Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Nothing Is Normal And Karma Doesn't Work

It's been 4 1/2 months of hunkering down around here, and I've prided myself on how well I've handled it. I've gone running almost every morning (I know! Just a mile, but still...), I've taken my yoga class on Zoom twice a week, we've been cooking up a storm and eating healthy. I mean, if anyone needs tips on how to live the pandemic lifestyle, just send them here, right?

Chicken shawarma - yes, I AM awesome

I think that all ended today. When I woke up, it was raining, so I skipped running. Anna needed the basement family room for a work call, so I skipped yoga. Went to Costco, bought all sorts of chips: potato, pretzel, pita - you name it, we have a huge bag of it in the house now. Sampled some when we got home. Took a nap. I mean, why not? Life's gone to heck in a hand basket, and all that exercise lost me nary a pound anyway.

And then there were these:

Oopsie, that bag seems to be open...

Way back in April, I realized that -- 2020 being what it was -- we wouldn't be able to do our traditional Easter egg hunt in the neighborhood's courtyard. BUT, I thought, when this is all over, we can make up for it.

So, yeah, I went to CVS the day after Easter and picked up several bags of Easter candy at half price. It might take a few months, but someday we'd once more see all the neighborhood kids running happily through the grass, looking for chocolate.

It was a nice idea that kept me somewhat sane, all right? I mean, we're all doing what we can here to survive. So I put the chocolate away and thought, July. We'll do this in July

But July came and went and nothing happened, because 2020 is awful and no one is allowed to have any fun and life as we knew it has ceased to exist. The candy sat in my pantry.

So today was the day that I just dug in (after my nap) and started eating these. Or, to put it another way, today was the day I lost all hope that anything would be anywhere close to normal anytime soon. I like to think that this is healthy, this facing of facts. Also, it's delicious. Sorry, kids!

Speaking of CVS (I mean, we were, sort of, right?), Anna came home the other day and said, "Some old guy was yelling at the cashier in the new CVS because there wasn't a sign on the old store telling him where the new store was. So I told him he couldn't talk to people that way."

Anna spent years waitressing and bartending. She sticks up for anyone working a service job.

"Did he stop?" I asked, alarmed and proud at the same time.

"He turned on me and yelled, 'Who do you think you are?!?' and stomped out of the store," she said.

End of story. Only, it wasn't, not really. Later that day, Larry took me on our after-dinner forced march. It's usually still hot out in the evenings, and it's humid as heck, but we go anyway, because otherwise I'll just sit around doing something non-productive, like eating other people's Easter candy. "I did a good deed today," Larry announced as we walked. "I was leaving the dry cleaner's and I saw an old guy peering into the windows of the old CVS and looking confused, so I told him it had moved a few doors down to the corner."

I stopped and looked at him. "An old guy?" I asked.

"Yes!" Larry said. "He was really grumpy and said, 'Well, why don't they put a sign up or something?!?' and then he stomped off to the new store. But it still feels good to have helped someone." 

Or, rather, it feels good until your wife tells you that the person you helped? Turned right around and yelled at your daughter...

Friday, July 10, 2020

When COVID Hands You Lemons...

OMG, I MISSED YOU. I just...I don't know. At work I was processing 6000 words a day, and I think I needed a vacation once I was laid off. So I've knit and I've sewed (masks, of course, what else?) and I've deep-cleaned the house and weeded the yard and generally recovered from a whirlwind 17 months of never, ever being quite on top of anything.

It felt good.

I like how this looks all seamstress-y

This month we shelled out the big bucks (well, all right, $6.99) for Disney Plus and watched Hamilton with the rest of America. I was worried I wouldn't like it because every time I tried to listen to the soundtrack on Spotify, my brain would get tired. I mean, there are A LOT of words in there, people. But we all ended up loving the movie (or whatever you call a play that is filmed, I don't know), it was fun family-bonding time, and (unfortunately) Hamilton will always remind me of this stupid pandemic.

Bonus: now I can listen to the soundtrack and understand it, just like all the cool kids.

