Bubble Baths in the Time of COVID
We are Month One into what could be a two- or three-month shutdown of our normal lives.
Publishing the Valley Voice makes my life run in two-week cycles. But about four times a year, the dates hit just right and we get a three-week break between issues. That’s when I get super excited and jot down all the things I want to do.
Because I have a WHOLE week to get them done!
Now that we have been in shutdown for FOUR weeks, I’ve written my memoir, started learning a new language, and put the final touches on my she-shed.
OK, not really, but I did make a list.
We still publish the Valley Voice twice a month online, but without layout and distribution my workload has been cut in half. So now that I’m starring at eight to 10 unstructured weeks straight in the face, I’m finding it difficult to do much more than the Daily Jumble.
I did relearn a lesson from my youth, though.
Remember back in high school/college and playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door on the record player (Millennials and Gen Z can stop reading now) and donning those oversized headphones that are now back in fashion?
I have most of my old CDs stacked in my closet, some of which I haven’t listened to in decades. So I thought one night, I have time, I’ll put one on!
But then I wondered what I would do while the CD was playing.
Should I just lay there and do nothing?
Is that even legal?
After processing through my mom guilt, wife guilt, daughter guilt, and work guilt, I put on Boney M and plopped a fluffy pillow under my head.
I was immediately transported to my college days when two girlfriends and I traveled by bus through Morocco. On one of our night treks over the Atlas Mountains, this was the cassette playing on my Walkman.
I got a little teary eyed over the distance between my adult self and my youth. Then I remembered, not so fondly, the stew of unresolved issues that made up my early twenties and my eyes suddenly went dry. Now, my idea of adventure is taking Amtrak and renting an Airbnb (What if the host didn’t leave out the key!).
Some people working in essential businesses, such as health care or grocery stores, may not have a lot of free time. But if you don’t–and you don’t have a fever or school aged kids–you’re golden.
So how do you make the transition from having one free day every few months to several months of free time?
Step one: Get over the guilt.
I assume everyone is watching the news of nurses and doctors working 12-hour shifts then falling asleep on the bottom tray of a beverage cart? How can I square their working so hard while my biggest decision is which CD to play next?
Then I read an article about Yosemite workers sheltering in place. On March 20, all parks were closed and a skeleton crew of around 200 stayed in Yosemite Valley along with some residents and vacation homeowners, complete with the quaint Village Market to buy groceries.
The residents and employees talk of the silence, the crystal-clear air, empty trails, running river, and how they get to witness the wildlife reclaim the park. “You couldn’t ask for a better place to be isolated,” said a saucier at the Ahwahnee Hotel.
My guilt subsided with their every word.
In sum, we need to accept the fact that some people have it worse during the COVID crisis, and some people have it better, and that you are probably somewhere in the middle. And because the pace of life has tangibly slowed, all those working from home also have a reduced workload.
If you feel like you have more than your fair share of free time, well, most likely so do your neighbors and friends.
Step two: Quit watching the news.
It is a strange thing for a newspaper to recommend stop watching the news, but according to some of our angry Facebook followers (i.e. Carlton Jones) we are not really a newspaper but an Op. Ed. So, knock yourself out reading the Valley Voice.
But do limit watching cable and network news to twice a week. It’s depressing, repetitive and sensationalist.
Step three: Write down a list of goals and keep a schedule.
To get started, just go crazy and write down every single goal you’d like to accomplish over the next four to eight weeks.
OK, now take your list of goals and a sharpie and cross off anything not fun. We are only four months into 2020 and it’s already the worst decade of most people’s life. Cut yourself some slack.
That means catching up on reading the classics, repainting the guest room, or cleaning out the garage are to be blacked out immediately.
You can keep on your list: Binge watching Super Soul Sunday and 90 Day Fiancé, using your stockpile of bath bombs you intended to re-gift, and getting that online astrological reading.
Even within the current “woke” generation, women are not listened to, and once they become mothers, everything will be their fault. So for women, a lifetime of being ignored and the feelings of guilt are not just going to disappear with the foam of one lavender bubble bath.
It’s going to take many hours of Netflix and weeks of bubble baths to quell the guilt, so you better get started right now.
While my husband’s list of goals I so graciously wrote for him (clean the garage, paint the guest room) looks good just the way it is, I have trimmed my list down to making blood orange jam, looking at family photos, and writing. I may not get my memoir of the last six unbelievable years written by the end of this pandemic, but it will definitely make it to print by the time a certain wicked someone celebrates their 80th birthday.
And what’s at the top of my list during these exceptional times?
Getting through my pile of CDs.
See you in a few months.