The isolation diaries | part 6

Week 6 in lockdown and the sixth instillation of my diary sees a tumultuous bubbling over of emotions. When starting this project I didn’t really calculate how much importance it would bring in keeping me grounded, but giving myself the space to document thoughts and feelings during this time has really helped me to process the situation from a neutral perspective, while aligning that to how it’s affecting me personally.

Rather than panicking or overthinking I can channel my writing into an energy that sees me considering the impacts on others, rather than settling into a selfish headspace or trespassing on negative territory.

If I write any kind of mantra I’m pretty much forced to follow it – practice what you preach and all that. So once I hit publish I have a roadmap I can return to; a reminder to be kind to myself and take things at a slower pace than I’m used to; a reality check that productivity doesn’t affect my value.

Saying this, however, I have experienced a really tough week and even concentrating on my passions has not produced the solace it usually tends to. I am distracted: the knots cluttering my brain in complicated tangles cannot be teased out by doing.

The smallest interactions are tipping me over the edge and to be honest I feel really out of sorts. One night I snapped because there were two gangly spiders in my room and my dad dropped one when trying to catch it and put it safely out of the window. I am terrified of spiders and in no way ashamed to admit I need a saviour to remove them for me, but bursting into tears when the insect got lost in my room is not a traditional reaction. Instantly I was on edge: everything looked wrong and I was uncomfortable all evening.

I can only describe the mood as claustrophobic. It’s as if a huge, suffocating cloud has been snaking around my head and trying to shake it off only makes it rain harder.

Guitar has been really helpful as I’m such a beginner that I genuinely have to switch off any other thoughts to focus on achieving another basic skill – this week I learned the riff to Come As You Are by Nirvana and felt very pleased with myself! Due to this, bitesize lessons have become a key step in winding down after a day’s work; the clouds part and I can consider setting up my keyboard to blog or brainstorm.

Little sparks of inspiration keep cropping up from nowhere, too. In the shower, as hot water cleanses me and steam rises off my skin, the fragments of a poem tickle my brain and I cling onto them until I can reach for my phone and type the words into my notes.

One playful task I thoroughly enjoyed mulling over throughout isolation was the 30-day song challenge. Initially I suspected ‘challenge’ was an ambitious word, but as each request stared me down I realised how difficult it can be to narrow a theme down to one track, or recollect one that fits the description in a raw and nostalgic homage to my taste.

My handwriting is disgustingly messy (I wrote a letter to one of my best friends in which I apologised for the state of it, explaining that it’s because I can’t hold a pen correctly – in primary school when learning I couldn’t ever quite get the hang of it and pretended when the teacher came round) so I have transcribed the list below if any assistance is needed. I’ve also made a playlist for this collection of meaningful tunes, if you fancy listening you can find it on Spotify here.

If you want to participate in the challenge yourself, you can simply search Google and download the template. I want to call out some of my favourites – which turned out to be either the ridiculously easy choices or the painstakingly hard decisions. So here goes!

My 30 Day Song Challenge

Day 1: a song you like with the colour in the title | White Room – Cream
Day 2: a song you like with a number in the title | 1049 Gotho – Idles
Day 3: a song that reminds you of summertime | Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks
Day 4: a song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget | Jackson – Johnny Cash & June Carter

Day 5: a song that needs to be played loud | Daffodils – Mark Ronson & Kevin Parker.
I request this like a whiny puppy at every party I ever go to, but because of that it reminds me of blissful dancefloor moments and roadtrips in the sun with the music up loud and cigarette ash being flicked out of the window. One of my friendship groups now has a regular Sunday ‘radio show’, where we all send in songs to suit a certain category. I chose this for a track that summarises good times with friends. It makes me want to stay up too late and drink too much and have a right old knees up with my pals.

Day 6: a song that makes you want to dance | It’s Always Binary – Soulwax
Day 7: a song to drive to | Arabella – Arctic Monkeys
Day 8: a song about drugs or alcohol | Cocaine – Eric Clapton
Day 9: a song that makes you happy | Home – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Day 10: a song that makes you sad | Dry Your Eyes Mate – The Streets

Day 11: a song you never get tired of | Robbers – The 1975.
One of my all time favourites. I have seen The 1975 live about four times and could easily return hundreds of time and never get bored. They are such an incredible, dynamic and open-minded band, but I always come back to this song. It soundtracked my later teenage years and evokes a strong sense of how I have evolved since then – when I listen it’s almost as if I’m temporarily transported back to see the world through younger eyes.

Day 12: a song from your preteen years | Take On Me – Aha.
While I was a young kid my mum was studying to be a nurse at university. Some nights when she’d be doing late shifts my dad would have to go pick her up, taking my little brother and I with him. The three of us would pass the time by playing the board game Frustration and listening to Aha Greatest Hits CD before jumping in the car for an exciting moonlit journey down the dual carriageway.

Day 13: a song you like from the 70s | Take Me To The River – Talking Heads

Day 14: a song you’d love to be played at your wedding | River – Leon Bridges.
This is just the most beautiful song. My sister introduced me to it when I stayed with her shortly after my nephew was born; it was a swelteringly hot few days in Devon and I completely fell in love with Leon Bridge’s husky voice and the soulful lyrics. I played it a lot in the summer of 2017 and at a time when I was somewhat lost in direction, it was a piece of music I could return to if I needed to cry, or feel, or surrender for a few minutes. It’s definitely a contender for my wedding playlist, although it won’t be the first dance song (I still have no idea on that front).

