Are You Sure It’s Not Tuesday?
We have a New Yorker 365-Day Cartoon calendar on our kitchen table, a gift that serves as an entertaining reminder of what date it is. When I got to the kitchen the other morning my husband had already ripped off the Saturday/Sunday cartoon before I woke up, and I didn’t think twice before ripping off another one. “You know it’s not Tuesday yet, right?” he asked. Honestly, I had to think about it. “Um, no, but...oh yeah, it’s only Monday!” I said, feeling strangely elated that I had an extra day (in my mind).
After sheltering in place for a month now, the days have morphed into one amoeba-like blob, making me wonder, “How is this day different from any other day?” Most days are eerily reminiscent of the movie Groundhog Day, except for a smattering of Zoom meetings, writing assignments, and weekly grocery store visits.
While my trusty Moleskine planner did the trick prior to the pandemic, the part of my brain that used to effortlessly remember my daily schedule seems to have taken a hiatus. I now double check my Google calendar, in addition to my paper one, and even asked my husband, “Please remind me that I have a 9 a.m. meeting tomorrow, okay?” “You actually want me to remind you?” he asked. “Not really,” I mumbled. “I’m just having a hard time remembering stuff right now.”
Even the most mundane errands feel far from normal these days, especially trips to the grocery store. When I got to Trader Joe’s at 9 a.m. this morning, the line stretched down and around the block, and around again. It was probably a good half mile long, like a never-ending Disneyland queue. So I headed to Monterey Market, a gem of a grocery in Berkeley, but that, too, had a long line. Plus, everyone was dutifully wearing masks, and I realized I’d forgotten to bring a face covering. People were eyeing me like I was a plague-spreader, so I skittered out of line and back to my car, hoping I could muster the energy to venture out later and try, try again.
My sons, both home from college, stay fit running and lifting weights, but I’m feeling rather sloth-like as the days progress and my regular workouts become a thing of the past. I still take my dog for two long walks each day, but the nearby trails have grown increasingly crowded, forcing us to stop every few minutes to let others pass. Even nature is less peaceful now that we’re waiting our turn there, too.
My morning routine no longer includes makeup, except when I have a Zoom meeting (and even then...). I wear the same pair of jeans so often they’ve become my corona-attire. I’ve taken a couple of socially distant walks with friends and their dogs, and was recently asked, “How much weight have you gained?” I just stood there horrified, until my friend answered, “I’ve gained five pounds.” Honestly, I can’t bear the thought of stepping on a scale right now. On another walk, we heard someone exclaim, “It was so exciting—they had toilet paper!”
I made an impulse purchase the other day of a t-shirt that reads, “I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine,” envisioning it as a funny complement to my mask when I go shopping. A friend saw it and said, “But is it really?” which made me feel lousy because I know everything is the farthest from fine. “It’s sarcastic,” I tried to explain.
What’s more, I feel oddly voyeuristic as I watch celebrities broadcasting from their homes. I wonder, for example, about that ornate floral wallpaper in Jimmy Kimmel’s home (did he actually pick that out?) or Tom Hanks’ kitchen, which looks surprisingly modest (maybe he was recording from a guest house?). While watching a Saturday Night Live skit, I thought, Wow, these people also have Nespresso machines and sometimes bad art or nothing on their walls. There’s something normalizing about this part of our quarantine experience actually. No matter who we are, we’re all juggling work, family, technical snafus, and crazy hair days.
For now, I’m just keeping my fingers typing, the food cooking, the clothes washing, my brain churning, and doing the best I can to get through another day, be it Tuesday or actually Monday (oh, it’s Thursday!). Right now, which day it is doesn’t matter all that much. Staying healthy and sheltered is what does.
That said, I’m fine. Just fine. Everything’s fine. Really. No Really.