Day 272 of quarantine and, this may be hard to believe, I’m sick of it. My patience is waning, my tolerance is at an all-time low; I’m alternately living in a bubble, trying to work safely in my job, and pretending that this isn’t a maddening life I’m living. Part of my writing inspiration comes from outside experiences, no matter how simple or mundane. The fodder mill is stalled, nothing flowing through it, most of the time.

I’ve taken up my novel – inspired to release and relinquish it to the blank screen. It is a very rough, rough draft. I’m not halfway through it. I have very high hopes that it will enlighten and lay bare the flaws of the human condition – how suppressing that which we instinctively feel is wrong can manifest itself in a lifetime of self-inflicted circumstances. You know those synopses on book covers – or the hook – the literary equivalent to click bait? The one that keeps circling my brain is this: what if you could do it all over again?

Anyway. Nothing is the same. Thanksgiving was so low-key, it was almost comatose. I can’t do that again. Christmas promises to be just another day in quarantine. V and I went and picked out a tree, which was fun because we never do anything together anymore because- fuckery – and there was no one there but us and the old guy who sold it to us and guess what? He only takes cash and guess what I had none of? AFTER he’d loaded the tree in my car. Luckily I appear trustworthy and so I drove up the street to the ATM and drove back.

Because quarantine – I’ve been uninspired inspired to do things differently. At least I’ve tried to – but apparently I should’ve bought the new ornaments I saw the week before Halloween because they were sold out when I went there last week. I had wanted to do an entirely new theme/color scheme this year and well – like the rest of 2020 – I was shit out of luck.

Not to be completely deterred, I went to another retail store and found no ornaments there either, but they did have Christmas lights. So I put 6 boxes in my cart and worried about being stopped by somebody for buying more than allowed, but alas – the attendant at the self-checkout only snatched my second bottle of hand sanitizer, while informing me, ma’am, that [I’m] limited to ONE. If there was a sign on the multi-shelf display of no less than 500 bottles, I missed it. So now I, too, am an asshole who ignores signs. Sigh.

Speaking of signs – it’s breathtaking how many people can walk through a door with an enormous STOP sign on it without reading the “rules for entry.” Did you call to check in? No? Why the fuck not? Except we don’t say that last part, because – job. We have screening questions so we know whether people should be routed to the back entry if they have any symptoms of illness. Nonetheless, they still come in – oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know – and, I can’t believe this has to said after NINE MONTHS of a pandemic, they don’t know they shouldn’t be there if they have a pending COVID test.

And, as of this week, we’re now wondering if we should add the question – do you have any live animals with you? – after someone brought not one, but two bunnies to the appointment with them. FYI – bunnies are not allowed. They were asked to leave. The bunnies – not the family. This is definitely a first for me. But I don’t dare utter the words, what else could possibly happen? We all know you never, ever say that.

I am also pleased to note that some families need to be reminded not to be in a moving car during a video visit. It’s not all madness though. We got to wear pajamas to work last Friday and, as expected, I really needed a nap after lunch. I really think this should be a monthly thing.

Meanwhile, on the home front where nothing really happens… Todd has completely gutted his new, antique Mustang and parts are rolling in and moving out on the daily. I continue online shopping and bought a gorgeous pair of Vince Camuto boots that are apparently designed for someone with no calf muscles, and so I finally (after 3 months) drove to DSW to return them and the store was closed because they had no power. That was the same day I also went to Michaels for the ornaments that were sold out. It could’ve been a shit day but I went to Barnes & Noble and bought four new books, so it wasn’t a total loss.

I’m reading a lot – which was one of my goals this year, actually, before COVID fucked our lives up. I have read, so far this year, 21 books. My to-be-read stack is six high, though there are others languishing on book shelves that I have yet to crack open. There are two more on a delivery truck somewhere. I think I may have a problem. I’ve always been an avid reader, since childhood. I just finished The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and I wish I could share it with my kids, who both enjoyed The Hunger Games series, but neither of them ever caught the reading bug.

I’ve been regrettably lazy in the exercise department and, while I’ve managed to take some weight off (no drinking), my joints and parts could benefit from a revival. Maybe today. I try to remember that this is the number one thing that can prevent or stall a serious return of the back pain I had from the accident.

There’s plenty of news to report about Shuggie – who has cornered the market on badness while simultaneously melting hearts with her eyes. She had some sort of relapse a couple of weeks ago and shit in the house twice. I knew something was wrong when I got home from work and she was lying on the kitchen floor and barely even looked up when I came in. Todd says she knew she’d been bad. She has suddenly decided that she can lie on the couch and I don’t believe for a second that she doesn’t remember that this is not allowed.

On a different day I came home from work and noticed that “someone” had been lying on the couch next to the side table with the box of tissues on it – and there was a pile of tissues, clearly pulled out one at a time, resting on top of the armrest. The culprit has yet to confess, but she has ingratiated herself to me by resting her head on my lap while I’m typing. At least she hasn’t looked twice at the Christmas tree.

While I do for the most part feel unstitched – in the sense that I think I spend a great deal of time both melancholy and in denial for the purposes of self-preservation – I am also grateful for the many gifts I have. The things that money can’t buy. Many of my friends have suffered tremendous loss this year and I don’t want to let that go unacknowledged. My heart is heavy for them. I have had many moments when I imagined what would happen if I weren’t okay – would that change anything?

It remains to be seen, what will happen in the coming days, weeks, and months. How many more people will have to be sickened by COVID-19, or die? The spread is getting closer and closer to “us.” And I have occasionally and recklessly thought – bring it on. Let’s get it over with. It’s inevitable, isn’t it?

Let’s hope not.

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