Dream On

I dreamed the other night that I was in a big city for a work-related event. Somehow I had been placed in charge of rounding up my colleagues, about 30 of them, for a group photo that was to take place at 10:00 a.m.. I didn’t know it was my responsibility until about 9:40 a.m. when the head honcho told me. I looked around, trying to figure out how I would do that. Colleagues were in the street, spread throughout the hotel, walking around the city, still asleep.

I decided I was hungry and needed to eat. I sat down with a salad, then changed my mind, realizing I didn’t have time. The salad turned into long strings of English ivy.

I had to pee and went to the hotel bathroom. There was a long line for the ladies room, so I decided to hold it.

I remembered that I hadn’t freshened up my face, didn’t have enough makeup on for a professional photo. I didn’t even know what my hair looked liked. I started to rush back to my hotel room, but stopped when I realized I didn’t have time.

It was almost 10:00 and I hadn’t rounded up one person. I had failed, and everyone would know it. I would be blamed for the group photo being a disaster. Everyone would hate me. No one would ever trust me to handle things again.

When I woke up from this nightmare, feeling anxious and panicked, one thing was clear: It felt like my real life. I was promoted last spring, yet I still have responsibilities from my former role, primarily a caseload of students to advise and a class to teach to first year students. My boss, whose job I took when she was promoted, has a new boss now and the pressure coming down from the top is real. On top of this, I am trying to navigate all of this during a pandemic while working remotely.

Is it any wonder I wanted to die in my dream?

In real life, I forgot to schedule my son’s entry test for admission to the Catholic high school he wants to attend. Thankfully, due to the pandemic, they are waiving the test, but our chance of a merit scholarship is now null and void because he missed the test. I’m not sure we can afford the tuition without one.

The food pantry items I was supposed to drop at his school last week are still sitting in a bag in my car. I had meant to drop them off on Friday, but instead I was driving around trying to find a rapid COVID-19 test after learning my husband’s coworker was exposed, kept coming to work, and didn’t tell anyone because he couldn’t afford to be out of work.

There are so many things to do and remember: Pay bills on time, schedule doctor appointments, keep up with what’s happening at my son’s school. There are groceries to buy, meals to plan, and stocking up in case we end up in lock down. The house always needs cleaning, laundry is piling up.

The walls of my house are closing in on me. I feel a sense of dread, or like screaming, when it’s time to sit in front of my work computer. I find myself getting shorter with my family, edgy, easily annoyed. The time change has been the worst. Dark before 5:00 p.m. now, nowhere to go after work, not even for a walk unless I want to go in the dark. I don’t.

It’s like the earth is asking me to lay down and die.

One good part about my dream was that I was in a city. I love cities. COVID didn’t exist. Everyone was crammed in close to one another, no masks needed. Though I was freaking out in the dream, there was also a feeling that I could disappear into the heart of the city, escape, wander, be free.

What a dream that would be.

How are you coping during the pandemic as it drags on? I’d love to hear.

Dream On, by Aerosmith

Housebound During COVID-19 Pandemic

The room I used to love and now hate.

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The moment when…your living room becomes your office/yoga studio/fitness center/rubber room.

I used to believe working from home would be a dream. I could sleep later, not deal with commuting, wear sweatpants all day, and do housework during breaks. Wrong!

I hate it. I’ve never been a homebody, but a week of  forced telecommuting and being housebound due to COVID-19 and already I’m stir crazy. And forget housework. All I want to do on “breaks” is get the hell out of the house. I go for walks, drive around in the car listening to music, run quick errands with gloves on, after which I wash my hands and wipe down every surface I’ve touched before I washed.

When my husband comes home from his “essential” job around 4:30 pm, I see his eyes dart to the dishes in the sink, to the stove where dinner isn’t yet cooking, and to me, looking for answers. I don’t say it out loud, but inwardly I dare him to ask the unspoken question: Why, when you are working from home? Something of my thoughts must show on my face  because he doesn’t, smart man.

He can’t comprehend why I’m going stir crazy, or how my desperate need to separate work from  home, my feeling of being trapped, the fear of the unknown, and the torture of limbo have taken over my sensibilities.  I can’t either, for that matter. I only know that I am not handling this isolation well and it’s both surprising and disappointing.

I know it could be so much worse – it could be war or famine or a layoff, or we could be homeless or ill – and I know containing the virus from spreading is critical. But man, I never thought I’d hate being in the house so much, and especially spending most of my time in this new multi-purpose space that I once loved and now hate.

Note to self and others like me:  Breath. Relax. Pray. This moment in time won’t last forever. Someday it will be a story to tell. 

I would love to hear how you’re coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. What has changed in your life?  Are you finding any magic in these moments?