Thursday, May 7, 2020

Unmotivated






It’s Day 51 since America went into lockdown mode. Or is it Day 52. Or 57? Beats me. Stopped counting weeks ago.

Some states are slowly re-opening, and people are venturing out of their houses again, but I’m 68. Folks my age — I read a news report the other day in which a 60-year-old victim of Covid-19 was referred to as “elderly” — are advised to continue self-quarantining and I intend to do just that. Sure, I’ll go to the supermarket each week for groceries and once a month, as I did yesterday, I’ll go to the ophthamologist to get a shot in my right eyeball that's needed to slow down the effects of macular degeneration. It’s pathetic that I actually look forward to having a needle inserted in my eye -- one of the few legitimate reasons I have to put on something other than gym shorts and a t-shirt and get out of the house. Yesterday, when the nurse took my temperature at the door, it registered 95.1. I think I may already be dead but I sure as hell haven't gone to heaven. 

I’m disgusted with myself because I haven’t done all the things I always swore I’d do if I only had the time. In fact, I haven’t done any of them.

For instance, I haven’t written the second chapter of my book. I wrote Chapter 1 a lifetime ago, on a two-hour flight in January, and told friends I’d write the rest of the book once my term on my HOA’s board of directors ended in March, but haven’t even attempted Chapter 2. I know what I want to say but my fingers don’t seem to be connected to my brain.

I haven’t cleaned out my closet, which is packed with stuff I no longer wear or want. I could get out the pressure washer and clean bird poop off the driveway. Oh, wait. I got it out in early April but never got around to connecting the hose to the spigot so I put it back. Too much trouble. I could also touch up the chipped paint on the door between the laundry room and the garage, wash and vacuum the cars, or prune the hibiscus bushes in the yard that need to be cut back. But I don’t. 

I keep getting emails from the food bank where I used to volunteer, saying they need extra help. It's heartbreaking. So many people, especially here in south Florida where the economy depends on tourists who have disappeared, have lost their jobs and can't feed their families. That's something I would definitely do, but the emails go on to say people my age should disregard the message and stay home. 

A week or so into the quarantine, I started to clean out a file cabinet. I made three piles — one of files to keep, one of files to toss, and one of files I’d decide about once I had emptied the cabinet, but was quickly overcome by the enormity of it all. Should I throw away the file containing the deed to the house we sold in 2013? What if the IRS were to audit our tax return and I needed it? A half hour after I started, I threw everything back into cabinet and watched another episode of 90-Day Fiance, a trashy show on TLC which, ironically, once stood for The Learning Channel. I’ve watched four seasons of this idiotic show since mid-March. If you hear I've started binge-watching other TLC shows like My 600 Lb. Life or Dr. Pimple Popper, please call the Florida Department of Mental Health and tell them to break the door down to get me out of here.

Last week I discovered Scrabble on Facebook and am so obsessed that I now play 10 hours a day. I can challenge strangers, Facebook friends (a shout-out to my loyal reader Mary W., the best player I've encountered), or a bot named Zoe who isn’t much of an opponent. Zoe has no strategy. She spells out Q-U-I-E-T for 14 points when she could have earned 62 points spelling Q-I -- every serious player knows it's the circulating life force that is the basis for much Chinese medicine and philosophy -- by placing the Q on a triple letter square abutting I’s on the right and below. Zoe and I play at least 20 games a day. I win every time and each time I finish a game I vow I’m going to shut off the damn computer and take the dogs for a walk. But I simply hit “rematch.” 

Though our dogs, Rupert and Russell, enjoy the exercise, walking them is no fun for me. It’s unnerving when someone wearing a face mask doesn’t merely step aside when you approach but actually crosses the street to avoid you, shooting you a look as though you are carrying the bubonic plague and are trying to infect them. Hey, I’m just a normal person like you, desperate to get out of the house.

I’ve read 20 or 25 or 30 books downloaded from my local library but can’t really recommend any of them, not that you would want to read them anyway. Most people prefer novels but I only read non-fiction. Truth is stranger than, you know, and the truth we are living through is something none of us could have envisioned two months ago.

Last week (or was it earlier this week?) my wife and I attended a lakeside cocktail party with two other couples, who correctly sat six feet apart. Each couple brought their own drinks and snacks. One friend, a sculptor, said that since the pandemic began she has sculpted a new piece out of stone, started another, cleaned her house top to bottom, and tackled many other ambitious and rewarding tasks I can’t even remember. 

I, on the other hand, have accomplished nothing, but in doing nothing have realized something about myself: I can’t do anything unless I am operating under a deadline. I spent my career in advertising, which is totally deadline-driven. No matter how far in advance a client assigned a project, I’d always wait until the day before it was due to start it, because I did my best work under pressure. Until this quarantine, I lived life on a schedule I measured in nano-seconds. Even routine chores, like taking out the trash or going to the dry cleaner, were scheduled between other tasks on a list of things I wanted or needed to get done that day. 

