Snorkers, I need your support!

Dear SNORK readers, we’ve been together for some time now. In fact, today is SNORK’s 7th birthday! I hope you’ve enjoyed our visits.

It has been my great pleasure writing for you. My goal has always been to give you a place to come that’s non-political, controversy-free and, hopefully, a space to hang your hat and put your feet up for a few chuckles. It gives me purpose and your support has meant the world to me.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus and Covid-19, I began making videos for you, with the intention of helping to alleviate some of our collective stress. I thought that having a human to see might make us all feel a little less isolated.

Those videos have blossomed into a full-blown YouTube channel called At Home With Anita Rosner, with lots more content than what you’ve found on this blog. I don’t post all my videos here because, frankly, they don’t always include the funny misadventures of my life – which is what this blog is all about.

That said, I think you might actually enjoy them! So, here’s the part where I’m asking for your support: It would be a tremendous help to me if you would subscribe to my YouTube channel. It’s free and easy to do. It requires no commitment on your part. It’s just a way of helping me to grow.

All you have to do is click on the “subscribe” button in the video below. It will appear in the bottom right corner about 30 seconds into the video. Or you can go directly to the channel here. That’s it! Your small gesture could help me embark on an exciting new phase of my life. I will still write for you, but if you like what you see here, you might actually enjoy being one of my YouTube viewers as well.

As always, I’m am so grateful to you for sticking with me all these years. Now, let’s get this second party started!!!!!

With love, Anita.

Here’s a sneak preview of my upcoming episodes.


Puppy Love

Back in 2007, there seemed to be some sort of fever sweeping through my friend group: everyone was adopting dogs. I couldn’t understand it. Why? All of our youngest children were finally starting school. We would have a moment to ourselves. Why would you bring another dependent into the house? A dog is a toddler that never grows up, I said. A dog will never be able to feed itself, I said. It will need walks, it will need grooming, medical care, it will bark, it will chew your shoes, it will pee in the house, it will steal food from the table…

You get the picture – I was not a fan.

My kids and my husband begged me, “Please, can we have a dog?”

Now, many people want to let others down gently. When they don’t want to say “no,” they say things like, “let me think about it” or “we’ll see.”

My response was unambiguous, “Over my dead body.”

Then, one day in the early summer of 2007, a strange thing happened.

My sister, Diana, and I were on the upper east side of Manhattan and passed the window of a pet shop. The most adorable puppies were in the window. And, yes, even I thought they were adorable because all puppies are adorable and I am only human.

Diana said, “Let’s go in…just to look.”

We browsed around. They had puppies and kittens, all looking cuddly and lovable, and heartbreaking in their tiny cages.

For reasons that remain unclear, I started asking questions:

Me: Do you have goldendoodles? My family has allergies.

Salesman: No, we only have purebreds here.

Me: What kind of purebreds are hypoallergenic?

Salesman: Why don’t I show you?

Never trust anyone who answers a question with a question.

The salesman went to an unseeable room in the store and returned with two tiny shitzu pups. One was the color of toasted marshmallows (which I love), and one was black and white like an Oreo cookie (which I also love). I have a sweet tooth. What can I say?

Without a word, he held them out to me. And without a thought, I took them.

That’s when it happened. It came without warning, I didn’t feel a tickle in my throat, or body aches of any kind. Nonetheless, I caught the fever.

The marshmallow was wriggling and squirming. The Oreo was totally zen. I handed the marshmallow back to the salesman and focused on the black and white fur ball that was now cradled in my arms. Like a seasoned pro, it nuzzled its little head under my chin. I was done for.

When I brought her home, my family must have thought I’d lost my mind, and I’ve never seen so much happiness stem from another person’s perceived dementia. After much debate, we named her Fluffy and she has been a beloved part of the family ever since.

After 13 years, Fluffy still can’t feed herself or walk herself, but she has never chewed our shoes (although she went through a period where she’d gather them like a nest around herself). She doesn’t bark. She doesn’t pee in the house. She doesn’t steal food from the table. Turns out, I’d been around some horribly “trained” dogs. She is nothing like them. She is my sweet, well-behaved little toddler that has never grown up and I could love her more. I have never recovered from the fever, and I never want to.

For Fluffy’s 13th birthday, I’ll show you how I baked her favorite treats. That’s love!

