Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I spent more than 13 months in my house without leaving even once. During that time, I also didn’t accept any visitors into my home. Still, at the time of writing this, I have only left my house once and that was to don a mask and acquire my first vaccination shot. While speaking with people via online mediums, I’ve come to realize that most people have not been taking social distancing as seriously as I have and those people have a LOT of questions. So, I decided to open an invitation to Ask Me Anything via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Here are answers to the most common questions I received.
Yes. Really. I got this question repeatedly, and I don’t know if y’all are literally asking or if you’re just surprised, but yes. Really, really.
I’ve been outside in my own backyard quite a lot, but that’s the extent of it. I have not been in public, I have not gone grocery shopping, I have not even been to an outdoor park. My spouse and I both already worked from home before this, so we were already well-positioned to shelter-in-place.
We are also very lucky that we have access to a variety of delivery services for groceries, prescriptions, and other necessities. My business account with the USPS allows me to schedule no-contact pickups when I need to ship products, and I have trusted individuals who work with me who have been able to check my PO box, so I have had no need to go to the post office.
This question is honestly a little exhausting, but a lot of you asked it, so I’ll trust that you asked in good faith and try to answer briefly.
First of all, it’s what we’ve all been encouraged to do: stay home as much as you can. See the answer to the previous question to understand that I have had everything I need without leaving, so I just haven’t.
I’m also one of those “High-risk” and “Immunocompromised” people that everyone has been buzzing about all year. Even in years when we’re not in the midst of a global pandemic, I have a tendency to get very sick for prolonged periods of time. Where others might have common cold symptoms for a few days, my body likes to take those mild symptoms and turn them into bronchitis or pneumonia. Prior to this, I already wore a mask when I travelled and I would still frequently get major illnesses, so I was not about to gamble with Coronavirus.
The point of this blog is not to talk at great length about my disability and chronic illness, but if you’re curious to learn more, here are a few links where you can learn more.
- Unearthly Pursuits
- Victorian hair artist resurrects dead art form; talks representation for asexual, disabled communities
- Disabled Darkling: Courtney Lane
First of all, thank you SO much to everyone who asked! I understand that social distancing has placed a tremendous burden on a lot of people, so I appreciate your care.
But to answer the question- YES! I have honestly felt great for most of those 13 months (well, I guess almost 14 now). 14 Months of not having bronchitis, pneumonia, or any other manner of severe infections has quite honestly been a personal record for me. I still, of course have joint pain, dislocations, dizziness, and other symptoms, but my respiratory system has never felt better, and it’s been a huge relief.
All in all, I’ve been just fine being home. I understand how lucky I am, because goodness knows that there have been times in my life where it would have been absolute misery, but at this moment in time I have a home I genuinely love and I’m sharing it with a partner who’s healthy for me. The only mentally burdensome parts of this whole thing have been when I see countless people-sometimes even my own friends- consistently devalue my life as a disabled woman in order to justify their reckless behavior in the midst of a global pandemic.
One can only see so many unmasked photos of two people who don’t live together with their arms around each other standing in a public place with a caption saying #SocialDistancing before you feel like society is just gaslighting you. And I had to have turned down at least a dozen invitations to various events only to be told, “Don’t worry, the virus only kills immunocompromised people!” Let me tell you, it doesn’t take many exchanges like that before you metamorphize from “Hide the Pain Harold” to “Guess I’ll Die Guy”.
If anything, this has all been eye-opening and a nice refresh to sit back and really evaluate what non-essential activities are really worth it and what things just serve to exhaust me or put my health at a potential risk.
As counter-intuitive as it seems, I almost feel MORE connected. Sure, there are a lot of in-person events that I haven’t been able to participate in that I otherwise would have, but I’ve come to learn that a lot of those events, while they might have been fun in the moment, weren’t really doing anything for me long term.
Most of my closest friends are long-distance. Whether they be from my home state of South Dakota, or the friends that I’ve met all around the world because of my travels or connecting online. Pre-pandemic we all, of course, had our own local lives as well making us much busier overall, but I’ve been able to utilize Zoom and other online services to keep in more steady contact with a lot of those people. I sort of feel like I’ve trimmed a lot of fat around my social life and been able to identify the more meaningful relationships that most deserve my attention.
