Things to do when socially distancing

Well, I’ve been meaning to write down a list anyway even before my last post, either as a reflection in my digital journal, or also as a blog post. My therapist seems to agree that writing up journal has done me good, as I’ve also long suspected. Whenever I feel emotionally overwhelmed, my go-to act has always been jotting down some random stories, or just venting on my digital journal, because otherwise, my mind would just went wild with all my anxieties fueling my brain.

My current situation has been: Working from home for months now, at least since last year, I’ve been staying at home more often, and focusing on getting my anxiety level at an all-time low, wanting to spend more time for myself, whatever it is I want and need doing, work and e-learning included.

But either because of the panic attack that triggered me to stay home more often and spare more time for myself, I have basically been socially distancing even before this whole outbreak started. I still go out and meet up with friends, to catch up with them over a cup of coffee, of course, but all in a very slow paces.

What I usually tell people when asked is that I think I am getting a lot more introverted recently, and I reason that maybe it’s because I am getting older and so social interaction with too many people tire me more. But to very few close friends, I also posed the question of my panic attack triggered it. I spent more time asking myself if I want to get out and meet people to socialise these days, while at the same time, I am perfectly happy with just staying in, especially if I was in the mood to clean up. It always lifts my mood to tidy up my tiny 17 sqm apartment just a bit, fold up my futon, and then sit on my floor sofa, with a cup of Earl Grey on the floor next to the sofa and open up the book I am currently reading. Or if it’s office hours then finish whatever task I have on that day. Even just picturing the scene always makes me feel more content, thinking of how cozy it would feel for me.

I remember a friend asked me if I ever feel lonely because I have been spending so much time by myself (well, with my books too) at home. And I told her I have always ask myself this question too, oftentimes. And the fact is, I have felt loneliness sometime in the past 31 year of my life, of course, and what I usually do if I try to observe my own feeling is to compare my current emotion with a similar one I felt in the past and then make a self-evaluation or a diagnosis if it is the same feeling, which could mean I am feeling that way. That was how I guessed as much that I was feeling anxious when I started grad school and not depression, like what I used to feel back in college.So I have previously asked myself if I am, or ever, feeling lonely, spending so much time at home. And the truth is, I am not. When I was depressed back then, I felt miserable thinking how invisible I feel even among people, while at the same time wanting to shut down. But now, I take comfort in being invisible and just being able to do my own stuffs, knowing that no one would bother me because everyone else is also living their life and preoccupied with something I hope makes them happy too.

So all those long paragraphs of introduction preceding this one basically lays out the background of my current state of emotion, and personality, that I hope also helps explaining why now that everyone is basically recommended to self-isolate and socially distancing themselves, I felt it affects me little, at least in terms of my mental health. And since I have really tried to make my tiny 1 room apartment as comfy as possible for me, I found myself having more time to:

  1. Read more books. I just bought like 3 more books, on top of 5 that I already bought earlier in Istanbul, and finally managed to finish Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence sometime last week, and now I’m halfway through Michelle Obama’s Becoming. After this, however, I might not want to read anyone else’s autobiography anytime soon and would want to switch to the good-old fiction book.
  2. Practice strumming my ukulele. Basically that also translates as disturbing my neighbors with my ukulele practices. I tried learning more songs the moment I found one that I want to learn so much, provided playing the chord isn’t too difficult. After endlessly hurting my fingers trying to play Carrie Underwood’s Love Wins and Don’t Forget to Remember Me, I think my strumming has gotten better.
  3. Working. Considering the privilege I have to be able to still have a job and got paid in times like this, and even being able to do it from home, I should consider myself lucky to still be able to ask for more tasks to do instead of sitting at home feeling anxious of how I am going to pay next month’s rent. Fingers crossed that I will ever have to.
  4. Online courses. This is definitely the time to do them. I remember when I was between job and I ended up enrolling for a free course on Coursera, a Basic Philosophy course from the University of Amsterdam. If I got the time back then, there’s no reason I cannot do more now. All I have to do is to get my hands off Moana (my ukulele) or move my ass from my comfy futon.
  5. Binge-watch all those movies I’ve downloaded but never watched. I got addicted already to This Is Us and there’s no turning back. I am on the third episode of Herrens Veje because I have a celebrity crush on Lars Mikkelsen and I have a few more episodes to go. And then there’s a list of movies and series I’ve saved on my Netflix but never got to watch even though I promise myself I would finish watching Contagion sometime this month. The list just never ends…
  6. Write more. I used to write plenty short stories back then, just for fun, and realised that I never really do it anymore. I can’t even think of any story right now. Back then even the most bizzare dream I have when I slept would wake me up. And despite the urge to go back to sleep, I know that as soon as I do, I would never remember the crazy story I had in the dream once I woke up the second time. So I would force myself to grab my phone, and typed down the story. Because of that, I remember I dreamt once being chased by a T-rex which came and destroyed my hometown, I remember I dreamt being chased by Death Eaters in a dark, empty building, who detected their prey when you breath near them so I was terrified to breath when I got trapped in the same room as them. I remember I dreamt living a double life where I had a husband, and I was living with his family. I remember all these because I forced myself to get up to simply type what the dreams were. Then of course I went back to sleep (because sleep is the best thing to do).
  7. Stroll around in an empty, less popular garden to practice shooting motions, or just a random objects and practice finding the perfect composition. Afterwards, I could always just take my books out and just read it there in the garden. Or simply relax and enjoy the view while chatting with my friends. Or write them another series of postcards.
  8. Go back sketching. I have been drawing ever since I can remember. One of my earliest recollection of me starting to draw something is on the wall of my very first home when I was in kindergarten. My mom and dad arrived home to find our home’s wall have basically been “decorated” by me, and on top of that, I did it with pen. I might remember it wrong, but I think the wall remained the same by the time we moved out of the house. These days, I almost never drawn anything anymore and my past sketches were mostly burned because I was too embarrassed to show anyone of my silly sketches from when I was a kid, but somehow I never really delete the ones I uploaded on this blog. Maybe someday I will, but I can see why now could also be a good time to pick up sketching again.

