Ideas for Projects at Home while Social Distancing

Some things to get on with, my ideas:

  • Clean up this blog – I’ve been meaning to do this for ages and now have no excuse not to get on with it. There are posts on here from 2005 (!!!) and I want to go through it all, see what I want to keep, clean up images etc.
  • Do more regular blogging – work through that backlog of rough drafts and ideas
  • Do some DIY – I hate DIY (rubbish lesbian) but I’ve got a kitchen trolley to put together and I need to order a desk for the spare room, especially now I’m working from home
  • Sort out the spare room – see above
  • Work through the TBR list which currently stands at about 80 books
  • Establish that daily yoga practice I’ve been going on about
  • Watch all those movies I’m always saying I don’t have time to watch
  • Do some drawing, another thing I’m always saying I want to get back into
  • Research my hobbies, such as how to identify fossils and different bird songs.

My COVID-19 Feelings Dump

I feel bad about writing this post because, honestly, we are in a much better position than so many other people right now. We both have steady jobs, which we can do from home, and our employers are doing their best to be supportive. We have a pleasant flat to stay in and live in a quiet area where we can go out for some walks without getting close to other people. And we don’t have to try and cope with homeschooling anxious, upset children at the same time as trying to do our jobs. My mother is a worry, at eighty years old, but she’s being sensible and staying inside, and she doesn’t have any underlying health conditions. Overall, we are very, very lucky. I’m aware that it could be so much worse.

But the situation still SUCKS and we have to let ourselves feel our feelings. There’s no point in trying to repress the disappointment, fear, resentment, anger etc. So, I’m going to allow myself one feelings dump, after which I’ll do my best to be as positive and constructive as possible.

After a couple of weeks of stress and anxiety, during which most of my energy has been taken up by urgent tasks – cancelling everything, sorting out working from home, supporting colleagues and preparing my mother for self-isolation – reality has only started to hit me this weekend. I’ve been feeling depressed, tearful and very resentful. Our routines are massively disrupted and we’ve had to cancel everything we were looking forward to over the next couple of months. Like everyone else, I’m worried about when, and if, things will get back to normal.

But for me, personally, the worst thing is feeling that my hopes for a peaceful year are now scuppered. I know this is self-indulgent and not important in the big scheme of things, but I had finally got myself to a place from which I thought I could start healing from the emotional battering I’ve taken over the last few years.

I’ve been so sad and tormented by a thing I can’t even speak about publicly because it’s something that almost no one would understand or sympathise with and I just can’t bear to add to the pain by inviting scorn and derision. It’s my problem and I have to learn to deal with it somehow, but this does make it feel like I have a horrible festering wound.

From January this year, though, the ‘thing’ that had been triggering all this emotional angst will be less present in my life and I was really hoping that I might get some mental peace, the chance to rebuild a bit of emotional resilance, perhaps even to start exploring the possiblity of healing.

I don’t think I’m going to get much mental peace and I have to face this new crisis from a place where I’m still feeling emotionally pretty raw and my internal resources are depleted. I’m grieving stuff and trying to deal with trauma issues and now I have to deal with COVID-19 as well. Blah!

So, that’s my self-indulgent FEELINGS dump. Now I’ll try and practice acceptance and think about what I can do from this point forward.

Sunday post: Library Cards & Lesbian Movies

Life

Mental health has not been great this week. Waking up at 3 or 4am on two nights with bad dreams, which then caused spirals of negative self-talk and upsetting thoughts during the day. I’ve been doing my best to take care of myself, keeping up my exercise, going to yoga and having almost daily walks on the local wetlands reserve.

My friend Magpie at Midnight had a baby, so that’s pretty amazing.

One good thing I did this week was go and get myself a new library card. After several years of neglect, I’m determined to start using my local library again.

Reading

I’m currently reading My Real Children by Jo Walton (from the library) and really enjoying it.

Television

I’ve started watching Silent Witness from the beginning. It seems like a show I could get into and I like to do things in order. The first season is taking itself extremely seriously but I’m enjoying the way Amanda Burton’s character comes across as a giant lesbian, even though I know she isn’t supposed to be.

Film

We went to see Portrait of a Lady on Fire this evening and it was excellent.

Music

I haven’t listened to much this week, so here is a song by Townes Van Zandt who would have been 76 on 7 March and is one of my all-time favourite country singers.

Sunday Post: End of February

Life

My goal this week was to get through it without letting stress take over my life. I knew it was going to be busy at work, and when this happens, I tend to let self-care drop just when I most need to keep it up.

I delivered online training on Tuesday, went to Mid Wales for an all-day meeting on Wednesday, and gave a presentation to an important meeting on Thursday.

