March 1: Writing away – getting words on paper so I can edit them later.
March 2: I’ve been thinking about conviviality and realising that it’s a significant gap in my literature review. Time to wade into Gauntlett’s ‘Making is Connecting’, Illich’s ‘Tools for Conviviality’, and to have a look at some writing on social capital.
March 3: Today my anxiety was bubbling away at quite the rolling boil, troubled thoughts escaping like lava.
March 4: Coronavirus seemed very much present in the news today, and in conversations I was having. A sense of something brewing, but nobody was yet sure what form it would take.
March 5: A terrible, angry day – I even shouted at the dog, and then felt awful about it.
March 6: We headed back up to the cottage in rural Dumfriesshire for a few days away. This one’s about clear skies and Orion’s belt.
March 7: A bowl of French onion soup in Kirkcudbright art gallery café on a much-needed very moochy day.
March 8: We went for a walk in woodland near Moiniave and spotted a couple of Andy Goldsworthy’s ‘Striding Arches’, but what I noticed most was the rich chartreuse colour of the trees as they await their summer outfits.
March 9: I’ve been really struggling with my literature review, falling into the undergraduate trap of reiterating what ‘he said, she said’, instead of really engaging, identifying the gap in the literature, and properly framing my work – today it felt less of a gap and more of a gaping hole.
March 10: It’s rained relentlessly in recent weeks, to the point where I really need to reproof my goretex but can’t rely on there being a day when I won’t need to wear the goretex, in which to do it.
March 11: There’s a lot of conversation about stockpiling, in anticipation of the lockdown that we now know is on its way. Supermarket shelves have been stripped of toilet roll and hand sanitizer, and the public are being warned against being greedy. I felt guilty even buying a four-pack of canned soup, but I definitely didn’t feel bad about the 20 litre bag of cat litter, an absolute necessity when sharing a home with three cats.
March 12: Today I was a spiky ball of anxiety.
March 13: This one’s of a graph doing the rounds on today’s news, about terms like ‘social distancing’ and ‘flattening the curve’, all things we had no thought of even two months ago.
March 14: A long overdue phonecall with my twin brother – we’d not spoken since Christmas.
March 15: We went out for a meal for my husband’s birthday – all around there was a sense of a pause, like a held breath, as if we’re all waiting for something to happen.
March 16: This one’s about making last preparations, as if a storm is on its way – I made a last-minute dash into Leeds to gather books from the library and to catch up with a friend over a coffee.
March 17: The strawberry plants in containers in the garden are just about worn out and barely fruiting after six years so I went to the local garden centre to buy more. This is the time of year when we sort out the garden anyway, but everything feels more urgent right now.
March 18: We’d been waiting for this one – the announcement that all schools would close at the end of the week, until September, and exams are cancelled, which means no GCSEs or A-levels for my stepchildren, and lots of parents figuring out how to navigate the challenges home-schooling.
March 19: This one’s about a rather bleak realisation that in many ways (too many?) my life would carry on as normal, despite the lockdown – I’m supposed to be at home, writing my thesis, and I have a very socially limited, quite introverted existence anyway. Perhaps once things return to some sort of normal, it would be beneficial to do something about this.
March 20: Finding myself hitting a brick wall with my writing.
March 21: Digging in and wrestling with the writing to try to salvage some sort of sense from it.
March 22: I normally see my mum on mothering Sunday, and freesias are one of her favourite flowers, so because of the impending lockdown, which many of us are already observing, I bought freesias for the house and thought of her instead.
March 23: The government finally announced the lockdown. We found ourselves standing at the computer in the kitchen, watching the announcement live, knowing – and yet understanding that it is impossible to fully understand – that this changes everything.
March 24: Taking time out from social media and news channels and the odd solace of PhD fretting to plant some vegetable and flower seeds. An annual ritual, feeling much more significant this year. I’m finding it very hard to concentrate on anything at the moment, which isn’t doing much for the productivity that some corners of academia are choosing to embrace.
March 25: A day of sunshine made it even harder to concentrate – this one is inspired by Peter Dixon’s design work for Sainsbury’s in the 1970s.
March 26: Various aspects of my PhD have been jarring for some time, and, linked to an entry last month, I’m very aware that I don’t really talk much about my research, short of brief supervision meetings. Today I had a conversation with a department colleague which was really helpful in helping me to understand some of the frustrations I’m experiencing, specifically my nervousness about lumbering through and emerging with a very traditional, rather dull thesis that won’t feel like anything to be proud of. The question now is how I ensure that this doesn’t happen.
March 27: Ever decreasing circles, folding in on myself.
March 28: Saturday mood: awkward questions, uncomfortable answers, a ball set rolling that should have stayed chained. I’d responded to a friend’s challenge on social media about how well one knows one’s partner, and when I asked my husband the list of questions, my stepchildren joined in with some bruising truths. I’m still reeling, a week later.
March 29: This one’s about how, right now, every day is like Sunday. Specifically, the Sundays I remember as a child, when shops were closed and if we wanted a paper my stepdad would have to drive into York for it. Everything would be the same and nothing would happen and I remember feeling an overwhelming and persistent sense of dread.
March 30: I visited one of my local town’s two big supermarkets today, for the first time since lockdown. While much of the stockpiling has been restricted, there are still empty shelves; this, and the way shoppers described wide arcs around one another, troubled me greatly. The shelves got me thinking about Cold War-era Czechoslovakia. I want everything to be normal again.
March 31: The things I have to do once again overwhelm the things I want to do, and I tend to struggle with finding a balance. This one’s specifically about wanting to get stuck into some exciting aspects of research reading and writing, but knowing that there’s marking to be sorted. Many people have been furloughed and are now loafing around with nothing to do, others struggle to fill their time, whereas this is arguably my moment, with my mountains of craft materials, but ironically it seems I have little time for anything right now.