HAJI MOHAMED DAWJEE: Procrastination during COVID-19 - laughing through lockdown


My first week of lockdown started like the New Year starts for many; with promises to myself, goals, resolutions, that sort of thing. I would continue to eat better, I’d make sure I fit in my hour-long workout regardless of the fact that I have no equipment - I convinced myself that finding creative ways to stay fit would be an additional home-based adventure. And I would write, write, write until the cows came home to join me on lockdown too.

Here’s how it’s all going so far: the healthy eating is staggered. In between getting in my green veggies and healthy proteins, I sneak in a piece of madeira cake or way too many marshmallow eggs. Weekends are when the sugar demon comes to visit and things really start to fall apart. I’m no baker but I’ve become quite the fritter fryer. Banana fritters, pumpkin fritters, honestly anything that can be fritted, I’ve fried. Workouts have morphed from once being the most exciting part of my day, to the most boring.

First, I tried the regular isometric stuff I usually do. I filled a backpack with hardback books and used it as a weight. I substituted a step with a box of long life milk and to keep my heart rate up, I skipped. But the milk ran out, I kept choking the cat with the skipping rope, and I started to worry that my backpack would fall apart so I moved on to an old throwback favourite – Billy Blanks Taebo. I soon found myself doing more uppercuts than I could count, and while it’s great for a calorie burn, it does little to make me feel like my muscles have actually worked.

The writing, well, that’s going a bit better. But like all writers know, there are down days and up days. Regardless of how much free time you have, sometimes the writing just doesn’t want to be writ. I’ve clocked about 13,000 words, I should be on three times that by now. So this week, I gave myself a break – or at least, that’s what I like to call it. A well-deserved break. This is also known as diving head-first into a deep pool of procrastination and convincing myself that this was definitely a version of self-care and my mental health really, really needed to do absolutely nothing other than scroll endlessly on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

So my days now look a little like this, and I’m sure some of you can relate. I wake up a bit later than normal, because I sleep much later than I should – I have started to suffer from insomnia. I sit on my favourite chair with a cup of coffee and nurse it for so long that it turns into an ice cold cup of mud that I continue to sip on. I make sure my phone has a full charge and I spend about two hours trawling my timelines for content.

At first I became obsessed with keeping up with the orange man in North America. Watching his daft press conferences, trying to follow his drawl while desperately trying to figure out whether he was medically okay. Is something really, really wrong with him? Has he had the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV model thrown at him yet? I am certain something will come up.

When the fret of "first world's" falling apart became too much for me, I switched over to trying out different free games from the app store. I really wish I had a PlayStation at this time. I do not but my favourite game to play at an arcade is Time Crisis, so I started playing a parallel sort of mobile version and an FPS (that’s "first person shooter" – I am so down with the gamer lingo now) game called Super Striker. I still play it, but my obsession with trying to crack down on the baddies and failing miserably has started to disturb the little REM sleep I get, so now I do something different with the free time that I frankly shouldn’t have this much of.

I laugh my way through lockdown. I laugh and laugh and laugh until my throat is wheezy and I sound like a cartoon dog. I laugh until my cat storms off and hides for the next three to four hours and I laugh until my wife can hear me through her noise cancelling earphones. She is very patient with me, but when I am teary with annoying incessant laughter she does tend to point daggers in my direction – in the kindest way possible.

It’s a great time for content creation and those who have mastered the art deserve a lot of recognition and praise for getting me, and I am sure, many of us, through this time. They’re not getting paid and in my opinion they really deserve to. They're fulfilling an essential service, even though it’s not written in any constitution. I’m not talking about the COVID-19 memes here or the endless covers of songs with the lyrics changed with terminology that’s pandemic related – those have had their time and that time has passed and now they’re really, really boring.

I am talking about the comedians and other content creators who release videos that are short and sweet and hilarious and have everything to do with our daily lives. They’re truly managing to tap into our new-normal, our current reality, and they’re doing it with organic talent.

My favourites include Waffles and Mo on Instagram – who always manage to transport me back to my childhood and my family who I stay far away from. Sherazaan Cummings is another favourite, she’s got a multitude of characters she portrays that she uses in skits that have me bent in half. Her latest one is about a Barbie doll and if you haven’t seen it, please do. And then, there’s my latest discovery: Amy Dirks. She's also on Twitter and Tik Tok.

Most of these are in Kaaps, but they’re easy enough to understand if you don’t speak the language, and they provide a healthy does of culture-comedy.

So, if you’re keen on laughing your way through lockdown in a comfy chair with a cup of ice-cold mud, please follow them. Run with scissors. Throw caution to the wind. Live on the edge. Listen to gangster rap. And support young talent. Now is the time.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of 'Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa'. Follow her on Twitter.