We are living in bleak times at the moment – it seems there might be doom and gloom every moment of the day. Social media is full of fake news, real news and also full of dramatic people uploading pictures of their travels with statuses like, “I miss traveling so much.” – calm down, Karen, it’s only been two weeks (unless you go on holidays every two weeks, Karen). Every time I want to complain I just think about the most vulnerable people, those who have to survive hand to mouth. They are not thinking about travelling and uploading stuff on social media. They are probably worried and feeling hopeless about how will get the $1.30 (or even lower) they need in order to survive and feed their families. So can we all be grateful and please stop highlighting your privilege, Karen. I also feel very grateful to the millions of health workers across the globe working hard at the frontlines – thank you! There are also people who are constantly uploading their home workouts (like all the time!!) and all I want to say is – it’s okay to be a blob on the sofa. No. Pressure. But there are also really positive things happening like people donating for various causes (T Swift sending money to her fans lowkey – yes, that’s the type of news I read amongst others), streaming concerts, providing free online art classes, and collective meditation sessions to help us through our difficult times. I think my isolated life in Japan has prepared me for this to be honest because I can stay in my apartment like a mole rat and I literally don’t have enough time for all the things I want to do in a day. On the contrary to the strict quarantines and lockdowns around the world, things are a tad different here in Nagasaki.
While many people around the world have been asked to stay in and work from home, Japan is taking a different approach for us professors at universities at least I guess. I still have to go into work and I work harder than ever now because online transition does not happen like magic with the snap of one’s finger. It’s also really difficult to make adjustments to our regular syllabi with the uncertainty of whether the rest of the semester will continue online or if it will be taught in classes again.Create interactive lessons is killing me – the irony!
Also my fatalistic worldview has led me to believe that I will indeed get infected by the notorious virus. I might be at risk because 1) I have to go into work everyday 2) I share an office with two other people (I don’t know where they’ve been) and 3) there is no strict quarantine in place at the moment. As of yesterday, there are reportedly 10 Covid-19 cases in Nagasaki while there are over 100 cases in the neighbouring big city, Fukuoka. So am I concerned? Yes but I am calm as can be because in my mind I am already dead- R.I.P me (LoL). I’m preventing it the best way I can though. I don’t use my beloved trams anymore – I walk everywhere which takes me about 30-45 minutes longer for anywhere I want to get to but I don’t mind because I am busy thinking about how all the walks are toning my fat thighs. Every time I get back home, I wash all my clothes right afters. I wash my hands very often (so often my nail polish doesn’t stay on the nails as long) and I try not to touch my face which is challenging because I wear glasses and my flyaway hair always look like I’m in a very windy music video. I don’t have to worry about eating outside because I cook at home nearly every day. None of these things matter except for one thing. My greatest challenge has been to not pet cats. Nagasaki is a cat city. How one is supposed to just let them pass by without any contact boggles the mind but alas – I try because I don’t want to die and I also don’t want anyone to die because of me.
Stay Home versus Social Distancing Conundrum
People have been telling me to stay home if it is not necessary to go out because I put stuff on social media. Yes, Karen – stop sending me private messages you bitch. While I agree with them, I also did some research to see if it is alright for me to go out for a bit. I live alone, and I go walking in nature, I think it is still okay for me to do this. I don’t hang out with groups, nor do I hug people. Joke’s on them because I have only ever hugged one person in Nagasaki. LOL If I have a choice, I don’t want to stay inside my hovel the whole day stuck at my desk especially during this amazing cherry blossom season which lasts like two weeks out of the whole year! So I’ve been waking up about 6 a.m. and walking around my neighbourhood enjoying the cherry blossoms. There’s rarely anyone here around that time so it’s perfect and I believe I am practicing social distancing. All of that aside, the projections for Japan are very discouraging though – foreign media is expecting an explosion of corona cases in Japan in the weeks to come so I’ve gotten myself some rations – rice, beans and pulses and lots of frozen vegetables and COFFEE! I’ve also gotten myself some vegan soap bars and some vegan face cream so one shall not come out of this outbreak looking haggard. One must maintain one’s skin (please read in HRH The Queen’s voice). I also dyed my hair pink because why not especially since I’ve found a vegan cruelty-free hair dye brand called Manic Panic. 🙂 I promised myself I will not complain if I can help it because I know there are so many people out there who are suffering more than I will ever comprehend. I can get depressed quite easily and I have severe mood swings especially during my period so it is very vital for me to keep myself grounded and positive.
Ways I’ve been keeping myself occupied
I have many ways to keep myself occupied and it has been rather easy to be honest. The internet is a goldmine. I also feel comradery with the rest of the world somehow because for the first time in my life, my default state of isolation is not strange anymore and it has become a collective situation. I don’t wish the situation to be prolonged but it has given me a positive realisation that I’ve been handling my solo existence quite well for a year and half already! Kudos me! These are the podcasts that I’ve been listening to as of late:
- BBC Women’s Hour
- TED Radio Hour
- Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend (Really good!!)
- You’re dead to me
Non-academic books I’m currently reading
- Is that a Fish in Your Ear? by David Bellos
- SNOOP by Sam Gosling
- Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright
- Sad Girls by Long Leav
- Hope in the Morning by Courtney Peppernell
- The Hidden History of Burma by Thant Myint-U
- The Traffic in Hierarchy (Masculinity and its Others in Buddhist Burma) by Ward Keeler
Netflix shows I’m watching
- Restaurants on Edge
- All the romantic comedies!!!
- Lord of the Rings over and over again ..LOL
I’m off to eat my homemade chickpea burgers! Here’s a pic from my blooming neighbourhood!