Elisabeth Kübler-Ross authored the internationally best-selling book, On Death and Dying (1969), where she first discussed her theory of the five stages of grief, also known as the “Kübler-Ross model.” The stages, popularly known by the acronym DABDA, include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
I have completed my own studies in what happens to people after months of enforced togetherness. I, too, have identified five stages that people in quarantine go through as they come to terms with each other. Every day. Every single day. Known as the “Ferder-Berger model,” the five stages will surely become popularly known by the acronym WTFFF.
At first, I reckoned, although the virus is certainly a horrific thing this is going to be a bit like camping in the backyard. I loaded up on groceries and savory new recipes, freaking out only slightly that there wasn’t a roll of toilet paper to be had anywhere in the Tri-State area and I pondered all the writing I would accomplish in the coming weeks, for it didn’t seem plausible this thing could go on forever, which clearly it will. I held a sense of wonder about what it would be like to be holed up with my two Toms–a dreamy, wholly unrealistic utopian vision of closeness. Now I wonder about things like the best criminal defense attorneys in Wisconsin, if a shallow grave is measured in inches or feet , and whether men work at being annoying or it’s a natural talent.
Fine, I wasn’t getting any writing done anyway but I am pleased to report that my sock and underwear drawers have become military-grade orderly. I’ve cleaned the baseboards with a toothbrush, vacuumed every lampshade in the house and you can now eat off my toilets. Ima leave it at that.
Fondness for Food
Oh, the humanity recipes! Sweet mother of Alain Ducasse, the recipes. Where we used to eat grilled salmon with salad a couple times a week, we are presently very fond of grilled salmon in a rich Sicilian sauce that takes at least five tries to nail because it curdles until you follow directions and cook it in a thing called a Bain-marie, which is basically a pot that fits into anther pot half-filled with hot water. (Side note: the more you struggle with salmoriglio sauce, the more spoonfuls of buttery, creamy goodness you are forced to test, which is a blessing to the tongue and a terrible, terrible pox on the hip and thigh regions of the body.)
I’ve also developed a fondness for long-form TV (currently watching Schitt’s Creek in its entirety for the third time), sandwiches, cleaning things with a toothbrush, jumbo ice cubes, squirrels and Chrissy Tiegen, the latter two of whom are both adorable and interchangeable in my view.
We’ve got murder hornets, talk show hosts who are ostensibly able to kill someone 800 miles away, and people who carry guns into churches, grocery stores, and kindergartens, but who won’t wear masks during a pandemic because the constitution.
You know what would make me less fearful? If when the SpaceX rocket is next scheduled to launch and our president is there to watch, they invite him over to the capsule for a look-see. They ask if he wants to try on a helmet. He won’t wear a mask because it would make him look like a girl, but a big boy astronaut helmet would make him seem virulent virile. He immediately puts it on.
Next, he would be given the tremendous never-before-offered-to-any-other-president-ever-especially-not-Obama opportunity to take a peek inside the spaceship “where the magic happens” and have a seat at the controls. While he is distracted by the shiny dials and colorful blinking lights his hosts would quietly back away. Just as the president imagines what it would feel like to be a real American hero—whoooooosh! He is launched into outer space. My fear and anxiety would dissipate like liquid oxygen and hypergolic propellant.
Seriously. If the footage of morons partying like it’s 1999 in swimming pools and bars over the Memorial Day weekend is any indication, we are in deep poop, people. “God has my back,” “we all gotta die sometime,” and “if it’s good enough for him (the President of the United States not wearing a mask) it’s good enough for me” are not really glowing examples of the kind of thinking you come to expect from bipeds who’ve walked erect for 3.2 million years. I’ve seen smarter squirrels, which as you know by now I really like more than people.
