Time again

Coping mechanisms abound during isolation and quarantine. Though Iowa has not issued a shelter in place order yet (WTF, Kim Reynolds), I have been acting as if the order has been given. Because safety. Because health. Being at home all the time now means that I am levitating between on and off, a light switch halfway flipped, and the light bulb is flickering.

I started tracking my time a few years ago when I got a job as a contract employee. The end of the month meant invoices for my hourly work. Even after I became a salaried employee again, the time tracking remained, and I started tracking my writing time as well. I used to post charts of my writing data. Those charts showed me that I was very optimistic about writing Nonfiction (though I never, ever did). My average writing session was half an hour long. I had more writing sessions per month than days in a month; I used to write while on my lunch break, and for hours before and after work.

The time tracking habit was put on pause over this past summer when I switched phones and didn’t have the time (haha) to find a new app that I trusted as much. But now, with isolation and remote learning, I’ve turned on my old phone and started tracking again. It gives my days some structure. It forces me to reflect on what I’m doing, and remember what I want to be doing.

The past few days I have felt a bit lost. Immersed in distractions, because distractions felt like the best way to cope. That flickering bulb at the beginning of this post? It’s hard to tell if it’s flickering because the switch is always mid-flip, or if the bulb is starting to burn out.

I know I have it better than most. I live with a partner I love, and people reach out with the occasional text to check in. My stipend checks are still coming in. I have a job, and I can do it remotely (though the experience has changed significantly; online learning is not really the same thing, and even as a tech-savvy person, this is all very new to me). But there is still a pressing weight of, “What happens after this?”

I have some thoughts, but I don’t know for sure.

Header image is from February 2020.

Published by Caroliena Cabada

Caroliena Cabada is a writer currently based in Lincoln, Nebraska. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing, Fiction, from University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her writing has been published in online and print journals and anthologies, and has been selected for Best Small Fictions 2021.

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