Quarantine brings with it an individual confrontation. When one has that much alone time with themself, they can hold a mirror; to all their truths, wrongs and what-ifs… Damla Sönmez dedicates this period to get to know herself, to reconcile with the feelings she has shunned, and to learn to manage her time. Like all of us, she eases her loneliness with technology.

How social isolation has been for you? 

Rugged… I’m kind of into philosophy.  This was an area I was curious about before the quarantine began. Now I watch and read everything I can find, from Miletus to modern age philosophers. I’m mostly watching, though.  There’s Dilara Çolak on Youtube, her channel is called “Dilosof”, so I’m listening to her. When it comes to reading, I try to read what contemporary thinkers have to say about the topic.  By reading, I mean just articles.  I’ve been walking around the house with different books since this whole situation started. It won’t be very original, but – as far as I’m concerned, it’s out of print in Europe – the only book I can focus on reading and that’s good for me is Albert Camus’ The Plague. I think Camus makes me feel good both because he tells us about a period like this one, that has happened before, and because it offers us his analogies from the period in which everything happened.  I’m a little more accepting than I was in the early days. I follow the precautions, the news. I’m trying to keep my mind, my soul, healthy.

Were there any pandemic stories you’ve seen before? Or did you, like so many of us, get interested in this kind of content when you heard about the virus?

I had a general prejudice against the horror-thriller genre. But there are a lot of pandemic-related movies on my list.  I plan to go through this process by getting used to the emotions that I tried to avoid before, which I consciously tried to stay away from.  Because obviously the world, no matter what emotion you try to distance yourself from, pushes you into situations you never want to be in or you can’t even imagine being in and it says, “Get over it!”…

How do you start your day?

I wake up late. That’s an issue I’m trying to sort out.  But I also sleep late.  I spend my nights writing. I  have started doing physical activities. I stretch, I stop.  I began to learn-practice meditation. It was something I had said I wanted to try for a long time and never actually did. I start the day with “stopping.”

Were you able to maintain your routine?

I’ve realized that I don’t actually have a routine.  I’m learning a lot about the time in this process. Yes, because of our work, our programs are already very irregular, but I’m starting to realize that most of the things we don’t do because “we don’t have time”  is not happening because we don’t actually create the time to do it.  Right now, I can find a lot of excuses for a lot of things that I can’t do…

How do you spend most of your time?

On my desk… trying to write, read or watch. Yeah, working. By accepting what I can do.  I would love to tell you that I’m improving myself, that I’m learning, that I’m adding this to myself… When people ask me how I am, I say, “Not bad or good, just normal.”  We’re video chatting, with two or more people.  It’s also important not to feel alone.

Did you ever leave the house during social isolation?

We go out to buy essentials for my family and get their groceries every 4-5 days. Wearing masks and gloves, maintaining social distance with people, and with my family as well.

How do you do your grocery shopping?

We have a small market nearby. We go there.  We stay away from supermarkets. We also considered ordering from online markets, but we decided not to keep them busy so that people who have no one to help would use them. Everyone is using them. You also have to think about the people who work in those warehouses.

Everyone threw themselves into the kitchen these days, what’s your culinary experience is like?

Ushan is the one who usually cooks. I help him. I actually like spending time in the kitchen, but since we moved in together, Ushan has been cooking. He likes it more.

What about being active at home, do you exercise regularly?  Do you have any suggestions for staying active?

I do yoga, I stretch. Dancing is good for both the body and the soul.

Are there any series you’ve binge-watched during this process? I don’t think there’s a better time for binge-watching.

We’re about to finish “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. “State of Union” is a very good show. We’ve started watching Watchmen.

What do you expect to change in your personal routine after all this end?

I want to come out of this period having learned to manage time better.

We are at a time when social networks like Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, Tiktok are at the center of our lives, what is your relationship with social media?

Twitter is our newspaper. On YouTube, you can find many channels and experts about many different areas you want to learn about. Instagram is an area where everyone reveals their life as much as they want to show it. It wasn’t too close, it wasn’t too restrained. It goes in the same way. 

How much has the role of technology changed in your life?

I wasn’t used to the whole video chat thing. Now I can stay in touch with my friends, even with the ones who I haven’t seen in a very long time, thanks to video chat platforms. I think that’s the biggest thing that this era has brought me about technology. Also, I’m glad that technology exists.  Yes, it brings bad things with it, there is also an incredible pollution of information, but without technology, we would have spent this period much, much alone. 

This or That

A book?

Albert Camus, The Plague

A movie?

Sorrentino, Youth

A song?

Class of 99, Sun Screen

Cologne or disinfectant?

Disinfectant

Facetime or Houseparty?

Houseparty

Tiktok or Instagram?

Instagram

Interview Duygu Bengi
Photography Burcu Karademir