Working out in the time of cholera

This is fine. (Image found on the Pinterest.)

I saw on the news this morning that Ontario provincial parks are closing because of COVID-19…and I didn’t freak out at all. I got all my hysterical adjusting done in my previous post; but I think this is a good time to point out how wrong Thoreau was when he claimed, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

Noisy desperation is the order of the day, particularly on semi-apocalyptic days like these. I think the noise is helpful; I don’t think many people benefit from locking that shit up inside for later, when it’ll just come out sideways in some unrelated and inappropriate situation and there will be shame and regret added to the mortal terror; no one needs that. Vent. Or work it out!

I worked out this morning with another glorious bicycle ride on empty roads and abandoned trails. I’m enjoying it while I can because I foresee the continued shrinking of my world as COVID cases and the fear of them continue to build here. I’ve accepted this and am figuring out ways to stay active inside.

Yesterday, I practiced the Taiko songs I know on an exercise ball in a chair; I have lots of strength training exercise I already do at home anyway; I have begun learning to juggle with the help of Juggling for the Complete Klutz, a book written precisely with me and my current situation in mind.

More importantly, perhaps, I have harnessed the power of the Internet and have some online, indoor workout resources—plus some very inspiring inspiration from the smart, talented, and beautiful Serge Ibaka—to keep us all fit and healthy in these strange quarentimes. Here are a couple of links, both from CBC.

In my tiny house, and until I get an indoor bike, I’ll be running up against the wall and getting stuck there like some badly played video game dude but it’s all good; we do the best we can. And having planking and push-up competitions with my lovely husband.

Yes, a perfect and beautiful book, but don’t read it now, unless you’re mad at yourself. Double ditto for The Plague.

But we can’t be winning plank and/or push-up contests every minute of every livelong day; as a doctor (of Philosophy in English Language and Literature), I prescribe scheduling and enjoying reading time for the duration. Coronavirus reading lists are popping up everywhere and they invariably include Camus’s The Plague, Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, and Boccaccio’s Decameron. To these, as suggested by a coworker, I’ve added Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Margaret Oliphant’s A Beleaguered City, the Strugatsky brothers’ Doomed City, and Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book.

No doubt there are many more plague-themed tomes that may be added; to this I say, stop. STOP. Stop right now. Remember that alongside instructing, books may also delight and numb you. Now is the time for hilarious books that make you bust a gut laughing or experience pure joy; this is not the time for novels, poems, songs, and other media to open a vein to. I’m a doctor, as I’ve mentioned; that means you have to do what I say. And I say you should read and/or re-read any of the following (in no particular order except that Cold Comfort Farm should be at the top of every reading list now and until the end of time):

  • Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  • Fraud: Essays, David Rackoff
  • Sam the Sudden, P. G. Wodehouse (any Wodehouse will do, actually, but this is the last one I read and I thought it particularly fine)
  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Samantha Irby
  • Vanity Fair, W. M. Thackeray
  • The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
  • The Blessing, Nancy Mitford
  • Time After Time, Molly Keane
  • Devoted Ladies, Molly Keane
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
  • The Prince of Minor Writers, Max Beerbohm
  • Travel Light, Naomi Mitchison
  • Loitering With Intent, Muriel Spark
  • True Grit, Charles Portis
  • The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim
  • Old Filth, Jane Gardam
  • Rivers of London/Midnight Riot, Ben Aaronovitch
  • At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O’Brien
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
  • The Monarch of the Glen, Compton Mackenzie
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Anita Loos
  • 1066 and All That, W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Douglas Adams

The internet loves book lists, so feel free to make suggestions for further additions to what I have just decided shall henceforth be referred to as Dr. Shea’s Utterly Perfect, Fail-safe, Compelling & Curative* List of Awesome Reading for Crazytimes 2020.

I am currently reading Sara Gallardo’s Land of Smoke (short stories) and it is perfect. Be well, friends; love the hell out of each other (from a safe distance) and we’ll get through this.

*By curative I mean enjoyable; if you do not find these books enjoyable, please refer to your funny bone which may have suffered grievous injury when you were elbowing old ladies in the head at the grocery store to get the last pack of TP.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Rohan Maitzen says:

    It is so nice to be hearing from you again! I confess my exercise routine has rather collapsed under the pressure of these crazytimes but you are right that it is going to be really important to keep active. I will do better!

    I love your list! I haven’t read them all so there are some good ideas there for me, but of the ones I have read, The Enchanted April jumps out at me as one I would really like to reread.

  2. Brook says:

    You also don’t need to read Oryx and Crake just now. Stella Gibbons, however…

  3. With all the quarantining The Masque of the Red Death, by Poe, would surely make some reading lists. In Texas, I am reading Austen and listening to radio plays online.

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