Mother’s Day Special

She loved you, held your hair back when you were sick, comforted you through break ups…no, not your college roommate. I’m talking about your mother!

This Mother’s Day will be like no other. I won’t be with my kids. I won’t be with my own mother. Yes, we call and we FaceTime, but that’s hardly a substitute for being in the same room together (which hasn’t happened for over three months now).

This pandemic has taught us many lessons, particularly that nothing is certain. So, I hope you’ll make a special effort to let your mother know what she really means to you. Some people are uncomfortable expressing their emotions. I should know because I am one of them. I tell my husband that he’s the luckiest man in the world because he married a woman who doesn’t like to shop and doesn’t like to talk about her feelings. But, set that discomfort aside and tell her what she means to you and why.

That said, I’d like to share just a few of my memories about my mother and why I appreciate her so much.

Misty

When I was five-years-old, out of the blue, my mother brought a little gray kitten home. This is one of the few times I remember her being spontaneous. She saw it, all alone by a garbage can, and decided to give it a home. I could not believe my eyes. Neither could my father when he came home from work. Misty, the name we gave him two seconds after meeting him, could not stay, my father said. Well, this was a pretty smart kitten, because when my father sat down to read the evening paper, Misty mewed at his feet until dad picked him up. It was that easy. We kept Misty and loved him until the end of his days. And I loved my mother for taking the chance on bringing him to us.

Hostess With The Most-ess

Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around one holiday or another. It seemed like my mother was the designated hostess for most of them. She did Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day…you name it. Everyone would gather from our very large extended family. The food was amazing and my grandfather’s homemade wine would flow. When it wasn’t an official holiday, our house was still party central, especially in the summer. Since we had a swimming pool, we had a constant stream of guests during hot weather months, with barbecues every night. I loved those times. Everyone hung out, everyone was welcomed. Now that I’ve followed in her footsteps, I’ve come to realize what went into all those affairs and appreciate her even more.

Playing Hooky

There is a hazy memory in the back of my mind, when my mother took me to a pediatrician appointment and then, rather than bringing me back to school, we went to a movie. Such lawlessness was not her style, which made it all the more fun.

And speaking of the pediatrician…

After weeks of begging, badgering and cajoling, my mother finally agreed to take my sister and me to the pediatrician to have our ears pierced. That’s where you had it done in those days, unless you had a friend you trusted to poke you with a sewing needle (we did not). My sister, Diana, went first. One, two, three and it was done. Then it was my turn. Nothing to it. Then Dr. Laquadera turned to my mother, “What do you say, Alice? Are you game?”

My mother blanched, “Oh, no. I couldn’t!”

My sister and I started pleading with her to go for it. The doctor helped us egg her along. And that became the day we all had our ears pierced together. Just us girls.

Becoming a Mother

When I gave birth to my first child, I was bound and determined to breastfeed. “What could be more natural?” I thought. I’d read all the books. I listened to my friends extols the virtues of their lactation consultants (which, to be honest, still makes me roll my eyes). So when the time came, I felt ready and informed. My son, however, had other ideas. He was not on board. He would not latch on. My mother was in the hospital room with me and could see I was growing frustrated – which, by the way, all the books said not to do. Like you can control that. The floor nurse strolled in, for one reason or another, and started trying to coach me. At one point, she actually roughly grabbed my nipple and tried to force my son to take it. He started to cry, as did I.

My mother stepped in, dismissing the nurse. “We’ll take it from here,” she said, lifting my son into her arms and rocking him.

After we had both calmed down, she handed him back to me and said, “Just let him find it.”

Eureka! Success! Mother does know best.

Tattoo Parlor

When a daughter is determined to get a tattoo, sometimes her mother will insist on accompanying her. This is not uncommon. However, I never thought I’d be on the flip side of that equation. Yup, you read that right. My mother was determined to get a tattoo, and I accompanied her. You can read about it in a past post titled “Ladybug“.

Breakfast In Bed

I don’t ever remember serving breakfast in bed to my mother on Mother’s Day. In fact, I can’t remember a childhood Mother’s Day that didn’t involve my mother making breakfast for us like she always did. This year, I wish I could. She and my father are in isolation and they’re 300 miles away. But if I could, I know just what I’d make for her – baked French toast.

If you’re lucky enough to be with your mom tomorrow, you can make it for her.

