Me and White Supremacy

books, stuff

Laylaa F Saad began an Instagram challenge called #MeAndWhiteSupremacy where she encouraged people to own up and share their racist behaviours, big and small. Thousands of people participated and from this project the Me and White Supremacy book was born; with added historical and cultural contexts, stories, anecdotes, definitions, examples and further resources. The book leads readers through a journey of understanding white privilege and their participation in white supremacy so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage of black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) and in turn, help other white people do better too. It is clear from the onset that this work will be uncomfortable, painful and necessary. Even if you already have an understanding of white fragility, cultural appropriation, and tokenism, methodically working through and examining your own complicity in them is another thing entirely. This is essential work for all white people.

White privilege – inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice
White supremacy – the belief that white people constitute a superior race and should therefore dominate society, typically to the exclusion or detriment of other racial and ethnic groups, in particular black or Jewish people
White fragility – discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice
Cultural appropriation – the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society
Tokenism – the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from under-represented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce

In light of the BLM protests, a friend of mine set up a book club for us to explore this book. As a group, we decided to meet weekly and share our journaling responses to the chapters. Saad sets out the most effective way this can be done as a group to ensure that it is a safe space for sharing. Before starting work, I genuinely thought that racism was negative words and actions said and done towards black and people of colour. I believed that I hadn’t ever been racist because I had never acted in this way. I didn’t think I really had any work to do around racism because I was a good person who believed everyone should be treated equally. Working through this book taught me just how wrong I was. I had limiting beliefs, I had unknowingly benefited from my white privilege, I had tone policed people of colour and I had been a performative ally. Responding to the questions posed by Saad made me go deep into my childhood – growing up in a Cornish town where there was one person of colour in my whole secondary school, challenge my behaviour when dating black men in the past and acknowledge where I have disregarded the experience of black, indigenous and people of colour.

Something that becomes very apparent through the book is the need to call out/in friends, family, colleagues, random strangers when you witness behaviour that needs to be challenged. This is something that I never thought I’d be able to do. I’ve heard problematic comments and I have been silent. Doing this work in a group setting gave us the chance to talk through real life experiences and workshop the best ways to respond whilst also exploring how they may respond to your actions (white centering/fragility). Putting this into practise is hard but isn’t comparable to the hard shit that BIPOC have to go through as a result of my and other white people’s actions. I finally feel like if I lose people as a result of calling them in/out then c’est la vie.

I’ll be honest – the work was hard and at times I wanted to give up. I felt apathetic & then there was a chapter about white apathy. Saad totally hits the nail on the head when she says that it is absolute white privilege that we get to opt out of this work when we want to and disengaging cannot be an option. I felt proud when we completed the 28 days but knew that this wasn’t where the work finished, it is where it begins. We were asked to list our actions that we would be taking forward over the next 2 weeks and beyond and committed to holding each other accountable. There is so much that we can do with our money and time to support BIPOC and we have to do that over and over again. It is baffling how many people/companies shared social media posts in solidarity during the BLM protests and have since been silent. It is not up to BIPOC people to tell you what you can do or how you can help. This shit is on you.

Recommendations:


– Read Me and White Supremacy
– Read Why I’m no longer talking to White people about race
– Financially support charities/projects ran by BIPOC for BIPOC
– Ask charities/projects how you can best support them
– Get involved in local protests
– Listen to the About Race podcast
– Listen to the Woke Up podcast
– Diversify the media you consume and those you follow on social media
– Challenge spaces that aren’t diverse or are tokenistic
– Have conversations about racism with your friends/family
– Take ownership of where you have done wrong in the past and apologize
Think about where you hold influence and how you can use this to be a force for good

