Thursday, June 11, 2020

the necessity of taking breaks

Starting today and all next week, I am taking the entirety off from library work.  Mostly, it's because there are some press & creative things I'd like to be able to focus on without library tasks tugging at my sleeve.  Also, once we are back in the fray at the beginning of next month, we'll still be short staffed, and while we are opening with much shorter hours,  there is still a lot of work to do that makes time off less likely to happen. You would think that given all this time at home, I wouldn't need a vacation, but really, I think I need it more.

I was talking with my boss about the weirdness of having your work life happening in your home--entwined with it and inextricable.  So the frustrations and stresses don't just happen in the office, but they bleed a bit more into your non-work life.  If you''re stressed at work, you're stressed everywhere.  Every week day during the quarantine finds me waking up, and usually even before my daily horror show scroll through facebook, doing a quick check of my e-mail, usually still in bed and on my phone, to make sure no one needs something time sensitive or called an unexpected meeting. Since I start my days in general later than everyone else, and though that was always the case, I feel like I need to be available somewhat. It's probably only in my head, but with academic precarities afoot, I make sure that I am. 

Then I'll get up, make breakfast, do  some writing (well lately, but before it was just more frantic scrolling and news reading.)  If there are books I printed the evening before, I'll assemble those, and sometimes, do a corner mailbox run or short walk.  I have been starting my official day closer to my usual time --"official" meaning when I sit down and start work, anywhere from around 1-2pm  unless there is an earlier meeting. Then working through the evening, usually wrapping up before I eat make dinner around 8 or 9pm. But even other times outside that schedule, I feel on-call--even on weekends when no one is even expecting anything from me. I would venture it's not that different than running the press home, except maybe that I set my own timelines and routines and feel more like that time is mine. 

And of course, I hardly sit down and work straight through without breaks.  I make more coffee.  I'll play with the cats for a while.  Make a sandwich for lunch. Take a shower if I haven't yet. Wander down to take out the trash or check the lobby for packages. The nice thing, is without the physical aspects to worry about that involves books, I have gotten some things underway and off the ground that have been neglected or put-off in the melee of in-library life. There have been some article writing, some webinars about library programming, some grant writing.  Blog posts, social media updates, and online exhibit or workshop  building..  Also daily check-ins for ILL article requests.  If I don't have any zoom meetings, I can deep dive on projects a little more. Some days there are phone calls with my boss / best-friend  (well, these are a mix of work-related, non work related discussion) but since outside of my dad and my boyfriend, these are my only real social contact.

On the whole, I like the work and being able to work at home, but I do sometimes feel the stresses of that lack of boundaries.  Also the stress of going back creeping ever closer and what that means in terms of safety (less so at the actual library, which will be pretty dead as it is every summer anyway)  but more commuting via public transport and the safety of that.  And just being out in the world again, that everyone is saying is safer, but doesn't really seem like it is at all. 

Now that I am able to concentrate better on creative things, hopefully it will be a productive week. I might even get to that book trailer.   I'll be heading out to Rockford next Friday (my dad is fetching me from the city and bringing me back after the weekend) but otherwise, I am still maintaining my version of quarantine outside of whoever I see there.  Mostly because I am somewhat convinced this is all far from over, despite the world moving onto other headlines and the things people seem to want--haircuts and beaches and open bars and restaurants.  

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