I am writing this from my tiny room in Peebles, in the Scottish Borders, after what could only be described as a rollercoaster of a day. It’s a weird phrase to associate with a time during which I have achieved next-to-nothing, but that’s the nature of the lockdown brain, I suppose.
I began the day by exercising, which would normally be very uncharacteristic of me but working out in some way, shape or form has become practically the only form of routine I have. I’m just grateful that I’ve got a lot of open space in Peebles to run about in. Although, running is a strong verb to use. I took a slightly more ambitious route than usual, which resulted in far more walking than I had anticipated. Running is always a great idea before you start and a terrible idea after you’ve finished.
After exercising, there’s the post-run drift, where I do a series of tasks that on some days constitute self-care and other days constitute laziness. I shaved, which feels obsolete since I haven’t seen anyone important for months, but it stops me from itching 24/7 I suppose. I also spent about half an hour applying layer upon layer of hand cream, because all the hand-washing at the beginning of lockdown gave me lizard hands and they’re only just starting to look human again.
Then there’s lunch, which is when the day began to go downhill. What I eat has become a constant thought nowadays – not a worry per se, but it certainly occupies more space in my brain than I would like. My brother returned from university with a fairly rigorous diet due to his dance training, and he often makes subtle comments about me reaching for an extra biscuit from the tin. They’re almost always jokes, but it’s hard to shake off that insecurity, especially when most of us are less active than usual. My diet has probably improved since being at home, but that’s more because someone else has been shopping for me and I haven’t had the opportunity to buy any of the Cadbury’s Marvellous Creation bars that I love oh so much.
Then there’s the afternoon, during which I try and make concrete plans for what to do – but it almost never happens. I’ve been trying to write and produce music throughout this lockdown, and usually I’m pretty good at working on something, but today I just couldn’t find the inspiration. Trying to be creative in lockdown is near-impossible: you have to wrestle with your pre-existing creative instincts and insecurities, as well as reckon with the fact that lockdown makes it incredibly difficult to focus your attention.
The productivity crisis is one I’m sure many readers are familiar with – the worry that you’re wasting your lockdown time, that you aren’t being productive, that you’re not using your time as effectively as you could be. Of course, many have been exceptionally productive and that is very impressive, but you can’t help but draw comparisons between yourself and others, and it only serves to make you feel bad. I spent a good portion of my afternoon lying in bed wondering if any of these productivity measures are worth it, if I should even bother trying to use my time at all.
Then there’s the Zoom call! I had a Zoom call later on! It was really fun! I love Zoom calls! Except the problem with Zoom calls (especially when in large groups, or not with your immediate friends) is that the dynamics of talking over video call are inevitably very awkward. There’s pressure to fill the silence with something, and it makes them occasionally a little uncomfortable. Something I’ve learned is that if there is some sort of task to do while Zooming – a quiz is probably the favourite – it helps a lot.
Then evening comes and it’s slightly easier to relax. I’m going to go and play Mario Kart after this (I’ve got Animal Crossing burnout: sinking 70 hours into the game within a month was, in retrospect, too much). But the days feel like they are merging into each other and it’s getting harder and harder for this experience in lockdown to feel normal. What keeps me going is the fact that everyone is all in this together. We’re all facing the same struggles and adversities, albeit in different ways. Also, I can’t wait to get drunk with my friends again. That’s fun.