Thirty, flirty and thriving

stuff

I have always wanted to be older. I am the youngest of 3 and desperately wanted to be in my brother and sister’s gang. I hated playing by myself and would spend the Summer holidays asking my Mum when it was time to go back to school. I loved being around people and I loved the sense that a new year at school meant I was moving up in the world and one step closer to being a grown up. At that time being a grown up meant being in year 6 and ruling the roost but in later years it was my constant drive to be moving onto what was next. At secondary school, during a nasty patch of bullying, I remember telling my parents how ready I was to go to University. I was 13 at the time. I always felt mature for my age and I looked older too (I feel like I’ve been 5ft11 since I was 8) so I wanted to be with my equals who didn’t pick on me for not having a Jane Norman bag for my PE Kit or for preferring a night watching a musical at the theatre to underage drinking in the park.

I also had some complex stuff I was dealing with in my family life which conflicted the standard parent/child dynamics all whilst trying to sit my GCSE’s and then A-Levels. I definitely didn’t do as well as I could in school but my brain felt so full of other stuff that I didn’t have room for finding the value of ‘X’. There was a huge lack of support for my wellbeing not helped by the fact that I absolutely did not want to talk about it. When things settled on that side of things, I felt like I’d missed out on the time that is really important for a young person growing up and figuring out the world. I guess what it bottles down to is that I spent a lot of my teens feeling really fucking lost. I was so unsure of myself and didn’t know who I was, what I liked or where I was going. Looking back, it feels kind of sad that I spent so much time wishing away my younger years and not being present in my childhood and teens.

University was a time of real transformation. Moving from a small town bubble to a big city meant I had the chance to make friends with people from all over the UK (and beyond) and forge friendships from mutual interests and not because we’ve been forced into the same form group. I also got to study Drama and Creative Writing which I loved with other people who loved them too. I didn’t care that I didn’t know what I wanted to do after University, I was finally living my life and being an adult and I could eat pizza every night for dinner and my Mum couldn’t force me to finish my peas before I got down from the table. The confidence I gained at University meant that the day after my graduation, I travelled to Canada to spend a month with a friend I hadn’t seen since I was 9. This would have been unthinkable to the anxious child and paranoid teenager I was but University had really changed me. The world was my oyster.

Repressing a lot of stuff as a teen was always going to catch up with me and a large part of my twenties has been spent nurturing my inner child and younger self. I have definitely made a whole load of mistakes since graduating from University but I feel now that every decision I have made has lead me to the place I am today and I’m doing ok! Yes, I’ve had a lot un-fulfilling relationships with men but they have lead me to a blissfully happy in a relationship with a woman where I am able to voice my needs and truly believe that I deserve to have them met. Yes, I’ve worked myself to breaking point in the past but I now know the power of rest, boundaries and my own self-worth and care. I feel like I finally know who I am. I know what I like and I sort of know where I’m going. I think growing older is a privilege.

I am stepping into my thirties and it feels really good.

Boundaries

books, stuff

Last week I listened to The Joy of Being Selfish by Michelle Elman and honestly, it rocked my world. I have always been a textbook people pleaser and would always put other’s needs before my own. I have been called a door mat, someone with no backbone and a push over. I took pride in being the person that others always go to in their hour of need and the more I gave out, the better of a person I felt. Until I didn’t.

I have always let people have a lot of access to me. From my fleeting years of (low-level) Instagram fame where I shared the most intimate details of my experiences with mental health and an eating disorder, to never turning my phone off and always allowing people to get in touch with me whenever they wanted and I would always reply, straight away. From listening to Elman’s book, I realise now that I was showing myself a complete lack of self respect and the only way for me to really practise self love and put energy back into myself is through boundaries. This felt like a scary concept but boundaries will strengthen the relationships that matter because the more respect I show myself and the more respect I demand, the more I will be given.

I initially started the book because I was struggling with someone I know. Conversations we had would replay in my mind when I tried to go to bed and would ruin my weekends because I’d be worrying about seeing them again the following week. They spoke to me rudely, sent me relentless Whatsapps and always called me at bad times. Sure, their conduct was inappropriate but I was allowing them to continue this behaviour by always responding, further confirming that any threats I made such as ‘please stop sending me Whatsapps’ had no roots. The more access I allowed them, the more ‘taken advantage’ of I felt and something needed to shift. This book gave me the tools to have a conversation with them where I laid out my boundaries and then I stuck to them.

