State of the Scalzi, Three Weeks In

I’ve been quarantining for three weeks now. How am I doing? Let’s break it down, in no particular order:

1. Weight: Quarantining offers many opportunities to confront the question “Am I Hungry or Just Bored,” and I know that left to my own devices I will graze incessantly, so I’ve been using a calorie counter to track the amount of food I’m shoving into my own face and how many calories it has. I strongly believe that if people just want to eat during quarantine, why the hell not, and have already developed a term for “the weight we all gain because it’s quarantine and, well, fuck it”: The Quaran-fifteen. That said, I also know that me gaining too much weight will make me unhappy, and possibly unhealthy. My goal here is simply to stay within the 165 – 170 pound range, and tracking food and calories helps with that. Today: 167.5 pounds, so, yes, smack dab in the middle, well-done there, Scalzi.

2. Exercise: I’ve been exercising about every other day, walks when it’s nice outside and drumming when it’s not. The walks are easy to do because I live in rural America, where I can walk for miles and not see another person (yay, low-density living), and drumming is fun, so it doesn’t really feel like exercise. I think I might need to exercise more because I do notice I’m crankier on days when I don’t exercise. I don’t know if that’s because on the days I don’t exercise the lack of exercise makes me crankier, or if it’s because on the days I don’t exercise I fill that time with reading news and social media, which makes me crankier. Maybe both!

3. Sleep: I find myself sleeping more the further I go along in the quarantine. According to my Fitbit, the first week I was in quarantine I slept an average of 7 hours, 6 minutes a night; the second week, 7 hours, 49 minutes; and last week, 8 hours, 3 minutes. Pre-quarantine I was sleeping on average between six and a half and seven and a half hours a night. I’m sleeping more both because I can — no travel is really helping with this, I have to say — and because I suspect I’m using sleep therapeutically at this point. Yesterday I was in a particularly not great mood and went “fuck it, I’m going to sleep,” got in bed early, slept nine hours and woke up feeling pretty decent. I recommend more sleep to everyone.

4. Work: I thought last week I would do a little creative work and did none at all, which was a cause of some of my crankiness, mitigated by the realization that right now I really do need to do marketing and publicity for The Last Emperox, and I was doing rather a bit of that in terms of interviews, feature pieces and what have you. I’m keeping busy at the very least, which is useful. Part of the problem with the creative side is my brain is jumping around. I have a novel that I have to write (I will literally always have a novel I need to write, contractually speaking, for the better part of a decade yet), but my brain is also, like, now is the time to write that concept album! And that short story! And that screenplay! And and and… Some of that I suspect is just quarantine restlessness, but the short term result is lack of focus.

5. General mood: Mostly good; it gets worse when I read the news, but then, why wouldn’t it. In the main we are doing pretty well here — we’re all healthy and we’re mostly in good spirits and entertained — and it helps that we live in a big enough house that the three of us here can get out of each other’s way when we need to. But I have my less-than-great days, yesterday being one, in which I felt like doing something but nothing in particular was interesting to me, so I just sat about being in a bad mood and trying not to transmit it to anyone else in the house before I went to bed. I don’t worry too much about the cranky days being a symptom of quarantine depression — I have cranky days regardless of outside events — but I am paying attention to whether there are more cranky days now, and if so, how they affect the way I’m treating others.

With that said, come on: Weird fucking times we’re living in and the anxiousness of it is getting to me like I think it’s getting to everyone. It’s exacerbated by the fact that our ignorant, dimwitted president and his incompetent administration has literally made everything worse; I have so much generalized anger and frustration at him and his people that I don’t know what to do with it, save the occasional caustic Twitter post (and slightly longer if no less caustic posts here). I’m also aware that for various reasons I have the luxury of mostly ignoring the outside world if I want to, so while I wouldn’t call my anger and anxiety voluntary, exactly, it’s true enough that I can do things to moderate it that other people can’t. It’s still pretty bad. I envy people who aren’t anxious and angry at the moment; they’re probably delusional, which isn’t any better at all, but at least they’re happier.

6. Financial anxiety: Not much for me or the Scalzi family, thankfully. I’ve noted that we took a pretty severe haircut on stocks, as did anyone else who is in the stock market these days, but we’re also about two decades out from doing anything with those investments, so, eh, it’s not fun but it’s not something for us to freak out about yet, either. Otherwise financially we’re going to be fine through the rest of 2020 at least. We’re fortunate and we know it.

As a matter of prudence I’ve already substantially downgraded what I expect to take in for the next couple of years at least. Reasons for this include contraction in the publishing market, both with domestic and international publishers and booksellers, people having less disposable income and more general economic anxiety, and the options market (for film/TV) probably drying out considerably in the short term. I could be wrong about this — people in the short term seem to be buying books, which is nice for someone who has a book out in nine days — but it makes sense to plan like I won’t be wrong. Again, I’ll probably be fine; I (and we) have margin to work with. A lot of people don’t, including people we care about.

7. Non-family relationships: So far, so good? While I have good relations with my neighbors, most of my strong personal relationships are with people who live some distance from me and with whom I mostly communicate day-to-day through online/phone-based means. So… business as usual on that end. I am more than a little disappointed that my physical book tour was cancelled because I had friends at pretty much every stop and was looking forward to spending some in-person time with them. That’s not going to happen now. I’ll find other excuses to get with them some other time. In the meantime, I’m checking in on them and they’re checking in on me and we’re doing what we do. It seems all right.

8. And everything else: I’m drinking more Coke Zero than I used to, and I used to drink rather a lot, so maybe I need to think about my choices there. The cats seem to be fine and largely unconcerned about anything, which makes sense because they’re cats and they don’t worry about things as long as the food and sunbeams keep coming. I was reading more, and I’ve stopped and now want to get back on it again; I reread a novel this weekend, which is a start. I’m excited about The Last Emperox coming out and am curious how it does in the short term and in the face of an economic and social shutdown. I very much like that I have more time with Krissy and Athena right now; it’s the silver lining in all of this. I’m trying very hard not to fall down stairs or have any other sort of medical emergency, as this is absolutely the worst time for that. My hair is beginning to get unruly and I’ve already told Krissy that when it goes full Doc Brown I’m just gonna take some clippers to it rather than wait for an appointment with my usual hairdresser. We’re buying a lot of local business gift certificates that we have no intention of redeeming anytime soon.

Things could be worse. I wish they were better.

This is where I am at the end of week three.

Yes, But What Does JOHN SCALZI Think of This Moment?

Because I once wrote a book about a global viral pandemic, I was asked by my local newspaper to prognosticate about what changes we will see from the coronavirus in the future. I answered largely in generalities, because that’s the sort of interview it was. You may find the interview at this link.