Quarantine Reads #1

Monday, April 20, 2020


It’s not Friday, but these are not Weekend Reads anyway. Welcome to a new edition of #weekendreads, the one I hope won’t stick for too long.

The last time I wrote here, I let you know I would be traveling to the States the following week.  (Haha.) Time for a little update. If you don’t want to read, feel free to scroll and find the link stash below!

So, it was the first third of March; Italy was having a hard time, but we had less than five cases of people positive with coronavirus in Serbia. There were less than 2,000 cases in the whole of States. The situation was less than ideal, I know. But I would be sensible, I thought. I would wash and/or disinfect my hands regularly; I won’t come into close proximity with others. I was planning to visit the museums alone, eat alone and wander the cities alone anyway, so I had minimum worries.

The day before my flight, my colleagues were joking about my having to stay in the US for longer than planned due to coronavirus, but I still had the intention of going. Honestly? I was so invested in my plans and wanted to go so much for YEARS, plus, it costs money. I had been saving for this for months, and I didn’t feel like shaking it off like a person who doesn’t care whether she has several hundred euros that she paid the ticket with, or not. Because I’m not that person, and for me, that’s a lot of money.

I got up that day at 4.30 AM, and a taxi was supposed to pick me up at 5. My bag was packed, and at 4.45, I read that Trump would be suspending flights from the EU on the following day.  Serbia is not in the EU, and my flight was direct, so no worries there. Even if they extended the suspension to include Serbia, it would come into power the day after my flight. But, as I painfully realized, I might fly out now and not be able to come back in two weeks. We don’t know how the situation will progress and what other measures would be imposed by both Serbia and the US. I canceled my taxi, undressed, and cried myself to sleep. I slept for 12 more hours, and then I devoured all the junk food I could find.

The situation unfolded quickly from there. Serbia closed its borders within several days, museums and restaurants in the States closed as well. 😄 I asked to revoke my PTO so I could go back to work on the following Monday. Back to work I went, but I haven’t been to the office since that day they wished me a safe flight. For more than a month, I’ve been working from home, and for more than a month, I’ve mostly stayed inside, probably like a lot of you.

The first month I felt fine. I felt more than fine. I am a homebody, and sometimes I don’t mind staying inside for several days in a row. I found that I didn’t really mind staying in for much longer. It’s cozy and there’s the internet. I have so much stuff I’ve been filing away to do “one day when I have free time.” With no time to spend commuting and no errands to run outside and people to meet, I thought this might be the time, and started planning to attend online courses, carving fitness routines, making new meals, reading new books, watching new movies and TV series. It turned out, however, that with the full-time job, I only gained about an hour or two in a day that I didn’t have before, and to do all those things, I would need much more. So TV series it has been. I’ve been watching everything, and I’m not even nearing the end of my list. (But I’ve conquered a fair share of it.) Am I ashamed this is the way I’m spending my isolation? Yes and no. I guess I could do something better. But this works for me, for now, and I truly enjoy crossing things off my lists, be they as mundane as episodes of a TV show everyone saw three years ago.

Then sometime last week, I crumbled. I have been more than well mentally, a luxury I know not many have had—again, I credit my introversion and my love of staying in. But even as I thought I was fine, my mind must have felt otherwise, or it just snapped, as staying in is more pleasurable when it’s a choice, I guess. For several days I didn’t feel like doing anything, I had a hard time concentrating at work, and I couldn’t do any housework. It reminded me of a tough time back in 2016 when my behavior resembled that of a depressed person. I’m fine now, but it served as a gentle reminder that I don’t have to have my shit together because, for heaven’s sake, we’re living through a pandemic. 

I think I’ll start a new TV show today. I don’t feel the slightest tinge of jealousy (I thought I would!) of those who are learning a language or doing pilates or painting. I’m happy for them as much as I am for myself! 

Soon after the isolation started, as you know, we all kind of agreed that this is not the gift of free time we have been given, but a hard time we need to get through somehow. I am grateful I get to work at home; I'm grateful to get to work at all, because not everyone has been this lucky. I am grateful my family and friends are physically well and none of them has fallen ill. I am grateful to the women at cash registers of grocery stores, who, apart from doing their job, are also on the receiving end of people’s anxiety and just plain rudeness. I am grateful to medical personnel from afar, hoping it stays that way. I am grateful to people staying in when the weather is beautiful even though they would prefer to go outside to meet other human beings. If you’re not one of those, you might be an awfully selfish creature. Please think about refraining from doing so because yes, I know it’s hard, but let’s have it hard for a little while all together, so we could go out any time soon and not in September.  

