the grid

the grid

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Week 11: Just breathe

I'm echoing Linda's words from last week, because they are wise, and a good antidote to the anxiety associated with constantly changing news updates and the tension of knowing (or trying to accept) that "this ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' around." Apart from staying home and washing hands, we need to breathe. Focus on the current moment. Breathe. If you can do one thing, do that. Then breathe.

I could not manage to impose much structure on my life last week. It was a strange one all around, not only in world-wide and bloggable ways. So I'll try again this week. At least now we know what we're doing. LRU will hold classes online for the rest of the semester. Various other areas of life that were in question are now settled rather than being up in the air. Exercise routines need to change. So does shopping. So does my session goal for "some kind of social life."

This online community means a lot to me, and I hope you will all keep checking in here and discussing in the comments. Do what you can. Breathe. Let things go when you must---with regret, with thanks, with relief, with whatever you can to acknowledge a change that may be difficult to roll with. Change is hard. We like our routines. This group has its weekly check-in as a routine, and so . . . we continue.

Oh, and happy change of season---spring in the northern hemisphere, autumn in the southern. What natural changes are you observing?

1) Deal with on-line migration issues slowly and carefully and without unnecessary drama
2) Distribute baby boxes
3) Work on talk, assumption is I will be able to go, but who knows…
4) Find entertainment for bored child out of school for next three weeks…

Dame Eleanor Hull
Daily stretching, walking, 8 hours sleep.
Daily writing (or writing-adjacent activities).
Class plans for the rest of the term, at least two weeks online, perhaps more.
A service thing.
Tidy my study and closet.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
Block and finish/assemble the blue scarf, the coat, the remaining two sets of curtains, and the shrug.
Gather the surrogate pages needed to work from home.
Take home or scan articles and books for Illuminated and term project.
Complete passport renewal application.
Walk the building 4 times a day.
Meditate 3 times per day.

Good Enough Woman (held over)
1. Get next week's Brit Lit reading done by Sunday.
2. Do most of the prep for next week to clear the way for heavier grading.
3. Find short stories for independent study student. Create first few assignments for her.
4. Research/write for 1 hour.
1. Send at least three cards/letters to people.
2. Have lunch with my mom.
3. Float like mist through all four of my son's 4-H activities this week. Support him.
1. Walk 4x
2. Meditate 4x
3. Skip late-night treat 3x. Fast at least 13 hours 2x.
4. Reschedule appointment that got cancelled.

heu mihi (because we’re thinking about you being away from home)
1. Stay safe and well.

1 write content for online course I’m teaching
2 create content for classes that were moved online
3 decide what call for papers to respond to
4 look at DQ and decide whether to revise

1) Do one ACTUAL WORK THING, one CHORE THING and one FUN THING every day.
2) aim for 5 fruit and veg a day, plenty of water, no bread, and small amounts of sugar.
2a) start to work out what a realistic schedule might look like (we got the news of closure Monday, we still don't know how it will work, we had to write plans over the weekend which then need to be approved (but haven't been yet so I'm reluctant to make too much of a start on prep)). And I have to do as much as I can NOT to let my sleep schedule drift...
3) spend an hour with my NaNo writing, because I enjoy it
4) keep building that list of research obligations…
Karen (held over)
-clear 2 boxes (the ones next to the bookshelf)
-start all course F draft documents
-run x 2, yoga x 3. Wondering if I can fit in a weights session somewhere in my schedule because I realise I need to work on upper body strength, but can't see where.
-order wind sock, book in 4 field recording days.
-write up notes from this mornings library trip

KJHaxton (held over)
- prepare assessment guidelines for article assessment
- mark group projects, send materials off for moderation
- aim for 30 minutes per day on professional development application
- collate sustainability paperwork
- aim for 2 x 2 hours of data analysis for engagement project
- work on draft of sustainability paper ( 2 hours minimum)

