pillow talk in public places

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RANDOM THOUGHTS FOR JANUARY 2021 (a COVID-19 pandemic diary entry for Month 11 of The Social Distancing) –>

I have already canceled the diet plan I started for 2021, and my daily walks lasted only one week.

On one recent evening, my biggest accomplishment was using an app on my phone to pause Hulu without dropping a call on that same phone. Once upon a time, I thought I was tech savvy, but maybe it was just youth. Which is fading.

I have re-committed to being mostly vegan. Don’t worry about what “mostly” means. Purity tests don’t interest me. Rest assured, it does not include steak or bacon.

I’m about to succumb to at least one of the many Instagram ads I’m served up for hair care products for chicks with naturally curly hair. Just typing “naturally curly hair” makes me feel like the Charlie Brown character Frieda. Apologies for being so Frieda. I just mean those brands seem to understand my troubles. And they make promises. And I’m vulnerable.

We’re still isolating here in Upstate New York. I leave the house only for groceries and wine. It’s changing me, and I can’t yet articulate how.

Recent “big” purchases include an air fryer for Chris’ house and an Aerogarden for mine. Of course, when we combine households later this year, we’ll combine All Strange Appliances. (This is another good chance for you to ask no questions.) Crispy tofu and home-grown herbs are two of the most exciting things that may happen in 2021.

I type “helpful” notes on my phone in the middle of the night when “inspiration” hits. Two recent entries include “I say potato, you say roboto” and “donut shop awnings, orange & pink.” So clearly, writing in 2021 is going swimmingly.

Here’s my prayer to the weather gods: May this coming week-long deep freeze be the only one of the season.

I miss date nights shoulder-to-shoulder at the bar leaning even closer for deep conversation. It’s one of my favorite forms of intimacy. Pillow talk in public places.

Around our tables, buzz over recent large lotto jackpots has inspired lots of talk about the problems that come with that kind of money. Our sad little narrative is that we dodge a bullet when we lose. If it’s an attempt to elevate the drudgery of our current grind, it fails.

I’ve watched so much TV in the pandemic that I’ve finally seen someone (TWO chefs now, actually) Beat Bobby Flay on the show called Beat Bobby Flay.

An article about local weather points to an oddity: two-thirds of days here in NY’s Capital Region since December 1 have had 80% cloud coverage. That’s not normal for us. January is typically cold but bright. I’m glad it’s not in my head, but WTF. Lack of sunlight is killing me.

Yes, I’m aware that’s dramatic.

My dreams are out of control. In one, I grab my mother by the shoulders and shake her and nose-to-nose yell all my grievances. (She died in 2009.) In another, I am held hostage by a content farm — which is a Victorian house, apparently — and live, eat and sleep in an upstairs room with nothing but a mattress on the floor and burgundy sheets covering the windows. And my personal favorite: It’s the zombie apocalypse, and members of my group fight over what kind of pizza to order.

Apparently, the economy functions in the zombie takeover now, too.

Regardless, I have started to have irrational thoughts in the daytime, as well. Most often it’s this: Everyone I know is going to get vaccinated against this novel coronavirus and move on with their lives and leave me behind on the couch for the next five years.

I don’t know how else to think about the future.

My youngest son, “the baby,” will graduate from high school in this pandemic (June) just a year after my middle son graduated, also in the middle of this pandemic. In the fall, the oldest will start his final year of college. By the end of summer, none of them will be living at home full-time, and I will be leaving the town where we raised all three and moving to Chris’ house. It’s just the other side of the Hudson, but it feels like it will be another world. And it will be.

When I used to hear people say they didn’t know what they’d do when their kids left home, I thought they meant they didn’t know how to occupy their time (i.e. they didn’t have hobbies). As a result, I dismissed the worry altogether — I have plenty to do outside parenting. What I’m realizing now is that they may not have been talking about keeping busy. It’s hitting home that they may have meant I don’t know how to handle missing them so much.

For the umpteenth time now, I have had to Google the difference between “perennials” and “annuals” to learn which comes back year after year.

I have some ideas for flowers once Chris’ house gets new siding. It will be dark blue by the time I move in, and I will buy an orange Adirondack chair for the front lawn where I will sit and watch a new world go by and think about how to settle there and make it my own.


  1. Good grief! You do know how to deliver a line! That third third from last last line, gosh. Could see it coming, but… but not like that, right from the heart. The response was still an emotional “surprise”. Gosh.

    1. hi, neil! you’re always such a generous reader! i’ve always been extremely emotional & the pandemic has made it even more severe. putting “surprise” after it is a varietal i’m happy to try!

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