Romantic Life Lessons, Shameless Promotion, Whining

Post-COVID Vegan Not-Success

It seemed to happen all at once. Sam said, “I don’t feel right” one Sunday night. We took tests, did another dance with the COVID fairy, and reset ourselves after a week of isolation. When you’ve recovered, the first thing you want to do is delve into the joy of wellness.

We watched The Game Changer* the next Sunday night, learning things we obviously knew before (eating plants = healthier) but this time it felt different because athletes modeled supreme health while chowing down on legumes. Sam and I are intense athletes ourselves so we thought, why not?

Sam was particularly affected by the doc’s showing meat-based-diet plasma compared to vegan plasma. Having survived e.coli and norovirus, he’s hyper-aware of his insides. I, too, am aware of my insides since cultivating a duodenal ulcer in my teens and 20s and, of course, the stomach flu of 2007. There’s also that I like to do drastic things and relish the self-loathing once I fail. Going vegan was perfect for us.

Our habits changed at once! I culled memories of the unintentional veganism of my 20s, mostly due to fear and paranoia. One can’t control traumatic events, but one can control what one eats. I only trusted things like potatoes, bread, cigarettes, and Sprite–from the beige, tar, and transparent food groups. These were trustworthy foods, and I didn’t feel bad at all. Surely I could avoid animal products thirty years later.

Sam and I discussed how veganism would support our cat, even though he himself is not vegan. Clearing out the fridge was a gradual chore. Wasting half and half is worse than drinking it. Somehow, I choked down unsweetened oat milk, which I would still drink if on a deserted island. But what would I do if the plants were poison and a rotting boar was the only thing to keep me alive? Would my stomach acid be strong enough to break down the boar so that I could survive? At the very least, I could clutch my new fake pearl necklace from J-Crew.

My week of veganism wound up being a topsy turvy voyage of feeling great, thrilled by my moral high ground, then a rapid plunge into despair. Even though I could skip a few meals, the idea of hunger reminded me of a darker time when I did not eat because I was afraid of what it would do to me. I’d been coping with the immediate aftermath of trauma and a lot of this involved learning to eat, sleep, be out in the world again. Going vegan wasn’t about giving up ice cream but putting hyperfocus on an issue that pushes my buttons.

There is a happy ending, one I know I can carry to the end of my days. As my vegan adventure ended, I started watching The Kardashians on Hulu–a never-say-never event. So maybe I could go vegan a few times a week, nudging me into healthier habits as I trudge toward the coffin. In the meantime, I can watch a matriarchal family do their thing and remember that I’ve spent my some of my 30s, 40s, and 50s watching them without suffering for it. It is a blessing to choose more vegan options and to find something that whisks me out of circular thinking — and COVID.

*An amazing documentary on Netflix

Romantic Life Lessons, Writing Tips

25 Things I’d Tell Myself If I Joined Publishing Today–The COVID Edition

Four years ago, I ambitiously worked up 50 things. Even 25 things is a massive undertaking and pandemic attention span says no way can I do this. Just resist the lists, people. Or say yes to an amber liquid on the rocks first.

Because of pandemic(s), there are things you won’t tolerate anymore. Honor the new truths that blossomed out of way too much tragedy. Knowing your boundaries will help you navigate any industry that tries to suck your well dry.

Balance the boundaries with an amazing show of skills–consistently. It will freak everyone out.

It’s easy–and temporarily satisfying–to get angry on social media at the many injustices in publishing, especially when you are doing more for less. Like Charmins toilet paper, you are nine rolls smushed into a four-roll package for thirty cents less. That’s publishing–and most corporations. Social media is one of the few places where you can let it rip. Do that–and take concrete action to further yourself: job search, join a group that does active things and speaks truth to power.

One of the best ways to succeed is to figure out every nook and cranny of your job and your boss’s. Anticipate the needs of your manager and conquer what they don’t even realize they need. A lot of knowledge is power, not to mention swagger.

It’s okay to edit late at night while heavily medicated or intoxicated. Just go over it again in the morning. Don’t tell anyone.

Reward yourself RICHLY for every accomplishment. Also, as I said in Fifty Things, write it down immediately. Not only do you have a living document of your achievements, but you can also relive how great you are at times when you really need it. There’s no greater pleasure than whipping out your Scroll of Excellence for The Aboves. Even though they won’t read it, message received.

