Country Life: the Self-Isolation

I was going to make this a picture-heavy post, for a change, but it started raining and then it turned to snow, so I gave up my plans to go do some (almost essential) shopping and stayed at home. I mean, mud is annoying enough but freezing mud and sleet is beyond annoying.

Do you know what else is annoying? Being reminded that you have the personal space of a psychopath. I know the word is no longer in common professional use since they bundled up psychopaths and sociopaths into the much more politically correct dissociative personality disorder but I’m no professional so I’ll use it.

I’d read it in some psychology paper or other while I studied that, a century ago. Psychopaths and other violent types have bigger personal spaces than normal people. (That’s another two words no longer in common use, at least publicly. Deep inside we all know there are two types of people.) I’ve never considered myself violent, except in my thoughts, which is allowed, so I was surprised to discover the fact I got nervous when people were within six feet of me put me in a group with the scariest sort of humans.

Of course, it doesn’t mean anything. I just don’t like people standing too close to me, even people who are close to me, including my husband and child. I don’t mean I don’t let them near me. Having a child would have been difficult if I did that. It’s just that I’ve grown up alone, never bored, but apparently used to the idea of having a lot of space just for me. And now, well, I seem to be having a touch of a cabin fever.

Two years ago, Big C turned the room that had hitherto played the lead role of pantry into a study, so I could have my own room to work and write in. In a cruel twist, two days after we arrived here the weather decided to go rogue on us, so now it’s too cold for me to work in my study and I don’t want to spend any more energy on heating another room. So I’m working by the fire and Little C is having her classes by the fire, too.

Speaking of classes, I’m doing second grade all over again. I try to work with headphones, I do. But then the control freak in my would rear her head when she sees Little C waving her hand at the screen, eager to answer a question and hiss “She can’t see you!” Yeah, kids have to vocalise their enthusiasm because the teacher can’t see them on the screen. And I have to be on constant alert lest my child’s enthusiasm remains unacknowledged.

It’s been two days and my work load has been pretty decent but at the end of each day I feel like I’ve worked a nine-to-five without a lunch break. I guess going into wrong chatrooms, bad microphone quality and fifteen eight-year-olds chirruping “May I, may I, may I, may I, may I, may I?” would do that to you. Meanwhile, Big C works upstairs ruining his back on a sofa because he can’t exactly go buy the materials for his dream desk.

Not that DIY shops are closed. Regional centres, meaning the biggest cities, are sealed off. Once you go out, you can only come back in en route to your permanent residence. Which we have no intention of doing for at least another two weeks. It was therefore too bad that our cooking gas bottle emptied one day into our self-isolation. For those from parts of the world where village means simply a smaller town, our villages are the genuine sort: the latest achievements of human engineering such as gas pipelines are yet to come.

Anyway, there’s a fuel station near the city where Big C leaves the empty bottle and gets a full one but this station, as it happens, fell within the city limits. Before he went, we discussed it. “I’ll ask them if it’s okay to just go change the bottle, don’t worry.” “But what if they let you in but then don’t let you out?” “This won’t happen, I’ll make sure they let me out.” “And if they don’t? What if they send you straight to Sofia?” “If there’s anything suspicious I won’t go, I promise.”

Honestly, I had never ever in my life felt more like a character from a pre-, or perhaps, peri-apocalyptic film. I pictured the horror of being left alone in the house with Little C, no car (not that I have a valid licence*) and no reasonably quick way to get to a hospital should my sweet but a tiny little bit overactive girl break a leg or cut an arm. For a month.

As usual, the horror show proved redundant. The police at the city sign never let Big C in, saying he could only enter the city if it was his permanent place of residence (never to leave again.) So he went to another fuel station, this one outside the city limits, and bought a new bottle. We now have two cooking gas bottles and I have a new appreciation for fuel stations. Really, we don’t give them the credit they deserve. We only realise how valuable they are in times like this, when they become your single source of not just petrol and gas but also cigarettes.

Speaking of cigarettes, I had stocked up on Heets (the Iqos equivalent to vaping catridges but with tobacco) and was safe in the knowledge I had stocked up on Heets. And then, on day two, Big C asked if he could try them. He’s been vaping nicotine liquids for seven years now but I had an inkling he would not be opposed to trying something that looks a lot more like a cigarette. I just didn’t know he’d decide to give it a try at this precise moment. We now have a pack each (not a pack a day, just different packs for the day) and I’m labeling them because sharing is fine when it comes to food and water but I do not share my nicotine.

All in all, country life during a state of emergency has been as expected, except for my personal space problem. I’ve found a solution to the problem, though. Once school is done for the day, Little C will be sent up to her room to read or do whatever she wants (without a screen) for at least two hours. I need the silence and the space to avoid turning from a decent human being into a monster. Also to watch a few episodes of whatever I’m watching without turning it into an educational experience.

The good news is that my trials and tribulations will soon be over. Well, soonish. The weather forecast is for sun on Sunday. I can survive till Sunday. Of course I can. And I will. I have shallots to plant and a first draft to finish.

* I. Am. Getting. One. I’ve had it up to here with people who only think they can drive but can’t make a soft turn or use the reverse in situations when even I could use it.


6 thoughts on “Country Life: the Self-Isolation”

  1. Well to avoid any disappointment, you might have to get used to the idea that having a third cooking gas bottle is not so bad after all…
    We might be in for a long stretch.


  2. Just catching up . Gas bottles ? Neighbours faced so many delivery problems, we settled for wood. Ha ! At least it’s spring. Headsets, isolation, access to usual place of residence ? Snap. Long before covid 19, work wanted us to work from home. At 0.23 where we lived, and no signal ? No prospect,then, of any improvement on 0.23., so we went to the bank, found a place with walls, a roof, unsafe ceilings ditto floors, and decent broadband, to work there M – F. .
    One minor miracle later, workable broadband has arrived in the country. under 10, but workable.
    Both offices closed, only allowed to work from official place of residence..
    How to get there , with work laptops and headsets ? Will we be arrested ?
    If we survive, tell grandchildren about all this ? Chickens ? Official residence is
    up in the hills, sheep farming, cattle station. If things get really bad, meaning even worse, surely they could spare one ?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, we use wood for heating. In fact we’re about to finish the supplies for this year just in time for the final warming, so that would be nice timing on the part of all parties involved. We used to use a hotspot for internet connection until last year when we got fed up and paid for a stable connection. Down here may not have gas pipelines but we have the best and fastest internet in Europe (at least one of the, which is cause for a lot of pride). We figured it’s better to pay for the moths where we’re not here and know that whenever we come we will have good connection than suffer with a hotspot connection that’s only good for the basic stuff. I’m seriously beginning to think an investment in chickens is a good long-term idea. Heard that people in England are having trouble finding eggs in the supermarkets these days. Apparently, nothing is safe from the hoarders. A lucky location close to a cattle station is certainly a plus. Also wool for sweaters. You’v done pretty well for yourselves, that’s great.


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