The Quarantine Diaries, Day 8: Making and breaking a routine

A week into social distancing. It seems to be working – the rate of new infections in Hamburg is slowing down. It’s amazing how quickly you adjust to a new routine – this is my new normal, and it feels like more than a week has gone by.

On perfect days, I wake up in the morning, go for a little jog, put in my 8-hour day via home office with a little lunch break, and use my evenings to either do some exercise or make dinner. Despite the added free time of not having to commute, I still feel like I don’t have enough time to cook a proper meal AND do a proper workout before it’s time to go to bed. Having to work sucks, but I know I’m lucky to even still have the ability to work.

Over the weekend, Germany implemented strict no-contact rules, and Seattle more or less went into lockdown. In Germany, you may now only meet in public or in private in groups of two, with exceptions made for households and your immediate family. Yesterday, several “fast food” stands around the university were still open. Today, nearly all were closed. Yesterday, I went to one of the food places I frequented as a student and bought myself a kumpir to go – a loaded baked potato piled high with toppings. The containers which held the sauces, beans, couscous, meats, garnishes, and spices for the potatoes were completely full, despite the fact that it was 1 p.m. The woman behind the counter told me there was no business, and piled my potato high with extra toppings. I bought a drink and left a generous tip. With the university campus closed and people afraid to leave their houses, businesses like these are suffering greatly. The Falafel Haus was closed.

Hamburg has passed the 1,000 mark in terms of official covid-19 infections. Most of the people who are sick became infected during their ski vacations to the Alps and didn’t develop symptoms until they returned home. There is still only one confirmed death and one confirmed case of someone who’s recovered (though recovery numbers are not required to report). Of the just over 1,000 people ill, just 55 are being treated in hospitals.

Since couples who live apart are still allowed to meet with each other one-on-one, I had my boyfriend over for the weekend and put him to work around the house. We installed ceiling hooks for my two spider plants, which was no mean task as my house seems to be made of poured concrete and drywall, and it took a Schlagbohrer (my online translator tells me this is a percussion drill or hammer drill) to penetrate the concrete. I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled. My boyfriend sanded down my kitchen door, which has never been able to close since I moved in because it was too big for the frame. Unable to find his sanding machine, he decided to sand it down by hand. This turned out to be a much more ambitious project than he had anticipated, and he wound up having to take off about 3cm worth of wood by hand. I was impressed. Between the drywall and the sawdust, we managed to clog the filter of my vacuum cleaner to the point at which it barely worked at all, so the next step was to order a new filter online. Ahh, adulting.

This week there’s a free online pole dancing congress I’ve seen promoted online – Get Fit and Pole. I decided to check it out Monday after work. It consisted of a series of short videos in German and English with different on- and off-pole workouts – warm-ups, conditioning, flexibility, plank challenges, and of course, short pole combos. I didn’t get through all of them, and the pole combos from that day were too challenging for me, but I did learn a new trick – Flatline, or Flatline Scorpio (I’m not sure what the difference is between the two).

As much as I was determined to work out every day, I’m realizing it’s just not possible if I still want to have time to cook dinner, stay on top of chores, and get 8 hours of sleep every night. I ate too big a lunch today and was tired all afternoon, and it hadn’t gotten better by evening, so I decided to lay down and take a nap. As someone who’s obsessed in productivity and who was determined to use this time to get really fit and do all the workouts I wanted, I’m having to accept that it’s just not possible – I really only have 1.5 hours more a day than I usually do outside of work, because of no commuting – but that with a full-time job, chores, and cooking, I still don’t have unlimited free time, and I need to not feel bad when I don’t get everything done I wanted to.

Speaking of jobs, we got some news from the company today. Unsurprisingly, some industries (cosmetics/cleaners, online shopping, online streaming) are doing extremely well in the current situation, some (entertainment, travel and tourism) are suffering, and others (automotive, technology) are fairly unaffected. I’m lucky to be on one of the teams that is the least affected, and we still have lots to do. Now, people from other teams who are not busy will also start helping us out. Unfortunately, people on the most affected teams – video and event management – will have their working hours reduced (“Kurzarbeit“) to three days per week and will be put on 80% salary. Given that they are essentially unable to work at all right now, I suppose they are “lucky” that this is the extent to which they will suffer under the pandemic, but it is still tough. On one hand, you think, a lot of people in those industries have completely lost their jobs. On the other hand, why are they the only ones in our company who are getting their hours reduced?

So far there’s still no end in sight, but it is encouraging to me that 1) my job is safe 2) home office is an opportunity to do more things I “never have time for” and 3) the infection rate is slowing. Hopefully the number of cases will have peaked by the time we’ve been doing our social distancing for two weeks, though I know it will be a long time before things can return to normal.


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