Warning – rambling and rant-y post following with unsightly insights into a lockdown-damaged mind.
Yesterday I gave myself a day off from the blog. I just didn’t feel like writing a distraction challenge post, and I just couldn’t really think of something other to write about. I didn’t even write my diary yesterday – which I had been adding to on a daily basis since the 9th of March. Yes, there are plenty of blog projects that I could revive – like the ficlets I once used to write, or the *ooof*s, or even make another shrine, photograph it, and post it. But I have to admit – I am now three and a half weeks in a self-imposed almost-isolation. That is not as long as our Italian fan sisters, so I shouldn’t complain, but for me, the “novelty” of reducing my radius of action to my immediate surroundings, has worn off. Maybe that is also why my reaction to Richard’s tweet last night veered between disappointment and incomprehension.
It’s meant to be encouraging, I understand that. And maybe Richard is a week and a half behind me in living with a lockdown, as a natural introvert is immune to cabin fever or has never experienced loose ends in his whole life, but I kind of felt put under pressure by that quote. In my household, *I* am the one who is responsible for shopping and anything that needs out-of-home contact. My husband is a vulnerable person who must “cocoon” and stay indoors for the foreseeable future. Our daughter is visibly scared by what is going on and is more or less refusing to do the shopping with me – for fear of catching the virus and passing it on to her dad. While the morale is good in our house, I feel stressed by the whole shopping scenario – the only point of contact between me and other people. I am trying to be stoic and rational under the circumstances, but I have to admit that when I am not cooking, shopping or cleaning, reflecting on my own mental state has been taking up more of my time than usual. And while I am naturally someone who likes to craft and experiment and tinker with new experiences, I do not think that any slight hint that I might be wasting valuable time if I *don’t* attempt to write that unwritten novel that is in me, is helpful at this time. While I may be relatively stoic and mentally stable, this situation may be a big challenge for others who are either unused to being in their own company for a long time or who are struggling with mental health, anyway. Maintaining your mental health can be a full-time job, even without the pressure of self-improvement. Personally, I do *not* think I need to come out of this whole thing with a PhD thesis written, having mastered the art of creating a sour dough starter, or having created a five-million match sticks model of the Eiffel Tower. The aim is to come out of this *sane* and *healthy*, full stop. If that takes binging TV shows and not getting out of my pyjamas for three days, then that is OK. The day counts, too, if you *don’t* master a new skill or you haven’t finished Tolstoi’s War and Peace. Sorry, rant over. How are you guys dealing with the isolation? Has the lockdown left a mark on your mental well-being? How do you feel about any appeal to use this time of self-isolation for self-improvement?
Over the weekend I finally forced myself to put up some Easter decorations. My prized collection of Slavic Easter eggs (some of them a gift from darling Hariclea) is now gracing the chimney breast, and while in the garden, I had Little Miss Guylty cut a few branches from our pear tree and the neighbours ornamental cherry. I’ve moved my laptop temporarily back down to the sitting room because there I have the view you see in the photo above, when I look up from the screen. Funny, how looking at beautiful things, such as flowers, can lift the mood. Ignoring my nasty rant from above, I’ll offer you this old photo as some uplifting photographic beauty.
Some of my time yesterday was spent sewing some face masks. I am not yet convinced I have got the right material for the masks. I tried using fleece, but it felt too thick and loose. A two-layer cotton mask otoh felt too flimsy. I cut up a microfibre towel and used that as an ultra absorbent layer, but breathing through those masks is actually difficult.
But I did try wearing one when I went shopping today, and I made three observations. a) It didn’t feel awkward or embarrassing to wear a mask in public, as I had worried it might. The masks are becoming a more normal sight here in Ireland. b) The mask totally gave me a sense of false security, though. Granted, the supermarket was quieter than the last time I was in there. But I felt much less worried about people passing me in the narrow aisles (where the required minimum distance of 2m is definitely not possible) than before. c) I couldn’t wait to get the damn thing off again, and when I did, I didn’t quite know how to dispose of it and handle it. I ended up throwing all masks into a big pot and boiled them on my stove for 10 minutes. (I put a few drops of lavender essential oil into the ‘cauldron’, to give them a nicer scent.)
Following the news, the drop in daily increases in Italy and Spain have been very encouraging. In Ireland, we are unfortunately still seeing rising numbers. We now have just under 5,000 cases of infections, and 158 deaths. (Ireland has a population of 4.8 million.) Our health service is under strain although the population has by and large responded very well to the restrictions. (Because we *all* know that our health service here is under pressure even *without* a national emergency.) While I am not a huge fan of our taoiseach (Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar has actually handled the crisis really well so far. He is a qualified doctor and comes from a family of medical professionals, and he has actually just announced that he has rejoined the medical register and will work as a doctor once a week during the crisis. Leading by example?
And now, with the
rant update over, I can return to today’s chores that don’t include *any* self-improvement at all. There is the small matter of a birthday cake for Little Miss Guylty. She will turn 19 tomorrow. A bad time for a joyous occasion.
Stay well, dear all!