Baked French Toast

This will be one of the strangest and, in many ways, most difficult Mother’s Days for many of us. And as if things couldn’t get any weirder…it snowed today.

Bang! Zoom!

April 21, 2020

Today marks 42 days of sheltering at home. It is surreal. But in terms of my social life, things are hopping!

This past weekend, I attended two cocktail parties, two family reunions, a family game night, and I did it all from my computer through the website Zoom. If you, too, have been living through Zoom, I have some tips to share on how to Zoom like a boss (and how not to be that person during a Zoom call).

Watch and learn, by clicking here!

Creativity in the Contaminate Zone

Think outside the box.

Like so many people around the country, and the world, business owners here in the containment zone are taking a big hit. It’s devastating. There’s no way to sugarcoat it or make light of it. The only comfort is knowing we’re all in the same boat and we’ll bounce back together. We just need patience (not my strong suit), time and a hopeful look toward the future.

So, I have to give credit to the industrious individuals who are thinking outside the box. Here are some of the ways businesses are trying to make lemonade out of lemon-scented Lysol.

Toilet paper:

Since obsessing about toilet paper has become everyone’s favorite pastime, one genius marketer came up with a ploy to profit off the mania.

Imagine you’re down to your last roll. You’re feeling desperate. You don’t even have back-up newspaper or an old Sears catalogue laying around. So with a heart full of optimism, you search toilet paper on Amazon and this pops up:

A mistake? I don’t think so.

While some price gougers are trying to sell toilet paper to you for about $3.00 per roll, another company lists their shoes as toilet paper – and for a very affordable price, I might add.

What would your internal dialogue have to be to make this strategy work? “Hmm. I’m down to eight squares of TP but, you know, I could always use a cute pair of espadrilles.”

Appealing to people on lockdown with their kids:

Michael’s craft store is offering online shopping with curbside pick-up. Their website reads:

Stocking up on arts and crafts to keep the family busy at home?
Now you can grab supplies without leaving your car.

They will actually bring your purchase to your trunk so you can avoid all human contact. This is a great idea, depending on what you order. Let me offer a mommy tip here: do not order anything that involves glitter or permanent markers! You’re welcome.

New Cars:

It’s hard to imaging that anyone is thinking about buying a new car right now, but if you are. Chevrolet says “We’re here to ready to help.”

You can shop for your new car online and get home delivery (again, avoiding other humans and their potential creeping crud). Plus, for well-qualified buyers who finance through GM, they also offer 0%APR for 84 months and wave monthly payments for 120 days. FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m sure there is a laundry list of terms and condition. I won’t bore you with them here.

Cashing in on fear:

There are going to be a slew of commercials coming out soon for assisted living facilities. How do I know this? In addition to acting, I’m also a voiceover artist and I’m getting auditions for these left and right. And they almost all start out with phrases like ‘in these uncertain times.’

You’ll also be seeing lots more commercials for smart phone ultraviolet sanitizers, air purifiers, and the like.

The truth is, if you just stay put at home, respect social distance and wash your hands, you’ll likely be ok and so will your loved ones around you.

Now, a message from my heart:

I’ve been trying to keep people’s spirits up with these containment zone posts, and I hope I am. Sometimes it’s a struggle. I’m going through this just like you and it is stressful. My husband and I have been fortune that everyone in our family is healthy. Some of you have not been as lucky. You are in my thoughts every day.

I’d also like to say thank you to everyone who is keeping the world in motion. Thank you to those caring for the sick, stocking the grocery store shelves, providing gas, internet, and electricity. Thank you to the volunteers who deliver food to their elderly neighbors, and to the people walking their dogs who take the time to smile and ask, “How are you doing?” I’m grateful for the artists, musicians, and yoga and fitness instructors who generously post their talents online to give us all a little sweetness and keep us centered and motivated in these times of isolation and concern. And I am certainly grateful for all of you who take the time to read these posts and leave comments for me. It helps. So to all of you beautiful people out there:

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

xo,

Anita

Tuesday Nights in the Containment Zone

March 24, 2020 (Toilet paper inventory: 11 Rolls)

Last night in the Containment Zone, some of us “gathered” to celebrate our friend’s birthday, via Whereby. It was a very special milestone birthday for her. So special, in fact, that I put on lipstick and a clean pair of sweatpants! And what would a virtual birthday party be without virtual gifts? I virtually created a brand new virtual company (Post-Pandemic Luxury Tours) and “gave” her an all-expenses paid trip around the world on a private jet. Oh, but that’s not all. I also “gave” her a diamond necklace valued at $4 million and a beautiful Chanel birthday cake (calorie-free).

