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Archive for the ‘day to day ridiculousness’ Category

There seem to be two kinds of people when it comes to work-from-home clothing: The kind who get up, shower, put on makeup, and dress as though they were going to the office (even a very casual jeans-every-day office)… and the kind who enrobe themselves in pajamas and activewear and who may or may not shower and probably don’t put on a stitch of makeup. You KNOW that I am the latter. I have been putting on mascara only to go the grocery store every couple of weeks, and it feels as though I am really dolling myself up and I get a little shock of WHOA THERE FANCY FACE every time I catch a glimpse of my reflection.

My wardrobe already reflects my work-from-home sartorial philosophy. And man, after having worked from home for 11 out of 15 years, I really thought I had mastered the art of Comfy Clothing. I have my three categories of leggings (workout, lounging, pajama) and a drawer full of sports bras. But I have discovered that there is a surprising difference between my previous routine of wearing leggings while at home, but then changing into jeans when I went out into the world… and wearing comfy clothes all day every day (except for the maybe 30-60 minutes a week when I squeeze myself into jeans to go to the grocery store or to pick up takeout). Clothing oneself in Comfywear 24/7 is just different.

One surprising discovery is that I hate bras with a passion. Why have I been subjecting my body to such discomfort and restriction for so many years????? I have been wearing traditional bras to go to the grocery store; if I go anywhere else, I am wearing a sports bra. But I wanted something in-between – less confining than a sports bra, but more comfortable than a regular bra. I have found two options that I LOVE and bought two of each:

ae sports bra

Photo from ae.com 

Aerie Real Me Twist Back Sports Bra

I now own this bra in white and black. It is very stretchy and comfortable.

Honeydew bra

Photo from nordstrom.com

Honeydew Intimates Keagan Crop Seamless Camilette

I thought I wanted something called a “bralette,” but upon examination, that category seems to be a little more fancy/frou-frou than what I’m looking for. This camilette is exactly the ticket. I bought one in white and one in darkish blue. Very soft and stretchy. There is a textured pattern on  it though — it’s subtle, but I think it might show up under a white or light-colored shirt; I haven’t tried it yet.

Another surprising discovery is that I find that I want some differentiation in my clothing. Workout clothes are fine for working out… but then I want to shower and put on different clothes. Lately, I have been choosing a pair of leggings with a dark bralette underneath this mesh hoodie I got at Loft a million years ago. It feels “cute” in a way that pajamas/activewear doesn’t. Not that my husband cares or has noticed. But I notice, and that’s enough. However, there’s only so many times I can wear the exact same outfit before I begin craving variety.

I have been swapping out the mesh hoodie with a leopard print Grayson Threads shirts I got at Target last fall.

Grayson Threads Leopard

Photo from bonanza.com

I bought this at Target but can no longer find it on their website.

Or with a flowy pink long-sleeved T-shirt from the Gap. I got it so long ago I can’t find anything remotely like it on the Gap website.

To have even more Options, I recently bought a “transitional” sweatshirt.

Caslon sweatshirt

Photo from nordstrom.com

Caslon Cozy Print Top

This top is lighter than a traditional sweatshirt and it’s very, very soft. I got the star print, but I really like the camouflage print as well.

Now that I have FOUR long-sleeved shirts, I am beginning to think about short-sleeved options. I have plenty of form fitting tank-tops and loose T-shirts, but I would like some flowy tank-tops. Maybe along the lines of this:

Madewell Slub tank

Photo from nordstromrack.com

Madewell V-Neck Knit Tank Top

Or this:

All in Favor Tank

Photo from nordstromrack.com

All in Favor Knotted Tunic Tank

I like the drapey detail and the fact that this isn’t too fitted. I think I may prefer it in black… but I already have so many black tops.

In addition to leggings, I have been branching out to soft shorts. I have two pairs of pajama shorts from Target – but they don’t seem to have a tag, so I don’t know what brand they are, and I can’t find anything similar on the Target website. I have been LIVING in these shorts now that it is getting warmer and I’d like to find a couple more pairs. Perhaps something like this?

PJ Salvage Lounge Shorts

Photo from nordstrom.com

PJ Salvage Peached Lounge Shorts

I don’t know what “peached” means but these are cute.

I’d really rather not spend $46 on shorts, though. The $10-$20 range seems more reasonable. Perhaps these?

Honeydew shorts

Photo from nordstrom.com

Honeydew Intimates Sneak Peek Sleep Shorts

These are still rather pricy and I balk at wearing something named “sneak peek.”

Nordstrom Rack has some cute options, including these:

Natori shorts

Photo from nordstromrack.com

Natori Feathers Essential Pajama Shorts

And these ones look like they have a sturdier fabric:

Socialite shorts

Photo from nordstromrack.com

Socialite Waffle Knit Shorts

Maybe I could even wear them out-of-doors. Ha! Like I ever leave my house.

These leopard print shorts from Target are cute, and more in my price range:

Target leopard shorts

Photo from target.com

Women’s Leopard Print Lounge Shorts – Colsie Gray

I also like these shorts from Loft:

Loft Lou & Grey Shorts

Photo from loft.com

Lou & Grey Signature Softblend Drawstring Shorts

I get a kick out of Loft’s idea of “work from home” outfits, which include a $100 polka dot smocked jumpsuit and linen blend wide leg pants. I mean, I GUESS there are people with office jobs who are expected to don actual work clothing for zoom meetings and news broadcasts and such, but it kind of makes me giggle. Well, and then I drop deeply into despair because I would LOVE to be shopping for cute sundresses and things… but I have literally nowhere to wear them. (And no inclination of dressing up For Myself.)

Although maybe I am talking myself into this dress – which looks cute AND comfy:

Loft ruffle swing dress

Photo from loft.com

Loft Ruffle Tiered Swing Dress

 

What are you wearing these days? Any pandemic purchases that have turned out to be top notch?

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Yesterday I wrote out a long whiny self-pitying post because I was having A Bad Day. But I didn’t finish it or post it you’re welcome  and today I am feeling MUCH better. So let’s try some randomosity.

