Groundhog Day, All Over Again – May 24, 2021

For the last six weeks, this has been my daily routine.

I get up with my alarm at 9:30 am, in time to see my wife off to work, grab a coffee and then sit in front of my laptop to check my socials and watch YouTube. I’ll usually have a second cup of coffee before grabbing my breakfast, (bacon, eggs and low-carb toast with a little low-sugar jam,  and a bowl of low carb/low sugar cereal with almond milk). After breakfast, I’ll go through the process of taking the small pharmacopoeia of pills I have to take each day. 

After that, I may watch some more YouTube, or if I’m feeling motivated I’ll put on the same pants I’d likely worn the day (or two) before, and putz around in my workshop or the yard, or try and tackle a few of the remaining household projects that I can get materials for. Once I feel I’ve done enough around the house to assuage my guilt, I’ll turn to working on my Traveler Van project, the Rocinante.

I’ll grab a quick lunch while working, say hi to my wife as she comes home after work in the afternoon, usually with a coffee for me in hand, and then work until dinner. I’ll then take a walk, likely do a workout, and then settle infront of my laptop once more to again watch YouTube. I may have a beer, I may smoke a joint. Around midnight, I’ll take my insulin, then watch some more YouTube before going to bed.

That’s my day. Every day. 

Every. Damn. Day.

It’s been nearly a month since I last made a blog post, which is about my speed lately. The idle days have begun smearing into each other to where a Wednesday is indistinguishable from a Sunday.

I’ve been off of work for just over six weeks now, due to the global semi-conductor shortage, so I’ve been spending much more time sitting in my office chair than normal. For a diabetic, that’s not a great situation.

The last month and a half has felt like Groundhog Day, all over again.

We were supposed to go back to work after a four-week shutdown near the end of April, but from what was supposed to be our last week off, the layoff has been continually extended by one week, every week since. We have no set return date, just a promise to keep us updated as new information becomes available. Usually on a Wednesday or Thursday, I stumble across a post on my Facebook feed from my Union, telling me not to report to work the next Monday.

I’ve gotten numb to it.

Having the entire spring off of work would be great, and honestly I shouldn’t really complain, as financially it hasn’t been a hardship, but with the situation in Ontario right now, it’s become rather difficult to fill the idle time with useful, meaningful, and distracting work. Our Province is under a “Stay-At-Home” order, which has already been extended once, and rumour has it, will be again. The order began only a few days after we were sent home from work, and is now also approaching it’s sixth week. It’s due to end on the 20th, but likely to be extended another two weeks at least.

With the COVID case numbers climbing yet again, Dougie, our Great Leader, implemented the most hap-hazard and ill-defined “Lock-down” to date. The order was supposed to be even harsher than it ended up, with Police originally granted “Special Powers” to enforce the Order by stopping and detaining anyone outside of their home “Without A Good Reason.” Surprisingly, given the normally “small “f” fascist” leaning of our local forces, many Police Services, both local and provincial, publicly refused to do so, prompting Dougie to back-peddle.

We are limited in what we can purchase in-store to only what’s deemed essential items by the government, everything else being relegated to curbside pick-up orders only, making it hard to source  the materials I need for the projects I have languishing about the house. Projects which I could be working on in order to fill the idle time I’m finding myself with.

It’s a frustrating situation. I recently built new cabinets for our upstairs bathroom, but haven’t been able to finish them yet, as I don’t feel comfortable relying on someone else to pick out the hardwood I need to build the face-frames, doors and drawer fronts. The cabinet cases are installed, and the drawers are usable, but they don’t look very pretty yet. I also haven’t been able to buy paint for bathroom walls, as how are you supposed to accurately choose a colour over the phone or on line? 

I had foresight enough to buy some materials, especially for my current vanity project, the Rocinante, before the lock-down began in earnest, and there are a few things I’ve been able to get through curbside ordering or on-line, so I’ve managed to occupy my time working on my Traveler Van, but I’m beginning to run into snags there as well. Lumber is extremely expensive at the moment, and again, I’d have to rely on someone else to pick out boards and sheets for me, which I’m not totally comfortable doing. I got burned badly doing just that during the first lock-down a year ago, and ended up burning much of the lumber I’d bought for another project because it just wasn’t usable for what I needed it for.

I would really like to continue to build out the Rocii’s inside, so at some point I’m just going to have to bite that bitter bullet and go buy lumber. So far, I’ve got the sub-floor in, after gutting and cleaning out the inside, and I’ve started on the sofa-bed. I’d like to get the ribbing for the walls up, so I can insulate and trim out the window frames. I’d also like to get the ceiling in the driver’s cab finished up, but for that I’d need to get some stuff from the fabric store, which are limited to curbside as well, and I really don’t know what I’d want to order without being able to see it up close.

