Dear Snarky – When a Grad Party Cancellation Gets F-Bomby

Dear Snarky,

I’m so angry at my family! My daughter’s very small high school graduation party was scheduled for this weekend and now I’ve had to cancel it because so many of my family members are idiots. They’re not following any of the coronavirus rules and my brother and his girlfriend were at that packed Lake of the Ozarks pool party.

I sent out an email telling them that “due to their behavior” the grad party was off for the foreseeable future. O.M.G. the responses I got back were ridiculous. My brother even cursed at me, like the F word cursing.

I need your help because right now I hate my family. How come they just couldn’t say something like, “Okay, can’t wait till it’s rescheduled?” Or, “Keep us posted.” But instead I get pot shots at my intelligence, and F bombs.

I plan on emailing them back and letting them all know I didn’t appreciate their reaction. What is the best thing to say to get my point across?

Signed, Still in Shock

Dear Shock,

It times like this that we have to look inward at our own actions and think, “Hmm, is there a different way I could have worded that party cancellation email? And as I’m sure you already know the answer to that question is yes.

Because you seem like a smart person I’m going to conjecture that you took great delight in calling your family out on their actions. You had to know that by sending that email that cast aspersions on their behavior you were going to stir up some drama.

Come on, you can’t act all innocent and hurt feelings now when you knew something like this was bound to happen. That said, you have every right to cancel the grad party and based on what you told me it was probably in the best interest of public health to do so.

But you could have channeled your inner Miss Manners and said that due to ever present current Covid-19 concerns you have decided to postpone the party for a later date.

As for emailing family members back that were jerks – just don’t. It’s not worth your time and since emotions seem to be running very high I fear it might result in more cursing and name calling. I will suggest that when you do have the grad party that you take the road less traveled – the high road – and show your family the type of gracious behavior you wish they would emulate.

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

 

Bored In Dream Land

I’m not a dreamer. Yes, I have dreams as in hopes and wishes but as far as dreaming while I sleep I’ve never been someone who remembers my dreams and then likes to start a morning conversation with, “You are not going to believe the dream I had last night.”

Yes, I know everyone dreams while they sleep. Some studies show that at least two hours of our nightly slumber is dream filled. The fact that I can’t remember my dreams used to bother me because I was certain that my nocturnal musings were probably epic. After all, I have a very active wide-awake imagination so I just assumed that my dreams while snoozing would be that times a million.

I was shattered to recently discover that I’m a boring dreamer. Yes, I’ve begun to remember some of my dreams and all I can say is that they’re beyond dull. My dreams are like the guest at a party that you try to avoid because you don’t want to be trapped talking to the most uninteresting person in the room.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my dreams hurt my feelings. Who wants to have dreams that are about as exciting as your Target shopping list? Also, and more importantly, I’m insulted that my slumbering brain is so unimaginative. It’s not that I want nightmares but come on my brain should be doing better than recipe dreams.

Yes, that’s right I’m dreaming about recipes. I would be okay with that if my recipe dreams included some excitement like I was a pastry diva or master chef. Also, technically I’m not even dreaming about actual recipes. I’m dreaming about recipe websites.

Am I okay?

Really, am I because whose imagination when given free range stagnates on recipe websites? Oh, and it gets worse because these dreams are a little angry. I wake up mad and it’s not because I wasted dreamtime on websites. It’s because the recipe websites are lacking in the speedy delivery of recipes.

If this doesn’t make sense to you let me explain that a plethora of cooking blog/recipe purveyor websites seem to attach a novella to every single recipe. This means you have to scroll through about 3,000 words before you get to what you’re looking for – the actual ingredients and instructions.

Worse, those 3,000 words have nothing whatsoever to do with cooking. If I search online for the “best lemon pie” chances are before I get to the recipe I’ll have to endure a mood piece about the emotions the pie evoked because the color of the custard reminded the baker of a bridesmaid dress she wore in 1998.

Honestly, no one googling “lemon pie” cares about the tales of a bridesmaid. (Although a dress the color of a good lemon curd does sounds like a winner.)  Most people just want the recipe.

I most especially want to see the recipe if I’m standing in the baking aisle of the grocery store with a mask on that’s fogging up my readers as I search on my phone for lemon pie ingredients.

I talked to a friend about my boring dreams that leave me angry and she said to blame it on the pandemic. Her theory is that my virus anxiety is manifesting itself into drab dreams that reflect our collective state of boredom and that my anger being directed at the recipes is actually towards the coronavirus.

She might be right, but honestly upon further reflection I think my subconscious is telling me, “Girl, you really need to get a life.” As for my irritability well who wouldn’t be a little steamed about having to endure online ramblings about the “bridal luminosity” of lemon custard?

 

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.

