A Reader's Self-Distancing Diary (Thoughts, Feelings, and Practices from Week 1)

Hello, readers. I wrote a post several days ago recommending entertainment for your home stay, and while I wish I had more updates on what I’m reading and watching and doing, I think it’d be easier just to describe what I’m thinking and feeling. I need to process, and this is a place for me to do that!

Today we are concluding the first full week since my husband’s school dismissed for COVID-19, not because there were any cases in the district but because they wanted to avoid that reality as long as possible. The unofficial date of return is April 6th, but that is not a guarantee. Only a guess for the time being.

Since that day I have left the house twice: one library run before they closed their doors indefinitely (there was no one in the building, and that eased my nerves moderately) and a lunch at my in-laws home. That’s it.

I keep picking up books and putting them back down. I can’t focus, honestly. I just finished Olive, Again (with the help of a glass of wine, because it was just getting too real out there in the world) last night, and I really enjoyed being in that literary community again. Olive Kitteridge is abrupt and honest and unlike most other people, so I recommend you get to know her first in the novel of her name (Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout). More about this book in my monthly wrap-up, but I really liked this perspective on life and death and aging, and it might have made me mellow a bit when faced with the current world predicament. But just a tad. Life moves more slowly for the title character, and that made me slow down a bit, too.

Pictured Above: Scoutaroo guards the sacred new Plum Paper arrival.
(I mean, it’s BEAUTIFUL, am I right?)

To be honest, I’m feeling really anxious. My Plum Paper planner came in the mail (it’s beautiful), and while I was very excited, I also couldn’t stop wondering when the next time I would need to put something on the calendar would be. You might think that this not-really-but-highly-recommended quarantine of an entire nation would be welcome for me, an introverted observer. There’s something totally different about not having the option to leave, the fact that our whole American system and way of life has been effectively paused and there’s no certain knowledge as to when we can hit “play” again. And I’m terrified for everyone: the people I follow on instagram, my friends, my family, myself. The great mass of people in the world I don’t know who are prey to this unbiased and hungry viral infection.

I want to buy books (that I don’t need), but I’m worried about the packaging. I went to the library before they closed their doors, but I’ve been afraid to get the books out of my bag because I don’t know what germs are on them. My husband left the house and I demanded his clothes go directly into the washing machine when he got home, during which time I forced him to shower as I disinfected all the items he brought with him. It feels like I’m bordering a bit on paranoia, honestly.

Ultimately, I had to say that I couldn’t look at Facebook more than twice a day. Most of the fear is rooted from what I read there. Instagram isn’t so scary, so I haven’t limited that yet. I’m trying to spend my time staying busy, even better if I can get outside (except, in true Midwest fashion, the weather has been entirely uncooperative this week and doesn’t look so promising for next week, either).

I trust that God has control; I do. I know that, and I recognize that his way is the best way. But that knowledge doesn’t always eradicate fear (we can spend a great deal of time arguing that it should, but I’m feeling particularly human today and vulnerability seems essential). Knowledge, for me, doesn’t always connect with the emotions of the heart– and emotions are so much flimsier than what I know to be true in my own mind.

SO.

I’m doing what I can do:

1. Reading books that aren’t too heavy.

I went to the library because I had a few books on hold come in, otherwise there is no way I would have left the house. But while I was there, I picked up Sophie Kinsella’s I Owe You One. I had it checked out several months ago and didn’t get around to finishing it– now seemed like a good time to try again! I read Confessions of a Shopaholic a few years ago and remember how much fun it was, just compulsively readable.

I don’t often break the book’s spine, but here we are.

The book I pulled off my personal shelf after finishing Olive, Again was The Accidental Beauty Queen. I’m a few chapters in, and it’s everything you expect from a book with a tiara on the cover. Lol. Not too serious, and there’s a French Bulldog, who makes things fun. Also a cute love plot going on, so we’ll see what develops there.

Hopefully, I will get around to reading Southern Lady Code soon. I got it for Christmas and planned to save it for a while, but I remember how much I loved Helen Ellis’s voice and humor when I read American Housewife.

2. Spending more time intentionally in prayer and devotion.

Recently I purchased…ten(?) Bible studies from The Daily Grace Co. and I’ve been reading a devotion from one of their collections every morning. It’s been good, and I always feel like they are applicable to the emotions I’m feeling and having such difficulty understanding.

A smattering of the studies I bought from The Daily Grace, as seen on the Insta.

I’ve struggled with prayer in the past; it’s hard for me to have a seemingly one-sided conversation, but it’s easier when I feel as though he is genuinely the only one with any understanding as to what is going on right now. I can take solace and receive peace from my relationship and communication with him.

3. Trying to build routine.

It’s hard to have a routine right now, especially with a baby. He doesn’t really understand why things have to happen at a certain time, and he definitely doesn’t like it when you aren’t paying attention to him. It does seem, however, that I feel less anxious when I’m moving and working. Doing dishes, switching out the laundry, cooking, organizing. Even this, just writing, can relieve some of the tension. And, of course, dedicating time to my sweet boy and spoiled pup.

I’ve reserved time late in the evening for my husband and I to decompress: talk about the day, watch movies (we’re currently watching through The Hobbit films, then we’ll move on to Lord of the Rings; maybe I should read some Tolkien next). Honestly, this helps more than anything. I’m able to get out of my own head.

My routine is probably not going to work for you, but I suggest that you build your own; nothing worse than aimlessness.

3. Listening to music (and a wide variety of it!).

Apple Music has been my music streaming service of choice for a few years, but I just don’t think their radio stations are the best. Lately, I’ve been spending more time customizing my Pandora stations and streaming that through our Amazon Fire TV. It works wonders, and I don’t have to listen to the same genre or style all the time. Virtually no thought required because they’re doing the work for me. It’s not what I want all the time, but right now it’s taking a little of the decision making work away from me.

Also, listening to a lot of Elton.

That’s all I have for now. I love you all and hold each of you in my prayers as we navigate these uncertain days.

Until next time…happy reading!

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