Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 9

So, a few days ago (weeks? I have no idea… I’m really losing track of time), I was challenged on Twitter to make Beef Fudge. Someone had found a recipe that (I believe) originated in 1960’s Montana.

Challenge Accepted.

Note: I’ve reached that point in lockdown/isolation where I’ll do many things to amuse myself.

First I needed to obtain the roast beef required. I have to say, I’ve eaten well this week. This roast has a mustard and pepper rub in case you were wondering. It worked really well!

The recipe also gave me the opportunity to use some kitchen equipment I acquired a couple of years back when I was dabbling in learning the craft of sausage-making. Also, I have a lot more to learn in the craft of sausage-making. But that’s for another time.

Marshmallow Cream isn’t readily available in NZ (unless you go to places like Martha’s Backyard close by). I made a substitute by melting a pack of marshmallows (put them in a mixing bowl, above a pot of boiling water) and adding 2tbsp of syrup. You’d usually use corn syrup but golden syrup works also.

The end result? Actually surprisingly good. It’s fudge, and it’s not the abomination I thought it might be. Of course, this recipe and resulting product reminds me precisely why I don’t do baking. It’s lethal for those wanting to lose weight.

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 8

I decided for this one I’d focus on the things I am looking forward to (as opposed to focusing on the things I’m missing out on). Please note the positive framing.

In-sink-erator – Oh. This is a biggie. On day 1 of lockdown mine stopped. It hums. I know I can fix it, but do I have the tools? No I do not. They are in storage – a non-essential business. So… no mulching food waste for me. When life is less restrained I will be delighted to be able to correct this enormous inconvenience.

BBQ – I have plans for a Weber charcoal BBQ. Good plans. And it’s on my ‘to-buy’ list. And has been for some time. I was just about to push ‘go’ and then… So after lockdown I am really looking forward to exploring the joy of slow-cooked charcoal-heated meaty joy.

Long drives and walks – I have grown to like these. Being able to drive a distance to places around Auckland I’ve not been to and getting out to see what I can see. To enjoy nature, and to get to understand this place in which I live. Soon. Normality will come back. Soon. Company on such walks always welcomed. Call me.

Teenagers – Mine are largely ambivalent. For them it’s been life as usual albeit without the usual demands on their time around music practice and church commitments. I have to admit that I am rather looking forward to seeing them again. In all their hairy, smelly, teenagery goodness.

Work colleagues – Oh do I have to? Fine. I’m missing my colleagues. It turns out that I’m the annoying guy in the office that checks in on everyone and tries to bring joy. I am really looking forward to that collegial interaction. Professional with some, extremely rude with others. I can’t wait!

Physical touch – All I’m going to say is that there is only so much self-touch one can indulge in without going a bit odd.

A note on gratitude: I have found that for me, whenever the world around me spins out of my control, it’s important to centre. To focus on only that which I can control. Which, of course, may be only focusing on controlling how I react and respond to what is going on.

I’m grateful for this time in isolation. I’ve reflected that I have come a long way in the last three years. The challenges I’ve faced have prepared me perfectly for this current climate.

I’m doing ok.

I hope you are also.

As always, if you need to talk let me know – I’m here.

^SD

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 7

As New Zealand moves into Day 12(?)-ish of this lockdown, reality is starting to bite.

There are reports of people starting to try to bend the rules a little, “just a little”, to suit their own ends. I have been reading what a friend of mine has been through having contracted Covid-19 and recovering and it’s just not worth it.

It’s the reason I don’t visit my adoptive parents – I’m in a bubble of one, they’re in a bubble of two – but they’re in Torbay. I’m in the CBD. They’re also in their 80’s so are absolutely at risk. In fact I started isolating with them five days before the official lockdown took place. I certainly wasn’t prepared to expose them to my teenagers and whatever germs they carry!!

The days are blurring. I think we just had a weekend. I’m not entirely sure. All I did was cook, read, nap, watch movies and go for brief walks. Actually, that’s a darn good weekend. I might do it again soon.

