Week 7 and 8 – Lessons in slowness

Week 7 and 8 – Lessons in slowness

I took the test in our car outside a café in Leipzig, a place we’d picked to have breakfast at before going home to Berlin. 14 minutes were over, the test was clear, so I said “It’s fine, it’s just a cold, let’s go.”
Then, at minute 15, I looked again. And I looked away, and looked again. And I held the test out to my boyfriend, who also looked. Twice. I took a photo. You couldn’t see anything there, but with our bare eyes we both agreed – that’s a line.
We took the breakfast to go, drove home 2 hours, and since then I’ve been living on our sofa.

I don’t have to tell anyone that Covid-19 is no fun. From everything I’ve heard over the past three years it seems to be a surprise bag for everyone, symptom-wise. Mine contained horrendous headaches, which still haven’t quite gone away. My head always has to be the highest part of my body, and I have to be careful with the amount of work I give myself to do. Today, Monday the 19th, has been my first day back at work, and it’s been a day of breaks and debating whether I should try and go outside (my test is still faintly positive) or whether I should sit down, as everybody keeps telling me to.

Sitting down is something I always dream of, but when I’m forced to, it’s no fun. I have about watched every show on Netflix (including Wednesday, everybody needs to calm down about that one), finished a number of books, and I’m sick of it. Some screen work gives me nausea. Others doesn’t. Anything that’s a challenge is pretty much out of the question. I need to move slowly, take things in. Minimum output.

What seems to work is drawing. Every year around this time I get the impulse to draw more, so what’s been working is to have The Alienist or Love Is Blind on in the background, scroll through Pinterest, and draw whatever I like. It’s been nice. It doesn’t give me nausea or a headache, and I get to practice shading.

I’ve been reading

  • Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro – I finished it, at last! And the further I got, the more I enjoyed it. That might have had to do with the way the book felt in my hands just as much as the content, so whether I’ll pick up the sequel will likely depend on the cover. Yes, I am shallow that way.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. I’ve had this one on my shelf for quite some time and wanted to get into something complex this December. Cloud Cuckoo Land delivered. It kept me company during our Leipzig trip and later on my quarantine sofa. It’s a fairly quick read thanks to its short chapters, and I did enjoy the way things came together in the end. I probably won’t read it again, though.
  • a number of other books that I started some time this year, abandoned with only 50 pages left and that I’m now finishing so I can log them for 2022. An honourable mention here is A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous, the diary of a German woman in Berlin from April to June 1945. It’s what they call an “unflinching account”, I believe, of the first two months of the Russian occupation, and it truly does not hold back.

Other things I’m into

  • Unionised workers at HarperCollins US have been on strike for 28 days now. There’s an open solidarity letter, a strike fund and a union bookshop, all of which can be found here. As a former Big Five employee and current publishing professional I can attest to the fact that working in publishing is hard and is often badly paid especially at lower levels; my salary was one of the reasons I left London some years ago. HCP employees are striking for wages that will allow them to pay their own rents, which should be the absolute minimum any company needs to offer their employees.
  • LitHub’s Best Book Covers of the Year. It’s a nicely varied list this year with many different styles. It’s been a good year for book covers.
  • Borzois. They keep coming up on my Pinterest feed, and now I start getting drawings of them, too. They’re adorable.