I organized my to-read shelf in Goodreads this morning. I spent an hour and a half on it. I’m not even kidding. An hour and a half.
I finished the book I was reading last night and I didn’t have another lined up, so I spent the morning searching for my next read. I browsed Goodreads in one tab, my library’s e-catalog in another tab, and my library’s catalog of physical books in a third tab. I jumped from tab to tab to search availability for each book I’m interested in. After I jumped around and forgot over and over, “Did I already search this one? Does the library have it, or will I need to buy it?,” I finally created three shelves in Goodreads so I don’t have to do this every time I want to procure a book: to-buy (not available at the library), to-read-library-physical, and to-read-overdrive (ebooks I can check out from the library).
I admit to being an organizer — I like order — but this is a bit much even for me. I blame the times. As the whole world is experiencing right now with COVID-19, we are looking at a different way of living for the foreseeable future. With the kids’ schools closed, and my husband’s university moving to online classes for possibly the rest of the semester, we are all looking at each other like, omg, how are we going to live and work and teach and school within this house’s walls, all together, for an indeterminate amount of time and not kill each other? Or maybe I’m the only one thinking that.
Also, we are under self-quarantine until we hear the results of a friend’s coronavirus test. So that’s adding a bit of uncertainty and stir-craziness after, let’s see, 49.5 hours?
Last week was eerie. It is spring break at Virginia Tech, so our town would typically be empty right now anyway. Usually it’s a relief when the students are gone — no traffic! No mobs at the grocery store! — and we alway know they’ll return soon. We’ll get peace and quiet for a bit, and then they’ll bring their vibrancy back, filling the restaurants and bars, clogging the aisles in the supermarket as they shop in groups of 5.
But with university and public school closures, and swim meet and swim practice cancellations, everything has a different kind of ghost town feel. It doesn’t just feel like the students are away for spring break. On Thursday, my husband and I had a lunch date at a place that’s usually at maximum capacity. I’d say 90% of the tables were empty while we were there. Faculty and permanent residents usually come out of the woodworks when the students are gone, but by Friday, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see tumbleweed blowing down Main Street.
Our kids are big, so they won’t be any trouble or really alter my at-home work life like folks with littles will need to cope with. Our biggest issues will likely be fighting for WiFi and me having a nervous breakdown over dishes and crumbs.
Still, it’s weird. Our daughter’s whole life is her swim team, and she’s going to struggle with not practicing 6 days a week, sometimes twice a day. She and her friends rely on that exercise and that socializing for their mental well-being. Our son, on the other hand, is more grave about the pandemic itself. Also he’d rather be home by his choice, not by force. He may be internalizing some stress about all of this.
I’m curious to see what this social-distancing does for how we live in the world. Parking lots are empty. Restaurants are empty. What about our neighborhoods and homes? My husband and I went for a walk around our neighborhood Friday night, which is not something we often do. We just needed out of the house. A lot of folks were out with their kids and their dogs, walking and being out in the air, just like us. In addition to slowing down the spread of the virus, will this slow us down, too?
We can hope. As for me, I’ve got all my want-to-read books organized now. I’ve got three physical books I want to pick up from the library when it’s safe to do so, six digital holds I’m on the waitlist for, and a handful of ebooks on my Overdrive wish list I can check out at any time.
I spent the rest of my March allowance on gin, so no book-buying for me until April. Thank goodness (and taxes) for libraries. Thank goodness for digital books for folks under quarantine or if those libraries have to shutter for a few weeks.