I’m not a “you do this thing here so I can do my own thing over here” kind of parent. Sure, there are plenty of times when I’ll tag out to Amanda when I get too stressed, but Amanda was in the middle of a project in this instance, so I sat the kiddo in front of the television and took time for myself. I felt incredibly guilty because I’m trying to spend as much time with her as I can while she’s little, since I can’t get that back, but it can be tough to do that day-in and day-out, especially with outlets for entertainment away from home (i.e. playgrounds, grandparents, cousins, and so on) currently at a minimum. We are exhausted.

Speaking of Amanda being in the middle of a project, we’ve also started some DIY home improvement work around the house while we wait out the virus. Amanda is the handy person between the two of us, without question. (She just built a small swing set for the kiddo, and I honestly couldn’t figure out how to remove the swing’s chains from their s-hooks the other day.) But, I chip in from time to time. Trying to balance that with my day job and with watching our daughter has been…well, again, tough. Working from home is nice a lot of the time, but not when my job, spouse, and daughter all need me at the same time. Those instances are pretty uncommon, but not impossible.

Simpsons - Le Grille
Me, trying to build ANYTHING.

Lastly, the economical effects of COVID-19 are hitting more and more people close to us, with jobs being eliminated and the sense of dread surrounding possible layoffs and furloughs on the rise. I already worry and feel guilty all the time—this doesn’t make it any easier.

However, in the meantime, all I can do is stay positive and keep myself distracted. I don’t look at a lot of news—I try to check no more than once a day. There’s not a lot I can do to stop rising death tolls and unemployment claims. I’m better off spending my time trying to be productive. I didn’t get much writing done in the past week, and my drawing has slowed, as well, but I am still knocking out two or three a week to stay in practice, which is a lightning pace for me when compared to my output in recent years. Like I mentioned in my previous entry, when my little girl is around, there is just not a lot of time. It’s not a bad thing—it just means being a responsible parent and changing priorities.

I have more things to talk about, but they are long discussions (including one about video games and how they fit into this isolated lifestyle), so I may just leave this entry as-is. It’s kind of a downer, but it fits the previous week. I’d rather be honest with you than try to convince you that everything is fine. On the other hand, it’s also been therapeutic to get this out. 

The good news? It’s Easter evening as I write this. A perfect opportunity for rebirth and to face the next week with renewed enthusiasm and resolve. Also, we made cookies this weekend, and if nothing else can raise my spirits, they can.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week! Hang in there.

Dr. Ian Malcolm - Life finds a way.

Anti-Virus, Week 2

Well, I guess I’ve adapted to this way of life…as much as one might be able. While COVID-19 is never fully out of my mind, I must admit that there have been a few times over the past week where I kind of forgot about it. Not in the sense that I don’t care, that it’s not concerning or scary or otherwise cumbersome to the psyche. I take in one news dump a day from the outside world, but besides that, I have been keeping busy and focusing positive energy on a variety of outlets. Oh, and housework because, I mean, if I’m gonna spend 23 and a half hours a day here, I don’t want it to be a dump.

Amanda and our youngin’ are out of town temporarily. (No worries—I wouldn’t consider it discretionary travel. They’re out on family business.) As such, I’ve been using my time wisely to get some work done (both for my day job and otherwise), reestablish good habits, and take the opportunity to relax, believe it or not!

Go on….

Homer gets the Osaka Flu

Anti-Virus

No, I don’t have an antivirus; I’m just anti-virus. More on that in a moment.

First, a quick update and a small clarification on my last post about reverting to pursuing comics as a hobby instead of a business. I do still intend to create, publish, and sell comics, make convention appearances, and so on. However, my approach is now “because I want to,” instead of “because I want to make this my career someday.” If that still happens by some wild stroke of luck, or if I can pivot back in that direction in the future, great. But, for now, I do have to abandon things like business strategy, timely and crafted social media posts to maximize reach, and trying (and failing) to monetize everything I do. Those are the things that stressed me out, the things I don’t currently have the capacity to manage. The things that make comics not fun.

Go on….

From Amazing Spider-Man #50. Image credit: Marvel Comics

Hard Reset

I almost posted a very different blog about my 2020 plans and expectations, but I had something of a revelation today concerning my approach to creativity:

It’s not working.

It made the original blog mostly irrelevant, but there are a couple of key points that will sneak their way into this one, too.

My wife noticed that I have been upset a lot, lately. Stressed. Short-tempered. I can barely hold it together for five minutes with our daughter before I lose patience. She said that I seem miserable and wanted to know what I needed to make things better.

Go on….