Nov 28th, 2020, 12:51 PM

Confessions of a Lockdown Survivor

By Lauren Nanes
Lockdown. Image credit: Unsplash.
Lockdown. Image Credit: Unsplash/United Nations
A lesson on all of the things not to do during confinement.

On Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation for a second time to discuss the possibility of deconfinement in France. Although free movement won't happen just yet, things are starting to look up for self-isolating individuals like myself.

The peak of the second wave is over. And while the virus will not disappear, the weeks ahead look optimistic in its promise to return to some type of normalcy.

It has been a little more than a month since the second lockdown began and now that things are close to returning to normal, it's time to confess. I was in Paris during France's first lockdown in the spring and as a lockdown veteran, I can assure you confinement is not easy. The first time around was a huge learning curve. My routines staggered, my productivity plummeted and I felt exceptionally lonely. When I heard that a second lockdown would once again uproot my life, I made sure that I was prepared. I gave myself morning routines, I kept in contact with friends and made sure I went out for daily walks. What I wasn't prepared for, however, was how entertaining and bizarre my second go-around all alone would be. 

FaceTime with friends. Image credit: Unsplash. 

Unlike my first lockdown experience, this time I learned exactly what not to do during confinement. These are my confessions as a lockdown survivor.

Lesson number one: Do not collect empty wine bottles on top of your washing machine.

They will all fall and shatter on your kitchen floor when you decide to do laundry at four in the morning. Now, I know you're thinking: "Who would do that?!" Well, me, I would do that. In hindsight, I realize how nonsensical that might have, but, to be fair, in a pre-wine massacred world a student living in a studio apartment has to make certain organizational choices. And mine, I will admit, was a bad one.

Lesson number two: You're not bionic. Go to sleep.

Long screen-time hours is something I think we are all trying to avoid. It makes your eyes hurt, it gives you headaches and, for me, it leads to insomnia. Staying off of screens during confinement is always a struggle. With nothing to do besides log online, it is almost impossible to stay off of your phone or computer at night. But I'm telling you, don't do it. If you're like me, there are only so many nights where you can stay up past four in the morning, wired off of the blue light from your phone, before your eyes start to puff up like a blowfish. It's not pretty and takes hours, along with some antihistamines, to go down. Do not do it.

Just to preface the next one, this confession is a little area-specific and frankly fear-specific, but it's still worth learning from, I think. 

Lesson number three: Stop leaving your balcony window open in the middle of the night.

Now, I know we are on the cusp of winter and it's cold outside, but a little nighttime chill never hurt anybody — or so I thought. The reason I'm telling you this is spiders. If you leave your window open in the middle of the night, spiders will get inside your apartment, nest in the little cracks of your ceiling corners and you will scream when you find the tiny black creatures crawling up your wall, or at least I did. If spiders are your thing then, please, leave your window open as wide as you'd like, but for all of my fellow arachnophobes, close the damn window. 

Side note: Don't try to kill spiders with an old, dusty mop. You won't kill the spiders; you'll break your mop and you'll piss off your upstairs neighbor. Okay, on to the next one.

Lesson number four: Stop compulsively ordering food off of Deliveroo.

I'm not saying don't order in food ever, I'm just saying don't do it every day, every meal, for three days. It's not that healthy and it will drain your bank account, but that's not the main reason why you shouldn't do it. I'm telling you not to do it so you can avoid the embarrassment of a delivery man laughing at you while handing you your order and saying, "It's you again! I've basically memorized your address at this point." It's mortifying and slightly creepy. My best piece of advice, avoid that situation at all costs.

My next lesson is a bit personal, but I thought I'd throw it in anyway. This is a confessional after all.

Lesson number five: Stop texting boys every time you get bored.

Sometimes this actually turns out to be a fruitful move, but in my lockdown experience, I get bored a lot and I've come to learn that I can't afford to make a fool of myself so many times. I guess you can, if you want to. I'll leave that as a judgment call — extenuating circumstances and all.

We're veering towards the end of my confessional, but I'm not done just yet. Here are some speed tips for those quick and random mishaps that we are all trying to avoid.

Lesson number six: Don't stare directly into the eyes of a gendarme when you haven't filled out your attestation. You look suspicious and will be stopped.

Lesson number seven: Playing chess by yourself isn't as fun as the girl from The Queen's Gambit makes it look. 

Lesson number eight: Don't feed the seagulls in Luxembourg park unless you want a flock of birds flying towards your head at full-speed. 

A menacing seagull. Image Credit: Unsplash/Sebastian Herrmann

And finally, my last and most important confession of the second lockdown, lesson number nine.

Lesson number nine: Don't listen to any of the lessons above if you want to have some fun.

Without a doubt, the second lockdown in France has been a difficult one. Once again uprooted by the pandemic, our lives were quickly shuttered into the confines of our homes. And though the disruption is not over, a semblance of normalcy seems just around the corner. France has recorded a drop in nationwide infections. Positive cases in the country have lowered to about 20,000 per day, the number of people in intensive care units has declined to around 4,300 per day and the possibility of a vaccine finally seems within reach. With the deconfinement process in sight, the inclination to forget the pandemic and all the strife it has caused may be tempting. But, it is important to keep the pandemic and all of our experiences with it close, however difficult that may be.

The year 2020 has been a struggle and, obviously, I haven't had the easiest time. Yes I confess, cleaning up shards of glass from my kitchen floor at four in the morning wasn't fun per say, but when I look back at all of the foolish things I did, I can't help but laugh. The COVID-19 crisis has been a learning curve for all of us. Health standards, living standards and working standards have all changed. But, at least we can say that amidst the stress and the panic, we laughed.