Exiting blah blah Land

Number of days it’s been illegal for me to be in the same room as my best friends:

369 in total, including: one period of self isolation, three national lockdowns, two local lockdowns and two tiers (on three different occasions). 236 consecutive days but NO MORE DAYS NO MORE DAYS NO MORE DAYS NO MORE DAAAAAYSSSS.

Toilet roll situation:

Who cares? You can’t hug a toilet roll. Well, you can, it’s just not nearly as comforting as hugging an oversized teddy or a cat or, in fact, a person. Trust me.

Pasta stocks:

Who cares??? Even worse to hug that toilet roll, especially if it’s spaghetti. Macaroni is probably the best and not just because I have an emotional connection with Mac and cheese. Although, yes. 

Mum’s top sentiment of the day:

I AM GOING TO HUG MY MUM TODAY SO WHO CARES WHAT SHE’S BEEN CHATTING ON ABOUT.

(Unless she says ‘no I don’t want a hug’. Consent is important y’all.)

Bible in a certain time period update:

My super cool spreadsheet now estimates that I will finish on the 21st June, so now going to rename this “Bible in a pandemic.” It’s a good depiction of it all really, in that it’s taken longer than anyone expected or wanted, that parts of it have been slightly underwhelming (here’s thinking back to all the defiling skin disease business), but we’re sort of making progress. 

Pretty much just got some Old Testament, some psalms and Revelations to go and that’s always an upper.

General:

Lots changing! Things! People! Restaurants! Hugs! Housemate back!

Looveeeelllyyy to have the return of another human in the house. While both Boris and Bertie have been great roomies (excrement on the carpet notwithstanding; the cat, not the giant teddy) there are a lot of really good things about upgrading to a companion with, it has to be said, higher conversational capacities. Plus, she cooks things and reorganises cupboards and whatnot, which is great. So far no repeats of #herbgate (RIP Basil) and she comes with a spiralizer for all my spiralizing needs (limited, if I’m honest).

Housemate has been back for over a whole week  now and have learned a lot of things in that time.

  1. Eating meals with other humans is excellent. I really think we were made to eat with company. It’s one of those necessities that goes from “has to be done” to “brilliant, affirming, community building and wholesome” with company. We never really managed to nail eating together properly pre-pandemic, so am excited to commit to creating a new rhythm of eating together. Except breakfast. Can’t be doing with people before coffee. Hate people before coffee. 
  2. Faith is easier with others. Loving watching church with someone, praying with someone, worshipping with someone. Yes yes yes. 
  3. Apparently, we are supposed to have two twenty second hugs a day for our well-being. Therefore we calculated that — subtracting a hug a week after the introduction of support bubbles — I am in a hug deficit of over 24 hours. We considered rectifying this and that commitment and dedication this would involve… and then we decided that Bertie probably counts. So now after another five hours or so I’ll probably let Grace stop holding me. 
  4. For the last week have been following Julia Cameron’s suggestion of a “media deprivation” and am banned from reading, tv, social media, scrolling, emails, messaging etc. Was bored enough that I tried yoga on housemate’s suggestion. After consultation, I have learned that you’re not supposed to do it on 1.25 speed while drinking wine.
  5. I have learned that baths and coffee are good for your brain, which is probably why I’m so devestatingly intelligent. 

Also adjusting to other aspects of real life. 

Outdoor areas at hospitality venues

How great is it to be able to exchange money in order to skip the labour of, days/ week in advance, considering what one might like to consume, walking to the shop, purchasing said items, realising on your way out of Asda that your top four shirt buttons have come undone due to the way your over the shoulder bag sits, battling through the sudden rain storm, wishing that you had purchased less alcohol food and/ or bought your super cool trolly to make carry quantity of alcohol food easier, placing food items in fridge, still wanting selected meal x number of days later, cooking said meal, eating it, loading things in the dishwasher, hoping you have purchased enough dishwasher tablets, putting on the dishwasher, unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the entire kitchen because in the process of cooking freezer chips you have managed to drop a bowl of icing on the floor, melt a chopping board, get cheese on everything and get something sticky and unpleasant on the hob? TAKE MY MONEY RESTAURANTS. HAVE IT. 

Going to work

Have started going to the office about once a week now, mostly to combat the growing inability to dredge up motivation to do literally anything in my house. While occasionally sending Bertie a resentful look and telling him “I’m doing this to put food in your bowl” sometimes helps, sometimes he looks at the perfectly fine food I’ve put in his bowl like I have deeply offended him and chooses to aggressively eat the paper wrapping the toilet paper came in until I give him something else instead. Office is good. Turns out my Christmas trees were still there because last time I was in the office it was November. Decided to embrace Christmas cheer and keep ‘em. Put the lights on and everything. Like to think I’m very popular at the office.

Private outdoor spaces, such as gardens

Lots to say about gardens! 

Firstly, good practice for learning how to communicate with others in group settings without having the option of turning my camera off if I can’t be bothered to make my face look like it’s listening anymore. Good creative exercise in coming up with a different excuse than ‘so sorry, didn’t catch that. Bad internet day’. Also good practice at learning how many blankets / sleeping bags / layers one might need to avoid turning into an ice cube if one chooses to sit outside during the frostiest April for a number of years that I can’t remember. 


(The worst part about this picture is that I got sunburned this day). 

Also, I reorganised the shed. Bought a bench. Committed hard enough to gardening my feelings that I should now have quite a plentiful harvest of angsty tomatoes, aubergines (if that damn white fly haven’t killed em), chillies, peppers, figs, cape gooseberry, onions (red, white, spring), garlic, beetroot, cauliflower, radish, pumpkin, summer squash, courgette, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, strawberries, kale and herbs. Oh and housemate said she wanted to eat more leafy greens because they’re good for helping you grow your brain, or something, so in the name of improving her brain I’ve bought some spinach and lettuce seeds. Oh, did I mention rocket? That too. Apparently, I have a lot of feelings. Who knew?

