Quarantine Diary Pt IIII: Beers, tears, racism

Day 10

Saturday 21st March, 2020

The indoor bike trainer I bought, which was the contents of the package the sweetheart guard gifted me with yesterday, is such a worthy addition to my little quarantine nest. 

Spending far longer than a mechanically gifted or even mechanically normal person (another fantastic Tinder bio, I should be making you pay for these) would have, I nonetheless felt very feminist once it was operational. 

I even changed the axle on my rear wheel after noticing excessive wear from the clamps holding the wheel in place. Come at me, boys. I’m practically Rihanna from that Shut Up and Drive video.

As firm as my feminist resolve

I followed my own advice to read more books during house arrest, with Samantha Power’s Education of An Idealist. It’s moved me to tears at several points already, describing Western political apathy toward global atrocities, and the war correspondents who try to galvanize action.

They weren’t tears of frustration at reality as such. It’s futile to despair at the natural lack of empathy people have with the far-away. It was more the descriptions of war torn cities, decimated families, kidnapped or even murdered journalists and peacekeepers. A scheduled 30 minutes reading became a riveted 3 hours. 

A lightning storm lit up the sky as I tested out my bike trainer, and continued as I called one of my most admired friends to lend an ear to her relationship struggles. Ours is one of those rare and precious friendships that, left untended for months, picks up exactly where it left off in times of need; this particular crisis being that 2 months of living together had put her and her boyfriend’s weaknesses under an uncomfortable microscope. I don’t doubt that data in the next decade or so will show a COVID-19 spike in divorces.

The much appreciated company of raindrops

Once more I thank my lucky stars I live alone, with only my water-deprived plants to suffer at the hands of my negligence and only the neighbours to be annoyed by my too-loud morning sessions of Spotify’s Motivation Mix playlist.

Day 11

Sunday 22nd March, 2020

I’m actually quite sad that I only have 4 days left of quarantine. Everything about this period has made me feel more energised. My head feels as though it could burst with ideas, and I’ve been writing daily until my eyes sting; as well as exercising, cooking and even (bloody hell!) taking the clothes out of the washing machine before they start to smell.

Locked away from the world, I’ve never been so productive

It appears that remote work is clearly the way forward for me. It’s perfect: I’ll start a company that exists entirely remotely, staffed by an army of introvert millennials. What to call it? Distance? That has a nice artsy yet corporate ring to it. Or just Stay Away From Me. 

SAFM. Consider it trademarked.

Later

Anyone in quarantine will confirm that being locked inside is almost perfectly correlated with a rise in dating app activity, and I’m no exception. 

On the flipside of people staring at you everywhere you go in China is that curiosity about foreigners usually tilts the attractiveness balance ludicrously in your favour. Serious relationships are often made harder by large cultural differences, but in the instant-gratification world of swiping left or right, it’s like human pic’n’mix.

Intriguingly though, if I reveal I’m in isolation, things change. Since the news broke that all coronavirus cases in China are now ‘imported’ infections from incoming travelers, there’s been a noticeable change in the way people behave towards foreigners, from the gentle pullback I see on Tinder to outright banning of non-Chinese people at restaurants or entry to bars (see this article on racism in China).

I’m fairly sure it will pass before long, but it’s fascinating to experience a rare reversal of white privilege. This is why I live here.

Meanwhile, the UK continues to worsen and I’m scared and sorry for the NHS. “Protect yourself, others and the NHS” is one of BoJo’s slogan’s. Meaning, ‘stay at home if you’re ill, because we don’t have enough equipment to treat you or protect or staff’.

I don’t want to say I’m ashamed of my country. I firmly believe that people across the world are fundamentally good and on an individual level, the vast majority of people are reasonable and helpful.

I am ashamed, though, of aspects of government that have allowed our creaking health system to get to the point it’s at today. It’s not a new problem that has appeared out of thin air, and there are plenty of solutions and examples of other countries to follow. What a mess.

Day 12

Tuesday 23rd March

This is the first day I’ve felt lazy and negative. The laziness probably being attributable to the beer I shared at my 9am via video call with ex-colleagues Shayna and Euan, who are currently on lockdown in Virginia.

Euan’s been furloughed from his UK company at 80% of his regular salary (lucky b*stard! China’s equivalent is £200 a month). Shayna’s course is just on pause I guess. Locked up with her dysfunctional family, she doesn’t have the same feelings of creativity I do. I wish I could pay her a visit with my juice bar.

And how I intend to freeze on

I managed to get a crossfit style workout in before the beerpocalypse. Why is it that once a Brit has started drinking, it feels necessary to write off the whole day? Handstand shoulder touches – difficult until you get the hang of them. CrossFit gets a bad rep for it’s shiny, vegan, holier-than-thou brand ambassadors, but you can’t deny they make good workouts. Cult or not.

Amusingly pathetic attempts from Tinder today. Does the little anonymous shield of a phone screen exacerbate people’s depravity or just give it a platform to be safely expressed? I really hope it’s the latter. I had a perfectly promising date lined up for Sunday, until a large graphic porn gif from a previously normal dating counterpart assaulted my inbox. In black and white, just to make it classy. 

I’ve made it a rule to cancel any inevitably disappointing encounters I may have arranged with someone who thinks that’s an appropriate thing to send someone you’re about to meet for dinner. You’d be amazed how often it happens. I even know someone who admitted to sending one (he’s so full of anger and latent misogyny that, rather sadly, I suspect he’s an incel).

It’s highly annoying, more than anything, in its time-wasting effect; but I suppose a shortcut to the exposure of a ‘man’ whose mind divides women into a whore-virgin dichotomy. I wonder what the internal dialogue of these senders of pornographic material is. Maybe that I’ll see it and go, wow! Gosh, I have a vagina just like that! This guy must really get women. Better f*ck him ASAP before my chance is gone!! 

Colleague Alex has finally found his way into the country, being chaperoned ‘like an Auschwitz prisoner’ from Shanghai to Hangzhou, the the terrified 21 year old didn’t know it at the time, speaking not even survival Chinese. Video calling me from his functional hotel room, he asked me what the label on this bottle in his bathroom said.

“Waste disinfectant. Please pour an appropriate amount into the toilet after a number one or two. Leave for 30 minutes before flushing. Thank you!”

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