Lately, I have been made aware that my character default, in times such as these, is subpar. How are you doing? Really?
I’m sitting in the basement as I write. Netfix drones, the house is a mess and a baseball cap hides unwashed hair. My wardrobe is limited to leggings and large t-shirts. My family has forgotten what I look like with make-up. I wouldn’t say I am a lazy slug. But the point is: I am a lazy slug.
In my defense, I think the way this thing unfolded has contributed to my current situation. It came on subtly and by degree. And now we are left in the boiling water – unable to jump out. Trying to make sense of it all.
It didn’t start out as a big deal. Until it became just that. In January my daughter, Betsy, and I joked about the Covid19 app my husband shared that illustrated outbreaks in every country. The US had none. And so, we laughed. Ed’s an Eagle Scout. He thinks it’s weird to drive barefoot. He actually saves and uses his dry-cleaning receipts. Hence, we took his concern with a grain of salt.
But then things got weird. On Wednesday, March 11, my daughter facetimed me from Ball State to say that their spring production had been cancelled. Have they lost their minds?? We received an e-mail on Friday night, March 13, to let us know that Jack’s SAT exam scheduled for the next day had been cancelled. But we still took him out to Matt the Miller restaurant to celebrate. No wait for a table. Silly people. I went to lunch with a friend on Monday March 16 and we took note of how empty the restaurant was. I went to a movie by myself that evening and was the only person in the theater. Even then, I didn’t have a CLUE.
And then things got weirder still… On Tuesday, March 17, we all began working from home as our office space was closing for 2 weeks (or longer…) The kids came home from school. It would be e-learning for at least 2 weeks. A shelter in place order went out. Only essential workers. Only essential travel.
Two weeks? I’m an introvert. Let the games being! Here’s to my new identity as a conscientious curve flattener as opposed to a reclusive wet blanket on all things social. I took the first week to binge watching Schitts Creek, Little Fires Everywhere, Ozark and The Handmaid’s Tale. More of the same during week two except now I had to check my phone to find out what day it was. It felt naughty doing work until 3 am and sleeping until 10. Like a string of snow days. It felt scandalous going to Kroger for frozen chocolate eclairs. The lack of heels was liberating. It was a hella good time.
But then – the crazy train continued. And none of us can get off.
They moved the date for normal living out to April 30 at the earliest. Come again? As we sit here on April 17 the ending date cannot be quantified, but it certainly won’t be April 30. All at once the seedy underbelly of my current lifestyle has been exposed. The lights at Studio 54 have been turned on and let me tell you – it’s not pretty. My house is a mess, I have not been outside as I should. My sleep schedule is appalling. My wellness journey groans in protest.
This is so unbelievably surreal. Who could have EVER predicted this? But I know I wouldn’t have believed them if they had. There is a low-grade fever of angst hanging over me that begs to be dealt with, yet I keep ignoring it. What is it? I have a job where I can telecommute. No one is sick here. We have plenty of food and internet. There is no rationing. We have Tiger King.
I believe part of it is that I am mourning my loss of control, or perhaps it’s the realization that I control virtually nothing in this life. This should be good news. The illusion of control is simply frustrating. When things go south it leads to us accepting “blame” where no such thing exists and acting with hubris when things go well. But I will say, becoming aware of such a flawed paradigm is terrifying and unsettling. And the more of a perfectionist you are, the more likely you suffer from the illusion of control. So, the struggle is real.
I am also horrified at how I have shown up for this. To date I have not brought my best self. On the contrary. This girl is strung out on diet coke and frosted Mini-Wheats. She needs eye liner. She needs sleep. She needs soap.
Remember in the movie Mr. Mom when Michael Keaton decides to lean into his new position? He shaves, does laundry, cleans house and throws Woobie into the fire. The theme from Rocky plays and the audience cheers. I think I want to be THAT character. Let’s do this thing. Let’s do pandemic like a boss!
Have you seen the hilarious work of Julie Nolke of “Feeling Peckish?” Her recent video “What would happen if I tried to explain what’s happening now to the January 2020 version of myself?” just went viral. But what really spoke to me was the one she put out the next day, on April 16 called “Quarantine Panic Attack.”
When Julie tells her alter ego that she is learning French, reading books and working out it turns out she really isn’t. She means to – because you know, now she’s got the time. To which her alter ego replies:
“I don’t know why you’re trying to make so much happen. Cause, it’s the middle of a pandemic – Cause, so, anytime spent not sick is time well spent.”
(Excuse the run on sentences. Her alter ego is extremely drunk.)
She goes on to say, “There’s not a proper protocol for this type – kind of thing. Look. Here’s the way you need to do. Everybody’s anxious and it’s stressful. Stressful. So…but if you put additional stress on yourself with these impossible goals you make it bad – worse. You have also to comprehend that this is a global crisis same time. It’s too much. So. You need focus on being patient with yourself. Kay? Then you digest everything that’s happening. In a healthy way. So, you might be unproductive.”
Dude. Preach it.
We are in a collective state of grief. Grief because we find ourselves in limbo for the unforeseeable future. Grief because we have lost so much (Hello class of 2020). Grief because the economy is stalled with no end in sight and the effects of this thing will be catastrophic. Grief because we know our lives will never be the same. Grief because the future is unclear and could actually end up being worse than anything we have seen thus far.
So I say: Keep your medicine ball for now. This girl is treading water. Any day that I spend un-incarcerated for killing a family member is a good one. Per Julie Nolke’s intoxicated alter ego, “This is about you doing what you need for. Um. What you need. Right now. In this moment.”
Pass the Cheez Whiz.
Mari Sandifer | Director of Marketing & Business Development
Mari joined Rektio as Director of Marketing and Business Development in 2020 after spending over 25 years in corporate finance and 3 years as a business owner. She holds a BS degree in Marketing and an MBA in Finance from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Her CPA license is inactive (and morbidly obese).
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