Ottawa, April 2020
Ottawa, April 2020

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I suck at pandemics.

I don’t bake, the “new normal” doesn’t make me happier, I certainly didn’t find myself and I gave up on becoming flexible enough to do the splits in 30 days like the app I downloaded promised. I’m not having an epiphany either—”Wow, this is the life I wanted!” “It’s great to be going back to the basics” and other commonplaces criticism of consumerism and Mother Nature punishing us.

Lockdown fatigue? Maybe. Realistically, I think we’re going to have to live with the virus and that current measures are not sustainable on the long term.

Now, since I’m not a special snowflake, you won’t see me protesting again governmental measures presumably enacted to keep me safe (seriously, America…). I have a degree in Chinese studies but I didn’t sign up for the minor in pandemic management—I respect decisions made by folks way more qualified than me when it comes to public health matters.

I’m not questioning lockdown measures per se—I’m questioning myself because apparently, I’m very poor lockdown material.

To a certain extent, I understand why being forced or strongly encouraged to stay home can be a blessing for some. People who like their job but hate their commute and can now from home, for instance. People who suddenly get the chance to spend more time with their loved one. People who were overworked and can finally take a guilt-free break. People who are wiser and more resilient than me and are using their coronacation to explore hobbies and interests.

I’m genuinely happy for all those who found a way to make the situation work for them.

I just… can’t.

I mean, I’m not miserable all the time but I constantly feel like I’m sitting on an old, lumpy chair. It’s okay, it does the job, but it’s not comfortable enough for me to relax.

Unmetaphorically, I wake up worried, anxious. I don’t have much to look forward to—every day is pretty much the same. I can deal with uncertainty but I can’t stand being trapped. It’s so… unfulfilling to me.

First, it’s a bit of a personality thing. I’m not a homebody—I’m a backpacker and an immigrant, home is nowhere and everywhere. Our place is clean and comfortable enough but we’ve never put much effort into creating a “home sweet home.” We don’t own much compared to the average North American family. Home is where we work, eat and sleep, period.

Second, I’m anxious because we’re both out of work for COVID-19-related reasons. Most of my clients were directly affected by the economic lockdown and travel bans, so projects are on hold until further notice. Not only I’m not a big fan of having zero income but I’m also sad because I love my job.

Third, I’ve just spent a month discussing death, cemeteries and other end-of-life matters. Frankly, it’s a bit of a downer as a daily conversation topic. Usually, I turn my focus to work just to make it through and keep my brain busy, but see point above…

On top of it, I’m annoyed with myself because I feel I’m not productive with my lockdown time.

If daily stats provided by media around the world weren’t enough, I’ve just had a painful reminder that yes, we do die at one point. It’s a human system bug that has yet to be fixed (and the call to IT was placed millions of years ago, looks like techs are experiencing high call volume…).

I don’t believe in heaven, hell, any all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful deity or conspiracy theories involving the Chinese, the Russians or the Americans.

However, I do believe something constructive and positive has got to be coming out of this huge mess—if not, I swear I’ll stop believing in Santa Claus and I’m asking for a refund on my human being experience.

Maybe that’s what I should work on—do my part, somehow, for a better world. Get creative to leave something behind that makes people happy, changes someone’s perspective, inspires, and…

Okay, spoilers. I probably won’t be making free face masks (I can barely sew a button back on) or finding a vaccine (I suspect it involves numbers and formulas, and I don’t do either).

In the meantime, if this article entertained or inspired for a minute or two… well, it’s a first productive step, isn’t it?

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  1. Marion May 4, 2020 at 9:30 am

    Yes, it did entertain me for a couple of minutes! You’re doing your part for a certain number of years already… pandemic or not! Keep on doing what you do.
    Otherwise, maybe write another novel? 🙂

    1. Zhu May 5, 2020 at 12:26 am

      … If only I could interest *someone* in the first one! 😆

  2. Martin Penwald May 4, 2020 at 10:38 am

    Pour passer le temps, on peut regarder le journal de confinement de Pierre-Emmanuel Barré.
    Bon, alors, c’est pas tout public.

    1. Zhu May 5, 2020 at 12:27 am

      Je note…

  3. Kemb@ May 4, 2020 at 11:55 am

    On passe tous par des phases de saturation. C’est très humain, ces hauts et ces bas… On n’est pas conditionné à vivre comme ça, avec des incertitudes nouvelles.
    Perso, je suis juste exécrable le lundi ! Je suis désorientée, je ne sais plus comment je vis, ni par quel bout de la journée commencer… Insupportable.
    J’espère que tu as gardé ton ticket de caisse si tu demandes un remboursement… 😉

    1. Zhu May 5, 2020 at 1:34 am

      Je suis pareille! Sauf aujourd’hui, je ne sais pas pourquoi. Mais j’ai une grosse baisse de moral le lundi, ce qui est inhabituel pour moi (je bosse souvent les WE, donc c’est pas le coup du début de semaine comme quand on embauche!). C’est de me dire qu’on recommence une semaine avec tous les jours qui se ressemblent, qu’on avance pas du tout…

  4. Lexie May 5, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    Ce n’est vraiment pas une situation facile, surtout avec le fait que tu es revenue il y a finalement peu de temps, que ton grand-père est décédé récemment… Est-ce que tu commences à pouvoir retrouver des commandes de clients ou c’est vraiment rien du tout ces temps-ci?

    1. Zhu May 9, 2020 at 8:31 pm

      C’est très, très, très calme. Je crois que le manque de visibilité fait peur à tout le monde :-/

  5. Cara May 12, 2020 at 2:51 am

    Here, the first 2 weeks were hard, then we had 4 very good weeks… and the 2 last were terrible.
    The kids went back to school this week (half-time), so at least we can breathe a little. Plus all the shops and restaurants have reopened !
    J’espère que tu auras rapidement de nouveau du travail.

    1. Zhu May 13, 2020 at 2:02 am

      Do you know why some weeks were hard and other easier? Lockdown fatigue…?

      We’re still in limbo in Ontario. I doubt the schools will open before September and we’re still in lockdown, i.e. we can go out but everything is closed.


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