10 Days - Ryan McClung

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Day 1: 4/26/20

Today I noticed just how tired and bored I’ve been.  COVID-19 has been one hell of an isolationist drug, but it’s finally wearing on me.  As an introvert who isn’t currently employed, life didn’t really change much at first.  As the days went on, I noticed how much I wasn’t doing; I was letting myself sink into old habits and slog around an apartment messier than I would normally allow.  That’s to say I wasn’t having anyone over so presentation wasn’t really a necessity to the inner me.

               I suppose I’m tired because I don’t feel a need to do anything until COVID blows over, but it really got me scratching my head.  There is so much I could be doing and so much I want to do, I just haven’t had the time, and find myself lacking the energy to engage.  Thankfully, my initiative to move and write comes in the form of my girlfriend who is extraordinarily good at getting me on my feet no matter how low I feel.  So while I noticed just how bored I’ve been, I raise a mug of coffee to her for pushing me to do what I’ve wanted.

 

Day 2: 4/27/20

               Today I noticed my coffee tastes.  When I started drinking coffee about a year ago, I didn’t get anything fancy.  Folgers was fine.  My eyes, though it’s more accurate to say my taste buds, were opened when I started going to coffee shops downtown.  Now I think I understand what people mean when they talk about the different elements of coffee.

               I taste how smooth, bold, how strong, and certainly how burnt coffee can be now.  Before I drank it, coffee was still a fond memory.  A smell I woke up to when I was at my grandparent’s house.  Now I enjoy that sentiment every time I watch the steam rise off my mug as the drink cools to an acceptable level.  I enjoy the colors coffee can become, though the varying degrees of brown may only be pleasing since I love earth tones.  What began as a memory and a love of a smell has grown to a love of a taste and an understanding.  Now all I need is to understand the differences between lattes, mochas, and everything else on a menu.

 

Day 3: 4/28/20

               Today I noticed clouds.  That probably sounds strange, but I’m something of a hermit.  On a walk outside I found myself looking up.  The sky was a wonderful blue and clouds filled the sky.  I’m reminded of those games where you make things out of clouds; that or the young children’s book “It looks like spilled milk”.

               The clouds were thin and fragmented, so making shapes felt more like looking for constellations than simply cloud watching.  It recently made me think that life is always moving, and it feels impossible to just take a moment and enjoy your surroundings.  I took a moment to appreciate the day.  To let the sun warm me while the breeze cools me off.  Conditions this perfect persuaded me to sit on a nearby bench and just look up.  Lining several masses like a game of connect the dots I saw a dragon soaring through the sky.  I saw a group of clouds that reminded me of burrowing owls I used to see in Arizona.  I wish the sky would stay this beautiful all the time.

 

Day 4: 4/29/20

               Today I noticed the post office, and COVID in a way.  I needed to go to the post office to pick up some oversized packages today.  Pretty standard drive out, but the sun and the breeze felt amazing!  I guess what I really noticed was the impact COVID was having on essential businesses.  I’d been in grocery stores where the aisles are directionally marked to avoid traffic and every third person had a mask and gloves on.  What struck me about the post office were the extra precautions taken in such a small space.

               Gloves and masks on every employee, not just the few here and there that wanted them.  They also had these plastic “windows” that were intended to keep them and customers a safe distance away from each other.  I suppose it struck me because the evidence of COVID’s impact was so strongly saturated in a room about the size of my apartment bathroom (give or take a few cubic feet).  Anywhere else it didn’t really feel like this was such a large problem, well besides the complete lack of toilet paper.  My eyes were really opened, and my head was turned to just how large-scale and serious this is.  It makes me appreciate, really appreciate, the essential workers out there.

 

Day 5: 4/30/20

               Today I noticed my desire to read.  I feel like reading and writing go together like peanut butter and jelly.  As much as I enjoy writing, I find that a healthy amount of reading gives a great deal of inspiration.  This desire to read sprung from my looking over at my bookshelf full of unread items.  The book spines and art of each book gives the shelf a pleasing amount of color, drawing my eye to it and giving a minor sense of guilt over having not read every book.  Tolkien, R.A. Salvatore, George R. R. Martin and Neal Asher make up most of the shelf at the moment.  I’ve always loved the realms of fantasy and science fiction; they remind me, and give a nostalgic feeling, of a child-like wonderment and excitement towards the world.  The ability to drown out the real world for a few hours a day; to forget the black couch I sit on which isn’t the most comfortable, to forget the fold out table I use as a desk, to forget the bleak day outside my window.  To drown it all out and replace them with the fitting scenery of the chapter I’m reading in whichever genre.  It gives the urge to work on taking the excitement of opening a new book and apply that level of enthusiasm to whatever I’m doing.

 

Day 6: 5/1/20

               Today I noticed dust.  It wasn’t particularly hard to notice given my allergy to the stuff, but I noticed the collecting dust around my apartment.  It’s funny, such a little thing that can give me violent sneezes is something I’m pretty lax about cleaning.  I suppose I focus more on the big picture cleaning: is the floor picked up and vacuumed, are all open surfaces cleaned of clutter, is the bathroom decent, etc.  I’m amused at how the thing that bothers me the most is the thing I give the least attention to.  In weekly cleanings I’ll look at the dust accumulating and say “It’s not that bad, maybe next week”, but even if there is no change in the carpet visibly I know I need to put in that work.

