A little less funny, now

By Mir
March 20, 2020

Haha, remember how a couple of weeks ago I was all WOOOO CORONAVIRUS I’M DISTRACTING MYSELF? Welp. I’ve now been “socially distant” for eight days (not that I’m counting…) and as of yesterday we’ve gone from “social distancing” to “mandatory shelter-in-place” so hooboy, I do like hanging at home, but I don’t so much like the whole feeling-like-if-I-don’t-we-all-die version of it. We now have local friends who are sick and waiting on the results of their COVID-19 tests. Shit, as they say, is getting real. 0/10, would not recommend.

In the meantime, two out of four members of Casa Mir are becoming noticeably twitchy as a result of not being allowed to be with other people (one because of extroversion, one because we are The Worstâ„¢), and the Internet speed in our neighborhood has slowed to a crawl because everyone is home and binging Netflix. Although I’m home more often than not, even I find myself fantasizing about, oh, I don’t know, going to the thrift store just to poke around. (The good old days! A couple of weeks ago!) We have been getting outside to walk most days, but it’s also Pollen Season so that presents its own challenges.

I am still attempting to distract myself, but these efforts are now taking on a noticeably different format than before.

In no particular order, ways to keep yourself occupied during shelter-in-place when you are a Very Anxious Human:

Go for lots of walks. So yeah, the pollen is actually leaving a thick layer of yellow sludge on everything and I’m asthmatic and this is probably not as healthy as it could be, but whatever. Go! Walk! Get out of the house. Also, feel smug that you upgraded your stupid dying dog from a wagon (heavy and not particularly ergonomic to pull) to a full stroller:

This seemed like a great idea right up until yesterday, when Duncan decided about a mile from home that He Did Not Like The Stroller, Sam I Am, and we kept taking him out and letting him walk a little, but his lungs are still compromised and it’s pretty warm out, so he would start breathing really hard and we’d put him back in the stroller, and then a few minutes later he’d be agitating to get out again; lather, rinse, repeat. We will perhaps leave him at home napping today, instead.

Feed your dogs lots of treats and remind them that they are not itchy and not dying. Licorice is overdue for her monthly anti-itch shot and Duncan was in true respiratory distress yesterday by the time we got home, and I find it productive to sternly remind them both that they are fine, just FINE, here, have another treat, come get a snuggle, please stop scratching, stop wheezing like an 80-year-old smoker, EVERYONE IS FINE, DAMNIT. Your mileage may vary.

Clean things! Goodness, when did this bathroom last get scrubbed? When’s the last time I wiped down every doorknob in the house? Who has laundry? WHICH DAMN DOG PEED ON THIS BLANKET? Oh come on, WHO BARFED? Golly, forced quarantine is a great time to come to grips with how disgusting our lives normally are. Also, I don’t know what’s happening at your house, but here at my house I swear I am spending at least half of my waking hours loading or unloading the dishwasher. Having everyone home all the time means our family of four somehow goes through 3,000 cups every day, plus a smattering of plates and bowls, but never the large plates, only the luncheon size ones, because reasons. (No, I don’t know the reasons, really.) For added entertainment, finally try one of those HE washing machine cleaning tablets to see if it cures the washing machine of the faint funk smell (it will not, but this is a good way to burn some time).

If you are a reader, now is an excellent time to get pissed at all your books. Lord, to have the time and freedom to read for hours on end without apology… it’s a dream come true for me. Sort of. I was going to read my next book club book even though book club is canceled, and I cannot find it. I ordered it, I received it, and… it must be here in the house somewhere, but despite looking in the same five places over and over, I can’t locate it. Okay; fine. I’ll read something else. I started one book and three chapters in decided I couldn’t do it. That’s fine; I have plenty of books. Oooooh, I heard John Green speak and got a signed copy of Turtles All The Way Down and never read it. I’ll read it now! I’ll… definitely… I think I put it… GODDAMNIT. (I can’t find that one, either.) Eventually I ran across Chickadee’s copy of The Female Persuasion and I’m about halfway through that, now. Maybe I’ll find the others by the time I finish this one.

Have a snack debate with yourself. Being home means being snacky, but who knows when availability of food is going to really clamp down? (We stocked up ahead of the panic, and at least so far, we are allowed to run to the store periodically, but are trying to avoid that as much as possible.) Should you eat this delicious food now, or wait because it might be something you’d be more grateful to have in a week or two? Hmmmm. It’s like Sophie’s Choice, but with peanut M&Ms. Also I have given up keto because if we’re all going to die, I am going to eat oranges and bananas and apples while I wait, for as long as we can get them.

