A lot of you out there are much like me, especially when it comes to being told you can't do something. It makes you want to do it all the more (reverse psychology, anyone?), and in this instance, you probably feel the urge to go out and play, cough on people who annoy you, and maybe lick a few lamp posts. In the end, though, you won't ... because you're nice and you don't want to hurt anyone (even those really annoying people, who probably do do those things).
So you stay in and work from home if possible, risking at most the chance to be entertained by your co-workers' antics. Slack helps, but there's something about being there that it can't replace.
All this to say what I never thought I would say as an introvert: I miss people.
Most of the time, I'd rather keep to myself. That's how a former landlord used to introduce me to prospective tenants, by the way: "This is Brenda and her cat Lucifer. She's quiet and likes to keep to herself." No serial-killer vibe in that at all.
My mom, who died a year ago Monday, was an extrovert and was often confused that she could have a daughter so unlike her in that respect (but hey, good luck shutting me up once I get to know you). She would have chafed far sooner than I did at the idea of social distancing. Still, by the time my first full week of telecommuting was up this past Friday, I was tired of it.
I still forget to eat, just as much if not more than I do when I'm in the office, even when a fully stocked refrigerator is so close, so that hasn't changed. Other things, though ...
I actually miss other voices--those coming through the walls of my office, outside my door, or on the phone from a few loyal readers. Sure, there are the occasional people walking around outside that I hear, along with a thumper (guy blasting his sound system as he drives by), but it doesn't amuse me or quicken my spirit. There's less chance of men in white coats coming for me when I talk to (and answer) myself at home, but there's also no other voice in the room to tell me when I've gone off the rails.
I miss walking around the newsroom to wake up my brain and my muscles after hours of sitting and staring at a screen. I can walk around the house or outside, but I don't feel like carrying my phone with me everywhere in case I'm needed; I usually leave it in my office when I'm at work because someone can just holler or grab my arm as I walk by. The house isn't that big, anyway, and it feels even smaller when it's raining outside (rain or pollen) and it's the only option for stretching my stubby little legs.
So when we can once again get back to the office (only after it's deemed safe to do so by experts), I'll be a lot happier than I would have thought, not just because I'll get to see my friends again, but because it will feel like work, with page proofs on paper, snail mail, and all my plants (at least the ones that survive), photos and art around me. It's just not the same when I'm not typing on my computer with the big monitor and framed John Deering cartoons hung above it, or reading proofs clipped to my big drawing board.
I'm not only an introvert, then, but a bit of a Luddite too. Sure, I have no problem embracing technology (to a point), but I wouldn't mind some days getting by with a lot less. Smartphone or iPad, sure, but I reserve the right to walk away without it. Smart home? Nah, that's cutting a little too close to HAL territory. And I don't even have a pod bay.
At the moment, as much as I might miss people, I doubt they would miss me. Quite frankly, I need a shower. When you're working at home and don't have to take video calls, grooming tends to ... well ...
I kinda stink and have been wearing my kitty pajamas while working. My hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and my face is in need of some serious exfoliation. I would not be welcome at the office in my present state.
But I swear, once we get an all-clear to head back, I will be there, fresh, clean, and in clothes that don't have cats on them (socks don't count).
I might even talk to people without being prodded. You never know.
In all seriousness, I'm self-isolating as many of you are for the health of the greater population, and will stay as long as needed. I only go out when necessary, and if that's to the grocery store, I buy what I need and nothing more. I always have pantry staples like rice and potatoes, as well as canned and frozen food.
But we all need a break for the sake of our mental health. Get necessary news updates, then move on, at least for several hours. Watch some lighthearted movies that have nothing to do with contagion, like The Philadelphia Story or Bringing Up Baby (I'm a sucker for Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn). Waste some time perusing #QuarantineCats on Twitter, or assorted animals and buffoonery on icanhas.cheezburger.com. Curl up and read a good book. Get some gardening done. Do something nice for your neighbor.
And do something nice for your friendly neighborhood editor/columnist: Send cat pics, please and thank you.
Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editorial on 03/25/2020
Print Headline: All by myself