It will surprise no one to hear that during the prevalence of the pandemic my daily agenda is both limited and repetitious. In a word I have grown to realize and appreciate the strength and importance of social contact with others – whether casually at a coffee house with strangers or acquaintances or more formally over breakfast, lunch or dinner. With almost every degree of familiarity having been quelled, one must learn to withdraw from social fabric and instead replace time with more solitary customs. My scope of adventure is tiresome to a fault! Nonetheless what I do is always a first choice preference not a mere filler.
One of my predominant distractions is what I quip to call “writing a novel“. This laughable devotion is in fact just a step above a school girl’s diary – that is, loaded with mistaken ambition and even more modest literary expression. Yet the preparation for the daily literary assault is not without its distinguishing prerequisites. Even before I contemplate settling myself at the computer for so-called artistic purposes, I usually seek to collect photos of relevance from my constitutional morning bicycle ride. I have learned that it entails very little distortion to imagine a reason for connecting a photo of almost anything to a subject of almost any currency, In this respect I flatter myself to succeed. In truth however I suspect the achievement is little more than an unfettered interest in whatever photo happens to adorn the page. Such is the appeal of photography of almost any character. Naturally if I have failed to gather any photos from my bicycle ride, a mere jaunt across the World Wide Web ensures that something of pertinence will be found.
The ceremony leading to my “novel” is shrouded in the cloak of many lesser undertakings, all of which inhibit my literary endeavour until they have been fulfilled. Foremost is the adjustment to lounging. If – as is usually the case – I have returned late afternoon from a car ride (after my purifying bicycle ride), my clothing consists of articles suitable to public adornment. This means that my jacket must be removed after carefully ensuring that the pockets have been emptied of iPhone, lip balm, apartment keys and whatever receipts I have collected in my tiny Dutch-made wallet. Then my sweater has to be altered for a much lighter top. Shoes have to be put neatly away; sunglasses cleaned and ready for use tomorrow; jewelry abandoned to appropriate drawer; Apple watch attached to its charger; and finally a refreshing gargle of mouthwash to start afresh!
This commotion only gets me as far as the dining table where I deposit my iPhone and lip balm for future attention. First however I must prepare my evening meal. This too is a ritual and notable only for its ceaseless repetition – namely, raw sliced cucumber, pepper, tomatoes, celery, a wedge of Roquefort cheese, drizzle of virgin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. Normally I have filet of salmon as well. What damage I inflict upon myself in addition to this particular recipe is guided by my state of mind during a prior shopping experience – an event which may well have provoked a passion for squares, pies or cookies. The critical moment in the culinary production is setting the plate of vegetables and the salmon filet upon the dining table. We call it “letting it rest” which is but a humorous extension. The readiness of the meal will ultimately be governed entirely by appetite – a feature without which the meal might prove to be completely uninteresting.
When all this has been done – clothes changed, things put away, dinner made – then begins the catharsis called writing a novel. The affair is a combination of Nike’s “Just Do It” and Stephen Kings’ “One word at a time“. The real talent however is that I have translated this hobby into the authenticity of a gardener. Occasionally a flower may bloom. I never tire of inspecting the plot and churning the soil.
Part of the full picture of this mundane activity is the preparation of several cups of strong, black coffee. It is only at the end of the day that I willingly permit myself the indulgence of caffeine. Complimenting this traditional abuse is the music I listen to while connected to my Bose 700 headphones. I have learned to connect all my audio devices to my iPhone (as opposed to my MacBook Pro or iPad). This permits me to maintain control of the music and the volume.