I have to say, I’m starting to really embrace virtual living! It’s made me very generous.

Party People

After the party, I decided to stick to my usual Tuesday night routine – spa night. Listen, just because I’m under quarantine (along with the entire state of New York), that is no reason to throw in the towel on good grooming.

Before this whole debacle, I treated myself to a couple of light therapy gadgets that are supposed to reduce the appearance of fine lines and lighten up dark spots. Do they work, you ask? Honestly, I can’t really tell, but I feel very posh when I use them. And as everybody knows, you have to feel good to look good.

My hands, of course, were crying out for the most attention. Excessive hand washing and harsh disinfectants have taken their toll. As luck would have it, I bought hand treatments as stocking stuffers last year and still had one.

You place this lollipop contraption in boiling water, let it dissolve and cool, and then soak your hands in it.

Before
After

I’d say it worked pretty well!

What are you doing to pamper yourself in isolation? Inquiring minds want to know.

Assessing My Needs in the CZ

March 23, 2020 (Toilet paper inventory: 11 rolls)

Well, it’s day 13 here in the containment zone.

The weekend was jam-packed with super fun activities. I did two loads of laundry, made soup and followed my husband around the house with a Clorox wipe. In the midst of all this, the entire state of New York shut down and all “non-essential” businesses closed. Nobody knows if this will last for weeks or months. There’s just no way to tell.

So I thought it was important to asses my long-term needs. Wants and needs are two very different things, of course. This is where the ability to be very discerning comes in handy. For example: I want paper towels but I don’t need them. I can make do with hand towels, sponges and, if push come to shove I can use one of my husband’s shirts that I secretly hate.

So, what is essential for me? What would I no longer have access to in the foreseeable future?

My husband and I are not big drinkers, so closed liquor stores would mean nothing to us. Consumer alert: Liquor stores have been deemed essential businesses in New York State and remain open. You’re welcome.

I stopped coloring my hair last June, so the closure of salons was not an issue. And who’s going to see me anyhow?

Wait! Hair? I realized I would not be able to have Fluffy groomed for God knows how long? She’s a shitzu and requires monthly haircuts. This is a long-term need! There was no choice but to buy a dog grooming kit on Amazon and learn how to do it myself from YouTube tutorials. Please send your thoughts and prayers to Fluffy.

What else would I need? Coffee! Now some of you might think coffee is a want and not a need. Well you would be wrong. An order placed to Nespresso checked that off the list.

I need food, and therein lies my biggest problem. I can’t order any.

After attempting to use every online grocery service short of the pony express, I finally discovered why I couldn’t get them. On one of the sites, I entered my address and a notice popped up, in red letters. I’m paraphrasing, but it read something like this: Your area has been temporarily suspended for deliveries due to the coronavirus. The message was vague. It didn’t explain why my area was suspended. I have friends elsewhere in New York, including Manhattan, who have access to deliveries. I got the distinct impression it had something to do with the containment zone.

Um…hello?! If we in the “CZ” are considered the most dangerous of the dangerous, wouldn’t it make more sense to drop our groceries outside our doors than to have us sashaying our cooties all over a supermarket?

Running out of groceries was ramping up my anxiety. There was only one option – I would have to venture out. This, of course, compounded my anxiety.

I should point out here that, prior to this pandemic, I was not an anxious person. Thanks for that, pandemic!

Since I didn’t want to risk exposing myself for nothing by going to a store that might have empty shelves, I decided to hit Stew Leonards in Yonkers, which is normally very abundant. I knew the layout of the store well. Crafting my shopping list in groups (veggies, dairy, meat, etc) in accordance with the store’s floorpan, I could maximize my shopping in the least amount of time. I wanted to get in and get out. I had no idea what merchandise I’d find when I got there or how crowded it would be, but having a strategy at least gave me the illusion of some control – which I cling to these days.

I checked Waze before leaving the house and traffic to Stew’s looked clear. To my sheer delight, I arrived to find a half-empty parking lot. Did the lesser planners shop over the weekend? Did the snowy day scare others away? Whatever the reason, luck was on my side. I was able to get almost everything I needed and wanted while setting a new land speed record.

