Tag: COVID

Sunday Check In

I’m not going to lie, piglets, this week was probably the roughest yet. This was the week that tempers frayed, that the tension between old and new work challenges clashed, that the reduced paycheck landed. Thank goodness for the latter, but a grim sort of victory as it compels one to think of colleagues on furlough and how grateful we all are to have a job and something of a social safety net. I also heard from friends and loved ones who are staring down the barrel of unemployment.

Conversation after conversation has the same theme: any sense of adventure is more or less gone, we’re now in the slog, and some of that slog is increasingly scary. The stores are no longer completely bare but we’re still shopping strategically.

This week finally broke me a bit, when it comes to news. My work days have been labor-intensive still so any news breaking through to me is usually related to organizations or clients we work with or industry effects that are rippling outward. When I’d log off from my professional life and into my personal one, the sheer inanity vexed me and I’d log straight back off again. When I saw there was “a conversation” about whether or not people should inject or ingest disinfectants to kill COVID-19, in response to the daily bullshittery of the DC pressers, I nearly threw my laptop across the room. I wisely decided to focus on catching up on podcasts or books instead.

In short, I’m a bit glum. And so to counter the despondency, I’ve scheduled some premium friend time throughout this weekend and upcoming week. Calls and impromptu virtual book clubs, all the better to share and laugh, my dears.

What are you over this past week, what are you doing to care for yourself and other this coming one?

Sunday Check In

Hi ducklings, how are we all doing this week?

This week an additional group of colleagues was furloughed, one that contained many of my favorite coworkers and work friends. I know it’s temporary but I’m going to miss hanging out with these people (at least digitally) until they are back. We have awesome group chats!

Other than that, this was also a week where I’ve had some uncomfortable exchanges with people, personally and professionally. Stress is getting to lots of people, myself included, and our experiences are all individual and personal. It can make common ground harder to establish. I’m trying to remember my own calls for kindness while also speaking up when I feel is necessary. It’s a balancing act – some days I nail it, other days I get it wrong.

How about you? How was this week? What are your personal circumstances? What would you like people to better appreciate about your experience or point of view right now?

What I know for sure…

I’ve blogged everyday for a month, one of my goals, and while I don’t think I’ll keep up the same pace, it’s been really useful to help process the first four weird weeks of lockdown. I’m sure weirder is to come but in the meantime, a few things I’m positive about:

Showering and putting on clothes even when you don’t “have” to is important.

I appreciate walks a lot more now.

Lipstick covers a multitude of video conferencing aesthetic ills.

Community is vital.

Rich friendships are worth their weight in gold.

Takeaway is a treat not a way of life.

Work and life are not, and should not be, the same thing.

Doing nothing is okay, and we’re not supposed to be productivity machines.

Twitter is not real life.

You can’t control everything about your mental space but you can probably control more than you think (and if you can’t, you are deserving of kindness and help to do so).

Taking care of and responsibility for our fellow man is non-negotiable.

Nobody is really in charge and we’re all just trying to do the best we can with the information we’ve got.

Scene of the crime.

The Year in Baking Thus Far

Kittens, I’m calling it. I’m a third of the way through this challenge to bake weekly for a year, having begun it over the 2019 Christmas holidays, but I need to press pause. I enjoy baking and I think it’s better to make your own sweets than buy them, but this is a pace I cannot continue without more exercise than quarantine measures allow. I know vanity isn’t the highest motive to claim, but as a person who requires effort to keep her weight level to say nothing of dropping, this is not conducive to my long term happiness.

But I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t celebrate and share the sugar goods which have gotten me through 2020 so far. I’m pivoting to healthier cooking for the time being, but I’d be delighted to live vicariously through any of you who care to try the below and share your efforts!

Gingerbread cookies

Banana bread

Cheese scones

Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake 

Midnight Mocha Cheesecake

Savory Oatmeal Cookies

Classic chocolate chip cookies

Classic chocolate chip cookies again, because Jeff ate all of them!

Classic chocolate chip cookies AGAIN by request. Why mess with a good thing?

Pear tart with goat cheese and honey

Apple cinnamon tart

Classic chocolate chip cookies AGAIN because I had to get it done and was down to the wire this week

Coconut Thins

Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies again – because they are seriously addictive

Banana Bread

Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies AGAIN

Earl Gray Yogurt Cake (a reader recommendation and SO GOOD)

 

COVID Hot Take: We Don’t Need Celebrities

Hear me out. We DO need artists. We also need entertainers. And we desperately need public figures (see also my hot take on how monarchy isn’t celebrity for other reading).

But those are people who make, do, engage, organize, communicate, and create.

Celebrity as an isolated concept – being famous – has never been more useless. Instagram influencers prompting us to buy things we can’t afford or enjoy lifestyles we don’t have – have never been less relevant.

To be clear some famous people are clearly adding value to other people’s lives right now and some of that value is purely frivolous. I’m all for it. Laughing, crying, thinking, or distraction absolutely have important roles to play, especially when for so many our inner lives have never been so important. There are many celebrities/famous people who offer this to us, but there are an awful lot who don’t.

