When the foghorn whistle blows …

Because everything I think of triggers a memory of a story or a song or both, thinking that I wanted the title to this post to have the word “fog” in it immediately put “Into the Mystic” in my head. Which is nice, but also distracting …

I wanted fog in my title because I am thinking about how foggy I feel, how my brain seems to be operating on half power (or less) most days. I know I’m not alone in this. Seemingly every day someone remarks on how they have no sense of time anymore, or they can’t remember how to do the most basic things, or they’ve lost the ability to concentrate for more than a minute on even the most important things.

We say we have Covid brain, but there are plenty of people who actually have Covid brain, which is no laughing matter, so joking about it seems wrong. At the same time, this weird fog we’re in is absolutely Covid related. I guess we could say we have pandemic brain.

One sign of that for me that’s on my mind today is how little reading I’ve done in the two years since quarantine began. I have a house full of books (too many books, if the crew that moved me into this apartment is to be believed). Among the mountains of books are many (MANY) that I haven’t read. You’d think I could have made a serious dent in the unread count during two years of mostly being in my house. You’d be wrong, dear reader. Sorrowfully wrong.

I love to read. I can’t think of another time in my life when I’ve read as little as I have during the pandemic. I miss books, miss being able to lose myself in a story, in a character. My brain is just so uninterested, so unable to want to hold onto fiction.

My book group met today. We were in agreement that we all hated the novel we’d read. And I really did hate it. Finishing that book was a kind of punishment for me. I just kept groaning and putting it down. But part of me wonders if the book is really as bad as all that. Yes, everyone in the group agreed that it was bad, but mightn’t we all be suffering from the same pandemic brain problem of not being able to focus on what we’re reading?

One of the women in the group complained that the book had no plot. And I totally agree, but it is possible that I couldn’t discern the plot because my brain isn’t functioning at the level I am used to? Maybe the book really is just as bad as I thought it was, but I wonder.

What else is my foggy, frozen brain not managing to take on? How would I know when I am here, in the midst of the fog?

I want to be reading. I want to be doing a whole host of things that I don’t seem to have the mental capacity for right now.

Is there a solution to this? I hope so. I don’t want to sit and stare blankly come May when I’m off at my residency.

What do I have mental capacity for? As I established at the start of the week, I can sing. I have been singing a LOT this week. (I’ve really needed it.) It’s true that I want to be reading, but maybe I need to just go with what feels doable. I can sing. I can sleep. I can do a little cooking. I can ride my bike. So, not fully atrophied, just in a weird place.

Is it pandemic fatigue, maybe? I can’t think of a better name for the “fizzled-out-ness” I often feel, as if my brain has chosen to shut itself off and recharge, the way C3P0 closes himself down in Star Wars. We are nearing the two-year anniversary of practically everything being turned upside down. And it still amazes me how many things I haven’t managed to figure out in these two years, things that would have made the pandemic a little easier for me, would have made working at home a little easier for me.

So I can sing, sleep, cook, ride my bike. Can I also take on a task a day that focuses on making plans, on imagining what my third pandemic year is going to look like? Maybe a task a day will form a cord, a rope, something I can use to pull myself out of the fog.

When that fog horn blows
You know I will be coming home
Yeah, when that fog horn whistle blows
I gotta hear it
I don’t have to fear it

And I wanna rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will float
Into the mystic


It’s the 15th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!

Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot

17 thoughts on “When the foghorn whistle blows …

  1. Yes, maybe a task a day will form a cord, a rope, something WE can use to pull ourselves out of the fog. I can use a lifting from the fog. Your poem is a wonderful way to end this reflective slice. And together we will float
    Into the mystic
    I would like to join your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I found myself nodding my head in agreement. I found it hard to read at the beginning of the pandemic, but it has gotten better. One trick I started using this year is to read for 22 minutes. I set a timer and usually read for longer, but it works.
    My OLW for 2022 is clear, but I’m foggy most of the time. I am trying to do some clearing projects, but taking tiny steps so far. I like your idea of a task a day.
    Happy weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like your timer idea, Ramona! Like using the Pomodoro method but for reading not work. I’m going to try that. My task-a-day plan has been really tiny tasks so far, which is a good way for me to start … but I do need to step it up a little. Good luck to us both! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I get that fog that you’re talking about. I feel like that too. Here I am, on a Sunday morning, with piles and stacks of work to do and I cannot seem to organize what to do first. That’s not like the pre-pandemic me.
    Here’s to hoping life can truly get back to some semblance of continued normalcy so all of us can climb our way out of this fog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. carwilc

    Like you, I am a reader. And like you, I have struggled and struggled and struggled to read during the pandemic. I have read quite a few middle grade and YA novels, because I want my sixth graders to see me doing that. But I have read very, very few adult novels. I need to get back in gear too. Sigh…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve started a couple of nonfiction books since writing this post, and it’s been nice listening to them. I should look at my YA lists. I do love good YA, and maybe that would be a nice entre back to fiction. I’m open to suggestions if you have a few! 🙂

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  5. A week ago I read a whole book in a day and it felt wonderful – especially since I’d read and liked the first chapter at some point pre-pandemic. It’s an ARC of Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin – who wants it next?

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    1. Forced hibernation. Yes. That’s an apt description for these two years. And I imagine how disoriented the bears would feel as they crawled from their caves after sleeping for so long. No wonder I’m a mess!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As we enter its third year I fully believe Covid Fog/Fatigue is a thing. And just with you. I feel there has been this sense of an emotional general malaise that has many of us worn down now. Add on the added stress of what’s going on in Ukraine – and yeah…

    It’s hard to go trudge through a book you don’t like. You can’t sink into it and let it flow over you.It could be Covid fatigue, it could simply be a suck of a book. But spring is almost here. Maybe the improved weather is what we all need to shake us out of it.

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  8. Your post resonated with me so much. I have never had a hard time reading than in the last two years. I try not to be hard on myself. It is just the times we are living in. One doable thing at a time. Thank you for sharing.

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