Dispatches From Home: Day 118

Hi, I’m back, 100 days after my last post.

I thought I would manage to blog my way through this ordeal, but what I failed to grasp then — and continue to struggle with now — is that there is no “through,” that this is the way life is now. The days and weeks dragged on and I couldn’t stand to write another word about it. So I’ve stayed inside on the couch and watched the pandemic unfold on my phone, feeling scared and angry and heartbroken and restless and all points in between, with my ability to process those feelings quickly receding into the distance.

I recently decided to learn to make pizza. I put all the ingredients we needed in our grocery order a few weeks ago, then waited patiently until it was time to pick it up. Everything I need is in our fridge now; friends have sent me recipes and advice; and every day, I wake up with the notion that I will make pizza for dinner that evening. But we have not had pizza yet. It’s always something — I needed to start the dough by a certain time and didn’t, or it’s 40C outside and I can’t justify cranking the oven to the highest setting, whatever. For a while I couldn’t figure out what my problem was, but I know now that I just can’t stand to be disappointed by my dinner experiment if it doesn’t work out. Everything’s been so disappointing for the past four months that I just can’t manufacture another reason to feel this way, no matter how much I’d like to have pizza for dinner one of these days.

My social media feeds are cluttered with videos of distant acquaintances doing things I would never dream of doing now. I’m annoyed and sometimes jealous by their ability to pretend like this isn’t happening, and it bubbles over into rage occasionally: “What is X thinking? Do they read different news than I do? What is the matter with them?” Adrian will shrug and say, “yeah, I don’t know.” I feel like I’m constantly muting or unfriending people to get their life choices out of my face.

Adrian’s going back to work at the end of July, and I won’t see him again until sometime in September. The dread I feel is immense. Is this getting easier for you? It’s not getting any easier for me.

Dispatches From Home: Day 18

Or: “how is it STILL March?”

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I made these scones last week, which seems like years ago.

I’ve been inadvertently holding my breath a lot recently. I’m also finding it hard to breathe all the way to the bottom of my lungs. I’m not sick (thankfully), it just feels like there’s a huge weight on my rib cage all the time.

Time moves differently as we get deeper into quarantine. The first week felt frantic — I spent most of it on the phone or video chatting with friends, which was fun but exhausting. As the second week dragged on, it became harder to sustain conversations. And this week — what is there to say anymore? I feel so anxious and it makes me irritable and my entire body itches. I want to be alone, but I hate being alone.

Basic things are difficult now. Even getting through a list of movies or TV shows I’ve been looking forward to watching seems impossible. How are people getting their regular work or creative projects done during this crisis? I have ideas, but my energy’s at zero when it comes to actually doing anything. I don’t know what to do or how to do it. I thought I might use this blog to track the way this situation changed and developed over time, so that I could one day look back at this period of my life and understand how things unfolded, but I’m quickly realizing that this won’t be necessary. I have no desire to revisit this time after it ends.

 

Dispatches From Home: Day 9, 10, 11

All the days are blending into each other. Adrian asked me what the date was yesterday. Does anyone know the date right now? Is there even a reason to know the date anymore?

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March 2017

I struggle with being optimistic at the best of times, so I’m finding it particularly hard right now. Increasingly challenging developments are a daily occurrence. I find it so hard to write, which is one of the few activities I a) enjoy and b) can do while confined to my home. I wish these posts could go up every day, but I don’t know if I have it in me anymore.

I feel crushed with worry all the time. I read a post about anxiety on Instagram that suggests making a list of your fears before bed, because naming them might make them feel less intense and make it easier to go to sleep. A partial list:

  • Adrian or I might get sick
  • Our parents, family, friends, or someone we know might get sick
  • Adrian might get laid off too
  • We might not be able to afford our rent or groceries in the coming months
  • The brewery we’ve booked as our wedding venue in October might run into financial trouble and close
  • We might have to postpone or even cancel our wedding altogether
  • I might not see the people I love again for months or even years
  • I might never get to do the things I hoped to do

This list could go on forever. I don’t know if I feel any better. I keep thinking of that John Lennon song: “All my little plans and schemes, lost like some forgotten dreams …”

There is no way out but through. These things might happen, or they may not. We will somehow face them if and when they arrive, but until then, I will stare at the ceiling in the dark and consider the endless possibilities until I finally fall asleep.

But today I’ll try again: I’ll drink the coffee Adrian made when he heard me wake up, I’ll make blueberry scones, I’ll do things around the house, forget the bad things that have happened already, ignore the bad things still to come. What else is there to do?

