Archives for posts with tag: taking care of me

It’s very early, on a Sunday morning. The aquarium lighting is on, but still quite dim, simulating a slowly approaching sunrise. My cup of coffee is hot, and tastes good (to me). I sip it slowly, while I wake up. I scroll through years of bookmarks, deleting those that are out of date (either because it is relevant to a topic in which I no longer have interest, or because the link itself has become a “dead link”). It’s an easy bit of housekeeping that doesn’t demand much of me. The sky beyond the window slowly changes from darkness to a dismal rainy day blue-gray. Rainy spring days are common enough around here, and I’m not complaining, just taking note.

I take a look at my supply of flavor concentrates for vape juice and reorder things I’m running low on. It’s less than ideal to discover, in the middle of mixing a batch of juice, that I’ve run out of a key component in the recipe I’m using. lol Once I’m a bit more awake, I take a look at the budget, and think over our household supplies – are we running low on anything important? Do I have to go out for it, or can it be ordered? Life in the time of pandemic; we definitely appreciate the many delivery options.

I check my list of things to do. Some housework, some chores, some projects, it is a list intended to keep me busy, occupy my time, and also deliver quality of life value to a shared experience. I smile, thinking about yesterday; I spent the day, mostly, reading. It was lovely. I sometimes find it hard to find the time, and the quiet, to read for a while. It is so worth making the time (and finding the quiet). 🙂

I look at the envelope laid with care on my laptop for later attention. The census. Maybe I’ll do that today? Good day for it, I think to myself. Why not?

I finish my coffee, sigh contentedly, and begin again.

Another morning in “the time of pandemic”, another good cup of coffee, another work day (for me), and it feels simultaneously very ordinary, and very peculiar. The news articles don’t ease up, not even a little, and probably with good reason; the more ordinary any of this feels, the less likely people will take it seriously – and it’s very serious. Take care of. your health, you precious, strange, delightful, unique human being, you. There’s no one else quite like you, you know, and we’re all in this together. 🙂

As more people do get tested for COVID-19, more people are confirmed to have it. This should not come as a surprise. I encourage you to also consider how vast the numbers of people with no/minimal symptoms who do have it (and are contagious with it) may be roaming around assuming they – and every hapless bystander they may approach – are “fine”. It’s not the obviously sick people I find myself most puzzled by; we know we should stay home when we’re sick, right? It’s the less obviously sick people that cause me most concern. American culture is so deeply infected with the odd notion that only the highly productive among us have value (while also often being underpaid, and devalued monetarily by businesses, primarily to improve the bottom line at no great value to those underpaid employees) – we don’t want to yield a single work day to our own health and self-care. Crazy. Literally crazy. I’m terrified by the reflexive recent calls to “go back to work” and “back to normal” – this is not a normal time, and the pretense of normalcy may get a lot of people killed.

It is what it is. I breathe, exhale, relax – and let that go, for now, with self-reminders to remain “socially distant”, for real. Honestly, though, aside from the working from home piece, it’s not all that different for me. I tend not to “gather in groups”, generally. lol

…Why does “piece” look spelled incorrectly? Weird.

I consider the work day, in the context of the week in progress. I consider my current “sanity project” during this challenging time; my aquarium has been a source of fun, of work, of further developing project management skills, of connecting with my Traveling Partner… well-chosen for a balance of interesting details, required planning, and effort. His project seems to provide him similar value, although it is very different. We share the details in conversation, and give each other a hand with things that need “an extra pair of hands” (I could not have moved the aquarium to the other side of the fireplace, for example, without his help, and practical thinking).

Do you have a project to occupy your thoughts? A good book to read? Are you spending quality time with yourself?

I sip my coffee, feeling mostly content, in spite of a news feed that very much reads like the banner headlines from a mobile game called “Plague“. It’s a little too real world right now… Here’s a video of an actual doctor talking about playing the game.

I glance at the time. Still time to meditate before work. More important than ever. 🙂

 

Well, I must say, I’m already a bit “over” the continuous 24/7, all-channels, all-topics, doorbell-to-deck, coverage of COVID-19, pandemic or not. Seriously. There still remains so much else to also observe, discuss, and yes, enjoy. Having said that, I am staying home, working from home on work days, and doing only those things that can be done in that context. I’m fortunate to enjoy a comfortably merry, loving, and emotionally connected relationship (this partnership certainly reduces the potential loneliness of “social distancing”). I am reaching out to friends over text message (I gave up most social media some while ago, and kept only Instagram). Friends I haven’t heard from in a while are regularly surprising me with text messages, too. It’s fine. Limiting, but generally not a big deal.

