Well this is weird.
It's April 20th. I've been working from home for about seven weeks now. Jack's been off school for five weeks. The whole world is on lockdown, is social distancing, is staying at home, is wearing masks, is only doing essential trips, is only working essential jobs.
When the UK Prime Minister got it, that felt very movie-like. The Queen made a public address. The US president ... well ... he continues to be an arsehole. Some things haven't changed.
We're very lucky that we haven't been affected too badly. There are very few cases in the local area (to date, Walnut Creek has had 37 cases from a population of 65,816), we have a large house that's well equipped for kids to play around, and I'm able to work from home in my little office. The supermarkets have lines outside, or so I hear. I haven't been. Only Agnieszka shops.
Everyone talks about the supermarket staff and health workers, who are doing important but risky jobs. This is true, but I also think about producers of consumables, of the transport infrastructure, and of the utilities. It's cool we have a well stocked freezer, but if the power is out for 24 hours, that's all to waste. I've bought myself a big battery, but that only buys us a few hours. When we're able, we're investing in solar.
I think about the little stores in town that are probably struggling. The toy shop? The book shop? The ice cream shop? All little independent enterprises that will struggle. We can still get all of those things from Amazon, but it would be sad to lose the places to go, when we're once again allowed to go.
They talk of freeing up the restrictions. They talk of cresting the wave. But if you relax the restrictions that lowered the spread, what stops the spread from increasing again? It doesn't get bored or anything. The only way to get back to normality is to build herd immunity over time, or get the vaccine out there. Both of these will be slow. We won't be vacationing this year.
The uncertainty is unhelpful. It's not that we don't know when things will open up again, but nobody has even given us the framework. We need targets and intent. We need to know that there is a plan. But it seems there is no plan, just constant reaction.
We wake every morning. Sometimes Agnieszka will head to the supermarket early. I'll help the boys get plugged into the television and make myself breakfast. I'll head up to work at 8am or so, maybe later. At 9.30 the boy will appear and we'll try to do some maths. He's reluctant. He hates writing in particular, but sometimes you'll get him into a flow and he'll enjoy it. Those are good days. He's a huge distraction from my work, but it's best if I work with him. It would be unfair to expect Agnieszka to have both boys all day.
At 10am he has a half-hour video session with his class on Zoom. They don't do much. They tell jokes and endlessly relearn video etiquette. Afterwards we return to the prescribed work, doing the bits we can handle or prefer. Jack's good at the maths if you can get him into it. He needs to work on his spelling and writing.
At 12 we come down for lunch. Agnieszka has made us burgers and bread. Burgers are popular with both boys mostly. I head back up to work. At 1pm Jack's iPad unlocks and he can play games. He lives for Roblox. Before and after that he'll chain-view YouTube videos of other people playing Roblox.
At some point in the afternoon I'll take Jack out for a hike in the hills. We're lucky we can do that near here. The views are spectacular, and the weather is mostly excellent. If he's not coming, I'll run instead, pulling my t-shirt off as I hit the park and the sunshine. It feels good to (pretend to) be free.
In the afternoon I can get a couple of hours of real work in. I'm avoiding more meetings than usual, because I've got such little time available. I'm working on improving our smoke tests and developing the conversation tree view for web. I'm excited that we're nearing experiment, and hope that we can launch soon.
At 5.30 or so, I'll come downstairs. There'll be some drama with the boys. We'll try to have dinner together, though Max will refuse to eat much. We'll watch an episode of Red Dwarf. We'll cajole the boys into pyjamas, persuade them to brush their teeth, and nudge them to their rooms, repeatedly. By 9, Max will be asleep. By 10.30, so will Jack. That's not great but these are strange days. We do what we can.
Some nights I'll sit up with a beer and watch TV. It's not good, it just makes me more tired the next day. But you need a few moments to yourself. To be yourself and yet escape. To enjoy a beer in peace.
Stress levels are high, and part of that is because we can't see the future. When does this end? How does this end? What of our aging parents, now an impossible-to-reach five thousand miles away? For now, we're all coping. It's not great, but it's ok.