Life Logs: Community Quarantine & Keeping Myself Sane

March 29, 2020

It's been a surreal start of the year. We've dealt with the unexpected eruption of the Taal volcano, the forest fire in Australia, and rumors of war because of the tension between the US and Iran. All of that happened just within the month of January. Today, three months into 2020, we are facing a longer and heavier challenge: the covid-19 pandemic. Sometimes I still don't believe that everything that's happening now is real - no schools in all levels, almost all businesses are closed (except for the essentials), and everyone is being encouraged to stay home. It feels like the dystopian world has crossed our reality, and the plots that we usually see in movies are now happening in real life. I wake up each day dreading to check the news. What are the trending topics on Twitter? How many people have been confirmed positive in the country? How many have died today? Did the government do something stupid again?

The first few days were a bit tough, especially for my mental health. I can't help but think of the worst, but I guess this is my defense mechanism working for my own safety. Because I have been spending my time mostly at home, I actually got to talk more with my parents, of which I am really thankful for (because I tend to usually do overtime at work). Since the number of confirmed cases started to rise in the country, I have repeatedly told them to just stay at home and allow me to do errands. Fortunately, the self-imposed policies I have given to them have aligned with what the local government implemented, and that's what's keeping them from negotiating to accompany me outside.

It kinda felt like the Universe prepared me for this role. I take pride in myself for having the life skills needed during these uncertain times. This is exactly the reason I learned how to drive - so that I am capable of doing stuff for my folks during emergencies. This also further validates that service is really my love language. I actually enjoy doing these stuff for my folks. I am comfortable driving alone now. I still suck at back parking by the way, and I learned how to trust my gut feel when it says no, the car is in the wrong angle and won't smoothly fit the slot. It's easier to drive around now because there are lesser cars on the road. It's kind of dangerous actually because there was this one time where I got a bit distracted that I didn't notice that I was approaching an intersection. I looked at the traffic lights at the last minute. Good thing it was still green (40 secs remaining). I thank the Heavens for taking care of me. Lesson learned: always be on alert when on the road!

I felt like I needed to constantly step up and challenge myself. Initially my parents were not confident with me driving too far on my own, but I have to prove to them, and to myself, that I can actually do it. This also roots from that incident at work wherein at that time I was involved in a project that was critical and confidential because it's being tracked by external auditors. I always wondered why my superiors didn't give me the chance to own that project, and then I realized that I should have shown them that I was confident and capable of handling it. If they saw the initiative from me, they'll become less worried and would let me do things on my own. I realized that that's the right attitude to wing it.

On a more positive side of things, I am now confident with buying vegetable supplies. This is because I have been accompanying my folks on their trips to the wet market. I have also been regularly cooking at home, so I knew what things were needed (well it's about time honey) I have been sending out this feeling to the Universe that hey, I'm now ready to be a homemaker... I just need to finally meet someone hehe 😅💓. 

Grocery Encounters
During my escapades to the grocery, there were a lot of heartbreaking and heartwarming emotions. Well let's go first with the negative stuff. Because there are no public transportation anymore, most people have no choice but to go on foot to reach their destinations. This is a real challenge for those going to the supermarket to get their supplies. I have seen an elderly man walking alone along the road while carrying lots of supermarket bags. Then just today along the high-way, I walked passed by a woman who was pulling a trolley cart loaded with boxes under the scorching heat of the midday sun. I still see some elderly that are alone doing their shopping or lining up at the pharmacy. This situation raises a lot of questions for me -- why are they alone? Are there no young ones available to do this for them? Are they not afraid of the virus? While I was lining up to buy some rice, I got to talk to this elderly man who was shopping alone. He told me he just lives nearby and he just walked to get to the supermarket. He was planning to buy just 2 kilos of rice so it would be easy for him to carry it home (of which I was embarrassed when I told him I was buying 25 kilos of the more expensive kind). I pray that he was able to reach home safely and he stays healthy as well.

On a lighter note, although I always felt wary whenever I go out to buy supplies, I tend to find ways to get myself relax and entertained. Good thing I was so used to waiting in line now because that's a common situation when I ride the shuttle home from work. I saw one lolo playing Nintendo switch while waiting in line (wow! 🎮) and I found that really cool. People instruct the oldies to immediately go straight to the entrance when they see them walking towards the back, searching for the end of the line. I am glad people are more sensitive with guiding and protecting the elderly. 

The younger ones, (like me woot woot) who have been chosen as "tribute", now flock the supermarkets to buy supplies for each of their households. I find it funny that most of us are carrying pieces of paper with the list of items to buy, and are stopping awkwardly at the isles repeatedly looking and double-checking the list. With the more techie ones, they are live chatting and video-calling with their moms and siblings asking for instructions on which items on the shelve to purchase.

