27 Mar More About Staying at Home
I know these are hard times for freelance interpreters. Most of us are used to going out, seeing people, talking… a lot! Then coming home and being quiet while we decompress from a day of other people’s misfortunes and even traumas. Freelance translators? Maybe not so much. Many of us are used to staying at home where it’s quiet and we can think clearly before committing a word to a page. We can be happy just looking out the window as the world goes by without us in it, because our world is mostly inside: inside our homes or even inside our heads.
PJs have their moments
I notice a lot of freelancers posting about spending their days in their PJs, and even saw a morning news show the other day with the hosts broadcasting from their respective homes… in their PJs! I then saw a retired astronaut who was alone in space for 520 days and gave some very good advice about the things we should do while we are under “Stay at Home” orders. Staying in your PJs all day was not one of them, trust me.
As a freelancer myself, also semi-retired—which means I do get to spend a lot more time at home than I would, were I not retired—I find that if I do not get dressed as soon as I get up in the morning, I feel as though my day has not started. Even if I have nothing on my agenda for that day, changing from my PJs to some other comfortable clothes when I’m staying home makes me feel energized and ready to get going with my day. I always find something to do, whether it’s catching up with old projects I haven’t been able to complete, or maybe starting a new one inspired by something someone said or did that morning.
It’s time to connect or reconnect
There are tons of articles I never seem to find the time to read, which now I will have plenty of time to read, and maybe even incorporate into some future paper or presentation. I also have baseboards in my house that need painting, and weeds in my yard that need to be pulled out. If I browse on YouTube I bet there’s going to be hundreds of videos I can watch to learn a new craft, or Yoga, or how to play a musical instrument. I may even learn how to create a video of my own that I can share with my fellow interpreters and translators, or just my family.
Yes, you now have time to reconnect with family and old friends. Even if you are not fond of lengthy telephone conversations, you can text them, or send a message through one of the other means like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, which most people have nowadays. Send audio messages, just for fun. I have a group of friends on WhatsApp recently sharing songs, a capella. It’s been fun, and just another way to stay connected with the “outside world”.
This is also the time to use your imagination and come up with ideas for activities that can make you a better interpreter or translator. Maybe even activities that can improve the profession on a larger scale. Do you like to work with legislators? This may be the perfect opportunity to start a campaign for needed changes in our profession. Do you have a good relationship with judges in your courthouse? How about getting some remote interpreting training going for all the stakeholders: judges, attorneys, court personnel, and interpreters? “Stay Home” does not mean you can’t network with colleagues and create workgroups for these projects.
That was one of the things retired astronaut Scott Kelly gave: stay connected! He also mentioned taking up a hobby, having activities that are fun, even keeping a balanced schedule if you have work to do—for those who can still work from home. Exercise if you can, either going for a walk or following an exercise routine at home.
Have you found the silver lining?
I am going to take time to catch up with my emails and delete the thousands that are just cluttering my inbox because now I can. I have time to send all those “unsubscribe” emails, too, for all the junk emails I get. But have you noticed how many free webinars and conferences are being offered for interpreters and translators right now? Talk about a silver lining! Of course, if you are like me and get your time zones and dates confused (because now it’s hard to remember what day of the week it is), take a few minutes to figure out time zones when you get these announcements and then add reminders to your phones, or calendars, or wherever it is you keep track of what you need to do each day.
Of course, I do want to keep up with the news, but that can be way too stressful. A lot of people who are normally nice are becoming ugly and belligerent for no apparent reason. It’s the “fight or flight” syndrome, according to psychologists. So news about CoVid-19 need to be rationed, like the food at the grocery stores.
This is my optimistic take on the impact the current CoVid-19 pandemic is having on the interpreting and translating professions. I know there is plenty of negative impacts that have been identified, but there are also plenty of other people addressing those. My hope is that you all will strike a balance and find ways to make this work for you. “We don’t grow when things are easy; we grow when we face challenges.” (Anonymous)
Janis Palma has been a federally certified English<>Spanish judiciary interpreter since 1981. She worked as an independent contractor for over 20 years in different states. Her experience includes conference work in the private sector and seminar interpreting for the U.S. State Department.
Janis joined the U.S. District Courts in Puerto Rico as a full-time staff interpreter in April 2002. She has been a consultant for various higher education institutions, professional associations, and government agencies on judiciary interpreting and translating issues. She is a past president of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org