COVID-19

Remember last May when Top Cat and I went to the Orkney Islands (seen in blue off the north coast of Scotland) and how, for some reason, we got off on the wrong foot from Day One and could never get in sync for the 10 days we were traveling, which resulted in us bitching at each other for the entire time we were on the road? Oh, sure, it was hilarious when I wrote about it later, but living through it was terrible. It’s a form of torture, when you are forced to spend every waking minute with the person whose face makes you want to hit them with a chair.

I’d say that now, with so many of us in quarantine and house-bound 24/7 with our spouses, that you all have the potential to experience first-hand your very own hellish Orkney Island Scenario.

But I’ve been there and back, literally [round trip to/from Orkney without getting charged with manslaughter], so allow me to enlighten you on how to get through this hellish COVID Togetherness.

Tip #1: When your spouse insists on watching MSNBC on the TV while listening to a college radio station at the same time, be sure to say in a loud, clear voice: JESUS CHRIST TURN THAT SHIT OFF NOBODY THINKS THE WHITE STRIPES ARE COOL ANY MORE. The more clearly you communicate how crappy you think your spouse’s TV and musical tastes are, the better your chances that your spouse will just shut everything down and go sulk upstairs, leaving you alone in your well-deserved peace and quiet.

Tip #2: If your house was built before “open plan” became a thing, it doesn’t matter how many square feet you have, you and your spouse will be bumping into each other many times a day in the poorly designed “flow” of the place. Usually it’s the long, narrow hallway from the living room to the kitchen, which cannot accommodate two people at the same time yet it’s always where you both seem to end up about twice every fucking half-hour. When that happens, it’s good to remind your spouse FOR FUCK’S SAKE SOCIAL FUCKING DISTANCING, SOCIAL FUCKING DISTANCING! Make sure you say this loud enough so the neighbors can hear, so they will know how seriously you are taking your responsibility to keep our society safe and healthy.

Tip #3: In a confined space, you’ll be looking at your spouse a lot, which means that you’ll be seeing a lot that you wish you hadn’t seen. Be sure to criticize their slobby personal grooming (YO DUDE WHAT IS THAT SHIT ON YOUR FACE, TOOTHPASTE OR DROOL?) their disgusting snacking ( YOU DIP THAT APPLE INTO THE  MAYONNAISE JAR ONE MORE TIME  AND WE’RE GOING FULL-OUT FIGHT CLUB)   and their shitty new pandemic pastimes (STOP PLAYING TIC TAC TOE WITH THE CAT YOU KNOW THE CAT ALWAYS WINS) because they obviously can’t help themselves.

TIP #4: When your spouse looks at your phone over your shoulder and comments that Gee, you seem to have a lot of pictures of young K-Pop stars in tight jeans on your Twitter feed, now is the time to remind them that the last time they could fit into tight jeans was before these K-Pop stars were born, which can be very motivating. But just for good measure, you can also use your best “Screaming at a BTS concert” voice when you add: AND BACK THE FUCK UP, I HATE IT WHEN YOU BREATHE ON ME.

I hope these tips will be as helpful to you as they were to Top Cat and I when we went through our Orkney ordeal. We also drank a lot on that trip. Separately. He’d go to a pub and I’d settle in with a bottle of wine in the hotel room and we wouldn’t have to look at each other until the next morning. That helps too.

And speaking of Orkney…

…many of you have been wondering where in the world is The Stromness Rock?

(The rock that I found in the village of Stromness, Orkney, hidden in the  parking lot of a seafood shop that is part of a game the villagers were playing, where people find painted rocks, upload a photo on Facebook, and hide it for someone else to find. I contacted the person in charge and was given permission to take The Rock home to America with me, and the Dear Readers of this blog have been showing our Scottish Stone the sights (so far) of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington state, Oregon, and California.)

So, Where is The Rock? Here’s a hint:

Can you see our Scottish friend waving from the base of the flag pole?

The Rock arrived in the great Lone Star State just in time to be quarantined with Dear Reader Rachel and her husband Don. But The Rock is happy to get some of that great Texas sunshine and hang with the indigenous flora:

More species of cacti are found in Texas than in any other state. In fact, the Prickly Pear cactus is the state plant of Texas. Now, just because I wrote a book about gardens doesn’t mean that I know a damn thing about plants, so let’s just call the one (above) Stabby Sticks, and the one (below) Jazz Hands:

The Rock has never seen a cactus before, being from a northern latitude that makes “home” feel more like Anchorage, Alaska than Central Texas. If you have never seen a cactus in your life, your first impression of them is that they are extra-terrestrial, and it’s a good thing that The Rock is a huge sic-fi nerd and felt right at home with these creatures. Here’s The Rock relaxing, below, with the famous Texas Upside Down Splat cactus:

This is not a cactus:

This is Dudley, and he’s confused.

The Rock has a very strong Scottish accent, and Cò am balach math? sounds more like a hedgehog gurgling with Dr. Pepper than Who’s a good boy? in Scots. Relax, Dudley. Everyone knows who’s a good boy. (It’s you, Dudley. It’s always you. You’re the only dog in the house.)

Some people say that Texas ladies are the epitome of southern beauty. . .