YES! Absolutely! In fact, I’m one shot down, one more to go. Although, I will still be hyper-selective about any socializing I do or any in-person events I attend, and I will probably be even more liberal with my mask use than I was pre-pandemic.
Wow! What a great and strangely difficult question. Since beginning my own personal quarantine, I have read about 105 books, so off the top of my head, there is NO way I can think of all of them in order to give you a list of some favorites. I’ll try to do my best to give a few examples, but if you’re really interested in my regular reading habits, I recommend following me on Patreon. For only $1 of support, you’ll have access to exclusive bonus blogs where, among other behind-the-scenes things, I list all of the books I read each month.
I read a book called Journey With Grandmother, which is a vintage book about Swedish hairworkers. I’ve also purchased it in the original Swedish since I’m learning the language. You can watch a full review of the book here.
I purchased an antique copy of Peterson’s Magazine which has a hairwork tutorial in it and also unboxed and skimmed through it on camera.
I also read a very charming little book called Crafting with Cat Hair. Here’s a video of me following one of the tutorials from it for the first time!
Anyway, those are some of the most prominent ones that come to mind, because I actually produced additional content about them after reading.
Otherwise, at any given time, I am probably reading at least one book from each of these categories:
- Books that progress my research on the history and/or techniques of hairwork
- Historical nonfiction books not necessarily related to hair
- “Fun” fiction books that Royce and I take turns reading aloud before bed
- “Fun” fiction audiobooks
- Swedish audiobooks
- Swedish physical books probably, but not necessarily written for children
- Books from my grandmother’s bookshelf that I brought home after she died
- Books from my “miscellaneous” shelf that I’ve just accumulated over the years
Honestly? A LOT of Swedish things. As many Swedish TV shows and movies as I can find. Especially if it’s something I already watched and loved in English. Kubo and the Two Strings, for example, has been one of my favorite Swedish dubbed go-tos.
I’m really not the biggest TV or movie person in the world, but I can give you a few things that I have enjoyed this past year.
Attack on Titan/Shingeki No Kyojin - I also finished reading the manga. What a wild ride it was!
Cells at Work! & Cells at Work! Code Black - As a disabled woman who consistently feels at odds with her own body, there’s something oddly calming about imagining the various cells in my body as adorable and sentient entities who are just trying their best to work hard just for me despite a hostile work environment.
Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions - Another anime. Jeez, do I ever watch anything in English? Not very often, no...So, Royce had watched this before and pitched it to me as a silly, fluffy, cutesy comedy, but NEGLECTED to tell me that it was secretly about GRIEF the WHOLE TIME! I felt betrayed. And I cried every single tear. It’s beautiful.
Onward - I watched this in English first and then several times in Swedish, and I have no reservation in saying that it is the best Pixar film EVER created. It broke my little, nerdy heart, and it is maybe my favorite portrayal of grief ever in a children’s movie. Scratch that, it is maybe my favorite portrayal of grief in ANY movie.
Schitts Creek - My friend, Evan, HIGHLY recommended this series to me on one of my last major travels before the pandemic, and she was NOT wrong! It instantly became a classic comfort watch of mine right next to Golden Girls.
If you’re a major movie lover, then perhaps you’ll be interested in my $5 tier on Patreon where I started an exclusive video series of history/hair-related movie reactions! So far, I’ve watched and reacted to The Greatest Showman, Bad Hair, Jingle Jangle, Madeline: Lost in Paris, and The Peanut Butter Solution.
Ah, another excellent question! I LOVE video games, and I have played several during this pandemic.
One of my all-time favorite games is Life is Strange along with the prequel Before the Storm, so imagine my delight when the very same month I decided to stay home indefinitely, I learned that Life is Strange 2 had been released! I do think I liked the original a little bit more, but it was still definitely worth the play. I can’t wait for the 3rd one to come out later this year.
Two very chill games we played were Va-11 Hall-a and Coffee Talk, where you play a bartender and coffee barista respectively, both set in fantasy worlds where it’s kind of nice to just mindlessly prepare drinks as you meet people and learn about the world.
One very hilarious game we played was Yuppie Psycho. If you’ve ever worked in a strict, corporate office environment, then you should probably play this game. I don’t even know how to talk about it without giving too much away, but it pokes A LOT of fun at office culture, and even though the imagery was that of a horror game, we were often cracking up.
