Category: COVID

Sunday Check In

This week I’m thinking a lot about people and isolation, in particular the idea of isolationism.

I don’t get it and I think if anything dooms us, it will be this idea of radical individualism without self knowledge.

In the parlance of the meme, we live in a society.

Societies are interdependent, complex, and messy but the underlying premise is that we’re more likely to survive in a team than on our own. I believe that. And taking that to some logical conclusions is what forms my sense of justice, ethics, politics, and rightness.

I think that the reason I’m so deeply turned off by hyperisolationist views is that I’ve never come across a single one that isn’t founded on some sense of what I feel to be deeply entrenched privilege and selfishness at its core. White supremacy and nativism both posit that the “in group” is good and pure and what’s bringing it down is the “out group.” And could we but rid ourselves of them, we’d all be living on easy street. Almost to a man, every single person I know who espouses “libertarian” views is – without irony – a landed white male. And again almost to a man, all of them are convinced that their success is based wholly on merit and would have been replicated if they had been born in a dramatically different demographic. They shouldn’t be obligated to enable others’ success because “no one enabled theirs.” I have tried to understand this worldview but must confess I lack sufficient imagination. I’m equally annoyed by the doom and gloom contingent of internet shitlords who proclaim they want to “burn everything down,” because as Natalie Wynn put it, “You only get to watch the world burn if you have the privilege of not being on fire.”

Why are some people so angry and offended at the notion of being obligated to care for or prioritize others? How has this been turned into a notion of theft rather than collective investment from which we all benefit? How did mild inconvenience become repackaged as tyranny? I don’t understand the performative selfishness and defiance that has been twisted into some sense of virtue. My best working theory is that wealth, security, health and power are so out of reach for so many people that we’re all just sort of trying to cling to whatever we’ve got, or snatch away from others what we can. Which sort of makes sense as an emotional short term reaction but is horrific as a long term strategy.

I am delighted to pay taxes that fund elementary schools even though I don’t have children because, I know I benefit from living in an educated society. I am GRATEFUL to live in a country where my taxes fund the NHS because my right to health is not dependent on my job – as if basic health must be earned and those who can’t or don’t are somehow expendable (which is just eugenics, but with more steps). I change my shopping and eating habits because I don’t want to lose Indonesia, Miami, Venice and Greenland to the ocean, even though I live none of the those places. I am happy to stay inside on a glorious spring weekend because if I don’t someone who I don’t know and have no connection to may be endangered.

No man is an island, wrote John Donne.

Friday Talk: What Are You Reading Right Now?

I don’t know whether it’s in response to the wider world situation or just a fortuitous circumstance, but one of my libraries recently upped its digital check out and hold request limits. Thank god. I posted this on Instastories, but next to prescription drugs and therapy, books are the best thing for my mental health and a great boon when my anxiety spikes – which it absolutely the **** has this week.

Books take you out of your head and away from your own inner monologue, putting you in the shoes of a character or making you a welcome witness to an expert or storyteller of some kind. It parks your ego. It offers an alternative world or timeline in which to wander for a bit. It disciplines your attention – difficult in the age of the soundbite and 240 character limit. It entertains or enlightens you.

So, even if it’s a single page or if your preferred delivery method is audio, read. It will help a bit. I promise.

Since we’re all a bit more physically distant at the moment, let’s trade some Goodreads accounts and swap some recommendations in the comments. I’m currently enjoying at least one Agatha Christie novel, some progressive and hopeful sociology, and some less cheerful investigative nonfiction on climate change. What are you reading right now?

The Year in Albums So Far

Inspired by a chat with longtime Friend of the Blog Grace, I’m sharing what I’ve been listening to so far this year as part of my goal of listening to a new-to-me album each week of 2020. By far my best discovery is Snoh Aalegra, who also featured in my February Favorites post.

While I tend to prefer spoken word – podcasts, audiobooks, and so on – I know that music is helping a lot of my nearest and dearest right now. Check out my finds so far and then share your favorite artists and albums or newest discoveries in the comments with the rest of the coterie.

Ugh, those feels again, by Snoh Aalegra

Black Messiah, by D’Angelo

Music to Be Murdered By, by Eminem

Feels, by Snoh Aalegra

Hotspot, by Pet Shop Boys

Sanctuary, by Genghar

New Hope Club, by New Hope Club

Don’t Explain, by Snoh Aalegra

Lucky Ago, by Color Theory

La Vita Nuova, by Christine and the Queens

Foreigner, by Jordan McKampa

 

 

£28 per day

I’ve been thinking a lot about saving and spending in new ways – and that was before a week of chaotic economic news. There are a million things up in the air at the moment and I imagine most of us are looking at our bank accounts, wallets, and budgets and trying to run calculations for a variety of scenarios in our heads.

I was listening to a podcast recently where the casual number was thrown out that if you wanted to save or spend £10,00 for instance, that amounted to just under £28 per day. I admit I sort of scoffed, the number seemed so absurdly accessible but later when doing my budget for the month I realized how deceptive it was.

Could you spend £28 a day as a reasonable output of coin?All too easily!

My travel (public transport) runs between £2-5 a day.

If I choose to buy a coffee on the go, that’s another £2-4.

If I bring my lunch, which I try to do, I can claw back some savings, but otherwise will spend £5-10 for a meal. This inevitably depends on my travel and work arrangements for the day.

Because we have a small fridge we tend to do lots of small shopping trips rather than fewer large ones, so every other day or so I’ll stop by a grocery store on the way home. Depending on what we need to pick up, this will range between £15-30.

Do I need to renew my prescription medication? £9 per pick up. Thank god for the NHS!

Are our monthly bills coming out this week? That’s £100.

Depending on what day it is, I will spend no money at all – walking to work or working from home, prepared food and a stocked kitchen, and no bills due – to well over a hundred pounds. The above doesn’t even include costs that Jeff and I share or which he budgets and pays for, including therapy appointments, council tax, mobile phone bills…we have a combined income household but we each assume responsibility for different financial commitments. It doesn’t include our social life in the form of travel, food/tickets, and so on. God knows it doesn’t include the immigration fees we’ve paid this year or any other expat specific paperwork, like renewing my passport. It doesn’t include our rent! In short, yes, it’s entirely possible to spend £28 a day without blinking!

And so, at the moment, with so many unknowns and uncertainties, that’s a metric I can focus on or build some kind of structure around. Can I save an additional £28 a day right now, on top of our other aggressive goals? I can sure as hell try.

It’s devil’s arithmetic, and I’m fortunate to be in the situation that I am personally. Many, many people are crunching much harsher numbers.

If you’re affected by the coronavirus situation – increasingly most of us! – what money metrics are you looking towards right now? Is anything giving you a sense of balance or planning? Or is it frankly causing you dread – and how are you coping? Let’s do some real talk and solidarity in the comments, kittens, and look out for one another a bit.