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.

Dear Snarky – My Mom Favors and is Enabling Our Older Sister

Dear Snarky,

We’re two sisters who are sick and tired of our mother enabling our oldest sister. We’re both college students that have been working doing instacart during the coronavirus to make extra money. Meanwhile, our oldest sister, who flunked out of school, thinks she is too good to actually work and has been living off of our mom.

We were both amazed when my mom told us our sister got a job. Turns out her job is being part of a pyramid scheme selling make up and my mom gave my sister $500 for her “selling starter kit.”

If this isn’t bad enough my mom told us that we need to buy $200 each worth of product from our sister to help her meet her sales quota. We’ve also been told that we should each host a Zoom cosmetics party for our sister. Really?

How do we get our mom to wake up and quit throwing money away? It’s hurtful that our mom repeatedly seems to favor one daughter more. I think we’re at our breaking point where our relationship with our mom is going to be damaged forever.

Signed, Two Sad Sisters

Dear Sisters,

Let’s start with the bad news first. You can’t control your mom. If she wants to keep on propping up your sister and financially supporting her that’s her business. I’m not making excuses for your mom but sometimes parents will laser focus their attention on the child that is struggling and pretty much throw everything they’ve got to rescue that kid.

The downside is the rest of the family suffers and the struggling child is artificially being bolstered which in most cases doesn’t solve their problems it just postpones them for a little while.

The good news is you both are hardworking college students and I think you need to sit down with your mother and tell her how you feel. You have nothing to lose by being honest and even if your mom continues to have blinders on when it comes to your older sister at least you’ve made your feelings known and that’s important because you’ve empowered yourself.

You also can take a hard pass on buying make up from your sister or hustling your friends to buy makeup. It’s your money, you earned it and it’s yours to decide how to spend it or save it.

This journey your sister is on maybe a long one so you both need to set boundaries with your mother and sister and repeatedly remind yourself  that you have zero control over what both of them do.

I urge you to stay centered on your own goals and not let the current family dynamic drag you down. Put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing which is continuing to work hard and get your degree. Just in case your mom isn’t saying this I will. I’m proud of both of you.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

 

 

 

Looking Forward to Looking Forward 

One of my family’s favorite games last month was to play the, “What am I going to do when the quarantine is over?” Of course, first on the list is to leave the house with wild abandon yet still clutching a bottle of hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes while not forgetting a face mask and the six-foot protocol.

After that all of our answers varied greatly. My number two quarantine release “must do” is to get our dog groomed. Who knew that one of our pets would be the mammal that suffered the biggest beauty impact of being locked down? I’m not saying I look good – at all – but at least I can still see.

Our poor Bishon Frise is now so fluffy that she has no discernible body parts. She just looks like a humongous dust bunny . Oh sure, I’ve given her baths and brushed her, but that home maintenance ship has sailed. This dog needs professional help with some turbo charged clippers.

And while we’re on the topic of grooming can I confess something? I did some quarantine math and discovered that I only washed my hair every 5.7 days, wore makeup once every 13 days and only wore real clothes (this is defined as clothes needing a button and/or a zipper) twice in a 40-day period.

I liked to say I’m horrified by this, but I can’t. The whole make-up free, no hair washing, stretchy pants free for all had moments of wonder and bliss. But, it’s also a slippery slope because I got used to looking bad and it didn’t bother me at all.

Granted only my family saw me but still I have moments where I think that mascara is overrated and just OMG on what a waste of time eyebrow maintenance is. Yet, I know once I resume a lifestyle that involves humans I’m not related to I’ll probably begin a partial grooming ritual.

One activity I’m ready to wholeheartedly embrace is living vicariously through my children. I always prided myself on not being one of those mothers whose existence was predicated on what their children did. I was even a little smug about it. Wait, better make that a lot smug. But, guess what? Turns out I’m indeed one of those moms.

Until the lock down I had no idea that my life was so vested in what my kids did until they were doing nothing. Okay, my son was working, and my daughter was  Zooming through college, but they weren’t exactly living their usual lives.

I missed hearing about the cool stuff they were engaged in from getting the inside scoop from my daughter about an audition or some crazy classic car thing my son was up to. In a harsh reality slap I realized that my life does revolve around my children’s comings and goings. Surprisingly, I’ve decided I’m going to let myself be 100 percent okay with that.

Next up on my list is making plans. The stay home directive rendered all of us plan free. When I look at my super cute Paper Source planner I just get sad. It’s not that I’m an obsessive planner but it brings me happiness to glance at my calendar and see it looking if not robust than at least with a sprinkling of vitality.

