21 May 2020 — The COVID Diaries: Staying Sane in a Time That’s Not

 

Dear Diary,

I’d prefer to avoid writing to you today because I’m in a state of transition and trying to figure out next steps and it’s easier to Avoid Everything right now by watching YouTube videos and season 4 of Riverdale with Abby than it is to Engage My Brain, Figure Out What I’m Thinking, and Make a Plan. 

There. I wrote that sentence, got up from my desk, made a cup of tea, ate a cookie, wandered around the backyard picking up dog poop, snuggled the puppy, texted my neighbor about the merits of walking vs. not walking, chatted with Chandler about tuna salad recipes, and now I’m back at my desk. 

In other words, I’m Avoiding Everything SO HARD I’m willing to pick up dog poop to do it. 

Bless my heart.

Also, I just left my desk again to make bread dough. Do we need bread dough? No. Not right now. Bread dough could have waited. But I’m employing all my Avoid Everything tactics. I went potty. I told Greg we need to change our sheets. I scrolled the Book of Faces for 46 hours. I watched Sarah Millican videos. I watched the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pull bingo numbers via virtual chat for a retirement home. I researched Agnes Sorel — official mistress of France’s King Charles VII in the 1440s — to discover whether she did, in fact, have her dresses tailored to expose her favorite boob

{Spoiler: She did have her dresses tailored to expose her breasts, but she appears to have loved them both equally.}

This is how I’ve used my time today.  

I feel simultaneously annoyed with myself and “meh, whatever” because sometimes days like today are inevitable. 

My brain is operating like a sputtering engine, and even when I try to rev it up and let it idle awhile so it’ll be warm and ready to run, it coughs and chokes and dies at inopportune moments. I’m trying to be patient with it. I really am. But also, I just want it to work, you know? I want to use it to drive to my destination and actually arrive there without pushing it through intersections where it stalled or calling for roadside assistance for a jumpstart on the side of the highway.

I really only need to do one thing which appears on the surface to be small, but which — as every parent knows — is HUGE. I need to adapt to a new reality, change my rhythms and schedule, and figure out What Works Now. Just like when I was a parent of littles who FINALLY had a baby taking two reliable naps per day — I knew when I’d do laundry! I knew when I could sneak Oreos! I knew when I could flop on the couch in sheer EXHAUSTION for a freaking break! — only to have the baby decide one nap was plenty, thank you very much. I’m realizing I settled into a rhythm of sorts these past two months — a weird, new, unsettling, but somewhat reliable schedule — and now that my oldest two babies are home, I have to make adjustments. GOOD adjustments, but still adjustments. And adjustments are stressful, even when it’s stress caused by positive change.

So I’ve been Avoiding Everything, subsisting on a diet of distraction, because it’s going to require Brainwork and Focus and Conscientious Flexibility to adjust. What time do I need to head to bed? Can I watch just one more Riverdale episode, or is it best to be quiet in my room for a bit, reading in the dark to settle my mind for sleep? What time do I need to wake up? What tasks are necessarily mine and what tasks need to be distributed to the rest of the family? Should we restructure dinners so I cook less and others cook more? Are chores assigned fairly? And how are my Bigs adjusting to This New Life, too? How do I need to flex to ensure they’re free to assess their own needs and let us know whether we need to make changes? Can I squeeze a Regular Writing Discipline back into this New World? Because I’m missing that part quite a lot, and I suspect I can reprioritize it if I’m willing to lean on the Other Humans here. I suspect I’m using them as a Convenient Excuse at this point for not Doing This Things That Breathes Life Into My Days.

Do you see what I mean, Diary? Or is this all gibberish? 

I have a task in front of me. The same task as always. It’s Adjust to the New Normal. It’s Embrace Change or Refuse to Acknowledge It, but Change, it seems, arrives either way. And I’m usually pretty good with Change. With Flexibility. With Adjusting to the ways life waxes and wanes and rises and falls and ebbs and flows. But there’s been a LOT of Change lately, Diary. And a lot of Uncertainty hitching a ride with it. So I think I’m just a little punch drunk over here. Weary, you know? Not quite sure I’m ready for the Work involved in Being Proactive.

So that’s all, Diary.

That’s where I’m at.

Ppffftttt,

 

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
9 comments
  1. Now I want someone to tailor my dresses.

