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notes for the second wave | quarantine diaries

I love the weekend. A break from the triviality of my nine to five setting was always warmly welcomed; usually through the beer goggles of fickle Friday antics that seemed to always hopelessly repeat themselves.

Once again, Saturday arrives with the sun piercing through the ("blackout") curtains of my south-facing window. Countless coffees, rolled up cigarettes, a takeaway later - What a surprise! It's 2 am, and I find myself drowned in an all-consuming Soho evening. All too quickly, Sunday has come. The bleak reality sets in, the next 120 hours of stressed induced sleep deprivation, lift small talk, and poorly written snarky emails is upon me.

Solemnly looking back, what I wouldn't give to have that crippling resentment thrusted onto the Sunday evenings of now. At first, I thought being forced to sit at home with the government supporting my mediocre salary would be a welcome breath of fresh air from the 7am Northern Line wake up call. Mere weeks later, my somewhat socially accepted alcoholism that is so effortlessly bread into the lives of many in the capital had become the habitual escape from the four white walls of my studio flat. Before long, the apathy fostered manifested in attempts to construct emotions through a quarantini cocktail displayed on a WhatsApp menu. The owner of which, was never more than 20 dragging minutes away from my door. To the eyes who can read between the lines (no pun intended) you can imagine this is not ideal…nor making for a happy and healthy isolated existence.

With the above in mind, and in anticipation of a lurking potentiality of another lockdown spent twiddling our mental thumbs. I thought I would share my points on how to not end up in a similar reality. I hope, that despite this coming from someone with a disposition for the use of short-term chemical cures to long term mental health issues this will still be applicable to most.

1. The 5pm Rule: Look, lockdown shouldn't breed a self-hatred brought on my idly scrolling through our multiple social media accounts witnessing the few that turned their lives around with this free time. Instead, the mediation of liquid behaviours is more than good enough. Hold off cracking open that can, unscrewing that cork, and swigging that leftover jar from the night before till you've at least contemplated what you're cooking for dinner. Which leads us on to...

2. Cooking: To be frank, I was discordant with this one. The financial self-harm that takeaway apps and my rampant laziness did to my graduate account is incomprehensible; no sickening. However, when I did venture outside looking like I was sweeping a crime scene, wait an hour in a queue, and finally (dare I say heroically) find myself back at home with a plethora of ill-thought food choices; the hours would roll by as I stumbled my way through online recipes. As well as using up much of another humdrum evening, sometimes the food was actually edible (and Instagrammable).

3. Exercise: So, I smoke roughly 15-20 cigarettes a day. Doing any kind of sport for more than ten painful minutes would usually cause me to wheeze more aggressively than anything you'd be comfortable witnessing from a guy in his mid-20s. Although I found with cycling you can go at your own pace, it's a great way to explore areas not displayed on the tube map, and an effective socially distanced travel method. Most importantly, as it's often a solitary activity, you can stop whenever to sit on the nearest bench and light-up back to sufficient nicotine levels without any judgement.

4. Old Hobbies: I don't know about you, but often when I'm hanging on the weekend or finished another day navigating the maze of corporate UK; reading or watching anything that requires more brainpower than waiting for a punch line is simply unrealistic. Over time, the interests of old hobbies become a distant memory. With hours, days, weeks and possibly months at your disposal, the motivation to do the antithesis of the aforementioned becomes greater. Whatever your forgotten subject of passion is, this is undoubtedly a glaring opportunity too deep dive back into what used to make you feel contented.

5. Relationships: Remember those friends, family members, and old business contacts? Pre pandemic dystopia you thought getting a chance to catch up with them would need to be pencilled in next year's calendar. Give them a call. You never know what might happen.

Just avoid the online pub quiz at all costs.

words by Jack Daniel Caine

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