How to do a pandemic

I don’t know how future historians will decide which parts of the internet to review while trying to analyze 2020…I’m sure my blog won’t rank highly. And yet I feel compelled to share some of what happens when a pandemic arrives in one’s city.

My last post was about self-care, which has admittedly been quite difficult to come by.

Another recent-ish post included my gratitude that the days are getting longer in the northern hemisphere. And sure, that’s turned out well: it means I can look out the window and see the same tree for more and more minutes every day.

I’m kidding, of course. And I’m also not.

Within the kidding-not-kidding theme, I’d like to share some things I’ve observed about myself over the last two years or so…oops. I meant two weeks. It’s become hard to tell the difference.

I’ve been talking about several of these points with friends, and we’ve discovered there are many things on our pandemic To Do list that are similar (like crying), so perhaps this list will also resonate with others.

Before I get to the actual list, it has to be said: I’ve written this post from the vantage point of a middle-class, still-employed Canadian woman who’s largely won the demographic lottery.

I don’t need to get all preachy, but if you’re in a similar situation as me, please consider how many others are worse off. Not so you can feel guilty – what good is that doing anyone??? But maybe you can do something about it: donate; volunteer (there are lots of ways to do this from home); offer help to your neighbours. At a minimum, please share in some awareness of what today might be like for people suffering domestic violence, or for the kids who used to go to school because it was safe there.

All that said, and without further ado, here’s a (sort of) more light-hearted version of what I’ve learned about how to do a pandemic:

  1. Humour (but mostly ignore) your co-worker who begins telling you in January that the virus in China is a really big deal. After all, what can you really do about it?
  2. Use February to muse about China’s mandate that everyone stay inside. “That’s so China,” you think. “Few other countries could get away with that.” Read about how drones in China are lecturing people on the streets; go to a microbrewery with friends and make jokes about it.
  3. By early March, stop waving off your co-worker. Instead, spend a few days becoming paranoid that your sore throat must be the virus. Take several hours before dawn to seriously consider whether you’ve unwittingly transferred the virus to someone. Make sure to remind yourself that if those people die, it’s ALL YOUR FAULT.
  4. Leave work on a random Thursday without knowing when you’ll return. But here’s the good news: you can cough more freely at home. And you can also wear sweatpants.
  5. Try to work from home. While enjoying your sweatpants, be completely unproductive because your employer’s network isn’t yet set up to handle this many people logging in remotely.
  6. Try to figure out toilet paper hoarders. Give up.
  7. Repeatedly read the health authority’s news releases. Try to figure out how high the case count will get.
  8. Even though you don’t really see anyone, revisit paranoia when coughing. Frantically try to source a thermometer.
  9. Cry.
  10. Think about how you’ve always enjoyed time on your own. After all, you’re an introvert – right?
  11. Hunch over laptop and various conference call platforms for hours on end.
  12. Read a book. Watch TV.
  13. Turn on a podcast. Get 20 minutes in and realize you’ve not heard a word.
  14. Begin checking websites for puppy adoption more frequently than the covid counts. Puppies would probably make good company in a pandemic.
  15. Realize that even introverts need socializing.
  16. Hear about people using time in isolation to tackle DIY projects, learn new languages, take up new hobbies. Wonder what is wrong with these people.
  17. Worry about small businesses. Worry about self-employed friends. Worry about family members losing their jobs.
  18. Forget an important birthday.
  19. Look at puppies.
  20. Cry.
  21. Do yoga because it’s good for you and because your laptop hurts your back.
  22. Scroll endlessly through various apps and social media platforms.
  23. Be glad you don’t have kids, because you have no idea how to do homeschooling. Then be sad you don’t have kids, because it might be fun to have someone else around.
  24. Look at puppies.
  25. Try to figure out if it’s possible to keep your phone clean. Realize your house is full of germs, but at least they’re your germs.
  26. Go for a walk.
  27. Fall in love with Dr. Hinshaw. Be proud that so many in Alberta seem to be falling in love with Dr. Hinshaw, regardless of things they disagree about.
  28. Think about all the people who are showing such strength and resilience with far worse pandemic conditions. Sometimes, feel guilty that you’re so whiney while they’re so strong. Other times, feel inspired. If they can do this, so can you. A pandemic actually starts to show you who and what are important, and who’s got your back (from a distance).
  29. Imagine the types of positive change that might be possible once this thing passes.
  30. Realize you have no idea when any of this will pass. Spend lots of time thinking about the 1930s.
  31. Cry.
  32. Go for a walk. Think about how it might be nice to have a puppy with you.
  33. Go grocery shopping. Be highly alert any time your hand touches something. Wonder about the supply chain for eggs. Be grateful you don’t much care for eggs.
  34. Never mind the eggs. Do you have enough wine?!
  35. Repeat steps 5 onward, in as many different combinations as possible.

If any of this sounds familiar, I’d love to hear some of your own “tips”. If you’re feeling bored and/or brave enough to write them, there’s a comment box below.

Seriously though. Take care of yourselves. And know that in doing so, you’re actually taking care of each other. Yesterday, I (half) listened to a TED talk where the speaker pointed out that staying home and being uncomfortable is actually brave, and a show of support for your fellow humans. We’re in this together.

10 thoughts on “How to do a pandemic

  1. Lauri Ruosteenoja

    Hello Kelli!

    Greetings from Finland!

    Good to hear you are doing well considering the circumstances! Your relatives and friends are ok too?

    Here the sun is shining so I’ll go for a morning walk. Fortunately they haven’t banned that yet.



  2. Becky

    We are jumping on the trampoline everyday and I’m not sure if this happens to you but…Every time I jump I need to run into pee, it takes up quite a bit of time!!

    You should get a puppy and call your friend!


  3. Sarah Marshallsay

    Hi Kelli,
    I love this. What is it about toilet roll and eggs. It’s also pasta and beans that run out quickly here. We’ve just watched Groundhog Day which seems very relevant at the moment.
    I do worry about what will happen in Africa, especially the poorer countries. It’s amazing to think it was over 7 years ago that we were in Tanzania. You take care Kelli xx


  4. stephenhope1984

    Wow! A 3-step pandemic guide that didn’t once mention the words ‘Netflix’ or ‘cookies’. Impressive.

    Seriously, nice job as usual!


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