Lockdown. What a scary word for this modern 21st century society that we live in. It implies disturbance, isolation, prison inmates, authoritarianism. But that’s where we’re at, and we have no choice but to make the best of it (while it lasts.)
It’s troubling and oddly pleasurable at the same time.
One thing is sure: without the internet, we’d all be cut off (literally!) and feeling suicidal. Along with everyone else, the internet allows me to connect with friends near and far. And when I say near, I mean my next door neighbor who lives on the other side of my kitchen wall. The good news is that I re-connected with two old friends with whom I lost contact for more than a decade. Back in the 1990s, we worked together in a law firm in Paris. Then we all moved on, me to different jobs, F back to the north of Wales and A back to Glasgow. Well, thanks to F who found me via my blog, we’re all three of us back in touch again via email.
Here are some of the other things I’ve been enjoying since the world, as we knew it, shut down:
The quiet, the birdsong, the clean air. It’s like living deep in the countryside, but I know it won’t last. Already there’s more traffic than last week, and the irritating noise of scooters.
The radio. I’ve always listened to the radio, but the programs seem to be more inventive and entertaining now. Thank you France Inter, France Culture, TSF Jazz and comedy sketches at 97.4 FM called Rires et Chansons (Laughs and Songs). Oh, and BBC Radio Four.
Audiobooks! In fact, I only have one, purchased in London about twelve years ago. While I was reorganizing my CD collection, I found it pushed to the back of the shelf and forgotten. It’s William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, read by English actor Tim Pigott-Smith, and it’s brilliant! While I stood on a step stool dusting and reorganizing my book and DVD shelves, I listened in rapt attention. I’m going to buy more audiobooks, that’s for sure.
Rediscovering old movies and watching them in the middle of the afternoon. Again, while dusting and reorganizing my DVD collection, I came across some great old movies that had been pushed to the back of the shelf and forgotten. What a guilty pleasure to stretch across my bed at 3 o’clock in the afternoon to watch Thelma and Louise, American Beauty, Leaving Las Vegas, All About Eve, Frozen River, Woman in Gold (not all at the same time), to name a few. I’ve come to the realization that I have a pretty good DVD collection! Which is a good thing because the current offerings on Netflix bore me.
Spending less money. All the shops are closed, except for grocery stores. Nowhere to spend. I miss buying flowers at my local florist. The other day at the grocery store I bought a pot of fresh basil to pose as a plant.
Time, just time for oneself. What a luxury. Time to sort through papers, cupboards and drawers. Time to clean and do laundry. My apartment has never been so neat and orderly. Time to sit and read a book. While waiting to go out and buy Emily St. John Mandel’s new book, The Glass Hotel, I’m re-reading her previous best-seller, Station Eleven. If you haven’t read it, it’s a dystopian novel about a massive flu pandemic and “a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.” I’m also re-reading two other old favorite books: Donna Tartt’s brilliantly-written The Secret History and Sarah Hall’s The Carhullan Army.
And last but not least, time to work on my own book project. As Joyce Carol Oates says in her Masterclass presentation, “The great enemy of writing is being interrupted. Constant interruptions are the destruction of the imagination.” I have no excuses now.