The Chair’s Guide to Quarantine

 

My husband was at the market today and unwittingly made a woman smile.

She was unsuccessfully trying to juggle SIX DOUBLE ROLLS OF PAPER TOWELS in her hands as she hurried towards the checker and, seeing the futility of her efforts, met his eyes, nodded and laughed.

Perhaps your story involves insane amounts of hand sanitizer, tissues, toilet paper, or aspirin – either falling out of people’s arms (or your own) or not on the shelves at all.

Funny because it’s true (and there’s nothing wrong with that)

But THIS is a typical part of the day in the life of America today.

The calm before the storm, the panic before it could inevitably get really bad.

In order to stop myself from indulging in such behavior, I automatically think about what my mother used to say when Too Sensitive Me was getting overly upset by something going on in my world.

Just keep it up and I’ll really give you something to cry about!

Or, if my Mom’s brand of tough love isn’t working for you (Note: It certainly doesn’t for me), how about this admonition from the immortal Cher:

Perfection

Screenwriter John Patrick Shanley wrote those words for her to deliver in the classic 1987 film Moonstruck but they are no less timely 30 years plus later.

Still, this does not mean they are not overly HARSH.

If we want to weather the storm (or tornado or typhoon) of COVID-19 we need to practice….     um…..       Social    ……………………………………………     distancing.

What this means is not getting too close to others, keeping our hands clean, resisting the urge to touch our faces or mouths and, most importantly, and when possible –

STAYING HOME

Just remember to wash those sheets!

Yes, this is an economic hardship, especially for those who will no longer get paid for their jobs or others who are either unable to work virtually or have children now home from school.

Still, it’s just been announced every worker affected by self-quarantine (nee staying home) is at least eligible for unemployment.

Not to mention, remember all that guilt you might have felt for not spending enough time with your kids?  Well…..

If all else fails, empty boxes will do

Okay, who am I kidding?  I don’t have kids and am fortunate enough to be able to do my job from my bed, I mean, um, home… office.

Nevertheless, as one out of the many fortunate millions who managed to live through the raging AIDS epidemic of the eighties (and beyond ) who is still around to tell the tale, I do know something about viral panic.

There was a time not so many decades ago that I remember washing and disinfecting my hands so religiously and profusely that I actually scrubbed the surface layer of skin off the top of one of my palms.

Not feeling nostalgic for this

It was then, and only then, I began to understand the futility of hysteria and the hilarity of my own neurosis.   No matter how appropriate I believed I was being that is how much my reactions weren’t helping.  Certainly, they weren’t making me any cleaner.

So until they get more information and come up with a reliable, available test/treatment/cure for this virus en masse, here are some handy survival tips:

1- TAKE POSITIVE ACTIONS OF YOUR CHOICE – Demonstrate on the streets (alone, or with a few folks 6ft apart please), commiserate with friends and loved ones (more on this below), rant at the TV and politicians (Note: Well, THE politician, wink wink) , research and come up with position papers that will solve the entire thing but Do NOT FEEL GUILTY about NOT doing EVERY ONE OF THESE THINGS EACH DAY.

I support Netflix, I do not support pizza in bed (I mean, there is a line)

Seriously, no one is Mother Theresa, not even Mother Theresa.  She might have done great unselfish things but even she is a construct, a gold standard of perfectionism and self-sacrifice that is non-human and can’t possibly provide you a true unvarnished 100% human X-ray of a real woman.  Or man.

Therefore, do what you can but don’t beat yourself up for not doing enough.  You’re not letting yourself off the hook for anything, you’re simply being yourself.  And you get to wake up and try again the next day, and the next, and the day after that.   Because you’re one of the lucky.

2- COMFORT FOOD TV – This does not mean binge watching The Wire or finding a streaming service offering all 14 episodes of Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz.

Instead it means marathons of The Simpsons, The Bachelor (or Bachelorette), Law and Order SVU/CSI/NCIS/Blue Bloods or WWE (Note: That’s Worldwide Wrestling for my fellow gays).

Gotta love that Olivia Benson brand of encouragement #benson2020

A few days ago someone told me that a really smart person they knew had taken to watching countless back-to-back Big Bang Theory episodes they’d already seen.

But I have that beat.  This weekend I tuned in Logo and in one sitting tore through twelve straight episodes of The Nanny, a show I seldom if ever saw in first run.