Cook! Now is the perfect time to reinstitute the family dinner. I mean, unless your adult children are picky eaters and/or keeping bizarre schedules, in which case now is the perfect time to cook for your own amusement and your husband’s gratitude because there’s no way in hell everyone is sitting down together and all eating the same thing. Ahem. Still, muffins aren’t going to bake themselves and even if the kid who requested lasagna now swears it’s “not a lasagna mood,” you still make a pretty mean lasagna. Also, the same kid will ask why it’s sometimes spelled “lasagna” and sometimes “lasagne” and you will not know the answer, but that’s an interesting question.

Yell at everyone to wash their hands. For added neuroticism, also insist that anyone who left the house and went anywhere containing other people immediately change their clothes when they get back, too. That won’t make you seem crazy or alarmist AT ALL. Trust me. I’m a doctor. (I am not a doctor.)

Go online and learn how to make medical face masks. Once you get the instructions, go to Amazon and look around forever for the right kind of elastic that will ship in less than a month. Trust me, this will take PLENTY of time. (Or I can save you some time: I was unable to find the right size of flat elastic available any time soon, so ended up ordering a spool of this.) We have gobs of fabric swatches here and once the elastic comes we can make some masks to feel like we’re actually doing something.

Go online and learn how to express your dog’s anal glands. I’m kidding. Please don’t do that. I did, because I’m a moron, and I may never recover.

Pluck and clean your dogs’ ears. Oddly enough, Duncan didn’t care, but I think Licorice may never recover.

Catch up on Grey’s Anatomy. This provides the opportunity to yell at your television a bunch while witnessing medical drama that’s only slightly less ridiculous than what is happening in the world for real. Very therapeutic. Also, I recommend watching with subtitles on, because it’s infinitely more entertaining when you see things like “*clicking tongue*” and “[sounds of dripping water]” while watching.

Anything else that keeps you occupied. Seriously. I wholeheartedly endorse whatever is keeping you sane right now, full stop.


  1. Meghann

    One of the BEST shows to watch with subtitles is Lost. When the Smoke Monster appears, the subtite “Ticka ticka sounds approaching” and “Ticka ticka grows louder” were on the screen, and it made my day.

    Other fun activity: hold your phone up toward the screen with a snapchat or instagram filter open while watching a movie. Make the actors into bunnies! Good times had by all.

  2. Chris

    Do you use liquid detergent in the washer? We switched back to powder and it solved the unable to fix it gross smell.

  3. beth s

    We solved the funky smell issues by stopping all use of fabric softener. I use a tiny amount of free/clear soap and about 1/2 cup white vinegar in every load. This works well and the clothes actually feel nicer than when we were using downy on everything. And we have super hard, nasty water with no filters at all so with decent tap water it should be even better.

  4. Lee

    So true! All I do is dishes! WHY so many cups, teens/tweens?!

    I’m liking my new work from home gig. What I always wanted… sorta. Stay well, Mir family!

  5. Karen R

    Kindle. One of my most favorite things ever. All The Books together in one convenient device. Plus, borrow library books without leaving the house (or getting books that reek of cigarette smoke). If I am out without my Kindle, I can pick up wherever I left off on my phone. And read in the dark.

    Good luck with sheltering in place. Pools are closed for the duration, and swimming is the thing that helps most with DD’s stability. She is handling it remarkably well, but I’m starting to check the costs of putting in an enclosed endless pool in our yard…

  6. StephLove

    I think lasagna/lasagne is a singular/plural issue in Italian. Like one noodle, versus a pan of them. My sister spend six months in Italy almost twenty years ago and it still bothers her that panini is plural and we use it as if it’s singular.

  7. Rachel

    I asked my vet to show me how to clean my beagle’s glands & she said something along the lines of ‘with beagles you need to go internally & it’s not easy’. I passed on further demonstration & take the jerk to the groomer or vet’s office to have it done when he seems to be expressing himself a lot. Tried dietary changes but didn’t seem to help.

  8. Diane

    Hey, here’s a fun way to pass the time! There was a confirmed case of COVID-19 at my office right after I started showing symptoms. My PCP says it is “very likely” I have it but we are deferring testing be because I’m low risk (+ not enough tests! Well done, America!)
    The good news is I am now too exhausted to be either anxious or bored, and fell asleep during my one attempt at entertainment which was Angry Birds 2.
    I do NOT recommend getting Covid-19, but there is some relief in at least knowing I have probably faced it and by the time I feel better we may be able to go outside more up here in Chicago.