If a human being cares about their country, friends, family, and neighbors, then it should be the easiest thing in the world to wear a damn mask in public and observe social distancing. We know so little about this virus except that it is the most contagious thing imaginable and you can be carrying it and shedding it, i.e. spreading it without exhibiting a single symptom. Nobody is taking away the right to say the earth is flat, a bedazzled unicorn in the sky has your back or America is the greatest country in the whole wide world, but if firefighters will carry 70lbs of gear up 110 flights of stairs to try and save the lives of complete strangers, seems like it’s not asking too much to wear a mask in public to protect each other, especially our most vulnerable. If that doesn’t convince you, do it for my dad. He’s 91.
Be careful. Be safe. Be healthy.
PS According to the Kansas City Star a person attending the massive pool party at Lake of the Ozarks became sick the day after the party…and has tested positive. Well done!
And here I thought I was going nuts. Morons (yes, there was more than one) in Oklahoma City shot two McDonald’s workers who told them to leave the restaurant because it was closed—like every restaurant on the planet—due to the coronavirus. I could see maybe pitching a fit if I were asked to leave a Perkins, or Denny’s even. But what is so special about McDonald’s that would incite such violence? (The bathrooms are usually very clean, which could be a factor.)
In Michigan, at a Family Dollar store, another idiot shot a security guard who told him to wear a face mask—a mandate in place by the State for all retail stores. Also, in Michigan, a man wiped his nose on a Dollar Tree worker’s shirt after the employee told him he needed to wear a mask. Ew.
In Southern California, a fool wore a Ku Klux Klan hood to the grocery store in protest of coronavirus restrictions requiring face masks. That’s like protesting laws that prohibit nudity by wearing a snowmobile suit to the beach…but with the added wallop of racism.
A manicurist in South Carolina defied her State’s restrictions by making an urgent house call to a salon client. Fascinated by an alligator swishing around the water’s edge at the client’s property on Kiawah Island, the nail and cuticle specialist wandered down for a look-see after she’d completed the emergency file, buff and polish procedure. The homeowner, no doubt waiving a perfectly manicured hand, warned that just the night before the same alligator had snatched a deer that was standing in the exact same spot as the manicurist. The beautician’s last words (you simply could not make this shit up) were “I don’t look like a deer.”
The homeowner said the woman then reached out to touch the alligator, which grabbed her by the leg, pulled her under and that was that, more or less proving she did, in fact, look like a deer (at least to the alligator).
A man told me earlier this week, because I asked him to please back up at the grocery store checkout, that Covid-19 is hoax and I should just “relax.”
“What would be the purpose of such a hoax?” I asked, stupefied.
He rolled his eyes and spoke slowly, so I might understand, “It’s all to make Trump look bad before the election.” Ah.
Let me get this straight. Every country in the world (except those represented by four little yellow spots) has somehow been convinced to join liberals in the United States in an effort to make one man look bad…by pretending a common flu is really something much worse. In fairness, if you were going to pick a guy to mess with, this dude would be a good choice. I mean, he’s been insulting world leaders, citizens and entire nations (shithole countries anyone?) pretty much since the day he took office, but it seems preposterous even by wackadoodle standards to believe the whole frickin’ planet is in on a Covid-19 hoax. What would that sales pitch even look like?
“We need something big,” Nancy Pelosi perhaps said to 193 Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, Queens, Supreme Leaders, Emperors, Emirs, Sovereign Princes and Grand Poobahs representing every nation on earth except the spoilsports in Turkmenistan, Kiribati, Tuvalu and North Korea. (I would think Kim Jung Un would have been the first to join the charade to get rid of Trump, with the ‘Rocket Man’ barbs and cracks about his hair and height, but one has a sense that North Korea’s Great Leader Comrade is not much of a team player.)
“All we need you to do,” liberal mastermind Pelosi says, “is play along until November. Your economies will tank and you’ll have a lot of people starving, unable to afford housing or clean water, but don’t you worry. We’ll be in the exact same boat. Hell, Flint hasn’t had safe water in years.”
Pelosi leans in, looking each world leader in the eye for a second. (I imagine a large circular seating arrangement such as at the U.N. or when the baddies get together in James Bond movies.) After the minute and a half it takes to look 193 leaders in the eye for one second, Pelosi rocks back on her high heels and smiles. “Who’s in?” she asks cheerfully. Hands fly up. Hoax initiated.
