Tag Archives: pandemic

My boobs are falling!!! Or, going feral during a pandemic has its consequences…


When I was a young person, I used to often wonder about the women I saw whose breasts seemed to lie about their waist. There was a long long slope to the eventual boob bits. Didn’t they wear a bra? Why did SOME women seem to keep relatively perky, whereas others slumped like melting ice cream into a gently rounded abdomen with no delineating characteristics?

I admit it, I judged. I told myself I’d never be in that situation, I’d maintain my chest muscles, wear underwire bras, stand erect, shoulders back.

That was before the last year and a bit. A year where I’ve pretty well been on my own and had no need to torture myself with garments designed to poke wires into my soft bits. A year where my “going to the gym” body has gradually softened and developed a pronounced jiggle. A year of slumping over my desk, reading stuff on the computer.

No matter, I thought. I can wear my Northern Reflections sweatshirts and no one will ever know I am braless beneath them. Not that anyone could see me, except on the rare occasion I shuffle down to do my laundry, skulking in corners and avoiding anyone else’s air.

The weather is getting summery. The sweatshirts are a bit…warm…and to be honest, I am sick to death of them. So I pulled out my summer shirts and realized with horror I actually have to wear a bra under them or risk public scorn. And or laughter. And/or an injury as I ram into things unawares with no cushioning sweatshirt to protect me..

I dug through my neglected bras, some of which still seem to fit me, trying to find the least painful one that could give me some sort of shape. The thing is, those mammary glands have changed shape with neglect. They are no longer at ALL perky, and immediately upon applying said brassiere, they pulled the entire assemblage down down ever down. I’m short, so they were eventually stopped by my waistband (there is a whole other area of saggage UNDER the waistband but I prefer to ignore that). But still. They definitely lacked determination.

I now have an acreage on the top of my chest that I realize I must accessorize immediately, preferably with something large. Something to draw the eyes up, away from the gentle slopes of DA. A distraction from the effects of gravity and inappropriate eating.

At the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Conference years ago, one of the standup performers talked about the perfect accessory for those of us with the need to distract. Her Dodge Caravan. She looked ever so perky through the window of that.

Alas, my Toyota Corolla doesn’t have enough height to fully disguise the slopage.

Fortunately, we’re still on lockdown so I have time to hang upside down and try to return things to their normal location. Of course, this may make Zoom meetings somewhat … challenging.

Plagues, isolation, the boredom of waiting around, or why everyone should read The Magic Mountain, right now.


Thomas Mann differs with the bromide that “Time flies when you are having fun”. He argues, in his masterwork The Magic Mountain, that time flies fastest when you are bored, that time having fun can spread out as each moment is savoured. His main character, Hans Castorp, is visiting/imprisoned in a sanitarium on the top of said mountain, with a variety of other patients recovering (or not) from the dread tuberculosis. He thinks a lot about time and boredom.

The Magic Mountain is the perfect sort of book to read during this time of waiting, this forced enclosure. I personally am envious of the sanitarium, where you are fed four times a day, ushered on healthy walks, and expected to lay about wrapped in woolen blankets for prolonged periods of time. It’s truly not that different from pandemic self-protection, except that a. no one is fixing me meals and b. there is no convivial shared time.

But our situation shares a lot with what Mann describes. We’ve been living for almost a year now in an arrested state, holding back from projects, friendly gatherings, romance, family events, education, meaningful work, travel, ukulele gangs…We could be in a sanitarium given the way we have had to live.

In another similarity, our world, as Mann’s, is regulated by doctors, who examine the situation and tell us, no, you must stay here, in the enclosure, things are not better yet.

It is profoundly boring. And the time is slipping away. I can barely recall last summer, let alone the fall. I forced myself to do a weekly stitch-along project last year just to mark the time, as otherwise there are no guidelines through the fog. I dread beginning another one, and the time challenges it will reveal.