Setting boundaries works, you can take ownership of your time and take no bullshit. Another thing that has helped navigating tricky relationships is that I don’t get to control how people react to me – my only power is how I choose to respond. Their response to my words/actions is not my responsibility and thinking about it on a Saturday night when I’m trying to watch Ant and Dec’s Saturday night takeaway, isn’t going to achieve anything positive or change what they are thinking. I do however, have the power to choose how I respond to myself and treating myself with kindness and allowing myself the time to switch off fully is something productive that I can do.

Boundaries with acquaintances is one thing but I also needed to instate boundaries with my friends and family. I have decided that I will do this by:

– Not being accessible to everyone all the time by turning off my phone and not responding to messages right away. Responding to messages quickly means that I rarely process what I am saying and also means I regularly agree to things that I don’t want to do. Responding to messages when with others is also just plain rude (unless it’s an emergency obvs). I also will respect other’s boundaries by not expecting people to reply to me immediately.

– Saying no if I don’t want to do something and not give a reason why. I used to really struggle with saying no to plans but I realise now that a gap in my diary doesn’t mean I always need to say yes. In the past, if I turned down a social invite I would worry that I would have upset someone or that they would be angry at me for not attending. Now, I realise that if I don’t want to do something then I am not going to have fun doing that thing and other’s aren’t going to have fun doing it me. I have the power to choose how I want to spend my time and this means that when I do spend time with others it’s because I really want to. I also will respect other’s boundaries by accepting if they say no to me.

– Being clear when I do not have the capacity to take on someone else’s emotional load. I want to be honest and upfront with friends who need support as to if I am able to give them my time. If I’m not, it is much better for everyone if they reach out to someone else and if I am able to give them my time then it means I am present in that and able to support them fully. I also will respect other’s boundaries by asking before I want to dump my emotions on them.

I’ve realised that I do not need to be liked because I get to define if I am a good person. It is a sure thing that setting boundaries is going to rattle some people because suddenly, they don’t have the unrelenting access to me that they previously had. I have decided that a negative response to my boundary setting will show that they were previously taking advantage of my lack of boundaries and not because I have done anything wrong. Something that really impressed me about Elman’s book is the practical examples of where you need boundaries and how you can set them, as well as how to respond to those who do not respect them. Finishing ‘The Joy of Being Selfish’ left me feeling empowered to take back control of my life. There is so much more I could tell you about boundaries but ultimately they are an extremely personal choice. I would highly recommend reading the book and thinking about where you can set them in your own life because you deserve to reclaim your time, energy and self-belief.


The things getting me through this never ending lockdown

stuff

The Great Pottery Throw Down

Sometimes, something happens that makes you 100% sure that you have found the one. The moment Zoe turned to me and said ‘Do you fancy watching The Great Pottery Throw Down?’ was one of those moments. I am an avid Bake off fan. I jumped on the bandwagon late with the Nadiyah series but half way through watching, I began from series 1 and watched them all by the time we saw the Queen crowned. I was hooked and also very confused as to which contestant was on which series because I was watching too many different series at once (Classic me). This is the third series of Throw Down and oh my goodness. It is honestly, wonderful and *whispers* I like it more than Bake off. There was something about the move to Channel 4 that irked me about GBBO and I never found myself as invested since ad breaks were introduced and the history section was scrapped along with the holy trinity of Mez Bez and Mel and Sue. For some reason, this hasn’t been the same with Throw Down. I am 100% invested in the journeys of every single potter and I cry week in week out. There is so much I love about it and if you’re quick, you can get through the 5 episodes that have already aired and watch live with the nation every Sunday night. It’s worth it, promise.

