On Monday, I watched a clip on Twitter of American gymnast Simone Biles taking off her sweatpants while doing a handstand. (To clarify: she was doing the handstand, not me. [That probably didn’t need clarifying.]) It’s not as inappropriate as it sounds. Instead, it was an impressive feat of balance, strength and perseverance.
My Monday feat was repotting a plant.
Monday was a holiday. I’m working full-time from home, so the word “holiday” still has some meaning to me. Given this, I should have filled my bonus day with activities, chores and sundry celebrations of free time.
But no. In addition to the repotting, we sowed potlets of vegetable seeds and set them in the window of what’s become my home office. Besides that, I read, walked, watched TV, spent too much time on Twitter and napped with the cat.
It’s the cat’s fault. I was merely reading in a prone position when Ollie, as she’s inclined to do, attempted to crawl on top of me. She would crawl inside me if she could. I allowed her to settle in the crook of my arm, where her sedative properties immediately took effect.
Permission to nap is one of the takeaways from Month 1 of unsociety. It’s a time that paradoxically combines stir-craziness and laziness. We all suddenly have time on our hands and feel we should be taking advantage of it to accomplish great things. Instead (and I don’t think I’m alone in this), I feel overwhelmingly lethargic. This leads to feelings of inadequacy, made worse by videos of over-achieving families performing full operettas. Inadequacy leads to funk, funk to fatigue. And the catnap cycle continues.
Deb and I have two quasi-adult children at home, so we don’t have the stress of homeschooling that other parents have. Instead, we’ve been playing games together and watching movies. Over eight nights, we watched all the Harry Potter films, which I had never seen (nor had I read any but the first book). My summary: Hogwarts is an abysmally administered school with severe liability issues.
Mostly, though, we’re eating. So much eating. Lunchtime keeps getting earlier and earlier. For some reason, we are going through an inordinate amount of mayonnaise. Ice cream has been had.
A lot of the time I find myself just wandering around the house, unable to focus on a single task for any length of time. It’s hard to concentrate even on reading. Some days I’m upbeat, getting my work done, only to have my mood quickly crash. For whatever reason, Thursdays are the hardest. I’ve begun to call Thursday “Worstday.”
If ever there was a novelty to this pandemic, it has quickly worn off. People are tired of thinking about it, hearing about it, reading about it (sorry). Everything that could be said about self-isolation/working from home was said weeks ago. Zoom jokes are so March 2020.
Some of us are safer and less at risk than others. As I said, I’m still working, as is my wife. We’re going to be okay. Not everyone is as lucky. But I think what every single person has in common is disappointment.
The play I was rehearsing: cancelled. For Christmas, I bought my wife tickets to her first opera, something she has talked about for years: cancelled.
Abby was disappointed she couldn’t see her friend’s new kitten. James recently won the Garth Smith Team Player award for the Bishop’s University men’s basketball team and, instead of receiving it at an athletic banquet, learned of it via Instagram. I mention this because it was probably disappointing for him, but mostly I just wanted to brag a little.
Whether it’s missing sports and theatre or not being able to see friends and wee animals, disappointment is a sense of loss, and with loss comes grief. Maybe it’s not the heartbreaking grief of losing a loved one but it’s no less real. Added up, and you can be excused for feeling sad and tired, for not living your best life even with all this time on your hands.
But I’m thinking this is not entirely a terrible thing. We’ve become accustomed to having everything and right away. Young people in particular have never truly experienced want. If nothing else, this crisis is giving us perspective on the privilege most of us live. They say things may never be the same, that there may never be a return to “normal.” But maybe the new normal will be an appreciation of everything that is truly good, like health, naps and, of course, Simone Biles taking off her pants.
On a perkier yet Elizabethan note, I have a piece at Points in Case today: The Collected Chase Scenes of William Shakespeare.
You’re a fantastic wordsmith. There are so many phrases here I’d love to quote if I ever overcome my “sedative properties” to write something of substance again. 😂
Thanks. Happy Worstday!
Yes, Ross, this new different takes away so much and maybe does add a little perspective. Be safe and be well, Murray family.
Thanks. You too, Mark.