With my cupboards comfortably stocked for at least a month, I could stay at home and this calmed my nerves. And just in case you’re wondering: no, I am not hoarding. I’m just very frugal. Today’s roast will be tomorrow’s sandwich, a steak salad the day after that and a meat sauce the day after that, with leftovers in the freezer.

There was just one more need that had to be addressed – my husband and I desperately missed our children. One of them is in Georgia, the other in Brooklyn with his fiancé, and all of us in isolation. Hubby came to the rescue and coordinated a virtual visit for all of us using something called Whereby. It. Was. Wonderful.

Throughout this entire calamity, technology has been a saving grace. With the help of the internet, I can learn how to groom a shitzu, support my coffee habit, find 20,000 ways to make a chicken breast interesting and see my loved ones!

What’s been your saving grace? Tell me in the comments.

Tips From The Containment Zone

March 20, 2020 (Toilet Paper Inventory: holding at 12 rolls)

I’m going to level with you, dear readers. Last night things in the containment zone took a dark turn. At least in this house they did. There was a harbinger of negative emotions lurking behind my bottle of hand sanitizer. I could feel it standing behind me as I looked at social media posts of selfish imbeciles flocking to beaches and reveling in large crowds during their spring break trips. It was whispering judgments in my ear about people who felt entitled to endanger themselves and others so they could get drunk on piña coladas with their friends. It told me their parents were irresponsible enablers for letting them travel, some of them even footing the bill for these reckless adventures.

As the rage started to build inside of me, the sensible part of my brain said, “Stop!” Understanding that I can’t manage the world and that blame is not useful, I calmed myself down and came up with some tips for myself. I’d like to share them with you here.

Controlling Myself

Since I can’t control the world, nor would I want to (too lazy), I will focus on what I can control. I can respect social distancing (and I do). I can be vigilant about washing my hands (my ragged cuticles can vouch for me). I can be conscious of my own actions and my interactions with those around me. The bright side is: I don’t have to have any interaction with anyone if I don’t feel like it!

Limiting Social Media

First, a semi-shameless plug: I know many of you are reading this through Twitter and Facebook, but you can subscribe to the blog by going to https://snorkfest.com. New posts will be delivered directly to your email. Thereby, avoiding social media to be notified of updates.

Back to limiting social media: Nothing can twist my mood faster than looking at Facebook. There is an incredible amount of bad advice, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and myths circulating. People are fighting over politics. People are fighting over hoarding. People are fighting over fighting. I don’t need that right now. However, there are also some wonderful things to be discovered. I will focus on those. Here are two that I found on social media today:

If you click here, you’ll be directed to a chart of 50 birds species. Then click on any bird to hear its song.

Communing with Nature

I can take solitary walks, or invite friends to walk with me. If you’re hunkering down where you can’t really avail yourself of nature, take heart. I have something for you!

Enjoying Music

Music really does soothe the savage breast. If I’m feeling hyper, Vivaldi is my go to. It’s lighter than air and delights me.

When I’m feeling like a lump, I’ve Got The Power by SNAP! gets my ass moving every time.

And speaking of moving…

Expending That Pent-up Energy

One valuable lesson I’ve learned from my dog, Fluffy, is that if you don’t expend enough energy during the day, you will find yourself with a serious case of the zoomies at the end of the day. When Fluffy gets the zoomies, she starts running around the house like a lunatic. Round and round, from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room to the front hall, through the mud room, then back to the kitchen. She’ll repeat the circuit until she exhausts herself.

I don’t know about you, but running through the house like a nut job is not my idea of a good time. So that’s when those long walks come in handy. If you live in an area where you can’t go outside, now would be a good time to dust off that Jane Fonda workout video, or have a private dance party of one in your bedroom. The point is to get up and move. You’ll sleep better, I promise.

Counting My Blessings

Gratitude is always good for keeping things in perspective. My family is ok. Spring is here. I have total agency over my agenda (no obligations of any kind). The environment is getting a break with fewer cars on the road and less planes in the air. My neighborhood is quiet; no leaf blowers! I can read that book I haven’t been able to get to. I can still laugh and sing and write.

We’re all in this together. So, please share your tips for staying sane and centered in the comments. We can all learn from each other.

