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quarantine life, day 1.

kat kourbeti
kat kourbeti
welcome back to honest to blog (working title), a hopefully-weekly newsletter with thoughts about writing, movies, music, science fiction and fantasy stories, and general creative process blah.

definitely not what i thought i'd be writing about this week, but here we are...
well, folks, i think it’s safe to say we’ve all had A Week.
on monday, i was on shift as boris johnson advised people not to go to theatres, cinemas, pubs, etc. (for those that don’t know, i work for a couple of pretty big arts organisations in london.) we went on like normal, but within a couple of hours we’d cancelled a performance, refunded hundreds of people, and closed up shop with no idea of what tomorrow would look like.
on tuesday, i felt my world dissolve as one by one, most of the things i was looking forward to over the next few weeks—all social events: birthdays, hangouts, cons, movie releases, plays, concerts—went up in smoke. there was talk of total lockdowns, of shortages in the shops, of the possibility of already having covid19 and not even knowing it, of having spread it to others. as we went on with our normal work day, it was clear that the arts landscape had changed overnight, plunged into complete darkness ‘for the foreseeable’. i was overwhelmed with tears, and my colleagues and i didn’t even know if hugging was even a thing we could do anymore. we cried together, in the hallway outside the office, and swapped numbers so we can text while in quarantine.
i was going to work up until yesterday (wednesday), as my department was deemed critical to the running of the organisation. i witnessed an almost empty central line during rush hour (empty seats!! at 9am!! this never happens), and walked hurriedly along empty streets to a giant building containing barely fifty people, most of us along the same floor. we’d all seemingly processed the worst of it; we managed to crack a couple of jokes, and made peace with going home at the end of the day, and not coming back for a while.
now, i’m officially staying home from today, for at least a couple of weeks. i’m lucky enough to get along superbly with my housemates—one of them is my co-writer, in fact, and we’ve already worked some book things out and it’s only day one!! this may well be the break we needed. we have a fridge and a cupboard routinely kept full of food, so we haven’t been caught out in the panic buying craziness. we’ll be okay. i talk to my partner every day, but i don’t know when i’ll see them next, and that sucks. but i’m sure they’ll be okay too, as will their cat olive—if anything, she’s probably having the week of her life with so much attention.
oh, to be a kitty cat right now.
what’s really helped me process this monumental change to daily life has been Spectrum. this group is my lifeline on a normal week; it’s the best way i’ve found to learn and improve my writing, and a dedicated group of talented people i’m lucky enough to call friends. we had a short story critique meeting scheduled on tuesday, as always meant to take place in our usual pub in pimlico. after the boris announcement on monday, we didn’t feel comfortable asking people to come down, so we made an impromptu move to discord. i was nervous, but turns out i didn’t need to be: the meeting went ahead, and it worked! not only that, but it felt normal. we all gave our critiques, talked about the stories, joshed about what’s going on, and at the end signed off with the promise to do it again.
this afternoon, we all signed on again and did some writing together. we all worked on our projects individually, had a bit of a natter, then broke off for dinner. i can’t begin to describe to you the immense relief i felt at not having to lose this super important part of my life to this ongoing uncertainty. we’re all still here, tinkering away, reading, writing, and supporting each other, and while nothing beats being next to other people in real life, this will absolutely do for now. (side note: if you’re an sff writer, and need a community right now - join us. you don’t even have to live in london! what is geography right now even?!)
because the way we’ll get through this, even if we can’t hug each other, is together.
that’s john green, by the way. yes, the writer. he and his brother have been making videos for each other that have built a massive online (and offline) community known as nerdfighteria, and he knows a thing or two about togetherness. he sums up my sentiments exactly in this video.
now more than ever, being aware of the impact on everyone’s mental health is super important. we’re not made to be lonely creatures; we crave togetherness. and as the world we’ve so delicately built on top of eggshells is poised to crumble—with entire industries caving in, and entire economies floundering overnight in ways none of us have seen before—this togetherness will be what holds us up. may we all emerge on the other side of this together. may we hold each other up, call and text each other, support our freelancer and artist friends by buying their art and giving them work, and make time from the comfort of our homes to check in with friends and family.
on that note, i’m @darthjuno on all the socials, so please message me if you want to talk to someone, or just catch up, or chat about what you’ve been watching on netflix while on quarantine. (i think i’m gonna finish psycho pass, finally. i hear it’s good.)
and as the new thing to say seems to be nowadays, stay safe. please, please keep yourselves healthy. everything else will follow.
something that’s been keeping me going is funny corona content on the internet. feel free to skip this section if that’s not your bag, but i do recommend it… after all, in the words of dame judi dench herself:
in various parts of the world, idiots are ignoring the social distancing measures and going out to party. you probably know one too. gus johnson (one of the funniest dudes on youtube right now) made a skit and it’s *chef’s kiss*:
people who are going to parties right now
people who are going to parties right now
on that note, justin mcelroy, of the internet mcelroy dynasty, had a sage piece of advice (click it, it’s a thread):
Justin “Hoops” McElroy
A lot of people are probably wondering what they can do from their homes to help the world weather this storm. I have a serious proposal for you in these trying times: Call your dumbest friend.
meanwhile public spaces now should look like this:
a musical interlude:
The Caffeinated Therapist✨ (Taylor’s Version)
Schools close, Tom Hanks, trouble in the big banks, no vaccine, quarantine, no more toilet paper seen.

Travel ban, Weinstein, panic COVID-19, NBA, gone away, what else do I have to sayyyyyy
more proof that we live in a simulation:
critically-acclaimed goth teenager
i’m out for a walk and everyone i have passed has been discussing the same thing. it’s like talking to a bunch of npcs in a town that are all like “the plague... it’s awful!”
my pal nicky is picking up new hobbies during this time, but her neighbours seem to have had the same idea:
dr david duchovny ✨
every shop in tooting bec / balham is out of bread flour, presumably because everyone had the same idea of spending their isolation getting into sourdough
and for the writers out there… whoa:
i’ll close it off with these top tweets from the brand new #SocialDistancingPickUpLines trend…
Roman Phoenix
Baby, do you need toilet paper? Because I can be your Prince Charmin. #SocialDistancingPickUpLines
hope these have made you giggle! by next week i’ll even have corona tik-toks for you (because i am unapologetically tik-tok trash, and there are no guilty pleasures in this household). look forward to those, and send me any funny corona tweets you find! x
that’s it from me this week. hope you’re all safe and healthy, practicing social distancing and washing your hands, and finding some light in all of this. as always, feel free to to share your responses to anything above by twitteremail, or paper airplane.
and if you ever feel like tossing a coin my way, you can do so by buying me a coffee.
speak soon,
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kat kourbeti
kat kourbeti @darthjuno

writing, media and arts commentary from a queer g(r)eek writer of science fiction and fantasy works.

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