  2. Not gibberish. Perhaps it has to do with that mother-woman thing where we immediately assume responsibility for people who enter our realm. We absorb the worry of what must happen for all needs to be met, for people to be comfortable, for all to adjust. Some how making it all work and making sure everyone is “ok” immediately becomes our job. Our newly owned worry. And once we buy into that role no one else needs to do it. And once we own that job our brains turn to fuzz as we try to figure out how to fix the unknown and not yet existing problems. And once our brains are fuzz we can’t focus on our own life industry our own goals. We don’t know where to start.

    I don’t think I’ve ever met a man, no matter how hospitable, who would immediately assume the responsibility for making everything work for everyone else. Not it a way that leaves the man unable to just continue with their own life.

    Just imagine if we decided it was not our responsibility to make it all work. If we were responsible for our own day and just figured everyone else was responsible for theirs and that along the way they’d kinda figure it out.

    I don’t know about you but I have a really hard time doing that. Yet, I suspect it would be healthy and freeing and a bit more respectful of my own value in the order of things.

    Ya, know what I mean?

  3. I decided to read this post now instead of later because I don’t want to start my work for which I have very limited time. But…your post, the kid who broke Tony Hawk’s record, Jim Gaffigan’s compilation of his Hot Pocket bit, Biden and Warren, NYT headlines, making “one more” cup of tea, staring blankly out the window…

  4. I have also avoided this task. It has been easier with still teaching (even from a distance via computer) and trying to read the entire Harry Potter series (which I finished last night) and finding and cleaning up kitten poop in the house and…and…and. I have not exercised in weeks and my back is not happy. I have no sleep schedule and my mind feels fuzzy. I have no eating schedule and my body is not sure what to do with that. I crave order and also know it takes effort to make order. I’m going to clean my house today (on my own as usual because it takes too much energy to ask for help…remind I asked for help…re-remind…not get aggravated…and then be content with symbolic cleaning feeling ungrateful if I go back and really clean). Then, maybe tomorrow, with a clean house and no more teaching and Harry Potter for distraction, I will create our new world order. Please share what you come up with!

  5. Tuna salad received : we like this one for “Mega Tuna” that originally came from some firefighters cookbook from 1994 … there are no amounts ( you get to decide what works for you ) but here are the ingredients: canned tuna ( water packed, drained), grated mozzarella cheese, slivered or chopped almonds, chopped green onions, some chopped cilantro, enough mayo to hold it together — you can add chopped black olives OR diced red apple if you like. ( But not both ) Hope you enjoy it!

    1. What happens if you add both olives and apple?

  6. *hugs* I would leave a nice articulate su pportive reply but have to go flip a breaker that’s probably popped because there’s still a leak upstairs because cancer and appointments and ER visits (allergic reaction) and more appointments and … y eah.

    And I’m busy right now having a meltdown because no work this month and no work for the forseeable future and I don’t qualify for unemployment.

    It’s ok. There’s food in the cupboard and we’re not in dire danger of any shut-offs right now. But still.

    Hang in there Mama. We might not be in the same boat, but we’re all in the same storm. <3

  7. Fonts are not big enough to show how loudly I’m shouting YES! ALL OF THIS!
    The last 2 mos have been some of the hardest ever because when does it settle? Is this what we’re doing? What is the new set of variables to adjust around a formula for routine? Today was to be the kids last day of school. HA! It was 2 weeks ago. Anyhow, this week brought us back to sport practices – smaller scale, but SOMETHING ON THE CALENDAR. My children have blossomed again by having a timed thing to attend, seeing others, and exerting energy. So, like you, good changes, but now to adjust to THIS version of life.
    I found new life this week as well. I started getting up again. I had been staying up late and sleeping in (to gasp – 8:00 some times!). My brain just doesn’t do that so well, and being up by 7 this week has made me better. No alarm needed after 1x because my body is yelling YES, GET UP, THAT IS WHO YOU ARE!! and I am not fighting it any more. 32 years of getting up, and I tried sleeping until my body was ready (aka staying up late again) and it was all NOPE. Enough of these shenanigans!
    Maybe it’s finding the peace in what has been longer than what has not been.
    Maybe it’s the quiet of the mornings before others are up.
    But it’s making my brain work better. So here I am. Waving and offering a hand. I have had days of all the distractions I can muster. I have had procrastination crowns, and delusions of deep cleaning that fade. It’s going to be ok. ♥

    1. It’s so funny that you mention waking up early feeling good. I have a good friend who said the same thing recently. I used to be a morning person. Now I am a 10:00am-8:00pm person. That is when I want to work. This shift is weird and I am not sure how to roll with it. I love that you have found what your body was craving!

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