  9. suburbancorrespondent

    I have no solutions to all the madness currently happening, but I DO have a solution to the drinking glass situation, which would send me over the edge at this point if it were happening here. RUBBER BANDS. Each kid puts a rubber band (different colors) on the glass they take out in the morning and then they own it, all day. Because usually they are grabbing another glass because there are two glasses on the counter and they don’t know whose is whose, etc., etc.

    Also, I cheated and ordered some masks from Etsy. I knew I’d never get around to sewing those darn things!

  10. Niki

    I feel your pain. We have 2 of us working from home (thank God this coming week is Spring Break and I won’t be working, but will probably be doing taxes, wait, why am I thankful again?), and 2 teenagers home and bored out of their minds. Our kitchen is halfway torn apart due to a kitchen remodel, and Spring Break was supposed to be the time for it, but due to (a) it becoming bigger and more expensive than originally planned (shocker) and our cabinets not arriving yet, and (b) my dad stopping his immunosuppressive meds due to the pandemic and so not being physically able to help, and (c) feeling like ripping out my kitchen sink (and hence the dishwasher, which we are using the crap out of) and not being able to replace it for weeks or months (have to update some plumbing) during a potential lockdown may be a bad idea, as I don’t like the idea of washing dishes in the bathroom sink.

    So we are limping through this with my (stuffed) pantry on a shaky set of shelves on the kitchen floor, half of the kitchen stuff packed up in the dining room, and my hopes of a new kitchen before summer slowly trickling away. Plus, let me add, 2 people working from home with only one tiny office sucks. I have the office (which is technically his), he has the (already crowded) dining room. It’s a cautious detente.

  11. Chuck

    Didn’t you have the ability to give Licorice the shots yourself at one point? Or maybe I am remember an old post of yours incorrectly. At any rate, hope your “lockdown” ends soon and things go back closer to normal. I go back to work Thursday (airline workers in my department are considered “essential employees” under whatever applicable regulations they have for this) and then I think the whole thing is supposed to end April 7th – unless it gets extended. Hang in there!

    • Katee

      It’s not ending on April 7. This is just the beginning of the hard part. Please do not listen to your President. Listen to the medical experts. Old people are not the price you pay for an economy to be run by Florida party goers. This is not Logan’s Run.

      • Mir


  12. Meg

    Thanks for amusing me on a rainy day in the NE. Two kids here, so many dishes! I am thankful I can work from home and that, except for today, the weather has been good for March. Stay safe everyone!

  13. Karen Milano

    Can I solve the little dish mystery, at least in this house? Even though you’re eating a million-f-ing-things-all-day-OMGSLAPME- you’re only using the LITTLE dishes.. therefore, you aren’t really consuming ALL THAT MUCH CRAP! RIGHT?? Right! Damn it.

  14. Summer

    I feel like we, too, are constantly doing dishes. My dishwasher needs unloading right now! There are only two of us here… I’m not sure how we are going through dishes so quickly…

  15. Liz

    Good news on the pollen front: yesterday I went for an hour-long walk and the trees did not kill me (they nearly killed me on Friday, so this is a big win).

    What worked: a benedryl tablet 45 minutes before I went out + two puffs on my Combivent inhaler 15 minutes before I went out.

  16. Philippa Connell

    I have postnatal depression, anxiety, a baby, a three year old with unspecified special needs, no garden, and we’ve had a cough with intermittent fever. Today is the last day of our 14 day self-isolation. Tomorrow we upgrade to plain lockdown like everybody else. We have exciting plans to go play in the car park tomorrow!

  17. Daisy

    Sheltering in Place (Safer at Home, our governor calls is) means I teach from a corner of the living room and the family maneuvers around me. Snacks? Well, I have to admit, the Girl Scout cookies came just in time.
    I fear our 13 year old rabbit is on her last legs. Just what we need in the midst of the pandemic apocalypse – a beloved pet to die. No, Buttercup, don’t even consider it!

  18. SushiMom

    Oh I have a solution for the washing smell! Long-time reader (finally) delurking to say that we always leave the door of our HE washing machine open when not in use. For us, this seems to be the only reliable way to prevent the musty smell. Also, you are delightful as ever! I’ve been reading your posts since you were living in New England and Chickadee and Monkey were both tiny.

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