Yoga aunties, cheesecake cravings and being stuck at home for a week (Part 1)
CNA Lifestyle’s Circuit Breaker Diaries series features musings on Singapore life in the time of coronavirus. In this installment, a writer shares his diary entries for seven days during one random week.
As a freelance writer, I’ve always worked from home. And for some reason, my editor thought my take on being in solitary confinement during this "circuit breaker" would make a great story.
“Just, you know, write about the random things that happen when you have nowhere to go and time on your hands!” he said vaguely.
READ: Circuit Breaker Diaries: Listening to the sounds of my quiet neighbourhood
I said okay, thinking I’d just wing it. But that was two weeks ago and now… my deadline suddenly looms, I’m still sprawled on the couch playing Candy Crush and I haven’t typed a word.
READ: Circuit Breaker Diaries: Ode to my neighbourhood barber and all the ghosts of haircuts past
I pull out my laptop and sweat. “Random things! Random things!” I chant in desperation, pleading for inspiration. Then, from across the room, I spot my diary on the dining table. Well, that’s nothing if not random…
I know it’s Monday only because my phone says so. Without it, I wouldn’t know since every day feels much like the previous one. It’s not quite Groundhog Day, though. There are small differences.
Like, this morning, I washed my face first before doing my number two. Usually, it’s the other way round and it took me a while to figure out why I felt so odd. And the other day, for the first time since this whole CB thing started, I realised I’d read an entire online article about the virus numbers and my mind hadn’t once mentally translated ‘CB’ into Hokkien. The first time I read ‘CB’ in print, I laughed and laughed. And now, nothing. I suppose resistance really is futile.
My brother says the same thing happened when the kids began staying home. They screamed all day. He says, at first, it was super stressful. Now, he no longer hears them. When I Skyped him last night, I certainly heard them. In space, you could probably have heard them.
I really miss my daily sessions at Kalari Yoga. The studio is still holding classes on Zoom, but I’ve been running scared of it ever since all those articles about it being basically malware with porn trolls. Who wants a set of pale droopy genitals to suddenly appear on screen when you’re in the middle of an upward dog?
Although Tina, who usually sits on the mat next to me, says if that ever happened during a Kalari Zoom class, all the yoga aunties will probably rush towards their screens to get a better look. Which goes to show what’s just below the surface of people’s minds even when they’re meant to be spiritual and deep in a vinyasa flow.
When I first told Esther that essential services in Singapore included bubble tea and the hairdressers, she was so jealous. “Honestly, the UK has been so uptight about this lockdown! We can’t do anything!”
Of course, now, even these are off the list. The bubble tea I could live without, but the hairdressers? Jon posted a picture of his fresh haircut on Instagram, saying he just knew stricter measures were just around the corner (“I really think I’m psychic!”), so he’d booked an earlier appointment. Part of me hated him for his fresh look, but the other part envied his foresight.
At this rate, no one will dare show their faces on Zoom. Especially those with purple unicorn hair. You’d look like such a hot mess. And I bet there’s a huge black market for bikini waxing. If you had to wait till June for a wax, you’d need a machete to hack your way through all that new growth.
I don’t know if it’s because of who I follow, but everyone on my Instagram feed is turning into Oprah. Every other post encourages me to see this virus as a silver lining that allows me to reconnect with my inner child and the universe and blah blah blah.
The most common one I’m seeing is ‘This too shall pass’. I am so tempted to comment that you could say the same thing about kidney stones. I passed one of those a few years ago and, apart from having all four of my wisdom teeth pulled out, it was the single worst thing to ever happen to me.
I sit here at the desk working and every 15 minutes, I get up and go to the kitchen. I open the fridge, stand there for a while and inspect the shelves, looking for a snack. I never have a precise idea of what I’m looking for, but I know I’ll know what I want when I see it. I have vague cravings for a slice of cake, or a chocolate, but it’s usually left-over rice, and week-old lettuce leaves.
I close the fridge door and shuffle back to the desk. Fifteen minutes later, I look up from my screen and wonder what there is to snack. So I go back to the kitchen and open the fridge. Somehow, my brain is convinced that in the 15 minutes since I last stood in this same exact spot, an entire cheesecake will have magically materialised. Finding nothing, I shuffle back to the desk. I do this every 15 minutes. All day. I don’t want to scare myself, but this is what it must be like to have dementia.
I’m so proud of Karmen. She’s just launched her new blog, www.the-coeur.com, where she interviews these cool beautiful people about their lives and how they’re coping with the virus, and how being cooped up all day at home is helping them reassess their lives.
They read poetry, they journal, they run in the Botanic Gardens, they call their friends, and they draw up to-do lists for the day. One woman said she does Korpia face yoga. I thought about what I’d say if Karmen ever interviewed me for the blog and started laughing. My biggest achievement since the lockdown is that I binge-watched Kingdom and Tiger King on Netflix. Oh, and I just got to level 1957 on Candy Crush.
I was looking for dinner ideas and it so happened Martha Stewart just posted an Instagram recipe for something called one pot pasta. Basically, she puts everything into a pot – uncooked pasta, sliced onion and garlic, cherry tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil leaves – pours in cold water and brings everything to a boil.
The fact that I don’t actually have five of the seven ingredients didn’t stop me from watching the video. The idea of cooking dinner in 12 minutes appealed to me. But then, I realised that even if I did have some pasta, I still wouldn’t cook this dish because Martha says you need 12 ounces of pasta, and I have no idea how much that is, and I’m too lazy to take out the bathroom scales to weigh 12 ounces. I’m amazed I’ve not died of starvation.
Daven Wu is a lapsed lawyer-turned-freelance writer who’s accepting food donations.