Make friends/be friendly with anyone in Managing Editorial/Production departments. They are the best.

In life and at work, there is always someone you can’t stop loving even though they’re unvaccinated. But you shouldn’t have to work in the same office with them.

Avoid assholery of any kind, even though it’s tempting to engage because real life can be damned boring. This is not the 1950s or the 1980s or even 2020 anymore. Mad Men is just so…gross. You absolutely don’t need to bear the degradation of anyone’s bad behavior. Keep careful notes and visit HR as often as you need.

The best way to get through a remote workday is to break down the day by half hours (like Hugh Grant does in About a Boy) and take many window-shopping breaks. Bonus points for suggesting makeup tutorials to me since that is my heroin.

Always wait at least a day before answering a pissy email from a “professional,” especially the kind who doesn’t give two shits if you’re wheezing with COVID.

It doesn’t matter what you wear to work anymore, but it kind of does.

Email triage is a sick, twisted game corporations dreamed up to raise your cortisol levels, especially as we remote. Don’t fall for the flimsy communication with the human types we miss. As noted by work gurus, hyper-email-vigilance negates productivity.

Stay in touch with your work buddies who are resigning. It doesn’t have to be a daily email. Over a long career, you will see each other again and why not have more friends?

When applying for a job or sending a submission, write a charming and targeted cover letter. Even if they don’t ask for one. They are more fun to read than a resume.

Everyone’s social skills have deteriorated. Maybe there’s one person who hasn’t been affected by this whole mess, but let’s believe they are crying softly in a dark corner the way I was last week.

Many things can be accomplished by turning off all electronics and jotting down ideas on paper. It’s so simple it’s crazy.

You don’t have to explain why you listened to every second of the Johnny Depp v Amber Heard trial. As an editor, you need to know everything. Plus, you’re kind of a lawyer.

Always have a question in your pocket, but use it wisely and not just as the meeting is ending. Exception if your meeting is with one person, who is likely desperate to prolong human contact so please keep talking with the more questions.

Never ingest things from communal fruit plates, bins, urns, refrigerators unless you know exactly where the grub has been, who touched it, and in what century.

Get back to reading for pleasure. This can be one of the first things to go, but very easy to pick up again.

Do keep track of whether or not Kim Kardashian finishes law school. Your laser focus on this is everything.

Don’t beat yourself up for keeping twelve different notebooks tracking different versions of the same thing. I see you.

If you can envision working in a field other than publishing, investigate further. That quiet jotting-down-ideas thing works really well for this. Sometimes you don’t know another path even exists.

But if you love books and editing, you might be stuck with this complicated soulmate. Publishing is going through things right now–though it’s always been like a mission to Mars via roller coaster. Take a hard look at the years ahead. Do you believe in the work you are doing? Will you ever make a livable wage? This is where you pull out the self-awareness and determine what you want, what you can bear, and what you can do for books.

Now excuse me while I go back to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Romantic Life Lessons

Birthday Endorsements

Yesterday we celebrated my 54th with isolation due to a short visit from the COVID fairy. It was a beautiful day with three pieces of cake, a big cookie, sparkling rose, endless murder shows, a puzzle, books, ironing clothes (because I love that), and the unintentional comedy stylings of my adorable husband.

I want to start out year 55 with endorsements to people/entities/things that have given me reassurance and pleasure this birthday week:

Shout out to those who work at the facility where my father-in-law and his cradle-robbing girlfriend reside. They are friendly, always there, and know exactly how to make my in-laws feel safe.

Even though it’s unpopular to praise an airline, I endorse Delta airlines for managing our uneventful flights to/from Florida last week. This is probably how the COVID fairy followed us home, but for me, old shaky-legs-on-a-plane, smooth flying is happy crying experience.

Writers always deserve heaps of applause and this past week, I must thank Jennifer Steil (Oberlin College classmate!!!) for The Woman Who Fell From the Sky and Candice Millard for The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey. These stories thoroughly distracted me and I learned a bit about Yemen and Teddy Roosevelt respectively. I’m grateful.

