Quarantine Curious

Here’s what my current life situation has succumb to: I’m wasting time being abnormally curious about why all the fire hydrants in my neighborhood have been painted gray.

Is it primer? Is there some kind of new fire hydrant design initiative where everything in the burbs must adhere to a gray, beige or greige motif? Is it an artistic statement that reflects our current pandemic mood – dreary with a side of blah?

I even called the my city public works department and they didn’t know. So, then I called Water One and I’m still waiting to hear back from a real live human being. I also did a Google search of “Why is my fire hydrant now gray?”

Apparently back in 2017 that was a hot topic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I know this because my googling took to the front lines of that riveting discussion. Based on my deep dive I now feel confident saying that the gray on the fire hydrants is most likely primer.

Bonus – I learned that most cities repaint their fire hydrants every 10 years, so you’re welcome for that bit of knowledge you never really needed to know. Although, I can see it coming up as a Jeopardy question.

I fear a side effect of this current life situation we’re all in is that I have become hyper curious about stupid stuff. Four months ago, I can assure you I probably wouldn’t have noticed the gray fire hydrants.

In fact, four months ago, I was in D.C. not only using the Metro but gripping a plethora of mass transit handrails. I guess I’m lucky to be alive because I’m certain that metro handrails are bacteria and viruses happy place.

I imagine the handrail as a kind of germ rager with lots of co-mingling and hook ups. In my mind it looks like a single bars with 2 for 1 drinks and free appetizers. So, basically just a cauldron of infectious disease mayhem.

If only I knew that it would be my last time to ever touch a handrail with my bare hands and not have a panic attack while using approximately a cup of hand sanitizer to wash away my fears.

I kind of feel like I should be cherishing the memory.

Of course, my rampant inquisitiveness has extended to coronavirus issues as well. I’ve even come up some brain teasers.

For example, if someone is wiping down a shopping cart with a dirty rag that has been used on other shopping carts is that shopping cart really clean or have the germs just enjoyed what amounts to a ride on a Tilt-a-Whirl?

For those of you who don’t remember the Tilt-a-Whirl is an amusement park attraction where you spin around in a bunch of different directions while experiencing the majesty of centrifugal force and gravitational pull.

Just in case you’re stumped the answer to that brain teaser is no the shopping cart isn’t clean and yes the germs have enjoyed being spun around and being tossed from cart to cart.

Brain teaser number two is did I walk up to the person using the dirty rag and say something?

No, I did not because while I’ll admit to being the Covid-19 police at the start of this journey I’m now experiencing enforcement fatigue and control what I can which is the health practices of my family.

This is why I think I’ve gotten curious about the mundane like the color of fire hydrants. It’s a safe, non-scary topic to explore which is comforting because it means for a brief moment in time I wasn’t thinking about washing my hands.

 

 

 

Can a Patriot Rescue Us from Quarantine Brain?

The word patriot is not what it used to be. A mere five years ago if someone was called a patriot I would assume they were talking about a Paul Revere-esque figure and the whole, “One, if by land, and two, if by sea” declaration. You know like a real spirit of 1776 patriot. Of course, there’s the New England Patriots but I’m talking about the non-NFL franchise use of the name.

To that end it seems like the word patriot has lost its original luster and gravitas. I think that’s because I hear it all the time. It’s a word I always thought should be saved for special or worthy occasions like your good china and silver because you don’t want to wear it out or God forbid tarnish it.

Also, I’ve been pondering is it cool or even proper to call yourself a patriot? It seems to me that patriot is a moniker that should be bestowed on you rather than you bequeathing it to yourself.

These deep thoughts arose from where else but social media. When some cities began lifting their lock down orders my newsfeed was resplendent with acquaintances calling themselves “patriots” for going to malls, restaurants and in one case a nail salon. It left me thinking these folks might need to look up the definition of the word.

Yes, you’re out and about but I don’t think ordering a club sandwich with mayo at a restaurant in San Antonio, Texas is exactly a “Remember the Alamo!” moment.

And this might just be me but I’m almost certain going to get a mani/pedi should never be considered an act worthy of labeling yourself a patriot. What’s the battle cry? “Don’t forget to pumice my heels!”

I admit to feeling unsettled by the hubris. Seriously, in what universe does stuffing your face or getting your cuticles massaged give someone the right to act like they just defused a dirty bomb and liberated a small country?

But, you know, whatever. I’m just going to chalk it up to the lasting effects of “quarantine brain.” This is where your reasoning skills have been impaired due to not enough cognitive engagement with the outside world.

The good and the bad about being locked down with family is that in most cases you’re with people who either share your mindset or don’t but because they value their mental happiness pretend to agree with you. This can give you free reign to bluster nonsensically and then think you might a genius.

I personally wouldn’t know what this is like because my family’s hobby is, with glee, telling each other that we’re wrong. I think the polite term for this is debating so I’m going to pretend that’s what we’re doing. But enough about my family’s interpersonal dynamics let’s focus back on quarantine brain.