  • The head judge Keith cries when someone does well. This is relatable for me and now when Keith cries, I cry. Rarely do we see an emotionally engaged man on TV. Paul Hollywood is adored for being a meany but I will eat my hat if you watch Throw Down and don’t instantly want Keith to be your Dad. He’s lush.
  • The series is doing well in terms of diversity. There is still a way to go BUT it is so nice to see different body types, sexualities, nationalities, races all together making really nice crockery. My fave is Rose, the pottery assistant and the self-proclaimed ‘trans kiln witch’.
  • I don’t know anything about pottery, I’ve made one pinch pot in my life time and it is fun to watch something completely new and learn about the creative process behind the household objects we take for granted. With Bake Off, I feel like we know the challenges and themes like we know how predictable the Hollywood handshake is but with Throw Down everything is new and exciting and the challenges are really different. One week they’re making dainty ceramic daisies and the next…bricks.
  • There is a real escapism in just watching nice people doing something nice and being nice to each other. I’m all for it.

Puzzle books

A couple of weeks ago, I needed to buy something from the corner shop to get change for the laundrette. As I’m trying to kick my Diet coke habit, I instead reached for a puzzle book. I’m not sure why.. maybe because Philip Schofield was on the cover.. who knows. Whilst my washing tumbled, I was absolutely hooked by cross words, word searches, arrow words and sudoku. My washing finished and I couldn’t leave until I worked out the year Torville and Dean won Gold (1984, you’re welcome). I have decided my favourite are word searches because they don’t require you to know anything and you can’t cheat. I now have a bumper book of 189 word searches to get through. I look like a Nan, wrapped up in my blanket, highlighter in hand and before I know it a good hour has past and my cup of tea has gone cold. I am in the matrix, I eat word searches for breakfast. I also may or may not have applied for a TV game show and whilst there won’t be a round on word searches (if there is, the other contestants can eat my dirt) I’m doing some brain gym and surely that is going to help when asked v.tricky general knowledge questions that I have zero general knowledge about.

Learning stuff

If you are have got this far in the blog post you deserve to know that not only have I applied for a TV game show but I am now through to the final audition to actually be on a TV game show. I am on a quest to learn everything there is to know so I don’t get turned into a meme. Even if I don’t make it onto the programme, I’m going to be the pub quiz assassin and you will all want me on your team. My weakest subjects are Geography and Sport so this last week I have been revising. I have now covered the Continents, Oceans, Space and Capital cities. I might not be the sharpest tool in the box but once I’ve learnt something I am pretty good at remembering it. I did not get on with my Geography teacher one bit and spent the majority of the classes sat outside in the corridor so I have had to do some serious ground work and I’m weirdly..enjoying it?! Take that Mr Clarke and your stupid maps that no-one wants to colour in, you asshole.

Podcasts

Off Menu Podcast
Shagged Married Annoyed
How to Fail
I have limited myself to 3 podcasts because I am a completionist and there are only so many hours of the day and I am busy watching people make pottery, doing quizzes and learning stuff. These three tick my boxes. Download them and thank me later.

How to fail

stuff

I recently started listening to Elizabeth Day’s podcast where she invites celebs to share 3 of their failures. It’s really great. If like me, you’ve been living under a rock, here it is and you only have 79 episodes to get through. God speed. Inspired by my new listening & my pal Imi’s post I thought I would share 3 of my own failures. Recognising where you’ve failed gives you the chance to celebrate where you have succeeded and more importantly recognise that failing is ok, that it is all part of being a wonderfully flawed human.