It’s a good idea to have more than black garments in your wardrobe. In New York City, I’m under penalty of imprisonment if more than 5% of my clothes are non-funereal. For kicks, I’m a fan of getting a dress in that color you’re afraid to wear. For me, it’s a bold red! Here I am, feeling strangely great in red…and wearing heels for the first time in years. My motto: Get it.

I endorse not giving up when you’ve reach a certain age. It’s taken me a few years to believe this, but now I am ready, thanks in part to a kick in the butt from my mother, Empress of Never Giving Up, who is still working at her dream because she loves it. Thanks, Mom!

For those reading, don’t give up, okay? Bonnie Gene says so.

Romantic Life Lessons, Whining

My Mother Says to Write Something Outrageous

I have a Satan voice, which first revealed itself when I had to recite French poetry in first grade (as one does). At family gatherings, I get requests for Satan and my audience still wonders where it comes from. I’ll never tell.

What neutralizes this blasphemy is that my husband Sam, who is Jewish, can speak in tongues. It’s pretty amazing. You ask for it, and it’s like the divine is speaking through him. We’re trying to find a way to monetize this.

Here are some other outrageous things I want to say on this July 4, which is not really about independence but the lack thereof:

I don’t understand people who put just a splash of milk in their coffee. Do you think one splash will significantly alter the taste or color? It doesn’t! I’ve tried it so that I can see where you weirdos are coming from.

George Clooney and Brad Pitt–just barely handsome. Never have they been hot.

The Highline is just a walkway above the ground. That’s it!

Gross: hot chocolate, beets, 90% of soups (people who love tomato soup, I don’t even know you), acorn squash, melted ice cream, untoasted whole wheat bread, and whatever tilapia is.

There’s this orange/peach color that clothing stores try to get rid of. It looks like stomach contents. Don’t convince yourself that it’s peach–it’s just barf.

Can we stop ugly-shaming Mitch McConnell? Do we need to keep talking about how hideous he is both inside and out? It’s so cliche, but let me check one more time if it’s actually true.

The worst day in New York City is SantaCon, but since we’ve moved further uptown, we don’t encounter the staggering young Santas yelling and vomiting in front of our building.

Hemingway and Laurence Olivier–overrated!

I used to have some respect for the Republican Party. My grandparents were proud Reagan voters, and I could at least understand why they loved him (though I didn’t). The GOP has changed so much in the last ten years I don’t even recognize it as anything but a fear-filled, power-hungry mass of old guys and Patrick Bateman youth. The Democrats get angry and have some brilliant minds to convey outrage, though they need an action-hero to pull it all together and make change happen. I keep waiting for that moment when the good guys to win, but they seem to go home at night and tweet.

I hated Bill Maher in my 20s and 30s. By my 40s, I started enjoying him as a pissy truth-teller–even if he’s not everyone’s truth. I agree with him 80% of the time and like that he brings educators onto his show. Most shows invite big dum dums to say the exact same things. Hey, Bill, my mom is always available, but if you talk over her, she’ll cut you.

If I had to work on Below Deck, I’d want to be third stew doing laundry the entire time because I hate boats yet adore all things related to laundry. While working for Captain Lee, Sandy, or Glenn, I would iron their clothes with unabashed giddiness.

COVID has ruined so many things, the least of which is the award show format. It was hanging by a thread before COVID due to the blinding whiteness and nostalgia for Billy Crystal. We still love movies and TV, but it is overshadowed by understandable social awkwardness and general thirst for celebrities behaving badly.

Non-cartoon talking animals in commercials and movies, not cool. Scary, in fact.

When you’re talking about pubic hair on a soda can or sexual assault at a Supreme Court justice hearing, it’s time to set the bar a little higher.

There are angels in our midst. A few weeks after my friend and I were robbed and raped at gunpoint, we started taking self-defense classes. This giant red-haired dude drove us every week and went at a snail’s pace through scary neighborhoods–scary because I was petrified to be outside at all. During our ride, he reminded us that even though this happened to us, the monsters didn’t take our souls.

You can take away women’s freedoms, money, dignity, rightful places, power, but it’ll never be enough. Enjoy your July 4th with hotdogs, parades, and waving flags. It won’t cover up the atrocities this country has inflicted upon women, people of color (which includes women), other countries, and just about anyone who comes to this country seeking a better home.

