UPsides to the 2020 lockDOWN

Before the lockdown, 2020 was going to be such a magical year. It sounded so futuristic and cool! 2020 held so much promise in a time when things were getting bleak. December 31st 2019, we headed out to a small brewpub in South Florida with the fam to wipe the slate clean and ring in a hopeful new year!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand then COVID-19 showed up like some kind of viral Krampus here to steal ALL of our fun and literally ruin everything that anyone had planned. It’s miserable, terrifying, sad, and if you’re lucky enough to be removed from the death and destruction this virus has brought to our cities. . . .it can be kind of boring. But in the spirit of seeking out the (sparkly) silver lining, I’ve been trying to highlight a few things that don’t suck in 2020. I encourage you to take a breather from the death toll numbers and daily briefings to reflect on something, anything, that might not suck in your life right now.

If you can’t think of a damn thing, here’s my list to get you started:

Rekindling offline relationships

I’m lucky enough to have a solid crop of low maintenance friendships. You know those desert rose pals that you don’t speak to for 6 weeks but when you DO get a text from them, it’s just a continuation of the same convo like you spoke yesterday? THOSE friends. 🖤 you guys!

Throughout this lockdown, I’ve been on social media more than usual. (What else is going on?) So I see more posts per day and some of them pop up from folks I don’t see often, or haven’t spoken to in months. I have fought the urge to delete Twitter simply because I have pals who are pretty raw and honest on that platform and I can see when they’ve had a bad day. Either I’ll reply there or hit ’em up with a text that takes the convo offline.

Sending an “is everything ok?” text, to someone’s actual phone number rather than posting a reply on FB or tweeting a response helps to remind us both that we are actual 3D humans who care about each other and can speak honestly. Usually I send a ‘true colors’ text, which is when I let my special brand of Aries love shine through. “You ok? Wanna video call and make fun of Zak Bagans while we get smashed on cheap wine right now?” (sorry Zak, but it’s better than Ativan lol) or “Heifer if you hurt yourself, you know I will resurrect you and beat your ass right? Call me whenever, you know I don’t sleep.”

The danger in drifting is that we don’t even see it happening until it’s too late. A major life event happens and you realize you didn’t even know what was going on with this person who used to be so important to you. Then you try and get back in sync but you wind up fighting a tide of two divergent life paths to even have a simple conversation. Don’t let it happen. Feel free to use my Aries mean love texts. Even if they net you a WTF response…it’s a response!

Bringing these connections offline has put me back in touch with some really amazing humans that I didn’t even realize I was missing. In this lockdown, with less balls in the air in my every day life, I’ve found I am able to follow up with those promises we all make to “get together soon” and actually meet up with friends I haven’t seen in forever, but really can’t risk drifting away from. These meetups are pretty low-pressure since outside is the only safe place to be. We usually just go hang out in a park and eat ice cream 6 feet away from everyone and everything.

More emotional bandwidth

In the pre-COVID world, I would wake up at 6:30am. Then engage in a 23 minute battle of brain vs. body before dragging my ass out of bed by 6:54. Slap GO on the coffee maker, hop in the shower and wrap my hair in a towel. Run back to the kitchen to make lunch. (sometimes) and pour (fling) the coffee into a travel mug. Pull out clothes, (sometimes steam them, sometimes they stay wrinkly) and hunt for matching socks. Finally, I’d brush a few pumps of gel through my hair before running out the door in a blur at 7:58. Wet hair, no breakfast, barely awake, haven’t spoken words out loud yet. After one commuter train and 2 subways, I’d arrive at my office @ 9:30am(ish) already DED.

Leaving work most days at 6pm, I’d arrive back to Grand Central Terminal just in time for there to be no trains for me until 6:55. 😭 Fun right?? Then there’s the part where I get home at 8pm, too exhausted to make dinner, but force myself to procure food, pack orders for Rising Phoenixx, do some writing for our blogs (clearly this is the part that fell thru the cracks lol), do a little housekeeping (we need clean dishes and clothes!) Take another shower (the NYC subway 😳) and try to get to bed by at least midnight (and failing). And this was a boring day, with no concerts or social commitments after work. I’m exhausted just having TYPED all of that! I can’t believe I used to live it.

The energy I’m not spending getting to and from a workplace, has carried over into a glorious abundance of emotional bandwidth that makes me a more interactive human. An introvert with a sensory processing disorder and an intensely private person, I guard my energy jealously. I used to avoid asking conversational questions in fear of dialogue. I never asked about colleagues’ weekends because I did not have the energy to answer the “How about yours?” part of the exchange. Have you ever felt exhausted before an event that you know is going to drain you? An awkward dinner, a party where you don’t know anyone? I felt that constantly.

I’ve let go of so much of that fear and pre-exhaustion. I genuinely want to know what people are up to. I sign in to Zoom meetings amped! Ready to tell everyone that I went to Redhook for Key Lime Pie this weekend. I want to hear where everyone went, what they wore, what they drank, EVERYTHING! I’m SO down to help my friends work out how to market their Etsy shops. Or. . . .anything! I have never in my life felt this mentally stable and healthy. I don’t know how to keep this balance in the future world when things go back to “normal”; but now that I know this mental state exists, I’m not giving it up!

Time to literally do nothing.

This is also a foreign concept to me. I’m still getting used to not only having less to do, but also the idea of not filling every moment with productivity. It feels deliciously sinful sometimes. Moving from the home office, to the couch at the end of workday and choosing to do absolutely nothing for a few hours. It’s a feeling I am still trying to reconcile. That Alpha / Type A / Aries part of my brain screaming GO! GO! GO!

That part of my brain is responsible for 89% of the unfinished projects around our home. I feel unproductive, so in the name of home improvement, I’ll rip a shelf out in the kitchen to get us started on fixing a cabinet. We’ve been meaning to get rid of this wallpaper right? RIP! Impulsive Aries will rip a huge swath off the wall, so now we have to finish! 🙄 She’s exhausting.

So as a compromise, I picked up a an old hobby. I hit JoAnn Fabrics and snagged a new set of crochet hooks and a bunch of yarn. It’s like hanging out with an old friend! I’ve learned a few new stitches and even tried my hand at knitting (so far, I suck). Muscle memory makes crocheting something I can do without paying attention.

That occupies the constant productivity monster enough to keep her quiet for a few hours at a time. I’ve been able to catch up on years of unwatched TV, and quite a few classic films I’ve never seen.

Update Oct 2020:

Its looking more and more like this lockdown isn’t going to be over any time soon. Maybe we’ll make this a series? #SilverLiningSeries I don’t know how, but we’re going to get through this y’all. Find your upsides. Chase your bliss, and dear GAWD get yo’ ass out and vote.

Update Update March 2021:

It’s a new year, we’re still in quarantine. Now we have a list of apps helping to keep us sane. Check it out!

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