A different kind of pass to add to my collection. 😅
Although I have been accompanying my parents to the wet market to buy our vegetable supplies, I discovered today that I didn't know what chili leaves look like. I also cannot distinguish talbos ng kamote from kangkong (they freakin' look the same!) and because of that I accidentally bought some alugbati. Oh well, the more the merrier, right? While in line at the counter, I found myself watching the TV at the counter wherein ads from Smart and TNT were playing. I couldn't help but snicker at the Gatas at Tsaa and Isang Kilong Tiis skits. Good thing I was wearing a mask or else I would look like an idiot.

Fighting Boredom
In spite of everything that is happening, I am very fortunate because I still can continue my routines as normal as possible. I currently work from home and it just feels like my usual setup for Mondays and Fridays have expanded for the whole of the week. Next week would mark the first month streak of this setup. I expected that I would have experienced cabin fever by this time, but the good thing is -- I am actually doing okay. Being an introvert plays a huge role with how I am adapting with this new setup. I feel like I'm just in hibernation mode (just like with bears lol 🐻) and just waiting for the winter to pass. Well just like the seasons, this too shall pass. I do miss going out. I miss going to the office and hanging out with my friends. For now unfortunately, we all have no choice if we really want to conquer this contagious virus.

How do we keep ourselves entertained while being stuck at home? Surprisingly I haven't felt bored because I always had things to do, and no I actually don't have time to Netflix and chill. Here are some of them:
  • Maintaining this blog is actually keeping me sane. If you've noticed, I have been unusually posting a lot this month. I still have a lot in my backlog so there's really no downtime for me.
  • It's also great timing that I maintain a bullet journal now so I constantly have tasks as top-of-mind priorities each day.
  • There have been a lot of online activities that became available, and I try to keep myself engaged. I have participated in (free!) online classes by I Go Beyond Yoga. There's also the #AstroAtHome lecture series done by the Philippine Astronomical Society.
My inner astronomy enthusiast is alive again. 🪐
  • Being physically active is a great challenge today (it's so tempting to just lay in bed all day). I heard my colleagues complaining (during our zoom meetings) that they feel like they're getting fatter each day that passed. Meanwhile for me, I am experiencing the contrary. I have been more physically active these days more than ever! Before the enhanced community quarantine came to place, I was beginning to get invested with those 30-day challenge exercises (thanks to a colleague's advice). I have been doing planks everyday and since the work-from-home setup, doing this became even easier! Immediately after work hours I would set up my yoga mat and do 30-second planks. Each week I bring it up to 10 seconds longer. I am currently at the 50-second stage and I am proud to say that I am feeling my body getting stronger. 💪🔥  There's also this 30-day yoga routine I am following on Youtube. Exercise releases endorphins, so I guess that's what lifts my mood everyday.
  • I am also spending more time meditating, and Headspace has been helping me with this journey.
  • An then there's the online concerts! You know how much I love artists and concerts so much, so I was hugely delighted when musicians started doing this live concert sessions over at Facebook and Instagram (thanks to Chris Martin of Coldplay for being the trailblazer!). I super loved watching Chris' performance (his bandmates were very accurate in describing him as this huge ball of energy in their documentary). Many artists followed suit, and one of them is my all-time favorite Vanessa Carlton. I am a huge fan of hers and I will always remember my "missed concert opportunity" memory of her. This is why seeing her live performances on IG and learning that she is still making music (and actually just released a new album this week) made my fangirl heart so happy. 💓😍 I also got the watch THE Ryan Cayabyab and THE Andrew Lloyd Webber play some tunes on the piano on Facebook.
  • I was so inspired with the musicians I watched online so I'm starting to play the piano more often now. I have relearned playing (half of) Joe Hisaishi's Summer (which I studied playing years ago) and Viva La Vida  by Coldplay (just the chords hehehe).
  • I do miss my friends at work so we set up a recurring meeting to just go on Zoom and chat. It's a requirement for us to turn on the webcam and I found myself playing around the virtual background feature. 😂
  • Because our internet connection has a data cap, I consciously have to limit my online activities, especially now that I am working from home (no internet = no work can be done!). So I am going back to the old school way of consuming media -- using my oldie but goodie mp3 player to listen to songs and looking through my torrent-downloaded movies archive to check for titles to watch.
  • I play with our pet cats and dogs. I envy their innocence from this pandemic. Indeed, ignorance is bliss.
Today, I'm healthy and I have my dearest family with me. Tomorrow, it might not be the case. And so I strive to treasure each day as if it's my last. This mindset is slowly pushing procrastination out of the picture. I don't want to have regrets. No one knows how long we'll have to do self-isolation, but one thing's for sure -- this won't last forever, like all things in life, really.

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