It’s All About the Flour Power

Well, this couldn’t suck more could it? Yes, I get it things could be worse, much worse. So, slow your roll on sending me that email. But in terms of things being suck worthy I’m going to with confidence say Covid-19 rates pretty high.

Cheers though to all of the people out there who are all about taking the pandemic and putting a positive spin on it.

There’s the Instagram and Facebook posts of people celebrating family time with some stunning photography of scenic walks in the woods to festive trampoline “jumps for joy.” Then you have the very photogenic family meal photos where people, people much better than me, are using the lock down to cook amazing meals after doing massive amounts of home organization projects to turn their house into a snuggly “quarantine haven.”

These are good people. These are just not my people because I’m going to confess that I’ve hidden the last of my family’s Charmin Ultra Soft for myself. The rest of my family can use the one ply eight pack I snagged from the Dollar Store because right now I don’t consider them three ply worthy.

I’ve also taken to having very in-depth conversations with family members about flour. Yes, flour. My son wanted to make some homemade bread. This led to me swooping into the kitchen and forcibly grabbing the canister of flour out of his hand.

 I had to explain to him that bread took five to six cups of flour. Not only that but if he made bread that would mean we would be down to one packet of yeast.

As a family with weeks left in lockdown we needed to save our flour for more deserving causes like chocolate chip cookies, cakes, and cinnamon rolls. My son was confused about not only my newfound passion for flour but also my rationing. I clued him in that flour and yeast were both on the top 10 list of things hoarders bought in bulk and currently there was none to found.

He was skeptical of my claim incredulously asking, “Why would people buy all the flour and yeast? Do that many people bake anymore? What happened to gluten being the enemy?”

I told him those were all excellent questions that I had no answers to except that some people are monumental jerks and enjoyed the apparent thrill of cleaning out the grocery stores. I curse them and their many, many, five-pound bags of flour. May they all move up two pant sizes during the lock down. Also, while I’m at it may their plumbing clog from abundant toilet paper usage.

One thing that I did sincerely try to put one of those positive spins on is the family dinner. How lucky I am to have all my chicks home? What could be more uplifting than sharing a meal every evening? Umm, a lot of things.

Cooking dinner every-single-night is not a blast. Neither is cleaning the kitchen. Add in a pandemic and it can be depressing. I had to make a rule that there would be no talking about the coronavirus at dinner. It was making me anxious.

The off shoot of that was that no one had anything else to blab about. We were all working or doing school from home meaning not much was going in our lives. It was either talk about the state of the world or stare at each other. So, back to Covid-19 it was.

I need to Instagram that perfect family moment. All of us sitting around the table looking scared while I hug my last remaining bag of flour and desperately hope no one has found my Charmin stash.

Covidiots

When we make it through the other side of this Covid-19 nightmare I’m hoping future generations won’t look back and say, “What a bunch of idiots.”

Because that’s what I’m thinking right now – idiots. Spoiled, selfish, willfully clueless stooges.

I don’t remember ever being more disappointed in humans. I’m literally going to go running in the streets screaming, while maintaining a safe space six feet distance from other pedestrians, if I hear one more person justify taking their spring break trip in the midst of a pandemic because they had “already paid for it” or “didn’t know it was that bad.”

Are-You-Kidding-Me? You knew it was “that bad” because when the majority of spring breaks happened almost every single college and university in the country had closed down because of the coronavirus. Institutes of higher learning don’t take the unprecedented action of sending more than 20 million students home on a lark. They do it because things are bad, tragically bad.

And that “we already paid for it” argument, well, guess what? The rest of us are now paying for it. It doesn’t matter that you posted on Facebook that you “came home healthy” or your teens are “sunburn and feeling great” because you can have Covid-19 and not know it nor show symptoms and yet you can still spread it with a vengeance. And P.S. as a citizen of the world you should be informed enough to already have this knowledge.

Also, if you have a college aged student that you are supporting financially and you shared on social media that you “can’t tell a 19-year-old to not go on spring break” I’m going to conjecture that the coronavirus might not be your biggest problem.

The fact is the spring breakers knew all this and still chose to go for no better reason than that they wanted to. Damn the science and those pesky guidelines. Those apparently are for other people.

There are friends I’m deeply disappointed with because they’ve been so self-indulgent. Please note these are people I thought were very intelligent who valued science. But I guess science is now something you pick and choose when to believe as befits your lifestyle or spring break travel plans.

If I sound harsh sorry not sorry because I know I’m not alone. There are now therapy websites giving suggestions for how to deal with family and friends that are not following the Center for Disease Control guidelines. #covidiots.

But what about strangers that have chosen being oblivious as their current course of action during this siege? The people who apparently have zero spatial awareness and no compunction about getting within kissing distance of you while in the self-check-out line or the people treating a trip to the grocery store like it’s a family reunion?