THOSE. OUTFITS.

 

Maybe it was Fran Drescher’s voice, or the fact that Renee Taylor, the comic actress who played her mother, reminded me of my mother, or just maybe it’s the fact that, like me, the title character is from Flushing, Queens AND Jewish and likes to wear loud clothes and is a scheming nag when she doesn’t get her way.  But after all those decades, in this particular time of this decade, boy is she hilarious.

3- START A SILLY CREATIVE PROJECT DOOMED TO FAILURE –Maybe it’s the book, screenplay, poem , song or short story you always wanted to write.

Perhaps it’s rearranging the furniture in your living room.

Or even hanging the framed picture that’s been sitting in your closet for a year because you are sure you’ll f-k up your wall if you try to do it yourself.

When I was in my twenties I thought it was a great idea to use high gloss black paint on every wall in my bathroom and to this day I treasure the reaction of my landlady when she saw it.

The point is, why NOT?  God knows you have the time and it will give you something to talk about instead of the virus.

4- “PHONE” A FRIEND – This might sound silly or obvious but there is a lot to unpack here.   Living in a world where EVERYONE is being told to stay inside as much as possible means that for one of the first times in your life you are truly NOT alone.  So use it as an excuse to reach out to…..ANYONE because, well, you actually have a reason.

it’s time to Facetime!

This means someone from your past, present or perhaps…future?  You don’t need to pretend anymore.  We’re all a bit crazed.  Some aberrant behavior is to be expected.   So take advantage of the fact that there’s a wider berth of crazy for all of us.

The office acquaintance, the best friend who is no longer best, the former or future lover of your dreams.  Even the individual you at one point wanted to tell off but now actually miss.  Does it REALLY matter???

And know that in 2020 coronavirus parlance, “phone” clearly means, Skype, text, gchat, zoom or any virtual reality of your choice.

5- BE.  OF. SERVICE. –  Nothing takes you out of your own insanity or isolation more than helping someone else with his or her own stuff.  This means ANYONE and ANYWHERE.  Oh, and there is little noble about this.  Most likely whomever you are helping has it FAR WORSE than you do and you will get to feel mighty good about YOUR life afterwards.

This + thinking about Tom Hanks (and Rita!)

This is how many of us got through the eighties.

And how many of us will get through today.

Justin Hurwitz – “Quarantine” (from First Man)

To Post or Not To Post

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-11-12-48-am

I can’t even…

This is millennial talk for phrases and feelings like:

  • If you talk about that one more time I’ll kill you or kill myself.
  • I can’t stand IT anymore. IT can refer to anything large or small you can’t deal with on a given day. For instance: Please stop talking about that cake! (Vintage Lily Tomlin – look it up – or better yet, click here)

And finally:

  • I WILL NOT deal with you, this situation or this subject one more time. And if YOU, or IT or the WORLD as it is right now persists in this way for one more second…

ill_kill_you_office

Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? In reality, what exactly are you, or I, or the collective WE going to do??? About reality???

I listened to a piece on NPR this week where a female journalist talked about the mass anxiety Americans are feeling about the upcoming presidential elections and how large a part social media is playing in exacerbating the symptoms.

Because it’s NPR and somewhat solution-oriented via an alternating avalanche of often times fascinating and sometimes overly dry information, much was discussed about what the average overwrought, overanxious and over stimulated citizen could do to counteract all the…tension.

Among the suggestions were:

1. Escape all wireless communication for at least an hour each day. For instance, said journalist related that at least four or five times a week she walked an hour on the beach alone with her dog and without her iPhone.

you know.. before I go for that walk.

you know.. before I go for that walk.

2. Before posting news stories or opinions or both about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or on any other political or social issue of the day on social media, stop yourself and ask –Is this absolutely necessary? Do I really need to say this? Perhaps I don’t want to go so far out of my way to fuel or start an argument.

RESIST!!!

RESIST!!!

3.  Consider the ways you can avoid listening to or engaging in political or social issue discourse with those whose views differ substantially from your own. For instance, it was offered that if you click on the right on your Facebook feed there is an option to unfollow someone. This means you will not see anything at all that your friend posts but that he or she (your friend) will never know you’ve chosen to ignore them. Thus the stress of an argument can be avoided and you’ve beaten the far more nuclear option of defriending unfriending – social media’s version of telling a person that yes, you and/or your views are just that odious and/or inconsequential to me that I just can’t with you anymore.

