A 33-year old creative person, living with my husband by the sea, working in animation and studying textiles.
4th April 2020
It's another sunny day, getting hot in my favourite jumper. My husband Tim has been repotting the little vegetables we've started growing, but they still need to remain indoors for a while (courgettes, kale, chives and tomatoes). We'd been meaning to grow our own veg for a few years and finally have the time.
I was meant to Skype with my dad today. He's 76, has severe Alzheimer's, and lives in a #CareHome in Ottery St Mary, Devon. My mum has not been able to visit him for 2-3 weeks now, but forwarded on some photos she was sent of him enjoying a cup of tea and a Kitkat in the home's grounds (that makes it sound very grand - it's actually a very modern, purpose-built home, with some grass and fields surrounding it). I'd organised by email to Skype with him at midday and was asked for my Skype details this morning, but nothing happened. I waited over an hour and emailed them with no response. I hope everything is ok. This is my first attempt at Skyping with him. I'd been meaning to before (a phrase I feel will crop up a lot) and was prompted into action after the news that my friend's dad died yesterday of Covid-19 (he was also in a home).
I've been getting a lot of tension headaches this week. I think it's from the stress of worrying about both my parents (my mum lives on her own in the middle of nowhere in Devon) and one of my best friends, who I haven't heard from in over two weeks, who lives in America.
Generally, I've been feeling a lot calmer, with future plans now mostly non-existent...there's nothing to think ahead about and potentially fret over. I've also been doing out MORE than I did before (I know, I am a little bit reclusive) because Tim is home full-time now and he's encouraging us to get out once a day for a walk or run. The nicer weather has definitely factored in this too. I do find myself feeling weighed down by the admin of keeping up with the increase of messages from friends and family, and the regular Skype or Zoom check-in 'meetings.' My screen time has definitely increased a lot, and my phone battery is running much lower than before.
I am still working part-time in animation, but I worked from home anyway so this part of my life feels the same. I am studying for an MA in Printed Textiles but my uni has closed down. At the moment, I am happy to have a break from the 2 hour journey 1-2 times a week, and the stress of the unfriendly print room, as it gives me the time to do the practical work I need to do. I am trying not to think too far ahead as I finish at the end of August, and I don't know what the situation will be by then - whether I'll have to do a digital exhibition like the BA #student-s are doing, or if the restrictions will be lifted. We are on our Easter break until the beginning of May anyway, so I don't need to check in with anyone until then.
6th April 2020
I watched a little bit of Lorraine presenting 'Good Morning Britain' this morning. I don't normally watch it as Piers Morgan is often on it...say no more. They had Emily Atack talking via an online video and she said she was coping ok because she was reminding herself that she has her health. I think it is easy to forget this, and I want to make a conscious effort to be aware that I'm also in good health, and I am very lucky. Being an experienced work-from-homer, I know how easy it is to slip into lethargy and a general funk from lack of movement, lack of stimulating or varying environment, and lack of contact with people. I have become settled in this way of life. I think we all create coping mechanisms and build walls around ourselves so we don't have to deal with things that challenge us or increase stress levels. So, in this bizarre and unusual situation of a pandemic, I find myself fortunately equipped to deal with these strict circumstances. However, I am now very aware that my normal life, not unlike this pandemic daily life, is in fact, not particularly healthy and is rather extreme. Although I am still trying to balance work, uni, everyday chores, health and exercise, self-care, personal creativity, down-time, and social interactions (via Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, Slack, Skype and Zoom), there is a slight reprieve from the pace of pre-pandemic life, seeing as now the whole world has had to press pause too. I feel I can catch my breath for a second and reflect on what I need to do after this, to have a more balanced, and hopefully, happier life.
Today is a grey day, which is fair enough, after endless sunshine this weekend. I am working today but I will find time to go for a half hour jog with my husband down on the seafront. I used to feel guilty for NOT going out enough, and now I feel guilty for going out at all, even though I am being very cautious. I feel for those, like my 70 year old neighbours who are stuck indoors.
I am looking forward to a four-day weekend for Easter, and eating too much chocolate. It's good to have these seasonal events that bring a sense of normality back. A pandemic won't stop us eating chocolate eggs goddamit! And for many, celebrating the religious side of Easter, of course.
