Processing Time

Allow me to be the umpteenth million person to say: these are strange times.

It seems like I can never quite get everything going even moderately well at the same time. In the last week, it’s been work and the barn. Though I have the kind of job where you can never ever feel like you’ve done enough, I’ve actually been doing pretty darn well – using my time fully, thinking on my feet, taking care of loose ends. At the barn, I’ve been really happy with Tristan’s slow climb back to pre-closure fitness. I’ve been using up my scheduled time fully to groom him to a fare-thee-well, and after two weeks of rides he’s already measurably a little bit more fit.

(In another universe, last weekend would’ve been our First Level debut at our local schooling show, but mostly I don’t think about that. One of the nice things about having a 25 year old horse that you’ve owned for 15 years is that there are literal dozens of missed opportunities in our past, and they make this year’s sting a little bit less.)

On the other hand, other parts of my list are a real struggle. Things both important and not are getting left behind because I just can’t muster up enough brain power to focus on them and force myself through. I’ve had “vacuum living room” on my to do list for two weeks. It takes maybe 15 minutes to vacuum the living room. Last night when I did a kettlebell class I was actively grossed out by how full of dog hair the rug is. Did I vacuum after that? No. I played Stardew Valley for an hour before dinner. Or, I’ll just forget about things. Walk off with a slice of banana bread on a plate on the counter and discover it 2 hours later. Put something in front of the garage door, go inside the house to open up the garage, and then completely lose track of what I was just doing and never open the door.

I am stuck between the eternal feeling of “if I just wrap up these obligations/projects/to do list items then I’ll feel like I have a clean slate and get better balance!” and “but what if finding 8 new exciting projects will give me the energy I need to just be awesome at everything?” Both are equally unrealistic, especially for me.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about phases of quarantine. For me, they seem to last about two weeks.

There was the two weeks where I could not physically get enough sleep. I would sit down to read and fall asleep. I could not get out of bed in the morning. I would go to bed right after dinner and just pass out.

There was a two week stretch where I worked out, hard, every day. Every single day. I crushed the at-home WODs, I walked or ran with the dog for miles. I was antsy to be up and doing, I raked the yard endlessly, I cut back bushes, I re-seeded whole sections of the yard, I worked on the upstairs bathroom.

There was a two week period where I made four batches of chocolate chip cookies and only sort of worked out once or twice, but read a ton. I could not put books down, I could not get enough of them. I was ransacking my shelves to make stacks for when I finished the one I was on.

Right now, I’m in the middle of a stretch of not sleeping at all, really. I stay up until midnight, and my body won’t go back to sleep after my first alarm at 6am. For someone who usually needs 8 hours, minimum, my body is not happy with this, but it also won’t fix it. I haven’t had this much trouble sleeping since before grad school, 10 years ago now, when I was so constantly overwhelmed and stressed and exhausted that I completely fucked my body up and subsequently changed my entire lifelong relationship to sleep. (Prior to that, I’d been a terrible sleeper; during and after, I could put head to the pillow and drop off instantly.)

In Vermont, though our numbers are among the best in the nation by every measure, though I have my barn time and my gym time back (outdoor classes + Zoom classes, with an announcement expected soon about in-person), though I feel more secure about our grocery situation and have had a few carefully socially distanced visits (outdoor picnics for the win!)…it still feels like we’re holding our breath. I still feel like something broke that can’t or won’t be fixed. Maybe that’s dramatic. I don’t know.

Anyway, with that meandering. Tris is going well. I have actual horse content planned soon. Just needed to process my brain a little bit this morning.

6 thoughts on “Processing Time

  1. Totally relate to this. I’ve gone through phases of actively enjoying working out daily, and I’m currently in a phase where I just go out for gentle exercise, like a walk, or mowing the lawn, or riding my bike without pressure. I, too, have been meaning to vacuum for at least 2 weeks and am really grossed out by our floors. Three words: Cat hair tumbleweeds.
    But I read something at the beginning of all this madness, that basically said, it’s okay if you’re tired/stressed/out of whack, because our brains have gone to survival mode. Sure, that’s eased a little now that we know we’re not about to run out of food or something. But the constant uncertainty and adapting to a dangerous situation takes a toll, mentally, even when we’re not actively thinking about the pandemic. It makes everyday things just a little harder because our brains are busy worrying about the threat, all the time, in the background. So I try to give myself some grace (but also make myself do things like go outside, drink enough water, etc, to stay reasonably healthy). These are weird times, indeed.


  2. I related so SO much to this. I’ve gone through very similar phases as you! Right down to the baking cookies! (In my case it was brownies. And these: https://togetherasfamily.com/smores-cookie-cups/ I ate half of them for dinner and gave myself the worst stomach ache but it was worth it.)

    As for feeling like you can’t relax: it’s valid. Carlos had not had a C19 patient for dialysis in 2 weeks. 2 full weeks. The state had reopened and nothing had happened.

    Since he hadn’t dealt with C19 in 2 weeks, I kissed him for the first time in TWO MONTHS on Memorial Day before he went into work.

    An hour later he texted me: they had two C19 patients.
    By that afternoon they had 3.
    Today they had 5. One of them died.

    I don’t know when I’ll be able to kiss my husband again. I have not been okay these last few days. And have been focusing on making sure we *do* have enough food for…whatever comes next.

    I’m hoping that given how Vermont has handled it, you don’t see as big of a rebound. But given how our state behaved this past holiday weekend, I’m dreading what is to come two weeks from now. 😥


  3. I think you are onto something with the feeling that something is broken that won’t be fixed, or can’t be fixed. Something about the way the country as a whole is so scattered in their approach, and how we are so divided, even as we all need so many of the same things.


  4. I relate to this so much. In an effort to keep myself straight, I’m making so many more lists than I had been. The number of scraps of paper with “things to do” listed on them floating around my two office spaces (work and personal) in our home has grown a bit ridiculous. (But I also just put a list IN THE KITCHEN this AM….)


  5. This puts my feelings into words so well. I’m antsy, but also fearful. I’m bored but I can only seem to get 90% done with a project. I have had laundry that needed folding so long that I wore my way through the basket and now it’s just all dirty again?

    I have this surreal feeling where it’s just wild on some level that our lives are turned so completely upside down and will be until we get a vaccine… it feels like some kind of sci-fi alternate reality?


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