All these makes me feel like winding down more, and just… be in the moment and re-discover myself to find my own voice. Or maybe see the things I have so far missed for missing a very nice garden near my place.

Reading Survey

Found this reading survey here, and I thought this is not a bad idea to kill time and share some books that I’ve read.

  1. Favorite childhood book?
    Eeeerrrrrr, is manga included? Because my answer would probably be the Dragon Ball series. If no then I guess it would be Enid Blyton’s books.
  2. What are you reading right now?
    Country of Origin by E. du Perron. Borrowed the book from my office, which would mean the book belongs to my boss. I blame the title, the cover design, and the summary for making me curious to read this.
  3. What books do you have on request at the library?
    Eeerrrr, I’m not really a member of any public library right now, but a friend of mine generously sending me books from her office’s library (which is opened for public) and I’d request any books available from my reading list if there’s any. Last time, I requested a book by Lisa See, titled Peony in Love.
  4. Bad book habit?
    Hmmm, taking too much time to finish a book? Is that a bad habit? Or smelling the paper (unless the book is very dirty), or feeling the paper especially when it comes to new books? Eeerrrr, underlining words or sentences that I like (doesn’t apply if the books are borrowed) ? Reading before sleeping and then shove the book away somewhere on my bed?
  5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
    From my friend’s office’s library? Schindler’s List by Thomas Kennealy and Peony in Love by Lisa See. From my office’s library: Country of Origin by E. du Perron. From my other friends and families’ private library: A huge pile of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s works.
  6. Do you have an e-reader?
    Not specifically an e-reader, I suppose. E-books that I read would be from my Galaxy Tab II and my iPhone. But no, I’d prefer read books to ebooks.
  7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
    One book at a time. The idea of having a book unfinished would bother me a lot. I’d leave a book unfinished if I think it’s really, really boring or I found it too difficult to understand. If it’s the latter I’d usually get back to the book someday soon.
  8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
    Hmmm, not really.
  9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far)?
    Coelho’s By The River of Piedra I Sat Down and Wept. An utter disappointment.
  10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
    Eeerrr, wow, this is tricky. Maybe I’d pick the one I consider the most entertaining: Planet Word by J. P. Davidson. Quite a light reading, but not too light.
  11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
    My comfort zone being those genres I like? Hmmm, quite often, I guess. Books that I pick for myself (and buy) are usually those with genres I like, but I’d usually read anything any of my friends recommend me to read. That should explain why my reading list got expanded pretty fast.
  12. What is your reading comfort zone?
    Hmmmm, regarding the genres I like: anything related to philosophy (such as Gaarder’s work), historical fiction or non-fiction, debate between religion vs atheism, pantheism, agnosticism, and such, and life struggles. And maybe the works of those authors who are highly skilled to play with words (and I’d include Michel Faber here).
  13. Can you read on the bus?
    I can read everywhere, as long as I don’t have a headache or dizziness, and as long as I have enough light to read the printed words. This habit always irritates my mom.
  14. Favorite place to read?
    My room. Coffee shop. Cafés.
  15. What is your policy on book lending?
    Take good care of them. Do not fold any pages, not even the cover unless it’s already folded before borrowed. And do not lose them.
  16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
    NO. Especially with borrowed books. I used to do this in the past a few times whenever I’m lacking any bookmarks, though. But now I’d rather use anything that I could use as a bookmark when I don’t bring any rather than folding its pages.
  17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
    Nope. I know some friends who do, though.
  18. Not even with text books?
    Well, they are two different kinds of books. So yeah, I do that with textbooks sometimes.
  19. What is your favourite language to read in?
    Eeerrr, this is tough. I speak English and Bahasa Indonesia, and with authors such as Pramoedya or Ahmad Tohari (Bahasa Indonesia) and Faber, or Stieg Larsson, I can’t decide. I love reading in both languages if the authors narrate the words beautifully.
  20. What makes you love a book?
    Errrm, the language style (definitely Faber), the theme and genre (I’d probably refer to Gaarder most of the times, but Jonathan Franzen and Stieg Larsson also never ceases to amaze me).
  21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
    How infatuated I was with the book, or how inspired I was with the story (again–I hope you’re not bored yet, I never tire myself recommending Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White, or Gaarder’s The Castle in the Pyrenees, as well as Vita Brevis, also Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy).
  22. Favorite genre?
    Oh well, I discussed the genre already in no. 12 (which means that no. 12 definitely didn’t refer to the genre–but I can’t think of anything regarding the reading comfort zone other than the genre).
  23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
    Eeerrrr, politics? Law? (These two are my grandad’s favorites.)
  24. Favourite biography?
    Wow, erm, I can’t think of anything. I don’t remember reading so much biography, really. I usually read information about someone famous via Wikipedia rather than through books.
  25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
    Does Personality Plus by Florence Littauer considered a self-help book?
  26. Favourite cookbook?
    Okay, why is this question included? Moi and the kitchen? Not compatible.
  27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
    Aaarrrggghh, this year? Inspiring? Hmmm, Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley, I guess (and I answered this only after I retraced my steps through my reading list, again).
  28. Favorite reading snack?
    Aaawww, Amanda Scott’s Scottish historical romance!
  29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
    Eerrr, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho. As for me, I really think Coelho’s overrated.
  30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
    Not very often, really. But I sometimes check out reviews from the internet to get me another perspective of the book. In case I miss something, I guess.
  31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
    Quite bad, actually, especially if the book is a friend’s favorite. I’d usually argue with my friend if this happens.
  32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
    French. And Norway. It’d be super to be able to read Gaarder’s works in his native language.
  33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
    That I’ve ever read? Hmmm, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera, and perhaps The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuściński.
  34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
    Dicken’s classics. And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave. Read the introduction (which is actually a verse from the bible, geez!), and I thought to myself, “No. I’m not ready to read this. No way.”
  35. Favorite Poet?
    Hmmm, I’m not really into poet, to be frank. I do have the Selected Works of Henry Lawson in my room, though. Still trying to read it.
  36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
    From my friend’s office’s library? As much as my bag could hold. They told me that I could borrow as many books as I want (devil smirk). From my office’s library? 1. From families and friends’ libraries? As much as they allow me to, huahahaha.
  37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?
    Almost never these days. This is why I usually prefer to borrow from libraries where they allow me to borrow books as long as I want to, because if not then I wouldn’t have enough time to finish the book. I used to do return books unread during my high school days, though, since they only allow me to borrow the books for a certain amount of period of time.
  38. Romola Garai portraying Sugar