LeeAnn and What’s Her Name from the Real Housewives of Dallas

. . . and some people say that they look as if they’ve barely managed to survive an explosion in a make up factory, but the point is that Texas ladies are glamorous. The Rock was clearly out-classed when it came to hanging out with the locals:

Texans are some of the friendliest folks you’ll ever find here win these United States, and they tried to make The Rock feel accepted as one of them. . .

. . . but the truth is that The Rock has logged about 7,000 miles on this road trip so far and is beginning to look a bit worn out:

SO GUESS WHAT HAPPENED!

The Rock got a facelift!

I’m insanely jealous. The Rock got a facelift before I got mine and it’s a sad day when a Scottish stone gets an update while I’m still stuck with the same face I’ve been dragging around since George McGovern ran for president. The Rock is SO PLEASED with the result of its makeover that it shines, as if it were lit from within, below, in this field of Texas Blue Bonnets:

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. I’ll be googling the COVID timeline, looking for information for when it’s OK to have elective surgery again, but you all, please ignore me and go binge watch Crash Landing Into You on Netflix. It’s very funny, as funny as North Korea gets.

Our regularly scheduled Fuck Trump post is in a separate post  this week, immediately following this looooong public service announcement. I wanted to give you a chance to get up and go make a cup of tea before you dive into Part Two.

Enjoy.

 

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In late February, I went to Florida on a packed plane that included several babies, including one who screamed the whole time and I wanted to punch the mother for bringing an infant with ear problems ON A PLANE.

Four days later I came back from Florida on a plane that was 3/4 full and the only baby was waaaaay in the back.

The next week, I went to Los Angeles on a plane that was half empty and had NO BABIES and I gave the guy sitting next to me a hand sanitizer wipe and we became such good friends (who didn’t talk to one another the whole 6 hours YAY) that he offered me the Ghiradelli chocolate that came with our lunch. Five days later, I came home from Los Angeles with Top Cat on a plane that was 3/4 empty, had no babies or old people on it, and everyone was keeping themselves to themselves and maintaining their distance even during the scrum to de-plane.

I’ll say one thing about this plague. It’s given me some outstandingly pleasant travel experiences.

Last week I had every intention to blog about my LA trip and show you what I had for lunch in Koreatown:

When the waitress set the table I had to google “Why did I get scissors with my spicy noodles in a Korean restaurant?”

I also had a story about an epic instance of mansplaining during an Uber ride, and how it poured rain for four of the five days I was there prompting me to spend an entire day in our rental apartment doing nothing but watching 4th-century BC costume drama porn a Chinese historical drama on my iPad not talking to anyone and no one talking to me IT WAS HEAVEN, and etc.

But now that things have got bad, it seems poor taste to make light of the hardships that our hard-working fellow citizens and our nation are going through. . .

. . . so let’s dive right in:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My gym is closed so I’m improvising daily workouts here at home but lordy, I miss my gym buddies who are always there to recommend ways to fine-tune my weight-lifting program and to tell me that I have such pretty hair. My Korean lessons have shifted from our weekly get-togethers on 32nd Street to on-line streaming and I miss the jokes that are only funny when you’re in a classroom with 10 other people who get it when someone mutters, “Oh, right, the Joseon dynasty.” I can’t play with my BFF because she has lung cancer and has to avoid people even more than she usually does so, when it comes to day-drinking and thinking up ways to not act my age, I’m on my own now.

French Quarter Fest has been cancelled, so there goes the annual trip to New Orleans that Top Cat and I take every April.

I’m pretty sure that BTS is going to have to cancel their American tour (April 25 – June 6), for which I have tickets for both nights when they are at Giants Stadium May 23 and 24. Getting those tickets through Ticketmaster via a special platform open only to pre-registered ARMY (BTS fans) (to avoid scalpers) was an ordeal that one of my fellow ARMYs likened to “The Hunger Games”. In 1974 I once stood on line for five hours to get tickets to see Elton John at the Philadelphia Spectrum; getting BTS tickets was far worse. I’m really upset about this.

The upside is that, so far, the neighborhood has been very village-y, like the time Super Storm Sandy came to town and knocked out power for six days. People are actually out on the back streets, taking walks, TOGETHER. Even through social distancing, people say Hi when you pass, because we know that we are all in this together. I was in the parking lot of our local Total Wine store, loading the car with eight bottles of vodka and a case of pino grigio, I made eye contact with the woman doing the same in the SUV parked next to me and she smiled and said, “Well, at least we got the important stuff done!”

This morning I made an early morning run to the grocery store to stock up on junk food — on my previous visits I had been too focused on getting a supply of ground turkey, canned beans, rice, and tabasco sauce — and I tipped the cashier $10 and thanked her for being there.

THANK THE PEOPLE WHO KEEP THE GROCERY STORES OPEN!

During this time of sheltering in place, I have hours of Chinese and Korean TV to watch, I have a foreign language to learn, I have sooooo many emails to return, and sooooo much Twitter to catch up on every day. All I have to do to be an adult these days is stay home and not talk to anyone, ever. I think I can be really good at this.If not for the fact that this pandemic will be economically catastrophic to so many people and institutions, and profoundly alter our society in ways we can’t even anticipate yet, this could be the happiest time of my life.

 

Or, if you have a dog:

 

And if being cooped up with your family starts to fray your nerves, here’s some advise:

 

 

Have a great weekend, everyone. I’ll be back next week for sure, now that certain functions of my computer are operating again and I can’t stand the guilt when I don’t show up for our regularly-scheduled chats.

And, oh yeah, Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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