I’ve been hunkered down since the end of February. It’s now June. More than 3 months of not going anywhere, doing anything or seeing anybody is getting seriously old. But of course I’ll keep doing it because I do want to actually get old: I want that more than I want to see a friend smile and share a hug, more than I want a pint of Guinness (and, oh, I really fucking want a pint of Guinness), more than I want to get new blinds to replace all the ones the kitties have destroyed, more than a latte and croissant, more than to beat the shit out of a heavy bag at the boxing gym (and, oh, you have no fucking idea, none, how very much I want to hit something right now). And on and on.
The last week has been the hardest so far. First, all our technology broke at once: the lights on the stove won’t turn off; the van battery failed and took the SureDeploy ramp system with it; the wheelchair lift keeps getting stuck; and even the fucking electric kettle stopped working. Then right next door we have heavy construction machinery grinding away from 7 am to 9 pm. Our house is like a sound box but I can’t get away from the noise that rumbles through my bones and sets my teeth on edge. On top of that we’ve had thunderstorms and torrential rain that have driven the kitties crazy which of course means they’ve driven me crazy. Our city—like so many US cities—is going up in flames and wreathed in tear gas, and I see and hear of so many people trying so very hard to help each other and being fucked over by the small-minded, mean-spirited, selfish white gits who just want to burn it all down and/or shoot it. None of this is being helped by being unwell, absolutely wound tight and flattened at the same time by bizarre histamine responses despite being on double and triple doses of every antihistamine known to human kind. My body has gone into inflammatory overdrive: I can’t sleep, all my joints and tendons are swollen, and I hurt. My head aches. I can’t think, and when I look ahead all I see is personal and global stress and uncertainty.
But, eh, I’ve been through that sort of crap before. So what will I do? I’m going to try figure out some jury-rigged punching bag. I’m going to dutifully attend my telemedicine appointments. I’m going to set Freedom first thing every morning (which is something I’ve let slip since mid-February) so my day doesn’t start with terrible news. I’m going to sit on the deck and read already-published fluffy adventure novels and cheap thrillers. If it rains I’ll head inside and watch crappy TV of the arealistic variety (spaceships, sword-swangin’ fantasies, save-the-world-from-existential-threat thrillers, you know the kind of thing). I’m going to tend my flowers—which I just started, a week ago, so everything’s at the tiny, tentatively-unfurling stage (see above)—fire up the grill and put some Champagne in a bucket to chill. And, most importantly, I will start ignoring requests from other people. While in general I do of course care about various writing nonprofits, and disability advocacy, and other writers’ careers, and libraries, and bookshops, and every other damn thing, I care more about my need for stepping off the merry-go-round and about my long-term emotional health. In other words my watchword for June will be SELF-care.
So if you email me and I don’t respond, it’s not personal. If you think maybe I didn’t get your email, feel free to resend, but I’ll probably just ignore that, too. If I owe you something—a blurb, a reading, an interview—and you don’t get it, it’s not personal. It might feel personal but, hey, it’s not you, it’s me.
With self-care as my mantra, I’m heading for a June that promises to be better than May. I wish the same for you.
9 thoughts on “Self-care in the time of coronavirus”
I’ve been in the house and yard since early March with exceptions only for going to a notary at the bank and some outdoor grocery pickups. I didn’t do all that cancer treatment to get killed by a virus. I’m right here breathing (and perhaps occasionally screaming) with you. Can someone less vulnerable pick you up a pint curbside to deliver?
Hi Nicola,If you’d like to hit something, how about putting this photo on your punching bag?Sending virtual hugs,Casey H.
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Makes good sense to me. And I suspect, bar the medical stuff, a lot of people are at roughly the same place.
I’ve been through the battery thing with the car, so has at least one other wheelie friend. The AA sold me both a new battery and a plug-in solar charger, on the theory the trickle-charging might stop me from killing batteries, even if it likely won’t be enough to start the car. (And that reminds me I must take it out for a drive tomorrow).
Of course my first reaction to your post is to fix it… Apologies, it’s just the project manager in me. So, using a wiffle bat on your pillow works really, really well and doesn’t make a loud noise or hurt anything. You know, except potentially you… In terms of fluffy books, I’m going to assume you probably have already read what I will share but, sharing anyway! Nora Roberts ‘Chronicles of the One’, ‘The Wild Trees’ by Richard Preston – not fluff but more a book about this guy and his fascination with the giant redwoods, true science. Anything by Ivan Coyote. If you like mysteries I have some suggestions but won’t go into them too much here… check out Laurie King. Netflix: Daybreak, Queen Sono, Altered Carbon. Also, did you know that there are these tiny little battery jump start devices now that you can charge via USB and then set on your battery and jump start it? WHAT?! No more battery cables to lug around. Who knew, not me.
OK, enough from me for now. Deep breathes!
yes, do it!! self-care. keep the heart open starting at home
Nicola, with an apartment literally right next to what was the Viaduct, I know from construction noise. My brother gave me his ratty first gen Bose noise cancelling headphones. They really help. Can I send them to you?
Good for you for taking June OFF!
Another excellent post. I did need to mention that I’m currently re-reading ‘The Blue Place’ and was delighted to see Kelley’s autograph much further downstream the novel from yours. Surprise! That broke me up again, thanks!
I once mentioned to Liz Hand that Cass Neary would crush Lizbeth Salandar in a cage match, but Aud Torvingen would smoke them both. Hi to Kelley and be well!
Back at you…wishing you a happier June, less stress for George and Charlie, and perhaps a rush of distracting creativity at an unexpected moment which you can act on in a way that lifts your spirits.
I also have been in isolation for 3 months, however I did pick up some mysterious virus in Lisbon whilst I was there for 4 days end of February. All the symptoms, however irish covid testing system was not testing when I first got sick. 2 negative covid tests since, myself & my Dr convinced it was covid. Since then I’ve been quite ill, went back to work for 2 weeks but symptoms returned with a vengeance. At the end of 4 weeks of sick leave now, and averageing 4 good days to 2 bad days. Missing friends & family & the limited social I had before all this.
However, I’m still isolating because what if it wasn’t covid?
So, I’m enjoying reading, just finished Kindred, which I loved, and Olive, Again, which felt like it was part of my life. I’m practicing self care, minding my energy levels & eating healthy food. Growing veg in my garden, and listening to new radio stations. From Monday I can drive to my nearest beach, which is what I am looking forward to most.
I hope your pain reduces, and your construction next door to quieten down, and that your self care is wonderful & finally, that you have a punch bag to enjoy.
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