I am all for Rhianna being more effective than whole governments in her philanthropy (see here, here and here for just a few examples) AND for Leslie Jordan twirling batons and humorously documenting his life. I delight in musicians streaming sets and impromptu concerts for their fans, I cringe at actors singing to us from their mansions.

Being famous is (finally) being revealed as fundamentally useless. Twitter followers and Instagram likes are not real people and are a trivial replacement for human interaction. What do you do with talent? How do you use your voice? How do you choose NOT to use it – which can be just as important. What purpose do you serve – no matter how grand or trivial?

Just existing isn’t enough.

Fight me. Or change my mind. Whatever. I just want to talk to people – beyond my husband who has heard all of my rants already.

A Few Things I’ve Learned About People Thus Far Thanks to Video Meetings and Social Media

The quality of their personal hygiene habits

Their natural hair color

Who has hair extensions

Their home decor tastes

Their stress habits

Not a few drug habits

Their preferred coffee/tea mugs

Which sweatshirts they wear for a week at a time

Their preferred stress snacks

Who is and is not properly adhering to social distancing (STAY HOME)

How many health/workout routines are utter lies

Everyone’s trashy TV faves

We’re all learning so much about one another kittens, and I’m personally delighting in it. I may be unusually fortunate but my work pals and I are chatting once a week at least on virtual hangouts, my brilliant team member threw a virtual pub quiz for our virtual cocktail hour yesterday, and everyone I know is trying deliberately to be kind and compassionate to colleagues. I’ve had long talks with my dad and sister, text chains with my brothers, and am even more involved with my extended family on social media and texts now.

If a bit more honesty, kindness, and generosity, and a little less performativity comes out of this mess, it would not be the worst outcome.

Weekend Links

It’s the double Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and we are celebrating, by staying inside. The weekend links are dropping early. It’s been a very long week, even though it’s been short and I suspect many of us are in need of a little recharge. Check in from your various socially distant patches, my loves.

This is objectively Not Great. (ETA: this is objectively Worse.)

All of this will pass eventually, but I wonder whether we will lower ourselves back into our previous lives and carry on exactly as before. For all the horror and grief around us now, there is already something melancholic about the thought of abandoning this strange, slow-motion version of life. I’m obviously not singing the praises of illness, fear or loss of freedom, and I look forward hugely to the fortnight-long bacchanal that will doubtless follow the lifting of all these restrictions — drunken orgies in the streets, I should think, and quite right too. But when that moment has also passed, I think we’ll be left with a better sense of what does and doesn’t matter, what is or is not important, what does or doesn’t constitute a good use of time. We’ve lived for a long time like huge spoilt babies. Maybe we’ll grow up.”

NOT NOW, CHERNOBYL.

Is…is this headline a metaphor or…? (PS – National Geographic is doing other sterling work in these troubled times.)

Remember how Theresa May created a “minister for loneliness” job and everyone laughed at her?

Um, this may not be the best time to break a deal with a deity.

Of course these troglodytes think this. Of COURSE they do.

Remember how the last Secretary of the Navy resigned because the President pardoned a war criminal? I do. (ETA: he resigned. Good.)

It’s the corruption, stupid!

Fuck

Let’s end on an aggressively positive note, shall we? We need it.

Something Small

What’s something small and everyday that you find yourself missing right now? I’ve got a weird one: my commute.

We are lucky to live in central London and on a normal day I can get from my front door to the office in about thirty minutes if I catch the right train, perhaps slightly more if I don’t. I tend to give myself 45 so that I can walk at a leisurely pace to the train station and pick up a nice coffee if I feel so inclined. I pass a historic churchyard that’s typically filled with dogs on their first walk of the day, and a famed antiques market every Friday.

My transit time tallies to between an hour and an hour and a half a day. It’s exercise, fresh air, and usually I get an episode or two of a podcast in or a chunk of time on my current audiobook (which I listen to at at least 1.5x normal speed so this can really add up in a work week).

I miss it. Genuinely. This was prime “me time” and I miss the start of my morning that got my blood moving and switched my brain on.

The Real To Do List

I’ve rearranged my furniture, cleaned out and reorganized my closet, done laundry and dishes every single day, made four batches of soup, baked my weight in cookies and bread, mastered the art of sensibly shopping for toilet paper, refrained from petting dogs on our once daily sanctioned walks, painted my nails twice, sweep the floor and wipe down kitchen counters daily, and am exercising multiple times a week.

And still have energy to burn.

Help.

Going slow and steady has never been my strong suit and being in a situation where my role and responsibility is to…stay home and do as little as possible by normal standards…is bizarrely challenging.

This is of course said from a position of ludicrous privilege and I recognize that.

But the dissonance between what most of us want to be in a crisis (active, part of the solution, responsive, the grand gesture types) vs. what is actually required of us (stillness, self awareness, patience, thrift, and compassion) is so telling and interesting to me. I suspect I’m going to be thinking about this for a while to come, and hopefully long after this is over.