Oceangirl101 (held over)
1) write/work on book, but mostly Ch 7 3x a week, for 2 hrs each- will involve some number crunching, creation of figures, writing and some revision of Ch 3
2) exercise x 3
3) meet with undergrad students/grad that I am advising on lab projects/independent studies etc.
4) finish syllabi, start BB sites for two courses

1. Read book for book review, write review
2. Read ms. for review session (a colleague has a grant to bring people together to discuss her second book, as a kind of surrogate dissertation committee; the in person meeting is now a zoom one.)
3. Do 5 minutes clearing daily, so that stress domesticity is productive
4. Finish stuff for sale of mom's house
5. Read a book for fun (I read a whole lot while traveling, got to get going again.)
6. Get exercise. Down Dog Yoga app is free for the next few weeks, I can walk, etc.
7. Do at least one virtual social occasion daily...
8. Be kind to myself, and others.

1. T32
a. Cold emails
b. My sections
2. YRBS paper - work on M's edits
a. Waiting on one more set of analyses - not sure if COVID will impair statistician's ability to do that
3. MH and COVID19 survey
4. Relat identities results section


  1. Hello, everyone--we're back. We managed to get on an earlier flight (after my parents spent a combined total of 8 hours on the phone trying to get it changed, on top of the 1 hour I spent before being cut off and also realizing that I didn't have enough international minutes to handle this myself). It was a good thing: Delhi basically shut down right on our heels. But we made it home, and we're reasonably well: somewhat jet-lagged, and TM has a cold (symptoms not consistent with covid-19), and I seem to have acid reflux brought on by taking too much zinc to keep myself from getting covid, but otherwise we're fine.

    My uni has switched to all-online, and the union's request for an extra week of spring break to help us get our bearings has been denied, so I'm teaching via Zoom for the first time tomorrow. I expect that it will not work. I expect that most of my students won't show up. (Only about half turned in the paper that was due two weeks ago, after all--they're probably all in various states of distress and confusion.) But we've been told to keep our expectations for our teaching low, and that students won't be evaluating us this semester, so we're just going to roll with it and see what happens.

    I don't even know what my goals are this week. Bonaventure is home for at least 2 more weeks (I strongly suspect that that will be extended) and we're in post-travel quarantine. I do want to get outside every day, and resume normal exercise (my yoga studio is doing streaming classes, which is nice, and I can run) once this heartburn settles itself. I have no research ambitions at the moment. So let's see:

    1. Establish functional routines for Bonaventure--his teacher is doing daily Zoom meetings, and he's enthusiastic about homework, so this might be okay
    2. Self-care: sit, exercise, get outside, read/watch shows for fun
    3. Get through teaching without worrying about it too much
    4. Write letter of rec. for grad student (this really should be done today); triage email; contact advisees re. registration

    That seems like enough. I hope that you're all okay! Stay well and stay sane!

    1. It is a great relief to know you are safely home! Kudos to your parents for helping out. I'm sorry to hear of your ailments and hope they pass quickly, and that you adapt well to quarantine + child-care + teaching online. A lot of changes have happened very fast. Welcome home!

    2. I admit that I've been dropping by quite a bit here just to make sure you and your family got home safely. And definitely get through teaching without worrying about it too much!

    3. So very glad to hear you are back. Despite having walked back into a different world than you left, it sounds like you are coping well.