  • It’s Friday, which used to mean something. For me, it used to mean the end to silence. My pre-pandemic days used to be filled with blissful silence and multiple, consecutive hours of time to myself. Now, I am with someone 24 hours a day. Well, unless you count the couple hours a night when my husband and I go to our separate corners of the house – he to the basement to play video games, me to the living room to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I have two episodes left in the series and I am DEVASTATED. Whatever will I watch next?!?! Anyway, I suppose I should count those two hours as alone time, but I DON’T. I guess what I am missing is productive alone time? Time where I could write or exercise without being interrupted? I don’t know. Anyway, NOW Fridays are meaningless because the weekend is just more of the same. Well, I suppose weekends are now two days of no school, which is FAR preferable to distance learning days… but it still feels the same. Just with less sobbing.
  • I harvested some lettuce yesterday. I probably should have taken a picture of what the lettuce looked like, all full and fluffy, before I cut off a bunch of leaves. But I did not. I don’t expect your disappointment, should you feel any at all, to last beyond this sentence. I added carrots and onion, as is my custom, and doused the whole thing in ranch dressing. It was fun to eat lettuce that I grew and harvested but it wasn’t as crunchy as grocery store lettuce. I read about that and knew to expect it, but the salad was still a little… limp.
  • Still on the topic of salad, somehow: I got a head of iceberg in my curbside grocery order yesterday. It was the smallest head of lettuce I have ever seen. Imagine that someone had chopped a slightly-below-normal sized head in half and then carefully wrapped the cut edge in the outer leaves of lettuce. I have not checked to see whether this is what actually happened — that I, in fact, am the proud owner of half a head of lettuce. Well. Nonetheless. We must not complain about these things. The grocery store gods taketh away, but lo, they also giveth! The last time I got curbside delivery, I ordered two 8-oz containers of sour cream, on sale for $1 apiece, and instead received two three-pound containers of sour cream, and was charged $1 apiece. That is SIX POUNDS of sour cream for $2. So what if I had to remove a bag of green peppers from my order yesterday and throw them directly in the trash (they were so wrinkled and softened and had large spreading bruises and I am so very sorry but I was not ever going to eat them) – I have a BOUNTY of sour cream. If there is a sour cream shortage in the near future, you know who to blame.
  • How long will it take to figure out the New Shopping Rules? I’m not talking about masks and one-way aisles etc. I am talking about PLANNING when a) you don’t know what a store will have and b) you don’t know when you’ll be able to go next and c) you are not quite able to predict what you will run out of/need? I am erring on the side of Buy All the Things, Just in Case, but even so I encounter deficits. When I went to the store a week ago (was it only a week ago??? time no longer makes sense), I did not realize that I needed to buy my husband the milk he likes. And then by the time he told me he needed more, I had already placed the curbside pickup order (you have to order five days in advance, and there is no way to update your cart once the order has been placed) and am not planning to go to the real grocery store for another week if I can help it. Well, and when I can go will depend entirely on my husband’s in-office schedule. Perhaps he could have let me know when his milk was half-gone, so that I could have put it on the list. But of course HE doesn’t think about things that way, because a) he has never been the primary grocery shopper and b) he has not adjusted AT ALL to the scarcity of both shopping frequency and available items. Well. Next time we will know. And I still haven’t gotten the hang of not being able to run to the store for odd things I forget, either. I am kicking myself for not anticipating how much I would be craving avocados. But we do have a good supply of tomatoes for those in my family who like them. And, of course, the aforementioned sour cream surplus.
  • I have been on a quest to find margaritas. For some reason, I have a serious hankering for a restaurant-style marg. I mean, I have tequila (for now), and I always buy limes when I go to the store, so I can make my own at home. But, while lime-juice-and-tequila is good, it is not quite as satisfying as a big ol’ properly mixed drink. Plus I am tired of squeezing limes. And it takes a LOT of lime juice to achieve my preferred level of sweetness. Fortunately, we have a few Mexican restaurants in the area that allow you to purchase margaritas. Unfortunately, takeout tacos are not very good. Nevertheless, I think we’ll try them out this weekend if ONLY so I can get a proper marg.
  • Last night, I had a very long in-depth dream about writing a memoir. This is ridiculous because I have a very un-book-worthy life. I think it might be my brain’s reaction to the very mediocre memoir I am reading right now. I like memoirs. But some of them can be SO DREADFUL. This one is particularly boring. And it seems AWARE that it is boring, because occasionally the writer will throw in some event that seems designed to counteract the tedium… but it ends up feeling forced. This one also seems very superficial, like the writer is declining to do any sort of introspection about his life. I don’t know if that’s because the writer is afraid of introspection, or incapable of it, or if the introspection itself is boring, or if there’s something deeper and more sinister beneath the surface that would get out of control if he examined it? I don’t know. But I’m disappointed and a little exasperated with the writer. He’s led an objectively interesting life and could at the VERY LEAST go into some interesting details about the behind-the-scenes world of radio programming. The little he does share is not enough. (For me.) I wonder if it’s harder to write a memoir when you are still a working celebrity. Maybe you have too many concerns about blowing up your life or ruining your relationships to be as forthcoming as you could be. Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations here, but I would think that the POINT of a memoir is to be as honest as possible. Okay, okay. I know the ACTUAL point is to make money. I’m not naïve. But if you are going to read a celebrity memoir, I recommend Jessica Simpson’s – in which she writes as though she is sharing her life story and intimate feelings with a friend – over this one, which feels like the writer is simply sharing sanitized-for-syndication stories with an audience of strangers. Which, of course, is exactly what he’s doing, why am I so hard to please?!?!
  • There are a couple of gift-giving occasions coming up, and I am struggling to figure out what to GIVE. First is Mother’s Day. My husband and I ordered gifts for our mothers yesterday after discovering just how extensive some shipping delays have become. Even so, the gifts aren’t due to arrive until the day AFTER Mother’s Day, which is a bummer. I am kicking myself for not planning ahead. Anyway, I would ALSO like to get something for my sister. She is a single mom who works full time AND of course cares for her daughter almost constantly. And now that her daughter is home with her 24/7, there aren’t even any thoughtful preschool teachers to help her daughter make her a card or anything. So I definitely want to celebrate her in some way. The hard thing is that we aren’t particularly close, so I don’t know, for instance, her favorite local takeout places. A gift certificate to an online store might be good – like Sephora or something – since she can use it to order exactly what she wants. But gift certificates are also so impersonal, even if they are useful. Maybe that’s what we’ll end up doing. But I am OPEN to any and all suggestions for great gifts that ANYONE would like.
