It’s been a long, hard year locked up with ourselves amidst Covid 19. So many of our usual distractions and indulgences have gone by the wayside, and most of us have been starkly confined with our own neurotic shortcomings and lazy adaptations.
Millions have gained the “Quarantine 15” and as things open up, are slightly agoraphobic, clinging to the privacy of their home prisons, so people won’t see their 2020 bulge. Pants with buttons and zippers have become relics of the past. Sweatpants and leggings have become our best friends. Aerobic workouts, 5k races and strenuous strength training have become “Going for a Walk.” Needless to say, once hardbodies are now mush.
Makeup, once so sacred and mysterious, has also largely gone by the wayside, replaced with naked faces with all their spots, wrinkles and droops.
Close friends and family, previously such a source of vital warmth and connection, have been replaced by our loyal, adoring dogs, or worse – the prison of Zoom for EVERYTHING.
Haircuts, once such a luxury, have been replaced with either nothing, or DIY chop jobs. (Also, 85% of the world’s blondes have disappeared).
In sum, we all look like Hell…
A cultured life with theater, concerts, dancing and singing, has devolved into Facebook, Twitter, Instagram 24/7.
Travel to glorious new places has been replaced by Couch Potato Adventure: TV day and night.
Real life experiences like weddings, parties, graduations and funerals have yielded to the voyeurism of The News, (mostly bad), also day and night.
Lusty evenings of 80 proof booze in bars have been replaced with desperate solo guzzling of 4 proof spiked seltzer.
Intellectual stimulation through conversation, clubs, meetings, and trainings have all become “Zoomified”.
Smiles, with all their compelling warmth, have made way for Eyes-Only, and sometimes contraband Rogue-Nose Faces in a mandated masked world.
And alas, sport shopping at TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Macy’s have yielded to frequent gargantuan boxes arriving from Amazon, often left outside in the rain, generating massive amounts of garbage later needing to be hauled to the curb.
So, what to do with all these charming developments? Get depressed? Go on drugs? Get a shelter dog? Take up the Ukulele? Buy an RV? Get more takeout? Chop down some trees? Get some chickens? Go back on Zoom? Run to a therapist?
Whatever you do, you gotta start laughing at it all….
Most everyone in the world, for some time now, has been experiencing the anxiety, losses, uncertainty, and constraints of social distancing related to Coronavirus. We know we’re living in an apocalyptic scenario, we hear all the gory details on the news and from each other every day. The people who seem to be surviving best in this new “normal” are the hard-core introverts, and even they are weirded out. I am not a cryer, but have done my share in the last few weeks, so I get the trauma in all this.
However, there are also some pretty bizarre and funny things going on which I think it would be therapeutic to notice and share. We’ve gotta find some humor amidst this crisis, so I will be doing my part here to spread the word about what’s laughable and inspiring in our current reality.
“Big Night Out – Suicidal Grocery Shopping at BJ’s”
After a few weeks of this self quarantining my husband and I noticed a serious lack of freezer paper, cheese and Half and Half. We could deal with staying at home 24/7, being online 24/7 for all work and social contacts, the losses, the ongoing experience of Russian Roulette about who would die next, but no freezer paper? No cheese? No Half and Half for the gallons of coffee we’ve been drinking? No way! Besides, it was Friday night, and time to go out!
I’d heard from a few clients who are high up on the medical chain that yes, we should be wearing face masks to protect each other, but my idea to strap a huge towel around my head wasn’t so great – too much possible absorption of respiratory droplets for me while being socially altruistic. They both were adamant that glass or plastic face shields are what docs use in certain surgeries and risky situations. And yes, a motorcycle helmet would be fine. So, here I am above, following medical wisdom, preparing for our Friday night foray to get “desperately needed” supplies at BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Imagine Darth Vader walking around in front of you in a store. It was the perfect setup for social distancing! People around me probably thought I was either a psycho or someone about to rob the place, so nobody came near, even the customer service people who ordinarily assist when you’re useless at the Self Check Out line, as I generally am. It didn’t help that I was also wearing a giant scarf to seal the bottom opening of the helmet, so my hair was plastered down with sweat and the plastic shield was all fogged up from the heat condensation. Then at BJ’s you have to look for half boxes to pack your groceries in – uh oh, cardboard! More Coronavirus droplets about to pounce! My solution was to get this Big Night Out over and done with at top speed so my immune- compromised husband who was waiting in the car, wouldn’t worry that I’d succumbed to evil Covid-19. Of course it was pouring outside, and he’d parked right in front of the store, way too close to other people who were loading up their cars. He was less than 6 feet away from them, ready to help me! Of course I starting shrieking warnings at him from inside my Darth Vader getup, now soaked from the rain as well, so those people also backed off. (Handy)……….
I think the “insanity posture” may be very effective for our Covid-19 existence. It certainly worked when I lived in Manhattan, would be coming home from work on the deserted subway late at night, and approached by some menacing creep. I’ve never carried any weapon except the ability to appear totally crazy, loudly shouting out psychotic rants, which I’d witnessed at Bronx State Hospital where I’d worked on the ward with folks who were in a different state of reality. Nobody wants to screw with an insane person, so in my later middle-of-the-night homeward bound subway rides I never got mugged or attacked. Shady characters would always back off. It was my perfect New York defense. If you’re not too self conscious I’d highly recommend it when clueless people get within 6 feet of you nowadays, especially the friendly ones.