  2. Well another crazy week… Love the reminder to breathe, thank you! And thank you everyone for the help with keeping a bit of routine and predictability!
    Concentration was completely shot all week, as most people have found I think… I was like a goldfish, 3 second attention span and no capacity for executive functioning. So instead of worrying about the online teaching I packed and delivered baby boxes, which probably helped students more than anything I could possibly do with the teaching part. I suspect it might have been the most useful thing I did all term… I cleared out my office plants and brought a microscope home. I managed to create a basic plan for the rest of term, and started posting material. I’m not recording lectures or doing any synchronous activities, most of my students have only very sketchy computer and internet access, and most rely completely on their phones so making them watch me talk when they cannot interact would be awful. So, readings only with no new activities or labs. My team of lab instructors and I are all working on making final exam test banks for our experiment in online assessment.
    For the household this coming week I’m putting us all on a real schedule (yep, colour coded and with elaborate crafted chart!) for some structure. I have green and yellow squares for me and kid, green are fun/hobby/home/exercise activities, yellow ones are work or school and every day we will pick three of each and gradually work our way through each collection. Kid wants to learn a whole bunch of cooking so that will be fun. Some things have to show up every 2 out of 3 days, others every 5 out of 7 etc. to give some continuity. I’ve picked two very challenging Bach Partitas to learn, that will be a good hobby. It was interesting to write down my work options, they are really quite limited so maybe I get something done! Schools are almost certainly not opening again this year, so we need to start a functional system now if we don’t want to lose our minds… like a lovely meme said “homeschooling going great: entire class suspended for fighting and teacher fired for drinking on the job”….

    Last week’s goals:
    1) Deal with on-line migration issues slowly and carefully and without unnecessary drama ONGOING, MADE PLAN, CHANGED PLAN, REPEAT AD NAUSEUM…
    3) Work on talk, assumption is I will be able to go, but who knows… NOPE
    4) Find entertainment for bored child out of school for next three weeks… ONGOING QUITE POSSIBLY FOREVER…
    This week’s goals:
    1) Put everyone on a schedule!
    2) Write funding report and technical report to go with it
    3) Dust off neglected paper and work on figures
    4) Post enough class material to get through 2 weeks
    5) Run at least 4 times
    6) Stop stress-eating everything that doesn’t move fast enough…

    Stay healthy everyone!

    1. Thanks for the links---those were fun! Sounds like you're working on filling up your bingo cards. ;-) Well done on the baby boxes! I find it a comfort that nature keeps doing its thing: plants budding, birds nesting, and pregnancies growing. Good luck with your very sensible goals!

    2. Your detailed and colorful scheduling is just what I need on the homefront. We're doing a lot of "I don't know...what do you want to do? what should we cook? what are we doing tomorrow?" and it's not very productive.

      Regarding stress eating, I keep trying to remember a friend who told me that often when we are thirsty, we think we are hungry, so I have a glass of water nearby as well as I can keep it there. But it's been a stress eating day for sure.

    3. Thank you for the links, Daisy--a fun break from the rest of our situations. I like the idea of color-coding the schedule--I respond well to color, instinctively understanding in a way that dyslexic me doesn't understand words immediately.
      I will second Linda's suggestion about water--keeping water nearby definitely cuts down on my stress eating.

  3. Oh my! These are strange times. We seem to be all settled at home now, slowly trying to grasp the altered reality and regain some degree of executive function. Still processing but I need to retain normal working practices. I know it works for me in challenging times.

    KJHaxton (held over)
    - prepare assessment guidelines for article assessment - DONE
    - mark group projects, send materials off for moderation - DONE
    - aim for 30 minutes per day on professional development application - NOPE
    - collate sustainability paperwork - In progress
    - aim for 2 x 2 hours of data analysis for engagement project - DONE
    - work on draft of sustainability paper ( 2 hours minimum) - NOPE

    This week:
    - collate sustainability paperwork for two organisational units
    - produce 2 lectures worth of distance learning for polymer chemistry course
    - carry out student meetings by phone
    - walk 10000 steps each day (we're doing this fitness tracker challenge thing at work)
    Anything beyond this is a bonus. This is the last week of teaching before Easter break and our upper management have given us additional days of holiday during our Easter break to permit all staff to turn Easter weekend into a full week off. It's a lovely thing to do.

    1. Wow, lots of DONE! That's excellent. I hope you do get to take the full week off, if you want it, despite your determination to maintain normal work practices. Or to spend the week doing your ideal work schedule, if that's what makes you feel best.

