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Triage Endurance

I’m enjoying the morning Latin lessons more than I thought I would. Something about wrestling with lingua Latina before caffeine soaks in makes my brain feel sharper. Of course, the rest of me feels slow (stultae, even) before the caffeine soaks in, and I make far more errors than I like.

Latin for breakfast, French for lunch, Turkish before bed so sleep can hopefully help me retain verbs and grammar. I was doing German after dinner and Turkish before bed, but that was Too Much. I’d still like to study German some day, maybe when I’ve brushed up my French enough to read some Voltaire in the original.

Goals. I have them. Loads of them. Whether they’re achievable or not is an open question.

Instead of German, though, I think I want to go back to piano after dinner. I never thought I’d miss wrestling with Bach post cena, but here we are.

Mostly I’m trying to keep my brain busy so I don’t brood on current world events. I’m doing literally everything I can–social distancing, wearing a mask if I absolutely have to go to the store, washing hands, reaching out to friends, caring for my neighbors. It just doesn’t feel like enough, and I’m hitting empathy exhaustion on a daily basis.

I’d rather that than not caring at all, but still. If I tire myself out with work and study, the anxiety dreams are a little less fraught. At least there’s a delicate balance being held and I can sleep.

How are you doing out there, dear Reader? I meant to tell you the story of Big Barda, Boxnoggin, and the Birdfeeder, but Squirrelterror tales take a little more work than one might think. Maybe next week, because there’s more than one part. Knocking over the heavy iron pole and breaking a glass hummingbird feeder was only the beginning, and Barda’s got quite a mouth. Poor Boxnoggin literally could not believe some of the stuff she yelled at him.

Anyway… I do have something to say today. I was talking with a friend about the looming, constant empathy exhaustion yesterday, spurred by this Vice article, and she commented on the advice often given.

Exercise. Eat well. Sleep. Well, for one thing, the distribution chains are creaking under the load, fresh produce and “healthy” foods are more expensive than junk–by corporate design, I might add. And if you start nattering on about “bulk buying” and “just make your meals ahead of time” I swear I will start tossing things and screaming, because that takes energy too and a lot of people live in food deserts even before the distribution systems took the first giant hit of lockdown. Not to mention some of us don’t have the equipment to exercise in postage-stamp living spaces, and if your only time to get some sweat-effort in is the evening and you’re female, going out to walk or jog when men who might have mayhem on their minds and nowhere else to congregate can be hazardous to your health.

And sleep? Don’t even get me started.

I know the science says this is what helps, but it’s just not feasible for a lot of people. I agreed that while veggies and exercise might be the best, they can also be out of reach for the non-privileged, and a bit of wine and pizza on the couch might be all one can achieve.

And you know, that’s okay.

If you, dear Reader, need permission to do things science says might not be helpful but you know are helpful for you and within your means, consider said permission given. We’re in an endurance round of triage, and whatever gets you through is A-OK.

For me it’s it’s legal weed on Fridays before D&D with a group of close friends, and setting aside Sunday to eat whatever the fuck I want in whatever quantity I desire. (Last Sunday was the Great Molasses Cake experiment, and I think I put away half a two-layer cake just by my lonesome.) It’s also mumbling Latin in the mornings and watching weird YouTube fanvids because I don’t have the energy or brain-cycles for binging new shows. (Although I did make it through The Umbrella Academy recently, which is less misogynist on the screen than in its original format–not by much, but I’ll take what I can get.)

Whatever it takes to get you through this in one piece and of reasonable sanity is A-OK. Feel free to tell me about your coping mechanisms below–you might even find a couple fellow Readers saying “hey, that’s a good one, I’m gonna try it.”

I’ve finished absorbing some coffee and my head is full of Latin phrases, if not declensions. (Mostly involving a drunk parrot, thanks, Duolingo!) Time to take the dogs for a walk and let the night’s dreams settle into their proper places under the floorboards of consciousness. Yesterday was difficult, today promises to be only slightly less so.

It’s okay. We’ll get through it together.

Over and out.

6 thoughts on “Triage Endurance”

  1. I think my main coping method has been “just keep everyone going”. The boys are doing distance learning for school, and also learning that if you get your work out of the way you get more time on the Playstation or in the back yard. So I keep myself moving in no small part so I can keep them on a regular schedule, because if that comes apart I’ll never get anything done.

    I’ve been focusing on reading books that have a certain optimism in their outlook – fun, humorous stories where people get things done by grace, wit, compassion, and integrity. (“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.”) I’ve also been cooking and eating about twice as much bacon as the Texas Blue Laws currently allow. And, of course, we have Crotchstomper McSnuggles, who relentlessly happy to see us; dogs are usually cheering.

    So, yeah. Diet and exercise have pretty much been a no-go. I’m doing what I can with sleep, and I’m *trying* to write the sort of story that I’m currently reading. I’m not putting too much stock in that as I’m only at a page and a half, though.

    DnD is most of my socializing right now; I’m running one campaign for Firstborn and some of his friends and another for a group of (nominally) adult friends; I’m playing in a third game.

    • I’ve been really surprised by the amount of D&D going on in my various social groups. I wonder if it’s a hunger for communal experience in some way, as well as sort of an escape–playing a role means you don’t have to think about the current plague and bad conditions. It seems a hugely affirming, happy thing; I’m glad we have the tech to be doing it remotely. I’m trying to imagine living through this without the internet, and sort of failing even though I’ve read some descriptions of, say, the Spanish flu epidemic.

  2. I’m slightly envious that you can have wine with your pizza, but given the current climate, it’s probably a very good thing I cannot have any alcohol. My own princess puppy insists on going to the dog park once a day (more if she can finagle it) where a little sunshine can go a long way for both of us.

    I’ve found working on covers for short stories and drawing again are useful for engaging in the parts of my brain that are not currently overwhelmed with statistics on what all I need to wear and what will need to be touched when I must go to doctor’s appointments. As I told my SO, I haven’t gone through my body’s betrayal with cancer to be felled by an ugly little virus.

    However, it’s good to know there is a term for the odd buzz in the back of my brain. It does sound/feel like a hard drive spinning way too fast and on the verge of crashing.

  3. I’m a teacher, still going to work (no students here), so I stare at the computer a lot throughout the day and suffer a lot of back pain, since I’m not used to sitting in a crappy chair all day (I spent my youth working hard to destroy my back as well).

    My main coping mechanism is reading, so thanks to all the great authors out there. Then probably writing and exercising. One good thing, is I’ve been able to use the school facilities to exercise since there are no children here. That’s helped. I’ve also discovered a new natural supplement (natural muscle relaxer) that is helping me sleep, so that’s great. Although, I still don’t get enough of it.

    • I wish our society paid teachers what they’re worth. You guys are working overtime doing a shift to an entirely new way of handling your profession, and it’s high-stress indeed.

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