  • Again, on the Mother’s Day topic: Can you think of any way I can get her daughter to make her a Mother’s Day card/gift/anything without her knowing or needing to be involved? I considered reaching out to my niece’s father, but he is in law enforcement and therefore kind of busy. I have the contact info for my niece’s father’s sister, but she is ALSO a single mother and I don’t want to make her life more difficult or rub the whole Mother’s Day THING in her face. Whereas I can give Carla a fairly wide berth when she is on FaceTime, and even leave the room to let her chat with her grandparents or whomever, my niece is four-almost-five and seems to need constant supervision. UGH. I don’t know what to do. Any brilliant ideas? At all?
  • Speaking of my niece: Her birthday is coming up in May as well. I am thinking of getting some sort of decorate-your-own-cookies kit to send her… and some sort of gift. Ideally I would get a her a gift that allows for lots of independent play and minimal setup/cleanup. But apparently now that my own daughter is nearly seven, I have completely forgotten what a newly-five-year-old is capable of and likes to do. HELP?
  • And now I am starting to feel pre-anxious/sad about Carla’s birthday. It is at the end of June and I had hoped hoped hoped that we would have achieved some sense of (new) normalcy by then… But it doesn’t look like that will happen, does it? I know people all over the world are dealing with shelter-in-place birthdays, and it’s not really a big deal, even in the — what’s the opposite of “grand scheme of things”? short-term scheme of things? But I am already sad and overwhelmed at the idea of making the day special for Carla. Okay. I am going to Not Think About It right now and allow Future Me to deal with it in a few weeks. Perhaps things will have changed.
  • My husband and I plan to embark on a Baking Project this weekend. We have already made a couple of fun things – including homemade naan (YUM) and homemade cinnamon rolls (ALSO YUM) – but this time we want to try a lemon olive-oil tart. The only thing holding us back is a lack of a tart pan. I think that we can get away with making the tart in a regular pie pan because it doesn’t matter what it looks like so much as what it tastes like. My husband disagrees because he is even more of a Stringent Rule Follower than I am. Neither one of us is willing to budge from our clearly superior position. So for now we are at an impasse. Maybe I will see if tart pans are part of Target’s curbside pickup offerings. (I won’t tell my husband unless they ARE; I don’t want to appear to have given up my perfectly reasonable alternative solution that easily.) Maybe I will make focaccia instead.
  • Surprisingly, most of all to me, I have been keeping up with my loose Housecleaning Schedule pretty well. The clutter still presents a constant threat, but we’ve been hacking away at it when it springs up and seem to have gotten into a rhythm. Yes, I know this is like talking about how your baby is finally sleeping through the night; I know how Putting It in Writing works. But SO FAR. My floors are free of debris, my appliances – but for one completely anonymous handprint on the fridge door – are shiny, the clean laundry has been folded and put away (ignore the dirty laundry in to-be-washed piles on my closet floor; I can only handle one load a day). It’s pretty neat and tidy around here. Except for one thing. Apparently I forgot to put “clean the microwave” on the to-do list. It looks like an episode of Law & Order: Cheese Dip Explosion Unit in there. But it has a door I can close so most of the day I feel like there is no problem at all. Isn’t that the very best kind of solution?
  • It feels like I am writing about the exact same things I’ve already written about. Am I the blog equivalent of your elderly Aunt Sylvie saying, “Stop me if you’ve heard this already” before launching into the same old story about that time she saw Bette Midler in the dog park that you can recite along by heart? If so, please forgive me. My brain is so very foggy and there is so very little going on in my life right now.
  • It seems that I have become A Person Who Cannot Get Rid of Jars. Sure, in The Time Before, I kept the occasional jar; I use them for homemade salad dressing and pizza sauce and lime juice (for margaritas). But I never had more than four jars at a time and was perfectly fine putting an empty (washed) jar into the recycling bin. But now I am INCAPABLE of getting rid of them! Just now, Carla finished another jar of pickles and I said to myself, “Self, you already HAVE a pickle jar. And ten other jars. You do NOT need this pickle jar. Just rinse and recycle. Rinse and recycle.” And I kept muttering, “rinse and recycle” to myself as I rinsed it and put it in the dishwasher because obviously I am going to keep it. Such a strange form in which my pandemic anxiety has chosen to manifest! It’s not like there’s a JAR SHORTAGE during this pandemic! I would feel much less perplexed by my choices if I were hoarding toilet paper. Or yeast. But JARS? This is going to be A Thing Carla talks about with her future spouse, isn’t it? “Oh, I know it’s weird. But as long as I can remember, she’s always had shelves full of jars!” “What do you MEAN you got Mother a collection of artisan jams for her birthday? You KNOW she has a jar problem!”
  • We just got an email about summer camp.  I opened the email with pounding heart and mounting dread. I mean, I know deep in my bones that camp isn’t happening this summer. And even if it IS an option, will I actually feel comfortable sending Carla? Would it be better to keep enrollment to people whose parents work full-time and really need childcare? But right now, in the first week since our governor confirmed there will be no more school this year, I feel like the prospect of No Camp — no, the prospect of being Carla’s Sole Source of Support and Entertainment… and also food and clean laundry and cuddles and discipline and education — is just too heavy and heartbreaking to face. But there is no ruling yet. The camp just wanted to let us know that they will decide in the next few weeks. THE SUSPENSE. IT IS WORSE THAN THE KNOWING.
  • In Other Things We Don’t Yet Know, I am torturing myself about school next fall. It is so far away that it really isn’t worth fretting over. So many things can and will change before August. But I keep turning over and over in my mind the question: what would have to happen to make me feel safe sending Carla to school? I know I am in a uniquely privileged position of even being able to think about this, of even being able to consider NOT sending her (if that is something I would consider, which… I don’t know!). My barre studio sent out an email survey this week, asking about measures we’d like to see before we returned to studio workouts. And I found myself asking something similar: what would have to happen to make me feel safe returning to small, enclosed room full of heavily-breathing women? I don’t know. Well. * Brisk brushing-off motion. * This sounds like another concern for Future Me.

