Splendid Isolation

I certainly do not want to make light of the present crisis. So many people are sick and so many others are hurting because their businesses are shuttered. Neither do I want to dwell on it. Other than not getting sick myself and not spreading the virus to others, there isn’t a whole lot I can do about what’s going on in this country and the world right now, and my own mental health depends on turning my attention elsewhere. I’m all about being alone with myself right now and staying sane.

So, how am I doing that?

Spending way less time on social media. I can’t stay away from Facebook and Twitter for too long, but as soon as I see a post about the coronavirus or Trump’s failure to manage the crisis, I click it off. If there’s good news, I’m sure I’ll hear about it. In the meantime, Instagram is safer. Ooh, look at the pretty pictures!

Reading. With a week left to go in March, I think I’ve already set a record for the number of books finished in a one month period. That actually makes me happy. I have such a backlog of books that I could be in isolation for years and not finish them all. I also listen to audiobooks and I was in the middle of a very long one when I began my social distancing, so without actually interacting with people, I get out of the house each day and go for a drive so I can listen. And there’s a favorite coffee shop that has curbside service, so I can order a cappuccino or whatever on the app, drive down there while listening to the book, and have an appropriately removed exchange with the barista when I pick it up.

Studying languages. I love to study languages, even though I can’t speak anything other than English. (That’s not entirely true. I’m not fluent in anything other than English, but I can get by in a few others.) My last trip abroad (as in most recent, not my last trip ever, I hope) was to Spain in December, so I worked on my rusty Spanish while I was there, and since I’ve been home I’ve been working on it with Duolingo. I’ve been studying Chinese off and on for a long time, so I’m using Duolingo and some other materials to refresh and improve my Chinese. And I bought a subscription to Babbel’s French lessons last year, so I spend a few minutes a day on that, too. It’s probably not smart to do French and Spanish at the same time, but the Chinese doesn’t interfere at all.

Book promotion. Despite the crisis, I’ve got a book coming out in May. Maybe it will be delayed or maybe it won’t, but I’ve got to start thinking about how I’ll promote it. Right now I don’t think an in-person launch party is likely, but that’s still a possibility. I’m going to carve out some time to update my website and encourage pre-orders.

Cleaning. Sure. That’s on the list. Where do I start?

Walking. My gym is either closed or off-limits, not sure which, and in either case I’m not going there anytime soon. I love to walk. It’s cold and rainy today, but I’ve been trying to put in 90 minutes or so of walking every day. Because I live out in the country, I don’t see other people when I’m walking, so I’m still keeping my distance. Good for my health, mental and otherwise.

Writing. Well, I’m a writer, after all, so I’ve been spending more time on my current work in progress than I was before the virus hit. Even a few sentences a day feels good after ignoring it most of the year so far. This week I also had an editing/teaching gig, working on a student story, so that felt like writing, too. I also have a book review deadline in a few weeks, so I’ll have to turn to that soon. But this is the real reason for this post. I’ve often gone on writing retreats, usually at an arts colony, where the point of being there was to isolate myself from social engagements and focus on the work. While this isolation is rather involuntary, I feel the need to take advantage of it.

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