Until next time, be well, stay safe, wash your hands, stop touching your face and find a way to laugh everyday!

For today, this is yours truly signing off from the containment zone.

Day 9 From the Containment Zone

March 19, 2020 (Toilet paper inventory: holding at 12 rolls)

Here in the containment zone, every morning is pretty much the same. I have my rituals in place and go through them step-by-step…

  1. Wake up (Essential)
  2. Assess breathing and check for body aches/fever (All good)
  3. Tend to morning ablutions (Use your imagination. On second thought, don’t.)
  4. Go down to the kitchen and begin decontamination protocols (Involves Lysoling the bejesus out of everything my husband and I communally encounter: doorknobs, faucet handles, drawer pulls, countertops, ice dispenser touch pad, light switches, etc. And yes, “Lysoling” is now a verb.)
  5. Wash hands while singing the ABC song.
  6. Apply lotion to sandpapery skin
  7. Make and consume coffee (As essential as Step #1)
  8. Walk Fluffy (Inviting neighbors who like to walk with us. Maintain social distance.)
  9. Return home and repeat Steps 5 & 6.

This might sound a bit compulsive, and you could be asking yourself if Anita is speeding down the highway to OCD-town.  Let me assure you, once the dust settles, I will happily give up Steps 2 and 4. In fact, I’ll be able to lighten up a little after the following things happen:

  • My husband stops going to work.  He owns his own business and only comes in contact with his partner, but they have separate offices. So, there’s plenty of distance between them.  But he’s out there.  In the world.
  • March 25th passes without any sign of illness in my husband.  He attended a conference in Las Vegas and the 25th will mark the end of the supposed incubation period.  Now, since we’re talking about Vegas, baby…I’ll bet you somebody at the conference had it.  Those are pretty good odds.

So, until then, I will continue to be the sanitizing queen of corona.

After my daily checklist is complete, I start making important decisions: Should I do laundry today, or save that for tomorrow so I’ll have something to do?  Should I sort the laundry and just do whites today and save the colors for tomorrow? Should I cook for the day, or make extra for the freezer?  Should I start an adjunct list of bigger projects: Clean out the closets? Prepare the flower beds for spring planting? Build an ark?

One thing did happened this afternoon that was very different from the “norm,” whatever that is anymore. I attended a virtual memorial service for my friends’ mother who passed away two days ago.  My heart went out to the whole family that they could not gather together in person to comfort each other. But my hat’s off to them for coming up with a way to gather “virtually,” see each other’s faces and share tributes to their beautiful mom.  There were stories and songs and, honestly, it was just as meaningful as any memorial I’ve ever been to.

These are very different times, indeed.

After the service, I head back down to the kitchen to whip up some keto-friendly dishes (I decided to cook.). The diet is going well; I’ve lost quite a few pounds and feel energetic.  As long as I have access to the foods I need, I plan to stick with it.  Of course, if we reach a critical point where there is nothing left in the house but carbs, I will do what I have to do.  But we’ll dive into that bowl of pasta when we come to it.

I make keto Oopsie bread, which was easy and came out very well, I think. You can find the recipe here.  In addition, I made a lovely zucchini, bell pepper and brie frittata. And last but not least, a creamy cucumber salad.

Oopsie Bread

Once the clean-up was done, I called Amanda and invited her to our 5 o’clock Fluffy walk.  One of the wonderful things that has come out of all this is seeing families take walks together. Everyone is out with their children and their dogs.  It’s very nice. We saw our neighbor, Lauren, who came outside to say hello.  She was having a cocktail party with her husband.  It used to be “two’s company, three’s a crowd.” Now two’s a cocktail party.

Strange days indeed.

And now it’s time for some mindless entertainment.  I like documentaries.  Yesterday I watched Fyre on Netflix.  Today, who knows what I’ll find.

Then it will be dinner and some conversation when my husband gets home.  Then bed.

Until tomorrow…

Postscript: My husband received an email that someone at the Vegas conference tested positive for coronavirus.  That’s a bet I would have preferred to lose.

Greetings From The Containment Zone

Unless you’ve been in the middle of a Rip Van Winkle nap since January, you are aware of the coronavirus. And if you live anywhere in or near New York City (like me), you are probably reading this because you’ve already washed your doorknobs, sanitized your phone, had your fourth cup of coffee and run out of Schitt’s Creek episodes.  It’s ok, I’m not offended to be at the bottom of your daily to-do list.

