My Pandemic Routine & Comfort Levels

Happy autumnal equinox!

seasonal fall GIF

Today marks the first day of (astronomical) fall for the northern hemisphere and we are feeling it in the northeast US. Now that the smoke from the west coast wildfires has mostly cleared, the air is cooler, crisper. We are able to start keeping our windows open during the workday, like we did at the beginning of quarantine.

But it also means that our daylight hours are getting shorter, which we have not really had to experience since before quarantine. We have been taking stock of where New York City stands with coronavirus and trying to determine what level of comfort we have with things like seeing friends, going to reopened gyms, and more.

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Happy autumnal equinox 🍁 Changing things up a little for equinox this year with a selfie I just took in the sunniest corner of my apartment instead of a nature photo for 2 reasons: 1) I wanted to share what it looks like when I go outside with a mask. Right now, this happens once a week, so I haven't seen the need to buy cute, reusable masks yet, since I venture outside so rarely. Wearing a mask is still one of the number one things we should be doing to curb the spread of coronavirus. 2) My extreme resistance to posting selfies stems from a deep fear of my own vanity. I don't even consider selfies vain but I know mine feel rooted in it. I'm really vain and I work actively to suppress that part of myself, among others. I am coming around to the idea that maybe I should try to reduce my vanity rather than just stifle it, since my social media makes clear I'm not actually less vain… I originally was going to make it my monthly challenge this month, to take a selfie every day, but I chickened out when the month suddenly started. But one thought I've had all year is that I should not be so apologetic for who I am, even for the parts of me that I want to change. So here's my face, partially at least. If you're still here, how are you getting ready for the colder months? We haven't spent much of quarantine with fewer daylight hours than nighttime hours, and with both schools reopening and indoor dining resuming next week , I'm really nervous. I also don't know how to mentally prepare not to see my family for peak festive, family gathering season, from Mid-Autumn Festival through to Lunar New Year…

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Schools are set to reopen and indoor dining is set to resume next week in New York. If the city isn’t bracing for another wave of cases, we certainly are here in my household. In fact, we are trying to prepare by making sure we have supplies that we may need, since we were only just able to get through the first wave.

Here’s where we stand right now and what we’re thinking about as the cold months set in:

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Work From Home Strategies (6 months late)

I kind of hate working from home.

There are a variety of reasons why working from home has never been ideal for me: I’m an extrovert who thrives better in social environments, the external (if imagined) accountability of people around me keeps me too guilty to slack off, my home environment is full of tempting distractions like tidying and organization.

In simplest terms, being at home puts me in a home mindset, and personally, going to a physically different location for work helps immensely with putting me in a working headspace. Ever since I started working full time, I keep work and home very separate, very rarely touching work after leaving the office.

So the last 6 months have been, admittedly, a huge challenge. If you’re like me, they may have been a challenge for you, too. I have long understood that trying to be work-productive in the space I strictly reserve for my home-headspace is really difficult. But I’ve had to do the best that I can, given what I understand about myself. It’s been 6 months, so here’s hoping that we have learned a little bit about how we work from home, even if it’s just what doesn’t work well for us.

My personal strategy boils down to 3 main things:

  1. Getting in the work mindset
  2. Staying in the work mindset
  3. Leaving the work mindset

It seems straightforward but it’s hard, especially because I really don’t want to be in the work mindset at all when I’m in the comfort and safety of my home. I don’t hate my job at all but I don’t want it in my home. The hardest step of my strategy is step 2: saying in the work mindset. (I sometimes struggle to get properly or quickly settled into my work mindset even when I go into an office so the struggles I have at home are not new, and I shut myself off from work so strictly ordinarily that it comes more easily for me to do so at home.)

man in white sweater sitting on chair using Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
Photo by Charles Etoroma

Note: Alice Goldfuss has written a really great guide to working from home during this pandemic, and she wrote it at a more helpful time at the beginning of the shutdown. Honestly, I recommend reading that before reading on here, but if you want to know more about what works for me, personally:

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It’s been half a year

Today is day 183 since I began sheltering in place in my apartment due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

This means that I have been quarantined for over half of one calendar year.

Every now and then, I find myself laughing out loud because, the first week my office closed, I asked if we should expect to be back in the office the following week or would we not be able to return until April?

(I also am laughing out loud more often because I’m not sure I can regulate my emotions anymore? It is very likely I have become feral and am unable to be tamed for society again…)

Despite what appears to be a large chunk of time passing… it still feels unreal to me some days. Each individual day drags on, but the weeks and months pass in the blink of an eye. I can remember how my own stance on COVID-19 and how dangerous it was changed during the course of a single workday, when I packed my desk with the intention of not returning to the office a few days in advance of it closing. But the months since… are a blur.

There are a lot of things I wish went different for me personally during quarantine, but this pandemic has been much, much bigger than me. And one of the more productive things I’ve been able to do is to try to help others where I can. When I am having trouble taking control over what’s happening in my life, it helps to try to at least contribute some positive change somewhere in the world.

Spread Positivity - spreading yellow spread with a happy face, putting a yellow coin with a happy face into a can that says "Donate", a text exchange responding to 3 frowning faces with 1 smiling face, a spray bottle spraying yellow happy faces
Image created by Alissa Azureen for the United Nations COVID-19 Response

Here are a few ways I have been trying to help:

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COVID-19 Supplies

With the worst of my husband’s condition behind us, I thought I would take a little bit of time to talk about how we were able to get through this at all. Here is a short list of supplies I am incredibly thankful for having or having provided to us over the past 3 weeks. Most of these we already had, even before the pandemic hit, but some we did need to get replenished during the worst bouts of fever.Read More »

12 Days of Fever

Note: I spoke with my husband about how comfortable he is sharing his experience being sick on the Internet. He isn’t, so this post will primarily focus on my experience taking care of him.

Ben Lighthouse
From our visit to the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

I started writing and writing and writing and it wound up being really long. I haven’t really been talking to people about this experience because… I don’t know, I haven’t really processed that it all happened yet. My husband is literally still in isolation today.

TL;DR
My husband had a high fever starting exactly 14 days after we began self-quarantining, aka the maximum amount of time that the novel coronavirus can supposedly be incubated by a person. It burned for 12 days straight, during which time I felt very alone, almost like we were in a distance relationship, with the distance being the space between our living room and the bedroom he was isolating in, and I stopped taking care of myself. Thankfully, he was never sick enough to be able to get a test here in New York, and his fever finally broke this past weekend. I’m learning that I really just let this entire experience destroy me and I’m trying to recover now. He is feeling significantly better and will be ending isolation soon. I’m finally allowing myself to rest.

Stay home, please. To keep yourself from having to endure even a “mild” case like ours. To keep others from the same. To lessen the load on our healthcare workers and other essential workers. Please.

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