(un)misspent youth

I sat down to do some work, took one look at the myriad of sources I need to read, felt overwhelmed and then gave up. Luckily, this has not been too much of a trend over the past few days. I do find it difficult to know how much work to be doing. Last term was so ridiculous that it became the norm to read and write an essay in 2 days, which obviously isn't good. But now anything else feels too much? And because I have less structural commitment, less need to cram it all in, less excuse to not do it, I feel quite lost and confused. Yuck!

this is as wild as its got people !

Let's be real, quarantine got to me this week. Don't you find it comes it fits and bursts? I had one afternoon of solid tears, and some realisations of interminability. I spent most evenings on zoom, feeling both comforted and distanced. I've ran a lot which has made my head feel free and perhaps offered some purpose, which has been comforting because everything else feels sort of pointless.

I've been thinking a lot about wasted youth, which is melodramatic and so irrational but apparently also quite a common and disconcerting feeling? I was on the phone to my friend yesterday and she said "Katie, I just can't help feeling like I'm loosing my best years", and boy did this resonate.
I suppose its the realisation that these weeks/months/years(?) of freedom and excitement and hedonism are being borne out at home. And that, instead sacking off work to go to the pub, or staying out until 4 or spending all my money on chai lattes, I'm at home knitting, reading and not much else. And I see myself being freed from quarantine and being too old to do all the things I would be cramming my days with now. I am especially overwhelmed with this sentiment when I put on nice clothes and draw on some eyeliner to feel some semblance of coherence, and then look in the mirror and remember no one will even see my orange trousers.
I look at my parents and think "you're life hasn't changed much, your life won't change much, but mine has all fallen away", which is selfish but also quasi-true, in a dramatic kind of way.
I'm scared that the rest of my degree will be spent like this, that I'll never again experience the chaos and the drama and the Saturday mornings gossiping. That it'll never be new or free again, that I'll be burdened by responsibility and adult seriousness.

Now trust me, I see the melodramatic hysteria of these words. That if a vaccine isn't found for 18 months, I'll still only be 22, and even then I can make up for lost time. And there are far bigger problems going on in the world, and really I'm being ridiculous. But I am still grieving the pain of loosing the thing I love most in the world, and am recognising that we all are undergoing some degree of loss - whether its for a person or a life or a favourite place. I feel like my wings have been clipped, after having been spread so wide and feeling so free.
And the interminability of it terrifies me sometimes, thinking of the next 8 weeks, then of summer, and then of the autumn. Not knowing when it'll end.

When I get into these spirals of decadent sentimentality (and trust me it happens a lot, when I think of all the fun I could be engaged in, or hell even just the alone Tesco trips and the nights in with friends) I firstly indulge in it, as I've done here.
I let myself feel really fuckin' angry that I'll be entering the world with a humanities degree and a *fucked* economy, mourn for the nights out and the dates I could have (but absolutely wouldn't have) gone on and disgustingly expensive pubs and the self-destructive intensity of life. I probably rant to a friend about how I feel my prime is being wasted and tbh what's the point because I'm going to be old and haggard when this is over, having never found love.
And then I think rationally. Rationally about the timescale, about historical comparison (every pandemic ever has ended), scientific advancement (every pandemic ever has ended, and most without a vaccine), welfare state (every pandemic ever has ended, and most without a vaccine, and without a free health service) my complete privilege, that at 22 I can still do all the things, and that they'll still be exciting.
I remind myself that everyone has lost something, and everyone is grieving for normality. And I also tell myself that this will end. That yes, the young are going to suffer enormously economically, but we'll can also (mostly) guarantee we'll get through it. So I think of the end. The people I'm gonna hug, and the places I'm gonna go, and how intensely I'm gonna soak up every drop of life.

I know this is ridiculously dramatic, but girl has got to feel! Please tell me someone else has these moments of narcissism?!

things i miss

Man, its been an odd week. I somehow got tonsillitis (??) which tbh feels a bit irrelevant as an illness at the moment, and I spent much of it either asleep, watching Unorthodox (so SO good!!), crocheting or feeling sorry for myself. It was so lovely and sunny outside, and I could see pink blossom and blue skies from my bed, but I didn't really leave that spot of warmth for much of it.
But today I am finally feeling better. I managed to do some work, eat without crying and go for a walk. I've also read a lot, which has been lovely.

Of course, there is the major and inevitable disclaimer that I know how privileged I am to even be able to stay at home (I saw not 'stuck at home but safe at home' on insta the other day and I rlly liked the perspective) and for these things to be some of my most major concerns nd heartbreaks. I really am just taking the piss a bit, they're very small things that really make me realise how perfect pre/post-corona life is/will be. But in a recent episode of the high-low, Pandora Sykes talked about a thread she did of the most meaningless things people missed. Its sort of heartwarming.
So here are some things I really miss, and some things I can't wait to do.

