So…this is weird…

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.

Yeah that’s a bucket toilet all right

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…

11 thoughts on “So…this is weird…

  1. cello4 says:

    I remember years ago, friends in Austria were about to catch a train. The train was delayed by hours. The sister sat down on a waiting room bench and calmly said, “Well, I guess we just have to wait.” The brother FREAKED OUT. Not so much because of the wait, but because he couldn’t FATHOM his sister’s response.
    I’d like to be the one patiently waiting for this, too, to pass.

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  2. Sarah, a few years ago at work, I experienced depression which affected me physically and emotionally resulting in a loss of weight, anxiety, and lack of sleep. Consultations with a psychologist and medical physician were helpful but did not eliminate all of the symptoms. They seemed to be uncontrollable. I read a lot of self-help books with depression which helped but I started to see progress when I returned to work and focused on taking my mind off my condition. The nights were the worst being long and I couldn’t really focus on any tv programs. I became disinterested in everything. I lost so much weight that my friends and relatives didn’t recognize me, and I had no clothes that fit. I knew I had to somehow forget the past and future and concentrate on the present. Being a nature lover like you, I began to really appreciate the beauty of the world by taking walks, watching sunrise and sunsets and the awareness of things I never noticed before. I felt being one with nature and miraculously or so it seemed, things improved until I was completely healed. From that time to the present, I’ve written poetry and inspirational anecdotes which became my passion. I also found great joy in music of all genres. While listening to new artists, I researched the bios of the artist which fascinated me as I grew to know them by name and their music. Every day, I still search for new artists, new music and surround myself with the joy that music provides.

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  3. Lucian says:

    To feel some fear is only human, we never lived smth similar, not even our parents. We do not know how it will evolve, when it will end and how will affect us on long term. We fear for our health and for our way of life… But is important to stay on the positive side, even if in situations like this we can hardly see any… This legitimate fear can freak us or determine us to take it seriously, taking it lightly is one of our biggest enemy right now. And about self isolation.. I don’t know about you, but there are so many things I wanted to do and didn’t because the lack of time.. now is the moment.  We’ll have time for the favorite book, for a certain hobby (I will dedicate a lot of time to my telescope and stargazing), for ourself.. who knows when we will have so much time for ourself..
    And one worry at a time: now is the time to worry for our health and stay by the rules. Tomorrow(when danger will pass) will worry and about economical issues, and will find solutions for sure.
    You know, one day we will die, that is for sure. This thought can freak us or make us embrance the life, enjoy and celebrate every day, every moment… the bright side 😉

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  4. A. says:

    Honestly I typically do all three. I stress, then freak out, then say, “Forget it, there’s nothing I can do to change it anyways,” and then I can relax. I hope the three weeks goes by quickly for you. xx

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  5. How do you react to situations over which you have no control?
    Oups! I realized that I forgot to answer to your first question.
    Personally, simply by thinking about death. It might sound silly or weirdo but everything slow down in my head when I’m thinking about that word. It helps me to put things into perspective in front of a no control zone. It’s often the case in my profession. We try to help the best that we can but medicine doesn’t fix everything. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy Life. This is simply a metaphor that help me to cope or thrive with the unknown.
    Don’t ever give up Meastra!

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