There's not much more to say today. Tim and I created an exercise regime for the week which I hope we can manage. I am missing my cat Smokey, who died at new year - it sort of gets easier, but right now, it would've been immensely comforting to give him the cuddles he loved so much.
16th April 2020
Had a tougher week. I usually love Easter - chocolate, spring in full bloom, time off work (and all those things still existed this year) but I was feeling stressed out by all the social media and video chat management on top of 'normal' life. I don't think it helps that I'm hastily making a quilt that requires cutting out and piecing over 600 triangles. But mainly I was letting the increase in messages and calls get to me. Normally the influx is staggered so it's less intense, and there aren't so many group chats and calls happening. I find those a little overwhelming, especially the videos, as there are too many people talking at once. It makes me retreat into my shell.
So I decided to take a break from my phone for a week. Impossible to do entirely as I'm still checking emails, the weather and using my Fitbit (or 'Fartbot' as Tim calls it), but I've disconnected myself from Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram. I've had moments of weakness where I've really wanted to check them, but so far I've not been on Instagram or Facebook at all. It has been nice to do that, feels like more of a sense of peace has descended over my usually fairly frantic brain.
I finally successfully managed to Skype (with video) with my dad today. Part-way through I contacted my mum so she could be included as she hasn't been able to talk to him with video for weeks now. I am not sure if he recognised any of us, but mum's cat, Louis, got the warmest reaction! I also captured a funny moment on my phone camera of my dad picking his nose and us laughing. He is mostly oblivious to what we're asking him or talking about but I don't think the busy dining room where they do these Skype calls helps much, as he is very easily distracted by any noise or movement. I got a few positive noises or facial expressions from him (he can't really speak with his form of Alzheimer's) when I showed him photos (holding up my phone) and when Tim showed him his watches (he likes watches). The experience was awkward at times as it is really a one-way conversation with Dad looking around at what's happening nearby, or staring confused at us, but I'm glad I got to see him. It's reassuring. And apparently he's in good spirits and eating well.
Tim will be playing VR with some mates tonight (via online means of course) so I'll be catching up on programmes that don't interest him! With some more island exploration and regeneration on Animal Crossing later!
26th April 2020
And a better week this week. It's interesting to try and figure out what affects a 'good' week and a 'bad' week, especially at the moment when we are almost in a 'control' setting in an experiment, where most variables are staying the same. Keeping those negative thoughts in check and allowing myself to make decisions that are best for me without internally labelling myself as 'selfish,' also helps. More frequent cuddles on our doorstep with our neighbour's cat Orlando, is an added perk, and seems to be becoming a more regular daily feature, which we're happy about.
Another mundane but strangely enjoyable highlight of the day, was looking up from my work and watching a ladder being moved in a distant garden (no person visible) as it got caught on every branch and bush it encountered. It took a while to manoeuvre. It made me inwardly chuckle. But I am one of those people who finds other people's frustration and building anger towards inanimate objects very funny. And I feel like I'm allowed, as I easily get the rage in the same scenarios. I once completely lost it with a printer (my own crappy £20 one) and just starting kicking and tearing at its component parts.
But anyway, irrelevant. I think we've just completed week 5 of lockdown (can we start getting government patches to sew on things?) The weeks are starting to blur into one now. The courgettes are looking beefy now, and the cherry tomatoes are looking healthy. Tim and I are fully immersed in Animal Crossing - landscaping, planting hedges, boosting the island's economy with our fruit harvests. The music is driving me slightly crazy though.
Apparently it will be more rainy next week (or so my app tells me), which I'm a bit sad about, but all good things must end. I am slowly getting back to messaging friends and family, but I feel more in control of it now I stepped back for a while. These journal entries are feeling a little like the ramblings of my nearly 70 year old mum when she tells me long stories about her trip to Tescos and the immense detail of parking the car, the offer on yoghurts that she nearly went for, and about the baby robin her cat brought in. No offence or dig meant at my mum there, as I have been in that place (quite literally), where there is nothing happening for months on end, so every tiny thing is a story to be told.
So I will summarise this week - good jacket potatoes (thanks Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall), greasy but nice cat cuddles, finished piecing my quilt (thank god!), and sunny walks eating flies by accident. What will happen next week on My Lockdown Journal? Well, a high chance it will involve seaside walks, small vegetable growth, Animal Crossing, social media gripes, and checking for Orlando. I hope you're sitting down.