Certainly, I have it better than Napoleon. But but the novel corona virus has made me appreciate what the poor guy went through. Here’s a tour through a normal day in this abnormal period of time.
Let’s begin with bedtime. We go to sleep around midnight. Usually it takes my wife 14 seconds to land peacefully in Slumberland. Me? Some nights it can take me 3 hours. There’s nothing particularly on my mind, nor do I think I’m transfixed by the changing numbers on the clock. Yes, we play soft music, relation tapes. The musicians usually fall asleep before I do.
I have noticed something interesting about our Cocker Spaniel during this time. While we are preparing for bed he carves out a place for himself on it. When we get into bed he stays there and naps usually for a half hour. Then he remembers that our legs and feet will be hunting out their place for the night thus disturbing him. He pops up and goes to his other happy place, the bath tub. Yes, the dog loves to sleep in the bath tub. In a few hours, when our bodies are settled the dog comes back to bed where he stays until about 5 or 6 am when he gets up again and goes to sleep on his bed which rests waiting for him in a corner parallel to my side of the bed. There he sleeps until I wake up. The dog has a G-d-given bladder. He will sleep until about 10 am from a 9 pm walk. On occasion he’ll wake me but not having slept much, I’m sleeping later. He knows that and allows me the luxury. I might add that from whenever I do fall asleep the curse of the older man awakes me twice. Stumble to the bathroom and then stumble back to bed.
Then comes a sub-routine. I get up. He gets up. He comes to me for a good morning stroking, waits for me to grab some dog-walking clothes and we go out. Then I give him, tail wagging appreciatively, a bowl of water, ice cold from the frig, and finally breakfast with two crushed benedryl’s for his skin allergies. During this he charges around the house yelping and whining like a starvation camp survivor who hasn’t been fed in days (he eats twice a day.) Now starts my routine.
I settle in front of the computer. ‘do my emails, sign left of center petitions for everything under the sun, so some writing (I’m preparing an essay for a contest, there’s my weekly blog, and finishing touches on book four. Publication is a year away while we squeeze every possible sale out of Book Three (“The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales from Brooklyn.” Amazon.com, B&N.com, e-book or paperback.) See what I mean?
In about an hour my stomach jolts the rest of me and I have breakfast, usually yogurt with fresh fruit and cereal. This routine, with an apple or protein bar thrown in about 4 pm has allowed me to have only two meals a day. This helps me not become a hippopotamus during this lunacy.
Then there are a few options. It might be the day every two weeks we go shopping, regaled in clothing that will be washed when we return, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and of course, now, face masks. The masks worry me. I don’t know how anyone can tell who’s the patron and whose the stick up artist. Anyway, we kick it into gear, grab what we need, and go stand on the red strips on the floor placed by the grocer to keep us 6 feet apart. We do order the large basic food order on line. We placed the order Saturday. It will be delivered…Wednesday. No joke.
There are other sub-routines. I have 3 large fish tanks and 3 small ones. They need cleaning, the fish need feeding, my brain needs gazing at them time. I called my fish store and found that I can call in an order, pay over the phone, they’ll package it, and I can pick it up outside the store.
They didn’t have the fish I wanted.
Yet another activity is looking for things. Mostly it’s my cell phone, but it could be my hat, or my car keys or most anything that was carried in my pocket and not permanently attached to my body.
I also marvel at my wife who has consistently been sweet, kind, and caring–and I’m not even sick. After 31 years she has decided she really does like me and enjoys spending time with me. That’s a good thing. But back to the routine.
Or with no need to shop, I can join my wife on the back patio and read. South Florida in the spring is heavenly. Some years it skips spring but this year March has been glorious, so glorious they are predicting a drought for the summer.
Another option is back to the computer. A third is a new one. We set up “happy hour by zoom” with a set of our friends. Once a week we take an electronic course on Jewish humor. It’s only four weeks. That’s good because regrettably it isn’t very funny.
An overlay to all these things is spring cleaning for which we’re about four springs behind. We have filed, boxed, or tossed at least 20 pounds of paper. The closets are next.
For my wife, an activity is wiping down with Lysol towelettes everything that anyone or any thing that came into the house and could have been infected by that craven beast that lurks everywhere outside. Once or twice a week we fit in Face time with the grandchildren. Every day my wife finds some several long lost relatives or friends or not lost at all neighbors and chats them up. I’m far less social but she reminds me who I need to catch up with. Then come the mutual reminders to wipe down the phones.
At four o’clock I walk the dog. At six we eat. We tape Lester Holt and he joins us for dinner every night filling us in on the ever-escalating numbers of everything plus the deescalation numbers of PPE’s at various hospitals and health systems. The news usually includes an argument amongst experts on whether the Trumpian version of Federalism resembles in any way shape or form what the founders had in mind. At 7 we walk sans dog because his idea of a long walk is the Alaskan Dog Sled race. When it comes time, I know the funeral director will mention to my wife that my right arm is longer than the left. Then comes the fun. We ready for bed, repair to the family room, pour ourselves a drink and binge watch something, sometimes anything.
And that is it–day after day after day. If I lived in a two or 3 room apartment in a big city, surely I would have shot myself by now or maybe jumped out a window. South Florida have saved me from that even though were I struck blind I could navigate with perfection every one of the 2,780 square feet of house we have under our roof. Not only am I not sure how Napoleon did it on an island, I surely don’t know how my next door neighbors are doing it with four kids, oldest being six, under their 2,500 sq. feet. Fortunately we both live in one story houses.
One positive is my hands have never been so clean in my life. My mother, who always was excoriating me for being able to wash my hands and repair from the bathroom with them still dirty, would be so proud of me. I come from an extended family of doctors. When they washed their hands for a meal, which they always did, they did it like they were getting ready for surgery. I know how to wash my hands properly. Now I do it. My poor mother, gone since the late 70’s, missed it.
It’s 11 o’clock. I have to call the computer guy and then eat. I leave you with two thoughts. One is keep your head inside the house. It will help keep your body in there too. The other is to expect in about three weeks that I will have gone stark, raving mad–but at least I will have clean hands. And that’s important–at least from my mother’s perspective.
Bill Gralnick comes from the “the show must go on” school so here is his blog. They will keep coming until quarantining moves him to follow the lemmings over the cliff (actually we have no cliffs in south Florida…or lemmings either). He urges you to be safe and smart. He urges you to check out his website williamgralnickauthor.com and he reminds you, “Read! It’s good for both of us.”