Coronavirus Cabin Fever

As far as I know I haven’t contracted coronavirus. At the moment I have no symptoms. No cough. No fever. Nothing.

I have something else, though. 

Like millions of others around the world I’m in the early stages of Coronavirus Cabin Fever. It’s a benign malady unlike the deadly coronavirus itself.

This Cabin Fever is a minor inconvenience in a deadly pandemic. I’m not for a moment suggesting anything more. I’m healthy. I have food and water and toothpaste and even toilet paper. I will not reveal my address for fear toilet paper hoarders may burst in and swipe my few remaining rolls.

At the moment I’m cooped up in The Hovel, my book-cluttered Fort Myers condo. I have work to do but not so much that I can’t spare time for this blog post.

I’m surrounded by the tools of my trade. Notebooks. Pens. Folders with notes from stories past, present and even future. A digital voice recorder. Batteries. An actual print copy of “Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.”

It’s not so new now. It was a Christmas gift from my brother in 1992. I also have a copy of “The 2008 Associated Press Stylebook.”

Yes, much has changed in a dozen years not to mention 28 years. I’m old, old enough to remember a time before the Internet and Google and Facebook and the fact, so I hear, that the “Stylebook” is now on-line.

A yellow folder is splayed open on the couch next to me stuffed with papers for a Florida Gulf Coast University called News Literacy. It includes a print-out of the 12-page course syllabus and other related material such as a mid-term study guide.

I’m a preceptor for the course. As I’ve noted before on this blog preceptor is a fancy word for teacher. This is my fifth semester at FGCU and I’ve treated every moment on campus as an extraordinary honor.

Now, I’m not on campus. I’m about 15 or so miles away. This is the first week the university is doing remote learning and I already miss the students. Many of my fellow geezers complain about the millennials or generation Z or Y or X or whatever these youngsters are called who were born around the turn of the century.

I enjoy their company. I haven’t once heard a snarky “OK, boomer” from a student.

They were born several years after I received that dictionary from my brother David.

With Florida’s state universities shut down for the rest of the spring semester that means I won’t be in a classroom again probably until August.

Not spending a few hours a week on campus is already something I miss and we’re only three days into the first week of remote learning. I will meet with students through some fancy on-line system but it’s not the same as being in Merwin Hall Room 105 every Friday.

When will the campus open again to students and preceptors?

Not now.

Not this week.

Not next.

Not again this semester.

I’m not exactly sheltering in place but I am cooped up in The Hovel. It’s a small sacrifice to make. This isn’t London during the Blitz. The Nazis aren’t bombing Fort Myers and killing thousands on a regular basis.

The Hovel is safe and sound and air-conditioned. It is now where I spend most of my time.

I essentially worked from home before this week but working from home previously meant leaving often for appointments or meetings or classes.

Not now.

Not this week.

Not for quite some time, I fear.

The routines of life for many others around the world have been disrupted. My routines are altered in minor ways.

So far.

In the old days, like last week, I used to joke that a nearby Starbucks was one of my offices. I often started my days there with a grande cup of dark roast and settled into a corner, fired up my MacBook Air and worked on free-lance writing assignments or prepared for class or graded papers.

Not now.

Not this week.

Not until when?

My new morning routine includes stopping by Starbucks and picking up that cup of grande dark roast and returning to The Hovel. Starbucks no longer allows customers to sit inside or out. It now operates on what is called a grab and go basis. You can pick up a drink but then you must go, go practice safe social distancing. 

I try not to grab. I find that rude. When the barista hands me my coffee across the counter I politely and gently take it and thank her. Grabbing sounds rude.

The Hovel has what a need. Wi-fi. Cable TV. Oh, and the latest innovation – indoor plumbing.

I’m self-contained. When I take a break from work or blogging I have a book on the coffee table and will kick back and read some of it.

The book is Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America,” a prophetic and harrowing novel.

I don’t have everything, though. I don’t have Amazon Prime or Netflix or HBO or any streaming service or premium cable channel. I should look into those because they apparently offer programming for grown-ups. HBO has an upcoming mini-series version of “The Plot Against America” that sounds promising.

What’s next for me and the world?

Nobody knows.

I sure don’t.

For now I’m sequestered in The Hovel, an air-conditioned cocoon of books. I hear the thrum of the AC keeping the place cool. Other than that there is silence. The TV is off and I can heard birds chirping merrily in trees outside. How do I know the chirps are merry? Actually, I don’t know. They sound merry so I will assert they are merry.

The birds are unconcerned about a pandemic sweeping through the human race.

I’m concerned. I’m not chirping, merrily or otherwise.

For now, I think I’m coronavirus free. But I don’t know. It could be incubating inside me at this very moment and could rage through my system in a few days or weeks.

I do know, though, I have Coronavirus Cabin Fever.

It’s about time for the highlight of the day – going out to check the mail.