Dispatches From Home: Day 7 & 8

I didn’t post an update yesterday because we ate too much Indian food and fell asleep on the couch. It mostly felt like a normal Friday night, which was a nice break for a little while.

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Taking the train to visit my sister in August 2018.

We had to go by our old apartment to drop off our keys this morning because our lease there ends next week. My relationship to time has changed so drastically recently. It feels like months have gone by, but we only moved four weeks ago! I don’t understand. I’ve said it a million times this week, but I’m so glad we were able to finish moving in before everything really started ramping up. That’s the game I’ve been playing all week — “well, at least this, well at least that, we’re lucky, it could be worse.” It’s true, of course, but it doesn’t always make it easier to live with.

The border with the US closed last night. Today, after dropping off some items in Adrian’s parents’ garage and waving hello to them from a safe distance, we drove past a completely full grocery store parking lot. Maybe some people still don’t getting it, or maybe they figure that it’s been long enough and they can afford to stand close to other shoppers again, but all I could think was: we are going to exist in this hell forever.

After we locked up our old apartment for the last time, I stood in our driveway and listened to the woodpecker that lives in a neighbouring tree, a sound I’ve heard a million times over the past seven years. I cried for a long time. Everything looked like how we left it a month ago, but we don’t live in that place anymore; we don’t even live in that world anymore.

Maybe it’ll be be easier tomorrow, but it hurts today. Tell me what you’ve been up to?

The Disorienting Thing Is You Can’t Compare This To Anything (Buzzfeed)

The next month will, by definition, be intense: isolated and constrained in space, accentuated by the strain of illness or joblessness or the potential for them. There’s really no way this won’t be a time etched into everyone’s memory for the rest of their lives — where the streets of major cities turn into the almost soundless retreats of daytime walkers. And just as you might be able to map out in memory your childhood bedroom, wherever you are right now and remain, this image and the everyday dynamic in that space will likely live forever.

Dispatches From Home: Day 6

There are fewer cars on the road today. The world seems quiet. Yesterday’s anger has subsided, as I knew it would. I don’t have enough energy to sustain big feelings right now.

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Don’t stand so close to me.

I miss everybody. I spent the evening on Google Hangouts with a bunch of people I used to work with, and it makes me sad that we all have to be apart, and that we won’t all be back together even when this ends.

The time goes by. I did some projects around the house yesterday and today: putting up lights under the kitchen cabinets, assembling a new kitchen island. My GoPro came, but now I have to wait for the SD card to arrive. I cleaned the bathroom. We exercised. I cooked and ate good meals. I felt okay, but then someone told me this might go on for months and I got sad again.

Adrian and I took a late-night walk around the neighbourhood. No one was out except for a crew of workers installing underground cabling and the two geese who call the Staples parking lot home. It’s so strange to be outdoors; the world looks the same, but everything is different. The world I’m seeing on the news doesn’t seem like the same world I’m seeing as we slowly make our way down the sidewalk. It’s difficult to comprehend.

I called my sister and we laughed about the #ButtholeCut for a while. I’m going to bed now. Tomorrow’s another day.

Dispatches From Home: Day 5

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Apparently I’ve been practicing social distancing since forever.

This morning Canada and the United States agreed to close the border to all non-essential travellers, and Justin Trudeau advised all Canadians to stay home unless absolutely necessary. Stop needlessly leaving the house.

I feel angry today. I could see lots of cars on the road from our living room window this afternoon. I don’t know where they were headed or for what purpose, but I sat stewing on my couch for ages. Why are you outside? More importantly, why are you outside while I have to be inside?

I did a few house projects today, which I’ll write about tomorrow when I’m in a better mood, but for now I’m just mad. So that’s it. That’s the whole update.

I hope your day was better than mine. Please, tell me how you’re keeping busy and what you’ve been watching or listening to this week: @sarahisrael

Dispatches From Home: Day 4, Part 2

I’ve been thinking about food a lot today. More specifically, I’ve been trying to figure out how to stop thinking about it.

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Eating a piece of cake and drinking milk out of a Smurfette glass. Provenance and/or purpose of leaf: unknown.

I love to cook and cook meals at home very often, so we had a well-stocked pantry to begin with, and we made a few additional trips over the past few days to stock up on things like produce and items to freeze for later. There’s enough to feed an army here, yet this voice in the back of my brain is YELLING at me to reconsider: what if we run out of this or that? What if we don’t have produce for a few days and can’t eat a balanced diet? What if I want my favourite meal and can’t have it?