Doing a forward roll

I cannot do a forward roll. I never have and I never will. For the first 16 years of my life this was extremely stressful. Through the primary school ages, I dreaded the lessons when those squishy blue mats would be brought out ready for tumbling. Need someone to demonstrate a perfect teddy bear roll? Sign me up. Need someone to demonstrate a perfect forward roll? I suddenly really need the toilet. I remember once at a church BBQ I got all of the adults to take in turns to coach me how to do a forward roll. I wanted to be able to go into school next week and not feel sick with nerves that I’d be asked to do one and maybe I just needed the right teacher. It felt like everyone in the whole world to could do a forward roll except me and when I still couldn’t do one after 3 hours of coaching and a regular intake of hot dogs I thought my life was officially over. I despairingly asked my sister’s friend what I should do about the dreaded p.e. class coming up next week because I had checked the weather and it was going to rain which meant we’d definitely be on those pissing blue mats. He wisely suggested I forget my p.e. kit. So I did. Crisis averted. For now.

Through the secondary school years, the stakes felt even higher but luckily my forgery skills had come on since the age of 6 and I could get myself excused from any lessons that included the word gymnastics. Weirdly 10 minutes into the lesson I would suddenly realise I had a letter saying I couldn’t participate due to cramps (sorry Mum!). It goes to show that no male p.e. teacher had a good grasp of menstrual cycles because my periods lasted for weeks on end and none of them pulled me in for a chat, concerned about the sheer amount of blood I must be losing.

Luckily, since secondary school I have never been asked to do a forward roll and I have since met other people who can’t do one either (solidarity, my friends). This failure embodies my complete fear of letting other people down but in hindsight I don’t think anyone was particularly bothered by my lack of gym mat skills.. except me.

Driving

I am 29 years old and I cannot drive. I would much rather walk, run, cycle, get the bus, crawl or skip thank you very much. The thought of driving makes me feel sick and I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the place where I actually want to learn to drive. I fleetingly did driving lessons shortly after my 17th Birthday and I think I got to the bit when you start doing manoeuvres and then my driving instructor quit and I convinced myself it was because I had let him down in some way. After that I did a few lessons with a new instructor who was so passive aggressive she made me cry and I vowed I would never try again. I hate being bad at stuff and I thought I must be the worst person who has ever tried to learn to drive. In reality, I had hardly had any lessons and it takes time to be able to safely drive a hunk of mental around the mean streets of the very small town I grew up in which in hindsight would be a much easier place to learn in than the big bad city of Bristol. Sigh.

I still feel frozen with fear at the thought of getting back in the drivers seat. I don’t think it’s too much of a big deal that I can’t drive until I want to do a big food shop or not get on a Megabus which always smells of feet.

Boundaries

Boundaries is such a buzz word at the moment and I use it a lot but I absolutely suck at actually implementing them. The queen of multi-tasking, answering emails at midnight and putting away laundry whilst also on loud speaker chatting to someone I definitely didn’t need to be chatting to. The nature of my anxiety means that I love having a packed diary because the more I do the less I need to think. My favourite days at work are the ones that whizz by because I just have so much to do and it’s only recently that I’ve realised how unhealthy that is. For years I allowed my time to be sucked up by everything and anyone and never carve out time for me just to be. I think I’m getting better at this but I can easily find myself slipping back into it because old habits die hard. I said to my therapist once that I was exhausted because so many people needed stuff from me, I was trying to keep so many spinning plates spinning and it just wasn’t fair. Rather than sympathising with me she told me that maybe I find my worth in needing to be needed and she’d absolutely hit the nail on the head. I am regularly serving from an empty cup & I.am.thirsty.



2021 and Lockdown 3.0

stuff

We glugged the sweet fizz of prosecco as we saw in the New Year with (the rightful King of the Castle) Jordan North. We grabbed panettone by the fistful and danced to 80’s pop and I allowed myself to feel quietly optimistic about 2021. Like a modern day Cinderella I wanted the stroke of midnight to mean something and instead of leaving my shoe on the staircase as I ran outside, I wanted to leave the pandemic and all the other shit we’re carrying and firmly close the door behind me. But no such luck. We opened the door and outside there was a thick frosty fog filling the streets. You couldn’t even see your hand infront of your face and it didn’t feel like a very good omen. But hey, stranger things have happened and maybe 2021 really will be the year that all my dreams come true.