I don’t buy this holiday, but thanks for the day off!

Romantic Life Lessons

Happy Labor Day!

Welcome to the red line we cross each year into work-heavy fall! Insert here the shopping-for-school-supplies fantasy that is no longer relevant. Vacations are over, school is starting, but this period of the year is still fun!

If you write or edit or do anything book related, you are really, really, really into paper and pen products, making school supply shopping extra joy. Add to this how the light changes and hits whatever landscape you inhabit (except Iceland, right?). You’re no longer walking into ovenly air, but that “crisp” vibe that is autumn.

I happen to be reading a paper product–with words inside–entitled Deep Work by Cal Newport. The title intrigued me because I am very old school in how I work and think about work. I’ve always loved the idea of clearing away the clutter, ignoring the email inbox triage and focusing on deep work. In fact, I used to be able to do this quite effectively. As you accumulate tasks–or create them to avoid deep work–it is easy to put off delving into true, meaningful projects and spending the hours they require. Can you tell that I blocked off a couple hours to write this? Maybe I took a break to sip a Manhattan. Deep work is not easy but here I am committed to finishing. And maybe a little tipsy too.

In any case, I highly recommend reading this, even though it is, technically, another procrastination tool, as are most things–snacks, reading, TV, paying attention to loved ones, shopping. Deep Work is an inspiring read that may rev up your determination. Just don’t go near the bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters until you finish it (just kidding, Manhattans are delicious). If you can’t read a book right now, his Ted talk on his lack of social media is inspiring. You may not do the things he suggests but every little nudge toward better focus is a blessing.

For Labor Day, I pushed myself to run five miles*. Afterwards, as is tradition, I sang Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt while walking home. Running consistently these last 25 years, I’m not sure how much longer my body can take the punishment, but it sure feels good (and it hurts). I count my blessings every day that I can run again–and breathe deeply and non-COVIDly.

So let’s see, we’ve discussed books, exercise, and now I’ll veer into my other obsession: appeasing my inner makeup diva goddess. She’s very bossy!

Since March 2020, I’ve been watching makeup tutorials and rushing to sample brands (all of them). Yesterday, my husband finally noticed and asked if I’d accumulated a whole lot more makeup in the last year. Sadly, yes, but I do need the new Jones Road Miracle Balm in Dusty Rose and Magic Hour even though it doesn’t seem too different from Cindy Joseph’s Boom Trio. The E.L.F. pore-filling primer makes my skin look like porcelain. And Posh Spice does more than sing (!). With Victoria Beckham Beauty, she has created the best eyeliner pencil I’ve used in 53 years of life. For skin care, I use Acure day-brightening moisturizer, which is vegan and has the nicest lemony smell. Also, Patrick Smith Botanicals’ Face Serum and Face Wash are exactly what the skin wants. The afterglow stick from Nars, KVD’s tattoo eyeliner, a sparkly lipstick from Charlotte Tillsbury, mascara from Marc Jacobs and Tarte, Bobbi Brown face pencils, Urban Decay and Ilia eyeshadow palettes, and Bite lipsticks.

I’ve learned so much during the pandemic. I love make up! And I have enough now to beautify everyone in Manhattan. I’m very close to doing my own geeky tutorial.

Basically, the gist of my story right now is a range of doing a whole lot and a whole lotta nothing. But all of it counts.

Happy New Season to you all and get to that Deep Damn Work.

*Deep work on the body.

Romantic Life Lessons, Writing Tips

Quitting Writing Can Help Your Writing

When asked for my best writing advice, I usually say, “Never quit writing,” and it took me centuries to come up with this genius. I consulted vocabulary lists, did focus groups, and finally pulled this sentence from an angelic stream of wisdom.

But seriously, the inspiration comes from the many years of watching writers get discouraged by rejection and the knowledge that good things do happen from time to time in publishing. Not to mention, everyone’s path is different so who am I to say anything other than, “Go forth and multiply those words?” If anything, I’d want to be proven wrong over and over with creativity as a global superpower. There have been times when I’ve thought “this writer should stop” and have turned around to find them soaring on bestseller lists.