For all the guests at the sanitarium, time is flexed and changed, spun into fever dreams or secretive trysts, whisking by too fast and yet not at all. I can feel that change in our time, too. I barely know what time it is, let alone what day. Calendars are proliferating in my apartment, each an almost bare map of a life not quite lived.

I do not easily get bored. I have 1000000 projects on the go, a zillion things I SHOULD be doing, way too many books to read (including the 727 page long Mann book), places to walk, and god knows, exercise to be done (so I don’t end up further towards the ‘Asiatic-flabby’ of Mann’s book (or just plain flabby without even the interest of the Asian background- I once had muscle tone and am desperately seeking it)).

My arm gift to you. You are on your own for legs.

I’ve seen countless postings about how boredom is good for you, how it stimulates creativity, etc etc. I am beginning to doubt the effectiveness of long term boredom, though working on my books does seem somehow more enchanting.

But it’s all SO BLAH! There is something to be said in that one’s life only matters if someone else sees it, ergo the mass migration to happy family social media, and try as I might, I have trouble assigning my own value to my little embroideries or weirdly knitted scarves or writings that suffer from too many commas…If no one sees me or what I am doing, does anything actually matter? (Maybe I need to put more cat photos up on Instagram?)

“Now, now”, I hear my more motivated friends say. “You still have value, even just sitting there.”

Hmm. NOT the way I was raised.

Be that as it may, I wonder about the times to come, when we step out into the light again, when we can wander freely about our environment, laugh in a bar with friends and strangers over a beer or two. Will we end up like the characters in this novel, and be loathe to extend outwards again? Will we find ourselves longing for the sweatshirt days, the quiet of an unbusy world, the reduced demand from our previously oh so busy lives?

In the book, few people escape the sanitarium. Many die, many commit suicide, and our hero gets sent to the warfront. Their time on the mountain is a special time aside, girt round with threats and death and an undercurrent of banal evils. In our time, we struggle with lack of contact, lack of employment, and profound mental illness, and are forced to hang about, while outside our circle, death and destruction reigns. Will we be able to escape the pandemic? Will we ever feel safe in a crowd again? Or will it linger, like the ghost of TB spots, shadowing our lives?

I’ve been essentially alone now for ten months, with the occasional jaunt out to see a few friendly faces and my desperate conversations at the grocery store being my only social contact. I have almost forgotten how to speak. I see the news where people continue to gather and cause the virus to remain a threat and I am growing to hate those people. The non-maskers, the people campaigning against the vaccine, the partiers. Each news item means more weeks of isolation for me, and so many others.

I can’t wait to escape. I need to bump myself off others to know I exist.

Aw, shaddup!

PS: Do listen to the excellent podcast on this book via The History of Literature.

Ant sac, or disturbing my nest again…


You probably have seen what happens when you kick over an anthill and all of the ants panic and run all over the place, carrying the egg sacs, looking for safety?

Back in the days pre-divorce, the ex and I used to call our regular sorting and rearranging of stuff “ant sac” activity – we’d be grabbing our things and rushing back and forth between floors of our house, through rooms in a panicked, not quite sensible manner…

Now I am ant-sac-ing again, carrying my stuff there and back, up and down, in and out…

You see, the pandemic disturbed my anthill.

I live in the glorious Maritimes. In fact, I am writing this from the balcony of *the best apartment ever*, overlooking the Halifax harbour, pausing now and again to gaze at the ocean. I’m seizing the quiet moment before the heat of the day begins and I lose all sentient thought…ah, maritime humidity. I remember flying into the airport from Ontario and the air here felt like breathing through a water-soaked sponge…

(Pause to gaze at a container ship easing on by, seemingly silent…)

But see, the pandemic. I do love it here, but the enclosure of Covid-19 has left me with a slightly lonely tinge to my thoughts – my family is all so far away. And the Maritimes is all about family. If you don’t have one here, well,…

And yes, ‘friends are the family you choose’ – and I’ve been blessed to meet so many wonderful people here and I am going to miss them all madly, but as I creep towards my dotage, I realize I need to be a bit closer to my relations- my kids, my cousins, my sister…Nova Scotia is just that little bit too far away.