Ha, yes to the new perspective and thanks for calling it what it is, the cascade of disappointment to loss to grief. Hadn’t seen it so precisely, mine was sheer “depression-slash-trauma.” We’re in that latter stage now as you describe. And hence the inaction.
It’s like PTSD except without the P. We’re just all TSDed.
What’s the big deal with the sweat pants? I take my pajamas off that way, every morning. Because I leave the bed face first, trying to reach the darn alarm clock. And I’m sounding something like opera, as done by Florence Foster Jenkins, until I unwrap the PJs from around my neck.
But you’re dead right about the disappointment and shock at losing so many instant gratifications. I hope you’re right, that among the things being crushed by the epidemic, are our thoughtless sense of entitlement & our lack of appreciation for so many things.
I appreciate your posts!
Now go read J. K. Rowling until you’ve developed a proper appreciation, or maybe “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell”
Did you know at Hogwarts a student can kill a teacher with no witnesses and everybody is like, “Really? OK.” And that’s just in Book 1!
You’re quibbling over Quirrell? I thought Harry did an impromptu exorcism, and Q. died as Voldemort’s spirit left Q’s corporeal body? But I haven’t studied this for some years.
I loved the Potter series as a kid, we’d go to the bookstore at midnight to pick up the new books as they came out. Does anyone do that for Malcolm Gladwell’s stuff?
And anyways, I went to a New York public school, so I’m not gonna plotz over a few fatalities, you know what I mean, jellybean?
“Plotz” is lovely.
By thunder-darting Jove, that Shakespeare piece is a blast! Discount tires, once more onto the Caprice. You have a Dodge Charger, but no Lincoln Corsair? (my true love, but never did run smooth).
My ideal Richard III would have been “winter of our discount tents” but, hey, glad this worked for you. Nothing like a little Chasespeare.
Writer of Words sent me here. We have potlets in common, it would appear! So glad she shared this, too…because that is an impressive feat (feet) of dexterity on Simone’s part!
Hi. Glad you could make it. Do come again.
It’s always the cat’s fault. I’m sorry your play was cancelled. All artists are suffering right now. The Shakespeare piece is terrific. Top Murray.
Hey, thanks. Artists, newspapers, anything touched by the humanities and fine arts. When we’re reduced to the barter system shortly, I’ll have nothing to offer. Kids, learn a trade, quick!
“For whatever reason, Thursdays are the hardest. I’ve begun to call Thursday “Worstday.”” yes, why is that?
I really don’t know. It’s become the Sunday of weekdays.
And Sundays have become “weird existential experience” day.
SAME, as the kids say. And go ahead and brag–Simone Biles is!–about your kids, cat, and everything else. At this point, I’m thinking finishing a movie (that someone else made) is a big accomplishment. Off to nap…
I think if I can make it through 7 seasons of “30 Rock” it’s been a good pandemic. Enjoy!
Completely concur with the current generation of kids not knowing want. It’s a parental balancing act, isn’t it – being able to provide anything and everything, versus fostering reward for hard work, and acceptance that some things are out of reach. The days of children wistfully paging through the toy section of mail-order catalogues (the “book of dreams”) have long gone.
Ha! The Sears Christmas Wishbook. I remember it well.
I love how you manage to meld the real with the satirical without watering either down Ross. Thanks for sharing your unique perspective on the uncertainty we are all dealing with right now.
It’s a bit of a shift in tone but such is life. Thanks, Ilona.
such a good explanation of our descent/rise into acceptance/madness. i really feel your line, dropped casually into the center of this piece, about taking your wife to the opera, explains the reason behind this whole thing. such an elaborate ruse and mousetrap plan to get out of 3 hours of live opera. at least that’s what i’d like to believe. some people will go to all lengths…..well played.
Ha! No, really, no. Honest.
Is it about drinking ?, about swimming ?….or just being funny on blogside of the equation ?…I am surprised..thank you for the introduction here….Teens take to drinking !!!.
You do realize that most of those overachieving families are lying, right?
Working from home with small kids kind of feels like taking off sweatpants while doing a handstand: it’s complicated, takes too long, and I feel like blood keeps rushing to my head.