Day 8 – Monday 23rd March
This week I’m going to vary the blog a bit. I will no longer go through my daily activities in chronological order, because having read week one you will quickly find the routine repetitive and monotonous. Trust me on this, I know! I’m the one living it. Bad enough I should be bored, without forcing it on the rest of you. Instead I will focus on the differences in each day, my thoughts and coping mechanisms. Hopefully this will also encourage me to initiate a small change each day. As I said yesterday we humans need routine in our lives, but we also need a regular dose of the new and challenging. During week one the shock of going into quarantine and adjusting to it was sufficiently new to keep me occupied. Now that’s old news, time to shake things up a bit.
Firstly I seriously need to increase my physical activity. According to FitBit I did 33k steps last week. I’ve regularly walked that far in one day on some hikes. It is not enough. I appreciate that I can’t go hiking each day like I used to, but there has to be some happy medium between that and a paltry 4500 steps a day. The HiiT routines are doing a great job of keeping my heart ticking and muscles strong, but I need regular movement for my sanity as much as my physical health. I found out yesterday that walking circuits around the house is dull, but it turns out that if I do them whilst I’m on the phone I don’t notice as I’m distracted by the conversation. I get loads of steps in this way.
Another way to get more movement in is via cleaning. I decided to change the bed sheets. I like clean bed sheets as much as the next person, but let’s be honest changing the duvet cover is a pain in the arse. However I had an ulterior motive. I do the online social nights from my computer because it is easier than trying to balance the phone or iPad on a table, or worse have to hold them up for two to three hours. Trouble is my computer is in my bedroom so everyone can see the corner of my bed. I always make sure the room is tidy before I start the call, but it occurred to me that people would notice if I didn’t change my sheets. I did give some thought to leaving the old sheets on as a social experiment and see how long it took someone to comment, but even for science I have no desire to sleep in dirty bedding. However I’ll be honest and admit I don’t usually change them weekly.
On the exercise front I also go back to dancing in the lounge with the windows open, which has the added benefit of fresh air, something else I’ve been missing. I’m now dancing to the radio rather than my own music. May as well keep up with news songs and it gives me a chance to improve my Spanish listening to the radio presenters. I could, of course, put a more concerted effort into my Spanish, but I’m finding it’s not necessary. I’m watching far more Spanish TV to keep up with the news and activities in Madrid. I’m also regularly on the phone to a couple of Spanish friends. Believe me when I say that phone conversations are the toughest form of foreign language use. This is enough for now and I’m pleased to see my vocabulary is coming back with use, because it was definitely getting a bit rusty.
Another thing that is improving is my spelling. I’ve always been pretty good at spelling but recently I have noticed stupid errors creeping into my writing. Largely a lack of discipline on my part, I’ve got into the habit of jotting things down quickly and sending them with little thought, a downside of this modern world. Also I write less these days, none of the important business documents I used to do. So I was quite shocked when I started writing this blog, in a word processor, to see an ocean of red. Okay some of it was typos. When you are switching between three different size keyboards on your phone, iPad and computer sometimes your fingers don’t go quite where you direct them. However there were sufficient genuine spelling mistakes and worse still I couldn’t always immediately correct them myself. I am forcing myself to do my own corrections and not rely on autocorrect, even if this means sometimes using a dictionary.
An example, should you want one, is the word paltry (used in the second paragraph) as opposed to poultry. The first word meaning ridiculously small and the second being a chicken or other farmyard bird. I actually started with paultry, a mix of the two. Took a while to work out the word I wanted. The word ulterior was also a bit of a bastard. I kept trying to spell it with an A rather than a U. Then it dawned on me! It’s because the English pronunciation of ulterior would be spelt with an A in Spanish. Improving my Spanish is buggering up my English spelling. Life in two languages is complicated.
The sun came out late morning and I went to my lounge window to stand in the sunny patch. There was a lady coming out of her apartment block. She had no bag and no coat, and I wondered what she was doing. She looked like she was going to exercise by doing laps around our interior plaza. This is not allowed. Then the security guard comes out to do his rounds and she veers towards him. Ah ha! I thought. Here come the excuses. But No! The two them start walking around the complex together with barely inches between them. What happened to social distancing of 1.5m? I was livid! Surely the guard should be stopping this and not walking along merrily with the woman chatting, especially as he had no gloves or mask. Who the hell is this women that she gets away with breaking the rules!
I realise the reason I’m so angry is that I’m desperate to go out, because the sun is shining. Pointless aiming that anger at some unknown women, who for all I know has a valid reason to be out and about, though seriously woman – keep you distance! Best I do something about the need to go out. I had planned to go to the supermarket the following day but I pull it in. I try to make a shopping list, however the reality is I don’t need much. I worry over whether it’s OK to go to the supermarket for just a few things. It’s ridiculous to be questioning myself in this manner. It’s not like I’m out every day. I go twice a week, that’s all. How quickly we become accustomed to being incarcerated.
On Facebook that morning I noticed a thread on the page of a colleague here in Madrid about when to go food shopping. The bulk of the responses showed a fear of going out at all. Most were trying to leave their food shopping until they absolutely had to or have it delivered. I can’t see how having it delivered is any safer. What if the delivery person has the virus? Besides such high levels of fear are not good. Yes, we need to self isolate and keep physical distance to help manage the spread of this disease but not to the point where we are afraid to leave the prisons we’ve made for ourselves.
Needless to say I went to the shop and bought my four items. Nobody said a word. The supermarket security guard was as friendly as ever, as was the cashier, a young lad, who was good looking and super cheerful. I met no one on the way there or on the way back, when I stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the sun. No one approached me in the shop, we all kept a respectful distance and waited until the shopper ahead of us had finished taking what they wanted from the shelf and moved on before picking up our own items. We also kept behind the lines placed on the floor to keep us at the required distance when queuing for the till. Not that there were queues as every till was open. On the whole a very pleasant experience. Just one snag, they have now run out of wine. This could be a major problem. Plenty of toilet rolls though.