As it turns out, I’ve learned I do my only work under pressure, but that is going to have to change if this quarantine continues because I no longer have any schedules much less deadlines to adhere to, nor do I have any idea when (and I hesitate to say this but "if") life will return to normal. I have to do something useful or practical other than start season 5 of 90-Day Fiance lest my brain and/or body turns to mush. That's why today, after not posting a blog for more than a month, I wrote this. I am embarrassed to admit how long it took to write. 

This morning I also agreed to write a fund-raising letter for a charity run by friends. We had a Zoom meeting to discuss the project. They said there was no rush, but I said I had to have a deadline; otherwise it wouldn’t get done. They gave me until midnight tomorrow. I’ll get the letter to them then, but not a minute before. 
Zoe says it’s my turn to play.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Jack Russell terrier and dachshund on the pandemic, Trump, trash TV and other topics



Rupert (left) and Russell demonstrate social distancing

I’ve read dozens of interviews with experts about the global pandemic and its effects on humans but have yet to see an interview with any of the millions of dogs who are also having to make adjustments to their routines. So this morning, I sat down for a chat with Rupert, our dachshund, and Russell, our Jack Russell terrier, to find out how they are coping during these troubling times, and to see if they have any advice for their fellow canines. 


TD: How are you two staying fit? 

Rupert: We’re being taken for walks —lots and lots of walks. I have lost four pounds and Russell has lost three since the quarantine began. 

Russell: We only weighed 10 pounds each when all this started so if this quarantine goes on much longer we could be in trouble.


TD: What do you think of the stimulus package that was signed Friday?

Russell: We sent a message to Nancy Pelosi asking her to include $25 billion to make sure every American dog receives a lifetime supply of Cesar’s Softies Filet Mignon Treats. She wrote that into the bill but the stupid Republicans insisted that provision be removed so we can’t say we support it.

Rupert: Frankly, we are pissed. Most American humans are getting checks but not one dog and that’s not right. Just consider the billions that are spent to keep us healthy and cute — veterinarians, groomers, heartworm preventative, flea and tick control products, dog food, obedience schools, Ellen Degeneres ED Halloween outfits from Petsmart, etc. Congress clearly has no regard for us. 

Russell: Don’t blame Congress, blame Trump. Not only is he a racist, sexist, homophobic, narcissistic, lying xenophobe, he’s a cynophobe. 

TD: What’s a cynophobe? 

Russell: You have nothing else to do, look it up.



TD: Anything else you are doing to pass the time?

Rupert: Yesterday we cornered and disemboweled a baby lizard on our lanai. When mom found out, she started screaming and made dad squash it with a hammer to, as she said, “put it out of his misery” which I found disappointing because we were enjoying watching it squirm.



TD: What are your humans doing?

Russell: They talk about many things they want to do — clean out closets, read books, throw out all that crap in the garage, wash windows, teach us to fetch, yadda yadda. But they don’t do it. They just sit on their butts and watch endless episodes of 90-Day Fiance on TLC. It's a reality show about trashy Americans who meet foreigners on the Internet and decide they are their soulmates, bring them to the United States, then have 90 days to get married. 

Rupert: It’s mindless and makes us embarrassed to be Americans. When this is all said and done, the CEO of TLC should be sentenced to life with Darcy, the crazy woman from Connecticut who fell for Jesse, the control freak from Holland, or with Paul, the convicted Kentucky arsonist who can only talk to his Brazilian girlfriend, Karine, using the translation app on his cell phone. 

Russell: An update for you bro, Paul and Karine got married in last night’s episode.

Rupert: Oh, I missed that, must have fallen asleep.



TD: Are you practicing social distancing?

Rupert: Absolutely. I have always enjoyed sniffing the butts of other dogs I encounter on my daily walks but now I’m hesitant to do that. I read that a dog in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus, along with a cat from Illinois. So Russell and I sniff each other’s. 



TD: What is your advice for humans?

Russell: There are hundreds of thousands of loving dogs in shelters who need homes and would like nothing more than to keep you company, not only during this pandemic but for years to come. I was one of them just four months ago. Now’s a great time to go out and adopt one. We won’t argue with you, won’t judge you, will be loyal until our last breath, and all we really want is to be by your side. Plus, we are better adjusted and have more sense than the people on 90-Day Fiance. 



TD: Thank you boys. Wanna take a walk?

Rupert: God no!


Enjoy this post? If so, please share it. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Doubting Thomas' COVID-19 Be Damned Nutrition Plan




Many thanks to my loyal readers who have called, emailed and texted to find out how I'm doing during the global pandemic.