 

That’s all I’ve got today, Internet. I am off to bathe myself in sour cream, probably.

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If nothing else, being forced to stay at home and supervise my daughter’s distance learning has been excellent for my reading. I have already read ten books this year (which is a lot for me), and eight of them since self-isolation began in mid-March.

Since we last discussed books, I have read several more that I can recommend. Agatha Christie continues to be a perfect book type for me – I love mysteries, and Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are just so charming and coy and the mysteries themselves are fun and not overly violent or dark. The very definition of cozy. And nothing distracts my brain like a good mystery. I just read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and it was delightful. I wish my library had more copies of Christie books available via ebook, but I am apparently not the only person who finds them ideal pandemic reading.

Speaking of cozy mysteries: Allison R. mentioned Louise Penny in response to my previous post which reminded me that I had her first Inspector Gamache mystery – Still Life – on my bookshelf. I read it and enjoyed it. Perhaps not with the enthusiasm I feel about Christie books, but with enough pleasure that I will read more Penny books.

I did read the Liz Moore book my husband got me for my birthday. It was excellent. A well-crafted mystery. Good writing. Believable, relatable characters. But… it dealt with a lot of Heavy Topics, so I don’t know that it helped my mood any.

Open Book  – Jessica Simpson’s memoir – was a very satisfying read. I am predisposed toward Jessica Simpson – I was a teenager when she and Britney and Christina appeared on the music scene, and I watched Newlyweds  religiously and found Simpson’s ditzy act to be charming and refreshing. The book was also charming, in its way. And I loved learning all about her life before stardom and getting the juicy details about her breakup with Nick Lachey and the juicier details about her on-and-off relationship with John Mayer. This book also had some Heavy Topics – sexual abuse and alcoholism/substance abuse – but Simpson somehow managed to address the topics in a way that felt truthful but also optimistic. And her religious faith and sense of humor are threaded throughout the book in such a way that buoys you along. This book was nowhere near as light and fluffy as I’ll Be There for You: The One About Friends, but it was still light enough and definitely scratched my celebrity-curiosity itch in a very satisfactory way.

The BEST book I have read recently is Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert. Kelly used to be a blogger, a million years ago, and I always enjoyed her posts. But man, her fiction is EXCELLENT. I read her first novel, Conviction, a couple of years ago and really liked it; it’s a book that has stayed with me, and I still find myself thinking about the protagonist and his motivations and choices. But Picture Us in the Light is just… it’s one of those books that I want you to read so badly I am having to restrain myself from grabbing you about the shoulders and shaking you until you buy it. First, it’s Young Adult fiction, which is not normally my thing… but the writing is so good that it feels relevant and worthwhile to read even so. (This feels reductive of YA fiction, which can be excellent. But there’s enough out there that’s not great that I feel I have to include a caveat.) Like some of the other books I’ve been reading, it’s got some Heavy Topics, although I don’t want to detail them for you because I don’t want to give anything away. But the care with which Kelly handled the heavy stuff and the beauty of the writing and the wonderful, wonderfully flawed characters made it a hypnotizing book that I read straight through in a couple of days. I’m not going to tell you that it won’t break your heart; I fell in love with the characters and wept several times over their pain. But there’s healing there, too.

I have been watching much less TV than I anticipated I would during a pandemic. Partly because I want to be providing A Good Example for my child, and partly because I am sitting in her room with her for hours every day as she does her schoolwork. But I have been watching a little bit, and I have some recommendations.

The second season of Songland  just started on NBC. I only watched the first season begrudgingly because my husband was interested… but fell in love with it almost immediately. The premise is that a singer/band is looking for a new song to round out an album. Four songwriters present songs they think would appeal to the singer/band. The singer/band picks three songs to work on, and a trio of music producers – Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, Ester Dean, and Shane McAnally – help the songwriters improve their songs, which they then re-present to the singer/band. The singer/band chooses one of the songs. It is really fun to watch the songs’ transformations from something beautiful and raw to something more produced and tailored to the specific singer/band. The producers are super talented and everyone treats the songs they are working on with such respect and care. It’s a feel-good show and I really love it.

Together with Carla, who wants to be a zookeeper someday, we are watching The Zoo on Animal Planet. It takes place in the Bronx zoo, and usually has three storylines, following three separate animals. Maybe an injured bird will be rehabilitated and the released into the wild. Or a red panda will get pregnant and have babies. Or a camel will be found down in the yard and the zoo staff have to figure out what’s wrong. It’s got cute animals and staff who are deeply enthusiastic about the creatures under their care. Sometimes animals die on the show, which is sad – but I suppose that’s what happens. What I love most – beside the cute fuzzy critters – is the staff. It makes me all teary to think that there are people in the world who love animals SO MUCH that they make it their life’s work to take care of them, to make sure they are loved and fed and comfortable, to help spread the word about conservation and what it’s like for these animals in the wild and why their habitats are disappearing. These are people who care so much about the mental and physical health of the animals that they will spend days or weeks training them to feel comfortable around and inside a crate, just so the creatures aren’t scared or worried during a very short trip to a new location or to a veterinary clinic for a checkup. It’s a very welcome difference from the money-hungry cruelty of Tiger King.

My husband and I finally got around to watching the final season of The Good Place. The last episode made me sob and sob, it was so well done. I really wish I could watch the whole series again for the first time.

After several years of hearing rave reviews about it, I just started watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Oh it is so good. I have been staying up much too late to watch multiple episodes back to back. My husband doesn’t love it – it has the same non-stop patter viewers will remember from Gilmore Girls, which drives him nuts. But I don’t mind that, terribly, and it’s hilarious. Raunchier and cruder than I anticipated, with a LOT of foul language. But it’s so funny and fun. If, like me, you are years behind the TV trends, I highly recommend it.

Next up: I am in the middle of Elvis Duran’s memoir, Where Do I Begin? Stories from a Life Lived Out Loud. On the recommendation of NGS, I have checked out Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street. On the suggestion of Kara, I have recommended As If: The Oral History of Clueless to my library, because I want to read it and they somehow do not own it. And, because of a recommendation from Lee and Angela, I have As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride on hold via my library – only six weeks until it’s my turn to read it!

 

Now it’s your turn. What have you been reading/watching since we last talked?

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Last night, I was half-watching something benign on TV – otherwise known as looking at recipe posts on Instagram – when an ad for… something? something to do with photos, I think? popped up on the television, backed by “We Only Come Out at Night” by The Smashing Pumpkins.

Instantly, I was transported back to freshman year of high school. The sole lasting positive from my boyfriend at the time (shudder) is that he introduced me to some music that I truly loved – Joan Osborne and The Cranberries and The Smashing Pumpkins. My parents got me a copy of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness for Christmas and I listened to every song on repeat until the notes wove themselves into the fabric of that part of my history. Even now, the few notes of “We Only Come Out at Night,” with their forlorn whimsy, wrap me in the memories of that year. Fragments I haven’t considered for decades: the purple suede coat I felt so grown up wearing, the vague, looming threat of “hazing” by fearsome high school girls, how horrible I was at debate team, the violet contact lenses that made me feel cool and mysterious, my unsettling attraction to this boyfriend who turned out to be cruel in the astonishing number of ways that high school boys can be cruel.

The Smashing Pumpkins provided the soundtrack to my sophomore year, too. Unbeknownst to one another, my boyfriend at the time (a different, much less threatening guy) and I each got each other the Smashing Pumpkins box set – our identical taste in music a sure sign (I thought) of our True Love Forever (no). I listened to every single song on every single CD in the five-album set. When he broke up with me, out of the blue, later that spring, I listened to “The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right)” at ear-shattering volumes in my pickup and on my boombox in my bedroom as I sobbed with betrayal and grief.

The boombox, I received as a Christmas gift in sixth grade, alongside two CDs, both which became my soundtrack for early middle school: Bonnie Raitt’s Luck of the Draw and Sammy Kershaw’s Don’t Go Near the Water. They were the first CDs I had ever owned, and I felt so grown up singing “Something to Talk About” from the comfort of my own bedroom! I used that boombox to record Top 40 songs off the country music countdown on the radio every Sunday, lying on my stomach in front of it, ready at a second’s notice to hit record as soon as the first notes of the song I wanted started to play.