The only thing I can say is that the desire to quit writing can be an important period in a writer’s process. I’ve gone through this myself–maybe even a couple times in the last decade. A writer will feel that she has nothing left. It’s over and there are no good outcomes to this craft. All she hears is No and there are limited venues for publishing or getting paid to write. It can be a mind-numbing, thoroughly depressing way to live.

As an editor, I’ve had many heartbreaks over a writer delivering a couple books and nothing after this. I see the struggle and have always wished I could do more. I totally relate–but sometimes, nothing helps. The writing isn’t working. No advice or reference book refuels that writing engine. Sometimes, it’s not meant to be. Giving up can be a freeing experience.

Just think: You don’t have to do this anymore. You can dream about other things again. Think outside of the story you’ve been raging about since forever.

Maybe you could open up a bar/library/cafe. And during free moments, you could write blog posts. Just for fun. But nothing else related to publishing. No more writing, no more conferences, no more pitches, no more asking for someone to read your stuff, and no more “No.”

The desire to quit does mean that something has to change. It doesn’t have to be as drastic as stopping writing altogether. Maybe you need to kick your own butt in a different way. Or the story needs to be put aside–or calls for a radical rethink. Maybe you need to reconsider who you’re sending your projects to. Your characters may not be ready for prime time. Whatever your block, it’s okay to acknowledge the block and look elsewhere for clarity.

Live life normally again. Discover birds. Discover your husband, wife, children, friends, pets!

The only thing I will say is: Observe what happens after you decide you’re done with writing. Are you relieved, even more distressed, or happily taking tap dancing lessons?

Do you see the name of your protagonist everywhere? Does the answer to your plot problem hit you as you’re pouring milk into your Grape Nuts? Do you find yourself on an entirely new–happier–path because you had the courage to set aside a project? Or is your brain not letting you leave that blank page?

You should never give up on yourself, but there are times when quitting can bring you back to what you love: which could very well be writing.

Romantic Life Lessons, Uncategorized

Shots in the Arm

Friends, I just got my second Moderna shot. What a great feeling and relief to be vaccinated after this long year. It’s not over, but I am so glad to bid adieu to these dreary COVID times in my little part of the world. My last year was not The Absolute Worst, but it wasn’t fun either.

My true pandemic experience began with breaking my elbow last June. It was an embarrassing trip over a piece of wood on the sidewalk. I went splat on my arm and scraped my legs. As a child, I’d dreamt about breaking a bone, but the reality was thoroughly unromantic. First, the sympathy did not come 24/7 and my doctor did not give me a cast–not even a sling. My grandmother wasn’t here to smother me with cookies and ice cream. With a broken elbow on your dominant hand, there were a lot of things that were nearly impossible. I won’t go into details.

During pandemic, certain quirks came out of hiding. Quirks to which my husband averted his eyes. The burlap sac dresses, dreary pajama bottoms, the sudden need for half and half in my coffee. And it turns out, I am a hoarder. When I sit down anywhere, I create piles around me. There’s the yarn pile, laptop and papers pile, the puzzle pile, and the beverage pile. If I don’t have piles, I order them and generate more stuff than I know what to do with, especially books, leopard print clothes, makeup, and paper products. Instagram knows about your piles and pulls you into the product placement time/money suck. I really had no choice.

Since March 2020, I’ve also become what I vowed never to be: a birder. A few times a week, I haul myself to Hudson River Park. For an indoor girl, this is an act of desperation. My flora and fauna are the beige pages pouring off my shelves and onto the floor. Let me be the first to tell you that the flowers, river, and Canadian geese are gorgeous! Their little flippers moving so gracefully under the water are Disney cute. They swim in beautiful lines, sort of like meandering military planes. My husband says the seagulls are the white ones, so consider me an expert now. Against a wintery backdrop, I caught them gliding and soaring in a dance. Why did I poo-poo my aunt’s obsession with all things avian?

To offset my influx of nature, I obsessively tuned in to everything about the pandemic and presidential election. A giant weight lifted from my shoulders on January 20 and I kicked my news addiction. It’s hard to wean yourself off Maddow, Anderson, Lawrence, Brianna, Brooke, Don, Capehart, Acosta, Cabrera, and Nicolle, but baby steps, you know? Better to focus on the impressive rollout of vaccine. First for my parents, then me and my peers.