               It’s funny, I feel like I tend to let the little things build up until it’s unbearable.  The build up of frustrations, petty comments or thoughts, and dust.  The things that seem insignificant one day, but out of control on another.  It reminds me how having certain routines, and actually sticking to them, are important to a healthy lifestyle.  Getting routine exercise, remembering to eat vegetables, cleaning on a routine basis, and cleaning the mind of negative thoughts.  It’s easy to say “I’ll do it tomorrow” again and again and again because “it’s not that big of a deal”, but the failure to maintain the routine allows all manner of messes to reveal themselves, even messes that weren’t originally acknowledged.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that sticking to a routine can be difficult, but it’s worth it.  Cleaning out the messes of the home and mind keep any and all chaos to a minimum, sneezing or otherwise.  Now if only I could remember what I did with my duster, the high surfaces will be a nightmare without it.

 

Day 7: 5/2/20

               Today I noticed myself.  My emotions when hungry anyway.  I’ve become more aware than ever that I’m easily frustrated, and I have an ever-changing fuse length.  It’s amazing how “hangry” plays so much of a role in it.  I woke up today and everything was mildly irritating until breakfast.

               I guess I’ve always been like that though.  My mom always said I was very quiet in the morning until I had something to eat.  To my detriment, my grown confidence in myself has led to me being more…vocal.  Anger has always been something I want to work on, but it’s so much harder on an empty stomach!  It’s honestly kind of amusing to me to look at this entry and how much shorter it is compared to the others; that’s what I get for trying to write this with breakfast.  I’ll have to keep that in mind as I get to the other entries…or any other writing for that matter.

 

Day 8: 5/3/20

               Today I noticed store capacity.  It’s amazing how much things change to adapt over a week, never mind the three odd weeks of quarantine leading up to now.  I went to the grocery store today, and what a beautiful warm day it was, and I was met with the odd sight of a line outside the entrance.  At first I was concerned that something happened in the store, but as I got closer I noticed the red tape with ‘x’ marks to show where people stand.  The store representative at the head of the line was kind and explained that no one else could enter until customers flowed out.  This is because the store was at “capacity”; no doubt this is a new regulation in these trying times to limit the number of people inside.

               This struck me because I was just at the store last week and everything was moving normally.  I’ve made more than one entry here about life during quarantine, admittedly it’s pretty easy to notice how things around me change when everything feels like it’s changing.  Anything from getting groceries to being stuck inside every day until the foreseeable future.  That said, I am glad that these precautions and regulations are being put into effect.  It’s good to see how the businesses around me are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of COVID even if it leads to a minor time inconvenience.  I just hope that this is the limit of what we need to do.  A lot has been done so far, but I’m worried too many more steps may just drive people to insanity.

 

Day 9: 5/4/20

               Today I noticed Star Wars.  Easy enough to do since it’s May 4th or “May the Fourth Be With You”.  It’s interesting/amazing to see how a series can sweep the world.  I, too, am one who stands in this series love.  The older movies, prequels included, are something of a nostalgia high for me.  These are movies that I grew up with for as long as I can remember.  When JJ Abrams and Disney revealed they were making a new trilogy I was awestruck.  I simply could not contain my excitement.  It doesn’t matter that they played it safe and essentially rehashed the original trilogy, it was Star Wars.

               This year for “May the Fourth” I got to watch movies with my girlfriend, who is not as familiar with them, and my best friend, who is on par with me in terms of fandom and appreciation.  Even in these quarantined times, we manage to find time to get together and watch movies, play games, and eat food that’s probably very bad for us.  What a day to celebrate a series that recently came to a conclusion – not the conclusion, but a conclusion.  Now tomorrow is what’s sometimes called “Revenge of the Fifth”, let’s see if everyone is still talking about it all.

 

Day 10: 5/5/20 – Day 4 Rewrite

“Post Office”

               He got out of his car and looked at the post office.  The look on his face was a pleasant disposition, though he was mildly irritated at the inconvenience.  The man had to drive out here to pick up oversized packages as his apartment complex would no longer hold them or place them at the doorstep.  The irritation was relieved, however, as the sky was a friendly blue and the sun warmed his back – something he hadn’t felt in a few days due to being quarantined and recent storms.

               “It’s good to get out” he’d think before walking inside the brick building.

               The first thing that caught his attention were the bright yellow arrows taped to the floor directing traffic.  When the man entered there was only one other person before him, but he followed the arrows all the same.  He looked up at the desk and the receptionist, who was just finishing with the other customer.  She was a bit older and a bit heavier, but she looked kind enough.  She wore blue latex gloves and a white face mask; for any other reason, the man would believe it was a popular fashion trend.  No, the masks and gloves are a requirement these days, for fear of spreading a virus to anyone and everyone.

               The next thing he noticed were the plastic sheets hung from the ceiling.  These were long plastic windows that fell just below the counter.  Their purpose was to add another level of protection and hygiene security to the small space for both parties.  It was when he noticed them that he heard “Next.”

               The man practiced in his head, as if he would forget why he was there. “I’ve got a package to pick up, here’s what was in the mailbox”.  Unfortunately, all that practicing was unneeded.  The woman saw the paper slip in his hand and all there was in terms of conversation was a plain “Hello, how’re you?”  The woman walked towards to the back to find his box, he’d wait for about three minutes.  Another customer came in during that time and was assisted by the receptionist to the man’s right.  Everyone was thinking it, but this customer was saying it:

               “Ugh, I’ll be so happy when this shit is over”.

               The customer cut off the receptionist two or three times.  The man supposed she had somewhere to be, at least, anywhere other than here would do, he imagined.  He didn’t look over at the customer, or the receptionist.  The man knew what this type of person was like and didn’t need the imagery to imagine.  The customer leaves, their reason for being here much quicker than his.

               There’s an awkward silence.  The receptionist to his right stands there typing away at a computer.  The man thinks about starting some small talk.  As he works up the courage, the woman returns with a package the size of a small suitcase; the kind you pack for a long weekend.  All that’s left to say is “Thank you” and “have a nice day”.  The man says these things and returns to his car.  For all the minor irritations he feels, he finds himself appreciating these workers; the government did deem them essential.