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The last time I posted something on this blog was almost a year and a half ago, in what was a detailed account of a gluttonous jaunt throughout New York City. What a time that was! Crowding around with people on the Brooklyn Bridge on the way to the best pizza in Brooklyn, lining up for cronuts in Soho without any social distance, lining up for giant cookies on the Upper West Side without any social distance (a lot of my close-contact-with-other-humans involves consuming large quantities food; I am not ashamed).
I love New York, and after going there again only two months after the food-fest, I was thinking that in 2020 I would definitely need to go there again. Maybe in late Spring! I thought. I’ve never seen New York when everything’s in bloom…
Things obviously took a horrible turn not long after this springtime daydream, and New York, like so many other places around the world, has been going through a terrible time. Meanwhile, we’re about 6 weeks into the quarantine in Canada, and the main theme for many of us who are sheltering in place is how lucky we are, with a focus on giving back where we can (if you can spare it, check your local food bank as they probably take donations online!). Then there’s the gratitude, for all those essential workers who are doing the most to keep things going and help us find our way out of this. There’s also some degree of fear, but I’m sure you’ve all been dealing with enough of that yourselves, so I’ll skip that part.
The luck, gratitude, and fear is something that remains in orbit throughout the day; it’s there when I wake up, and it returns when I begin to fall a sleep at way-too-late of an hour.
The rest of the time though, my quarantined days have been marked by: consuming content (I recently watched American Graffiti–hot Harrison Ford barely had any screen time, false advertising!), taking on new cooking feats, grudgingly exercising due to consuming aforementioned cooking feats, being less-petty-than-pre-quarantine, but nonetheless a little bit petty still (as is a requirement for my existence), writing, engaging in more video calls with friends and family than ever before (a paradox of horrid and nice), trying to find the humor in things so I don’t go totally nuts, but then also self-examining and analyzing more than ever, resulting in a slow but inevitable descent into madness, hooray!
If you’re on social media, the normal way to experience the summary I’ve described would be to watch one of those clever videos, where people just talk to themselves and then edit themselves, so it looks like they’re doing many things in a humourous way. That’s a very cool way to go about it, but have I ever struck you as cool? If the blog itself wasn’t enough of an indication, my extreme deficiency in coolness is plastered all over the dorky way I just described the life of the video comedian or TikTok star, or however the fuck you would describe the current era of bite-sized humour.
I am, in fact, extremely old school, and in 2020, what is more old school than writing out a list of thoughts in completed sentences, on an online diary called a blog? (perhaps you would say “Well isn’t using a feather quill and parchment more ‘old school’? Hmm?” And to you I would say, shut your mouth with the smart-ass comments…)
This old school vibe now brings me to a list, a list of things I’ve been doing or randomly thinking about, ever since they told me to stay inside and wear pants with elastic waistbands.
And so, without further adieu…
Things I’ve Been Doing (And Crazily Thinking About) In Quarantine
Let’s get the embarrassing stuff out of the way first.
(Upon reflection, none of the below items reflect a total lack of embarrassment, but alas, we must proceed)
I’ve been doing a lot more personal video calls. Before Quarantine (B.Q.?), there were only one or two friends with whom I felt comfortable enough to share the full-frontal, uninhibited view of myself on a video call. I’m of course referring to the ‘triple-chin‘ view, we’re you’re reclined on the couch or in bed, and your phone is at that angle where it accentuates the most chins possible. Since quarantine, that tiny of circle has now expanded to several friends, all of whom have now been treated to the ‘triple chin’ view. There remain certain friends who don’t have access, and for them I will still sit upright in a chair, and for that I will not apologize. Frankly speaking, the ‘triple chin’ look is still somewhat private, and if society has any chance of recovering from this mess, some things must remain sacred.
I’ve been doing a lot more professional video calls. The company where I’ve been freelance copywriting is doing all their work remotely. My smaller team has a catch-up meeting every day, and our larger team does a meeting once a week. All of these meetings are conducted over video call. When I would go into the office on a normal day, I would be my usual normal self, and my normal ‘going outside’ persona is: some hair product, some makeup, and a consciously thought-out but casual outfit. Basically we’re talking about full-on glamour all the time. Or maybe a B-minus fashion grade. Whatever. So that was the outside look, but from the first video call and ever since, I haven’t been doing any of those things (except for that I still wear clothes, which are now usually hoodies etc.). The first time the larger team saw me on a video call, I’m pretty sure I witnessed some actual shuddering, or maybe the video was shaky (she tells herself). Or maybe I’m overanalyzing and they never even registered my appearance; like am I really so full of myself to believe they even think about me at all? ISN’T IT FUN TO OVER-ANALYZE IN QUARANTINE?! Just in case they were traumatized, when I see them in person again I’ll make sure to compensate with fake eyelashes, that ‘contouring blush thing’ the Kardashians do where it looks they have a different face, and perhaps a full-length wig. TBD.