    2. KJ, how nice that you have your Easter weekend extended--however you choose to spend it. Enjoy!

  4. Basically the only thing I did last week, apparently, was work on my mental health and COVID survey. That's not a bad thing - I'd like to get it out there ASAP - but there are other things I need to work on and my postdoc mentor seemed pretty disappointed in my low productivity. She knows I'm sick - but she weirdly thinks everything is an overreaction and that positive thinking will improve things. So, not super helpful. I'm on day 11 of being sick and my lungs are more affected, which has me nervous. I'm tired of my friends and mom checking in with me constantly because I don't have good news and I don't want to frighten people (if for no other reason than that they might start checking in even more frequently!).

    1. COVID and MH
    a. Into qualtrics
    2. Tobacco paper
    3. T32
    4. Asthma paper revision
    5. Take a fresh look at PTSD paper? (if all goes well this week)

    1. Well, boo on your mentor. Can you tell your friends and mom that you'll check in at X time daily and other than that you need to rest or work? It might be hard to tell what's concern and what's "we're bored and isolated, let's see if Waffles can provide connection and a feeling that we're doing something important!" I get that you're nervous about your lungs (I have a cold and keep monitoring myself---this cough is just PND, right? breathing okay? yep [repeat 10 minutes later]), but it's possible to have some lung involvement and still get better on your own. OTOH don't put off getting help if you think you need it! I think it's great that you worked on your survey, because that is an important contribution, AND so many people had trouble concentrating last week that it's nice to hear from someone who did something productive.

    2. Waffles, I will add my boo to your mentor. I have little good to say about people who think those who are sick are either fakers, or even more problematic, should just think happy thoughts to rid themselves of germs.

  5. Oh, was that a week. A friend's father died, not of the virus, but she is immuno-compromised and went to him & I get it, but I worry for her. Spring went on pause, here; we had snow over the weekend, though I've seen many spring bulbs in bloom, including a brave early daffodil (not in my garden, elsewhere). I'm prioritizing health and teaching, for now; I hope to get back to research, but I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't.

    How I did:
    Daily stretching, walking, 8 hours sleep. MOSTLY on exercise, with some days off due to this cold making me feel like not moving; BAD w/r/t sleep, again due to the cold, though when the coughing died down I napped a long time on Sunday.
    Daily writing (or writing-adjacent activities). NO.
    Class plans for the rest of the term, at least two weeks online, perhaps more. ONE WEEK done, another clear on the concepts though I need to put stuff together.
    A service thing. NO.
    Tidy my study and closet. YES.

    New goals:
    Daily stretching, walking, 8 hours sleep.
    Class plans for next week (definitely) and beyond (as I can); grade a set of papers; maintain virtual office hours.
    3-4 days: some language study and some reading/note-taking.
    At least one service thing (of 3).
    2-3 items from my Life Stuff list.

    1. I'm sorry about your friend's father -- that's hard. And all difficult choices to go or not to go in this context.

      Priotizing health and teaching seems quite rational right now.

    2. I hope you can get clear of that cold soon, and glad to hear that you're taking care of yourself and worrying less about the things you might not get to right now. The dramatic shifts in the weather are hard on the body too.

    3. Sorry to hear about your friend's father. I would not want my friend to travel in such circumstances, but I know what a hard call that would be.
      I hope the cold is improving, and I agree with Linda, the crazy weather shifts do not help. It snowed here Tuesday, hard enough that we lost power for most of the evening and night, but today it will be 60 degreees. It is far too easy to get sick with swings like that!

  6. We've had some (much needed) rain in the last week, so spring has slowed a bit, but my lilac is in bloom and the first of my roses will blossom in the next few days.

    Otherwise, I am like everyone else: struggling to concentrate. I'm glad I'm not migrating teaching to remote structures -- I particularly do not envy those on the quarter system who have to start teaching a new quarter and make the class remote from the start.