    Favorite fictional character?
    Lisbeth Salander (from Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy), Sugar (the smart whore from Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White), and Flora Aemilia (from Gaarder’s Vita Brevis).

  39. Favourite fictional villain?
    Villain? Bad guys? Rigaud/Blandois from Dickens’ Little Dorrit. Played very brilliantly in the TV series by Andy Serkis.
  40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
    Hmmmm, I usually bring anything that I’m reading at that moment of the holiday period, so… no particular book.
  41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
    Okay, I really don’t remember this one.
  42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
    The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuściński, and I’d nominate C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series.
  43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
    My Macbook and my iPhone for sure, hahaha.
  44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
    Honestly, I never really like film adaption, unless I watch the movie first before I read the book, because if I read the book first I’d usually be disappointed. Hmmm, I guess my favorite though, would be…. The Millennium Trilogy and… The Lord of the Rings. And if I could nominate a TV series, I’d go with Little Dorrit (a 2008 BBC series).
  45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
    Definitely Harry Potter (sorry Potter fans, but to me, none of the movies really satisfied me. Watching the very last HP movie instead make me miss the book even more, but DIDN’T make me want to watch the movie again and again).
  46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
    150-190 thousand-something Rupiah. I know for sure I wouldn’t spend more than 200 thousand Rupiah for just a book, no matter how much I love the book–unless the book is really good, or something that I reaally, really, really want.
  47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
    Do it all the time before I start to read a book, or buy a book.
  48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
    If the plot’s too boring or too complicated for me to understand (at the moment of reading). If it’s the latter, I’d usually give it another try.
  49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
    Yes. I have a bookshelf in my room, and I always laminate my books (and often, my friends’ books as well), before I start reading them.
  50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
    Keep books. A friend of mine told me that I ought to sell those books one day, and I simply told her I’d give it a thought, but not now. I’m not ready to let go of my “babies.”
  51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
    Yes. Goosebumps. I avoid anything horror. Including movies and TV series. Never watch The Ring, Ju-On, and Jelangkung.
  52. Name a book that made you angry.
    Because it turns out to be a complete disappointment and completely time-wasting? By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Coelho.
  53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
    Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. I wasn’t so much captured by her previous work Eat, Pray, Love, so I didn’t really expect to actually like this one. But it turned out I did. As well as Lamott’s Bird by Bird.
  54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
    By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Coelho. That’s why it’s such an utter disappointment.
  55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
    Hahaha, romance, though I don’t read all kind of romance (and I usually read them only to criticize them later). Historical romance would definitely caught my eyes. And sometimes I read chick lit, too, although usually it would revolve around Meg Cabot’s or Sophie Kinsella’s works, hahaha.