I watched that Gal Gadot ‘Imagine’ video and almost puked. It’s been a while since it happened, but I’m still traumatized by the fact that a bunch of celebs got together to sing “Imagine a world with no hunger or possessions” as a way to make the lowly peasants feel better. Ugh, I’m still not ready to talk about it.
I almost spent $800 on a digital piano and leather bench. Hear me out. This was one or two weeks into quarantine, when I started to realize that this stay-at-home thing wasn’t ending anytime soon. I started to think about my lifelong bucket list, and while a lot of my travel dreams have been checked off the list (a list that will go on forever–I miss travelling!), I remembered that one of my grown up bucket list items is to learn how to play the piano. I know it’s a lot harder to learn as an adult versus learning as a child, but I’ve always been told that I have long fingers (why have I been told that at least a hundred times? That is creepy as fuck!). So I ask you, who am I to let these long dangly sausage fingers go to waste? That was my logic for being on the Best Buy website, and browsing an array of grown-up sized keyboards. The deeper I got into the rabbit hole, the more I decided I needed “weighted” keys, and so my searching progressed to the fancier ‘digital pianos.’ As I browsed this new niche of products, I decided that I needed a digital piano with one of those accompanying ‘gas pedals,’ or whatever those foot thingys do. I also needed somewhere to sit while I played, so obviously I added a sleek-looking leather piano bench to my online shopping cart. Once I was done, I moved to the next screen where it calculated the cost with tax, and that’s when I finally took a deep breath and realized: the economy is very uncertain right now, so maybe I shouldn’t be buying an $830 digital piano package. At least not right now. Someday though…these dangly fingers will finally get to play…(gross)
I’ve been cooking all kinds of things, and it’s been really therapeutic. I refrained from beginning this list by talking about food, lest you end up thinking I’m a one-dimensional food whore. The items mentioned above have obviously proven otherwise (a piano, wow, look how complex and worldly she is), and so, since it’s now crystal clear that my dimensions are vast, I can now get on with my favourite topic. When it comes to quarantine cooking, I totally understand why a lot of people haven’t been able to cook during these stressful times. It is certainly not a mandatory hobby, as each of us can only do what is best for ourselves (or the family, if you’re currently residing in a chaotic home that includes children). For myself, my stressed out brain seems to calm itself by diving in head first to cooking I’ve never tried, to deliciousness I’m craving, or to the science and thrill of wondering whether a recipe will work out great or taste like trash. My stress-therapy experiments have included making fresh ravioli for the first time, making baguettes (yep, I am one of those bread-making basic bitches), making chicken tikka masala flatbread from scratch (possibly my fave!), poaching an egg for the first time (it wasn’t easy!), baking a dark chocolate olive oil cake, and most recently, making fried chicken, biscuits and waffles. I almost screwed up the baguettes, and I had to wear gloves when I was frying the chicken because the droplets of oil felt too hot. Yes, I am a weak-ass little baby, but everything was flat-out delicious. You can see the full highlights on Instagram, and thank you to all who’ve been joining me on the Instagram-Story-Quarantine-Cooking-Adventures (your comments have been fun to read, and tomorrow is Chicken Tinga Taco Night)!
When I haven’t been cooking, I have eaten a shitload of chips. I think I’ve eaten at least 6 bags of chips in the first 6 weeks of quarantine, along with 2 bags of kettle corn (different categories!) Two of the bags of chips were ‘family size’, but in my piggish defense, I’m convinced that ‘family size’ bags have gotten smaller in recent years, whereas I’m highly suspicious that the price per gram has increased…I need Mulder and Scully to look into this. In the meantime, have you seen the new bags of Cool Ranch Doritos? They have extra seasoning, and it’s amazing.