I live in Westchester County, just outside of New Rochelle.  So I was all ears when, on March 10, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo declared the creation of a containment zone in that area.  I looked all over the internet for legible maps of the zone to see if my tennis center was within its parameters.  I finally found one.  And no, the place where I play tennis wasn’t in it – but my house was. Uh oh!

So, what did that mean?  Well, we were assured we could still leave our homes, but places where large numbers of people gather (houses of worship, schools, etc.) would be closed.  The National Guard would be rolling in to sanitize those places and would deliver  food to people under quarantine.  Not to sound ungrateful, but I think being under quarantine and worrying about developing Covid-19 was bad enough without having to eat government-issue rations. But I wasn’t under quarantine, so…

What follows on this blog today, and in the coming days/weeks/months, will be accounts of what’s going on here in the containments zone. Let me catch you up from that first day to today:

March 10, 2020

As I mentioned above, I play tennis; Wednesday mornings in a foursome. My tennis partner and the other two people we play with are in their late 80’s.  I am the infant of the group.  Needless to say, I worry about them, as they are in the high-risk group.  I called my partner and told her we should suspend playing for a while.  She would not hear of it and assured me that the tennis center had done a deep and thorough cleaning. Against my better judgement, I agreed to play the next day.

I texted my niece and told her I was worried about exposing myself to the virus and worried about them because they’re all nearly 90.

She said, “Wow! What’s their secret?!”

“Tennis,” I said.

As luck would have it, my manager emailed me. I had an audition which would preclude me from playing. So, instead of putting myself in harm’s way by going to tennis, I would take the Metro-North commuter train into Grand Central Station and a subway to Times Square.  Yeah. I know…

March 11, 2020

I arrive at the theater and sign in for the audition – with gloves on so I don’t have to touch their pen. Ever try filling out a form in gloves?  Judging by my handwriting, I might have  come across as a doctor (or an ax murderer) who moonlights as an actor.

The audition goes well but I am anxious to get back home and away from the general public, who I do not trust to be vigilant with hand-washing or covering of their coughs.

Sure enough, there’s a guy on the subway picking his nose. Seems he didn’t get the memo.

On the Metro-North, which is virtually empty, I sit as far away from everyone as I can.  Three women board the train and sit directly behind me. This annoys me. The existence of coronavirus has made me very territorial about my personal space.

As we pull out of Grand Central, one of the women, the one sitting directly behind me, starts making phone calls.  She’s trying to get a doctor’s appointment for her daughter.  She makes three calls before she’s able to book one. Here is what she says each time:

“Yes, my daughter has had a fever for over 24 hours and when she tries to take a deep breath, she starts coughing uncontrollably and says it really hurts.”

I look across the aisle at a twenty-something woman. We are both wild-eyed.  She mouths the words, “Holy shit.”

I want to turn to this mom and ask, “What the hell are you doing on public transportation, Typhoid Mary?!”

Instead, I change my seat, whip out my hand sanitizer, although I’m still wearing my gloves, and marvel at her stupidity. Side note: her traveling companions, who are sitting shoulder to shoulder with her, look as alarmed as I feel.

I arrive home, take a shower (relishing the opportunity to touch my face and rub my eyes) and then email my management team. I tell them, until further notice, I will not be taking anymore in-person auditions.

March 12, 2020 (Toilet paper inventory: 13 rolls)

I decide to hunker down indefinitely but this requires gathering provisions. Since I’m not under quarantine, I can still go out and get whatever food and grocery items I need, allegedly. My neighbor, Amanda, and I decide to venture out to Fairway.  Our plan is to stay as far away from everyone else as possible and not touch our faces.  That’s our strategy.

Each shopper in the market has the look of a scared wolf: head down, eyes darting back and forth, pupils enlarged. Some of them cover their mouths and noses with masks or scarves. Amanda and I spend two hours trying to get what we need. The shelves are woefully lean; toilet paper and cleaning products are only a memory of days gone by. There are a few bags of frozen vegetables, some boxes of pasta, bags of salad…I snag the last chicken.

It takes another full hour to reach the check-out.

March 13 & 14, 2020 (Toilet paper inventory: holding at 13 rolls)

I try to be creative with chicken recipes.