The bodywork is nearly done on the van, though. I’ve just finished painting and installing the running boards, which I had taken off in order to do some body-work on the van’s fenders and rockers. With the van’s new (primer) paint scheme, and all of the rust gone (temporarily, I’m sure), I’m thinking the van will look pretty bad ass. I still need to get a new grill cover, as the one it came with is cracked and damaged beyond my ability to repair, but that may have to wait a while. I can get one over here, but they’re about three times the cost that they are in the States, so I may have to wait for the border to reopen before replacing that part.

I had originally hoped to have the Rocii ready for her first overnight trip somewhere by the upcoming Victoria Day weekend, which is less than two weeks away now, but I don’t think I’ll be able to pull that off. Not that there’s many places I can go, as the current “Stay-At-Home” order, which is rumoured to be up for a couple more weeks extension, has forbidden all overnight camping.

With the amount of bodywork I had to do, and the scarcity of materials I need to start on the inside, the build out is taking longer than I expected. I’m hoping to be able to finally camp in her sometime in June, but with my luck, things will still be shut tight by then, and I’ll be limited to camping at the back parking lot of a Walmart somewhere.

But at least working on the van has given me something to occupy my time with while I’m essentially confined to the house.

This latest lockdown has brought me as close as I’ve ever come to sympathizing with the idiots who continually protest all of the necessary COVID restrictions we’ve had to live with these last fourteen months or so. I’m by no means anti-mask, or anti-vax, but this latest one seems so ill-thought out and slap-dash, and honestly, too-little-too-late. If we look at all of the nations who are doing well right now, that are opened up to a much greater degree than we could even dream of at this point, they all locked down much tighter when this crisis first began last year than we did. They had a much greater rate of compliance with protocols, and because of that, they’re now experiencing a much lower infection rate than we are. 

What we’re going through now is the aftermath of our current government bowing to pressure from the corporations early on, to re-open too soon, and we’re paying the price for it. We’re now fourteen months into this pandemic, and dealing with a hap-hazard vaccine roll-out that is making us an international joke. We’re all just sick and tired of lock-downs. It’s no wonder people are finding ways around the restrictions, despite the threats of fines. Humans are social creatures, we weren’t meant to live this way.

I’m doing my best to keep myself from falling into yet another pandemic-fueled depression. The nicer weather and having a project like the Rocii to occupy me has helped, but at times it’s been a near thing. I want my old life back. I want to be able to gather with friends again, to go to a crowded bar or busy restaurant, to run to the store when I find myself needing something without having to plan my purchases in advance or call them in before-hand. I want to have a reason to dress well again, not just in work clothes or jeans and t-shirts, but in “going out” clothes. I want to walk on crowded streets, not having to worry about staying six feet apart from everyone else, or having to grab a mask whenever I leave the house. 

But that’s enough of that. It seems that I bitch about the pandemic and the list of “New Normal” protocols we have to follow on every other blog-post, so I’ll spare you that. I’m dealing, for now, and I guess that’s all that is important.

I did finally get my Vaccination, though. Go, Team Pfizer. I was getting quite annoyed at the delay, as, being a diabetic, I was put on the At Risk” list by my family doctor, with the expectation that those on the list would be prioritized to get the vaccine behind those who were at greater and greatest risk. But then the province decided to shift things, bumping anyone who lived in what they deemed as “Hot Spot postal codes, areas which were experiencing the greatest spike in resident cases, to the head of the queue.

Both my wife and I are considered “At Risk”, and though we don’t live in one of these supposed “Hot Spots”, we both work in such areas, and are surrounded by “Hot Codes”. We do our groceries and our banking in “Hot-Zones”, so needless to say, I found the whole situation ridiculous, and was very put out about having to watch other people I knew, perfectly healthy individuals, many younger than I, getting their Vaccine based on where they lived. It was frustrating.

Luckily, my wife happened to check the local Health Unit’s website just as they were opening up appointment booking for “At Risk” individuals in our age group, area-wide. She quickly booked us both in, and we managed to get our first jabs a few days later. While the process actually getting the shot was very well organized, the whole mess leading up to that did nothing to lessen my dislike of the current Provincial Government. 

I said it before, but I truly feel that there should be no sitting elected official that should survive the next election cycle at any level of government. The incompetence on every level, especially locally here in Windsor, Ontario, has been staggering, in my opinion.

It’s gotten bad enough that I’ve even starting to notice the frayed edges on my friends who I always thought were absolute rocks, people who had, up till now, seemed to be handling the Pandemic without any trouble at all. Tempers are short, and people who’s reactions were always predictably calm and measured are acting out, lashing out. On more than one occasion these last few months, I’ve had people I’m close to behave in ways that I wouldn’t have expected, saying things I’d never thought I’d hear from them. It’s put a strain on more than one relationship, and I’m not sure where some current friendships stand at the moment. I’m really hoping that once this all passes, if it ever does, I can have an opportunity to mend any relationship that might need it.

But, on to other things.

