Inspired by the Bartleby column in last week’s issue of The Economist. “Diary of a home worker: The challenges of concentrating during a lockdown” practically had me in stitches. If you subscribe to The Economist, don’t miss it!
In the spirit that imitation is the highest praise, here’s my (lightly fictionalized) “diary”:
6:10 Wake up and look at the clock. Hold inner debate about going for a run this morning. Roll over.
6:30 Reach for phone to see if running buddy has texted to cancel. She has! Breathe a sigh of relief and text back “No worries – tuckered out from our 9 miles the other day…”
6:31 Receive reply from running buddy saying she’s wiped out from home-schooling her 7th grader with his short attention span and inability to focus on Zoom classes. Text back and thus begin conversation on pros and cons of technology.
7:12 Realize been texting with running buddy for over 40 minutes! And it was all about the internet sucking up time! Oh, the irony. Text goodbye and jump out of bed.
7:15 Open cornflakes box and realize it’s running low. Panic that the store won’t have anymore. Realize with relief that there are 5 more boxes in the pantry from the last Costco run a month ago before Costco started limiting the number of customers and what they could buy. Idly wonder when official rationing will arrive.
7:20 Take coffee and cornflakes out on the porch and stare at the ocean. Happily some things never change. Like The Morning Stare. The ritual of staring at the blue horizon, coffee in hand, is the same at sea or ashore. The best part of the day.
8:00 Start to feel guilty about not sitting down to work. Compromise by looking at emails, most of which are from banks about how they are dealing with covid-19. They’re really just trying to calm us all down so we don’t withdraw all our money. Delete.
8:15 Look over spread sheet of accepted or published articles for which money is owed. Check bank statements to make sure nothing is incorrect. Email editors to remind them of money owed.
8:30 Open blank word document and stare, waiting for inspiration.
8:32 Go to the bathroom.
8:34 Glance over List of Ideas. Decide that all of them will probably be considered callous in view of the pandemic. Has to be about the pandemic.
8:45 Look up news articles about covid-19. Disappear down the rabbit hole.
10:00 Run across article about practicing mindfulness during the pandemic. Get up from computer and sit on the floor to try it out.
10:03 Stomach rumbles. Go fetch a snack. English muffin? Bananas? Go for bananas: they grow in the yard so won’t be affected by rationing or store closures.
10:17 Go back to blank word document.
10:20 Running buddy texts with idea for social coffee break over Zoom. Rush to change out of pajamas and move laundry basket out of view of the computer’s camera.
10:40 Go back to blank word document.
10:41 Look up from desk at Dad’s watercolor of childhood home in British Columbia. Sigh nostalgically for the days when crossing the US-Canada border required only a driver’s license.
10:43 Sigh nostalgically for the days, three weeks ago, when crossing borders was even allowed at all.
10:45 Wonder if will get to see friends from other countries ever again.
10:46 Wonder if will even get to see friends in the continental US ever again.
10:47 Close eyes and remember to be grateful for all the things done and seen in life. Sigh with relief and gratitude for not being sick with the virus.
10:48 Wonder if have in fact contracted covid-19. Go wash hands vigorously. Wipe down keyboard and phone.
10:50 Check email to see if editors have responded about outstanding payments. They haven’t. Start composing long overdue replies to personal emails.
11:46 Tsunami alert siren goes off. Remember that it’s the first day of the month and it’s only the regular test.
11:47 Nuclear missile alert siren goes off. It’s also a test. Or is it the world’s worst April Fool’s joke? Or is it for real?? Are the conspiracy theorists correct??!! Is that what’s next after Bio Weapon Covid-19??? Panic!!
11:49 Breathe deeply. Console self with knowledge that that brief spurt of covid-19 panic buying will also provide food for weeks in the fall-out shelter. What fall-out shelter? There aren’t any. Shrug. Go back to emails.
NOON Reach the emails from Francophone friends which must be replied to in French. Re-read them all. Decide just don’t have the energy.
12:03 Open the fridge and stare, wondering what to make for lunch. Salad on the grounds the lettuce is the most perishable? Grilled cheese sandwiches because vaguely depressed and comfort food sounds really good right now? Decide on salad since didn’t go for that run this morning.
12:40 Finish salad and eat a piece of bread and cheese anyway.
12:47 Eat a square of chocolate. Eat a second.
12:55 Go back to blank word document.
13:00 Go out for a walk before that rain cloud that’s hovering to the south gets any closer.
13:10 Happen upon neighbor also out for walk. Feel awkward and embarrassed about standing 6 feet apart to converse.
13:20 Decide that intended short walk will be much longer. Feels so good to be out of the house.
14:08 Starts to rain.
15:00 Return from 7-mile walk, drenched from the rain. It was worth it. So much healthier than sitting in front of the computer.
15:02 Take a hot shower, put on dry clothes, and make a cup of tea and a piece of toast and jam. Start to read The Economist.
16:15 Realize been reading The Economist for an hour. Quickly wash up tea things.
16:17 Remember haven’t returned call from friend on the East Coast. Realize it’s too late again now with the time change.
16:18 Go back to blank word document.
16:19 An idea comes! It’s both sailing and pandemic related!
19:30 Stomach rumbles. Just want to finish this paragraph….
19:35 Can’t ignore stomach any longer. Go make dinner.
19:50 Stir the curry around again in the pot. That’ll make it cook faster.
19:51 Do the same to the rice.
20:05 Finally sit down to dinner.
20:30 Wash up dishes. Hold inner debate about going to bed immediately after eating. Tell self once again that earlier dinner would really be healthier.
20:40 Sit down to read. What to choose? The Tao Te Ching to try and get mindful? Ayn Rand to get riled up about the end of civil liberties around the world? On the Beach for some end-of-the-world prophecy? More covid-19 in The Economist? James Michener’s big ol’ tome Hawaii that’s been on the reading list since moving to the overseas territory (ahem, state)?
20:41 Pick up a murder mystery.
21:30 Bed time!