Zìjǐ Xiězuò (自己寫作) I Write for Myself: Never Alone


I looked up from the toilet and see one bright blue dopey eye peeking through the crack of the bathroom door. A little sigh escaped past my lips and I reached up to close the door a bit more but not latch it. A bulbus nose nudges the door open enough so that I can see the one brown, one blue eye, harlequin Great Dane impatiently waiting for me to finish my business so that I can let him out to do his. Since I’ve had children and one dog after another, I can’t remember the last time I went to the bathroom without an audience. It is one of life’s little luxuries that a mother and dog owner freely surrenders.

The pandemic triggered safety protocols to work from home. And as the universe would have it, a once-in-a-life time offer to permanently work from home came about. Each morning my eyes open to a pair of yellow eyes of the Weimaraner, eerily staring at me to my left and a giant Great Dane anus connected to four outstretched legs to my right. I reluctantly leave the warmth of my covers and fresh cotton sheets to go downstairs surrounded by overexcited dogs eager to relieve themselves. Sometimes I have to rush out to the backyard before the morning light with my high power flashlight looking to bag up dog feces, hoping that I do not step in it first. I absent mindedly fill the dog bowls with food & water and the early morning stillness is abruptly interrupted with the sounds of savages scarfing down their breakfast as if they have been fasting for weeks followed by tongues lapping up water with equal velocity.

We all return to bed for a nap until it was time for me to log in for work. I sit in front of the dual monitors clicking away for 8 hours, periodically disrupted by a large bulbus head nudging my elbow for attention. The college sophomore frequently bounces downstairs with some revelation or complaint, often in the middle of a video conference call. I force myself to break for a 30-minute lunch and often make a cup of tea that sits neglected for hours because an unexpected urgent matter demands my immediate attention. At 5:30, I log off and four times a week I make my homage to Orange Theory Fitness, otherwise I do not leave the house and I am never alone.

At night when the Hubs is home, I attempt to steal a few minutes of solitary quietness and retreat to the bedroom. I sneak upstairs hoping to evade the Great Dane following me like a baby duck, softly closing the bedroom door behind me. On successful escapes, I giddily smooth the sheets on my bed before getting in and savor the few minutes of being alone, not needed by anyone, not having to fulfill a need. The temporary tranquility is often short lived as the college sophomore bursts in to share his frustrations of online courses or the sound of dogs stampeding up the stairs to retire for the evening … and my day restarts like Groundhog Day.

Zìjǐ Xiězuò (自己寫作) I Write for Myself: Labels


Labels. Many frown upon them. There seem to be simply an overwhelming amount of labels that an equally overwhelming amount of people have chosen for themselves. Even those who refuses conformity and declare themselves free of such social constraints, in it of itself, the declaration is a form of labeling.

But labeling is not all bad and for some, a label can provide much needed answers and lead to resolutions. For example, figuring out that I have FODMAP food sensitivity not only alleviated my frustrations but the label provided a roadmap of how I can curtail my nutrition so that I can eat and feel good. Often times not knowing, no label, is much worse but I can certainly understand that for some, all the labels are just nonsense.

When it comes to personality traits, we are often presented with two choices – extrovert or introvert. However, extrovert and introvert are only the two extremes on a spectrum and for years, the Hubs was convinced that I was an extrovert but I knew better. The key element in determining where I fell was who each personality recharged. The extrovert is energized with other people, while introverts needs mass quantity of time alone. While I can find enjoyment in crowds, parties, or group events, my tolerance has limitations. And when my energy is all gone, I can’t retreat to a quiet place fast enough to recharge. I am what is called ambivert. Ambiverts have both introverted and extroverted tendencies and often lean towards one end of the spectrum or the other based on the social situations.

Quarantine during COVID-19 pandemic was challenging for many people for many reasons. For some it was the sheer inability to fulfill the very basic human need to socialize with other sentient being. While for others it was the inability to leave one’s quarters with a bit of cabin fever. For me, it was the lack of opportunity to have solitary time to recharge.

I was working from home. Thing 2’s classes were all online. We, like many other families partook in getting a COVID puppy which is essentially like having a child without the benefits of a diaper. Being a homebody, sometimes I felt as if it was difficult to just breathe because there were no where for me to hide to recoup 5 minutes of no obligation, no interaction, and just sit in priceless utter silence.

I remember that I would ride my scooter and brave the cold just so I can scrape some time of being alone but it’s not quite the same as being able to curl into the corner of a comfy chair, with a favorite book, and a cup of hot tea. On the weekends, the house was even louder and more populated as the Hubs would be home.

When I hear that many single people were drowning in loneliness, I often internally marveled at their luxury of being alone. I suppose that the grass is truly greener on the other side.