How is Your Covid Roller Coaster? Trying to Level out the Track

A few days ago, my husband came in from checking the rain gauge to report, “It’s raining lizards. What’s the next sign of the apocalypse?”

To clarify, our moldy, plastic rain gauge is on its last legs. The sun has done its best to break down the structure on a molecular level, including the screen that keeps the floaty disc from flying out the top when you empty the water. That morning, an anole had crawled/fallen into the long, clear tube and had to be poured out. Fortunately it hadn’t rained the night before, since I doubt treading water was in the poor bugger’s repertoire.

So how are y’all doing, ticking off portents in your neck of the woods?

Consider this another quick Covid check-in.

Yep, I’m still here, you’re (I hope) still there. And if you’re anything like me, your mood is a roller coaster. Some days you’re the anole stuck in the rain gauge, and some days you’re the sun, the fickle UV-blasting master of all you survey.

Funny thing—I wrote a blog post back in 2015 about wanting to be grounded. That didn’t age well, huh? 😂

It’s not the confinement that bothers me—I feel quite lucky to be able to be at home—it’s everything else. The totality of the apocalyptic circumstances, if you will.

Here are a few things I’ve discovered recently that you may find useful in leveling out the track on your own roller coaster.

Don’t forget to start your car occasionally.

Man and woman pushing a broken car

If you’re feeling really wild and wooly, maybe even go so far as to reverse to the end of your driveway.

The battery on my husband’s car was apparently on its last legs and succumbed during lockdown. It did not, however—as I’ve heard in a few mainland horror stories of late—fall victim to an infestation of squirrels, rats, or other opportunistic rodentia. And thankfully, our local auto parts store had a replacement battery in stock.

In that vein, you might want to tuck one of those portable battery chargers next to your stockpiled TP and food because those babies rock! (They’re also great for charging devices on super cloudy, off-the-grid days.)

Prepare yourself (mentally, at least, though you may want to start a training regimen) for wearing masks in summer. 

We don’t have home mail delivery, so yesterday I went on a Post Office (and subsequent grocery) excursion. It was my first time out in a couple of months (except for poor Travis’s Final Vet Trip). That meant my first experience wearing a mask in eighty-five degree heat and humidity high enough to fog your sunglasses. Seriously. Not fun.

Standing in line, I experienced a moment of This one’s broken—why is there no air? almost-panic.

Obviously many essential workers are already dealing with this kind of thing on a regular basis, hopefully with appropriate health safeguards in place. (And by hopefully, I mean we damn well better be taking care of the people who are taking care of us.)

But for everyone else, as temperatures rise, take a moment when you “suit up.” Get used to how it’s going to feel having fabric or other funky fibers fixed to your face before you walk across a parking lot or climb a mountain of stairs. The last thing you want to do is face-plant on the pavement. Remember, an air mask is not an air bag.

For the sake of your sanity, try something new or different.

I’m taking an excellent online course right now focused on personality strengths and writing, and one of the intake questions hit me between the eyes like a bouncer’s jab. The dramatic inquiry: What are your hobbies? Well, I, uh, sometimes I read something somebody else wrote.

Basically, I work. And I know I’m not alone. For a lot of people, our work is not just what we do, it’s who we are. And that’s complicated right now, because we’re out of work or we’re trying to work from home or we just can’t focus.

But if you’re able, if you’ve got the physical and mental space, try something new. Can’t find anything? I get it. Did I mention I have no focus?

Among the things I’ve done: tracked down my husband’s clippers and gave myself a buzzcut. The loss of hair wasn’t nearly as traumatizing as seeing how much of it was gray. After three weeks, I now have just enough fluff to think, maybe I’ll need to make a part there and start guiding hairs in particular directions. Hmm… is it time for shampoo? I highly recommend the experiment. 

I also pulled out my ukulele, but I don’t really have the discipline now to teach myself songs. I tend to get bored and pick out melodies I know by ear. In other words, I played just enough to get calluses on my left hand fingers—three evenings, every other day, in case you’re wondering—and stopped. My fingers are still tender and the calluses have peeled off.

Many people are experimenting in the kitchen, but most days I just don’t have the energy. Of course, not everything takes exotic ingredients, hot ovens, and constant supervision. My husband was about to compost collard greens that had been nibbled a bit around the edges when I suggested, We could make kimchi.

Have we ever made kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage) before? No. And collards aren’t exactly traditional kimchi fare. But according to one of our books (of course we have a book about fermentation—we are book folk), the difference between food rotting and food fermenting is salt. And we have salt. How hard can it be? Did I mention we’re doing it in a mixing bowl because we didn’t have a big enough jar handy?

I’ll be sure to let you know how our Southern-style kimchi turns out, but for now I can say our kitchen certainly smells interesting. 

Most recently I got out the snarky cross-stitch kit I’d ordered pre-lockdown (Maybe Swearing Will Help, with the requisite pretty flowers). Of course, after reading the directions—yes, there are directions—and googling a few of my questions—yes, I had questions—I finished a single row of stitches. Then I asked myself, Why rows across? Why not just do a whole letter at a time?

My resulting zig-zagging method looks a lot like our old Jack Russell terrier Asta jumping through high grass to harass the donkeys. I made it as far as the “R” before the natural light (our reading lamp died last week) and my creative energy hit a wall, i.e. an odd combination of stitches that needed to be yanked out sitting next to the window the next day. But with only twenty more letters, I’m soldiering on!

As are we all. 😊 Hang in there, everyone. Hold tight, and be safe.