Sam and I started to think about life after COVID, like maybe we can go places, take a real vacation, and envision happier times. Getting actual COVID was a big wrench in these plans as I tested positive exactly one year from my last day in the office, March 12. I was sick–not hospital sick, but enough that I checked my pulse oximeter a few times a day. I didn’t think I would die, but you just never know, right? After feeling better in the second week, I realized once again how lucky I am. But who gets COVID a year after the pandemic really begins?

This resulted in a few more orders to Sephora and City Cakes because we all deserve it. But there comes a time to stop and ease back in to what really matters. It is not the latest Urban Decay eyeshadow or obsessing that you can’t wear sparkly makeup anymore. Maybe you don’t need eight pairs of pajama bottoms, 41 rolls of toilet paper, or a sewing machine. It’s time to come out of the comfort cove.

Like everyone, I am ready for some serious fun, good work, and three-dimensional people time. With the blessing of these shots, let our healthy roaring twenties begin.

Ps. The vaccination side effects are *nothing* compared to actual COVID and so worth the ability to hug your loved ones.

Romantic Life Lessons

Day #37: Inevitable

Our friend had a once-in-a-generation mind, wrote books, taught, and sat at my family’s dinner table often. While most in my parents’ entourage liked to argue about important ideas, he was quieter, taking in the scene while his synapses fired on multiple planes. His measured tone brought down fiery tempers and made me feel better about my academic-lite thoughts (about Duran Duran, the Kardashians, cake). I didn’t know him well, but he is one of those regular characters who is now gone, likely from the virus. He inspired great affection in my family. Blessings on his coming and going, as my friend Lou says. We will remember him fondly and often.

Now over a month in seclusion, Sam and I take the one-day-at-a-time approach. Me, I have work as usual, which is awesome (and therapeutic). So, home is like any other day, but if you go outside, wear a mask and stay away from everyone. My mental health is solid due to decades of introverting. The goal is providing extroverted Sam with sparkling conversation, household tasks, and cooking shows. Netflix suggestions welcome!

Positive things we’ve done:

I learned how to use my new sewing machine and have made eight masks (poorly).

My Prince Charming has cooked every day for me since March 12. I’ve never eaten better in my life. There’s been okra, mac & cheese, artichokes, meatloaf, chicken, halibut, stew, pot roast, mashed potatoes, pot pie (not POT pie) and just plain deliciousness. A good meal is so satisfying. Who knew?

Am reading Glennon Doyle’s Love Warrior for the first time. Also got Untamed, which I believe just came out. Love her hide-nothing writing. My current numbness to emotions makes me AMAZED that anyone feels this much. Mindfulness is paying off since I only notice my hand typing this and not the germs hovering in this city’s every crevice. Maybe in six months, when this could be over, I’ll explode with anxiety, but I won’t worry about it yet.

Sam has become the King of Teaching Online. Knowing that this could be long-term, he immersed himself in tutorials and now makes it seem effortless. His French classes are front-row entertainment.

We’ve been watching The Great British Baking Show and there’s nothing like cooking in a tent in a beautiful part of the world (where you are not LIVING ON TOP OF millions of others).

Gotta go. Sam thinks he dropped a Band-Aid in dinner. Crisis.

Romantic Life Lessons

Day #28: From Sam

Patience has asked me to write a guest blog, or “golb,” as her stepfather would say in palindromic fashion. Palindromes are much more entertaining than pandemics, although really not that much. I have been resorting to more sarcasm than usual these past few weeks and suppose that that is owing to a higher-than-normal level of anxiety. It’s hard to narrow down the source of the latter, which might sound silly, given the fact that we are all more or less confined to our homes because of the coronavirus — new and improved!

But as one train hides another, so does one traumatic event another, and another, and another. 

Oh, where to begin? The birth canal? It was a tight squeeze, Ma, but I made it! Honestly, while I don’t remember that one, there are others that come to mind, in particular the summer of 2006 when crude Russian-made rockets rained down on Haifa for a month. There were air-raid sirens, like the kind you hear portrayed in World War II movies, and bomb shelters, neither of which would do you much good if you were in the wrong spot at the wrong time. And people died and you heard about it in the papers and on tv.

