I didn’t believe that there could be a silver lining to being forced to stay indoors for weeks on end. When the quarantining measures were first put in place, I remember seeing a bunch of social media posts that just didn’t make any sense to me. One friend of mine shared a “social distancing/quarantining schedule” on Facebook that was supposed to help people become a better version of themselves. The schedule went something like this, “8am – 9am, breakfast; 9am to 10am, academic time; 10am to 11am, walk with the family.”
I couldn’t relate. I didn’t have a family, and at the time, I was stuck in my tiny apartment (which I am grateful for) all by myself with nothing to keep me company but my work (which I am also grateful for!). But there I was, reading this post among many others like it, and instead of feeling enlightened, I wanted to kick someone in the balls. Why couldn’t people just admit that this was going to suck, but because some of us are more privileged than others, it could suck less. I am one of the privileged ones, but there was no way this was the time where a more spiritual me was going to emerge. As you can tell by this post, this is a time for a more pessimistic me to peak its ugly head.
I was in a bad mood. I wanted people to stop pretending. I had to work from home, which was nice, but at the same time, leaving my apartment isn’t an option. This isn’t a holiday. I needed to be able to focus while working, and somehow, even with all the stressing about the coronavirus news, I was supposed to be working on my self-development? What the actual fuck? Who were these people kidding? So no, I wasn’t the best version of myself. Not even close.
This is where I started— being completely upset at everything and everyone. The first two weeks, my goal was to simple survive. But I couldn’t focus at work and wasn’t motivated to do much else in my free time. At the time, my girlfriend was also stuck in another country and all I was trying to do was bring her back to the Netherlands, where I live. It wasn’t going great. I had no schedule, no sense of time or day, and I wasn’t really talking to people.
I’m so glad that changed. Because being grumpy about our new “normal” for the next however many months wasn’t going to do me any good. It wasn’t doing anyone any good— from reading this post, I bet you can tell I was no fun to talk to. And even more sadly, I wasn’t looking for things to change, but slowly, I just went about my day, tried to do things that made me happy, and well, now I’m less of a sour puss. I absolutely HATE all these over-the-top, sickeningly sweet memes about how this can be THE MOST POSITIVE TIME OF OUR LIVES. But at the same time, if I’m going to be so negative, I guess someone out there has to cancel that out.
And even though I was too busy being a negative Nancy to actively want to make a change, here’s the thing, I also hated sitting around doing nothing. So my in between became trying to simply do what I felt like as long as I did it around my work hours. Because I no longer have to commute to work, there is some extra time in my day (even after taking away the time I spend looking up Coronavirus-related news, I end up with a net positive).
So folks, let me share some positivity about the few nice things I’ve spent my time doing in this isolation period.
The first thing that I used my newly found spare time to do more work with the organization I volunteer for. If this sounds really random to you, that’s because it is. A month before we were confined to our homes, I started volunteering with an organization that focuses on bringing the community together to talk about topics on different issues, like social-distancing. Usually these meetings take place in person, but now everything had to be put online. And it was actually really fun to be part of this group doing something that I care about. It made me a little less grumpy since I was actually talking to people.
Since I was speaking to people online regularly for my volunteer work and for my actual job, the next thing that changed for me was to try and talk to my friends online. I have moved a lot in my life so you would think I was a pro at this. I SUCK. I have many qualities, but keeping in touch with people long-distance is not one of them. Not even close. Getting used to scheduling chats online was hard. But now, I’ve actually been able to catch up with a few friends from around the globe.
The real change in my mood came for me when my girlfriend and cat were back home with me in the Netherlands. This happened two weeks after I’d been in quarantine. Once Sara (my lovely, lovely girlfriend) was back with me, I really valued the time we spent together. And I may not believe in the idea that we’re supposed to be our most zen selves right now, but I do believe that shit happens. Sara and I have rediscovered cooking and baking.
I am the worst cook ever. Not because I’m dumb enough to fry up dry pasta or something, but because I am THE MOST practical cook ever. I usually think about what’s the fastest and easiest thing I can cook right now. Yes, it’s a lot of pasta most of the time. And I’m fine with it. But now with more time, and the fact that we try to do our grocery shopping in as few trips as possible, we’ve actually started planning out our meals. Even better, we wiped off the dust on our old cookbooks and started making fancy recipes! Recently, we made two recipes from a cookbook by one of our restaurants in Philly— V Street! I can highly recommend their recipes to anyone, especially if they’re vegetarian or vegan. We made Dan Dan noodles and Peruvian Fries. So good. so good. Sara’s also been trying out some recipes on her own from Ottolenghi.
And of course, now I have more time to read. Obviously I write a blog, so I am into reading and writing. But because I’m so into reading and writing, that’s a large part of what I do at my job, and I found out very quickly that after reading all day, it can be a bit tiring to read some more in your down time, even if it is fun. Now I have time to take a break after work by doing the other random shit I mentioned and still have time to read afterwards. Yay! I’m currently catching up on SO MUCH GAY FICTION (because I am SO GAY). Right now I’m reading the book version of Call Me By Your Name. Have you read it yet? It’s goooood.