Sometime ago, in the hazy days when freedom still seemed like a possibility, however faint, I wrote a pile of rubbish.
Writing rubbish isn’t an occupational hazard, it’s inevitable. Most writing is crap in the aesthetic/artistic sense: unrefined, hasty, careless, lacking finesse. Ninety-five to ninety-nine percent of anything I write falls in that category and, for the sake of sanity, has to be accepted as ‘good enough’ otherwise I would never make a deadline.
The article for which I need to apologize isn’t that kind of rubbish. It is pure, unmitigated cringe. My strong inclination is to wipe the pile of twaddle titled ‘10 things to do on coronavirus lockdown‘ from the internet and, if it were possible, from my memory.
What kind of grade-A asshole writes, in the face of a global pandemic, things like:
Always wanted a capsule wardrobe? This is the moment to dig through those chests of drawers, wardrobes, cupboards and shoe boxes and sort the wheat from the chaff. If this current crisis demonstrates anything it’s that certainties aren’t. Stop holding on to that sale-rack outfit you bought for the occasion that never happened.
Do something with your fingers that isn’t typing. Do you draw? Paint? Sculpt? Throw pottery? Play an instrument? Knit? Quilt? Scrapbook? If you do — awesome. Now you have time to throw yourself into it. Get into the flow and lose a few hours, see what you can create.
The smug wanna-be positivity MindBodyGreen-lite-esque-ness of that makes me want to crawl inside my skin and pop my eyes out from the inside.
What moron writes that?
Er, this one.
My words stare at me: the image of myself I don’t want to see.
Worse than silly, worse than naive, worse than tone-deaf, worse than irritating.
Phony. Forced. What she thinks someone (or some algorithm) wants to hear.
Let’s be clear: I have never in my life looked on the bright side. I have never seen the silver lining before the cloud. I have never thought the glass was half-full.
As a kid, I believed neither in Santa nor happiness. Not much has changed.
Though I am conscious of and grateful for the many good things in my life my default setting is not optimism. My primary emotions are boredom, frustration, fear, and disappointment.
Before COVID-19 I worried about dying without having accomplished anything. Now, after 27 days of my own company, unrelieved by the mental-health saving drudgery of work and other people, that meaningless death feels inevitable — and my own fault.
The inescapable fear is that if I were a person who could take my own vapid advice (“If you aren’t already studying something, check out online learning resources”) maybe I would have something to show for 40 years on earth. But I’m not and, it seems, I don’t.
No doubt some people are using quarantine to repaint their cupboards, learn Danish or perfect their eclair recipe. Whoever and wherever you are, I salute you.
Meanwhile, I’ve purged zero items from my wardrobe. I’ve read zero books. I’ve written zero letters. I’ve had sex zero times. I’ve made zero playlists.
What have I been doing?
- Checking the Johns Hopkins coronavirus map.
- Reading the Spanish lockdown rules the way hungry people check the fridge: hoping something new will have appeared since the last time.
- Checking my bank account, hoping something will have appeared since last time.
- Dropping thing, having meltdowns then crying.
- Being cold.
- Having nightmares.
- Watching Father Ted.
- Trying, unsuccessfully, to remember what having freedom, or a libido, felt like.
- Running up and down my driveway.
- Being angry.
There is so much to be angry about. I’m angry at myself, at global capitalism, at politicians, at the old ladies in the grocery store who travel in packs, at the weather, at my inability to concentrate, at my helplessness, at my writing skills, at my ex-boss, at the banks, at timing, at circumstances, at the whole stinking croaking aching joyless goddamn mess.
Whenever, if ever, we get out of it, I’d like very much to see my friends, go to the beach, go to a gig, hug someone without worrying one of us will be mortally sick as a result.
Until then, I’m hanging on by my fingernails, not using this as an opportunity for self-improvement. My sincerest apologies for suggesting otherwise.