Pick a headline from this past week. It doesn’t matter which one. Now, write the next great dystopian series to sweep the nation using that headline as your opening line. Just make sure you release your work as an e-book, so that we can all access it while we practice social distancing. It feels a bit like the world is imploding, doesn’t it? So, I figured, why not write about, because everyone else is too.
Here are the basics:
Yes, I’m still on the Rock. Newfoundland didn’t get a confirmed case of COVID-19 until the weekend. I spent a great deal of time last week watching the US and the mainland descend into chaos. I had my moment of panic. A phone call to my parents that was over an hour long last weekend featured me ranting and exposing my fear to them, although I didn’t fully realise it until afterwards. They offered to help me go back home, but I’m settled here in St. John’s and honestly, the idea of going through airports right now does not bring me joy. Besides, all of my books for my comprehensive exams are here and I’m not paying the baggage fees to fly home with them. So, I’m in Newfoundland and happily ensconced in my apartment. I have food and supplies. I am in a good position to weather both social distancing and this pandemic. I’m lucky.
But, if I hear one more person say that this is the ideal time to be productive, I might roll my eyes so hard that they’ll get stuck. And we don’t have the capacity to deal with that during the midst of all of this, so please, refrain from telling me how many old, white men were productive in the midst of a plague. I’ve probably read them and some of them are definitely classics, but they didn’t have to do their own house work, look after kids, or grade papers.
We’re in the midst of a pandemic.
Our situation is not normal.
This doesn’t need to become your new normal.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t establish a routine.
If you’re able to work from home, do it. But, don’t expect your days to be normal.
You might not be sick, but we are all in a state that prioritises survival. You don’t have to be under direct threat to feel the crushing weight of constant updates. The news is anxiety inducing enough on a day without pandemic news.
After my mini-panic last weekend, I felt better. I woke up the next morning feeling better for just having felt my emotions and expressed them. As it became clearer that this wasn’t going to blow over, I made rough plans in my mind about what I would accomplish over the next few weeks. Those plans have shifted and changed a lot.
I’ve been sleeping later than usual.
I’m trying to read for fun. I’ve succeeded. I read two fiction books, unrelated to King Arthur, over the past four days.
I’ve watched a new movie or tv show every day.
This isn’t my normal. I’m not hoping to make it my new normal, but this is how I am getting through this pandemic.
I am lucky enough to be able to do some of my work from home, so when I have it, I do it.
I’m checking in with friends and family daily. I suggest you do it too.
I titled this blog post after one of my dad’s most well-worn phrases. I’m doing my best to worry about what’s in my control, and I know, that what’s in my control is limited.
I don’t have much in my control, but I can pick up my phone and call home. I can send my friends around the country texts. I can make new Twitter friends. I can respond to emails. I can nap. I can make food. I can go for a walk. A short one, around the block. I can watch YouTube. I can do small things to make these days bearable and more like life, rather than just survival.
So, I’m asking you to join me in this attempt to worry about what’s in our control, and to fight to make your life a little more comfortable as this chaos unravels.
Be smart. Keep others safe. Stay home.
Wash your hands. Drink more water.
Be kind to your local grocery store clerk.
Be compassionate. Be better.
Worry about what’s in your control.
The rest will come, and we’ll meet it when it does.