Remember all the bread-baking (and eating) that was happening here March through May? That bread was our butter-slathered emotional support food through the early months of the current health crisis. So, as it turns out, our summertime emotional support food seems to be lemonade, a half-gallon carafe that sits in our fridge and is constantly replenished (by me, of course, who else?).

Did I ever mention that when the kids were younger, I would only make lemonade if the temps hit 90 or above? I wanted it to be a special treat and not have the kids begging for it every day, is why. So this is what the pandemic has done - it has made every day a Special Treat Day. YOLO. Carpe diem. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may be dealing with COVID and having to wear masks in the house.

Lemonade, anyone?
I spent almost 30 years of married life without owning a nice pitcher or carafe (Larry and I eloped - I understand that those who have normal weddings possess many of this type of item). Instead, I've only had those ugly Rubbermaid pitchers which are, let's face it, totally function over form. What's more, if I wanted to make lemonade, I'd often have to go outside to locate the pitcher because we also used it for watering plants.

All this to say, I have spent years pining for something nicer, more festive, to put lemonade in. Being indecisive, especially when it comes to buying things, I never did find the perfect pitcher (i.e., pretty but unbreakable), but when I was in Harris Teeter the other week, I spotted the item pictured above and thought, Bright-colored lid! Fun shape! Good enough! and brought it home.

This purchase represented the culmination of my long-held dream to (somewhat) elegantly pour liquid refreshment into the waiting glasses of my family, so as I placed it on our kitchen counter, I felt an unwonted sense of housewifely fulfillment. "Look!" I said to Susie, who had just walked into the room. "A nice pitcher!"

Whereupon Susie said, and I quote, "THAT looks stupid."


Friday, June 19, 2020


Hi! Just getting used to being unemployed here - and you? I spent my first day of freedom scrubbing down the "kids" bathroom, which yes, they could do themselves, but they don't and I'm not living like that. My second day of freedom involved going to ALDI and spending over $200 (which, honestly, I didn't even think was possible) to restock the pantry and freezer with everything we had run low on, because seriously, it is no joke having 6 grown humans living and eating in one house.

Today? I received the results of a lengthy experiment I've been conducting. You see, over a month ago, weary of seeing my frightening visage on the screen during Zoom meetings, I panic-shopped for something, ANYTHING, to fix things. I settled on the three items in the picture below. Only, I couldn't help wondering, How do I know if these really work?

These promise THE WORLD
I figured the lockdown was giving me a prime opportunity to do some real research. All these products said that after a month I would see a big difference. So I decided to use them only on the left side of my face.

On the right side (the CONTROL, for those of you who speak science), I would stick with the one thing I already use (and can get fairly cheaply at Costco):

Not sure this makes a difference, either

This morning was the day of reckoning. After my shower, I left my face bare and then pounced on the nearest victim, Anna, who had come upstairs to the kitchen to refill her coffee. "Anna, tell me the truth - which side of my face looks better?"

I wish I had thought to take a picture of her expression when I asked that question. Seeing it, I tried to elaborate. "No, I mean, does either side look less wrinkled? The skin younger? How about around the eyes?"

"You look VERY YOUNG," poor Anna said, trying to back out of the kitchen with her mug.

"No, don't worry! I'm not asking that! Just...it's science. Does either side look better than the other, or no?"

Poor Anna.

The verdict, delivered with trepidation by my cornered daughter? "Not really. Maybe the right side? No, no, they're the same, mostly."

So, there you have it: after more than a month of my using the miracle creams (with Retinol!) on only the left side of my face, there is still no difference between the wrinkles on the left side of my face and the right. Not even under the eyes, which is really a bummer, because there are truly frightening things happening there. The upside, however, is now I can spend my money on items that won't betray me, things that will add true value to my life. Like chocolate, say, with hazelnuts.

I'm a simple person.

Oh, and when I explained the experiment to Anna, she said, "Of course those creams don't work!" This last was uttered with all the insouciance of Youth, unacquainted with the desperation wrought by the ravages of time.