After careful consideration, I don’t really buy the coronavirus conspiracy theory, but I do hope to be reunited with my childhood dog Tinkerbell when I die. Also, what are the chances the Rolling Stones would postpone a world tour because of a hoax? Some things just speak for themselves.
I could watch turkey vultures all day. (So long as I had snacks and the proper hydration.) (Jalapeno margaritas are loaded with tequila antioxidants and they are mostly tequila water.) For birds who survive on a diet of roadkill, these pterodactyl-sized creatures are able to catch a thermal and glissade through the skies for hours on end. What must that feel like? (My reverie on this imagining comes crashing down when I see them picking the decaying meat off a run-over deer.) Still, they’re cool to watch then they’re not eating.
I’m doing a hundred day challenge with my friend Cindy. Week One, the goal was to walk five miles a day. Week Two, we added in various stretching and home work-out activities to the roster. The roster looks wonderful—very professional—and if I checked off the items on it, so would I. Mainly, I bake things to eat. (And clean out closets and drawers, which I find really works up the ol’ appetite.) My husband remarked again this morning, “I don’t know what it is, but I just keep losing weight!” I have added a little sumpin sumpin to the 100 day plan. It includes a dry cleaning bag, duct tape and a shovel.
And just in time for Mother’s Day, another polar vortex event is bringing frigid air and freezing temperatures to pretty much every place east of the Rockies—an obvious attempt to discredit the president who claimed warm weather and Lysol suppositories would make the invisible coronavirus monster go nigh-nigh. Polar bears, Santa Claus and a handful of sciency elves have figured out how to export tremendously cold wind in an attempt to embarrass our leader. I personally feel they are also responsible for COVID toe, which looks suspiciously like Rudolph’s nose, but I don’t want to start any rumors.
Sunday is Mother’s Day and whether we are wearing electric underpants and fleecy bras or not, I want to wish all the moms a very happy Mother’s Day. I have such fond memories of Mother’s Days as a child—homemade cards, bouquets of violets—her favorite—and always a little poem I’d written in my childish hand to say how much I loved her. I remember they were usually warm Sundays in May, my mom’s perfume floating in the air and a lightness in our house on this special, extra sparkly day. I can see her putting lipstick on in the bathroom mirror, foot slipping into a pretty shoe and how excited I was to have a whole day to celebrate my mom.
In my wistful memory of those bygone days, I forget about the difficult years—me, between the ages of 13 and 30—when we’d clash over everything then forget about it and move on, usually heading over to TJ Maxx for a little retail therapy. From where I sit now, especially now, the nearly 60 years I was lucky enough to have my mom were just not sufficient. Hug your mother close. (And give her a kiss for me.)
(I will be back as usual on Friday assuming I am not dead, in which case I may need a couple extra days.)
If you are like the 3.5 billion humans who have internet access you’ve probably discovered there are tutorials for absolutely everything on YouTube, which is not to say you will necessarily master all that you attempt. For me, making a French omelet was a more successful enterprise than say, cutting my own bangs or a misguided stab at elective surgery. (Note to self: home liposuction video likely fake.)
Being a stickler for details, I follow tutorials to the letter. If someone tells me I need a nonstick omelet pan, salon-quality scissors or a Vac-Assist Suction machine, I am on it like Trump on Lysol. I was thrilled to find a perky blonde woman with her own YouTube channel who teaches viewers how to DIY sexy curtain bangs v. the cut-straight-across-the-bottom look that made fifth grade the nightmare it was for me.
My fancy professional shears arrived not a moment too soon. By the time I had decided to trim my own bangs, my hair had grown below my eyes and on several occasions before my morning coffee I’d blindly stepped barefoot into dog poop, mistakenly having placed clumps of mud and tree bark in the dog poop bags the day before. I’d used Pledge instead of dry shampoo (nice shine and lemony fragrance) and learned that kibble tastes only faintly similar to peanuts although crunch-wise they are a close match.
