It’s March 16 and everything is just nuts.
Any of us who were following international news had some inkling of what may have been just over the horizon – I have friends and family in Asia and I knew that major disruptions in everyday life were occurring and that people were afraid. But I can’t say that I even remotely imagined that what’s happened in the last few days would be my new reality, or that I had any idea how precarious life and livelihood would feel.
So, a little background. I’m a conductor (orchestra, not trains!) with a busy domestic and international career. As an independent contractor/guest conductor I’m not affiliated full time with any single orchestra, and my schedule is a complicated matrix of when an orchestra wants me for a performance and when I’m available.
Last Wednesday was the beginning of cancellations for gigs in Europe, then Canada, and, by last Friday, the States. At this point I’m not working for the next month, and it’s most likely that will extend for many more weeks, if not months. Conducting might seem like a glamorous career but basically I’m part of the gig economy – I don’t get paid unless I perform. I’m the major breadwinner in our family and our emergency savings will help for only so long. Like a lot of people out there, I’m scared.
I also live with a lot of mental health issues. Don’t worry, I’ll get into those over the next 21 days.
Tonight (or more accurately, tomorrow morning at 12:01 am) a “shelter in place” goes into effect here in San Francisco until April 7. Only essential businesses are open, all gatherings are forbidden, and people are required to stay in their homes except to get groceries and medication or to walk the dog (or themselves – I think this is going to be my lifesaver!) My husband and I had already done a preemptive Costco run last week for some shelf-stable basics – pasta, beans, tuna, olive oil, rice – so we weren’t in one of the snaking lines to get into our local grocery store. And as Californians we always have a level of emergency preparedness that most people who don’t live with the specter of a major earthquake wouldn’t understand.
So I guess we’re ready to be stuck in our apartment for three weeks from a practical perspective. But I still can’t wrap my head around how that’s going to feel, and I’m trying to approach that uncertainty with curiosity rather than fear. Add to that the fact that I live with both depression and anxiety (managed by meditation and medication but still a struggle) and you’ll understand what a big ask that is of myself.
And I suppose that’s where this blog comes in. I’m doing this to put my fear and frustration out in the open, because I know so many of us feel the same way, and because writing helps me to sort through everything in my head with a certain calmness and clarity, both things that I need right now. And I’ve committed to posting every day, and part of that will be posing questions to you and setting tasks for myself.
So here’s my question for you today – how do you react to situations over which you have no control? Do you relax because there’s nothing you can do anyway, stress because you can’t do anything to change it, freak out because you don’t know what to do with yourself? Tell me everything.
My task today: start a blog. (done!)
I might stay up until midnight to crack a can of champagne as this shelter in place goes into effect, you know, just for irony’s sake. I’ll let you know tomorrow if I do…