Can I have that back, that insouciance? Because this is when I need it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

2020. And 1985. All At Once.

I was standing in our upstairs hallway today, looking at the closed doors of the other 3 bedrooms, each with a grown or almost-grown person behind it and thought, What does this remind me of?

Let's see...people living in their own rooms, kitchen cabinets stuffed with everyone's favorite snack foods (don't touch!), arguments about whose turn it is to take out the trash or whose dish is in the sink, established quiet hours, and semi-frequent communal meals around the kitchen table...

Roommates - that's what it is. Somehow, in the year of our Lord 2020, at the ripe old age of (almost) 57, I have ended up living in a situation that reminds me of nothing so much as a house full of college roommates. WHY?

Oh, yes, 2020. But of course. We're in the upside-down now.

Korean beef, cooked by one of my roommates
You know, that empty nest was so close, I could almost taste it. But now, if I want privacy, I shut myself in my bedroom, which is crammed with not only a bed and dresser but also a desk (I had to give up my office when Brian came home last month) and most of my personal possessions (um, that would be yarn - a lot of yarn). I venture out only to clean the bathrooms (because I am NOT going to let those be like the ones I lived with in college) and to dump strange-smelling items out of the fridge

[Okay, that last item isn't new - I've always done that]

and bitch at my roommates over who clogged the toilet and didn't take care of it. It's the 1980s all over again for me, complete with living in leggings and having really unruly hair. And hearing about Donald Trump in the news all the time, actually...

So! Brian came home mid-May from college, which forced me to clean out my yarn room/office and move everything into mine and Larry's bedroom. I left Brian the pretty glass desk my friend gave me (too big for my bedroom, anyway) and wasn't sure what I would do for a new one, because - as it turns out - every cheap small desk online is SOLD OUT.

Because 2020. Of course. Everyone is working from home.

Susie and I came up with a solution:

Yes, the chair is excellent. Get one.
It's perfect and cute and I can look out of the window as I work. So there I was, all set up to continue working from home, and then...

Remember, it's 2020...

my entire team was told we will all be laid off mid-June. Which means I will soon have no excuse to shut myself in my bedroom upwards of 6 hours a day in blessed privacy.

But I am going to do it anyway, for my sanity, because I am not 22 anymore and this roommate thing is utterly insane, even if I did birth most of them. And I'm keeping the desk. Who knows? Maybe I'll even blog at you more than once a month now.

I'll miss that money, though. Money's nice.

Mother's Day was the best ever, even though I had just lost my office/yarn room that weekend (oh, have I mentioned that already?), because Brian brought home a very special gift for me:

Still can't find these in the store
These were all the Lysol wipes I had sent him to school with, freshman AND sophomore years. I was torn between motherly joy at receiving such a useful, much-wanted gift (because, all together now, 2020) and utter disgust that he apparently hadn't cleaned his bathroom all year.

Brian says he did so clean it. Twice. Okay, then.

Anna made me a gorgeous flower arrangement:

And she also spearheaded a project where the kids put together some photos of their younger days on foam poster board with funny captions. I almost cried with joy. Only, they don't know that even better than the gift itself was listening to them the day before, behind Susie's locked bedroom door, laughing and working on the project together.

Like I said, best Mother's Day ever.

Brian also brought home with him the dorm fridge another friend had gifted us his freshman year. I took one look at it and decided it was the answer to my dreams. You see, the condiment situation around here - which has always bordered on insane - had become completely unmanageable, what with 2 different types of BBQ sauce, 2 types of mustard, assorted hot sauce, the soy sauce that my kids insist we refrigerate or we'll die, and I don't know what all.

So I now, finally, have a separate refrigerator just for condiments, which is utterly ridiculous, but there we are.


Monday, May 04, 2020

Looking At Life Through Red-Colored Glasses

That peaceful nap on the couch? Hasn't happened yet. One blessedly uneventful day continues to blur into the next, so I guess it's like being at sea for a month or so, right? Only with Netflix, of course...

