56 days of everything and nothing, a small quarantine ramble.
56 days ago, Seattle went into a #stayathome shutdown to slow the spread of the virus. You know, the virus. The C19 pandemic.
For the last couple of months, this world-altering event has dominated my thoughts, my social media feeds, my daily news updates. It's changed mundane tasks, like trips to the grocery store or post office, into anxiety-ridden, sometimes heroic adventures, hinged on careful timing, strategy, and adequately intimidating side-eye.
It's left me broke and resourceful, and both an avid news-junkie and jaded news-burnout. It's made me weird and impatient (and hairier and hornier) than I'd like to admit to the internet. But I know I'm not alone. Not in any of it.
Across the country, many people struggle to stay afloat in the wake of economic upset, or else refresh their work email by the hour, bracing for impact. Others are mourning more than jobs, as thousands more people die each day. Mental and social health must be increasingly prioritized.
And so I feel like I should emphasize early on that I'm grateful, even 56 days later, or especially 56 days later, even if I also dabble in fear. I'm grateful to be healthy. I'm grateful for a network of loving friends. I'm grateful to live in a city that's taken big steps to protect its citizens and that continues to move cautiously, easing back into something a little more familiar (but never again the same).
I'm grateful. And much of the time I'm overwhelmingly hopeful. But shit is still weird. It's disorienting. I'm doing everything and nothing, all at once. All of the projects, all of the art, all of the worry. None of the socializing, none of the outdoorsing, none of the knowing.
56 days ago, Seattle went into a #stayathome shutdown to slow the spread of the virus.
The most notable change for me personally? Surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprising if you know I'm a Taurus sun) the biggest change has come with the shift in my work schedule. A schedule which provided me with not only a sense of what-the-fuck-day-is-it and a steady income, but with a sense of purpose.
When I say my work schedule, I mean the one for my day job, the barista gig I keep to make sure that my freelancing and artistic/writing projects don't send me into a spiral of feast-or-famine-freakout or work-from-home-weirdo isolation mode. I love working for myself, but I also need consistency, something freelance doesn't often provide. It's that Taurus sun I mentioned, balancing that Scorpio moon of mine.
56 days ago, my barista-boss emailed to say that if we got sick, she'd cover our pay for a couple of weeks, but that otherwise we were on our own, and that our hours were going to be cut in half immediately. In half. Just like that. And so they were... my usual four shifts a week became two, and I was suddenly left with a lot more time to wonder what to do with myself. There's been a lot more time for freelancing and art, a lot more time for reflection.
And a lot more time for feast-or-famine-freakout and work-from-home-weirdo isolation mode. It's a balance, right?
I've spent hours and hours at my desk over the last 56 days, creating stop-motion animations and pouring love and attention back into my fiction books. I've revisited poetry projects that I hadn't worked on in years, hearing their rhythm and stories with fresh ears. I'm applying for grants and bidding on new projects with brisk energy and newfound necessity. It's been rewarding in ways I can barely describe. Ways that have nourished a soul I knew was hungry, but not what for. And it's given me clarity, too, on the kinds of work I'm happiest doing and should do more of, when all this is done.
Work to work towards.
56 days later, I love my creative time more than ever. It feels vital and useful and extraordinary. It is, as I've always known, more important to my sense of identity and mental health than nearly any other work I do (more on that later, and the importance of helping others during this painful and challenging time).
And so it's surprising to note that I feel at once like I'm finally, thankfully, focusing on everything I've always wanted to focus on, and also exhausted. I'm grateful and also just splashing around in a fatiguing abyss of uncertainty and capitalist-fueled meaninglessness. I'm making art and figuring out what I want from my time, while also staring off into space at a desk that's covered in paper clippings and markers and bills.
So as much as I'll say make art!, I'll also say rest.
Does this post have a point? I'm not sure. Probably not. Grow your hairs out long if you want to. Give yourself a schedule if you need one. Do everything. Do nothing. I gave up on knowing what's really going on or how I feel about it all days ago. I know I'm not alone in that, either. But I do know this time will pass, and some of the change will be for the better. Some of it always is.
56 days and counting. All I'm trying to say is make art or just make a mess. However we make the best of it.