Coronavirus-itis

My husband showed me an article in The Atlantic about COVID-19 and I saw myself in it: Americans are used to moving forward in the face of fear. We don’t let fear stop us from living our lives. In the wake of 9/11, it makes sense. This was how I was mentally dealing with Coronavirus: just keep going. This is no big deal. Everyone is overreacting. I wouldn’t even blog about it.

The big difference is what we are defying isn’t terrorism but a virus. A couple of friends told me I was being an asshole about COVID-19 and it turns out they were right. But now I understand where my assholery came from.

I’m anxious. Will I lose my new job? What about our theater friends who have lost their show and waiter/bartending jobs? How will I get to my elderly parents if something happens to them? How long until someone I know gets sick, or someone I love dies?

Channeling anxiety into productivity is a challenge. I pulled out my bucket list and picked a few things to work on for the foreseeable social distancing. It’s important to pick tasks I can achieve in the short term (learn to armpit-fart. I’m not kidding! My nephew can also make a knee-fart) and the long term (finish my short story collection) so I feel accomplished throughout. I also want variety in the tasks, not just fart-noises or writing, and not just passive activity like binge-watching. My categories are: try something, learn something, start something and share something.

Try something. Now that my brilliant plan to outsource my health is foiled, I have to face the music and deal with my food issues and fitness on my own. I’ve had this Couch-to-5K app hanging out on my phone for forever so I finally caved.
Day 1: Running isn’t so bad.
Day 2: I’m very jiggly in weird places. I don’t like this.
Day 4: “I HATE YOU, RUNNING APP!” I screamed at my phone during one of the “walk” parts.
Day 7: This is still miserable but at least I’m outside.
Day 9: I’m running for longer stretches. I begrudgingly admit this is, maybe, a little, not so bad.

Learn something. Friends have offered to teach me to play chess throughout my life but I never took them up on it beyond a lesson or two. I lived above Chess Forum in the Village for a few years and never went inside. My husband bought me a Simpsons chess set that we have played exactly once. So, I signed up for lessons on Chess.com which also has an app. Need an idea? How about learning to sing, tie a tie, stretch your hamstrings? YouTube’s got you! If you can splurge, try a Master Class or two. There are dozens available taught by the legends of their fields.

Start something. I started this blog! I research topics that interest me, I write what I choose, and I watch a lot of WordPress videos on YouTube about layout and design. Whatever you’ve dreamt about but could never do, I am rooting for you to turn this stressful coronavirus situation into something positive for yourself. I believe in you. The millennials know: you do you!

Share something. Honestly, I don’t have any idea of something I can do that’s shareable beyond the short stories I tweet. I’m incredibly excellent at pinball, real and virtual, but no one wants to watch clips of me kicking Zen Pinball‘s ass. We are starving for new content. What are you great at? What’s your stupid human trick? Can you fancy-pan-flip an omelette? Got a cool card trick? Maybe this guy will inspire us.

How about you? Let me know what you’ll be working on in the Comment section below, or send me a message.

The Pivot Principle

November 16, 2019: I was two weeks into my new obsession with the Days of our Lives time jump story. It was soapy, sudsy awesomeness: Why is Sonny so sad? Why is Justin kissing Kayla? How did Adrienne die? Why is JJ on drugs? His girlfriend died?! WTF is Xander about? WHY IS WILL IN JAIL. WHY IS HE CELL MATES WITH THE GUY WHO MURDERED HIM A FEW YEARS AGO. Where’d that baby come from? What happened to the other baby? Kristen’s a nun? Why is Ciara a super sleuth? He’s the father of the alive baby and doesn’t know it, but she knows? Gabi is CEO!

It was such a blast because it was the perfect distraction from the sadness, and the rest of my life.

Generation X is well settled in to its midlife crisis, and so was I. My job depressed me. I was overweight and eating terribly. Worst of all, my writing was beyond stagnant. I fancy myself a scifi/fantasy writer (time travel’s my thing) and I hadn’t written much beyond a few short story drafts in a couple of years. Crappy job, crappy health, no creativity, and incredibly stuck. I wanted to change but I’d get paralyzed and overwhelmed and do nothing. So I threw myself into DAYS! Way more fun than throwing myself into me.

Back to November 16, 2019: As I wrote in my last entry, I was scouring the internet for DAYS spoilers. I found myself on Freddie and Alyssa’s YouTube page and stumbled on their audiobook The Pivot Principle. I clicked on “Chapter 10; Pivot Your Health.”

Both Alyssa and Freddie narrate the chapter but Freddie’s part got me. He talks about his issues with weight with a frankness and vulnerability that is brave and heartfelt. His quest for balance after following several “meal lifestyles” (I love this term) really got to me. He suggests writing out your goals and a detailed description of the outcome you want. Get specific about how to achieve them, and figure out your “why”.

I’d written out goals, but I’d never really thought about the details to achieve them. My goals are more like, “lose 30 lbs” or “exercise”, but I didn’t ever write down “log food every day” or “30 minutes of cardio 4 times a week.” I made a mental note to try it sometime soon, and moved on to “Introduction.”

There are a handful of times in my life when I’ve had an A-ha moment. When I recognize a truth that I feel in my heart and soul, this wave of tingles sweeps over my whole body. It’s how I know I’ve learned something important and I’m permanently changed. This happened to me when I heard Alyssa say at 2:42, “The magic you’re looking for is in the work you’re avoiding.”

The truth of her words literally changed me, right in that moment. My heart dropped. The tingles spread all over me. I had to catch my breath! How could someone so young be so wise? Alyssa and Freddie had an understanding of our world that eluded me.

I was ready to learn.

I grabbed my journal and started writing out my goals, and all the steps to achieve them.

Not just health/weight goals, but my career and my creative writing, too. It took several pages. I felt amazing when I finished. What else could I learn from the millennials?