The hardest thing about sheltering in place during this pandemic is losing my sense of routine, even though most of my day happens at home anyway. I’ve been thinking about the fact that I usually get a lot “done” in a normal day but a lot of that is driven by anxiety. Yes, I am doing things I want to do, but I also have a lot of conversations with myself like “If I don’t go to the gym now, I won’t be able to go later because there’s derby practice and I’ll be sore,” or “I need to study Spanish at this time so I’m done and then can make dinner.” A lot of my anxiety expresses itself around time: having enough, doing all the things I want. Now, in a way, I have an abundance of time. It’s diminished the urgency I usually feel around being “productive.” That’s a good thing, I think, but I do wonder how to find the balance between discipline and needless stress. If I want to get better at Spanish, for example, I need to practice regularly, I recognize that. I am forever striving to relax (yes, the irony) and I am getting better. Pandemic life is a good time to evaluate these things.
Now that we’re weeks into sheltering in place, I’ve adjusted to the stress, like background radiation, that’s permeating everything now and I have been able to re-establish some routines. I’ve gotten back into my groove of studying Spanish, which is good because I enjoy it and because I’m still planning to take the DELE proficiency test this summer (pandemic permitting). I am also chilling out more. We’re still playing a lot of Nintendo and I did two jigsaw puzzles this week. I bought several puzzles over the years with the vague idea that a puzzle would be fun, but I haven’t done any of them because it usually feels too lazy or indulgent to do nothing more than a puzzle. So be it.
Here are some things I read, watched, or bought.
I haven’t been reading as much as you might expect during this quarantine season, but now that I’ve accepted my at-home routine, I am doing more. I most recently finished The Starless Sea by Erin Moregenstern. This is a book for people who love books and stories. It’s got mystery, secret societies, magic, and everything really. It’s a love letter to stories and a pleasure to read.
Here are some things I’ve been reading on the internet.
I promise they are not all about coronavirus. I take it back, now that I’ve compiled this list, they are clearly all about coronavirus or the way coronavirus is changing our lives.
- Here’s how those hot jigsaw puzzles are made via The New York Times. I’m not the only one with puzzle fever these days.
- Stop trying to be productive via Electric Literature. This is an interview with Jenny Odell, author of How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, which I read last year. I really like how Odell discusses productivity and what it means.
- What everyone’s getting wrong about the toilet paper shortage via Medium. Apparently part of the problem with people not being able to buy toilet paper is we all need more of the kind that individuals buy and not the kind that corporations buy to stock your office or restaurant bathrooms. Capitalism is wild.
- Lockdown was supposed to be an introvert’s paradise. It’s not. via MIT Technology Review. I’ve not felt moved to join anyone’s extra-curricular conference calls because it feels like work to me. I already spend half my day in phone meetings for work. “Video chat has become the go-to substitute for many people’s discarded social lives, the place where they can see the most of the people they can no longer be with. Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts are easy to use. But they have a way of making everything feel like a meeting.”
- Of tropes and tatas via Bohemian. This is an interview with Meg Vondriska, the woman behind @MenWriteWomen on twitter, which aggregates passages from books in which men do a horrible job of describing women. It’s worth reading, and you definitely need to check out the twitter account (but only if you’re prepared to be mad).
- The social distancing culture war has begun via The Atlantic. Behaving responsibly during the pandemic now has a political “side” to it because this country and its political discourse is real garbage sometimes.
We finished Star Trek: Enterprise a couple of weeks ago and have been trying to figure out what show to watch next. Kirk has convinced me to watch Breaking Bad. I missed it when it was new and then people hyped it so much that I didn’t want to watch it. It is actually pretty good. We’re only a few episodes in, but so far, I am entertained.
I haven’t been buying much because my house already has everything I need for the most part. Although I did just receive some prints I ordered from Pink Tofu Art. I’m excited to frame them and put them up in my guest/sewing room (When asked, Kirk said they looked “interesting.” lol). I have been trying to send money to people who need it. I donated to 3 Black Chefs‘ campaign to feed people in Sacramento’s Meadowview community (not that far from where I live). Since our government is run by soulless dicks, I feel like people who can help others must.
Making things and Doing Stuff
Like everyone, all my things and stuff have been at home lately, with the exception of a few walks around the neighborhood and a trip for groceries yesterday (exciting!). I did two puzzles this week. Once I start I get obsessed with finishing them, which is weird, but I’m rolling with it. The first was a 200-piece image of Islamic calligraphy that I bought at the Dallas Museum of Art. The other is a 1,000-piece puzzle with pictures of cats (because obviously cats).
I’ve decided to focus my energy on one “productive” thing and that’s Spanish. One thing is all I have the mental space for. I’ve scheduled myself for two hours per week with my teacher, and I’ve been doing a lot of reading and listening practice. We’ve also started doing practice exam stuff again. It feels good to at least have one normal thing to keep working on.
Working Out (Or Not)
Judging by all the challenges and workouts and conference call exercise groups going around, I’m the only person in America not exercising right now. I know that’s not true but, damn, people are freakout out about working out. I keep thinking that I want to exercise but it’s really hard right now. I want riding my bike, but I usually ride to go somewhere, not just to ride, and it’s hard to convince myself to just ride around. My ankle is still recovering from the sprain, so my exercise options are limited because of that. The combination of rehabilitation plus sheltering in place has made me uniquely unmotivated, even though I have a great workout plan for home stuff that’s easy on my ankles from my coach. That said, I also think it’s completely okay not to work out at home right now. I want to do a little when it feels good and breaks up the monotony, but there’s no rule that says you have to come out of quarantine as buff as you went in. To attempt to do so seems like madness.
I also haven’t felt especially motivated to cook anything complicated lately. I made a pot roast in the slower cooker and I did make pumpkin cheesecake bars, not pictured because I forgot to take a photo and they didn’t photograph well, respectively. My sourdough starter is still going strong. I made a whole wheat loaf, since that’s what flour I have the most of now. It was tasty and I’m enjoying the process of sourdough. In other kitchen adventures, I had my first ever Cup Noodle. I’ve eaten top ramen and many variations but I’ve never had the particular styrofoam-cup variety. It was perfectly adequate. I also spent the week snacking on a gourmet dish learned from my mom: frosting on graham crackers. Don’t knock it until you try it.
whole wheat sourdough trying new things here in quarantine fine dining: frosting on graham crackers
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.
Glamor shots with Viola creepy cat Unimpressed, as ever Huey is obsessed with drinking water left in the shower.