I am sad that:
Libby and I can't go on holiday together and get lost in the sun and do drunk friendship quizzes
I can't have that warm fuzzy excitement of driving into Ox for a new term
I can't lie on the quad avoiding work
I can't sit in the library with the open window rustling my pages
I'm sad that I can't watch my friends being trashed and jump in the river
I'm sad that I can't come home for summer, because there is something so magical about that
I can't go on a late summer walk on the moor with my friends
I can't dance in a dress at a ridiculously overpriced ball with my feminist gals
I can't pack my bag, and prepare my lunchbox

I can't wait to:
Hug my friends, and not let go of them.
Walk on the beach.
Sit in cafes, working for hours on end.
Drink a chai latte and taste the sweet dry cinamonny-ness
sit in the pub in the afternoon sun and laugh and laugh and laugh
walk in fields with lambs
go to an art gallery, oh my!
Sit on a 8hr coach, reading my book, and not even being bitter about the gross toilets
Buy a postcard
Go into a library ! and hear the silence !
Fill up a disposable camera with holiday pictures and get the developed on a dark december day
have my hair cut by someone other than my sister
have someone other than my cat appreciate my outfit
walk around the park on the phone
go to the cinema with Libby, because I've never met someone so enthusiastic about the cinema
have an iconic night out with Evie, and laugh about it endlessly for weeks to come

We're learning a lot, and will continue to find good things amongst it all. I really liked this article that Dolly shared on a recent High Low episode (can we believe its back!!!!), and would thoroughly recommend.
Tomorrow I really really need to get work under control–next week is 0th week, which I had scheduled in an at-home collection (mock exams we get at the start of every term) but that certainly won't be happening. Instead I need to read all of last term's primary sources (that I didn't have time to read) and prep for 1st weeks essay. Yikes!
What things are you guys missing? And what can you not wait to do once this is all over?

working in this madness

yikes, let me tell you, working in this climate is challenging!
I am so distracted all the time, and without access to libraries (eek!) I'm having to rely entirely on the 30 books I dragged home and anything that is online (which is actually quite a lot, but I really dislike reading online...). I feel time disappears, and before I know it its 6pm and I've only done 2 of the things I intended on doing. But alas, we need to be kind to ourselves and recognise our degrees are being done in *very* exceptional circumstances. So anything is an achievement!
Saying this, as would be expected, few alterations have been made to my workload and there is still a lot. So I've been experimenting with how best to go about it, and how to stay productive when you have the whole day and so much distraction.

(i've taken a selfie in my fake library every single day this week; first one features my cliched quarantine hair cut lol)

routine: this has taken at least 4 weeks to master, but I think I'm getting there. I like to get up early and bash out as much as possible in the morning, when I'm most productive. I also like how this means I can break up my hours, with a shower, breakfast or coffee. It also makes the afternoons nicer, and means I can feel more relaxed about procrastinating. Find what works for you, experiment.

get dressed! ! ! getting dressed, showering, wearing my rings all help me feel put together, even when I'm solely oscillating from my desk to my bed

if you can, separate your work and play space–luckily my brother's old room has been transformed into my faux library so I can leave my work in there and shut the door when I'm done. If this isn't possible for you, set aside a space you use solely for work (e.g. your desk/end of the kitchen table) and try not to use it for anything else

work out when your state sanctioned exercise is most beneficial ! I used to think I couldn't function without a walk in the morning, turns out I can! As long as I'm up early and don't faff around feeling sorry for myself, I work best in the morning. My walk feels such a treat at 5pm when the day is done.

timetable - i'm a control freak so I like to know what I'm doing when. For me, it helps keep on top of everything, and means I can see when I need to start essays or particular readings.

leave ur phone in another room - its too easy to be distracted and if I don't have it, I don't pine after it! It's also a nice 10 min break replaying to messages when ur session is up.

recreate online work spaces - we're emulating the library, silent hours of working that hold others accountable !

have days off - in term time, I'm not really afforded a day off (and I also don't particularly pine for one), but the monotony of this, and the lack of future and fun things to break it up, means I am going to need some diversity–i'm thinking Sundays off, I haven't tried this yet but stay tuned

don't become addicted - work has always been my coping mechanism and in so many ways its a lifeline of normality in this chaos - but I also know it'll become too easy to overwork because there aren't any structural deadlines in the day. Hopefully a timetable will help with this, but I'm also trying to stay mindful of when enough is enough 

fit in nice things - I find my day becomes kind of fluid and rather than doing structural nice things I just sort of exist. So I am trying to build in actual time to read, knit, bake, walk etc.