Kisima Ingitchuna AKA Never Alone was a game I played by myself, and it will always have a special place in my heart, because I was able to play the entire thing and understand almost all of it in Swedish, but that’s not the only thing that makes it special. The game itself was made in partnership with Native Alaska storytellers and elders in order to immerse you in the lore of the Iñupiat people. After hitting major milestones in the game, you can access videos of native storytellers giving you first-hand accounts and deeper information. It was a very, very cool experience.
Two very LONG games we played were The Letter and Purrfect Date. The Letter is a visual novel that, number of words-wise, is actually the size of a large novel that’s basically “what if handwritten chain letter in a haunted mansion?” It took forever to play through to get all of the endings, but we had fun with it.
And Purrfect Date? Well, what is there to say about Purrfect Date? Well...Did you watch the show Lost? Did you watch the show Lost and say to yourself, “I wish instead of trying to get off the island, they were trying to date cats instead”? If you did, then this is definitely the PURRFECT game for you. I must admit. I’m kind of obsessed with ridiculous dating simulators. I blame Doki Doki Literature Club. But if you really want to date anthropomorphic animals, I’d sooner suggest Hatoful Boyfriend, because what could POSSIBLY be better than a pigeon dating sim!? Almost nothing, that’s what. And if you play it, you must date ALL the birds. The REAL game doesn’t even START until you date all the birds. Trust me.
We also played two games by the Night School Studio, Oxenfree and Afterparty. They were both VERY different tones. Oxenfree was definitely my favorite of the two by the very nature of the fact that it deals with topics such as grief, guilt, and historical trauma in a very unique way. Afterparty, on the other hand, is literally a game about dying, going to hell, and trying to out-drink, out-party Satan in order to win your life back. It was silly and still fun, but it was also buggier and had a little less substance than its predecessor. While amongst the demons of Afterparty, there were a shocking number of hair-references that had me doing a double-take, so I might make a future blog or even a video dedicated to breaking down all those weird hair comments.
Another studio who brought us multiple beloved games this year was Freebird Games with To The Moon and Finding Paradise. You play as two scientists using a futuristic technology that allows them to manipulate memories in a simulated world in order to help dying patients fulfill their last wish. Not only does it give you the entire life stories of two dying men in the form of beautiful memory vignettes, but the concept of the game allows for a lot of reflection about what makes a life important and what you’ll be remembering (or wish you were remembering) on your deathbed.
Oh gosh, I’ve mostly just been picking a lot of locks. I have a pretty severe case of dermatillomania (meaning I compulsively scratch my skin off), which I usually manage by getting long, elaborate manicures that make it hard to actually do damage to myself. Alas, since I can’t go to get my nails done, my skin picking has gotten pretty bad, so in order to try to keep my hands busy, I just pick locks. I have a lock picking set and a variety of locks in all shapes and sizes that I just pick over and over to try to distract myself when my hands would otherwise be idle.
We also grew some lovely blue oyster mushrooms which was a pretty fun experience! Very easy, fun to watch them grow, and awfully tasty!
Most of my hobbies have just been new variations of things I already enjoyed. I’ve always loved baking, but I usually only baked to entertain company, and I would bake the known crowd-pleasers. I started baking just for myself and a wider variety of recipes which was pretty nice.
After about 16 years as a vegetarian, I also decided to go fully vegan recently, so learning how to cook new vegan dinners and other recipes has been my most recent hobby, and it’s going really well! I signed up for a couple weeks of a vegan meal delivery service called Purple Carrot, and I’m OBSESSED! Learning how to cook a wider variety of things has been rewarding, delicious, and probably much healthier.
I’ve also played D&D for years, but I actually started playing more often and with more people thanks to Roll20 and Zoom. It also inspired me to try DMing for the very first time! I loved running a story for friends, and I look forward to doing it again soon.
Ok, Ok, Ok...so OBVIOUSLY this isn’t a question, but it was the one comment I received that had me laughing out loud. It wasn’t the comment itself, moreso the person it came from.
You see, I got this comment from my friend, George the Giant, who is quite literally the world’s tallest sword swallower. If there was anyone who’s word I would take about growing-it’s his! In fact, one of my favorite virtual opportunities during this period was to sit down for an interview with George as part of his Strange Museum of Oddities and Wonders. If you haven’t watched it yet, check it out! It was a blast.
And yes, George, I’ve been getting plenty of sunshine sitting on my back porch, but I’ve still got a lot of catching up to do :P