If you’re staying in and doing all the things my imaginary self would love to, I applaud you. But I also applaud you if you’re staying in and just managing to get through the day. This is a new setting for everyone, and whatever you do to cope, I’m sure it’s just fine. (As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone—and again, not following the recommendations on physical distancing hurts everyone!)

I spent a lot of time reading online, and I’d love to share with you everything I think you may find useful or funny. A great portion of the links have something to do with the pandemic and the situation we’re in—I guess that’s normal? It’s not like we can pretend we’re not living it, after all…

On Distancing and Being More Alone Than Usually

The dos and don’ts of social distancing. 

Also, people worldwide suggested we used the term “physical distancing” because it’s important we actually do maintain social ties. 

If you live alone, does it feel too weird now to spend basically all your time alone? If so, this article may help.

(This is a New York Times link, and non-subscribers have access to, I think, 10 articles a month. Bear this in mind if you read something from there, so you can choose between articles I linked here.)

On The Brave People

The view from the front lines of NYC’s public hospitals.

I might have teared up—coronavirus healthcare workers are putting their photos on PPE so patients see their smiles.

On Mental Health and Coronavirus

For all of those who are having an unusually hard time in this situation—it’s okay.

If you cannot really name your feelings because they’re weird, you might as well be grieving. (NYT) 

The situation we found ourselves in can elicit a range of reactions and emotions. It’s normal we don’t all cope in the same way—and if you think someone is overreacting, don’t tell them so

Are you confused about NOT feeling bad right now? That’s fine too. It’s okay to feel an array of feelings, even joy!

“Mid-April can be stressful in a normal year, body-image-wise, especially online. As if the perennial Instagram posts quietly pushing you to sculpt a “beach body” weren’t enough, how about a little pandemic pressure on top of it?” How to deal with feeling bad about your body in isolation

On Spending Your Time Doing This or That and Your Feelings Around It

I loved this article on wuliao, the opposite, one could say, of productivity. 

This was an essential thing to post: contrary to what influencers say, you don’t have to make the most out of a pandemic.

For those of you thinking of starting a hobby. (Remember, not something you have to do!)

But if you want to take more care of your body in isolation, this is for you. (NYT)

Are you checking news all.the.time? You might be addicted. Here’s how to break it

For those of you who have run out of ideas for lunch. (NYT)

Also, here’s how you can use one ingredient instead of the other.

If a spring cleaning is on your to-do list, here are 50 easy tasks you can spread out instead of feeling overwhelmed at once.

On Relationships

Working from home can be a challenge if your partner also works from home. Here’s how you can lessen the stress of the situation.

If you really want to hear uplifting words (who doesn’t!), maybe say them yourself, to someone else

For some, being isolated at home means living with an abuser. Here’s how to cope if this is your situation. Please send it to someone you think may find it useful. You’re not alone and I’m sending you love. If you're in Serbia, refer to the info in this tweet

On Being Cultured Online

Just several links I bookmarked for myself!

On Everything Else

Have you seen any of the “quarantine concerts”? 

Chicago Zoo let its penguins roam free and meet other habitants!

And goats roam free in a now deserted Welsh town!

Looking forward to this documentary on Hilda af Klint.

I loved this: a temporary email you can use for 10 minutes when subscribing to something! 

A beautiful read by Kottke—Some people.

To end this post, here’s a list of things I had wanted or planned to do while “this” lasts. This is to hold myself accountable (though I would need many moons to achieve it all), and/or to give you ideas if you’re looking for any.

  • Clean up your computer desktop.
  • Read something. (There’s a stash of books on my night table.)
  • Cook something new.
  • Bake something new. (This is for you entirely—as everyone who follows me on Twitter knows, I don’t have an oven.)
  • Pick a director and watch all his movies. (How stupid that a director that has that many movies is almost definitely a “him”! I was thinking Wes Anderson or Quentin Tarantino.)
  • Or find female directors and watch their movies.
  • Work out, but like, really. (My favorite Natacha Oceane 😍 has so many home-friendly HIIT exercises on her Insta!)
  • Tidy your Bookmarks.
  • Make a music playlist of current favorites, or a jogging one, working one, studying one…
  • Take a walk outside, maintaining the necessary distance with passers-by. Do it more regularly than once a week. 😆
  • If you’re not isolating alone, play board games with the family/roommates/partner. If you are, find some games online.
  • Do yoga with Erin Motz.
  • Try all nail polishes you have to see if they’re all usable (and toss those that are too thick even after several drops of acetone). 
  • Tackle eye makeup, shadows and eyeliners alike.
  • Write short stories, and oh, that novel you started in 2015. ain’t gonna write itself. 
  • Check in with people you care about.
  • Check in with yourself.

I hope you’re safe and well. Take care.



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