The Art of Napping in a Pandemic and Other Disorganized Thoughts

As my family and I enter our 4th month of quarantine, I have to say we’re doing well. When I say well, I mean that we’re all relatively healthy and we have not murdered each other in our sleep. It’s a small house, but each person has their office/hangout/project space clearly demarcated. We check in with one another briefly throughout the day and then we go back to talking to our friends, work, teachers. The last few weeks have been the longest period of stability our family has had in a great while. No medical emergencies, no dying pets, no late nights dealing with chemo drug side effects, no urgency whatsoever.

2020MrsCardinalI’ve been letting myself unravel. The house is messier and I’ve don’t flip out when two minutes after doing all the dishes, dirty dishes mysteriously appear on the counter tops. Projects lay undisturbed for days. I’ve built myself a fortress of books, all carefully piled off-screen. I’ve spent hours in the yard taking 4,523 pictures of plants and birds and bugs. I’ve taken to manically humming King George’s “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton when I work. Da da da dat daaaaa dat da da da da ya da.

Writing is a desert. Tumbleweeds blow through where my creative urges used to roam. A swarm of anxieties have stripped the bones clean.

Oddities spring up. I gave myself a buzz cut for the hell of it. I’ve always wanted to try it. I look like a lumpy, silver cantaloupe. It’s unflattering, but feels wonderful.

2020RobinFrenchI’ve gotten back to working out regularly. I have a lot of workout equipment from my taekwondo days. Last week, I dragged out the heavy bag and hung it in the garage. I wrapped my hands, put on gloves, and went to town on the bag. My anxiety levels are much lower this week.

*****

In the middle of all this, unexpected joys lighten the day. My local library finally opened for curbside pickup of requested books. I always have long list of hold requests and due to the pandemic, many of the books requested were from the early part of the year.

I was notified that my first hold had come in: Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World by Laura Spinney. Argh. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read one more damned thing about pandemics. The book has been oddly reassuring. All this nuttiness, with the politicization of even the most basic public health measures has happened before.

2020ToadIn 1918, there was a revolt about vaccines, people ignored social distancing, refused to wear masks. It didn’t turn out particularly well for many of them. I feel like somewhere down the line, in the history books that follow, the present day yahoos will be immortalized as idiots and gaslighters. And that is my bittersweet pill to anticipate.

*****

A sense of time has been lost. Days and weeks go by, barely acknowledged. I am reminded of a TV sci-fi episode where the crew is stuck in a time dilation field in space or Groundhog Day with Bill Murray – every day is the same, with only slight variations as we gradually learn to expand our world in this bubble.

*****

2020RedRose2One of my anxieties was that my daughter would be going back to school in the fall. While she is not immunocompromised, she is definitely immuno-curious. With a chemo drug used for rare tumors, there are a lot of unknown factors and she’s picked up two viruses in the last six months. She attends a public high school with 1600 students. Fortunately, she was accepted into a state university program for her junior year and all of the fall courses will be online. I can breathe a little easier.

It is this kind of thing that alternately makes me feel happy and guilty. I know that this pandemic is having an unequal effect on people. I know that the choices we’ve been able to make for our family are not choices that everyone is able to make. I also know that risk assessment is different for everyone. This is, of course, the problem. This pandemic will last longer, the economic impact will be greater, and the enmity we have towards each other will be exacerbated, because it seems like we’re working towards diametrically opposed ends.

*****

2020Coreopsis2I’ve taken to napping in the early afternoon. I lower the shades in the study, put on an audiobook or podcast, lean back in my chair, prop up my feet, and snort myself awake 20 minutes later. It’s lovely. I always said I wasn’t a napper. Now I’m a fully committed one. On my way to these siestas, I listen to David Sedaris read Calypso or the podcast The Stacks (if you’re a book lover, this podcast is fantastic). It amazes me how little it takes to feel those moments of joy. It’s as if you’ve told the world, have yourself a seat, I’ll get back to you in 20. It seems to make life just a little more manageable.

What are you doing during the pandemic?

What helps you deal with anxiety?

What has given you joy?

