26 August 2020

Notes from Exile: Week Two in the DayJob

Old Main Building, Clemson
I know that I have titled this "Week Two" but it really doesn't feel that way. The first week was only three days of classes and two days of absolute soul-crushing stress, so I'm not sure that makes a week. Instead, I am fairly sure that it has been about six months since I was celebrating my last week of the weirdest summer break I've ever had.

In retrospect, that's pretty normal for the first week of a semester, so I guess I should be glad that it didn't seem like a year. Interpreting into a camera has been very different from sitting in the front of a classroom and interpreting, and has made me very aware of the fact that I am not suited for Virtual Remote Interpreting (VRI) that is taking over the market these days. I spend most of my time playing dispatch - chasing down zoom links and Canvas sections, which is not that different from what I would be doing in the office on campus.

I do miss having my office mate across the desk. I miss catching up with people from the other offices in our building while waiting on my lunch to heat. And believe it or not, I miss the two hours a day on the bus from here down to campus.

When I envisioned my semester working from home, I have to say this was not what I thought it would be. I was looking forward to a bit of DayJob work, interpreting my class three times a week, getting some novel work/marketing done, and maybe having time to run out for some interpreting gigs here and there. Last week felt more like someone put me in a runaway roller coaster car and pushed me onto the track, swinging me just close enough but not quite to be able to feel like I've gotten anything done successfully. I would just feel like I was catching my breath going up one of those Scream Machine-esque hills before plunging back down into Zoom rooms that weren't allowing the caption writer to enter and videos to transcribe that were due to disappear from Canvas long before I could get the work done. I did not touch anything I've written the entire week.

I finally broke down and got int touch with my beta reader for an upcoming stand-alone novel in a new universe to suggest that we get together to go over her feedback. I'm putting this manuscript up for #pitmad in September, so there isn't much time left before that (if I don't get any requests, I will just put it in the pipeline for self-publishing). We got together at the weekend and went over the novel with a fine-toothed comb and a couple of glasses of wine and I felt the most like myself that I have since March.

Surprising? Yeah, me too. I've been basically with my partner ONLY since March, and I thought that I was introverted enough to be okay with that. I was wrong. It was a good time, socially distanced, and I basically bathed in hand sanitizer when I got home. This does not signal a rapid return to weekly girls nights out, retail therapy, or any of the social outlets I had in what my partner and I lovingly are calling "The Before Times." I'm still far too concerned about falling ill with COVID to return to my old life. I was becoming legitimately concerned for my own mental health, and this jolt may have recharged my ability to wait for safety to return so that we can stand in each other's kitchens, cooking, laughing, and relaxing into our friendships and letting go of the DayJob stress.

For now, though, it's back to my desk, in the office I share with our dogs and the house that has been my world, more or less, since March. I'm just a little better able to handle it.

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