Public health officials and grocery stores are pleading with people to only send one person per family. Why is that so hard to understand? The grocery store is not a “fun outing” it’s a tactical Ninja maneuver where you want to avoid people and get in and out as quickly as possible.

And I feel immensely stabby when I still see people still clinging to the “It’s just like the flu. The flu kills more people” mantra. Are these people so brain impaired that they live in a constant state of denial or do they cling to falsehoods in an effort to justify their behavior of doing whatever they damn well please?

While I’m on the topic of denial let’s talk about all the claims of “fake news” or the “hysterical media.” My thoughts on this are if you think the news is fake or the media is blowing the coronavirus out of proportion than check out the World Health Organization or the CDC websites. Also, here’s the deal about throwing around the phrase “fake news” – just because you don’t like the news doesn’t make it fake.

For instance, I’m overweight. That is a fact. Do I like being told that? No. But it doesn’t make the information any less accurate. So, just because you are choosing not to believe the Covid-19 data doesn’t erase its scientific merit and calling it fake doesn’t give you a magical shield of protection it just makes you an egocentric ignoramus. Quite possibly an ignoramus that is not going to follow best practices and result in us being under lockdown well into the summer.

As for the hoarders I can’t go there right now. It’s hurts my heart too much. I currently don’t have the emotional bandwidth to fully digest this level of selfishness.

Perhaps, nothing symbolized to me people’s lack of concern for anyone but themselves more than when I found two used latex gloves in the parking lot of my grocery store. The gloves were by the cart corral and I can only surmise that this gloved person upon returning their cart, took off the gloves and threw them on the pavement because they didn’t need them anymore nor did they want the germ laden gloves in their car.

So, bye-bye gloves and hello some overworked grocery store employee having to pick up your pandemic detritus.

I’m urging everyone, myself very much included, to try to do better so that not only do we come out of this healthy but with a newfound sense of compassion and intelligence that supersedes are own immediate wants and needs.

 

 

Hand Wringing About Hand Washing

The coronavirus has taught me a lot of things. For example, who knew that after spending five plus decades on this planet I really didn’t know how to wash my hands. I always considered myself an exemplary hand washing. But come to find out I was, at best, lackluster.

My problem area it seems was in the length of my hand washing. I was a soap and go girl. A hand washing sprinter if you will when apparently I needed to be a marathon runner in the hand hygiene event.

I‘m estimating I spent 10 seconds at the sink. Two seconds for soap application, six seconds for the scrub-a-dub-dub of it all and another two seconds for the drying sequence. I was shocked to discover that I should have been doubling my sink time.

My hand washing failure so disturbed me that I felt compelled to do some personal hygiene math. If you take the average amount of times a day a person washes their hands and combine that with my years on earth I have washed my hands incorrectly more than 150,000 times.

The shame is real my friends.

I furthered grossed myself out with the realization my now 20 second washed hands can’t stay off my face. Like, I literally can’t stop touching my face. I blame this on the fact that I’m also a hand talker.

Yes, I’m one of those people who uses their hands a lot while talking and one of the characteristics of being a hand talker is that you’re also a serial face toucher.

I certainly knew I was a hand talker because it’s a genetic trait. There’s not one person I’m related to who doesn’t love the added conversation oomph of using their hands to further their communicative ability.

A conversation without using your hands is like toast without butter – totally lacking in any real flavor satisfaction. Unfortunately, those hands also like landing on the face.

Yesterday I counted myself touching my face 13 times in less than 30 minutes and this was when I was earnestly trying to not touch my face. Never mind that I was home alone and the only person I was talking to was myself.

Another lesson that has become apparent is one that thankfully is not about my personal failings but instead is a shout out to my Grandma Stella. Because of this woman’s greatness I was a bleach warrior before it was mandatory.

Yes, while everyone was scrambling to buy disinfectants I had three gallons of bleach in my laundry room because I heart bleach. I even have “bleach clothes” that I wear when doing housework because as any good bleach aficionado will tell you things aren’t clean unless they’re bleach clean.

This I learned from Grandma Stella who should go down in history as the world’s most compulsive cleaner. As a young child I would follow her from room-to-room as she would use bleach and a toothbrush to clean every surface of her home.

This wonderful woman taught me the power of Clorox and thanks to her I never fell prey for all those smell good cleaners that were low on sodium hypochlorite and high on essential oils.

Hmm, based on this memory maybe that hygiene math I did earlier is wrong. Because if I’ve had my hands basted in bleach while I‘ve done thousands upon thousands hours of housework this means that my hands have been a lot cleaner than I’ve thought.

Yes, let’s go with that. Now I feel a lot better which is a good thing because I just touched my face – again.