As of about 20 days ago — despite having been a magazine editor for the past seven years — it seems as though I’ve been dropped back to my newspaper reporter days.
Daily story deadlines, keeping up with breaking news throughout the day, ripping up editorial schedules and rebuilding them as seemingly everything changes minute-by-minute, fielding countless calls, emails, text messages, direct messages, and now, Slack alerts and Zoom and conference calls, all the while generating social media content and trying to put our print issues together — it all adds up to hours-long adrenaline surges that remind you why journalists consistently rank second in line to police officers when it comes to alcohol consumption. That said, I gave up drinking for Lent — cue rimshot.
Yes, I’m navigating a global pandemic stone cold sober having sipped my last fizzy and refreshing vodka soda with lime juice on Mardi Gras, which by my calculation was eleventy-hundred months ago, right? But maybe being forced to rely on coping mechanisms other than booze is a good thing. That’s what I’m telling myself as I reach for my Calm meditation app for the second or third time each day or running yet another comforting hot bath.
Thankfully, I’m an introvert, so the isolation isn’t really getting to me, but I do worry about, well, everything and everyone, especially New Orleans’ hospitality and events community and the countless other industries and individuals affected by the crisis. Which, if I’m not careful and diligent in my (trendy word alert) self-care routine, induces waves of panic. Adrenaline is all fun and games until your fight or flight response doesn’t have anywhere to flee.
Which brings me to Monday.
6:26 a.m. Mr. Percy the Diabetic Cat gently awakens me for snuggle time, then begins his slow creep into incessant meowing, which gets him kicked out of the bedroom at 6:29.
6:43 a.m. It’s time to cue up my first meditation session of the day. Ten minutes with the Calm app (which released a free resources page on March 17). Today’s focus: Acceptance. It’s spot-on and a great reminder to focus on the present moment and not engage in future thinking or what ifs, which inevitably make us anxious and miserable. Monday, I’m ready for you now!
7 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. After feeding Mr. Percy and giving him his insulin shot, I drink some water, give some to my herb window garden, then feed myself a hard-boiled egg, toasted oat nut bread with a pat of butter and coffee. Most days, I eat granola, oatmeal or yogurt with fruit, but we’re out until our scheduled food delivery (pending national strikes). Lately, my routine includes spending about 10 or 20 minutes doing the readings and lessons in the Noom app. I started using it in January to help drop some of the 30 pounds I’ve gained since moving to New Orleans six years ago. I’m down 15, though, and I feel committed to the app and my healthier eating habits.
7:45 a.m. It’s time to get to work scheduling Facebook posts for respective channels of three of the five magazines I oversee at Renaissance Publishing. I saved a few posts over the weekend, so it’s easy going. Around 9 a.m., I crank out a roundup of resources for a blog post that publishes later in the morning and email those to the web editor, but my email acts glitchy and I’m convinced she didn’t get them. By now emails and messages are flying at me from all directions and it’s time to get back to everyone from the weekend and morning before the 10:30 a.m. weekly editorial conference call.
10:30 to 11:14 a.m. It’s nice to hear the voices of my coworkers and bosses on our conference call. We’re a small company and our teams are close knit, so it has been an adjustment not seeing them every day, despite the fact that we all love our new remote work lives. It would definitely be the best of all worlds to be able to work remotely some days and homebase a few days at the office, but that’s not an option in this C-19 world we’re living in right now.
12:45 p.m. I meant to break for lunch 45 minutes ago but got sucked into the email vortex. Some of the emails include cutting more editorial from one of the magazines, because of the White House’s extension of the social distancing mandate, and a discussion with board members of a nonprofit journalism organization about pushing back the biggest revenue generator of the year. I’m a pro at deep breathing at this point. My new coworker, my husband Mark, just finished heating up Sunday night’s leftover pasta arrabiata. I’m lured away from the laptop for a moment to make a bowl; I start to eat it while checking the magazine’s social media pages before I remind myself to stop and have a proper meal.
1:14 p.m. One of the art directors on my team called to inform me that the home of an artist we profiled for an upcoming issue of Louisiana Life burned to the ground, along with everything she owns. Just when you think everything is as bad as it can get for humanity, the Universe says hold my beer. I’m now heartbroken for this artist I’ve never met, but have to concern myself with whether or not we are still going to be able to get photography. The artist must be as tough as nails, because she is going to create some pieces and forge ahead with the portrait. The news helps me gain perspective and the edginess I was feeling earlier subsides.
1:45 to 3:45 p.m. It’s mostly smooth sailing with headline and subhead writing for Louisiana Life and a brief relocation to the porch to work until it gets too hot and we come back to the shared worktable. I realize it’s getting hot and the air conditioner is no longer on, so I bring it up. Mark says he turned it off because he was cold. “Welp,” I say peering at Mark over my laptop, “We’ve got a problem.” We both laughed, but I secretly think to myself that if he keeps turning it off I’m not responsible for what happens and wonder if perimenopause is a valid legal defense.
4:15 p.m. The 24 images I’ve been trying to upload from my phone for a blog later this week are finally ready, so I spend the next five minutes in Dropbox composing a message to the web editor that unscrambles the photo salad she’s going to discover when she clicks into the shared folder. Technology is helpful and fun! [insert frustrated laughter]
4:30 p.m. The onslaught of emails begins to subside, so I turn my attention to writing this post. At around 4:53, Mark, an enthusiastic imbiber, cracks open a cold PBR and declares that, after finishing the beers he currently has on hand over the next day or so, he will only drink on Fridays or Saturdays and only if he can safely source the beer (meaning not going inside a store). I have no idea what happened for the next 49 minutes, because I am in shock.
6:17 p.m. The sun has shifted away from the living room windows and the light in the room is getting a little lower as I wrap up this post. I’m ready to decompress, which I’ve been doing on our daily walks in the neighborhood. Waving at our neighbors (from a safe distance) as they take their evening walks, work in the yard, play with their kids or relax on the porch, has become the highlight of every day. It’s one thing I hope doesn’t change when we get back to normal. I don’t think about when that will be, because I’m not doing that future thinking thing.
The Corona Diaries is a joint project of the Renaissance Publishing Staff. Each week during the series, a different member of our staff will share their day-to-day experiences with working from home, social distancing and the other ups and downs of living through the pandemic.