I have a love/hate relationship with new years resolutions. For a long time they would be a reason to berate myself into a new diet or exercise regime to shrink myself as much as possible. In more recent times, they would be an opportunity to say ‘THIS IS THE YEAR I WILL LOVE MY BODY NO MATTER WHAT OK’ and then 3 days later when I am squeezing into some leggings and not feeling so kind with my inner thoughts, I would have officially ruined my resolution and face planted the entire contents of my fridge. Rules don’t work for me, even if they’re positive ones.

So instead of resolutions, this year I’ve put our 3 hopes into the Universe. One is a big one and the other ones are a little bit silly. If I don’t achieve any of them then everything will still be ok and the world will keep on turning. This is the first year I didn’t even consider making any resolutions that revolve around my body which is extremely refreshing. So instead..

A house

I would really really like to buy a house this year. It would be nice to have more space and a garden but if that doesn’t work out, we have a little flat which is home and a place I feel safe in and that is more than enough.

Olio & Duolingo

I would really really like to use these apps a bit more. But if I don’t collect ‘x’ amount of bags for life full of gone off pastries or complete a 300 day streak of learning french.. c’est la vie!

1 second a day

I would really really like to remember to record my 1 second video every day so on the 31st December 2021 I have something nice to look at and if I don’t remember one day that isn’t a call for me to give up completely and instead just to pick it up when I remember again.

The stakes of all of these hopes are low, lower than low, the lowest because none of them actually really matter. If seeing the 1st January as a blank slate works for you then you do you but I am done with the pressure. Besides, I think we all have quite enough to be dealing with right now trying to keep up with if we are allowed to hug our nan, meet up in a pissing cold park, or stay 1 or 2 meter’s apart from the lurker in the corner shop.

God speed into lockdown 3 and again, please don’t invite me to your Zoom quiz.

In review: 2020

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The year filled with so much hope will end in 13 days (how apt). I have 30 hours left of work until I put on that sweet out of office and pour myself an extremely large gin. This year has been fucking awful but I am determined to find some glitter in the grey. So here we go.

  • I got a girlfriend
  • I got a girlfriend who likes sharing out chores and emotional labour
  • My family didn’t abandon me when I told them about aforementioned gf
  • I had therapy that helped untangle my issues around dependency
  • I made real leaps and bounds in my eating disorder recovery
  • I bought more shoes so that I don’t only wear one pair of running shoes all day every day
  • I decided I liked marmite after 29 years of thinking I hated it
  • I started swimming again in rivers, lakes, lidos and swimming pools
  • I got a tattoo!!!!!
  • I bought a bike, had cycling lessons and didn’t fall off…yet
  • I read a shit ton of books. Currently on #60
  • I went in a float tank and it kind of felt like I’d taken mushrooms
  • I made a real effort to ditch fast fashion and have massively reduced my spending habits
  • I gave lots of time to volunteering
  • I learnt how to speak French, 100 day streak on Duolingo baby
  • I stood up for myself more
  • I think I ate peanut butter every day (potentially fake news)
  • I climbed a real actual mountain
  • I got to live in 2 v.different parts of the city that I love
  • I completed an award winning amount of levels on Candy Crush
  • I discovered new nice green spaces to explore
  • I fell in love with new music, tv, poems and podcasts
  • I am the proud owner of a ladder bookshelf
  • I finally found out what is wrong with my feet and how to help them
  • I stopped wearing make-up and feel liberated by my fresh face
  • I did some half arsed calligraphy
  • I got paid to do some writing
  • I got paid to do a focus group about vaginas
  • I proved I’m an adult by buying a sofa on credit
  • I managed to keep my job and business despite having 98541 melt downs
  • I managed to get some decent dollar into my savings account
  • I connected with new and old friends in meaningful ways
  • I kept my sanity during a worldwide pandemic yeaah woooo!

