Has anyone else lost track of what day of the week it is at least once since this all began? Please, assure me I’m not the only one! I’ve lost count of Zoom meetings, Google Hangouts, and webinars. And, since I live alone, it seems like forever since I’ve seen another, actual living, breathing human being.
All kidding aside, I really have lost track of what day it is on a few occasions since March. Especially since we are taking a virtual programming break to prepare for our virtual Summer Reading Program.
From late March through the end of April, I was presenting at least 4 virtual programs a week. This was an ambitious undertaking, and, frankly, it did lead to a certain amount of burnout. On the plus side, I connected with patrons of all ages. That was wonderful: getting feedback from families – every little thumbs up or heart emoji was appreciated. Many shared photos of the kids watching and participating in programs, which was so great to see. Additionally, all those “appearances” gave me a reason to get dressed in work appropriate clothes, and do my hair and makeup on a daily basis.
Like many of you, I’ve learned way more than I ever thought I could when it comes to live broadcasting across a variety of platforms. I also learned how to pre-record, upload, compress files, edit, and caption recordings. In fact, I’d love to create a best of the Miss Alexa bloopers special — because I have had more than my share. From my cats wandering in and out of recordings, to falling off of a floor cushion as only a world class klutz can manage, I’ve done it.
My living room now doubles as my storytime set, and as a yoga studio. I’m fortunate to have a spare bedroom, which has become my home office, so there is a place for me to go during “work” hours.
Some of the challenges that I’ve faced, which I didn’t initially anticipate include slow internet speeds (which were improved with an upgrade through my service provider), weight gain (because the fridge is right freaking there pretty much 24/7), and more seriously touch deprivation aka “skin hunger”.
Touch deprivation took me by surprise. In my normal, pre-pandemic life, I would come home and pour a glass of wine and want to just shut myself away from humanity for a day or so, because I felt (in the words of a former coworker), that my “essence” had been sucked dry patron interactions that day. These could be positive interactions. Performing in front of 50 children and parents can be exhausting, something most of you are very aware of. What I didn’t expect was to end up missing it. I was so used to all the hugs, and hand touching, etc. that I never realized how much I’d miss them.
I live in Illinois, where we have been sheltering in place since mid-March. At my library, we are tentatively beginning curbside service in a little over a week from now. Current plans are to only offer online / virtual programming through at least the month of June, and probably through the month of July as well. This means we will be exploring new ways to bring fun, educational programs to our patrons.
I want to share that I am incredibly lucky to work with an amazing group of librarians and associates that are managing to connect with our patrons in so many creative ways. They all deserve a huge shout out. We are busy on transitioning to a completely virtual SRP platform, as well as working on and planning virtual storytimes, concerts, crafting, book discussions, music lessons, gardening programs, yoga classes, virtual reality programs, take and make crafts, and many, many others.
On the home front, I’m finding ways to connect with family and friends in a variety of ways. Zoom and Messenger chats and parties have led the way, as have several social media platforms. I have interest groups that bring levity to my day. I also have been following and participating in a Facebook group called The Plague Journals, which was started by a friend. It has given me a glimpse of other people’s day to day struggles in this weird time we are living in. I’m also taking the opportunity to practice what I preach, and make sure I take time for my mindfulness practice every day.