Before that, “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles rings through my memory. My childhood best friend and I would choreograph elaborate roller skating routines in my basement. She would provide the music – she had Tiffany and Bangles cassette tapes! – and we would pretend to be sophisticated women with wild 80s hair (her name was always Samantha Fox in these scenarios, and she was married to Michael J.) as we skated around to “Manic Monday.” We invited my brother and his nanny down to watch one of our performances, only to stop short during practice, shocked, when Susanna Hoffs sang, “Come on honey, let’s go make some noise.” I had no idea what that meant, but my friend understood the implications enough to know we couldn’t skate to it  in front of a grown up, and we cancelled the show.

My friend – and roommate, at the time – made me a mix CD that I listened to on repeat every day during the summer before my junior year of college. I was living in Atlanta, interning at a ministry and I ran for miles and miles on the weekends, DiscMan in hand, trying to outrun my loneliness with only her CD for company. To this day, Coldplay’s “Yellow” and “Hit ’Em Up Style (Oops!)” by Blu Cantrell and “Drive” by Incubus and Melanie’s “Brand New Key” remind me of that summer, running endless, aching circles around a high school track in the thick Georgia heat, and, always, of my friend.

My husband is always listening to and finding new songs for us to enjoy. There are so many songs representing our time together, no single song stands out as About Him. He put “The Trouble with Poets” on the first mix CD he made me. We listened to Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” on our first trip to Europe. Every time I see the HBO logo, I hear the beginning strains of the intro to The Sopranos, which was the first real series he and I watched together. There’s the Jack Johnson song he played for me on my desktop in our grad school apartment. For some reason, “Sober” is always the song that autoplays when he connects his phone to the sound system in his car. We danced to “I Only Have Eyes for You” at our wedding. We have so many years together, this period of life spans decades (already!), that nearly every song reminds me of him.

Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line and “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker and, especially, Chopin’s “Berceuse” were the sonic backdrop to my pregnancy. I often listened to the country music station as I drove to work, and these two songs stand out to me as being both oft-played and joyful in a way that cut through the anxiety and anticipation of waiting for Carla to arrive. And the Chopin. Well. I played that on repeat for the entirety of many, many commutes, sobbing along the way at the beauty of the music and the impossibility that I was – God willing – about to become a mother.

Lorde’s “The Royals” is a song I listened to over and over during the first few weeks (months?) of my daughter’s life. It’s a song that is now forever infused by the confusion and panic and dread of those early postpartum days. Just hearing the first few bars of snaps bring it all rushing back – the fear, the fear, the fear. The desire to get in my car and keep driving, forever and ever, away from the fear.

As Carla has gotten older, the soundtrack has been ever-changing. It’s rotated through all the songs from Frozens1 and 2 and the Descendantsmovies to “Be Nice” by the Black Eyed Peas and the entire Jonas Brothers oeuvre, especially Happiness Begins, and then through every songfrom the LEGO Movie 2. (Right before the pandemic started, we would listen to “Queen of Mean” and “Gotham City Guys” on repeat for literal HOURS.) The tracks of Carla’s life so far would also include “Moon River” and instructional ditties from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhoodand “The Letter of the Day” and the entire 1989 album.

My daughter still, at nearly-seven, wakes up singing, always has a song on her lips. (Carla is so into the music that she told my husband, one night, that she couldn’t fall asleep because she kept “bursting into song” – her words.) I wonder which music, when heard as nostalgic snippets as commercial backgrounds in twenty years, will bring the early days of 2020 crushing back into focus? I wonder which will stand out as representative of six- and seven-year-old Carla? Will I refer to Carla’s early elementary years as the Jonas Brothers years? The Frozen years?

And what of now, during the pandemic?

I have, I admit, been kind of avoiding music. I don’t WANT to hear a snippet of Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” (which is a BOP) in thirty years and feel the panic and stress of the pandemic wash over me. That is seems deeply unfair to the music and the artists.

When I need something musical these days, I’ve been asking our Echo to play classical piano music and Golden Oldies – “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” and “My Girl” and the like; for me, they’re already timeless, untethered to any particular segment of my life. So I’m trusting that “Sugar Pie Honeybunch” or Chopin’s Waltz No. 1 in E Flat won’t somehow become the soundtrack to the pandemic in my brain.

 

What songs take you back to specific moments in your life? Are you listening to any specific music these days? Do you have a Pandemic Theme Song?

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Yesterday, I parted my hair on the opposite side. It felt and looked very weird and I do not think I will repeat that particular experiment.

 

One of the remarkable things about These Unprecedented Times is that going to the grocery store has now become such a major source of stress. I realize this is not a new topic nor a concern specific to me. But I am Right In It now and it’s so odd. I literally had stress dreams about the grocery store last night – where I discovered at the last minute that the store was open a whole hour before I thought it would be and I was able to dash in and grab some half-and-half. I mean, this is causing Major Anxiety these days which is absolutely ridiculous.

It’s been about twenty days since I last set foot in the grocery store, and a little less than two weeks since I picked up a curbside order (which did NOT contain half-and-half). I was supposed to go to the grocery store yesterday, a plan I’d been working toward for many days. Our store opens at eight and has seniors/immunocompromised shoppers hours until nine. My plan was to arrive right at nine and get in and get out quickly. But my husband actually had patients that morning (which is A Good Thing) and had to go into the office, so I couldn’t go. He has patients this morning, too (also A Good Thing). So yesterday we decided I would go later in the afternoon, once my husband got home.

I ordered a mask, which is supposed to arrive sometime later this week. So I fashioned a mask out of an old baby blanket and hair ties. And I got all dressed — in actual Real Clothes — put my hair in a bun, even put my contacts in, and drove to the grocery store. And then I chickened out. The parking lot was SO FULL. And there was a line of people outside stretching along the entire side of the building. Which I know is a good, smart innovation. And yet it made me feel all panicky and trembly so I turned around and came home.

But we obviously still need groceries. So I filled a virtual cart at the grocery store that offers curbside pickup. Curbside pickup is not ideal – for one thing, I worry that I am taking a spot from someone who has limited mobility or is immunocompromised or for whom going into an actual store is otherwise difficult/impossible. Plus, on a selfish level, it’s so much easier to be able to decide on the fly that the store doesn’t have fresh strawberries so I am going to get frozen berries or blueberries instead, rather than counting on the grocery store shopper to find an appropriate substitution. Curbside pickup is not something I am relying on, is what I’m saying. But it worked fairly well the first time I did it. And I figured it would be good to have a backup if I can’t get to the store myself, or if I do  get to the store but they are out of half-and-half.