As I said, I’ve managed to keep myself busy and entertained, and surprisingly active. Once again, my gym had to shut it’s doors because COVID, so I’m back to working out at home once again. I think since I got my gym membership back in March of ‘20, I’ve only been able to work out at it for four out of the last fourteen months. Thankfully, for the period it has to remain closed, I’m not charged against my membership fee.

I’ve been doing really well with staying active, even while I’ve been off of work. I take a 25 minute walk every day, work-out four to five times a week, take my Sunday “Nature Walks”, and have started going out on my bike every two or three days lately. When I’m working, I do a lot of walking, occasionally going over 10,000 steps before my last break. I can often reach 15,000 steps a day, but not while I’m laid off. It’s sometimes a struggle to get in 8,000 without setting aside extra time to take a longer walk. But, while it occasionally gets a bit higher than I’d like, I’ve been working really hard at getting enough physical activity to keep my blood sugar stable, and have been succeeding for the most part.

It’s a fight to keep myself off of the couch. I’ve done enough that I’m sure no one would begrudge me some “lazy time”, binge watching action or sci-fi flicks, or bad 90’s sitcoms, but I just can’t sit still that long. Not only would that be bad for my health, but I worry it wouldn’t be great for my mental health as well. Having a project like the Rocii, as much work as it’s turned out to be, has really been a blessing in disguise. I can never say that I don’t have anything to do, and even when I choose to ignore or put off other projects that I need to get to, I still have something to occupy my hands and mind, something to distract me for a while from the mess that the world has become this last year and change. 

While I’ve managed to stay physically active, on the writing front things haven’t been going so well. In fact, this blog entry has been the most I’ve written since, well, since my last blog entry. Writing is an area where I have to admit I’ve definitely become lazy. I know I shouldn’t, I promised myself I wouldn’t, but I have unfortunately been using my van-build as an excuse to skip my daily writing sessions, which means the work on my latest first-draft has completely stalled.

Like I’ve said in previous posts, I just can’t seem to get myself interested in the story this time around. I had high hopes for this, my third attempt at writing a novel in recent years, hopes that this time I’d be able to finish the draft much sooner than my other attempts and then actually continue on to work on a second draft. While that is certainly still possible, it’s becoming less and less likely.

I’m either going to have to buckle down and get back to work on the draft soon, which, given the amount of time off I’ve had and probably still have, would be the smart thing to do, or abandon it all-together, and try again with a different story. Like any “wanna-be” author, I’ve always got several story ideas swirling around in my addled brain at any given moment, and I’ve kind of already settled on a story idea for this year’s NaNoWriMo season coming up in November that I could just run with if I do decide to switch gears, but part of me just wants to finish the stupid work-in-progress I should be working on, just to say I powered through it.

I can’t say that it’s only disinterest in the story that is keeping me from working on it. I’m sure that a over-arching malaise brought on by the continuing background stress of dealing with Pandemic living has a lot to do with it as well. Like I said, I was initially excited about the story I had planned for this draft attempt, but sometime after completing NaNo last year, the wind kind of just went out of my sails, and I haven’t been able to steer the story in any direction that would keep my interest. When I have written, it seems more like just going through the motions of putting words down on the screen, without writing anything that moves the story forward, or fleshes out the characters. 

I was much more engaged with both of my other two novel attempts, even though both of those took me until the late summer of their respective years to complete. Even when I did have trouble motivating myself to keep writing, it never got as bad as it is now with the other two drafts, and I did write the last half of my previous novel draft during the first four months of the Covid Pandemic, so I really can’t use that as an excuse for my procrastination this time out.

I don’t think there’s any magic solution to this situation, though. The only remedy is as I’ve stated above, just power through things, or abandon it, even just temporarily, and work on something else for a while. I’m not sure what path I’ll take, but I hope I can figure things out soon. Doing nothing isn’t helping the situation.

It’s been nearly a week since I wrote that last sentence. I fell into one of my famous “Blue Holes”, and all motivation evaporated. I did do a bit of work on the Rocii, and I got around to a few more home renovation projects (painted the upstairs bathroom), but each of those accomplishments were preceded and followed by long bouts of nothing. I spent far too long sitting in my office chair falling down YouTube wells. I do know quite a bit more about living in China as a foreigner than I did before, though. Don’t ask.

I seem to be pulling myself out of this latest funk, though, and I’m planning on pushing myself to finish this blog post soon, so I think I’m going to start wrapping this up. There is one more major thing that’s happened since I last made an entry – my mother, whom I’ve mentioned before that I’m not currently speaking to, showed up at my doorstep, unannounced one afternoon. It didn’t go well.

I’m going to save that story for next time, since this entry is already longer than it should be and I’ve probably already bored you enough. The story does deserve it’s own entry, so that I can give all of the details the attention they deserve. I’ll do my best to get that up ASAP, so I don’t leave you all on tender-hooks. We’ve been again informed that we won’t be working the coming week, so I should  have extra time to set aside to write it. 

As always, I hope you’re all doing well, and thriving, not just surviving, or at the very least, doing a bit better than I. 

All the best,

Rob

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