Ok that did actually make me feel a little bit better and I highly suggest you give it a go and tell me in the comments if you want but don’t if it’s going to make me feel bad. Just kidding. Sort of.

24/7

stuff

A few days ago I found out by the power of a judgmental app that in the previous 7 days I had been on my phone for 24 hours, the equivalent of one whole day out of my week. During this time I had – chatted to friends, learnt French, ordered things, did online banking and for the remaining 90% of the time, doom scrolled on Instagram. The app even showed how long I was using my mobile each time I unlocked, ranging from 7 seconds to a full hour.

I have always had a complex relationship with my phone and feel like I am continually trying to work out what works best for me – removing social media completely, letting myself a set amount of time to go on my favourite apps, alarms to tell me I have been on my phone too long or just turning it off completely. When I go cold turkey and put my phone away in a drawer, I feel great but as soon as the time creeps nearer for us to be reunited I literally get a rush of adrenaline, my heart starts beating and I can’t get off it until everything has been seen, responded to and completed which is impossible because as soon as you’re done someone does another bloody Instagram story.

I wrote this blog post where I concluded that a 7 day detox had changed my relationship with my phone for good and I would now be a lot more mindful with how I use this annoyingly intelligent piece of technology but lets be honest, it didn’t stick. I’m not mad at myself for being addicted to my phone because that is literally what they are designed to do. I watched the Social dilemma a few months ago and decided I would never use social media again and then the next day I posted what I was eating for dinner.

I feel my main ties to my phone lie in Whatsapp and Instagram. I have increased the amount of people I follow on Instagram which might sound counterproductive but when I follow less people I feel like I need to be up to date with everyone’s dull antics. Following more people has made it literally impossible to do that so now I can pick and choose the content I engage with. Whatsapp is a bit of a beast, I miss the days of saying ‘ptb’ at the end of a text message and then having to wait 3-5 working days until my mate had saved up their pocket money to get a top-up and then finally got back to me. Messages were long, squeezing in the absolute maximum of characters instead of the constant dialogue that Whatsapp encourages. I tried to use my Whatsapp account like old school sms, spending time before I responded and then sending a full paragraph to engage in more meaningful comms but that isn’t ideal when your gf just wants to know if you want salmon for dinner.

I don’t have the answers but I do know I need to use my phone less. These last 2 days the judgmental app tells me I have used my phone around an hour each day which means my usage has been reduced dramatically since I was presented with the cold hard facts and a graph to rival those on BBC news when a new covid announcement comes (next slide please). I’ve realized that when I have days when I have seen friends in person, I don’t reach for my phone as much. I’ve noticed that I am constantly craving connection and the best way for me to do that is to be present and irl with the people I want to chat to..which isn’t ideal when there is a global pandemic making it illegal to be close enough to have a chat without shouting.

So I’m going to be kind to myself whilst I muddle through this and not put any hard and fast rules about how I use my phone. As soon as I make a rule I want to break it. I can only use my phone for an hour a day? Watch me use it for seven. The thing I want to do is just use it a bit less and that’s something I reckon I can manage. At the end of the day if something is important, they will call you, promise.

We got covid-19. How’s that for clickbait?

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Last Thursday we were watching TV when Zoe said she had a headache. We thought it was because of our plug in heaters that turn our tiny flat into the Bahamas but smell a bit weird so we turned them off and decided to get an early night. Before we went to sleep I said that Zoe should book a covid test because she felt really hot. Luckily we managed to book her one for the next morning in the car park of our old University. We woke up on Friday and Zoe felt back to normal after a good sleep and I now had a headache and felt hot but the heaters weren’t on so we couldn’t blame them. I decided I should probably get a test too but couldn’t get one in the same time slot as Zoe so she went for hers then drove home and got me and took me for mine and all of the staff said funny things like ‘Back again already?’. It wasn’t very funny. Swabbing your tonsil and up your nose to your brain whilst gagging and trying not to sneeze is a pretty sexy activity to watch your partner do. A guy in full PPE came and collected my test using litter pickers and we headed home feeling slightly guilty that we got tested because we didn’t really feel ill anymore and maybe I was just hot because we sleep underneath a mountain of blankets.