I went to the grocery store, yesterday. The aisle that usually has paper products such as facial tissue, toilet paper, and paper towels looks like an old photo of soviet era shortages in iron curtain countries. The parking lot of the grocery store was nearly full, but the store was weirdly empty; people who do go out seem to be doing so alone. The streets are quiet. No “traffic”, even during “rush hour”, which no longer seems to exist (here). The trip to the store felt almost exciting – an “outing”! I got the staples I needed, stayed well back from the cashier as I paid, used hand sanitizer frequently, and did not converse with passers-by. Mostly fairly typical for me, except the additional distance, and the hand sanitizer.

I filled the gas tank of the car, while I was out, and chuckled to myself about “how long will this tank last?” knowing I am not going out much. Then I felt a bit of anxiety and a re-thinking on that; how long will gas stations be able to stay open, and resupplied? I took a breath, and exhaled with care. It’s not helpful to borrow panic from future such concerns, presently. I think about the panic-buying of toilet paper, and the impact on people who did not succumb to panic in that moment, who now struggle just to buy what they actually do need, while others sit on vast hoards of toilet paper that will likely last them into next year. I frown, to myself, aware that there is already identifiable profiteering going on, for products such as toilet paper, on eBay. We could do better, as a society, and as human beings.

…So… Do better.

It’s a complicated time. I am grateful for, and appreciative of, those that are still on the job, still interacting with the public, still providing critical services. I am also, admittedly, harshly critical of those businesses not willing to maximize the safety net for their employees, preferring to maximize profit instead. It’s also an election year; the posturing, the spin, and the insider trading are galling in times like this. I’m grateful for honest news, where it exists, and so glad that comedy continues. Art. Science. Music. These things are still real, still going on. Creators still create. The world continues to turn.

…I think about spending time in the studio, myself…

I read, this morning, that ISPs and streaming service providers are beginning to make decisions to limit bandwidth. I cynically wonder how they will turn that to their profit when the pandemic wanes? I hit my vape. I sip my coffee. I type some words and plan the day ahead. Saturday on a (for me) long weekend. The vernal equinox, something I generally celebrate “out loud”, passed by sort of without notice this year. Fairly certain I never mentioned it, myself. I commit to enjoying the time I am sharing with my Traveling Partner, and doing what I can to make that time merry, and even productive. Bills get paid, and great care given to the budget; there are still a lot of unknowns, for all of us. It is what it is.

Today, my project is both a bit of work, and a bit of entertainment – a lot of bother; I’ll be setting the aquascaping of my aquarium right, after living with the chaotic, rather haphazard and sloppy outcome of moving the tank here, almost 3 years ago.

The day the tank arrived at the new place. This shot was taken before the water even had time to completely clear up.

The tl;dr is that the moving team that moved the tank was at the end of their work day when they finally arrived at my place with my tank. They had one more job yet to go to, and were feeling rushed… so… they rushed the work. The large river rocks that decorate my tank were not placed with care, nor were the paperweights that function as the ornaments. The plants were sort of just dropped in, without being correctly anchored at all, and where they were anchored, they were not where I wanted them. (I’d have to re-do all of it, myself, and I knew it at the time.) I settled for “good enough, now just go, please” and went on with things, expecting to have plenty of time for restoring order to that bit of chaos… once I finished getting moved in and settled.

Life happens, and change happens, and within a couple weeks of moving in, my Traveling Partner relocated for work. Then I began an almost weekly “commute” back and forth to see him each weekend (almost), which meant my only leisure time for big projects was on weekends that I did not travel (and often those were selected based on exhaustion, or illness), and in the evenings (when I could generally count on being “too tired”). The chaos got worse, and after a prolonged power outage, most of the fish died. The tank sat quietly, being little more than an aquatic garden of sorts. Over time, after the last fish finally died, I began to ignore it, and after awhile, even became rather embarrassed by it.

Yeah, it got this bad. Inadequate filtration. Lack of routine maintenance. Heater failed.

After my Traveling Partner moved back in with me last year, I started considering taking it down to reclaim the space for something else… Then, I spotted something unexpected. One solitary surviving resident.

Shy clown pleco spotted hiding behind a glass paperweight. One of my original fish, purchased in 2013.

Well, that certainly changed things for me. I got excited about my “universe in a box” all over again (and a bit peeved at myself for being such a poor care-provider). I cleaned the tank. I upgraded the filter, the heater, and the lighting. I began restocking. Today it is a vibrant little planted freshwater community, populated by shrimp, tetras, snails, a betta, and of course, my wee clown pleco, now almost 7 years old.

