Pandemic journal: Precursors

4/3/20 note: I’ve been journaling very intensively during this time, getting up early so I can have an hour or two of writing before Owl wakes. Journaling has always been one of my best and most lasting tools for keeping perspective and processing everything. At some point I was looking over my entries and I realized that they reflect the rapid pace of change, and I thought that would be interesting to look back on someday. I don’t know that anyone else will want to read them; are we all sick of reading COVID-19 stuff or is that all we want to read now (or both)? But I’ll post my entries, edited for conciseness and privacy. I may post more than one in a day — since I have at this point a three-week backlog — but I think I’ll keep them a bit behind where we are currently, since that’s what I find most fascinating: documentation of a world in transformation.

Spiralbound brown kraft notebook

Tuesday, March 3, 9:38 AM

I’m supposed to be kitchen parent at preschool right now but the on-call parent is covering. I went to drop Owl off (and will pick up later) and I always feel paranoid when everyone knows I’m sick — thanks to my messages asking for a sub — which I realize probably no one is worried about, but people are talking about coronavirus; I’m Asian…* 

Saturday, March 7, 8:25 AM

I’ve noticed I’m feeling less balanced lately and have been checking out again, and of course some of that is being sick but I’ve also not taken the time to process everything that’s been going on, and there’s SO MUCH: having just been elected preschool board president for next year, ongoing conversations around Owl’s pronouns, getting accepted to model in this year’s Celebrate Your Body show, making almost no art since my solo show closed last July… oh god I almost forgot coronavirus. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2:23 PM

I have this feeling of things being in limbo, where I don’t need to be doing anything but there is this sense of waiting and assessing and trying to be prepared. I have the feeling of not exactly repressing and not exactly avoiding but leaving the lid on certain topics, so as to not actually find out whether I’m freaking out. 

I wanted to make a list of things I want to have tools for, before becoming board president — things that are potential stressors and what I need to get better at in order to manage those.

[In retrospect this is highly relevant to sheltering in place]

  • Emotional overwhelm
  • Anxiety; inability to set problems/concerns aside when it’s time to sleep or do something else; agonizing over perceived mistakes
  • Preschool taking over my life
  • Doing too much/perfectionism/fear of letting people down

How do I already cope with these things?

  • Process, process, process: solo (journaling), face-to-face with others (solo or in groups), text/chat, phone
  • Dance or yoga, walks, breathing, meditation, improv
  • Massage, hot tubs/baths/showers
  • Very highly reliable systems of note-taking, action item gathering, keeping up with urgent tasks
  • Actively cultivating, preserving, maintaining, and honoring non-preschool social ties
  • Downtime! Sacred rest: silence, solitude, powering down devices, creative replenishment
  • Managing my own and others’ expectations over what constitutes a job well done
  • Setting very clear boundaries around when and how I’ll be available, and how I won’t, and communicating those boundaries to people I’m interacting with regularly 
  • Leaning heavily on others’ expertise where appropriate 
  • Keeping perspective: will this matter in a month or a year or five?
  • Self-care at the fundamental level should be non-negotiable: sleep, hydration, good food, movement, outdoor time, social time 
  • A tidy house isn’t strictly necessary but will feel SO MUCH BETTER across the board 

*To date, no one has yet said, done, or even implied anything racist to me personally about the virus. I don’t take that for granted. I’ve heard the stories and they happen in places like the Bay Area too.