I placed my iPad on the bathroom counter, closed the sink drain and had a poofy make-up brush ready to dust away any pieces of hair stuck to my face and eyelids. Mallory, possibly 12 years old but maybe 19, covered with ink and overly fond of the word “like,” demonstrated how to section the bang area with one of her long pointy bejeweled fingernails. (FYI the business end of a meat thermometer works just as well.)
Grasping the designated clump of hair between forefinger and badfinger, also known as middle finger and technically, in the Latin, digitus me’dius (even dead languages have YouTube channels), you take the clippers in your other hand and “chip in,” basically snipping off an infinitesimal, pert’ near invisible amount of hair. As if reading my mind, Mal assured me that the teeniest flecks of hair in the sink meant I was doing it correctly—and I needed to budget 2.5 hours for the project. Look, even though I had nothing better to do than bake something, eat something or drink wine, this was too much for me.
I gathered my bangs between the recommended extremities and decided to be more assertive with my chipping in. A chunk of hair fell into the sink, and with it some blood and a portion of my index finger not completely insignificant in size. (YouTube hosts a First Aid Channel. I found the episode on bleeding especially insightful.)
My dad’s gorgeous silver mane, cut months ago to match a picture of silver fox Michael Douglas, is starting to look like Albert Einstein’s electric shock mop. Pops asked if I would cut it for him. I am an only child and as perfect a human being as one could possibly be (to my dad) so he didn’t notice the 2” x 2” chunk of hair missing from the middle of my forehead or the tourniquet on my left hand. I’ve found the perfect tutorial for the job. We are just waiting for my finger to grow back and a new shears to arrive from Amazon. Somehow the last one got broken with a hammer.
Each evening at the kitchen table as I serve platter after platter of the complicated cuisine I learn to make on YouTube’s New York Times Cooking channel, my husband and pops discuss a light at the far shore of Lake Nagawicka that blinks white until sunset at which time it blinks red. I am reminded of the unrequited love expressed so eloquently in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, in which a green light across the lake, at lovely Daisy’s East Egg dock, represented Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for the future in the most luscious, glorious prose. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work out how he wanted.)
My two Toms waxed poetic on the the size of the lightbulbs, how tall the tower is and how far away it is exactly, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise when last Saturday, wearing what can only be described as expedition gear, they loaded up the Suburban with snacks, filled my dad’s Korean War canteen with tap water and took off for the far shore of Lake Nagawicka six minutes away. God only knows what they were doing out there, but it gave me almost an hour to “Learn How to Love a Married Man.”
These past six weeks I have learned how to love jicama, quinoa-infused vodka and my bathtub time so I figured a refresher course on romance to spice things up might be in order. To my amazement, the lesson had nothing to do with cooking, which I thought was a slam dunk, and even more startling it appears the married man to whom the tutorial refers is not the guy to whom you are currently married. (Suffice it to say, I am up on the how-tos should Bruce Springsteen stumble into Delafield minus the missus.)
This morning over coffee the guys sat at the kitchen table studying birds at a feeder on the deck, looking them up in A Field Guide to the Birds, courtesy of husband Tom. In addition to illustrations identifying the various birds, the book also describes, in words, consonants and vowels, various bird calls. Just imagine two men named Tom chirping, “what-cheer cheer cheer, whoit whoit whoit” like an anguished Northern Cardinal. All morning long. (The instant I find a lobotomy tutorial, I am down.)
There’s a YouTube video that teaches you how to imitate a blue jay imitating a hawk (that is trying to avoid being attacked by the blue jay) (FYI—blue jays are idiots). It is a very high-pitched, eardrum-piercing EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEFUCKKKKK!!!!!! It is a sound that flushes wildlife from the woods and occasionally shatters a glass in the china cabinet. I am learning how to do it. Three can play this game.
People are also using YouTube to lift our spirits and make us smile and for that I am grateful. My favorite this past few weeks is Some Good News with John Krasinski. This episode with a little girl whose opportunity to see Hamilton was dashed due to coronavirus is my very most favorite. The whole show is magical, but the chills start at minute 8:28. Enjoy and have a great weekend.
Stay healthy, safe and sane!