I suppose that fear is not such a bad thing. It is the natural adaptation that prevents most of us from standing too close to the edge of the cliff, pinching the cheek of the child soldier who stops up us at the roadblock or, today, leaving our homes without a facemask. That is not to underrate courage, without which we could never overcome our fear. If we lacked either, it’s safe to assume we would die off as a species. If firefighters were too afraid to fight fires, we would really be in a pickle; and, if, we threw caution to the wind and stopped looking in the rearview mirror before merging onto the interstate…. Well, you get the picture.

Without that delicate balance of hesitation and derring-do, we would hardly be of much use to one another, as couples, families, neighbors, citizens and human beings, in general. Living in close quarters – and I hope that Patience agrees — we learn to temper one another’s fear and courage. “Should you really be doing that?”, and “I think that’s okay” are really sometimes the only words that one needs to hear, bringing a loving perspective to the imperatives of day-to-day physical and emotional survival.  

Romantic Life Lessons, Whining

Day #24 of Staying Home

Greetings from Awfulville!

How is everyone doing and when is this going to end? Remember the days of *no* daily press briefings and packed streets on a Sunday?

I hopped off listening to the “coronavirus task force” updates and transferred my allegiance to local reporting since urban COVID has a different twinge and I just want facts. Today was the first day where the number of deaths had gone down from the previous day. A grizzly, sad but positive-ish sign.

Here are other positives about staying home indefinitely:

*It’s training for your future nursing home/hospice care. You make your own schedule. You get a fifth wind at 4am? Go for it. You have nowhere to be.

* Wearing a bra is optional. Sorry, Mom. You know it’s true. Your own mother is applauding this point from Heaven.

* Impulse (not affordable?) purchases are excused because mental health is crucial. I bought a trampoline and a sewing machine! In addition to wanting to help healthcare workers, I made Sam a shitty mask but it brings out his beautiful green eyes.

* Talking with loved ones rocks. I don’t need a lot of human contact. My phone convos are purely altruistic. Just kidding! I usually feel better after a good chat on the phone. It’s fascinating to learn that I actually miss people.

* Makeup tutorials are relaxing. Bobbi Brown’s MasterClass is excellent. I also enjoyed Kim Kardarshian’s five-minute contouring routine. Her use of bronzer to minimize her forehead is one I’ll attempt. Kim is a total face-Monet.

* RuPaul’s MasterClass releases endorphins. Best quote so far: “If you want money, wear a suit.” I want money. Not enough to wear a suit, but I get it: Get your lazy butt out of those pajama bottoms. Also, RuPaul recommends meditation to get in touch with one’s “frequency.” This in itself triggered deep vibrations to my frequency.

* The Tiger King! It’s depressing, entertaining, seedy, and binge-worthy in not a virtuous way. Sort of how you saw that one thing in the garbage, and even though you insist you never eat anything once it’s been discarded you go back and–ugh–wolf it down and insist this is your last depraved act. Once we finished the series, I went to my closet and gasped. Sam is terrified of me.

* You may find unexpected beauty in watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. This one will cleanse you after The Tiger King. Mr. Rogers was one of my fixtures while growing up. Hard to believe such an angel existed.

* Reading and editing heal. I never regret turning off the TV for a book. I am about to start Harlan Coben’s The Boy from the Woods.

* No more endless campaign speeches or debates. Remember when the most stressful thing was that upcoming presidential election? And the Russians. What happened to them?

In today’s briefing, our gov said that Cabin Fever will make people irritable and resentful. Because it’s now an official illness, I blame Cabin Fever for my irrational resentment of Influencers giving us advice and support, saying “We’ll get through this” and “We’re in this together.”

That’s true. But really, this is a never-before situation. We don’t know what will happen, which in itself can be bonding. Some are natural social-distancers. Some have coping skills to manage during gigantic disasters (just not the little ones). At the end of this spectrum, there are some whose suffering is on such an epic scale that “You’ll be okay” isn’t nearly enough. Healthcare, essential workers seem to be the ones who bear the brunt of everything horrific.

I don’t even know what to say except, “You’ll be okay.” What else is there when you don’t know?

There is always Yossi.