I’m eagerly anticipating a time when I can get out my fine point, hot pink, Sharpie and start writing in “To Do’s’” that don’t include such quarantine gems as organize the linen closet and purge basement storage area.

If there’s one thing this lock down has taught me it’s that I’m looking forward to having something to look forward to.

Dear Snarky – My Sister-in-Law is Lying About Where My Niece is Going to College

Dear Snarky,

 I’m ready to punch my sister-in-law right in the face. She is outright lying about where her daughter is going to college and scamming people.

 This woman posted on Facebook and Instagram that her daughter has been accepted to a college that I know my niece did not get into. I’m sure she didn’t even apply. This college is super competitive. Basically, you have to have a perfect GPA and ACT score to even have a chance of getting in. I looked up the college’s acceptance rate and it’s 4.7 percent!

 My niece is not smart. She’s never even taken an AP class in high school and had to take remedial algebra. (She also gets their, they’re and there mixed up.) 

 Here’s where the scam part comes in – my sister-in-law has started at Go Fund Me page for her daughter to help pay for her tuition. You should see the comments, “so honored to help such a brilliant girl” etc. Barf!

 To cover her ass, she posted that her daughter will be delaying starting school by at least a semester because of the coronavirus. Pluh-ese, this kid is never going to this college or probably any school. They just want money.

 I want to let every know that they are being conned. Is there a way I can do that anonymously? Also, I don’t even have kids so it’s not like I’m competitive with my sister-in-law. I just hate liars.

 Signed, This is so wrong,

Dear Wrong,

Wow, that’s a lot to unpack. If your niece did indeed NOT get into this college that means she and her mom are both involved in the subterfuge. That’s a crap ton of lying. Basically, it’s a long con because you have to write thank you notes for the money and then keep answering questions about when you’re going to go college and give college updates for months. There are a lot of  balls to juggle to keep this scam in play. 

This is why my advice is to keep your mouth shut. I predict the truth is out there and things will fall apart sooner than later. I know 18-year-old girls very well and they like to talk and share confidences. Your niece will not be able to keep this a secret for very long. Plus, although you say you’re not competitive other parents of graduating seniors are. Some ticked off parent(s) will ferret out the truth and/or ask some hard questions.

Of course, I understand your overwhelmingly desire to throw some shade right this very second. But control those impulses. A comeuppance is a coming. Get your popcorn ready for the show.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

 

 

 

 

Hair Raising Quarantine Issues

If there’s one thing the lock down has taught me it’s that I’m now so over my family. Wait, that’s not what I intended to say. Was I thinking it? Yes, but I did not mean to write that.

It’s not that I don’t have a lovely family. It’s just that being trapped together 24/7 for over a month is proving to be challenging. Weird things are happening. For instance,  my husband wants me to cut his hair.

Umm, that’s a solid no for many reasons. I can’t cut a straight line on a piece of notebook paper so the last thing I want to do is try to cut my husband’s hair. Secondly, we don’t own a decent pair of scissors. Sure, we have scissors but they’re not hair worthy. How do I know this? Because they have problems cutting the aforementioned notebook paper.

Also, you just don’t cut someone’s hair you have to layer it and do all that feathering stuff. I’m not qualified to attempt a bowl cut so there’s no way I’m going to take the plunge into what I think of as advanced cosmetology. But the most important reason I’m not going to cut his hair is because it will define our marriage.

Anytime we get in a fight my husband will bring up the hair cutting episode. I’m sure it will go something like this: “Well, at least I never butchered your scalp” or “Remember when you cut my hair and it was so bad I had to shave my head?”

Who needs that guilt trip for the rest of their life? Not me, that’s who. This is why my husband needs to just wear a baseball hat until the quarantine is lifted or perhaps think of doing a man bun.

If a man bun does happen it will also define our marriage because I will delight in saying, “Why don’t you tell it to your man bun” or “Maybe that man bun of yours was too tight?”

Well, now I’m almost cheering for a man bun because of the fun I’ll have delivering those bon motes and the years of delight I’ll get sending him impromptu pictures of when he had a man bun. It has greatness written all over it.

I must confess though that I have taken to doing some work on my own hair. I promise you I tried to resist. For exactly 33 days, I fought it, I think, valiantly. But then I hit the gray hair wall and it was time for some drastic measures. I became an amateur hair colorist and by that I mean I went and bought a box of Clairol root touch up.

Just choosing the color was daunting. Did I want a lightest cool brown, medium golden brown, or light chocolate brown? Honestly, I was leaning towards the light chocolate brown because I was hungry, but I decided to go basic and choose a simple medium brown.