29 thoughts on “The Art of Napping in a Pandemic and Other Disorganized Thoughts

  1. fransiweinstein

    It is so good to hear that your life has calmed down. I have to say I, too, am doing pretty well too. I am happy staying hone where I feel safe and in control and when I do venture out, it isn’t far, I avoid people and wear a mask and gloves. I seem to have settled into a routine and it’s working for me. I have lost track of time, though and my new thing is, around mid week I’m sure it’s Sunday. I have done none of the projects I told myself I’d do and I’ve written nothing. But I am reading and working my way through a lot of the wonderful stuff that’s available online. I was cooking up a storm but I’m over that now and in the last couple of weeks I’ve been binge eating ice cream, watermelon and white nectarines — not at the same time. And yes, I am also enjoying afternoon naps.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad to hear you’re doing well, Fransi. There are few of us who are as productive as we thought we’d be under the circumstances. I’m starting to be okay with that, though, and learning the ways of the mostly contented. It seems wrong, with the world roiling outside, but suffering is not useful. And we’re of better use if we’re rested and healthy than miserable and sick.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so glad you and your family are doing well. I understand your worry for your daughter. Mine is scheduled to start back to work sometime in August. It makes me nervous The pandemic caught us in the middle of a whole house remodel and living in a tiny hotel room with no sunlight and horrible internet (it crashes several times a day and has to be rebooted). Work on the house is progressing slowly (only one crew at a time) and many necessary items are out of stock or back ordered. We are juggling everything day by day. In the mean while I decided to start learning Italian and am still writing (a couple hundred words per day). This week I have started getting itchy fingers…. that is a good sign.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow – that must be tough! I’ve never been so grateful for our internet access and the fact that our house has lots of little spaces for our family to work separately. Day by day is about all any of us can manage at this point. Good on you for keeping at writing! I’ve done a little work, but I’m definitely not committed to it. Initially, I felt bummed, but letting go, putzing about with photography and reading is at least providing some fertile ground for the future (that’s my rationalization and I’m sticking with it!).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes day by day, one step at a time. I keep hoping that this is the week we can move back in. One day it will be true. Letting go and doing what you can is a great tactic Michelle. Your writing will return when you least expect it. All the best to you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pat

    I think I am just about where you are, Michelle. But I find that can cope with the pandemic, an incompetent president who lies, and fear that racial justice issues won’t go very far – but not with anything else that pops up. We are now in our second week of 90 degree weather (F) and it is just oppressive. I try going into the air conditioning but get antsy because it is summer outside and I want to be sewing on quilts on my three season room. I have days were I don’t do much at all and other days are very productive. I am learning to understand that whatever kind of day I am having, I can still find joy. If I need to just sit quietly doing nothing, then that is where I will find happiness. I hope you and your family stays healthy. We have a great respect for the virus so don’t go around other people unless necessary and then do it safely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The heat and bugs are pretty unbearable here as well. I’m out weeding the garden at 6am (while it’s in the balmy upper 70s). Mostly I’m puttering about and working on various projects and getting back into volunteer work for voting rights. And I spend a lot of time staring out of the kitchen window, watching the birds.
      I have to tear myself away from the news on a daily basis, because constant rage is not healthy. I decided to be an election judge for our August primary and November elections. It’s a risk, but after talking it over with the family, I decided it was something I needed to do. Our polling places have always been staffed by retirees, but with the virus, their risk is so much higher. So masked and gloved and a little anxious, I am going to perform a civic duty. Fortunately, A LOT of people are doing mail-in ballots (as am I), so I’m hoping polling places will be less busy.

      Like

      • Pat

        Sounds like you have found a nice balance of doing things to give your life meaning and to help the social good, and taking care of yourself. I am finding that watching Nichole Wallace and Rachel Maddows each day on MSNBC gives me the news and political perspective I need with getting overloaded.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely. Thanks for the podcast recommendation. I’ll definitely listen during the afternoon hours when i need some inspiration to finish up a task.