    Goals from last week:
    1. Read book for book review, write review - STARTED, but just
    2. Read ms. for review session (a colleague has a grant to bring people together to discuss her second book, as a kind of surrogate dissertation committee; the in person meeting is now a zoom one.) NO
    3. Do 5 minutes clearing daily, so that stress domesticity is productive YES!!!
    4. Finish stuff for sale of mom's house MOST DONE
    5. Read a book for fun (I read a whole lot while traveling, got to get going again.) NO
    6. Get exercise. Down Dog Yoga app is free for the next few weeks, I can walk, etc. YES, lots of walking, and some yoga
    7. Do at least one virtual social occasion daily... YES -- virtual happy hours, virtual coffee, virtual coffee hour instead of church,
    8. Be kind to myself, and others. YES

    Well, I mean, what was I thinking? I have to figure out how to concentrate, but it's a challenge. And for 24 hours after I said goodbye to my mother, I experienced deep grief in anticipation. (She's fine, really, but anxiety is real.) Living alone means that I don't have to be as manic in the house, but I've found the isolation hard -- when I said something on twitter, a friend noted that we turn to friends when things happen, so isolation is hard. And it's open-ended, and there's some menace. But I did a few admin things, and I set up stuff for church, and so I've put things in place. And I've decided that the human connection stuff is as important as work right now...

    Goals for the week ahead:
    1. Manuscript review (must be done by Friday AM)
    2. Clear out 100 more emails (this is relatively mindless, and I got rid of 100 the other day in less than an hour)
    3. 5 minutes of clearing daily
    4. 5 minutes of weeding daily
    5. Keep up social connection / add new people
    6. Keep getting exercise.
    7. Add pleasure reading to schedule.
    8. Keep being kind to people.

    1. Anxiety is real. There is so much truth in that--even when we know we are doing everything we can, and there is nothing more, it doesn't keep the worry at bay. I'm working really hard to remember this, because it's something I have known in normal times. But the pandemic is kicking up all kinds of concerns beyond my control.

      And no matter what, we are fundamentally social creatures. Even for extreme introverts like me, there is something affirming about interacting with other people. I hope there are ways to ease that isolation.

    2. It's completely understandable to be worried about your mother, Susan, so try not to beat yourself up about it.
      Linda's point is well taken about even introverts needing social contact. It is as important as work; really, it is more important.

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  8. Queen of distraction over here. I have had a really hard time concentrating too. I have elderly parents and aunts & uncles, along with a pregnant daughter-in-law. A childhood friend in NYC who is essential personnel and still working, and understandably pretty freaked out.

    There’s a bunch of administrative stuff to do, especially as we are trying to be reassuring in advising students virtually to register for summer and fall classes. Trying to be helpful, supportive, and generous all around. I forget that doing that emotional labor is taxing.

    Last week:
    1 write content for online course I’m teaching: yes
    2 create content for classes that were moved online: some
    3 decide what call for papers to respond to: somewhat
    4 look at DQ and decide whether to revise : no

    Routine would be good, and I’m hopeful I can settle into something productive and calming. Next week has a book review deadline and deadlines for all of the abstract submissions. One of the abstracts is for a conference overseas in September. There’s nothing on the conference website to indicate anything but business as usual, and I’ve spent the last month watching a bunch of things I planned to attend around the US get cancelled or postponed. So I am still up in the air on whether I want to endure that constant checking in and uncertainty again.

    This week:
    1 continue to write content for online course I’m teaching
    2 continue to create content for classes that were moved online
    3 decide what call for papers to respond to
    4 look at DQ and decide whether to revise

    1. It is impossible not to worry about those close to us, so try to compensate with extra self-care, Linda. The effort to be supportive of our colleagues and students is a new, and equally taxing, task.
      The conference is a hard call. I'd suggest limiting your checking on it just for sanity's sake. Is the abstract on a topic you could turn into a journal article, or easily submit to another conference in future? I've had four conferences cancelled in the past two days, so I've been contemplating the same question myself.

    2. Thanks for the suggestion to think about the abstract as something that could also lead to an article. I'm seeing some conferences move to online formats, which I guess is more appealing since so many of us are becoming dearly familiar with zoom. I wouldn't mind presenting digitally, but the travel would enable me to see a friend who has been living overseas for about 20 years, which I would welcome. There are good outcomes either way.