That being said, I actually was looking forward to the ‘work week’. A little more structure and tasks to focus on is healthy. And I have tasks to focus on. Maintaining a routine is important.

I’ve noticed myself withdrawing a little bit. I like my people – their presence, their hugs. I miss them. But in order to make sure I’m not missing human contact, I’m going into my cave… it will be interesting to see how reserved I am when the lockdown ends.

It’s been a bit hard to get in to the work headspace though. Today marks the 2nd anniversary of my birth mother’s passing. She’d have been quite interested in the goings-on of the world today.

I miss you Mum,

I hope you’re all doing ok.

Be kind. Be tolerant. Wash your hands.
^SD

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 6

So. We’ve made it to seven days. It will be interesting to see if we only have three more weeks or whether the lockdown will be extended. I’m still bobbing around in my bubble for one.

I’m grateful I have my job. For me it’s business as usual, providing support, advice and encouragement to business owners, managers and team leaders, who make up my customers.

It’s a very challenging time for them and the future of their businesses is far from certain. I’m having some difficult conversations.

Which is why it’s been so important for me to maintain my routine. My brief walks every couple of hours are critical to reset and recharge my mind. It can be tough switching from empathy to objectivity and back in the space of a few minutes.

NZ business is going to look different when this lockdown ends.

NZ employment is going to look different when this lockdown ends.

NZ society is going to look different when this lockdown ends.

Will we be more tolerant of each other? Will we be kinder towards each other? Or will we be in the ‘every person for themselves’ mindset? Chasing our own dollars at the expense of others. Going in to a type of ‘fight or flight’? I have concerns…

On a personal note, the voices in my head are still gurgling happily. Nothing untoward going on there. Of course, the idea of building a pillow fort and carrying out my Skype meetings from inside is becoming more appealing by the day.

I hope you’re all doing ok. If you’d like to chat, send me a message.

^SD

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 5

Hi team,

We’ve made it through the first weekend. Some better than others I am sure.

Forgive this indulgence – It’s a record of my thoughts and observations (and possible a documented decent in madness) that I can look back on when I’m VERY old. I’m doing ok – but didn’t maintain my stepcount as I’d originally planned to. I’m back in to the work-week routine to compensate and catch up.

Of course, I have my walking outfit sorted. It’s a nod to perception and expectations of my fellow CBD-dwellers. Don’t judge!

This weekend, I spent A LOT of time on the couch. Netflix (Penn and Teller, Fool Us binge), finished the 8 Harry Potter movies. Watched Knives Out (I missed this in the theatre. Quite enjoyed it. I did struggle with Daniel Craig’s accent though!).

I loved catching up with my parents (via phone), my teenagers (via text), my close friends (via all manner of methods). This lockdown would be a lot tougher if we didn’t have the technology and infrastructure we have access to.

I spent waaaaay too much time wandering around the No Man’s Sky universe. It’s actually quite meditative and calming – well, that’s my justification for it. I cooked a roast chicken that will feed me for a few days. I made a Thai dry curry paste (to have in stock alongside my Thai green curry paste).

I really need to clean though. Being home all the time does encourage a degree of environmental neglect which actually makes things a little more mentally challenging. I’ve also bought some methylated spirits so I can do a decent surface cleanse, and also bought some oven cleaner. My oven has been annoying me since I moved in. It’s time.

I don’t see many people walking the streets still. The occasional homeless person still sits and waits. The interesting thing is that they’re wearing masks and their signs address Covid-19. So they’re certainly aware of the world around them. They must be doing it tough.

There’s also the occasional fight. The occasional time when the pressure-valve pops. I saw a couple last evening fighting on the footpath – well, by ‘fighting’ I mean I saw a woman beating the crap out of her male partner. Hair-pulling, face-punching. Screaming abuse. He just went to ground. Didn’t respond. Didn’t defend himself. Kept quiet. I don’t know what the outcome was.

And we have more than three weeks to go.

