Rough Day

Rough day yesterday. The altercation with the park district guy was pretty upsetting — I generally prefer to follow the rules unless I have a very good reason to break them (in D&D terms, while I’m chaotic good at heart, I’m happy to play lawful good most of the time). So being in conflict with an officer was stressful. And even after I got home and told Kevin about it all (which did help), I was still sort of thrown.

ALSO, I had an oar issue (complicated to explain) which meant that I ended up having just a half-oar to use instead of a full one, which is do-able (honestly, you can even just paddle a kayak with your hands in the water on a lake that placid, and you’ll get where you’re going eventually), but tiring and made my back ache a bit.

So I dunno — all of that together + pandemic exhaustion and frustration just got to me yesterday. I hit a wall of “don’t wanna,” and to be fair, I did actually work most of Saturday and Sunday, so it’s maybe not surprising that I couldn’t make myself work anymore yesterday.

I can tell I wasn’t in a good headspace, though, because I ate so much junk food! Half a large bag of M&Ms (what would normally be three servings for me), then later in the day a big bowl of chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and brandied cherries, and I think I had a few random slices of buttered toast I just threw in between meals. I was mad at the universe, and stuffed myself with food in consolation. Okay, I also did a bunch of kayaking that morning, so maybe I needed some extra calories too. But I was definitely wanting chocolate and butter, rather than oh, a nice protein-filled snack. Ah well.

Pandemic mind is tough. The first two months, I was very easy on myself, very stressed and panicky and just trying to get through the days. So much ice cream back then, and so little productive work.

I mean, I was drowning in work, between helping with the mutual aid project and getting my classes online and cancelling book tour and learning how to sew masks and making teaching videos and sewing hundreds of masks to donate and to sell — but it was a lot of spinning my wheels too, somehow.

Somewhere around month three (mid-May or so), I managed to take myself in hand. The semester ended, thank god, and I settled down to a more productive summer work schedule. Started exercising regularly, started eating better, started taking care of the garden and the house, and with Kevin’s help, getting the kids to do the same.

And that feels good, all of it — my body feels better, I can see that books are going out the door, that people want to book me for virtual events, that the house is cleaner and more organized and the plants aren’t dying from neglect. The kids are moving more, playing badminton in the backyard, going for exercise walks with me. All good.

But it’s harder than in normal time. Just reading the news, just tracking the progress of coronavirus alone, is deeply distressing. There are days when trying to keep up good work habits and life habits feels like wading through mud.

And I am in such a privileged spot, relatively speaking — we have a big house and garden and plenty of food and job security and all our relatives are healthy so far. If it’s hard for me, it must be damn near impossible for so many. And that’s just heartbreaking. I can’t think about it too much, or I’ll grind to a halt again, and likely end up eating my own body weight in ice cream.

But I have to think about it sometimes too, because how can we not? All around me, people are struggling, trying to figure out how to manage the fall without schools, or with school they’re not sure they should send their kids to. Trying to find jobs, trying to find food. It’s just hard, so hard.

This is a quiet apocalypse, but sometimes, I just have to stop and acknowledge that that’s what this is. An apocalypse. For America, at least — I know some countries are doing so much better than we are. But here in America, it was a terrible spring, a rough summer, and we’re going into what will likely be a brutal autumn and winter.

Kavi and I were talking yesterday and she said, “If I live to have kids, I’ll be able to tell them that I survived a global pandemic.” Oh, my heart. Wear your mask, dearest, because if anything happens to you, it will break me.

We’ve started setting up cautious masked, socially-distanced playdates with a few of their friends (all families that have been similarly locked down to us), and it’s all sort of awful, but better than five months of isolation. Naimah and Olivia will come over today. Naimah and Kavi are 13, and should be able to manage their own masked and socially distanced socializing (Kavi went to the forest with Emma on Sunday for three hours), but Anand and Olivia may need a little help.

We’ll try to figure out how to do this socially distanced thing with 10-year-olds. I’ve set up a 6′ table with Legos on the front porch, with chairs on either end, and Anand and Olivia can take frisbees to the park, and they can play video games together on their separate tablets. Maybe Minecraft will save us.

We’re all getting so lonely, I think; some days I’m rather desperate for the presence of a friend. We’re also living with quiet fear thrumming constantly, a river running right below the surface. And we’re constantly having to make choices about what’s the right thing to do, with too little clear information or direction. It’s exhausting.

Pandemic fatigue is real. All I can do is make the best decisions for me and my family and my community that I can, in the moment. I’ll work hard while I can, for myself and everyone else. And I’ll try to be kind to myself on the days when it all overwhelms me.

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