Every year, at the midpoint of winter, Modern Mrs. Darcy publishes her list of what is saving her life right now. Big things, small things, doesn’t matter. I participated (I think for the first time) last year (hahaha, I called it COVID edition because I thought COVID would be done by February 2022).
Last year I came up with seven things. I read my post again before drafting this one. Some of it made me smile. A lot of it made me sad. So much of what I’m feeling right now reflects exactly how I was feeling last year (although now the feelings are even stronger after another full year of the pandemic), right down to the difficulties I’m having reading, one of my most important anxiety-management strategies.*
Coming up with a list this time around was HARD. As I have written here and here, I have been really struggling over the past few months. And I think you see this in the things I’ve chosen because they are all little in the sense that they ask little of me and they take little time.
I don’t have the bandwidth for anything larger.
Mel put me on to Wordle at the start of December. I have played it every day since. It is the first thing I do when I wake up (although I stop until I’m more awake if things are looking dicey). I feel deeply pleased with myself when I get the word (especially if things had been looking dicey). I have a perfect win record and a streak in the mid-high 60s (it took me multiple days to write this post). I love it. I especially love that I can only play once per day as this is exactly the kind of game that I would find addictive (cough Wordscapes in spring 2020 cough). E. has started playing it too. I am sad that the NYT has bought it and may well move it behind a paywall, but I also respect the developer’s decision to take the ‘low-seven figures’ offer for a game that he made to be a bit of fun for his partner.
MARVEL SHOWS ON DISNEY+
I guess it’s hard to argue that these are saving my life right now since there isn’t new Marvel content appearing weekly (and they delayed the release of the Hawkeye Assembled episode by three weeks so it won’t be out until the 9th), but they provided so much joy in 2021 that they still make the list; even thinking about new content or reading about fan theories about new content makes me happy. Today I read that season 2 of Loki is scheduled to film this summer and it seriously boosted my mood. The end credits scene from the season finale of Hawkeye made my entire winter break – it was like Marvel had read my mind. (It did take me weeks to get the earworm out of my head.)
I love these because a) I love the MCU and getting more time with characters overlooked in the films or with new characters in the slower-paced world of the tv shows is great; b) When a show is streaming I get a new episode every week so I always have something to look forward to (and then something to read about online once I’ve seen it); c) The shows take less commitment than a movie. I’ve seen the new movies that have come out on Disney+ too (Black Widow, Shang Chi, Eternals) and enjoyed them, but it is really hard to find enough time to myself to watch a movie these days. One episode, though? I can watch that during lunch on Wednesdays when the kids are at school and Q. is teaching and that makes it a little treat just for me. (There is very little that is just for me in a house where more often than not all four of us are home.)
FUNNY PEOPLE ON TWITTER
I’m not actually on Twitter, but I spend a lot of time (more than I should) (doom)scrolling Twitter, mostly checking COVID stuff from the people I trust or keeping tabs on what’s happening in the province’s schools. I’m not on most other social media, so I’m usually way behind with memes and things, but I do really appreciate a clever take on things. Neoliberal John Snow (‘Addressing preventable disease through deregulation and individualism’) is fabulous. Just recently, Noelle has been dedicating her days to listening to the Zillow channel for the ‘trucker’ ‘protest’ in Ottawa (scare quotes because most of them aren’t truckers because the truckers are vaccinated and doing their jobs, and because it’s not a protest so much as it is a temper tantrum). What those on the channel are saying is not meant by them to be funny, but it really, really is. Again, short time investment, big boost to my mood. (Also, this tweet, also about the ‘protest’, in my opinion, won the internet.)
HAWKS IN THE CITY
We have a pair of red-tailed hawks who live in our area plus some smaller raptors. It makes me happy to see them circling overhead. It reminds me to look up. It reminds me to slow down. It reminds me how blue the sky is, how lucky I am that my legs work, that my lungs work, that my body does all the things my father’s body no longer can. Hawks help get me out of my head and into the present.
The best blue skies come on the coldest days when the snow squeaks as you walk on it.
Our semester ends in April. Neither of us is teaching in the summer. If we can just get to April, we will have some time to try to put ourselves back together, or so I tell myself about fifty times a day. I know it is bad practice to put goalposts on uncontrollable things because when those goalposts are met and things don’t change it makes it harder to keep on keeping on (the appearance of Omicron really hurt. I hadn’t realized how much I had been counting on my kids’ second vaccination as an ‘end’ point.) So many things could still prevent the summer months from being restorative (school closures for all of May and June, as an example). I am maybe setting myself up for crushing disappointment. But right now, the thought of April is the only thing that keeps me from curling up under my desk, covering myself in a blanket, and crying pretty much every day, so I am going to hang on to it.
And that, I think, is it. Everything I said last year about privilege and what’s actually saving my life still holds true. In the grand scheme of things, we remain immensely fortunate. But even with all our privilege, Q. and I are shadows of our former selves. So when I find a moment of lightness, I try to really acknowledge it.
*Taking suggestions for a fairly light, well-written series, bonus if fantasy/sci-fi, MG or YA target audience welcome – something like Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers, or Rick Riordan’s Trials of Apollo [which brought me so much joy last year] or Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache. Ooh I just learned Guy Gavriel Kay has a new book coming in May so that’s something to look forward to.
If you read all the way to the end, please tell me, dear reader, what’s saving your life right now?