Small Pandemic Pleasures

The city I live in went into lockdown on Monday, March 16th, 2020. It’s been a year of emergency orders, lockdown, regulations and confusing dates to mark the end of something that I could no longer keep track of. Prior to the lockdown, I loved to squeeze every errands possible between my commute to make the most of my days downtown. As an extrovert, I was surprised by how content I was staying at home for a long stretch of time.

Of course I miss my friends, my studio, my partner, my dog that isn’t my dog but is basically my dog and more. I miss people watching on the subway; I miss accidentally eavesdropping on strangers’ conversations in a coffee shop as I draw my surroundings; I miss bumping into people I know as I rush from point A to point B; I miss taking a bite of my friend’s food in a restaurant without worrying about a deadly virus.

There was a sense of optimism in the beginning of this global pandemic, when everyone was figuring things out day by day. People were compassionate, and things really felt like they were looking up because of our collective efforts towards a greater goal. The sentiment that we were “all in this together” was strong. It wasn’t long before the gap between those who can comfortably ignore the pandemic and those who couldn’t became obvious.

Ontario recently announced another provincewide shutdown for at least another month, briefly after regulations were starting to loosen up for restaurants and small businesses. I am so angry at the mixed messaging and wishy-washy rules. While people in Asia are able to safely socialize again, we are once again trapped in a loop that feels endless. While I am reading stories about vaccinations in America, we are still at the stage of trying to control cases from spreading in Toronto. The dissonance between our realities feels hopeless. In therapy, I am trying to get better at not comparing my lived experiences with others. I am trying to be better at allowing different emotions to co-exist; that I can be angry and hopeless but still feel grateful for the glimpse of pleasures that I experience regularly. So here’s a small list of things I’ve been enjoying lately. Hopefully, I can safely take “pandemic” out of the title for my new list soon.

View of my window

  • I live in an apartment right at a busy intersection. The window in my room faces the road, with the strip plaza to my right, and lots of townhouses to my left. During the late afternoon, the sun shines directly in my room as it sets and lights everything up in soft amber. When the weather is good and if I squint hard enough, I can see CN tower from a distance. Sometimes I see my neighbour with his kid drinking coffee in front of his porch amongst the strip of townhouse in front of my building. During the earlier days of the pandemic, it was eerie how quiet the roads were.

A small nook in my room illuminated by the warm glow of a waning sun.

The park near me

  • I found a huge park 5 minutes away from me! It has these small hills, next to a basketball court with a soccer field, and an off-leash dog park further down the road. Now that the weather is a little warmer, I’ve been going on walks, and sometimes settling down on the tallest hill to read or journal. I love how expansive the view is, and how peaceful it feels to enjoy the cool breeze.

Sweet potato chicken soup

  • I love a flavourful, filling, easy, and low-dish recipe. I just chuck everything in the pot and it’s honestly foolproof. Don’t skip the lemon!

Homemade Kimchi

  • I evaluate the success of recipes solely by whether I remake it or not. Even though it takes a while, I’ve fermented my own kimchi twice in the past two months! A $4 nappa cabbage lasts me for such a long time. It feels especially satisfying when I can reuse my store-bought kimchi jar. I eyeball all my ingredients based on this and this recipe. Highly recommend! Maybe I’ll illustrate a step-by-step guide on this soon.

Dark (2017-2020)

  • It’s a German Netflix show about time-travelling, and how two families intersect in unimaginable ways. It has three seasons and every episode feels carefully crafted and intentional. It’s such an intelligent show with beautiful scores by Ben Frost, what a journey. Just don’t watch Tenet right after this.


New skincare

  • There was a sale at Shoppers Drug Mart for Cocokind’s products. I picked up the Raspberry Vinegar Toner and Texture Smoothing Cream. The cream smells like celery, and so every morning I do my skincare routine in combination with my lemon cleanser from The Body Shop, it feels like I have an entire salad on my face. I love how a little of the cream goes a long way, it’s moisturizing but doesn’t feel heavy. I definitely saw improvement on the texture of my skin and I am not even halfway done!

Insight Timer

  • I completed a 21 Day of Abundance meditation challenge with an online Slack group started by Rachel Nguyen called Warde. I’ve never meditated seriously prior to this challenge, and I was so excited to do this daily during February. Part of the reason I completed this was likely due to the fact that we were checking in with each other daily, and part of it was because of the journal prompts that our facilitator, Adar would pair with each meditation. Insight Timer is an app that offers guided meditation on a variety of topics, and it’s been really helpful for me to integrate meditation in my daily routine. The noise-cancelling earphones my partner gifted me definitely levelled up my experience!
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