stay in touch ! I know one thing I am going to struggle with massively is missing my friends, popping out of the library to gossip in the crypt, walking home in the evening, knowing i've got a pub-trip as a reward - these things can't happen right now, but they can be emulated virtually, and it does give something to look forward to.

find other people who are working - no one in my house is really working at the moment (my parents can't work from home) so it can be s.o. easy to sit around chatting after lunch or go for a walk in the morning, but it can also be difficult to feel like you're having to leave the fun. Talking to people who are also working (me!) can be so helpful nd remind you we're in it together.

My, its hard! It's kind of crazy that amongst this chaos we're still expected to pick up books and bash out essays, but i'd also feel inexplicably lost if I didn't have it, so swings and roundabouts. Just do your best, don't beat yourself up if it goes wrong, take time off - do what you need. I found a quote that I have since lost about reminding yourself you are working at home in a crisis. It's true, take it easy.
I probably won't be so optimistic in 2 weeks when term starts (yikes) and the essays start piling in. Alas, we move. Stay strong, loves – how are you staying productive (if you need to be)??

days full and days empty

Oh wow, what a week! I haven't cried nearly as much this week (just once when I was saw the cows running across the field and I broke because the world was so beautiful but so empty) and I think have felt a little more positive and at ease with this chaos, if that is possible.
I've done a lot of really lovely things, spoken to a lot of people I really love and had quite a few realisations.

Things I've done:
spent a lot of hours in my dressing gown, a lot of shoulder yoga, painted a bit, collaged a lot, looked at the sunset, knitted in the garden, knitted in bed, knitted with my sister whilst we watched princess diaries, drank a lot of gin, wrote a few letters, worked a bit, felt a love for learning, made crispy cakes, read in the greenhouse, spent a lot of evenings on FaceTime, watched all of Feel Good in a day, felt lucky, felt sad, felt angry, felt nothing. Tried to take a lot of photos to remember it all.

People I've loved:
My mum, for letting me cry everyday, even when she was scared, for telling me her worries, for trying to make it as good as it can be.
My sister, for finally being happy and free, an unexpected consequence of all this.
My friends. Friends who drink wine/gin/tea on FaceTime, friends who colour on FaceTime, friends who check up on you because you disappeared for a few hours. Friends who ask how your other friends are, who remember small details about you. Where an hour and a half can disappear and you've still got more to say. I am blessed. One day i'll write a post about them all. Or a novel.
My new puppy, for the laughs and the light.
Myself. Because the world is scary, and even though I am overwhelmingly lucky, it can still be scary.

Realisations I've had:

That my life was perfect. That I sort of knew it. That it was blissful and I was endlessly happy and very loved. The temporary disappearance of this is heartbreaking, but it is reassuring to know I felt it, and can feel it.

That parts of this are important. That it teaches that nothing is certain, no tomorrow guaranteed, and that it never has been. That in some bizarre ways it might bring the refresh society needed.

That it'll make me appreciate the mundane and the beauty of my life in ways never conceived. Take time to enjoy tea with friends in the evenings, or  phone call with my mum, or a walk alone whenever I feel I need to shake it out.

That my life and the world I inhibit, no matter how much I try to deny it, is dripping with privilege. That I had no idea how much was at my disposal, how free I was, and now how much these things mean to me.

An appreciation of some small but very special things. The sacred rituals I have lost in this chaos. The moment when I sit at my desk, with my coffee ready to be plunged and my cereal, for half an hour of blissful contentment that I save just for me. For sundays of long phone calls home, and repeated stories from my mum, and then my dad. For sunrise walks, to breathe in the freshness, or rush to the library, or stamp out a bad mood, but to end feeling open and free. The 'goodnights' to my friends as we pile into our individual rooms, knowing we'll be reunited in the morning.

I think perhaps I have become more aware, more in tune. Have noticed moments when I've thought 'fuck, that really was quite nice', and how I miss those little things.

That being able to hug my friends in the pub and sit in my seat in the library again and fuckin' go for a walk at any time of day just because I can, will be the best feeling. But that in some ways its worth the wait.

Wow. Some feelings, and some beautiful moments and some really scary ones. I'm not trying to downplay the severity of this moment, or create pity for myself, I'm just trying to get through it, recognising my privilege but letting myself feel at the same time. What a tricky world to navigate.

What have you been doing to keep yourselves occupied/been thinking in these long days??