Because of all the cooking and chips, I’ve been grudgingly finding ways to exercise. The original plan was, that 2020 was gonna be ‘a new decade, and a new me.’ I got myself a personal trainer and everything! He was great, and the long-term sins of pasta past were finally being abolished. And then the pandemic hit. To reference my thoughts at the beginning of the post, boy am I ever privileged and lucky, if one of my concerns isn’t seeing my personal trainer (you bougie bitch!). I recognize this, and I also recognize that with all of the cooking and consuming, and the bags of chips that I refuse to stop eating, if I don’t find a way to exercise, I will never be able to wear denim again (unless it’s in some sort of poncho form). My amazing trainer has been sending me exercises I can do at home, and I’ve also been doing some virtual classes, which I must confess, I was worried about at first; like if the tyrant can’t see me doing the moves, why would I even try? I’m just gonna eat this ravioli instead. Somehow though, the thought of all the bags of chips has made me haul my ass, so I am grateful. I’ve also gotten myself a skipping rope, and let me tell you, it was a harsh reality to learn that skipping for ‘cardio’ is a WHOLE lot different than casually skipping as an eight-year-old. Why didn’t anyone tell me that skipping on the spot for three minutes straight would practically break my legs? Rude.
I watched Ozark season 3. And I still haven’t recovered.
I’ve been writing. Since this blog post is turning into a full-length book (oops), I would certainly put it into the “writing” category, and I’ve also been adapting a screenplay of mine into a novel. This adaptation was not in my original 2020 plans, but with all this extra time, I’ve had the chance to re-discover how fun it is to write in narrative form. I love actually getting inside the character’s thoughts, and adding background colour I couldn’t include in a script. I don’t have anything snarky to say about this, I’m just geeking out on writing and it feels pretty good!
I made my friends sing me ‘happy birthday’ on a video call. This forced act was exactly as horrifying and awkward and as off-key as you would imagine, but if you can’t make your friends awkwardly sing you ‘happy birthday’ in the midst of a pandemic, then what’s the point of having friends at all?
I’m fascinated by Instagram influencers trying to be sexy during quarantine. So…what do you do if that perfectly curated outfit is irrelevant in these quarantine times? It’s a tough question for a lot of Instagram influencers, those for whom the norm is to pose in the street in different outfits every day, but I’ve been fascinated to see how they’ve adapted. A lot of them have been trying to make loungewear seem inventive and hot. Like I never knew jogging pants could be so provocative and sexy. It’s inspirational.
I ordered a 1,000-piece puzzle of my favourite Van Gogh painting. This is possibly my favourite thing on the list, as the painting in this puzzle has a lot of sentimental value. Before I ever set foot in Paris, I ordered a print of this Van Gogh painting of a French café at night, and I would stare at it all the time. During those lengthy stares, I had no actual plans to ever go to France or Paris, I just hoped that maybe one day, after all the staring…I would just fall into the artwork somehow. In a way, I did. And many, many times after that. I can’t wait to geek out on this puzzle, but I can’t decide if I’ll be more efficient with several cups of tea, or with several glasses of wine. I guess I’ll just try it both ways and see.
I love random humour when I’m in quarantine. I pretty much love random humour all the time, but somehow it’s even funnier during these stressful times. My latest discovery was an EP from the hilarious comedian Chelsea Peretti. She’s actually released 5 well-produced songs with the most ridiculous and yet relatable lyrics. Mostly the songs are just about coffee, and it’s divine. One of the songs is called Oat Milk, if that’s any indication. Anyway, it’s amazing.
I’ve started feeding a squirrel. Since quarantine started, I looked into fostering a cat, but each time I tried to get myself a furry friend, it fell through. The failures felt like a sign, like maybe it was the universe’s way of trying to say: why don’t you instead feed this squirrel that probably has rabies? He’ll burn through your premium almond supply, but he will never show you a single ounce of gratitude. Isn’t that something you could use in your life? It started as the universe’s sick little joke, but now I’m in too deep. Now my squirrel will continue to get six premium almonds a day at the pre-determined time. Except…is there two of them? THAT’S RIGHT, last week I noticed TWO black squirrels scurrying around, so now I don’t actually know if I’m feeding the original squirrel, or if the second squirrel FOUND OUT about the almonds and took over. Has the second squirrel stolen the first squirrel’s lunch? Is he the bully on the playground? Am I enabling squirrel bullying? (Isn’t it fun to over-analyze during quarantine??!?!)
Phew! Okay, is anyone still reading this or am I just talking to myself? I mean, the latter would be pretty on brand for quarantine, so it’s fine. What I wanted to say to you, or to myself, was that I started this post with the intention of telling the fun and random travel story from that time I went to Slovenia (since this is pretty much a travel blog these days). It would’ve been fun to reminiscence, but the topic went a little sideways, and now this post has long overstayed its welcome.
Maybe next time…