The shelter at home order has been extended and this new way of living will continue for at least another month. I’ve become regular at writing. But my writing lacks soul. I’m not sharing any really insightful or entertaining updates. Editing removes spontaneity. But pushing to publish removes thought.
On the other hand I feel better. And I’m excited to start new things. So. It’s time to continue journaling privately and wrap up the pandemic blog and switch back to longer and better posts. So long for now. Back soon with more.
So even during normal times I sink into what I can only describe as anxious sensitivity. It’s not really depression or darkness or the blues. Though I’ve used those words before. It’s more like a heightened sensitivity. It feels chemical, as if something is acting inside me that makes me more reactive, more sensitive to things that normally wouldn’t bother me. I sink into a pit of malaise. My physical environment deteriorates. Putting a towel back on the rack seems like pointless effort. I become upset over little things and every issue becomes an insurmountable hurdle. I care about everything and everything is overwhelming.
As a child, when I got this way I would get butterflies in my stomach. I wouldn’t be able to eat. I would complain of stomach aches. I would be afraid of activities and people. As I got older I learned to cope. Sometimes I would hole up with a blanket and a book. When I discovered alcohol I found that it would cut me off from the feeling. Not really solve it, the feeling was still there, but I stopped caring and it didn’t matter. Then eventually I found that if I made myself take one little step out and do something fun with people or outdoors the feeling really did go away. But it had to be something that didn’t require thinking. Hiking was great. Or going to dinner. Or a concert. But light not serious. Comedy clubs were best. Or a massage. Or sitting in the park and looking at water.
So now I have to find new ways of coping…perhaps go back to crafts and puzzles. But I’m realizing now as part of the pandemic “aha’s” that the only thing that makes me better is getting out and moving. Whether it’s going to get coffee and meeting a friend or hiking to a mountain lake, I need to get out to reset. Alcohol doesn’t work.
So what a week. I haven’t been posting all week. My job got reorganized and I have an exciting new role doing work that I love – starting a whole new business. So I’ve had a lot of early morning meetings. And separately from that my leg was still hurting but then it moved into my foot and my leg stopped hurting. It’s some kind of weird moving pain/inflammation. One ibuprofen seems to calm it down so I can function. But walking or exercise is out of the question. Which is really depressing. And I had a birthday and my wonderful friends and family all reached out which made me very happy. But sad too because I wasn’t able to go out and celebrate. When this is all done I’m going to host one hell of a giant party.
I had a great day today. First we went to visit my mom – it was Sunday so I wasn’t working. Lots of hand washing and maintaining distance. I even did some tuning work her laptop while wearing a mask. She made me my favorite birthday cake! It was a strange birthday because normally birthdays and holidays are an reason for the whole family to gather. So this time we did it on Zoom.
Then after we got home I took a cooking class on Zoom. It was so much fun. A guy in India teaching us how to make Vegetable Korma. I am delighted because I’ve made Indian food before and it never tasted like in the restaurants. But he taught us technique and so now magically it tasted “right”. I’m ready to make more.
I can’t believe that this is my 35th post of this online Journal. It just seems surreal that we are sheltering at home hiding from an invisible enemy.
Humans over millennia have evolved to fight against various scourges and enemies. The raiders are coming, quick, hide the children. A flood wipes out the crop. Bombs drop from the air. All of these are terrible things and we are tuned to responding to them. We rail against the villains from across the sea or the other valley. We curse God or Gods that didn’t protect us from the catastrophe. When times are good we root for our local teams and “fight” the other school. And when things happen that we can’t explain we invent an enemy – burn the witches, cast out the Jews, throw the Christians to the lions.
So now here we are with an invisible enemy that might strike at any time without a warning. We look out our window and everything looks normal. The sun is shining. Birds are singing. Days are getting longer and warmer. There isn’t poison dropping on us from the sky. And yet we are trapped at home knowing in our brains that there is a risk. But in our hearts and subconscious it just doesn’t make sense. There are no lions prowling the parking lot. No distant airplanes ready to swoop down and get us. We can walk out and meet our friends. Hug them. Hang out. And then maybe two to 14 days later we might all get sick and die. Or not. But we’ve been home. And they’ve been home. So some little voice inside says – wait, we should be ok then right?
And slowly we take more and more risks. And the curve starts to creep up again. Because we just don’t know. And it’s that not knowing that is the real danger. Every day scientists are discovering new thing about this virus. That possibly many more people had it in January than we thought. That many more people have no symptoms but are still carriers. That they are finding that young people with mild or no symptoms are getting sudden massive strokes. It’s scary and until we know, we need take precautions. But that dichotomy is messing with our brains – everything looks normal but it isn’t. The hidden monster that could be lurking anywhere, in any of us. And that is why people are feeling so “off” – I don’t even know what word to use. Unsettled? Uncertainty creates anxiety. And with anxiety comes the need to find scapegoats.
Scapegoats are one of the biggest problems that will come out of this. You see it already with all the conspiracy theories. And the blame throwing. It’s human nature and we all are trying to do better and not succumb to it. But it’s hard for many people because every day on the news they hear our leadership finding new people to vilify. It won’t take much and just like throwing a match onto a dry field of grass we will end up with a new crisis – this time of violence.
We all need to keep thinking and being aware when our thoughts go that way. And stop finding scapegoats. We are all in this together.
Part of staying home is discovering new experiences. Today I had a Telehealth session with my physical therapist. I’ve been having a pain in my leg so of course I was imagining all kinds of mysterious diseases. But it turns out to be a soleus muscle strain. She walked me through some exercises and recommended special socks (which of course are not available to ship for another two weeks -sigh). Oh and tape so now I’ll look like total jock!
My writing isn’t all that exciting but it is important that I stick to this Journal. The everyday experience of living under a stay at home order will be interesting to look at in the future and reminisce at how naive we once were. I keep picturing that dystopian world a year from now. Will we even have computers? Will the internet still exist? Part of me says of course, what a silly thing to imagine. But another part says – summer heatwaves, famine, crop failures, locusts, supply chain disruptions, hurricanes, all of those will pile on top of an already fragile world and cause much more harm. No one can predict what can happen. Am I providing value? Am I providing words of wisdom? No. But I am trying to get myself and you to think about resiliency and being prepared for whatever might come.
I need to get out more to exercise but my leg keeps hurting and I don’t know what is doing it. Walking makes it worse. I think it might be sitting on a hard dining chair day after day. It’s not terrible but it is incredibly distracting and that makes it annoying. I tried to stand up and walk around during meetings today but it didn’t help. Finally I grabbed my stuff and went to sit on the daybed. And that made the pain go away. So it probably is the hard surfaced chair. I’ll try a few days of couching it and see how it holds.
Last night I made a Vegan Pate and it was superb. I ate it with some Carr’s water crackers for breakfast. And then an afternoon snack too. I took a break from cooking for the past couple of weeks and just made frozen and simple things. But I’m ready to make more experiments again soon. I’ll keep you posted.
I got out for a walk today and that made all the difference in the world. I even had a coffee and a pastry at Macrina. The first one since the lockdown started. More than anything I miss sitting in a coffee shop with A, our laptops out, having a coffee, a bite to eat, and discussing everything and anything for hours. I hope the Seattle coffee shop culture returns. So many small business are folding and it will take time for new ones to take their place. I need to go get a coffee more often and support them so that they can make it.
Today wasn’t a good day. From the moment I woke up I was super lethargic and just couldn’t get my energy up. I’m seeing a lot of people talking about the good days followed by a bad day. And it’s definitely like that for me. Knowing that others are experiencing this helps.