(Disclaimer: Steely Dan’s eponymous mellow rock hit was included on a public Apple playlist titled “Coronavirus,” and I thought it was about the stupidest thing ever. But, then I couldn’t get it out of my head …)
May 6, 2020. It’s been ten weeks since “normal.” Ten weeks ago today, I was buzzing around the District at our industry’s national lobbying conference. I was completely sleep-deprived from early breakfast meetings and late-evening receptions (my favorite featuring scattered bowls of Cadbury Mini Eggs). My mom and son had come along for the ride, too, squeezing in as much sightseeing as they could while I was in sessions.
So much of what happened DC feels alien now. The ballroom, with well-coiffed attendees stuffed standing-room-only to heat Platon describe photographing Bill Clinton. Fifteen of us, shoulder-to-shoulder, conferencing with Rep. Betty McCollum’s policy staffer. The wide-open lunch buffets, featuring trays of assorted cookies – always chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, macadamia and M & M. The near-daily runs to Safeway for Bubly water (grapefruit is best). Walking through bleacher aisles littered with crumpled-up beverage cups and popcorn kernels at the Nationals game. The bean-smeared dining tables at Chipotle.
After the ten-millionth handshake, 40th cup of lukewarm Conference Coffee, and 347th gently rounded up answer to “What’s your asset size?,” I remember thinking I’m tired. I think maybe I’ll skip this next year.
Little did I know I may not have a choice.
Are We Changing from Day Jams into Night Jams? – Me, to Tom, Week One
At first, quarantine (I’m using the common colloquialism, though it really isn’t) felt fun and novel. Tom and I ordered onesies from MeUndies – red coffee print for him, teal blue mermaids for me. We designated particularly rainy or unpleasant days “Onesie Days,” and I am even prominently featured in an all-staff video comfortably wearing mine.
As the weeks have passed, it’s become less fun and novel. Not that it’s been terrible – complaining about anything at all right now, while I sit in my pleasant home in my pleasant workspace with pleasant company, collecting a pleasant paycheck, would make me an ingrate. And anyway, it hasn’t been terrible. But the novelty has worn off, and we’ve fallen into a routine.
I generally let myself wake up naturally now, without an alarm, unless there’s something particularly pressing at an unusual hour. It’s amazing what a difference eliminating the jarring “quack quack quack” (yes, my alarm is set to Duck) does for my energy level. Vanity Note: I also think I’m looking much, much better. No balloon eye bags and much brighter skin. Sleep! It’s a thing!
Fresh out of bed, I putter around for a bit in my night jams, maybe throwing in a load of laundry.
Nate is typically still asleep at this time, but if he isn’t, he likes to move to the couch and hide under one of our lipstick-red fleece blankets (soooo soft and cozy). He’s taken to stripping off his sleepwear in the middle of the night, so when he stumbles out of bed and rubs his eyes en route to the living room, he’s wearing nothing but boxer brief style, size-7 grundies.
Coffee is served to me, and I take a few sips before I get in to the shower. I turn on the Bluetooth speaker and play one of my several favorite podcasts, which range topically from economics to politics to sex. My choice just depends on my morning mood. (Also, there’s this one. Totally random ramblings on totally random topics. You’ll thank me.)
Hairstyle? Ponytail, held in place with Teleties.
Makeup? A smattering of this, lip balm made from pig lard (so moisturizing!), and eye pencil to cover the eyebrow scar from stitches I had to get in first grade (thanks, Brett Molitor).
Woo-hoo! I’m ready for my day.
Random Musing: Memes aside, is anyone actually not wearing bras, or legit going days upon days on end without showering? Really?! I can’t function without both.
Generally, due to my Hypersensitive Dirt-n-Dust Detector, I putter around a smidgen more post-shower, wiping down spotless-to-most surfaces and dusting perfectly clean items. Neuroses Note: This isn’t pandemic-related. This is just me.
Then, my morning Teams calls begin.
I began the pandemic using the kitchen island as a proto-standing desk, with CNN streaming in the background all. day. long. As the days and weeks passed, I started to notice my feet hurting (imagine!), and as much as the Cuomo brothers are nice to look at, I just couldn’t take the scrolling death count any longer. Now I’m all set up in the guest room, with Nate’s elementary campus, featuring workbooks and Kinetic Sand, set up at the dining room table.
Full-Time, Stay-at-Home Everything
It’s been nine weeks since we had our first crisis management meeting at work, and eight weeks since my son’s schools closed, first for two weeks … then for another three … and then, for the remainder of the academic year.
I know there is a group of people out there – probably a fairly significant group – who are “working from home translation really not doing much of anything at all but still getting paid.” I’m not in that category. The overall responsibilities of my day job have only gotten more intense, some driven by the obvious, immediate operational challenges of COVID-19, but also due to other large projects under my management. In addition, I’ve taken on a number of tactical items (e.g., crafting cornacomm). I love copywriting, particular executive communications and public relations type stuff, so this is A-OK with me. I’ve been joking to friends that I now have my dream job: full-time writer!, in comfies on the couch. It’s just … a lot right now, especially paired with distance learning and the cooking/subsequent cleanup of three homemade meals every day.
“Blah Blah Make Time for Self-Care Blah Blah” – Motivational Podcast
I’m doing pretty well with this, and, a few moments of overwhelm notwithstanding, my mental health is as good as it ever is. I’ve established a number of positive new habits, some driven by our recently completed Whole30, and others because I simply have more time.
- We walk a 2.3 mile loop at least once a day, and I never miss my 10,000-steps-a-day Fitbit goal.
- Tom bought a Peloton, and we have alternated rides – so reminiscent of the Center for Personal Fitness spin classes I used to love! – with their strength program, six days a week. We just started a second round of the strength program after a short break due to incessant soreness. (The Peloton is wholly addictive and worthy of its own post.)
- Though the cooking and subsequent cleanup feels constant, we are eating really well. I’ve maintained my Whole30 weight loss, give or take two pounds.
- After donating approximately 2,712 pounds of clothes, shoes, and various bins with mismatched lids, overflowing with Tom’s sundry plugs and cords, everything is ridiculously, peacefully organized.
- I drink lemon water every morning.
- I snack on berries and sweet potato chips.
- I drink herbal teas.
- Lunches generally consist of something we’ve dubbed a “meat salad” (tons of veggies mixed with local grassfed ground beef).
- We alternate reading actual books instead of Netflix binges.
- Hell, I’m even flossing! Be impressed.
The one thing I’m falling down on, though, is writing for the sheer joy I get from stringing words together. Part of it, I’m sure, is that I only have so many words in me, and work needs most of them right now. After hammering away at a keyboard all day, it’s difficult to muster the energy, or maybe more the focus, to sit back down – even with a newly acquired Purple butt cushion singing its squishy siren song.
On a Sunday Afternoon
Weekends stretch ahead of us now, a completely blank, obligation-free white canvas begging to be scribbled upon. We don’t even have our usual fitness classes cluttering them up. There’s just … nothing. So we’ve been doing our best to take advantage of the time, and just explore.
We’ve explored state parks, county parks, and all manner of trails within a 90-minute radius. All fun. But assuming neither COVID nor the murder hornets get me and I’m around in five years, I think what I’ll remember most are the eerie, empty, postapocalyptic deserted downtowns.