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I feel guilty how little I’ve been affected by the restrictions.

Anne's COVID-19 Story

April 20, 2020

Anne Hall describes working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic

I’m working from home, though of course with a lot of changes – if it hadn’t been for the pandemic I’d still be mainly organizing speakers and writing workshops for adult library programs, but since the library’s been closed as a non-essential service, now I’m working on programs we can offer online. So still lots of emails and phone calls, but now I’m getting the hang of Zoom meetings, though without a videocam I show up as a black box on everyone’s else’s screen. But better than the poor woman who got stuck with an image of a potato, eh?

I feel guilty how little I’ve been affected by the restrictions. I’m healthy and so far everyone I know is too. No kids stuck at home and nobody in long-term care, though I’m worried about my sister and her family in the States, and my niece in the US Navy (thankfully stationed on land and not on a ship), even though they’re all mainly doing okay so far. We’re all still staying in touch pretty much the same we’d been before COVID-19. I’d always had a month’s supply of food and sundries ahead, probably thanks to parents who grew up during the Depression and just took that for granted as something you did if you could, so it hasn’t been hard to stay stocked up.  

stack of library books read

Aside from work I’ve been working my way through a stack of library books and DVDs. This is what I’ve finished so far, and I still have a big pile to keep my going, though lately I’ve felt like re-reading a couple of favourite series, physical books that I already owned, but as it happens the library also has them in digital form: Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey and Maturin naval stories and Stuart Kaminsky’s Porfiry Rostnikov Soviet-era police procedurals.

I do find it hard not to stay in touch with friends in person. It’s especially hard when their workplaces are closed and they’re not getting paid, and are worried about how they’re going to survive financially. Most everyone I know is worse off than I am. I find it hard to consume too much news, it can be overwhelming and distressing. It’s hard to strike a balance between staying informed and dwelling too much on what’s happening and how badly things are going.

I have to say the best thing I’m experiencing is pretty much what happens when I’m on vacation: not having to iron work clothes, getting to sleep in an extra hour or so every morning, less laundry, and letting housework slide. And catching up on reading. I’m so privileged.  

To someone living ten years from now … I’ve always read a lot of science fiction, especially post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories. But the best writers have always known that to make those stories believable they have to reflect the fact that in a real disaster the vast majority of people don’t lock their neighbours out of the bunker, instead they look out for each other and help out wherever they can. I think when we look back on this, even though we’ll remember the Trumps, the people refusing to believe that there’s a crisis, and the ones spreading conspiracy theories, instead what we’ll remember most is how many more people reacted positively.