Overall, I managed the stress pretty well. I kept up other activities and didn’t have any anxiety attacks. I even had drinks with colleagues on Friday which was nice. I’m quite pleased with myself for being sociable.

I went to an LGBT History Month event on Saturday which was really good. The speakers were all excellent and it was good to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen for a while. I learned about this project, Out in the Museum, which started at the V&A in London and is now being picked up by other museums across the UK. There was also a showing of a powerful short film, Invisible Women, about intersections between women’s and LGBT rights activism in the 1980s.

We were planning to see Portrait of a Lady on Fire but my partner has a cold so we’ll try and see it next weekend.

Reading

I finished Nalo Hopkinson’s short story collection, Falling in Love with Hominids. It’s a really good collection and well worth reading, although the stories were much closer to horror than I expected. Proper post to follow.

Pride and Prejudice is my current bedtime book.

Television

Mainly watching Schitt’s Creek at the moment.

Music

I’ve been listening to Nina Simone this week after twitter reminded me that 21 February was her birthday. So many incredible songs, but I think my favourite – right now anyway – is ‘Sinnerman’. The energy of this performance grabs me every time.

Sunday post: soup and stonechats

A round white bowl full of a red tomatoey soul with red peppers and chickpeas
Chickpea minnestrone

Life

I’ve been feeling the caffeine withdrawl this week. Despite sleeping well, I’ve been irritable and fatigued, especially in the mornings. I hope my body adjusts to lower levels soon.

But I did some useful stuff. Got my hair cut and went shopping for clothes for work. I ran into someone from my past with whom I had a bit of a difficult relationship, but it went okay.

I had a couple of nice birdwatching walks on the nearby wetlands. I saw goldfinches, dunnocks, stonechats, greenfinches and some weird ducks which I don’t know how to identify.

We’ve been cooking from my beloved copy of Flavour by Ruby Tandoh. We made the tomato couscous, the quinoa with roast cabbage and the chickpea minnestrone.

Television

We finished up The Good Place. I wasn’t very impressed with the show’s ultimate take on the afterlife, but I did think the finale was a powerful episode about grief and loss. I cried through it and have been crying off and on today when I think about it.

Reading

I finished reading Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. A useful book and post to come. I’ve almost finished Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson and The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths.

Music

The album of the week is Dark Chords on a Big Guitar, (2003) an album of cover versions by Joan Baez. Top track, ‘Motherland’ by Natalie Merchant.

Sunday Post: Rainy Birthday thoughts

A round white bowl containing red lentil soup topped with green kale
Lemony lentil soup with crispy kale by Anna Jones

Life

I turned forty-three on Monday. February is not a great time to have a birthday. It’s dark, the weather is usually dreadful and no one has any money after Christmas. We made the best of it, despite wind and heavy rain. We had lunch with my mother and went out for a nice meal in the evening. My sister came over yesterday with my brother-in-law and nephew, which was really nice. She bought me a box of plants.

I usually get the blues around the time of my birthday. This isn’t an aging thing (it’s been happening since I was about twenty), it’s more of a feeling that, despite all my efforts, I’m failing to make a mark on the world. Some years it’s worse than others. I felt a bit depressed as the week went on, but not too bad.

My age does throw up some big things to think about, though: impending perimenopause, greying hair, losing the possibility of having children … It’s not that I ever wanted to have children, it’s just a little weird to feel that door finally swinging closed for good. Perhaps I should address it in some way.

I’ve also been reflecting on my mental health this week and thinking about the steps I need to take to achieve some real healing, as opposed to just developing yet more ‘coping skills’. I’m sure some of these topics will become blog posts over the next year.

This week we’ve mainly been cooking from Anna Jones’s book, a modern way to eat. We made the lemony lentil soup with crispy kale (pictured), the chickpea and preserved lemon stew and the ‘proper chilli’.

TV

We watched a couple of Poirot features, Taken at the Flood and After the Funeral. Both were very enjoyable, but I do miss Hastings, Inspector Jap and Miss Lemon from the earlier series.

Film

We went to see the new adaptation of Emma last night. I didn’t think it was particularly good, although it was entertaining to watch. It went for broad comedy which Emma isn’t, so I don’t think that worked! But it was pretty to look at and a pleasant way to pass a couple of hours.

Reading

I haven’t read anything substantial this week. I’ve been picking at Pride and Prejudice and started the next Ruth Galloway novel. Everything else has been on hold.

Music

The album of the Week is Red Rescue by Jaimee Harris. It’s a really fun country rock album and she has a great voice.

Top track, ‘Damn Right’