Day 15: a song you like that’s a cover by another artist | You’ve Got The Love – Florence & The Machine
Day 16: a song that’s a classic favourite | Dreams – Fleetwood Mac

Day 17: a song you’d sing a duet with someone on karaoke | Rehab – Amy Winehouse.
Lol me and Beth once drunkenly signed up for karaoke on a night out in Brecon and sung this, even though Beth had no knowledge of the words and I thought my voice was amazing when in reality I didn’t sing a line in tune.

Day 18: a song from the year you were born | The Girl In The Dirty Shirt – Oasis
Day 19: a song that makes you think about life | Imagine – John Lennon

Day 20: a song that has many meanings to you | Romeo & Juliet – Dire Straits.
An absolute no-brainer. I first heard this song a few days before we took my sister, brother-in-law and nephew to the airport to move to New Zealand. We used to sit in the snug (the study room in my parent’s house) and play cards, drink wine and take it in turns to choose a song. Amy put this one on and I had never heard it previously, but now it has a special place in my heart and became an anthem for the summer I left university. It reminds me of my sister, but also of freedom and heartbreak. Josh and I were discussing this being our wedding song because it’s so gorgeous, but the sad story isn’t quite fitting.

Day 21: a song you like with a person’s name in the title | Sally Cinnamon – The Stone Roses
Day 22: a song that moves you forward | GREAT – Idles
Day 23: a song that you think everyone should listen to | Sha Sha Sha – Fontaine’s D.C.
Day 24: a song by a band you wish were still together | Champagne Supernova – Oasis
Day 25: song you like by an artist no longer living | Come As You Are – Nirvana (Kurt Cobain)

Day 26: a song that makes you want to fall in love | Longshot – Catfish and the Bottlemen.
When Josh and I were getting together this had just been released and we listened to it a lot, so we quite literally fell in love to it. We also went to see Catfish and the Bottlemen live in November so it felt like we’d come full circle!

Day 27: a song that breaks your heart | Fields of Gold – Eva Cassidy.
I have listened to this too many times to recall, but it’s probs near on 1000. The best of Eva Cassidy was one of the first albums I bought for my record player, because her voice is so powerfully magical. Even though I’ve heard it on repeat so much I discover new nuances in the melody, and it both builds me up and breaks my heart simultaneously. We used to go for walks in a meadow near where I grew up in Surrey, and I can picture those hazy memories so vividly with this in the background.

Day 28: A song by an artist whose voice you love | You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse

Day 29: a song you remember from your childhood | Money – Pink Floyd.
My dad used to play his Dark Side of The Moon CD on any long car journey, and this is the one that always stuck in my head (probably because of all the funky sound effects). I am really fond of the entire album, although that song is another level in my opinion.

Day 30: a song that reminds you of yourself | She’s Always A Woman – Billy Joel.
My ex once told me this reminded him of me (lol, couldn’t tell if it was a compliment or not), and when I told my nan about it she agreed. I adore the song either way and can see how it touches on some aspects of my personality.

I’m not one for partaking in collective Instagram hashtags, but one of my favourite bloggers, Lizzy Hatfield (@shotfromthestreet) has started a weekly campaign with the tag #shotwiththetheme and I have been influenced by this online community to get creative and join in. The shadowy wine glass photos I took in my hallway when experimenting with capturing images of ‘light’.

Right before lockdown my best friend and I got a matching tattoo, and I had wanted to wait to share a photo of us revealing them together. One morning I half-heartedly set up my camera (which is being neglected in favour of my iPhone as of late) to self-time and caught the semi-candid snap of my torso. I was still in my pyjamas and wasn’t prepared for anything fancy, but it transpires that’s what makes the still so great.

If you look closely you can see the imprint of my duvet still brandishing my skin. I am freshly awoken from the land of dreams and the surroundings embody the casualness of daily routines: bathwater brewing, toothbrushes waiting to be used. It’s so not glam but I love that the tattoo is the main focus.

When Meg said we should get one I jokingly suggested a cigarette, but she argued it was perfect because they, along with a cup of coffee, have been a consistent accompaniment to our deep chats. It’s so satisfying and wholesome in this period where our friends are physically distant, to spot a mark we share on our flesh and to be reminded of how connected we really are.

The blue top and green trousers combo was a random mishmash when attempting to throw on something comfy (I didn’t bring much in the way of joggers to Wales with me – now a major regret). It really wasn’t comfy but I was thrilled at the resulting outfit. Both items are old thrifted finds – the Gerry Weber trousers were a pound from a charity shop and the lining is gradually disintegrating from excessive wear.

Maybe the Welsh spring landscape is subconsciously manipulating my wardrobe choices with its lush green trees and (occasional) pure blue skies. There’s nothing sweeter than waking up to a blaring iPhone alarm for the harsh sounds to be contrasted with sunlight creeping in at the corners of your curtains. It’s the only weather I’ll tolerate for a morning run, and for the scenes of stunning dewy fields it’s so worth it.

Another bank holiday spent in lockdown (it’s come around so quickly?!) and I’m surprisingly grateful for a long weekend to relax with (obviously) absolutely no plans. It’s refreshing to not have to succumb to the pressure of using that free day off wisely; to be packed like sardines on a beach, or stuck in a stuffy car in a motorway traffic jam on the way to a certain destination, with a load of other tourists who have exactly the same idea.

I’m taking it easy and listening to my body. So far I have been on a read/write/sunbathe rotation and it’s been bloody lovely. Other plans include catch up calls with friends and family and 100% chance of an ice cold G&T (note to self: put ice in freezer). Hope you’re all well and looking after yourselves!

Lily x

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