Then it was the weekend and we stayed inside like good girls and laughed about how we definitely don’t have Coronavirus but then we did. Zoe’s test came back on Sunday morning and mine followed on Monday. We were really shocked because lots of friends had had more intense symptoms and had tested negative and I even said I would put all my savings on us not having it. Thank God we didn’t shake on it. From Monday I felt progressively worse – really fatigued and with complete loss of smell, taste and appetite. I’ve been sleeping for 12-13 hours a night and every small activity makes me need to go and sit down for a while after. I am eating in response to a stomach rumble but am getting no enjoyment from food and it all feels very strange. Luckily, Zoe has continued to be asymptomatic and has been able to work from home and deal with me moaning every waking hour about how tired I am and how I wish I could taste. Yesterday she had a delivery of the most delicious looking fudgy brownies and it made me so sad because I might as well just eat a raw green pepper.

I am trying not to worry about my symptoms and believe that they will pass but it is hard when pals keep texting to say their mate still hasn’t got their ability to taste back since March and the many articles about long-covid fatigue. I feel really grateful that my symptoms have been fairly mild in the grand scheme of things but I still feel extremely shit. Zoe is allowed outside on Sunday and me on Monday and I am really looking forward to some fresh air but I don’t feel like I am ever going to have energy again. I hope I will.

I guess I just wanted to put this out there because it is easy to think it won’t happen to you or the effects won’t be too bad because we’re young and healthy but even the mildest symptoms can be really debilitating. Also, if you have any of the headline symptoms, even a little bit – please get a test. Neither of us have had a cough at all and I know that I thought this was the main indicator that you need to get tested. Please be careful. We were lucky that we had only had close contact with 3 people in the window before our test who have needed to isolate and they are currently without symptoms, but we might not have been so lucky.

Stay safe and still don’t invite me to your Zoom quiz because I’m busy sleeping.

PS – A huge thanks to friends who have dropped round food, prescriptions, sent lil gifts, kept me company over Whatsapp and been all round good eggs. I treated myself to this little smiley sunshine too and look how cute it is:

Lockdown 2.0

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On the eve of the lockdown 1.0 I was bubbling with enthusiasm of the all the things I could do with my newly awarded free time. Dreams of finally getting through the never ending lists of hobbies, to-dos and activities finally seemed like they could become reality. I managed to ignore the fact that there was a huge virus travelling around the world and instead saw it as paid time off to do what I want, as long as it involved staying indoors and not seeing anyone. On the eve of lockdown 1.0 I moved in with my girlfriend which brought a new and exciting space to exist in, walls to be painted and drawers to be organized. I was ready to get shit done and I did. I painted and read and swam in rivers and cleaned and enthusiastically took part in video calls.

On the eve of lockdown 2.0 I feel numb. I’ve gotten back into the swing of being at work, seeing friends and had finally managed to achieve a pretty good balance of life stuff. I’d re-launched my business and people were hyped about it. I have no energy to be excited about another round of free time. I went to the library on Monday and found no books I wanted to read. Nothing is grabbing my attention. I already feel bored and we are only on day one.

Things that felt exciting in lockdown 1.0 which I now couldn’t care less about:

  • Having free time
  • Animal crossing
  • Zoom quizzes
  • Zoom calls
  • Anything about Zoom
  • Wild garlic
  • Banana bread
  • Sourdough starters (rip)
  • Being productive
  • Being positive

So I guess this time round it isn’t about thriving and it is about surviving. My only goal for each day is to eat and breathe and not look at the news too much.

God speed & please don’t invite me to your Zoom quiz.