Okay. I’ve been home a month now.

Things have settled out some. There’s no longer the issue of feeling anxious until I start to work. My desk had three monitors on it but I can only use one at home. That took more accommodation than I expected.

Being home with my wife is nice. But I find I miss the commute.

I took the train in and out every day. 90 minutes, one way. About 50 minutes on the actual rail plus 30 minutes, plus or minus, on the subway, walking or biking. I didn’t much care for the subway but getting a good half hour workout by getting to work was worth the deal.

The 50 minutes was where I did most of my writing.

Now, at home, I have no defined time for that and my writing has suffered. I’ve managed to get an hour in just before work but it’s been hard to increase it.

But there have been other issues. One is what I call the Urge to be Doing.

For me, there are a number of itches that need to be scratched in my life. Time with people. Writing. Work. And, doing things. By this I mean doing something beyond what needs to be done just to keep going. Work, writing, time with people– these are necessary actions of living. Doing things is one step beyond that. It could be as simple as making a new base for a lamp. Or making something out of a worn out pair of shoes. Or going fishing. Or taking a walk in a new place. Or seeing an art exhibit. Sometimes, it’s this blog.

The instant something moves into the has to be done category, it falls out of the category of doing things.

A couple of weeks I found myself itching to do something. Go for a walk or a bike ride? Weather was awful. Can’t go out to see something– social distancing.

So I went into the shop and made the pen and tiny bowl above.

These are not great works of art. The pen is made from some black birch I had lying around. Birch is soft in general and this wood seems especially porous. I probably should have stabilized the wood, first. But I’ve been having a little trouble with my lathe tools and stabilized wood feels like turning a rock. So I was lazy and didn’t do it. The pen came out okay but not great.

The bowl was nicer. It was from a piece of plum wood I had saved when we had to cut down some fruit trees. (See here.) The wood is multicolored and has a slight tinge of pink. Unfortunately, the wood developed a crack as I was turning it. I finished it and it is usable as a little pill bowl but it’s, again, not great.

That said, I felt great afterwards.

I had done something.

I think it’s important these days that we remember it’s not enough to do what we must do to survive. To make sure we and our loved ones are safe. We must also live. We must satisfy those itches and needs.

I’ve been doing a lot of teleconferencing at work and over time people have quit using their cameras. It’s not surprising as video taxes the network and servers of most of the teleconferencing applications.

But I hate it.

I’ve been home for a month. I’ve seen my wife, dog and cat regularly. A couple of times I’ve seen my son. The only other human visual contact I’ve had is via these teleconferences. To see a blank screen with someone’s initials just doesn’t satisfy that need.

Humans are not solitary creatures. We need other human beings like we need oxygen to breathe.

So talk to each other.




Doing — 5 Comments

  1. I get to go to the accountant this afternoon. We’ll walk to her office, don our masks, sign papers without a lot of friendly chit chat because she’s doing her best to keep contact down. As we leave she’ll take a disinfectant wipe to her desk and the doorknob.

    But still we’ll be out and there will be another person and words will be exchanged!

  2. I went to the market and the pharmacy last week–THAT was exciting. Humans I am not related to by marriage or motherhood. All my parenting is done via FaceTime (but since my kids are not local, this is nothing particularly new. I feel for my younger daughter, holed up in her one bedroom apartment in LA with no room-mates, and only occasional contact at the store or gas station–thus the increased FaceTime). And having a dog means having to walk a dog, so we get out of the house and at least see neighbors similarly en-dogged. There’s an interesting “encounter someone else” behavior developing, where you wave (because, masked as we are, no one can see your smile) and nod, head slightly averted as if to say “I will not cough on you.” The people I feel for are the parents whose children are too young and/or too heedless to understand social distancing–one poor woman had obviously said “Tad, give that person her SPACE!” so many times she was near tears.

    I’ve been doing too–aside from doing the day-job work, I’ve been making masks and other PPE, binding a book (that was technically for work–had to check out a set of directions), and cooking. The urge to make things is weirdly strong right now.

  3. You are right–it is definitely a comfort to be able to make things, and your bowl is indeed lovely. I myself have gone back to my hippie days, making my own bread and yogurt (and I bet that others are doing the same, hence the shortage of flour and yeast on the store shelves). And knitting socks while I’m watching those PBS history films, because it reminds me that I will be able to give away the stockpile of socks at the end of the year to *actual people*!

    In fact, come to think about it, should we be starting a barter system online before we build of wall of hobby stuff we can’t climb out from under?