(Everyone who has heard me whining, basically). 

This is not to mention the epic 2021 sunflower race. You could say my life is pretty exciting. You could also say that I have spent too much money on compost. The latter statement would definitely be true.

Get vaccinated when you are offered it and encourage others to do so

In a plot twist that we’d joked about previously, pals and I were off on another compost run / garden centre trip last Saturday (when, I ask you, when am I going to have enough compost for all my gardening needs), when pal received a text from vaccinator-volunteer-friend saying that there was some of left over pfizer that was going a-wasting and that, if we could get there before 1pm, we could get us some of that immunity. It was approximately half twelve and we were a twenty five minute drive away. Cue beginning an epic quest for increased protection against serious illness!! Arrive with five minutes to spare!! Join a long queue!! Stand outside in the rain unsure whether we’ll be turned away when we get inside!!

Pal says “I nearly wore my waterproof, then I decided that we were just getting out of a car and going into the garden centre” as the rain steadily makes us wetter and colder. I say “I nearly bought my umbrella but decided I didn’t need it” as we discuss how waterproof our shoes are. Never mind!! Six billion months of pandemic has prepared us for this. We have socialised outside – at a social distance – in rain, in snow, in December, in the dark, in gazebos and while pretending a parasol is equivalent to an umbrella. We are not put off by rain!!!


(Three days later, I got something out of my handbag and realised that I did actually have the umbrella with me all along, I just thought I didn’t. I haven’t told pals this yet. My bad.)

An hour or so later, we walk out, jabbed up, stage-1 vaccinated and pleased but confused about the group road trip to the vaccination-station. 

Later, slightly regret buying five fifty litre bags of compost as we try to transport these from car to garden with dead-arms. The attempt to use the bin as a trolley is questionable. Housemate arrives just before three bags of compost nearly land on my head,

In all the excitement, I end up slightly late for our second fake Christmas with the housemate, which we have decided to celebrate quarterly. 

Indoor hospitality venues

Today, I am officially embarking on one of the least pandemic-y experiences I’ve had for the last six thousand months. I am going to eat brunch inside (INSIDE!!!) a restaurant then go on holiday with my parents, who are not members of my household, and spend annual leave with other people in a place that is not Bradford.

On the beach. The beaaaaachhhhh. 

Of course, it’s tipping it down with rain and is due to continue to do so alllll week. Still.

(When I took annual leave at Easter I started writing a blog post called “101 ways to use annual leave when literally everything you want to do is illegal” but it turned out that I peaked at point 6, “create a logic puzzle game to play alongside watching the trash television show ‘are you the one?’ whereby you have to work out the matches before they do using logic.” After such gems as that, you’re pretty much left with paint by numbers, Netflix and continuing to garden your feelings). 

The feels

Feel tiny bit like I’m coming alive again, although this little ditty skirts over the parts of my psyche that’s clinging onto the safety of hibernation, or the parts that are kicking and screaming about all the change. Loveeee my housemate, but also miss my bubble who have been my People ™, although now we can reinstate Bubble Plus Dinner ™ when I’m back from holidays. Am discovering little wells of places in which I am Not Okay, all these little solo-pandemic-er hangovers where I have internalized lots of fear about loss of control and being forced into isolation again, which is fun. And by fun I mean crap. But it’s good. Aloneness is different to loneliness. They’re adjacent, but not the same, and mostly I have been just alone rather than lonely, but it still takes this special kind of energy to do it for a long time. Now that I don’t have to do that I feel well rested for probably the first time in my entire life, because for once I’m not under-introverted and too busy. I want to keep that, but I also want to do things. Go places, see people, laugh, live, hide all weekend to garden and grow nice food to give to people I like. And help housemate eat her way to be a better brain. It’s all a lot and occasionally too much, with lots of things all stuffed into the big blender of emotions that is the human experience, so at this time I like to remind myself of the constants that have remained true before, after and during this coronavirus business. 

10 things about life that were disappointing before the pandemic and are still disappointing now:

  1. When you get liquid in your washing up gloves and the fingertips get all squishy and you have to admit defeat or turn them inside out to dry them out.
  2. When you take things out of the dishwasher and they’re not entirely clean so you have to rinse them again.
  3. That unless you strip your bed and get naked, it’s impossible to finish laundry.
  4. That even though my cat goes outside now, he’d rather crap in my front room than in my neighbours garden (I don’t hate my neighbours which is biblically ill advised, just aiming for some quid pro quo, eye for an eye, cat poo on my grass for cat poo on your grass deal).
  5. British weather.
  6. That in the last two weeks I: left an extension cable under the part of my conservatory that leaks when it rains excessively and fused all my electrics, found a bit of broken plate on the floor with unknown providence when hoovering, broke a glass at 11:30pm and had to hoover up glass shards rather than sleep, that the next day I spilt red wine all over my carpet at 11:30pm and had to stain remove rather than sleep and then the next day I broke the freezer drawer.
  7. When you say “man I’m going to sleep well tonight” because you’re completely exhausted and then you lay awake for hours wondering why you ever, ever said that.
  8. That even the things you own to clean other things have to be cleaned.
  9. That every weekday when my alarm goes off I feel like I am a vampire that has just been raised from the dead and I have to convince my pathetic corpse of a body that it wants to leave the perfect cocoon of bed and put on less comfortable clothes and arrange my limbs in a less comfortable way on a less comfortable surface and do things that are less nice than sleep, but the second it’s a weekend I wake up naturally at 7am feeling like a regular spring chicken.
  10. Bin juice.

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