How are we all doing this week? Tough times, I know.
As often happens, my work life and personal life have taken priority over most of my fandom activities lately. In the midst of a global pandemic, I have also had to deal with job interviews and now the need to move house to start a new job at the beginning of April. Which is throwing up some interesting challenges.
Like my book collection. It looks impressive when it’s on bookshelves, and it’s a daily visual reminder of so many wonderful stories (not to mention a great way to make friends – lending out books makes for good conversations!). But when you have to pack up all those books and move them? Not so great. Likewise my DVDs. I can’t remember the last time I actually watched something on DVD, because most things I want to watch are streamable now. But the thought of giving up all those DVDs is hard enough. Even harder is what to do when the charity shops I’d normally donate them to are closing branches (rightly so).
There’s also the vague embarrassment over how much geeky stuff I own that isn’t really essential but is stuff that’s brought me a lot of joy. Of course there are action figures and plushies, but there’s also all my craft stuff. I have a wool stash, and paints, and and pens, and an entire drawer of washi tape. And now it all has to be packed up, carried down the stairs, driven to the next county, and carried up another flight of stairs. Owning stuff turns out to be a mistake when you have to transport all that stuff.
I like to think of myself as someone who lives reasonably simply – I don’t spend tons of money on clothes and shoes, I don’t go out drinking, I don’t travel much. But it turns out I still own a heck of a lot of stuff. True, it’s stuff that brings me joy and gives me something to do when I’m isolated, but at times like these I wonder if I could actually do without a lot of it. Could I have spent that money on other things, or even saved it all up? Probably. But would my life have been bearable if I didn’t have those things? Would I have survived mental illness this long if I didn’t have hobbies like crafting that I could do at home? Would I have been able to connect with friends if I wasn’t into stuff like anime or cult films?
It’s a surprisingly tricky conundrum for twenty-first century life. How many of us have had the dream of living off-the-grid in an eco-friendly community somewhere in the country? And how many of us have then realised that this would likely mean giving up internet access, and immediately dismissed the idea?
Sharing stories, and making things, are two activities that bring meaning to life, and have done for centuries. It just sucks massively that those two things have been industrialised so much that they cost money to do on all but the most basic levels. I know I’m not the first person to say that I work a day-job to support my hobbies.
Being an indoor-variety geek, I’m used to keeping myself occupied while alone and at home, so I’m not exactly going stir-crazy right now. I’m lucky that social media lets me connect with fellow geeks and a couple of friends, so my contact with other people hasn’t dipped massively – if anything, I’m enjoying the new lack of connection with customers at work.
I’m trying hard to keep a basic routine at home. When I was younger, my natural tendency was towards being semi-nocturnal, so sometimes getting up at seven and going to bed at a sensible time is tough, but I am seeing the benefits. I can do stuff like packing and cleaning during the day, instead of being wary of disturbing my neighbours by doing that stuff at night when they’re trying to sleep. Shopping for food has been a bit tougher – I’m used to doing food shopping late at night anyway when there are fewer people in the supermarket, but now there’s also less food at night. I made a trip to Aldi on Thursday to stock up and was surprised at which stuff had sold out. Soy milk? Gone. Chickpeas? Gone. Quorn sausages and other veggie staples? Gone, gone, gone. But apparently no one wants vegetable soup. So that’s my last-resort cupboard filler when I’ve used up everything else. I’m morbidly curious to see what creative recipes people come up with when they’re down to the last few bits in the pantry (hopefully it won’t come to that), and luckily I’m someone who doesn’t mind a repetitive diet.
I’m well aware that this post has very little to do with fandom. Maybe I am starting to go stir-crazy and I’m using this blog to vent about all the things I’d usually talk to my work team about. Who knows?
I do hope all of you are staying safe and sensible, and that you have plenty of geekery to keep you occupied while you’re social distancing. Feel free to share in the comments what you’re up to – have you binge-watched an anime you’d never watched before? Re-watched an old favourite? Written that fanfic you’d been putting off for ages? Share your favourite YouTube channels, hidden gems on Crunchyroll, links to the self-isolation fanfics now springing up on AO3. Let’s keep in touch during these strange times and keep each other connected!