So I thought, Hey, I'll just look at my camera roll on my phone and see what the photos tell me we've been doing! You know, all those photos I've been taking?

There were three since I last posted. THREE. Here's one:

Larry bought me flowers, cheeky devil that he is
That's on my desk. I spend 40 hours a week there. I don't mind, because I get paid and hey, what else am I going to do? Also, it gives me an excuse to go into a room by myself and shut the door, because OMG I was not made to interact with people 16 or more hours a day.

But I lose my office in another week, when Brian comes home. I also have to move a lot of the yarn out of there, since I assume he won't like having his nightstand drawers filled with my collection of fingering weight yarn, and I'm betting the bookshelf loaded with bags of unfinished knitting projects won't exactly be his idea of good interior design, either.

See that plastic tumbler up there? I wrote about buying 6 of those from the clearance shelf at Target 6 1/2 years ago. Last time Benjamin was home, he managed to get 3 of them stuck together and someone ended up throwing them out (not me, I was waiting to figure out how to get them apart). The other three have become oddly misshapen and the only thing we can figure is that our new dishwasher runs hotter than the two previous ones on the drying cycle and is melting them when we put them in the bottom rack.

Normally, I could count on finding some more on the clearance shelf during my regular trip to Target, but that's not how life works now. In fact, I can't remember the last time I was even inside a Target. So the fact that these tumblers have been ruined is all mixed up with the fact that EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT from the time a younger, more carefree version of myself plucked them off the shelf 6 1/2 years ago.

Which explains how I can possibly feel weepy over 3 plastic tumblers that cost me 50 cents each...

Another picture:

Fancy lunch one day this week
Food is all we think about. Not because we're starving or anything, but because it's the only interesting part of the day. We talk about plans for lunch and plans for dinner. It reminds me of when all the kids were little and we couldn't afford activities for them, so cooking was our main source of amusement. Anna made a roasted eggplant and pepper salad for dinner tonight. I marinated steaks and chicken and Larry fussed over his new grill as if we were an old retired couple with nothing else to do. Susie made guacamole for appetizers.

It's weird, all right? Also, over the course of the past year or so, I finally weaned myself from having a month's supply of food at the ready, because, hey, the grocery store is right down the road and I can go there anytime and pick up anything I need, right?

Apparently, WRONG. That's not how life works now.

Larry's excited about the grill, because it is the first one we've owned that we actually bought new. The others were all old ones either left by the side of dumpsters or gifted to us by departing neighbors. So, yeah, new dishwasher, new grill - we're trying to help the faltering economy. I also almost got a new vacuum today, but unfortunately Larry managed to find the sock that got stuck in the one I have, so I missed out on that opportunity.

Vacuum cleaners sound really weird when there is a sock stuck in them.

I'm glad it's working, though, because otherwise I don't have anything to chase centipedes with. Usually I'll send Larry after them, but not if he's already asleep, so that's when I need the vacuum. We did have to wake Larry up this evening, however, because a wasp showed up in Rachel's room and we all immediately started yelling "Murder Hornet!" I mean, it's 2020 - what else could that thing be?

Maybe just a wasp, but he chased it around and it sounded like quite a ruckus in there, because the room was a little chaotic to begin with, and it didn't get any better as Larry tripped over stuff in an attempt to get at the wasp, and it reminded me of the scene in Annie Hall where she calls Alvie over at 3 AM to get a spider out of her bathroom:

Larry didn't manage to get the wasp/hornet/whatever, so now Rachel is sleeping in my office/yarn room, and I'm thinking maybe I'll just look up the prices of studio apartments in the area. A room of one's own is starting to sound pretty darn appealing to me right about now. I mean, as long as there are no bugs...

Third photo - can you guess? Of course you can:

Not tired of it yet

I wonder if we'll still like homemade bread after this whole pandemic/social distancing/shelter in place thing is over or if it will just remind us of this weird, weird time. Like the smell of Lysol, maybe...