Be kind to each other. Wash your hands.

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 4

One incredibly fun aspect of this Isolation is time to binge.

In my workday it’s back-to-back music. In my office, under normal circumstances, listening to music is frowned upon. My office mate can’t handle it. So at home, I am indulging!

So far, I have listened to all Toto albums in chronological release order. I have listened to all Aerosmith albums in chronological order. Now thinking about what to explore next. Recommendations accepted. And expected. I do have some ideas (Prince, anyone), but I’d love yours. Also, Nine Inch Nails just dropped a couple of albums unexpectedly. Excellent.

Bingeing movie series is also fun. Star Wars done (RIP Carrie Fisher). Harry Potter is underway (RIP Alan Rickman). I might do The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings next. So many options!

Maintaining my routines in the day has been valuable. A regular break/walk every couple of hours to clear the head. Being in the CBD is surreal. It’s just amazingly quiet.

The queue to get. Into Countdown is quite bizarre, and the 2m distancing is very amusing. Shopping under these circumstances is fantastic. It’s like having the supermarket opened just for me. Like I’m a famous person. Who’s yet to contract COVID-19.

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 3

One of the more irritating things I’ve noticed so far, and it’s been going on for weeks, is the steady stream of media reporting about how ‘[famous person] has tested positive for Covid-19’.

Why do we need to know that [famous person] has tested positive? What purpose does it actually serve?

This reporting leads into a darker place too. It disturbs me when I see comments from people based on their perception of who [famous person] is. Tom Hanks is loved. Prince Charles less so.

But who the hell do we think we are, playing God? Making a call that some people are worth more than others? Making a judgement that someone doesn’t deserve to be infected whilst another is? Or worse, wishing the demise of the person less loved.

That’s just a bit shit and a little inhumane, in my opinion.

We need to be more empathetic. We are all under stress at the moment. Be kinder. It’s not hard.

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 2

And we’re off. The lockdown is in place. It is a bit surreal in the CBD today,. Very quiet.

Our company is operational through this event which helps (me, and those we support), so I will maintain my work routine. I will get up at the same time. I’ll make the bed. Start working at the same time. Go for walks at the same time.

I’m increasing people-contact by phone/video which is actually quite awesome. It’s also nice having my imaginary pocket friends in full conversational flight.

Our political leaders spoke of our ‘bubble’ of community that we will be living in for the next four weeks. Living by myself, I’m in a bubble of one so I will need to make the most of it, but also make sure I don’t go a bit peculiar. Well… more peculiar than I am anyway. The voices in my head will keep me company. If they say anything interesting I’ll be sure to let you know.

So to you all, take care. Be safe. And if you need to talk to someone I’m here.

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 1

So far, 2020 has really not turned out the way people thought it would. Whilst I had an excellent 2019, I know many did not and were really looking forward to a new broom being taken to the new year.

And then COVID-19 happened. Unbelievable.

We are living in historic times.

So, as soon as a Level 3 > Level 4 response was announced, my company acted. I was working from home within a couple of hours.

I do have an advantage that I’m quite used to living by myself and also I am quite used to being productive working in my own space, so the next four weeks should be ok.

My heart goes out to those impacted by all that is going on. I worry about those infected. I worry about the wellbeing of my octogenarian parents who are at risk. I worry about my friends who are in business and are hurting because everything has stopped.

But in the interests of reducing my own stress and making sure my resilience is holding, I will make some of my own fun when I’m not working.

I’m starting with an Isolation Beard. Think Castaway with a less attractive and somewhat fatter lead.
Food exploration. I am thinking about what is something I’ve not tried to create before.
I should have my stock of green coffee beans replenished today (phew) so my daily caffeine requirements will be sorted.
Books to read – I have plenty and I still have my goal of reading 100 this year.
I will make more phone calls. More video calls.
I will check in on more people. Well, I actually already do, but will make a more conscious effort to do so.

So, if you want or need to chat, I’m here. Let me know your digits and we’ll do it.