    What am doing during this pandemic? I started my blog https://africancanvas.wordpress.com/ after procrastinating. I enjoy the free time i’ve had and been able to do so much that i previously never had time to accomplish. I’m listening to podcasts, started a kitchen garden and cooking more now that i work from the comfort of home. 🙂
    How i deal with anxiety- I say a prayer and God gives me inner peace as if he has lifted a huge burden off my shoulders. Music also helps me relax.
    What has given me joy – the birth of my son in January. Having to spend more time with my family during this pandemic has made me a lot happier!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t remember that time with my daughter as being particularly productive – I was an exhausted older mother though! It’s nice that you are enjoying your time at home. We listen to and play a lot of music here. My daughter is in the other room playing the piano right now. For me, books are a primary source of pleasure, as is my garden. Still, it’s hard not to feel distracted with all the rumblings in the outside world. Sounds like you’re able to focus, which I have a lot of trouble doing now. Best wishes to you!

      Like

  5. You say writing is a desert but at least this blog post was what one person (me) needed to read today. I’ve felt disjointed, and your post has been a bright spot.

    I’m supposed to be looking for a job. I’m okay with finding opportunities, not so good at applying and pursuing.

    Little to zero anxiety overall as I live in the country of New York, and we got our act together sufficiently enough to have a grip on covid and impacted areas of life. It’s not peaches and cream by any means; considering the cards we were dealt, though, I think we’re doing pretty okay.

    I heard the song “Leave a Light On” for the first time yesterday and it gave me some joy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m dragging myself back to blogland – having such a hard time writing right now, so apologies for the late reply. I hope your job hunt is or has proved fruitful. After another restless night, I’m coming to terms with the undercurrent of chronic anxiety that has dampened my spirits of late. And I listened to the song you mentioned (the one by Tom Walker?). Intense. These are the days…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Michelle. It’s good to see you. I’m so glad you have some respite in your life from all the stresses your family has endured. And this is the perfect time to experiment with hairstyles! I had most of mine removed recently after having it relatively long and crazy for the last few years. Feels good, doesn’t it. I wish I was brave enough to buzz it all off!
    No writing here either. I can’t seem to pull things together enough in my head to even attempt it. And I am still waiting patiently for the library to start it’s curbside service so I can at least get in some reading. Despite the green and the flowers and the birds, life feels like a very long B & W B grade movie this year. You really have to look for the color and life to find it, but it is there. Physical limitations and some unseasonably gray weather, even for the PNW, are keeping me inside more than I prefer. Feels like I’m in a holding pattern for some real summer activity, which I live for, so the mood here is pretty subdued, punctuated by moments of great anxiety over what it happening in our country.
    Wishing you and yours well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ilona. Of course not long after I wrote this perky little post, I slipped into a dark funk. So pulling myself up by my depressed little bootstraps and coming back to write. It’s usually the first step out of the shadows. That, and shutting off the news, not listening to emo music, and finding some inspiration. Hope you are doing okay.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It used to be that I couldn’t nap thinking of all the assigned work I had to get done by the end of the day (I work from home). Now I can’t nap thinking of the lack of work. Like Tuhamworld noted, becoming addicted to the Internet is a concern and I need to limit my Internet use to work hours or I’m going to lose touch with humanity.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Shortly after I wrote this post, I slipped into the shadows of depression. This is the kind of time it is – moments of calm marked by periods of frantic anxiety. Whee. Taking a 48 hour break from the news to regain my footing. I hope that things are going okay for you. Working from home is a one of those tough, but fortunate things right now. Truly a mixed bag.

      Like

  8. Your gently humorous reflections are a tonic, Michelle, in the absence of a cure. (That last was supposed to be a joke but pancaked somewhat!) I’m also doing reading, meditation, walks … and, in these Micawberish days, waiting for something to turn up. Leadership would be good … 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Love your thoughts, I relate to many of the same fears. My anxieties come and go, sometimes I feel like I am shut off from the world and in my own protective bubble, so everything must be fine outside of it, right?! 😬 I am mostly worried about my parents, they are essential workers and I can not stop fretting over what this could do to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I feel you. The world is a mess right now and I feel like I’m a constant state of lethargy. I ended up having so much anxiety that I had to get tested just for peace of mind. Thankfully, I don’t have covid. But I worry about how this year’s going to affect our future. Can we even fully recover from this?

    Like

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.