  9. Topic:
    And here I am, checking in late again. The world is continuing to change every day; my world is certainly spinning more quickly. I rely heavily on this group for accountability and support, so I hate letting it slip by me as often as it has done. I am now a little more than a week into working from home, and have one online class under my belt. I find that I am very productive on the little things--the countable, widget-making, kinds of things, and not at all productive on the things that take more time and concentration. I’m working on the things I can do to help--helping to ensure our student workers have enough to do that they can still be paid, and keeping in touch with my international classmates who are worried about family much farther away than mine.
    I’m also hoping that some of the good effects will continue after the crisis has passed--that we continue to check on neighbors and colleagues, for example, or help out with food banks and the like.

    “Ms. Mitchell, it seems you have found something of ours.”
    “To my mind, Hauptmann, that would be a matter of interpretation, as you said earlier.”
    “That manuscript belongs to the Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana.”
    “That manuscript is the Codex Toxitanus, or the Codex Palatinus, so-called because it disappeared in 1558 from the Bibliotheca Palatina.”
    “Which became part of the Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana.”
    “Through political juggling and extortion. I’m delighted someone was able to magic it away.”

    Last week’s goals:
    Block and finish/assemble the blue scarf, the coat, the remaining two sets of curtains, and the shrug. Yes.
    Gather the surrogate pages needed to work from home. Yes.
    Take home or scan articles and books for Illuminated and term project. Yes.
    Complete passport renewal application. No.
    Walk the building 4 times a day. No.
    Meditate 3 times per day. Yes.

    Analysis of last week’s goals:
    Doing the blocking has been a good break from the computer. While I am on the computer most of the day when I’m in the office, the need for remote meetings via computer while working from home has meant I am on the computer 4 hours at a stretch, which is not a good thing. Needing to rinse the blocked pieces and pin them out to dry helps on lots of levels. So has meditation, which helps slow the hamster-wheel brain. I have not been able to walk around the building, since my library closed the day after I was allowed to work from home, but I have substituted the block for the building. I didn’t get out the day it snowed, but have managed the rest of the time.
    Since I was given permission to work from home prior to the closure of the building, I was able to take digital pictures of the title pages, so I have enough information to build the scaffolding of about 70 records. I’ll be learning what is available online to finish them off after that. I also was able to grab the articles and scans I needed to keep working on research, but that has been much more difficult to do. The shared home office is part of the problem, but more problematic is just the difficulty in staying focussed.
    Finally, finishing the passport renewal just seemed silly at this point, although I suppose I should do it despite not being able to travel at the moment.

    Next week’s goals:
    Hang curtains.
    Block dressing gown and chemise.
    Finish passport application.
    Do some grunt work (glossary, citations, and the like) for half an hour a day to get back into research.

    A short list of goals, since I am so late in checking in. Stay well, and breathe, everyone. Float like mist.

    1. I just got a call from my sister that our older sister, who has been in a nursing home in Seattle for about three months, exhibited COVID-19 symptoms earlier today, and was taken to the hospital, but passed away an hour ago.

    2. Oh no, I am so sorry to hear that! Thinking of you all...

    3. Oh no--I'm so very sorry. Words fail.

    4. Very sad news. My condolences to your family. If you would like to tell us more about your sister, please do. Or not. Whatever helps.

    5. Sending peace and light your way.

    6. Thank you, Dame Eleanor and Linda. My sister and I have not been close for decades, so it's complicated, as the saying goes.
      I can say that my sister had my father's way with words, which made her dementia, which affected her language ability, even more cruel. After searching for words more often the past year, she became completely silent in the last few months.
      She also stopped recognizing my brother-in-law, eventually needing to be put in a memory care unit.
      I am concerned for my brother-in-law, my sister, and my nieces; as for me, it is still surreal.

    7. I'm so sorry - even with the difficult backstory, and dementia, there's a part of your past that is gone. Sending warm thoughts to you and your whole family.

  10. So sorry to hear that, condolences to you and family in this difficult time