This morning, after so much work (over the past couple weeks), with much still left to do. 🙂

It still needs some pruning, some tidying up, and I’ve certainly got the time at home this weekend to tackle the aquascaping more seriously. So. With some trepidation, I think I shall. Part of the plan, and the timing, and the “order of operations” is also to do with moving the tank to the other side of the fireplace to make better use of the space. (And, finally, there won’t be two light switches in every photo of the tank!) The needs are different for two people living here, than for one. 🙂 So much work. So much fun. So much love. Plenty to challenge me, and stave off any potential for boredom.

My perspective on my circumstances changes when I understand how other lives may be affected by my choices. (Pictured: a much happier, still shy, clown pleco.)

This is my life in the time of pandemic. It’s not perfect. There are challenges. There are opportunities. There is “room to grow”. There is this strange moment in my lifetime that holds so much potential to become “that time when we all reconnected”, and I hope to take advantage of it. What about you? What will you do with your time at home? How will you deepen your relationships? Where are your opportunities to grow as a person? Will you make use of the time well and wisely… or… not?

It is another time to begin again. 🙂 (However bad things may become, I know I can begin again.)

I sat for a long while, this morning, quietly watching the fish swim in the aquarium. Shrimp, small fish, a couple of snails, and lush green plants, shifting in the gentle current created by the filter pump, presenting a tiny living world to my delighted eyes. It was a pleasantly timeless moment of contentment, joy, and solitude. Still and quiet. Calm. Satisfying. Emotionally nourishing. 🙂

They don’t vote, and aren’t worried about the latest virus.

…The world is a fairly scary mess right now. Corruption. Pandemic. Greed. Deceit. It is at times quite horrifying. Other times, it seems awkwardly tedious with the weight of lessons we never seem to learn, as a global society. We’re too connected to view world culture any other way. Our survival as a species is so obviously linked with each other in this age of connectivity. It is, too often, very hard to watch. So… I take a moment for me, and watch the fish swim. 🙂

Better than television. Reliably more truthful.

More often than not, there is nothing in the news that is truly urgent or new. Most of what we see, read, and hear, is in some way a repeat of something we’ve seen, read, or heard before. I remind myself, regularly, to let all of that go, in favor of walking in the sunshine, enjoying the garden on the deck, or watching the fish swim. These are by far better quality moments of existence, and life is already so very finite… better to enjoy more of these gentle pleasant moments that to become mired in what is not so very news-worthy after all. 🙂

I smile contentedly into the empty cup that was once my morning coffee. Seems like a good time to begin again.

Yesterday was… interesting. Yeah, but… not in that “wow, what a day!” sort of interesting day, filled with unexpected delight. Nope. Just… “interesting”. Human. It started delightfully enough, with shared coffee with my Traveling Partner. A chill, connected, contented, moment together is a wonderful start to a work day. The work itself was busy, and largely satisfying. Definitely within my abilities. The commute – either way – wasn’t particularly bad, but it is there, in those vehicular moments that I began to take note of how interesting this human experience so often is. It was in the peculiar, occasionally wholly inexplicable, decision-making of other drivers on the road… quite a few “wtf?” moments out there on the city streets. (Drive safely – surely someone would like you to arrive at your destination free of injury?)

So…work. Then home. I made dinner. It was good, satisfying, maybe a bit much… still. Dinner, made at home, enjoyed in the company of my Traveling Partner. It was a pleasant evening.

I found myself exceedingly drowsy after dinner, and figured I’d “lay down for a minute” – plenty of time, it was fairly early, and my partner was engaged in a game, and likely would be until a bit later. We had plans to share some favorite content, a couple hours later on, so… a nap? Sure, why not? Probably wouldn’t actually sleep

…My partner woke me in time for the show we had planned to watch. We watched it. I pretty much just went back to bed after it ended…

Painful stomach cramps woke me. Sometimes the awkward challenges and discomfort of this human form are worse than inconvenient. I got up after sweating a few restless uncomfortable minutes, expecting that tummy trouble might signal being sick. Yeah… symptoms at both ends kept me up awhile longer. Unpleasant. Fairly gross. Very human. I got back too sleep after the worst of it… um… “passed”. (lol) I even slept well. The morning, this morning, feels very routine in most respects… and rather less “interesting”, so far.

Ups. Downs. Twists. Changes. Success. Failure. Progress. Setbacks. Fair weather. Foul weather. Illness. Health. Romance. Heartbreak. So much human experience to cram into a single lifetime, that we routinely express such things as simple dichotomies – opposites on a gradient we generally ignore. Easier that way, isn’t it?

I smile and sip my coffee. It’s a good morning to begin again. 🙂