This is the typical anxious thought pattern I am caught in nearly all the time, but it’s never been related to food before. I’ve always had plenty (and for that I’m extremely lucky), so this fear is not rooted in any past experiences. I guess food, meals, and cooking are some of the very few parts of life that I can control right now, and my brain is now hellbent on controlling it perfectly. It sucks, but I suspect I’m not alone in feeling this way — we all bought a bunch of stuff over the past few days as the shutdowns were picking up steam, and now we have fridges full of produce and other items with various expiration dates and we’re wondering what to make and how to make it and if we even want to eat it in the first place.

Anyway, I’ve decided to turn this anxiety into #QuarantineCanteen, wherein I will consult my master pantry/fridge/freezer inventory every night and generate a menu for the next day based on what needs to be used up first. Here’s my list (which I now realize is incomplete) in case you want to see what I’m working with and/or want to ask why I need 3 tubs of sour cream (nachos! chilli! banana bread!). Everything’s going to be fine.

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It’s a lot of stuff and it’s going to make a lot of meals.

Dispatches From Home: Day 4, Part 1

This morning the Premier of Ontario declared of state of emergency in our province and ordered all bars and restaurants to close immediately if they cannot offer take-out or drive-thru options. I feel relieved.

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I wish I could explain.

This morning I woke up and ordered a GoPro, which I’ve wanted for a long time. I was looking forward to getting one for my upcoming bachelorette party in Portland, Oregon, which is all but cancelled now. We’ve been talking about this trip for months, maybe even years at this point, but I can’t think about that right now. I’ll bottle up my crushing disappointment for the moment and revisit it later.

So, a GoPro. It’ll be here on Thursday, because the world outside somehow continues to function despite all evidence to the contrary. I’m trying to focus on what I can control, and the one thing I can control right now is how I choose to spend my endless stretches of free time. What kind of videos will I make? I don’t know, I guess we’re about to find out.

I’ve also renamed my kitchen the Quarantine Canteen. Here’s what I’m working on this week:

No-Knead Crusty White Bread (King Arthur Flour)

I had a bread fail yesterday that made me really upset. There’s no space in my brain for letdowns right now! Trying it again with this recipe; it’s aging in the fridge now and I’ll report back once I’ve baked it.

Blondies, Infinitely Adaptable (Smitten Kitchen)

It is impossible to mess up this recipe, and it’s so good. Double it, cut the bars in the fridge, pop them in the freezer, and have treats for days (or hours, you do you).

Easy No-Roll, No-Stretch Sicilian-Style Square Pizza at Home (Serious Eats)

Carbs. Carbs! CARBS!!!

Dispatches From Home: Day 3, Part 2

Three years ago this month, we went to Syracuse to watch college basketball. It was before I got my job. (Well, my old job.) It was really fun and I look forward to going back to Heid’s of Liverpool for hot dogs when we can travel freely again.

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This was a long time ago.

I watched Justin Trudeau’s press conference. It was rumoured that he would announce mandatory bar and restaurant closures today, which didn’t happen. I’m surprised — we’re literally watching this play out in real time all around the world. The longer we wait, the longer this will take, and the worse it’ll be.

I just looked outside and realized that it’s raining. I had no idea.

I spent a lot of time on the phone or FaceTiming with friends today (hi, friends!). It was so nice and I look forward to more conversations this week, but I’m exhausted now. The future feels particularly impossible to divine at this moment, so talking about it at length feels difficult. Then I made butter garlic shrimp with rice and sautéed spinach for dinner and drank half a bottle of wine with my meal. I’m tired.

Here’s a couple of videos that made me happy today:

Dan Mangan – #Quarantunes #ShowToNobody

Dan Mangan had to postpone one of his shows at the Danforth Music Hall last week, but he played a show to nobody. “So Much For Everyone” is a good song for these times.

DJ Snake – CORONAVIRUS (Cardi B Remix)

A certified banger.

 

Dispatches From Home: Day 3, Part 1

I should have known when I woke up this morning that this was going to be a weird day, because my hair looked like this, and it NEVER looks like this:

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The universe, as we all seem to be learning the hard way recently, answers to no one. It doesn’t care about your plans or hopes for the future.

As of this morning, I’m no longer working. There wasn’t much work to do anyway; every event for the next several months has either been cancelled or postponed. I saw it coming, so I wasn’t surprised, but I hadn’t fully reckoned with the prospect of being stuck indoors while time stretched on blankly before me.

In any case, I don’t have a choice in the matter, so here we are. Maybe I’ll spend some time learning to curl my hair like this on purpose.