The good news is that we had our Big Night Out and now have lots of freezer paper, cheese and Half and Half. Hallelujah!
Just when I thought all the years of therapy had finally done their magic, and that I’d be free at last, I discover that my fatigue, nail biting, cynicism, and catastrophic thoughts about the future aren’t related to my crazy family upbringing, but about NOW, 2016 with this psycho election! The fact that I’m glued to the TV set, watching the pundits fight about whose crimes are worse, who’s a wuss, who’s really a psychothopathic liar, who’s fingers should be on the nuclear codes, is not because I’m a glutton for punishment, but all manifestations of my new diagnosis: Election Stress Disorder! AND, to make matters worse, I am apparently in good company with half the planet!
As a psychotherapist always keyed into actionable, positive change attitudes and behaviors, this one really stumps me. How do we all feel more hopeful and impactful when every day new dirt gets dug up on our candidates of “choice,” with Russia and Wikileaks playing their hand in events as well? This is a paranoid’s wet dream! One candidate is clearly a Neanderthal, the other cast as a disingenuous double talker. And, speaking of double talk, no one ever answers a question directly anymore, but on both sides they all pivot constantly, meaning deflect, avoid, spin! I pity the poor journalists who have to listen to this day in and day out without losing their cool!
Maybe the only hope for all of us with ESD is to remember that nothing lasts forever, that most truths come out in the wash eventually, that Election Day is less than a month away, and that until then, we all can put our fingers on the “Off” button when we’ve had enough. (Now, gotta go watch the final debate….)
Today hasn’t been a good day. Even though I woke up after a full night’s sleep in a good mood, had an invigorating workout and a yummy breakfast, the rest of the day so far hasn’t been the best. Try this on for size:
- I get an email saying my Eddie Bauer account has likely been hacked – “Look up the last six months of transactions on the card you use, put a fraud alert on all credit bureaus, and sign up for more identity protection!” That, so far, has taken two hours.
- I get another email from my patient portal saying I have an important message from my doctor’s office – “Sign in and read immediately!” (Am I dying, and they didn’t tell me in person when I went in for tendonitis? Or maybe that cyst on my arm is leprosy?) I try to be compliant, and after five login attempts I get locked out. (Where did I put that username and password information)? I call several doctor’s offices to see who sent me the mysterious message and why, and so far haven’t gotten through to any of the offices that might use that portal. The offices I did reach don’t use it.
- I go to my site to write an inspiring blogpost and am locked out for some mysterious reason during the first eight login attempts. It must be the “infected files” on the site five different security analysts can’t seem to figure out. Now, here I am, mystery still not solved, writing a not-so-inspiring post.
- I try to write my next article for my subscription lists and the aWeber hosting site is upside down and sideways, no buttons working properly until I’ve made about ten attempts. Finally, I get the article out, realizing it’s about two weeks late. Shame on me, I’ve been having too much fun avoiding the f#ck*#g internet this summer, and now I’m paying for it!
So, gentle reader, if you too have had days like this, know you’re not alone if you have also felt like tearing your hair out when it happened. (“happens” is more like it). You experience what we call a “lack of agency,” or an inability to intervene effectively on your own behalf. It creates a sense of complete helplessness, and that’s not good! In my case, I can’t WAIT to get to “work” seeing my clients who have real problems, so I can hopefully have some effect somewhere today!
PS. If you don’t do too well with stress, feel free to call me for an appointment at 603-431-7131, knowing that I understand…..
If so, according to my highly informed husband, you are in good company with half the planet!
Earlier this evening my husband and I were sitting in our hut tub, savoring the warmth as we gazed up at a starless, moonlit winter sky. I then began to grouse about not being able to set up “Touch ID” on my new iPhone which required a four digit passcode I didn’t know. It would have been so cool to have my unique fingerprint give me exclusive access to all my stuff in the new device! Incredulous, Thom then launched into an impassioned speech about how that was actually a good thing, as he’d read that “Touch ID” could compromise one’s security, particularly if you happen to have pudding on your finger! Apparently, this problem has plagued thousands of innocent smartphone users all over the world. (A well read, very intelligent person telling me this with absolute conviction).
Having fortuitously been saved from this apparent horror, I began to wonder how many unfortunate souls have suffered from pudding on their finger?
– while x-country skiing
– while driving in a hurricane
– while making a speech in a political campaign
– while swimming with dolphins
– while clapping enthusiastically at a Broadway show
The gruesome possibilities are endless! It’s something new we probably haven’t worried enough about! OMG!!!!
So, if you too have been unable to set up “Touch ID” on your fancy new phone, don’t complain! Don’t get frustrated! Count your blessings while you manually key in your old passcode with the rest of the masses. And remember, sometimes this new-fangled technology can be a really, really dangerous thing……