Finding the joy

2020-04-20 13:30
Stephanie Saville.

Stephanie Saville.

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Hello everyone.

You all okay?

I’m still here, banging away on my keyboard in my TV room. It’s nice. The birds are singing outside, the sun streams in and my WiFi is behaving for now.

I think by now many of us are more used to this strange way of life, boxed into our homes. We’re adjusting and that whole cognitive dissonance thing about all this is starting to ease.

I went out for the first time to get some essentials on Easter Sunday. What a treat! I wore a coolish dress because it was a hot day, with my purple buff as a nod to a mask.

My buff was pulled up to below my eyes, and I looked not unlike a crazed-looking criminal with little fashion sense. The fashion police should have been summoned under normal circumstances. I should have felt ridiculous, but, there was no self-consciousness at all.

By the time I got back to my car, I was so claustrophobic, I ripped the buff off as fast as I could.

About half the people I saw were masked up with proper shop-bought masks. Only a small handful wore makeshift or home-made masks. I wonder why more aren’t doing this?

These strange times have prompted some odd behaviour and new rituals. I’ve noticed that the guy and I are far more focused on food.

Usually, we pay scant attention to this, as work and other stuff fill our lives. But in this time void of busyness, we have time to focus on food again, prepare it properly and savour it.

Our day starts with a proper breakfast rustled up by the guy while I take part in the 8.15 am online news conference. What luxury to dine at breakfast time. We don’t do that when we work. Eggs, avo (thank goodness for our magnificent trees), toast, tomatoes, etc. It’s a new habit we have easily got used to.

At teatime, my home-made rusks come out. And I allow myself two. Or three. Or even four. (The scale is not impressed.) Lunchtime is proper food like home-made soup or a bean curry cooked by the guy, or leftover pizza or supper from the night before. If sandwiches are made, which is seldom, they’re of the fancy variety which an abundance of time for preparation allows.

Supper nowadays consists of freshly cooked vegetables, a protein and a pudding. Almost every single night. We’ve poached fruit in syrupy sauces, we make custard as often as we can, and we make it all from scratch. There’s no scope for instant meals, no desire for fast food. It’s a luxury I will miss when this is over and work schedules mean we can’t do it.

In efforts to eke out our wine, we’ve switched to some of the neglected bottles in the booze basket. (Other more refined people have liquor cabinets. When we moved almost three years ago now, all the booze bottles went into a big sturdy basket for transportation to the new place, and there they’ve stayed.)

I found a fancy gin (the one I kept for special occasions and ended up never using) and on a cold and rainy night this week, we each had a ginger square to cheer us up (oh, the sweet nostalgia in that taste!).

Other unusual behaviour includes me walking manically around the garden, double time to try to get steps in, doing star jumps on the lawn or cycling while singing at the top of my voice on my spinning bike at lunchtime (it’s still not enough to make up for the kilojoules I’ve packed in).

The guy has developed an affinity for his ladder that drives my stress levels straight up the wall. He has a cavalier attitude when it comes to heights I think, and he’s up it every day fixing things, installing things and generally risking his life and setting my nerves on edge. I find there are only so many times I can say “be careful”.

So for that alone, I’ll be happy when this lockdown is over.

Weekends are now a hive of cleaning, washing and scrubbing, and I confess I have loved it! I pride myself that even though it’s over a month since my domestic worker was here, I’ve managed not to put one thing in the ironing pile.

I’ve spent time dusting my beautiful bits and pieces and found an extra appreciation for them as I’ve held them and turned them over, remembering each one’s provenance. (I wonder if the novelty of this will fade in time?)

Both the guy and I have found that our dreams have been vivid, strange and invaded by Covid-19 noise.

I dream of social distancing, people breaking lockdown and those who are isolated. I also dream of illness and discord. And my dreams come in strong images which stay with me all day.

Interestingly, an interview on CNN this week clarified why this is.

According to Jason Ellis, a professor of sleep science at Northumbria University, it’s not so much that we’re dreaming more, but that we’re waking up more often during the night and remembering the dreams.

He said the uncertainty we are facing and the changes in our daily habits, lead to us getting poorer sleep.

He said many people are reporting dreams that go back into their memories and “fantastic dreams where people are trying to emotionally problem solve the issues they’re going through”.

He said one person described a dream in which a talking giraffe was telling people how to move safely around a supermarket. This person also revealed that in his childhood, going to the zoo was a favourite experience.

Ellis said dreams help us get over emotional issues.

He stressed that if people are remembering more it means they’re waking up more during the night and he advised that we try to keep our sleep routine much like it was previously.

Get out of bed at the same time each morning, and put the day to bed before you go to bed.

With many of us working from home our hours may be a bit erratic. Separate work and rest.

For those consuming more alcohol than they normally do — which is wrong at this time on so many levels really, so you should stop if you are — this can make you wake up more frequently late at night and so we remember our dreams more.

Last night, I dreamt I was on the back of a motorbike with a man I didn’t know driving it. He was doing 203 km per hour and I was scared. I also realised I wasn’t wearing a helmet. He wouldn’t slow down. Hah! Feast on that Freud. Classic insecurity isn’t it.

While we all try to present that stiff upper lip, our psyches are letting us know we are worried at some level. And maybe, when we dream, it’s a place for that anxiety to play out.  

As I write this, in the shadow of World’s View I can hear the drone of the highway in the background. It’s much more muted than normal, but it’s there.

It helps remind me that there is a world out there and that we’re still connected to it somehow. I just wonder when I’ll get to see it again. Maybe even from the back of the guy’s bike at a sensible speed with a view of the Midlands on the horizon. I can’t wait.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  opinion and analysis

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