Quarantine Your Clutter

Two things that most definitely do NOT go together:




While under quarantine, you become aware of your house as “containing things.” A pile here, a DVD you never watch there. It’s a decision, the “thing,” whether to pitch, donate, or cram into an already stuffed closet and includes items big and small.

Like makeup. Once I clung to my collection of makeup like Nefertiti clutched her scepter, until I watched a “Today” show where they discussed the importance of discarding eye shadow, foundation, blushes and the like.

 “Always toss your eye makeup after six months. Look at this mascara, for example,” explained the “Makeup Be-Gone” expert, waving around a twirl-ended applicator. Disgusted, the expert’s mouth downturned as though she’d just witnessed a filthy zoo pen being hosed down. “The contamination is unparalleled here! When examined under a microscope, the bacteria was so revolting that even the CDC fainted. Use this applicator, ladies, and you can say goodbye to functional eyesight.”

So into the garbage went the makeup and nail products. Let’s face it, when your fingernail polish is beginning to separate into some kind of congealed oil and a chemically suspicious polymer, it’s time to pitch that bottle of Perky Pink Peonies.

But clutter will always be a struggle.

I hesitate to donate something, lest my husband pokes around for it in the closet. “Where is that blue Izod shirt?”

“I donated it,” I reply. “They needed it as a historical reference for a new Netflix series set in the 1980s.”



Werewolves on a Toilet Paper Rampage

“Man, I’m having a hell of a day. I just had a werewolf eat my face off.”

So says my gamer offspring.

And this is how our pandemic experience unfolds, us on our laptops, me writing, my husband Zooming and my sons gaming. My sons are in their 20’s now and hunkered down with us. I’m uncertain as to when any of us last showered. It’s quite possible a five o’clock shadow is forming on my chin – and I’m a woman, last time I checked.

Our mornings shine with a similar patina. My husband staggers out of bed and mutters: “I’m losing my sense of what day it is.”

”Wednesday,” I say, emptying yesterday’s coffee from the glass pot. “Coffee, pardner?”

He waves a hand, nodding emphatically YES, and then heads downstairs to a conference call with coworkers. At the end of their conversation, my husband wisecracks, “I need a vacation. When can I come back to the office?” There is a burst of commiserating laughter. Apparently, our digital universe is making some folks even busier during this virus pandemic.

One of my writing heroes, James Scott Bell, just said this experience feels like “Groundhog Day,” sans any furry underground mammals who can weather-forecast.

We are gaining weight, driving our pets nuts, snapping on plastic gloves like crime investigators and wearing a strange assortment of masks in public. I tried on one of those masks – darn thing was upside-down and had the steel construction of an underwire bra – and bloodied my nose. . . . an injury that could require plastic surgery.

In spite of these inconveniences and strange new existence – I know we’ll get through this. I cried seeing the USNS Comfort dock in NYC, wept seeing the firefighter brigade cheer on the medical staff in their protective gear. I cried seeing volunteers help food banks around the country. And then I cried seeing my husband wear the same shirt he put on five days earlier.  

Yes. We’ll get through it. We’ll all be chubbier and crankier and in large part, more grateful for all the things we take for granted . . . the lifestyles we enjoy, the conveniences, the people we love, even our trusty homes.

Me? Having a heckuva of a day here. I just ate the hell of this cherry cheesecake.

(It used to be bills we argued about.)