The application process was scary but easy. I prayed I wouldn’t be crying after I left it on for 15 minutes to cover the “stubborn grays.” Thankfully, my hair turned out okay. Not salon worthy but I no longer wince when I look in the mirror. So, I’m considering that a win.

Not a win is now my husband is telling me if I can color my hair I can certainly cut his. He even suggested buying some electric clippers that can also be used for pet grooming. I told him that statement alone was enough to scare me and make the dogs go into hiding.

For now, I’m afraid he’s just going to have to embrace the fact that a man bun might be in his immediate future. Is it wrong  that I can’t wait?

 

Dear Snarky – My Mom is Trying to Buy Her Way Into My Labor and Delivery Room

Dear Snarky,

I’m nine months pregnant with my first child and at this point in the lock down I’m only allowed to have one person in the delivery room with me when I give birth. Of course, that person is going to be my husband. My problem is that my mom at first was  “heartbroken” that she can’t be in the delivery room.

Heartbroken quickly turned to furious because she has been in the delivery room for the birth of all her grandchildren. She’s refusing to understand why my husband would be my first choice to be in the delivery room. My mom even said that, “men are totally worthless and just stand there looking embarrassed and confused.”

Then she offered to pay my husband her entire stimulus check of $1,500 if he would give up his right to be there and let her go instead. Hold on because it gets worse. My husband told her he would think about if she upped it to $3,000.

I almost wanted to kill him. He said he was kidding and just messing with my mother because she deserved it due to her bullying us. But then my mom  came up with the three grand so she definitely thinks she’s going to the delivery room.

How do I stop this madness? Honestly, at this point I think I would rather just go alone.

Signed, Ready to Pop

Dear Ready,

Let’s start with your husband. You’re going to have to cut him some slack. I think he was just enjoying toying with your mom because she was being so ridiculous. Come on, did your mom seriously think that a father would basically sell the rights to see his child being born? That said, no man should ever contribute to the stress levels of a very pregnant woman. So, yes he was being very stupid. That I’ll give you.

As for your mom I have one word – YIKES . The hubris alone is mind boggling. So, your mom thinks she’s more important than your husband, the baby’s father? To that I say, “Okay crazy grandma, you need to get some help.”

On top of that your mom is just a brat. What she’s doing is throwing a temper tantrum because she’s not getting her own way. Granted she’s also throwing money around but it’s still a tantrum.

My advice is I wouldn’t tell your mother anything about the birth until you’re safely ensconced at the hospital with your husband. You would be a fool to let her know that you’re going into labor or are on your way to the hospital because girlfriend the odds are she would meet you there.

Letting her know later takes care of the issue because you will already be at the hospital with your plus one and security will take care of the problem if she shows up in an attempt to take your husband’s place.

Congrats on the baby and please keep me posted on how this turns out.

 

Clueless in the Cul-de-Sac

Who are these people in my neighborhood? As the official Gladys Kravitz (the nosey next-door neighbor from the classic TV series “Bewitched”) of my hood I’ve been flummoxed by the number of people out and about in the streets that I don’t know.

And while I’ll admit brain fog at remembering some of my neighbors I pride myself that I at least know their dogs and I’m seeing canines I never laid eyes on before. At first I just thought the whole, “Who are these new people?” syndrome I was experiencing was me, you know, just being me.

But, then when my husband who’s not known for being blessed with my keen sense of cul-de-sac observational skills remarked, “Did we get a bunch of new neighbors?” I knew I was on to something. This meant an investigation was called for.

What I discovered was shocking, truly shocking. It turns out I’m an embarrassment to the Gladys Kravitz name. I, a self-proclaimed neighborhood know it all, was woefully clueless. The people forced out into the streets to seek the solace of sunshine during the lock down were not just part of my extended neighborhood but we live on the same street.

This prompted another fact-finding mission. How could I have been so unneighborly as to not, well, know my neighbors? I was raised on Mr. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” Rogers couple that with being from the south where you didn’t just know your neighbors you had a dossier on them should mean I have the training to be a super neighbor.

Oh, and it gets worse. I’ve worked from home for years. My desk overlooks the street. I literally have a bird’s eye view of all the comings and goings. Plus, I walk my dogs daily this means I’m like a beat cop patrolling the neighborhood.

If you want to know who’s doing home improvement, putting in some new landscaping or even getting their chimney cleaned I’m your girl. I also can forecast whose getting their home ready to put on the market by all the above being done to the same house.

So, where was this know your neighbor disconnect? I had to search inward and discovered that while I know houses I don’t know the people that live in them. Not wanting to do anymore self- flagellation I decided it was time assign blame on something other than myself. The culprit, I surmised, for my neighborly failings is the garage door opener.