So I am busily sorting my stuff, carrying it here to the “for the recycler/junk people “ (a large pile) and there “for the move” (an unpleasantly large pile still). I feel like the panicked ant, trying to save my babies but also wanting to give them all away, start a completely fresh nest elsewhere…

But I just have to keep this book, this piece of art, this crafted coffee mug, the cat…and so I continually sort through the piles, tossing more things, packing and unpacking, trying to squeeze my stuff into smaller spaces.

Just heard a voice from the BBC (which I always believe because…British accent…) counselling people not to make any irreversible decisions during this time of oddness. As my father in law would say, “‘Too late,’ she cried, and waved her wooden leg.” It’s all in motion and I am on the highest point of the roller coaster, waiting for that exciting swoop down into the loops.

I’m not regretting my choice. I’ve had a lovely ten years here, way more than was originally planned. Its been like an extended holiday, with a bunch of new and exciting travel partners. But it is time to go home, and much as I tried to claim Nova Scotia as my home, it just won’t take me.

I blame the fiddle music. Lord, I do hate a fiddling jig.

So it’s farewell to Nova Scotia in about a month. I’m hoping it’s not a permanent farewell- I have the sea in my bones (and in my lungs- how I long for a good dry-out in the prairies!) and will likely have to come back to visit. Good friends are hard to leave.

The sun was setting in the west
The birds were singing on every tree
All nature seemed inclined to rest
But still there was no rest for me

Farewell to Nova Scotia, the sea bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
For when I’m far away on the briny ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh or a wish for me

Evaluating…or those artists who self-isolate in the woods – did it work for them?


So here we are, heavily into the pandemic, learning how to talk to ourselves just so we can test our vocal muscles. I am following the advice for keeping a car running, and taking my voice out once a week for a trot around the verbal block. Cat remains unconvinced.

FH021312_003_CABREP_02For my part, I am noticing just now how every single one of my cupboard doors is slightly off-balance, with a wee dip to one side or the other, making all the spaces between the door fronts ever so slightly variable. Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t UNsee it. I know it will drive me crazy over time. It’s making me want to get out the screwdriver except that I know if I do, they will end up even more tilty. And they aren’t my cupboards. Ruining them is not an option.

Messy is the way things are happening lately. Make coffee – spill the coffee and the water, drop the container holding the coffee, sweep that all up, only to miss the garbage as I tip it in, spilling it again all over the place. Make dinner, creating a mess on the counter because – see coffee –  clean that all up, wash pots, put away dishes, only to drop one, shattering it amidst the food still scattered on the floor – see coffee – and trying to clear that up before the cat walks all over it, so rushing so I spill it as I dump the dustpan. Start over.a-messy-kitchen

I suspect this all has something to do with the lack of finger dexterity I conceal in my stitching through pure will, but which means I can’t tie a knot in the floss or pick up a needle without my handy dandy magnet stick. (repurposed from my canning set because  I can too readily imagine the mess that would ensue if I made jam, for example.) Last night I took a full five minutes trying to tie one bit of floss to another. I eventually did but there may have been some language involved.

I was just testing my voice. Honest.

I am surrounded by things I am seemingly too busy to put away, thinking longingly of packing boxes, so help me, and their soothing plain brown sides and healing shutness. I feel certain I would feel better if I could put everything away behind those plain brown wrappings and send it away – but of course, no one wants my things, especially in the pandemic shut down. I imagine charities will be completely overwhelmed once we are let out…

Meanwhile, stories of artists and writers and creatives of all sorts moving out to glorious isolation in the woods or wherever are all over my internet feeds. It all seems like a more glamourous version of the isolation we are all in now, focused isolation, creative isolation. Could this be the way to go to get creative juices flowing?

reflection of trees in lake

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am becoming convinced that these folks really did this so they would never have to clean up. Or dress up, or brush their hair. I’m getting into this sweatshirt and pant existence. My hair is growing like a wayward shrub. If I was to never be seen again, except to tumble out into the sun some years hence with a brilliant novel in one hand, well, that seems like a viable idea.

