It's My Life: The Year of Living Tediously
A year ago this week, a friend of mine who is in a position to know about things like this, sent me an ominous text: “Just got word that the whole country might be going into lockdown because of the virus. You might want to stock up on enough stuff for a couple of weeks.”
My first thought was that this is how so many sci-fi movies begin. My second thought was that we didn’t have nearly enough SpaghettiOs in the house to last that long. I was sure my friend was well-meaning but probably overreacting. Still, off I went to the grocery, just in case.
We all know what happened next. The toilet paper debacle. The empty shelves. The panic. And seriously, who bought all the SpaghettiOs, anyway, because I couldn’t find more than a couple of cans in those first weeks, none of them with meatballs.
In all seriousness, we were lucky. The grocery situation here was rough, but not horrific. I set up our unused coat closet as what I called the Pandemic Pantry and filled it with canned goods, pasta, and the 24 cans of every flavor of SPAM that Cubby had given me as a joke for Christmas.
Then I settled in. I confess that part of me was secretly thrilled at having an excuse not to leave the house. Because of the virus, I no longer had to worry about not wanting to be social. Also, I was absolutely certain that I would use the quarantine time to get a lot of writing done. I had two books under contract already, and ideas for more. By the time the “virus thing” was over with and life was back to normal, I thought, I would be way ahead of the game.
Here we are a year later. A year, y’all. Twelve months. Fifty-two weeks. Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, as every self-respecting theater queen can tell you. And what do I have to show for it?
Not a lot. I did finish one book. Two, actually. But not the big one I was supposed to finish. I haven’t written a word on that one. And everything else was late. As in months late. And I have no excuse other than…I was exhausted.
It started okay. Yes, we had to celebrate Cubby’s birthday alone at home, just the two of us. But that was only two weeks into quarantine, and we didn’t mind so much. “Next year,” I assured him, “we’ll have a big party with all of our friends.” Then the weather warmed up and we distracted ourselves by working in the garden. We only moved into this house in January of 2020, so there was a lot to do during our first year here, and that was a distraction.
Sometime in the fall, it hit me that maybe the whole staying home thing wasn’t as much fun, or as productive, as I’d expected it to be. As the days got shorter and there was less to do outside, we began looking ahead to the upcoming holidays and realizing that there would be no get-togethers. Thankfully, we weren’t tired of one another. Still, Cubby—in particular—likes parties and seeing people, and the idea of no Halloween or Thanksgiving or Christmas was disappointing. We were especially sad to miss out on our village’s annual New Year’s Eve party, which involves the celebratory dropping of a taxidermy raccoon (our village mascot) to ring in the new year. Instead, we were asleep by 10:00.
Then, of course, there was the whole election thing, which was just so tedious I can’t even think about it. Suffice it to say that November through February is pretty much a blur of checking FiveThirtyEight and CNN obsessively. And now here we are again in March. March! When did this happen? How can I possibly have to pay taxes again? Didn’t I just do it last week?
No, friends, I did not use my quarantine year productively. I did not write those books I said I would. I did not learn a new language, or experiment in the kitchen, or paint my office. What did I do? I sat. I fretted. I watched 73,895 TikToks. I gained 30 pounds. Oh, and we got COVID. Well, Cubby did, which we expected he would since he works in healthcare. (He’s fine, thanks.) All in all, not a lot to write about in the annual holiday card.
Cubby’s birthday is coming around again in a week or so. He’s been vaccinated now, but I haven’t, so once again this will likely be a socially-distanced affair. Then maybe I’ll get started on that neglected to-do list. But probably not.