How is everyone doing? Me, I’m OK. I’m discovering that encouraging variety in my days is what’s getting me through this period of listlessness that unfortunately cannot feature karaoke bars or regular bars or, indeed, regular anything. How do your days look right now? I’m spending a lot of time staring at my rabbit and reading terrible books on my Kindle that cost 99p.
At the beginning of this isolation bit, I was trying to ace the whole quarantine routine; every-other-day jogging, yoga, a regular bedtime. Now, bored of playing out a humdrum life in the pursuit of “good mental health”, I’m instead seeking anything slightly resembling chaos. Waking up at 8am, reading a bit, then napping from 9-11am; drinking five espressos throughout the day and then drafting an email to an ex-boyfriend at 3am that I’ll never send. We must seek out drama from an indoor place.
I have made no viral TikTok videos, nor streamed a Facebook Live of me playing a haunting rendition of Hallelujah on the piano. I’ve done very little studying – considering the amount of free time I have – but have become very good at doing nothing and being content on my own, which is both a blessing for inner peace and a curse for productivity.
I have however been keeping up my practice of writing 750 words most mornings (via the site 750words.com) and felt like sharing some of what I’ve written on here. In these slow-moving, contemplative times, it seemed fitting to share some words I’d got down during these April mornings about the most boring, everyday things. Alas, I present to you, the Lockdown Diaries: April 2020 edition!
Friday 10 April, 2020
A worldwide lockdown will lead you to think about the meaning of existence.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there really isn’t one. It’s not a new revelation for me exactly – that there’s no point to life – but there are many things we can do to fill our days to make our lifetimes slightly less sad and occasionally quite pleasurable. Things like dancing around the kitchen to a long-forgotten album through big over-ear headphones at midnight, eating oozing croissants filled with spoonfuls of Nutella or the strange smugness at breaking a string on your guitar (it means you’re practising!)
So, yes, I feel quite happy at the moment, despite everything. I lost my job, I have – shall we say – more than one unpaid bill on my conscience and my money’s running out, sharpish. It’s OK though: I have my health, I have my mind, I have a sweet pet to care for; I have a room of my own, I have books; I have coffee, a little food. Sometimes I have wine if I don’t drink it all too fast.
Saturday 11 April, 2020
I’m understanding that in order to write, or practice your piano, or attempt a painting, you need to be a little bit bored first. It needs to come from a place of contemplation, of discomfort.
Sunday 12 April, 2020
I’m eating chocolate digestives which go perfectly with this absolutely 10/10 perfect coffee I just made. It’s Easter Sunday. I’m going to spend the day doing nice, kind, loving things for myself. I’ll shower after this, or at least wash the sleep out of my eyes (why don’t I do this first thing every day?) and then spend the day pottering around the garden, sweeping up, getting rid of old recycling etc, etc.
The tree outside my apartment is producing the most beautiful green leaves. The colour of limes, limes with a slightly lighter skin. No, actually, I have no idea how to describe that colour. It’s exquisite though and makes you want to stare at it forever.
I want to write a thing for the blog about patience. There is something I could write there in relation to isolation, and even the rabbit, who can easily pass days doing nothing much whatsoever. There’s something very peaceful about patience, acquiring the ability to wait without anguish.
Patience allows for closer observance. Noticing things like a black and red-spotted ladybird slowly inching its way across a bicycle frame. The way each morning the tree outside the front of the house seems to be a little fuller, a little more sure of itself.
I’ll never forget an exchange I had a few months ago with a study advisor at the university, as I panicked about not being able to complete my work at the pace required, because the rest of my world was collapsing around me.
With absolute kindness, he said: “People say life is short, but it is also very, very long. Trust me, I can say that as a man of my age.” It made me laugh and gave me the shift of insight that I needed. Oh yeah; there’s no rush. Life is precious, of course, and we mustn’t take that for granted. But it’s also very long and often boring. I’m reminded of the Edward Gorey quote that I was obsessed with as a bored-out-of-mind teenager: “Life is intrinsically, well, boring and dangerous at the same time. At any given moment the floor may open up. Of course, it almost never does; that’s what makes it so boring.”
EDIT: Upon trawling through old online journal entries on 750words.com, I found this from 13 March 2012, evidence that I have truly, hand on my heart, always loved this quote! So much so, I – and I quote – “copied it out multiple times over my Drama textbook and now have memorised it”. That is a cool quote.
Monday 13 April, 2020
I woke up at 2AM, due to having money anxiety dreams (missed having those!) and sat on the sofa and let the rabbit nudge my feet. It was extremely soothing. I felt very very grateful for him last night, the company of a small nocturnal creature who could gently nudge my socks to calm me back to a state of sleep. Something I did notice though is that while I did feel a bit anxious last night, my anxiety has become much easier to control in recent months. It’s like I feel the familiarity of anxiety, recognise it for all its nuisance, and deal with it in a better way.
I wish I could do something with these realisations other than just write them down in journal form. I wish I could write poetry, or beautiful songs about all these looping feelings I have. I mean, I could write short poems and post them on Instagram, but unfortunately the thought of that makes me cringe, so deeply.
Monday 27 April, 2020
I’m kind of annoyed to be here. I don’t much feel like writing. I didn’t last night either, it was half past eleven before I thought about writing and I was tired, so tired.
I just finished a book, I read it in a few days. It was good, not great. Satisfying. The next book I read I want it to be stupendously good. And a paperback, too. I love my Kindle but ‘turning’ the ‘final page’ is not half as satisfying. I want to get utterly lost in fiction for a few days. Escape the real world, for all its unfairness and unexpectedness. Fiction is more comprehensible than reality at the moment.
I’m listening to Lionheart for the first time. Kate Bush is a witch. Sometimes the treble is too much on my old record player. I’d love to go to the record shop today and buy something excellent. You know what, I will go. I’ll peruse it; unable to spend any money. Perhaps it’s closed because today is Kingsday. Maybe everything is closed.
Today I will do whatever I please. I will walk slowly through the sun. I will read a great new book, possibly on the Kindle, because I can’t see anything on my shelves that takes my fancy. How tired long-left books on the shelf look. How tired, how tired am I.
I should write a letter to my nan, send a postcard to my mum, post my letter to Rene today. I don’t really feel like doing anything though. Something isn’t quite right. I can’t quite place it. I think I probably just need to sit outside, or be outside. Find myself comforted around nature. I can’t even create. I feel full of resistance, reluctance. I’m not exactly depressed, just tired. Days of drinking, days of smoking, coming to this. It was bound to happen. Not a vacancy, as predicted, just a lethargy of mind. Need time to rest. Time to do nothing. No writing. No making. No cooking. Just reading. Sitting. Being. Meditating. Hours upon hours of deep rest. I slept well, though. Really well. I woke up very happy before the weight of everything fell on top of me again.
Tuesday 28 April, 2020
I’m reading so much and am so heavily invested in a new TV show that I will emerge from this lockdown in a totally fictitious state. Reality is going to have to really convince me of its advantages for when I eventually have to enter back into it.
It’s nice to write in these little spurts of sentences. It pays attention to your thoughts, but moves on quickly without too much deliberation.