Get on this Zuckerberg. #hurry

Get on this Zuckerberg. #hurry

Much as I love and adore and respect journalists – both male and female – not to mention NPR – here’s the problem with their theories and suggestions.

The correct response to where the country and we as Americans are right now is not – I CAN’T ANYMORE.

The correct response to where we Americans and OUR country is now is – I MUST AS MUCH AS I CAN AND I WILL RIGHT NOW.

The time is.... well, you know!

The time is…. well, you know!

Is this ALL too upsetting and eating into your day? Wow. Imagine what it felt like in 1774, 5 and 6 if you lived in one of the original 13 colonies and were about to declare war on an empire as large as all of Europe in comparison to the land you owned at the time? Not to mention no electricity, running water or Beyonce. Or even the possibility of her. Yes, you know what I mean.

Anyone who reads notesfromachair or even vaguely knows me is very aware I’m a liberal Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter. I make no effort to hide it and, in fact, am proudly vocal about it. But what you might not know is that I listen to Donald Trump and read what he says very carefully. I also listen to what his supporters and surrogates say on air and in print pretty consistently. Yes, sometimes I want to throw the TV over or burn the newspaper but I figure it’s my obligation to listen and read if I’m going to speak about these subjects. Even if I decide not to speak, it’s my responsibility as a voter.

Ok now he's just baiting me!

Ok now he’s just baiting me!

So here’s a snippet of what Donald Trump bellowed just a few days ago before a crowd in Ohio of thousands of supporters screaming lock her up, fists raised in the air. 

THIS IS A MOMENT OF RECKONING FOR OUR SOCIETY..AND OURSELVES. AND I’M THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN FIX IT.

Here’s a Trump supporter and his friend in Virginia this past week, firearms exposed at their hips, standing outside for 12 HOURS into the campaign headquarters of Jane Dittmar, the female Democratic candidate for Congress who supports Hillary Clinton, as they stared menacingly into the window inside.

Real winners these two. #godhelpus #god?

Real winners these two. #godhelpus #god?

And now look at the T-shirt worn by a family man at a Trump rally – on his feet in Pennsylvania cheering his choice for president right beside his wife and three kids.

@#)#$*%&@!!!

@#)#$*%&@!!!

These are three reasons among many I can’t stand in support of the current non-engagement meme. And no, these are not outliers. This is business as usual at his festivities. I’ve been listening. And watching. All along.

Though I agree with Trump and his followers on absolutely nothing perhaps the one area we are vaguely at least on the same planet is the idea that we, as a nation, have gotten a bit…well, soft. Because since when is an argument a bad thing when you’re fighting for your collective soul? How is it that intellectual engagement and criticism and facts have become the enemy? When did it become more than acceptable to degrade and insult people based on their sex, appearance, skin color or orientation without being called out for it? And in what reality did it become too “politically correct” to consistently and categorically challenge people on their rudeness and inhumanity? From either side?   Family, friends or even non-followers.

3uif0d

OK well I didn’t say I always do it in the most effective way

What country are we in, anyway? I don’t get it. When did we become so complacent in the eye of an Orange sh-t show. It’s exactly when the dung hits the fan that you need to step up and fight. Not wait until you’ve drowned in a cesspool of your own isolation and indifference. Just what IS more pressing for the future of the WORLD than the election of the next US president in the next 28 days? Your shopping list? Your dentist appointment? The 30,000 mile checkup on your car? Your kid’s Halloween costume? Sorry, sit this one out and every day could be Halloween. And you might be locked up for not celebrating it in exactly the way the Great Orange Pumpkin dictates. Daily. Do you really want to be required to have a six foot gold gilt Jack-O-Lantern in your window or suspended from the flagpole on the Capitol steps reading Drumpf? And no, I’m only HALF-kidding.

Of course, those are just my views. Feel free to disagree. Or unfriend/unfollow me. I’d rather be aware of what I’m up against than be killed with indifference or a faux phony kindness. Or just be killed. For speaking out. You think it can’t happen. Lie back, do nothing and just wait until they’re wearing T-shirts about you, armed to the teeth and staring into your collective windows. Yes, I’m using the collective you. But only just barely.