The app for curbside pickup allows you to choose a date and time from a selection of five upcoming days. At least, that’s the idea. These days, all the spots are full. This means that the earliest possible date I could hope to pick up my order would be this coming Sunday. And that’s only if I happen to open the app at the exact right time and catch the new pickup times before they fill.

This happened last time, too. I stalked the app for three days at all hours of the day. The timeslots opened up one morning and I was able to grab one. So I tried it at midnight last night… and then woke up at five to try it… and then seven… and then kept checking all through the eight o’clock hour… At nine o’clock, the app added Sunday as an option… But all the timeslots were full.

This is not anything to be Truly Panicked about. We still have plenty of food. But we are down to our last package of ground beef. We have only one remaining can of chickpeas. We have no eggs. And we are going to run out of half-and-half ANY MINUTE NOW which makes me feel very anxious.

This is all SO RIDICULOUS. I know that I am in a very, very privileged situation. I think of the news footage of miles and miles of cars lined up at food banks across the country and I feel ashamed. We can OF COURSE survive just fine without ground beef and without half-and-half. We have PLENTY of food. Obviously, we are FINE. But it turns out that running out of half-and-half is my personal grocery store breaking point.

Can I also say that my husband and I are having… disagreements about grocery shopping? We have always been on opposite ends of the preparedness spectrum. Even in The Time Before, I have always been the type of person who prefers to have a backup ready to go before I even start to run out of something. For instance, Carla eats a lot of frozen pancakes, so I always have two boxes in the freezer. When we get down to the last two or three of the first box, I put pancakes on the list. That kind of thing. (I also grew up in a remote, cold place where it was prudent to never allow your gas tank to be under half full; even today when I have a gas station within walking distance of my house, I still get very nervous if the gas dips below the half-full point. Maybe the food thing is related.)

Yesterday when I went to mix the ingredients for chili powder, I discovered that we are nearly out of paprika (which I use A Lot), and that we are – for me – uncomfortably low on garlic powder, oregano, and cumin. My husband sees that the (admittedly giant) canisters are still about a third full and says we don’t need the spices urgently. But to ME, I don’t WANT to need them urgently. I want to have backups ready to go.

The same goes for tortillas and chickpeas and sour cream and cheddar cheese and pancakes and iceberg lettuce and carrots and ranch dressing and chicken breasts and black beans and taco shells and hot sauce and onions and all the other things that make me feel like I can put together a normal and/or comforting meal. Do we need  cheddar cheese to survive? Of course not. But does it make me feel better to have a backup in the fridge? Yes.

This is how I would feel in Normal Times, too. But I feel it even more acutely now, when a) who knows when I will be a store where I can purchase these things and b) who knows if the store will even HAVE these items when I do manage to get there.

So my husband and I are experiencing a little friction on the groceries/necessities front, I have to say.

Part of it is that he is frugal and doesn’t see the point of spending money on something that you don’t actually NEED. (To which I say, but we WILL need this thing. Or, if not need, WANT.) Part of it is that he is not the designated shopper, neither now nor in Normal Times, and so doesn’t really fully understand the current shopping situation. I would guess he hasn’t set foot in a grocery store since late February, so he just doesn’t get how different it is. And/or he is in denial about how quickly the situation is going to improve. (Possibly never, says my doomsday brain.) He was surprised when I said that our online options for ordering spices (Costco and Penzeys are the ones I checked) were experiencing delays. (Not to mention that Costco’s website reacted as though oregano is a concept I made up out of thin air.) And yet, even when I point these things out – shortages and delays – he still seems to believe that we can just get whatever we want whenever want it. When I told him I was going to order curbside pickup, he said, “Oh great. Are you going to have it ready to pick up tomorrow?” and I had to temper my incredulous tone when I responded, “Of COURSE NOT, it will be Sunday AT THE EARLIEST before I can hope to pick up the things we ordered, and even then it is HIGHLY LIKELY that we will not get all of what we wanted.”

I would think that he would defer to me in this case, WOULDN’T YOU AGREE?

Pant,  pant,  panic, panic!

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Hair

Are you doing your hair as you normally do? I have STOPPED. There is absolutely no point in spending 30 minutes drying my hair and straightening it. Well. I could see how it MIGHT have a point, at some time in the future – if I need to feel Normal, somehow. Or if I have a super-important Zoom meeting (unlikely). This is a time for the least possible exertion, hairwise. My hair is not cooperating, though – instead of settling into beautifully air-dried curls it is still doing what it did in The Time Before, which is drying into drab frizzes that are vaguely curl-adjacent on the right side of my head and straightish on the left side. Very disappointing, hair. We should all be Stepping Up in These Unprecedented Times.

What I have been doing is braiding my hair after I get out of the shower. Usually, I part my hair to the left, but when I separated it into two braids, I parted it down the middle. And immediately remembered that I part my hair left for a reason. Hoo boy do I already have a LOT of grey. Well. It can’t be helped and it isn’t so extreme that I am ready to try an at-home coloring process.

I also remembered why I normally do my hair very simply – braiding is probably one of the easiest hair styles on the planet and yet I can barely do it. I am not talking about French braiding or fishtail braiding or anything fancy. Just a simple three-strand braid. It does not look good, folks.

Clothes

I am not nor have I ever been one of those people who gets fully dressed to work from home. No. Comfort is king. But at least when I had to pick up Carla from school and go to Actual Places like the grocery or Target or Carla’s ballet studio, I would get dressed in real clothes every day. Now… Well, my wardrobe is divided into three primary sections: pajamas (leggings and one of my husband’s old t-shirts), exercise clothes (leggings, a sports bra, and a tank top), and inside clothes, for after I’ve showered (leggings and a sweatshirt or long-sleeved T-shirt). Yes, I have different leggings for each category, and, even though they are all black, I can tell them apart. (The pajama leggings are the softest and loosest.) There’s a seldom-worn forth category: outside clothes (jeans and a shirt which immediately go into the laundry upon returning home). I found A HOLE in one pair of leggings recently, so I may need to expand my attire options at some point. But not now.

Homeschooling

We are on Day 4 of homeschooling – or whatever it is when you are trying to cajole your child into following the lesson plans her teachers have given you – and I am already having to step away and take deep breaths every few minutes. HOW are people doing this with multiple children? And while WORKING? I am ready to walk into the sea.

Shopping

After stalking the online ordering app for four days, I was finally able to get a timeslot for curbside grocery pickup. I haven’t tried this before, and I am expecting that only part of my order will be fulfilled, but I am kind of anxious about it. Will something essential, like milk or taco sauce, be missing? If so, I’ll have to go to the store which I am obviously trying to avoid. Of course, ordering wine is not an option so I will have to go to a store EVENTUALLY anyway.

