March 2020 Update

posted in: Goals, Photography, Reading, Writing | 0

March. What can one say about March. Amazing how quickly things changed.

The month started with my birthday weekend and ended with working from home and self-isolation. Back in my February update post, I was still optimistic about taking our California trip that we had scheduled for the end of March.

The first week of March transpired with little out of the ordinary. Holly and I enjoyed a pleasant date night at one of our favorite local restaurants, Pumpkin. Work was still normal, and we took a crowded subway back-and-forth to campus.

Things started to change the first Saturday of the month. We spend our morning as usual, going to our local farmers’ market and heading to one of our usual places (American Sardine Bar) for brunch. That night, we went with a friend of ours to dinner at Ray’s Café and Tea House in Chinatown. As with many Chinatown’s, ours was seeing a downturn in business because of coronavirus fears even though there was no evidence that it was more dangerous to go there than anywhere else. We wanted to show our support and, of course, have a good meal.

The next week is when things really started to change. Faculty at Temple University were told to start making plans to move their courses online. At the library, we started scrambling to make contingency plans in anticipation of students being sent home and classes going virtual. It was a rather stressful week.

We didn’t get word that most library staff would be working from home starting that Monday until the middle of the day on Saturday. As managers, Holly and I spent a good part of the rest of the weekend notifying staff and making plans.

It’s hard to believe now, but Saturday morning again proceeded as usual for us with our trip to the farmers’ market and out to brunch at SouthGate, a Korean restaurant pretty much across the street from our apartment building.

But nothing was normal after that, and I started documenting our self-isolation in weekly posts:

Even with all that’s going on, I am trying to inject some normalcy into my life via my hobbies.


Photography

I did go out shooting a few times during the month.

We had taken the first Monday of March off to extend my birthday weekend. Unfortunately, Holly had to go into work for a couple hours in the afternoon. I took the opportunity to go for a photo walk. I shot a roll in my Flexaret and finished a roll in my Minolta AutoPak 450EX.

My local photo store is currently closed, and I’m not inclined to mail my film away so I won’t be getting anything developed for a while.

I had shot only one roll in the Flexaret since fixing it so I am curious to see how this second roll turned out. It seemed to work fine, but I won’t really know until I see the photos.

This was my first roll with the Minolta AutoPak so I’m eager to see how well it works.

I also went out with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000 to try to capture some spring photos.

And, as I mentioned in my Self-Isolation Week Two post, I recently bought a Minolta X-700.

Now that it seems like we’ll be in self-isolation for quite a while, I will probably slow down with taking film photos. It will probably be at least a couple of months until I’m able to get anything developed, and I don’t want to be getting a dozen rolls processed at once.

If going for walks remains relatively safe, I’ll rely more on my digital cameras.

I did take some digital photos around the apartment (mostly of food) and out our window which I documented in my self-isolation posts.

I created a Flickr album with all my self-isolation photos.


Drawing & Graphic Design

Not much going on here. I didn’t draw at all in March until the very end and that was just some simple sketching to shake the rust off.

Now that work has calmed down, and we’re more settled in our isolation, I’m hoping to have more time for all my hobbies.


Writing

As I wrote in my 2019 Update and 2020 Goals post, I simplified my goals for this year and, basically, decided on two:

  • More posts here on This Creative Midlife
  • A refreshed and thoughtful approach to my short stories.

I’m still being more attentive to this blog than I was last year. I posted here 5 times this month as compared to only once last March. So far this year, I have posted 15 times. Last year through March, I posted 4 times.

Probably not coincidentally, my blog traffic is up from last year. Last March, I had 47 visits. This March, I hit 211.

I sent out 3 short story submissions in March. For the year, I’ve sent out 16 submissions and have received 7 rejections.

With all that’s going on, I’m not sure I’ll be submitting anything anytime soon and just hunker down and work on my writing itself.

I did take a Writer’s Digest University workshop on “Mastering Amazon for Authors.” I’ve dabbled in self-publishing with my story collection, Kindred Spirits, but that was more for the experience of learning the process. One thing I’m thinking about working on during my isolation is taking that down, adding some stories and putting out a 2nd edition, this time with a more organized approach.


Reading

Short Stories

As I mentioned in my January 2020 Update, I decided to keep track of the short stories I read that I liked. I regularly try to read the ones newly published in The New Yorker and The Atlantic and come across others as the opportunities to do so arise. The list could get a little unwieldy if I listed all of them so I’ll just list the ones I enjoyed.

I read 3 stories in March that made the list:

Short Stories Read in 2020

So far in 2020, I’ve read and enjoyed 12 short stories:

Books

My self-isolation hasn’t translated into a lot more reading. But as I mentioned above, now that we’re settling in, I’m anticipating more time for many things.

I finished two books in March, although I have been simultaneously reading a few others.

Back in my January update, I mentioned I had read a Lauren Groff short story and had enjoyed all the stories I had read by her but had never read any of her novels. I corrected that this month by reading Fates and Furies which I found challenging and fascinating. The first part of the novel, “Fates,” tells the story of a marriage from the husband’s perspective. While reading that part, I was really hoping that part two, “Furies,” would be the story of their marriage from the wife’s perspective, and it was which was quite satisfying.

The other book I read was David Lebovitz’s Drinking French. I had read his L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home earlier this year and liked it so I was interested to learn he had this new book coming out. As someone who enjoys his coffee, wine, and cocktails, I found Drinking French an enlightening and entertaining read. It’s more of a recipe based book than L’Appart is, but it includes plenty of anecdotes and history about how the French enjoy their beverages.

March 2020 Reading Update
March 2020 Reading Update

Books Read in 2020


This Creative Midlife Posts in 2020

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