So, my silenced-in-the-isolation brain tells me, ‘you could live in the woods! Never have anyone come by! Never have to account for your clutter or lack of progress or general moodiness! It could be done! Like Thoreau! You could write! Write! Write!”

“Hold on,” my brain says, “Thoreau had a maid and ate regularly in pubs and at friend’s houses. That’s not isolation, that’s just hiding clutter…” and “Internet, remember the internet.” and “But wait, you actually like talking to people, especially the kids whose toys you tidied back when you tidied things. And friends! You have some. You like seeing them.”

Truth is, I am getting out of the habit of communicating. I messenger people and try to connect as I can, but it is all getting more difficult to push myself to do so. Like the clutter around me, it all seems too much to take on. As time goes on, it becomes more comfortable to just not.

But am I writing? Creating?

Um. No.

I have to tidy up first.

 

“Five minutes more…?” Or how whining like a three-year-old won’t help us stop the coronavirus.


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Back in the day before my freedom 50 plan took over and MS threw me out of the workforce, I used to be a nurse, epidemiologist, and health care manager. Many many years of study piled those degrees on me, and I still try to keep up to date.

I say all this because what I am going to say next might offend some, but I am coming from this background.

Stay the fecking well home!!!

Let’s stop this endless “Oh, I can still see my grandkids from across town”, or “there’s nothing wrong with taking the kids to play in the playground”, or “I just need to run into the mall for a few things.” I keep hearing and seeing this. One chipper lass even got on a plane KNOWING she was infected. Wow. That’s thoughtlessness to the max.

I see gatherings of people where social distancing isn’t happening, as have we all.

Please, just stop it. Stay home as much as possible. If you MUST go out for groceries, pick one family member to go alone. No dawdling. In and out and when you get home, wash your hands for a long long time.

Because this is the virus, seeing us refusing to take social distancing/isolation seriously:

yeah-im-gonna-get-you_o_5592461

I know it’s tempting to try to slip in just one more trip, one more little infraction, like the kid who keeps pushing their parent to let them watch just a bit more TV, play just one more game. I feel house-bound, too, am bored of my own company, keep looking through my cupboards for snacks and treats that I’ve already chewed my way through, leaving only the healthy stuff that needs some preparation…

5e5ff9d8fee23d6516720658But I was part of the pandemic planning some time ago post-SARS, and really, we have no idea how bad this could be. Imagine hospitals overflowing, doctors having to decide who lives or dies, funeral homes backed up so far the corpses have to be put in rinks until they can be dealt with. Imagine everyone who maintains out electricity, the internet, and cellphones becoming ill. Imagine there’s no groceries, see if you can…

What will we do then?

It might not get that bad, but if you look at the example of Italy, you can see there is a possibility. Our only hope is to stay home and try to slow the infection rate. Because right now, we can’t stop Corvid-19 from rolling through us all. We need to provide time, to ease the hospitals, to give time for a vaccine to be developed, to organize a vaccine deployment.

Yes, businesses will have a horrible time. The stock market will swing down, and the possibility of a depression is real. But those who encourage an early return to normalcy to save business are short-sighted. They assume that people will remain healthy enough to support or work at these businesses.

(TBH, if a few billionaires were really concerned about things, they could probably support businesses with some of their excess money, keep them standing until the situation normalizes.)

Pretending that we can just slip by and play hard and fast with exposure just isn’t on. Stay home and stop whining. Or, as my mum used to say, it’ll “give you something to whine about.”

Please? Asking for a friend. Well, many many friends.

PS: I know so many are doing what they should, and bravo. It isn’t easy changing your entire life pattern. And I feel for all the small businesses who are losing ground. I try and help where I can, and you should, too. Get stuff delivered or for pick-up from your favorite stores. Pressure the government to support businesses and people at risk. We can get by this.

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Please, keep safe.

We now return you to our normally writing oriented blog.