I am happy to report that, as of this writing, I'm fine. That could change at any time but for now, I'm virus-free due to: 

A)  social isolation. I've left the house only to walk the dogs and, twice, to pick up food at the drive-through windows of restaurants when I got tired of eating out of the fridge or pantry. 

B)  the proprietary diet plan I have followed for the last seven days. I'm sharing it here in the hope that you, too, can remain healthy so that you can also spend this pandemic watching back-to-back episodes of “90-Day Fiancee” instead of doing all the stuff around the house you always swore you would do if you had the time.  

Ready to learn my secret plan? Read on!



MONDAY

Breakfast

1 cup Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with 1% milk

2 Oreos cookies


Lunch

2 bowls Honey-Nut Cheerios with 1% milk


Dinner

6 White Castle Cheese Sliders (microwaved)

1 750 ml bottle Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc



TUESDAY

Breakfast

3 cups DD coffee with 1% milk

1 36 oz. tub Nestle Toll House Ready to Bake Cookie Dough



Lunch

22 1 oz. snack portions Tillamook Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese

2 sleeves of Ritz crackers

1 5.3 oz. box Ferrero Rocher Fine Hazelnut Chocolates

2 12 oz. cans Miller Genuine Draft


Dinner

1 20.5 oz. box Fruity Pebbles (dry)

2.5 cups Maker’s Mark Small-Batch Bourbon Whiskey with splash of water


Snack

7 Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Bunnies from grandkids' Easter basket 




WEDNESDAY

Breakfast

4 cups Irish Coffee ( half DD Coffee, half Jameson's Irish Whisky)


Lunch

1 17.89 oz. Red Baron Brick Oven Pepperoni Pizza

1 2.5 lb. jar Kirkland Cashews

1 12 oz. can Diet Coke


Dinner

1  52.7 g package Ptasie Mlecsko Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallows

1 50 oz. box Marie Callender's 3 Meat & 4 Cheese Lasagna  (Family Size)

Rest of 750 ml bottle of Maker’s Mark with splash of tap water

1 750 ml bottle, Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon




THURSDAY

Breakfast

1 Wendy’s Breakfast Baconator Combo  (sausage, American cheese, applewood smoked bacon, fresh cracked Grade A egg, Swiss cheese sauce)

1 senior Seagram’s Diet Ginger Ale*


Lunch

1 box Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies

2 orders Taco Bell Nachos BellGrande  

1 Taco Bell 7-Layer Burrito

1 pint Jeni’s Gooey Butter Cake Premium Ice Cream


Dinner

Finnish Bloody Mary — six airplane-sized bottles Finlandia Vodka mixed with 32 oz. bottle Heinz Ketchup



FRIDAY

Breakfast

3 cups Dunkin Donuts Coffee with 1% milk

1 box (6 ct) Little Debbie Honey Buns


Lunch

1 large Wendy’s Taco Salad 

3 bags Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn

1 9.3 oz. container Market Pantry Rainbow Sprinkles

17 12 oz. cans, Miller Genuine Draft



Dinner

8 Fat Boy Jr. Premium Ice Cream sandwiches

1 11 oz. pkg. Stouffer’s Creamed Chipped Beef served over large bag Fritos Spicy JalapeƱo Scoops

Mongolian Bloody Mary — 750 ml bottle Bacardi Silver Rum mixed with 14.2 oz. bottle P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Style BBQ Sauce



SATURDAY

Breakfast

3 cups DD Coffee with 1% milk



Lunch

12 oz. box Velveeta Shells & Cheese Sauce prepared according to package directions with one can Chicken of the Sea oil-packed tuna and liberal amount of fresh ground pepper

1 can Dasani Lime Sparkling Water 



Dinner


8 Publix Blueberry Toaster Pastries

1 16 oz. Bottle McCormick's All-Natural Pure Vanilla Extract



SUNDAY

Breakfast

4 cups DD coffee with 1% milk

16.2 oz. jar Trader Joe’s Pitted Amarena Cherries with Stems



Lunch

7 oz. jar Pastene Monzanilla Olives

1 can Reddi-wip Extra Creamy Whipped Topping

1 1 lb., 8 oz box See's Peanut Brittle



Dinner

1 Scoop Purina Pro Plan Salmon & Rice Formula

Jemima Cocktail: One 24 oz. bottle Aunt Jemima Pancake & Waffle Syrup mixed with 16 fl. oz. bottle Walgreen's 93% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol 

2 Percocet tablets from 2011 wisdom tooth extraction



Be strong. Be well. Be brave.   And remember: That which does not kill you makes you stronger.   



*Free for those 65 and better with proof of age