I’m certain that’s what has led to so many of the totally asinine postings I’ve seen on social media. You know the ones I’m talking about where you think that perhaps a well person check might be needed or someone has over imbibed and is now keyboard happy.

The worrisome part, besides the postings, are the people that agree in the comment section thus fanning the flames of  “morons unite” even more. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say it’s been an inferno of ignorance. Common sense during this pandemic is going up in flames.

Yes, I realize that stupidity shared online is nothing brand spanking new but truly I think it’s reached new heights and my diagnosis is quarantine brain.

Perhaps a patriot can ride to our rescue. Hopefully one that has done more than eat a sandwich.

A Failure at Masking My Anxiety

I swear I wasn’t going to write about the coronavirus. I wanted to write about something that would take everyone’s mind off of our current situation. The problem is I have nothing, nada, zero, zilch, else to talk about. Like everyone else my whole existence is being dominated by Covid-19.

I will say the coronavirus has taught me a few lessons about myself. The most eye opening one is that I’m the most annoying member of my family.

 I always thought in any crisis situation I would be a combination of Rambo and Wonder Woman. Fierce, strong with some kick butt superpowers. It seems I’m none of the above.

Instead I stand before you as a woman who has abandoned any semblance of grooming, hasn’t worn an article of clothing that requires a zipper or buttons in a month, obsessively reads about the coronavirus and then tops that off with having an anxiety attack while manically wiping down every surface in my home.

My only superpower seems to be the ability to clean the kitchen 24/7 while yelling at my family, “Would it kill you to put your plate in the dishwasher!”

So yeah, I’m basically a hot mess.

In a surprising turn of events the family member that I pegged as “least likely to survive a crisis” is doing the best. My daughter, someone not known for her go with the flow charms, is calm, focused on school, handwashing, and enjoying “not feeling judged about laying around.”

I wish I had her Zen because the CDC recommendation about wearing masks has further ricochet up my stress levels which quite frankly don’t need to be topped off.

It seems I’m officially pandemic challenged because I’m a failure at making homemade masks. Trust me, I did my due diligence. I watched at least 10 YouTube tutorials for making your own face masks.

I got out bandanas and hair ties, followed the folding and gathering instructions and was all set to keep my family safe. The only problem was not only did my homemade face masks look less than virus worthy they were painful to wear.

Hair ties behind your ears is not something your lobes were meant to sustain for any period of time. After five minutes it felt like my ears were being slowing eviscerated off my head. It was then and there I decided I had to attempt to sew on straps.

To say sewing is not my strong suit would be a vast understatement. I’m the person that can mess up sewing on a button. Sure, I can do but if you look behind the button it’s a mass of knotted thread that resembles a pile of miniature spaghetti noodles.

But if there was ever a time to kick my sewing into high gear it was now. I got out a needle and thread from one of those hotel sewing kits I had stashed in my junk drawer and found some ribbon and started “Operation Mask.”

When I was done I was quite proud of myself. I had made a mask with a jaunty ribbon tie. This feeling of accomplishment lasted all of 20 seconds. That’s how long it took for me to put the mask on and attempt to tie it. I say attempt because one solid tug on the ribbon pulled it right off.

Sigh. I admitted sewing defeat and announced to my family that everyone would be wearing ski gaiters when they left the house. On the plus side, the gaiter covers most of my hair so that’s just another excuse to continue to lower the grooming bar.

Wow, look at me turning a negative into a positive. Maybe I’m getting a little Zen after all.

Dear Snarky – I’m Getting Attitude For Taking a Pass On Our Family Easter Dinner

Dear Snarky,

 My parents and sister are acting like spoiled brats and being totally clueless about social distancing.

 Not only are my parents, who are in their late 60s, still going to the grocery store almost every day like they don’t have a care in the world but my sister and her six kids are hanging out with my parents.

She’s even dropping her kids off at their house so they can babysit because she needs “a break” and her Bunko group still got together last week. 

 It’s like the coronavirus is happening to other people. My sister had the nerve to actually call me “selfish” for saying there was no way I was going to attend a family Easter dinner. She also said that I was ignoring my parents.

 I’m not ignoring anyone on purpose I’m following the rules. I also have a child with asthma so you can bet we’re hunkered down at home.

 Why am I being made to feel like the bad guy for sheltering in place? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

 Signed, Ticked Off

Dear Ticked,

 I don’t really have any words of comfort for dealing with idiot family members except know that you are not alone AND that this is the time where you need to unapologetically stick to the rules.

 I would also, and I’m sure you have already done this, explain to your parents and sister why these stay home mandates are so important. Perhaps graphs or a pie chart might help or pictures of overwhelmed hospitals.

 Sadly, the bottom line is it’s hard to herd idiots. Some humans are just predisposed to be morons who thrive at picking and choosing what they want to believe like they’re at an all you can eat buffet of stupidity.

 You can only control your own situation and I applaud you for following the rules. Stay strong and don’t let your family bully or manipulate you into doing anything else. Lives depend on us staying home. You’re doing the right thing.

 P.S. Your sister sounds like a total tool.