This invention made us all stealth. You basically never have to see your neighbors. You enter and exit your vehicle from inside the comfort of your closed garage. Back in the day when you physically had to get out of car to open your garage door it was open season for some neighbor-to-neighbor conversation and or as my Grandma Stella liked to call it “cross examination.”

I have memories of this woman, the original Gladys Kravitz, sitting on her front porch and sprinting like a gazelle on the African Savannah chasing its prey when she saw a neighbor pull into their driveway. She said it was for church pray chain inquires but even at the age of eight I knew better.

Although as much as I would like to blame my lack of neighborly inclinations on the garage door opener I can’t. I have to admit that while I’m nosey, ahem, make the graciously curious, about the coming and goings about a house I need to work on getting to know the inhabitants.

Of course, I need to do this without going full Grandma Stella and true confession time that just might be the hardest part.

Dear Snarky – My Husband is Having a Quarantine Midlife Crisis

Dear Snarky,

I love my husband very much but I’m afraid he’s about to ruin his life and our finances. He’s always wanted to be an artist but became an accountant instead. Since he’s been working from home for a month he’s had time to paint and recently announced to me that he would like to quit his job and pursue his dream of painting full time.

I just about lost it. We have two kids and a mortgage. We literally can’t survive without his income. Also, not to be unkind but his art is very abstract. Frankly, I don’t like it.  Back in the day, he even applied to several art schools and didn’t get in.

How can I convince him that we can’t afford for him to follow his dream right now? I don’t want to crush his happiness but keeping a roof over our children’s heads comes before a 37-year-old’s painting aspirations.

Signed, Painted into a corner

Dear Painted,

It’s never easy being the voice of reason or the dream killer but sometimes tough love is required. Was I devastated when my father told me that I would NOT BE  running off to New York City after high school to become a soap opera star? Hell yes, my “All My Children” dreams were off the charts but  it was the right thing to do.

You need to do the next right thing with your spouse and it’s going to take some finesse. The bottom line is you can support his dreams but with limits. As an adult with family responsibilities it’s not exactly doable for him to just flat out throw caution to the wind and start painting full time BUT you can work out a weekend schedule where he can paint uninterrupted and have his creative freedom.

Because you don’t want your marriage to tank and/or have a spouse who is depressed you should also talk about other career options that are more creative. Maybe it’s not that he loves painting maybe it’s more he hates being an accountant.

I think if you combine being open minded along with being realistic the solution to this quarantine midlife career change can be navigated.

P.S. Keep your opinions about your husband’s paintings to yourself. He never needs to know that you’re not exactly a fan.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

 

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 – My MIL Has Gone Quarantine Crazy and is Planning a Party That I Don’t Want

Dear Snarky,

 My mother-in-law is driving me crazy. I had a baby in February and since the lock down went into place she has been blasting me with texts, phone calls and emails about how when the shelter in place is lifted we’re going to have the “most amazing baby christening party of all times.”

 It’s gotten pretty bad. She even has a Pinterest board of party ideas and from everything I’ve seen and what she’s told me this woman thinks my husband and I are going to be hosting a party for like a hundred people.

 I have so many problems with this. The first one being I don’t want a huge christening party and second we can’t afford to basically throw what from the Pinterest board I’m seeing looks like a wedding for our baby. I’m on maternity leave and my husband was furloughed from his job so we’re cash strapped and the last thing we want to do with any money we have is blow it on a party as soon as the quarantine is lifted. #mortgage

 How can I get my mother-in-law to understand this is not what my husband and I want and that it’s not going to happen?

 Signed, Trapped

Dear Trapped,

 Let’s start with the positives. It’s wonderful that your mother-in-law is so invested and excited about her new granddaughter. I’m sure it’s hard on her that she hasn’t been able to see the baby as much as she would like. I also think all the party planning is a way for her to channel that frustration and a quarantine distraction.

 That said, it’s never too early to start setting boundaries with your MIL. You need to explicitly, and girlfriend I mean in writing, share that you and your husband will not be hosting a large christening party for your baby girl.

You also need to give a quantitative figure of how many people you will be up for inviting to the party. This is because words like “small” or open to interpretation. One person’s small party may mean 5. Another person’s may mean 500. I suggest sending a very kind email where you share that, you will be drawing the line at (insert number here) people.

 Again, be gentle with your mother-in-law. She probably means well. But to protect her feelings and your wallet now is the time to send that email about what your plans are so when all this is over no one can utter those two phrases that have doomed many, many, family relationships, “I never knew” and “You didn’t tell me.”

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