By CL Bledsoe
I started this self-quarantine with lofty goals, as I’m sure many of us did. I stared two bread starters (sourdough and Amish Friendship) because I figured I couldn’t find it in the store. I started a balcony garden, for similar reasons. I got a bird feeder (well, hey, if I have to eat birds, I need a way to lure them in). I started all these home improvement projects. I started an exercise routine. I developed a great idea for a toilet paper starter, if I could just find the right investors.
I’m a workaholic. I have been for as long as I can remember. Before this thing, I already worked two jobs. I’m a technical writer full-time. I teach classes for the local community college system. I also freelance write and edit, write novels and all sorts of stuff. Oh, and I’m a dad.
I’m the kind of person who looks at vacations as a chance to finally catch up on some work. Not that I actually take vacations.
I’m lucky that I still have my jobs. (Real healthcare would be pretty nice, also.) I’m working from home. I’m self-isolating. I’m virtually meeting regularly with friends and family.
It’s been several years since I worked from home. What I remember about that time was working constantly — having no real separation between work and living. So, I figured I’d get through this by making myself too busy to think about anything. Kind of my MO.
But I didn’t factor in how important the routine of actually going to the office is for me. And several of my projects have stalled. My sourdough starter spawned two other starters, but not very good bread. Because I don’t actually know what I’m doing. My toilet paper starter didn’t work out. (But if I could crack that code, I’d be rich!)
The bird feeder was so messy, I took it down, which prompted a bunch of angry birds to express their disappointment all over my balcony. I burned through my home improvement projects in the first week.
I’m not saying any of this was well thought out or not obviously doomed to failure. Hindsight, and all that.
My seedlings are doing okay. My other bread starter is great.
The exercise…has been hit and miss. Mostly miss. I mean the routine. Running down the highway naked and screaming technically counts as exercise. It’s just hard to regularly schedule that kind of thing.
I worry what will become of my bread starters if I lose my job and my apartment. They’re too young to face the cold cruel world. I keep going over the math of how long I could keep my apartment if I lost my job.
I can’t sleep. I mean, I was never good at sleeping, but now, I’ve kind of given up on it. I can’t relax. All evidence to the contrary, I’m not the kind of person who lives an unconsidered life. It’s just that I’ve always struggled to find peace, and distraction was honestly the closest I usually have gotten.
There’s talk of yoga around the office (i.e. my living room). Meditation — which is apparently not just a fancy word for napping. I’m in therapy and all this.
This thing will end. A lot of people seem to be optimistic that some things will change because of it. I don’t know about that, but I feel such pressure to change myself, to come out of this with something to show.
People talk about being kind to yourself. For me, it’s a constant struggle, because I push myself a great deal. When I try to take a break or relax — in the best of situations — I have to force it. I tell myself to enjoy it. To be still. To be present. This kind of defeats the purpose of relaxing, since I’m focusing so much on trying to relax. But if I do spend a decent amount of time not really doing anything, I feel like I’ve wasted it. This quarantine has amped that anxiety up to about a thousand. Of course, realizing this issue is an accomplishment, in itself
I’ve learned two of my neighbors’ names. They’ve both offered things to me. That is something meaningful, I think. But I’m afraid the rift I’ve created between me and the birds will never be healed.