Passover

In an effort to keep Carla’s Jewish heritage alive and part of her life, I want to observe Passover. But… I feel so out of my element. I am NOT Jewish and a lot of the books we have don’t really explain things in depth. Plus, I don’t really know anything about how to hold a proper Seder and certainly don’t have the right food on hand. Well. I still have a couple of days left to figure things out.

Easter

I found an art supplies kit and a leftover rainbow leopardfrom Carla’s sixth birthday in the gift closet. Plus I have a very small amount of Easter candy I picked up from the grocery store. So I think I can make up a decent Easter basket for Carla. (We have actual baskets, fake grass, and plastic eggs in the basement, because I reuse them year to year.) But I am still FRETTINGabout it. Sure, I could explain that the Easter Bunny is practicing social distancing and so asked me to round up what I could… but on the other hand, I want Easter to be Extra Special because so little is special these days. I have filled my virtual Target cart with candy and books and toys that I can pick up curbside… but I am hesitating. Partly because my husband thinks we have plenty of Easter-y stuff. And partly because I feel really guilty about shopping for non-essentials.

Housecleaning

I think I have come up with a rough housecleaning schedule.

  • Daily: Making beds, unloading/loading the dishwasher, wiping off tables and counters, disinfecting high-tough areas, using the dustbuster to eradicate crumbs, tidying up main living spaces.
  • Near daily: Laundry
  • Monday: Toilets and counters
  • Tuesday: Showers and tubs
  • Wednesday: Break
  • Thursday: Windows and baseboards
  • Friday: Dusting
  • Saturday: Bedding
  • Sunday: Floors

Last week, I taught Carla how to clean the toilets. Yesterday, my husband vacuumed all our carpeted surfaces while I scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom floors. I hate cleaning but it does make me FEEL better. It also makes me feel better to think about my housekeeper returning someday.

Books

I finished all three books I mentioned in this postand have moved on to Jessica Simpson’s memoir. I wish my library had more Agatha Christie books available via ebook – they have a good number, but not all, and so many are already checked out. I want to read them in order and that is nearly impossible to do. I put MANY of your suggestions on hold through my library website, but none of them have come through yet.

Socializing

I have been very pleased by the amount of socializing I’ve been able to do even while quarantined. Two high school friends and I had a happy hour via Zoom the other day that was really enjoyable. And then my husband and I had a FaceTime date with family friends who were supposed to come over for dinner. I was surprised by how satisfying it was to chat with them – it was nearly as good as being with them in person. Not as enjoyable was the family meetup we did with my husband’s family that lasted for WELL OVER AN HOUR. That is too long.

Exercise

Getting “proper” exercise has been a real challenge. My preferred method is walking on the treadmill for an hour, but when I do that, our internet goes out. So no one in the house can do anything requiring an internet connection, which means I can’t even walk on the treadmill while Carla is “at school” because so many of her “assignments” require her to be connected to Google classroom. (This is completely ignoring the fact that, so far, I have to be IN THE ROOM with Carla the entire “school day” or she wanders completely off track ARRRRGGGHHHHHH.) I have done a few Barre3 videos via YouTube, but it’s not the sameas being in the studio with my favorite instructor. I suppose I should resume using exercise videos, but I am resisting for some reason. Carla’s daily schedule has two hour-long blocks set aside for exercise, which mainly consists of us walking over to a nearby school parking lot so she can ride her bike. I walk back and forth a million times across the parking lot, occasionally sprinting. It’s not FUN but it does a mediocre job.

Food

A lot of people seem to be making new and interesting things during this pandemic, especially bread. My own mother has made two types of bread in the past week and my father made a lemon cake. I have made… my typical rotation of dinners. Carla and I are going to make cupcakes for Easter – she wants chocolate cakewith these bunny decorations. We did a Sprinkle Inventory and do not have pink sprinkles – but we do have purple and gold, so I think we’ll be okay. I have flour and yeast, so I COULD make bread. But I am kind of waiting until we NEED to make bread, you know? Right now, we have a loaf of bread in the freezer and I ordered a loaf of bread to be picked up later this week. Maybe if bread doesn’t make it into my actual shopping bags, I will make some. I have been kind of waiting for an opportunity to make focaccia… maybe this is my chance.

Mood

Friday was pretty rough. Saturday, I wanted to drive my family into the woods and leave them there. And I have been waking up at 4:00 or 5:00 every morning, which is unpleasant. However, I had a pretty decent day yesterday, slept without waking all night last night, and am feeling fairly balanced today. I will take the good days as they come.

 

There you have it. Now give me the updates on how YOU are doing.

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I still feel like I’m on a ship. Sometimes the seas are smooth, othertimes the waters are choppy and nauseating. Still others, the storms pummel the briny deep into great stomach-churning, heart-jolting valleys and peaks and I’m not sure whether my body or mind will break first before I am swallowed by the foaming depths. Every day, the wide indifferent ocean stretches to the horizon on all sides and I don’t know how long it will take to reach the shore. I do not like boats or water or the thought of nameless shapes shifting in the void below. Small — but significant — comfort to know that you’re out here too, guiding your own craft through the murky waves.

What better way to deal with such a mental state than to talk about food? I mean, what’s more basic than food? We all need it, for survival, for comfort, for distraction, for pleasure.

Of course I’ve been craving carbs, and making rice and noodles and various nacho-like concoctions with abandon. Well, not abandon exactly because I am conscious that finding replacement carbs may not be as easy as I’d like.

The surprising things on my quarantine cravings list? Raw carrots, celery, and bell peppers. Perhaps I can attribute these desires to the gargantuan vats of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing I am using as a veggie dip. But I think it’s more the potential scarcity of fresh veggies – or, if not the veggies themselves, but my ability to access them. I bought two one-pound bags of carrots right as self-isolation was beginning, in the second week of March. And then on my most recent trip to the store, I bought a third. (I recognize that this must sound absurd to those whose families include more than three humans.) I think I am halfway through the second bag; I used a good half of the first bag to make mirepoix, which I froze for future soup-making.

It is just past breakfast time, now, and I am already thinking about a tidy plate of crunchy carrots and my last stalk of celery. Stranger than this, I find myself craving these veggies but then… not eating them. A self-rationing, I guess. Are these the last carrots I will be able to get? I clicked IMMEDIATELY and FORCEFULLY away from the one article I saw that said the food supply chain was not as sturdy as we all think it is, so I don’t know if it was a breathless panic piece or something more reasonable. But I am always worrying that something will be the last. My daughter is eating a rotation of PB&J sandwiches and Lunchables each day, and when I noticed we only have two of the latter left, I dutifully put it on the grocery list. But… when will I be able to get groceries? And, when I can, will there be any Lunchables?