March 15, 2020 (Toilet paper inventory: 12 rolls)

I should mention here that, before this whole pandemic, I started following the keto diet. Timing really is everything in life.

I realize that I do not have enough vegetables or proteins to last more than a few days since the pickings were so slim at Fairway. But I have enough pasta, bread, popcorn and crackers to keep my husband happy for a while.

Since I’d rather lick a subway seat than go into another supermarket, I log into my Instacart account and start shopping for all the things I think I’ll need for the next three weeks.  To my amazement, it’s all there – frozen veggies, ground beef, dairy items galore and yes, the holy grail of coronavirus shopping: toilet paper and Lysol!  I take my time. I want to be thorough. I don’t want to have to enter a store for one or two forgotten items.

Once my order is completed, I attempt to check out. Plot twist: there are no delivery times available. Not today, not tomorrow, not at all. Hey Instacart, that would have been useful information BEFORE I started shopping!

Undaunted, I try Amazon’s food delivery service from Whole Foods.  When I log in, it clearly states 2-hour delivery for Prime members.  Hooray!  I begin my list again.  They do not have toilet paper or Lysol, but I see everything else I want.  While trying to add frozen cauliflower, Amazon alerts me that I have the maximum amount of items in my cart.  Now I am faced with the impossible task of picking and choosing what can stay and what must go.  When I attempt to check out…yup, you guessed it…no delivery times available.  @$#&%!!!!!!

So this is how it is.  I have no choice but to go to the local supermarket.  First I do a drive-by.  Judging from the number of cars in the parking lot and the number of carts in the corral, the store is not too crowded.  I decide to go in.

The first thing I notice is that most of the shelves are empty.  Then I notice they all bear signs reading “Limit one per customer.”  That goes for bread, meat, chicken, milk, butter, water, paper products and cleaning supplies. There is no flour. There is no sugar. The next thing I notice is that I feel dizzy. It is in that moment that I realize I have been holding my breath since entering the market.  I quickly move far away from the nearest human being and draw a deep breath.  I will get through this.

I need proteins. The meat case is empty. The poultry case contains one friggin’ chicken. If I feed my poor husband any more chicken he will divorce me. I take it anyway.  I find frozen meatballs and want to cry with joy. I see cottage cheese and, since it’s not restricted, I get two. I take two cartons of cream. I take two containers of sour cream. I grab some cheese. I pause to thank God that I am not lactose intolerant. I go in search of Lactaid pills for my husband.

For dinner, I prepare a chicken feta pesto casserole and promptly spill it all over the inside of my oven. I salvage what I can, and we have dinner.

After dinner I start texting with my friend, Bradley. I tell him about my shopping misadventures.  He tells me he hates the hoarders because he’s down to three rolls of toilet paper and can’t get anymore.  I agree with him.  He says we should “save our corn cobs ‘cuz that’s what they used in the olden days.” I remind him that I’m not eating corn because I’m doing keto.

March 16, 2020 (Toilet paper inventory: holding at 12 rolls)

I clean the oven.

March 17, 2020 (Toilet paper inventory: holding at 12 rolls)

My friend Tom organizes a Zoom video conference, featuring two ladies in the health and wellness field.  I join with audio only because, since self-isolating, I have given up wearing makeup, presentable clothing or a bra.  Tom asks me to turn my video on because he’d “like to see everybody.” I turn on my video and die a little inside.

The featured speakers talk about managing stress. I want to rub my nose, but think I might be judged for touching my face – in my own home – with my raw, clean hands. But they don’t know my hands are clean. However, throughout the presentation, one of the other participants polishes off his dinner, two brownies, and then picks his teeth with his finger.  Anyway, one of the speakers wants to guide us through a meditation and asks us to close our eyes.  I close mine and worry I’m the only one.  Then someone in the group farts, loudly. I get the giggles and try like hell to surprise them. I am unsuccessful. I kill my outgoing audio.

March 18, 2020 (Toilet paper inventory: holding at 12 rolls)

Feeling confident that I have a comfortable amount of supplies and food, I spend the day puttering around, looking at too much news and social media.  I decide to take a break from doing essentially nothing and watch a documentary.

After dinner (chicken again,  but my husband can’t divorce me because all the court houses are closed), I get the urge to start a journal: GREETINGS FROM THE CONTAINMENT ZONE.