A word about my neck in this era of Zoom. In addition to the buckets of concealer I’ve had rushed to the house (also something called brightening cream, which begs the question: What exactly is it that I’m brightening?), I have also dug out a couple of turtleneck sweaters. If I knew how to wear a scarf, I’d dig out some of those too, but when I wear a scarf, I look less Parisian and more like I’ve had neck surgery and am walking around with a gaping floral bandage. But every time I facetime a friend or look into that dreaded Zoom camera, it seems that my own neck has suddenly been replaced by my grandmother’s neck. I loved my grandmother. I miss my grandmother. But I do not want to see her neck staring back at me. Hence, the turtlenecks.
I tell you this because we here are in week three of The Grand Quarantine, more or less. We finished two weeks to emerge full force into — severe social distancing. Although some of our children had envisioned giant dance parties with everyone they’d ever met, after which they’d collapse into a heap on the couch and all sit in close proximity and eat popcorn out of the same bowl, that was not in the cards for us — or anyone, really. We can leave the house to take walks or runs, but not really with who are not members of our family (of whom we are all incredibly sick and tired), and if we do we must stand six feet apart. We can still do no otherwhere socializing and go nowhere that is not essential. But because this is week three for us and week one for just about everyone else, I have been fielding texts and calls from people asking me for advice.
I have been waiting forty-something years to be an expert in something and now I am an expert in quarantine.
- So, my first piece of advice is go do something about your face and neck. You’ll be seeing a lot of it and you’ll thank me for it in three weeks when you try to buy makeup and turtlenecks and there is none left anywhere in the world because women are smart that way. (Also, if you’re a user, you’d be wise to get your hands on some of that root touch-up hair dye. Things are shitty enough already. Nobody needs to add insult to injury by having to go gray before she is ready.)
- Don’t go overboard on the cleaning. Take it from me. Sure, wipe a counter or two, but take it easy because two weeks is just the beginning and if you go nuts now you’ll run out of steam and in three weeks you’ll be living in a frat house and eating pizza off the floor with a family of fat roaches. Slow and steady wins the race.
- There is always room for self-improvement. Although I’ve slowed down in terms of wiping things down, I have decided that it’s time for me to make my bed. Previously, I was not a believer in bed-making. I like to think of myself as clean but not neat (although I have a rule about not having to shower on vacation — ask me about that another time). At the end of the day I am just fine collapsing on top of a tangled heap of blankets and sheets and fall asleep, knowing full well that M will come along and have to make the bed around me just to get some sheets for himself. (I’m nice that way.) This week I decided enough was enough. The kids are decamped into every corner of the house and I end up working in the bedroom. And really, there’s only so much staring at a messy bed even I can take. (Still, I’d rather look at a messy bed than my neck. Any day.) Next week I will be trying to fold my clothes. Until now, I have been more of a bundler. But enough about this…
- Be careful what you wish for. Several friends have told me they have put signs up in their kitchens instructing their family members to place all dirty cups and dishes in the dishwasher. I know better than to try any more signs in this family (fool me twice, kids — too many have been defaced and rewritten), but I did make a public service announcement: ALL DISHES MUST BE RINSED AND PLACE INSIDE DISHWASHER. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY! Several hours later I opened the dishwasher and it looked like that game we played as kids – PLEASE DON’T TIP THE WAITER. – where you basically make a tower of wobbly dishes until the whole thing tips over. In the time in took me to empty and reload the mess of filthy, food-caked dishes I could have made my bed several times over
- Week two is harder than week one but week three is easier than week two. I’m not saying this is easy. People have started to lose their minds around here. Teenagers were not designed to spend this much time in the bosom of their families. Younger kids need normalcy and order and they don’t need six hours in a row of shitty television and potato chips for lunch (maybe that was just my house). Maybe it’s because everyone else is in this with us and we are no longer taunted by faces on Instagram eating food outside of their homes, and of friends and family drinking coffee made by people in aprons. Welcome, everyone. The water’s just fine. (Not, really. Not at all.)
You’ll note I haven’t said a thing about hand washing. (Four or five weeks ago I bought a large pump of hand sanitizer for the first time ever. I’m not quite sure what came over me. My eldest walked by the pump and said, “Oh, so now we’re one of those families?” Apparently we are.) I’m still washing my hands and telling everyone else to do so. So, go — wash your hands or take a pump of sanitizer (not as good, I know, I know)… I’ll be here when you get back.