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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Casteel

It Quickly Dissolved

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

Hope everyone's shelter in place is going well. We've been getting by. Here's our shelter in place progress by the numbers:

1 - Four Year Old

2 - Parents working from home

3 - Toy Swords

4 - New Miyazaki Movies in the past week (Ponyo, Totoro, Tales from Earthsea, Spirited Away)

5 - Foot tall tower of megablox

6 - Nights of Smores in the Backyard

7 - Stress Baking Projects (brioche, cookies, egg pucks, lemon curd tarts, pizza dough, blueberry muffins, banana strawberry muffins)

8 - Video Chats with friends and grandparents

9 - Boxes of Donations from our sorting of the garage

10 - Epic Sword Fights

Some personal admissions:

1 - Screen time is now our friend

There's no way to avoid some screen time now that we're all at home and Lexi and I have to work. We trade off watching our son as best we can, but there are times we both have meetings and we need to let him watch something. I feel better that it's Miyazaki. Everything is so pastoral. The enemy is anger and the hero wins by finding balance. Ponyo and Totoro are both visions of heaven to a preschooler parent. Every child in those films is kind, helpful and obedient. There is no violence. And there really isn't even a very scary moment in any of them. Large monsters are friendly and every adult you meet is looking out for you. At least he's getting exposed to some of the best animated movies that I still can watch as an adult. I can't take another viewing of Frozen 2. I just can't. I'd rather venture...into the Unkown! (yeah, that song's still stuck in my head, other preschooler parents know what I'm talking about)

2 - If a virtual meeting finishes early, I'll take the extra minutes of me time

Our son loves shelter in place. Mom and dad are always home and can play all the time. Once you take out the time playing with the kid, working, and spending time with the whole family, there are precious few minutes for self care. So I'll slip in a game of MTG Arena or vchat a friend wherever I have the chance. I've lowered the bar for myself. It already takes so much from me to try to figure out how to keep my employees through this crisis and support Lexi by watching our son when she has to work that I need some self care. Please make sure you're taking care of yourself too. You're not working from home during a pandemic, you're taking care of yourself and your family during a pandemic while trying to work. If you let your batteries die or overwork yourself to the point of collapse, you won't be able to take care of your family. Like we used to teach the students at Sequoia High School. Take care of yourself, each other and this place - IN THAT ORDER. Put your own oxygen mask on first before you pass out before helping others. That is not selfish. It's realistic. And it's the best thing you can do for you and your family.

3 - I've lowered the bar

I started a list of all the projects I wanted to do while sheltering in place right after the order was given. I haven't looked at that list since I wrote it and I bet I never will. My new list is simple.

- Get Up

- Shower

- Put on Pants (yes, they won't see them in the video conference but still)

- Shave

- Work

- Breakfast

- Play with my son

- Work

- Lunch

- Walk with my son

- Work

- Dinner

- Family time together

- Read Comics

- Sleep (this is the most important one)

Adding to that would be crazy. Lexi and I did manage to sort the garage, but that is not a chore for us as we love organizing. It's actually stress relief. In college we called things like that "flicking", work that you don't need to do, but want to do. Now is not the time to be a hero and do all the work you've been putting off. Now is a time to maintain your reserves of energy and sanity.

4 - Video chat is extrovert methadone

It takes away the shakes from not being able to see people, but it is no replacement for seeing your friends in person and giving them a great big hug. I see a lot of people during my usual week, friends, neighbors, coworkers, customers, my Magic The Gathering crew, my Caltech circle, my poker friends and all the new friends I meet. New friends are the reason I started the brewery. I love hanging out in the tap room and meeting new people. It's like my spider web for catching new friends. I'm a "leaf in the wind" sort of extrovert who connects with new people quickly and frequently. I get an amazing amount of energy from getting to know a new friend, hearing their stories and sharing my own. It's been hard to shelter in place. I used to think that my interpersonal intelligence (how well you read other people) and intrapersonal intelligence (how well you can read yourself) were both pretty well developed. Now I know for sure that my interpersonal intelligence far outweighs my intrapersonal intelligence. Someone with high interpersonal intelligence can sit down in a poker game and make a bunch of new friends while taking their money. Someone with high intrapersonal intelligence could be put into solitary confinement for years and come out completely sane and balanced. After two days without the ability to meet tons of new people, I was completely stressed and unbalanced. So much for that monk-like zen balance that I thought I had.

The good news is that the early Shelter in Place orders in the bay area seem to be working. We're bending the curve, which is great, because if we weren't we would have gone through all this pain for nothing. The federal CARE Act looks like it can help me keep my employees employed at least for the next two months, but I've learned not to get too comfortable as everything can change in a second right now. Take care of yourselves out there. Lower the bar enough you can step over it onto the couch to watch some Totoro with your family.

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