Living a Life of Minutiae Week by Week

As with many people in this COVID lockdown, I am losing track of time. Every once in a while I am jolted into the realization that time is passing. Once it was a Sunday morning, when I realized how many weeks it had been since Easter, or yesterday, May 17 when I realized it has been a full year since my second ACL surgery. “Just a few days ago” suddenly snaps into focus as a week ago. “A couple of weeks ago” snaps into focus as months ago.

These time re-orientations are particularly jarring now, as I don’t really use units of time longer than a week. I have weekly meetings and my weekly trips to the grocery store that give a week meaning. In lockdown, a month often feels like nothing more than the number I put next to the day in my journal each night. In fact, I even noticed that one night I wrote”3/9/20″ instead of “5/9/20” and fully didn’t notice anything out of place until days later. Since lockdown started, anything longer than a week or anything not on a strict timeline is lost to a timeless void. How long has it been since my most recent load of laundry? No idea. How many days since vacuumed my apartment? Not a clue. How many days have I been in lockdown? I’d have to look it up. I know that it’s mid May today, and I know that the lockdown started at the end of March, but my mind has trouble evaluating the significance of that length of time. Some moments the last 53 days (I looked it up!) have felt excruciatingly long. At others, it feels like I was moseying on through early April then teleported to mid-May. It’s a little bit baffling.

Now, this reflection on time is highly relevant and has been very much on my mind recently, but it also serves as an excuse for why I haven’t updated my blog in quite a while. Updating my blog repeatedly got shoved into the timeless void with such dangerous phrases as “I’ll write it in a few days” or “I definitely need to post on my blog next week.” The other very compelling argument I have been using to procrastinate posting is that “I should just wait until I actually have something to say.” The purpose of this blog is that my year in South Africa is exciting and interesting and worth reading about. Although we live in interesting times, I feel like my life right now is anything but. I’m not involved in any grand projects, and have no major news to share. The tiny details in a day are pushed to the forefront and become the most important events of the day.

Therefore, since I am finally tackling the task of updating you all on my life in South Africa, allow me to share some of the most important news in my life made of minutiae.

I made some pretty exciting purchases in my trip to the grocery store today. (Grocery store decisions are tricky because whatever I buy I have to carry home uphill, and I only go once a week, so the weight of impulse buys must be carefully limited.) I noticed goat cheese (one of my favs) in the store for the first time today! The strawberries looked excellent, so I got two cartons of those. I also bought biltong for the first time. Biltong is a very popular South African snack that is similar to beef jerky. I have had some in the past, but it hasn’t made my shopping list until now.

As the Southern Hemisphere enters winter, it is getting cooler here. By my standards it is still quite temperate, getting into the low 70s each day. I still haven’t turned on my heaters, but I am enjoying lounging in fuzzier cozier clothing without sweating.

I have made fudge twice since the beginning of lockdown. Making it is fun and it’s an easy way to satiate my chocolate needs in this time of stress.

I put fresh sheets on my bed yesterday and they smelled really fresh.

I have had the song “Shenendoah” stuck in my head for the last few days (maybe longer, time is slippery as I mentioned).

Weekly board game nights have become a regular event amongst my friends and family, which has been very welcome social time, since I am very isolated. I often only have in-person interactions at the supermarket.

A beautiful exception to that rule is that my friend dropped off a care package with some snacks, a note and a Sudoku book. It was such a wonderful reminder that I am loved.

I had been playing my guitar frequently, and even trying to learn some new skills Unfortunately one of the strings broke, and I can’t replace it at this point, so my playing has been sadly restricted since.

One night I made roasted brussel sprouts and ate them until I felt sick.

One of my favorite videos to watch when I need a pick-me-up right now is this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-yJ5yIQcrQ

That’s all the news from me I can think of. I hope that wherever you are, you’re safe and healthy. I hope you’re finding joy in the small news of each day. I know that we’re all sacrificing many things we love to do by staying at home and keeping our distance from others. I truly believe that this temporary distress and inconvenience is the best way that we can protect our communities.

2 thoughts on “Living a Life of Minutiae Week by Week

  1. Dear Marilee,
    Your reflections on time speak for many of us! Please know that you do not need to entertain us. Just knowing you are ok and surviving your experience is welcome news. That being said, hearing the minutiae of your current life IS entertainment and a most welcome distraction from the voids in our own lives! It is connection – an element sorely missing for so many of us. I know that each day may be a challenge, but you are brave and strong and clearly conquering the challenges! Keep up the good work and send more minutiae when you can.
    With love and hugs,
    Aunt Sarah

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  2. Marilee, So GOOD to hear from you. You are certainly not alone when it comes to losing track of time. Last time I was in church and out to eat was March 15. Trips to grocery are only to pick up groceries that are delivered to my car. I am getting for two other seniors so do see them, with our masks and social distancing, when I deliver their groceries. Sorry about your broken guitar string. I was playing the video of you and your mom and dad singing at church just this morning. Think it was December 1, 2019. Also you playing your guitar while singing with the choir on November 24, 2019. The You Tube you suggested reminds me of a dog we had that would howl every time we left him at home alone. Dad was in the basement once and the dog thought we had all left. That’s how we found out about his howling. I later set up a tape recorder and recorded him. I still admire what YOU are doing. Hang in there. Don’t make it so long before your next blog. 😊
    God Bless, JoAnne Earley CECX

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