Friday, 20 March 2020

At Times

I know the internet (and life as a whole) is not so full of positive stuff right now, and here at Blogtastic, we don't mind adding to it. Oh man, what a strange time. Personally, I've been feeling pretty depressed again for a couple of weeks (unrelated to Covid-19), and my head has been feeling like it's full of scrambled eggs. Then my physical health has taken a bit of a dive (I've got a fever, and aches, so I'm currently self-isolating), and my head feels like it's full of cotton wool. Thankfully, it's not even comparable to a normal flu yet, so I feel confident I'll be back to normal after a not too serious period of layoff. But there's so much worse happening elsewhere, that I'm ding-donging between trying not to focus on it (or at least keep it in perspective compared to other causes of death), and being really sad about it. Yesterday, for example, I heard an update on the death toll in Italy, and that shocked me. I know and love a few ace people in the north, and have been thinking about them a lot, wishing them well, and to hear of such a lot of death got to me. I know their lives are radically different at the moment, and they are putting a brave face on things, so I hope that continues, and that mental and physical health bears up under it all (and that goes for the whole world).

Everywhere here has been ghost-towny for a while. The badminton group I go to had about fifty per cent fewer participants last week. That was weird, because normally we can't quite fit everyone on a court (even when four are set up), but this time, there were a load of singles games on only three courts (I mean, yeah, it was nice to be able to play singles, but you're aware that you can only do it because other people aren't there, and that's probably illness related). At work, it's pretty typically odd. I mean, there's never a normal week where I am, in terms of if it's busy or not, or when it gets busy, if indeed it does. Lately, the weeks have been alternating between getting much better, and feeling like it wasn't worth opening up (and so much of this is filtered through my warped perspective by the way, so isn't reliable, but it is how I feel). And the main thing is that it's not foot traffic that makes work weird, but the conversational focus, you know? Just constant rabbiting... It's not getting on my nerves, as such, but it's wearing me down somehow. And then there's the shopping obviously. This, along with the cancellation of sporting events, has been one of the things that's changed my viewpoint from 'this is similar to avian/swine flu, it is being over-hyped and will not be as bad as people are saying' to 'oh shit, this is definitely worse. Even if the virus itself isn't worse, the effects on society certainly are'. So much shelf space is completely empty in shops around me. I was focussing on fresh fruit and veg on Tuesday, and there's plenty of that, but absolutely no pasta or rice, tinned soup, beans, etc gone... I even looked at normal handwash, as we are down to our last tub at home, and there was nothing. Not even bars of soap, or anything antibacterial. It is striking to look at, perhaps a fifth or a quarter of the whole place cleared out. And I can remind myself that, at the moment, I do not need these products, and if I feel 'squeezed' at all, it's only because I have been spoiled all my life, and, even when I've had no money in my account, I've had enough to see me through to payday etc. Now there's a thought in my head, though; what if people carry on in this over-buying behaviour? Like I say, it's stupid thinking. We'll cross those bridges when we get to them, and I'm sure things will stabilise soon, but I'm just in that frame of depression where paranoia pipes up a little louder than usual... And again, what about the people who aren't as lucky?

Anyway, that's all coronavirus stuff... I also wanted to talk about what I've been doing that's nice. Some of it is vegging at the minute, watching episodes of one of my favourite ever programmes, The Larry Sanders Show. Also watching a good few videos from some of my favourite YouTubers, Funhaus, Internet Comment Etiquette (thanks Alex!), and Red Letter Media mainly. They really do absorb me, and make me feel happier. There's been a lot of YouTube focus on the latest DOOM game, which both makes me yearn for an up-to-date console to play it on, and also made me re-visit the original game, which still puts the willies up me, I can tell you.

Also, connection is as important as ever, so I've been keeping in touch with as many of my friends as possible. This is another area in my life in which I am so fortunate. Many of them got in touch with me, and made me realise what a lucky fella I am, offering to get supplies for me if I can't get out and stuff. I sometimes find it hard to socialise. I don't get why, but my mind just recoils from it, or spins on and on until I distract myself with something else. In this moment, however, I feel like my time is more my own (I'm not working for a bit, nor am I doing much for my dad, as I don't want to pass anything onto him), so I feel much more comfortable dropping people lines. Silver linings, and all that jazz.

My own time... This puts me on to the most important part of all: writing. I have submitted to a new competition (quite an interesting little poem, one that ended up seeming very topical indeed), have heard word about a submission of mine from last year (not a competition at all, but a fantastic opportunity to have my work broadcast on local radio :) ), and, y'know, have been working on other stuff. Obviously I've not got my blogging down to any regularity, but I'm doing this RIGHT NOW, and blah blah blah. Reading, too, has slowed a little since those halcyon days of early January, but I'm still doing a bit! I finished Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (which will feed into a project I want to do later in the year), am carrying on with Ian McEwan's The Child in Time, have read a couple of pamphlets by Francis 'Drumming Up Poetry' Boua, have really enjoyed Sea Goat Who Screams Poetry's Twittering, Sheppard's latest sonnets, Writers' Cafe #18, Ailsa Cox's 'I Never Had a Mother', and quite a few things I can't remember because I read them in bursts from various different websites. So it all adds up, and I don't mean that in a bean-counting way, but, you know, you do feel more whole, and therefore more able to give more of yourself to your own work when you've been reading well. As a whole...

Anyway, there's actually some good news in this post. Here at Blogtastic, we can only apologise profusely for that, and assure you, dear reader, that normal, harrowing service will shortly be resumed.

Peace, love, and light,

Martin x

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