Best not to think about the worst case scenario, and just move forward as planned. Add things to the list, assuming I can get them – if not immediately, then at some point.

Lettuce is also, for similar reasons, on my cravings list. Oh how I long to cut a quarter of a nice, crunchy, nutritionally vapid globe of iceberg lettuce and, yes, drench it in ranch, and eat it without a care! But I do care. And I am saving our iceberg lettuce for tacos.

What are you craving the most, during this strange period of isolation?

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When it comes to a big, multi-room tidy, I have a strategy, which I will pass on to you in hopes that it works just as well on your children (I have not tried it on my spouse, so no promises there). My strategy is setting up a Cleaning Challenge. Carla LOVES a challenge, especially if there’s the potential of besting me. And it makes cleaning into a game, and games are fun.

What I do is I get out a big colorful sheet of construction paper. At the top I write Cleaning Challenge! in big cheerful letters. Beneath, on one side, I write out a list of things I need Carla to do (make her bed, pick up stuffed animals, tidy the living room, put her socks and underpants away, etc.) and put little boxes for checkmarks next to them… and on the other side, I write out a list of things I need to do (unload dishwasher, clean toilets, vacuum stairs, etc.) and put boxes with checkmarks next to them. I have found that it helps if my list is longer than Carla’s, because she likes to have an obvious advantage. (To her, it is not obvious that “washing the floor” is much, much more time consuming than “picking up the crayons scattered all over the counter.”) Then I masking tape the Challenge to the kitchen wall, masking tape a marker to the wall as well, and set a one-hour timer. Then we RACE to complete as many of our tasks as possible in the allotted time, checking off each task as we complete it. This is Carla’s favorite part, I think – making a checkmark on the page, while loudly proclaiming, “Checking off another one!” – and taping the marker to the wall makes it extra fun for her for some reason.

Anyway, I haven’t tried a Cleaning Challenge! lately, but I will do so today because it desperately needs doing. (It’s my normal Day Before the Cleaner Arrives technique, and it’s worked well for many months.) (By the way, being surrounded by mess has been making me feel incredibly extra wistful and thankful for our housecleaner, and I am writing her “paid leave” checks with gratitude and hope that one day she will be able to clean for us again because I miss her SO VERY MUCH OMG.)

The Cleaning Challenge! is a good strategy for the type of clutter that accumulates over time, between housecleaning appointments for instance. But I am struggling more, lately, with the HUGE VOLUME of day-to-day messiness. Everything is so much more messy than it was prior to self-isolation. Don’t get me wrong — the tendency of a child to start one project, abandon it, and begin another project while the first is strewn about a different room is, shall we say, a familiar concept. As is the concept of piles gradually accruing on every possible surface. But it turns out that my little whirlwind can make SO MANY MORE messes when she is at home for an additional 35 hours a week. Plus, I am guessing I do a lot more of-the-moment tidying when I am not staring despondently at the news 400 hours a day.

I think the utter relentlessness of the mess is what has begun wearing on me. It was simple enough at the beginning, to breezily say things along the lines of, “Of course it’s going to be messier than usual around here! You have double the people at home all day and one of them is a tornado, so mess is inevitable! But you can live with a little mess!” And this is true. I never claimed to be The World’s Tidiest Person, not by a long shot. But it turns out that a little messiness, while endurable for the short term, over time begins to feel like NOTHING IS EVER CLEAN. And, after a few days of enduing “a little mess,” the mess balloons into a LOT of messiness and then it begins feeling like I am living in squalor and there is no point in anything anymore because we are drowning in a sea of clutter. I am already walking around in a constant state of irritation/distress/anxiety and the added mess is NOT HELPING.

So I am starting to lose it, messwise. I need a new system. Otherwise I may as well lie down on the living room floor and be layered over with magnatiles and board games and construction paper and stuffed animals and remnants of pillow forts and Barbie shoes.

I had to have The Talk with my husband last night that I need more help with the housework… But man, I feel guilty about that. He is working all day, and putting his health at risk to help other people, and he is exhausted and anxious all the time, so I WANT to be able to take the pressure off at home. But also I am here ALL DAY EVERY DAY, doing nearly all the childcare and housework and meal planning/preparation, with maybe five minutes to myself at a time and… it sucks.

For those of you who have multiple children in your care all day every day… for those of you who have multiple children AND spouses who are now ALL at home with you nonstop… for those of you who are working from home WHILE your children and/or spouses are at home with you… well, you have my deepest, most sincere sympathy and compassion. My one cheering thought is that we are ALL dealing with this right now, with our own varying levels of tolerance and manageability. Additional people in our spaces, additional maneuvering required, new levels of irritation and stress, new strategizing and planning and letting things go.

I asked a fellow parent what she was doing to keep the mess down, and she said she was trying to clean a bit every day. Well. Yes. As am I. This is a tried-and-true strategy. Every single day, I do the dishes and wipe the counters and straighten and try to get Carla to move things off Obvious Surfaces. Every single day, I try to do at least one Other Thing — a load of laundry, moving all the collected water glasses from my husband’s bedside table to the sink, moving a bundle of precious artwork from the overcrowded craft cupboard to the trash. But it’s NOT ENOUGH. The mess is a rising tide and our house is a leaky boat.

If you, too, are just trying to clean a bit every day, what does that MEAN? Do you have a checklist? Do you have a rotation of Big Items? How are you enlisting the other members of your household? If you have young children, how are you helping them get into the habit of cleaning up after themselves? I am TRYING, believe me, but a) I don’t have the energy/patience to supervise all the cleaning that needs to be done and b) it feels like just one more source of potential tension between me and Carla when we are already getting on each other’s nerves and c) sometimes the ONLY WAY I can get a few minutes to myself is to ignore what is certainly a HUGE mess in the making.

So. What are YOU doing to Keep the Clutter at Bay?

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I am having a really rough time. A really rough time. The highs are there, sure, but everything is shadowed with despair. And the lows are… Well. They are low. (Not yet low enough for me to break into my Emergency Ice Cream, though. Let’s not think about how low that threshold is.)

Here are some good things:

Carla and I went for a neighborhood scavenger hunt. I “laminated” the list with packing tape, so that we can do it over and over. (I am imagining venturing into different areas of our neighborhood, rather than marking off the same across-the-street red door over and over.) (I also took notes on our walk of other items for another list, so that we don’t get bored.)

Scavenger Hunt

We did not find a single squirrel OR a baby in a stroller.

Target delivered my Oreos and I promptly ate six of them with a glass of milk.

Oreos + milk

One of nature’s perfect food combinations.

The lettuce we planted last week is ALREADY SPROUTING! Sprouts are a long way from nice fluffy edible lettuce leaves, but it’s a good start.

 

What’s making your day brighter today?

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