Tag Archives: Personal

Sunday Stealing: Isolation Edition

Thank you, Sunday Stealing!

1. Day 1 of serious isolation behavior:
Was no different than any other weekend afternoon or weeknight, except that I was pretty rootin’ tootin’ enthusiastic about not dealing with humanity for two weeks straight.

2. First trip you had to cancel:
I didn’t have anything booked, but the powers that be had approved a meeting that would have found me flying home from San Antonio today.

3. Other trips canceled:
None. It was more that other trips were not planned.

4. Last trip out of town before isolation:
A day trip to Philadelphia.

5. Farthest from home since isolation:
Across the river into Washington, D.C. to go to my office. I had to flee the jack-hammering from the pool renovation that is now in stasis.

I knew they wouldn’t come near to finishing it before the ground got hard. Now there is a whole bunch of rain water collecting in the pool and making an odd and foul sort of mud with the concrete dust, dirt blown into the pool by the wind, and random leaves.

Nope. Still no Hoffa. Twenty-two days until moving day.

6. Last meal sitting in a restaurant before Isolation:
I can’t remember.  

7. How many books have you read?
Four and a half. It takes me forever to get through a book because my reading habits veer more toward magazines and blogs.

8. First event you didn’t attend due to virus:
Brunch for a friend’s birthday. We canceled it.

9. Date and event of last over 200-person event:
BLM protest in June, Washington, D.C. Some things are worth risking your life for. Protesting oppression and police brutality is one of them. But guess what? We all wore masks, unlike those stupid, idiot, racist, bigoted, inbred, corn-fed, white supremacist Proud Boys who insist on coming to D.C. to spread their viruses, not only of COVID-19, but of stupidity as well. Trump LOST, idjuts. Quit crying. Or, to put it in language people like you originated and therefore should be able to understand, fuck your feelings.

10. Last live music event:
ProgPower, September 2019.

11. Things you are eating more of since isolation:
Junk, garbage, crap, junk, snack food, sweets, junk, and junk. And my waistline has paid for it, boy howdy.

12. Things you are eating less of since isolation:
For a while it was brown rice because I couldn’t find any anywhere. Same with veggie sausages.  Happy folks got into meat alternatives, though.

13. What restaurants have you gotten take-out meals from?
A local Thai-fusion place a couple of blocks away.

14. Have you found yourself bored in isolation?
Nope! Stressed maybe, because a certain little bird doesn’t understand that just because his human servant is home, that doesn’t mean she can give him attention all day long as she is trying to work.

15. Have you gained or lost weight?
Gained. That’s one more reason I can’t wait to move. I know you can’t outrun your fork and all, but my current place has wall-to-wall carpeting and that is not conducive to cardio-kickboxing and other HIIT workouts, which I love, love, LOVE to do. My next place has flooring.

16. Do you drink alcohol?
Yep.

17. If so, more or less in isolation?
The same, until I stopped a couple of weeks ago. I have this completely obnoxious and rare condition called erythromelalgia. It was in remission for five years until last winter. Bottom line is that it makes it nearly impossible for me to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time when it is in flare, so my doctor prescribed a super-strength antihistamine to take at bedtime so I sleep through the attacks. Granted, I will probably sleep through a fire, too, but the point is that mixing alcohol with that stuff can cause bad things like, say, death, so I’ll pass on the nightly glass of grape until the condition is under control again.

18. What entertainments have you explored?   
Wonderful things. Wonderful terrible things, MUAH HA HA HA…

Okay, I hit level 363 on this phone crack this morning.

19. Gotten into anything new?
See, phone crack, above.

20. Have you done crosswords? Board bames?  Jigsaw puzzles?
Crosswords, sudoku, cryptograms, word-searches, jigsaw puzzles. See? Never bored. #smugintrovert

21. Have you cleaned out some cabinet, drawer, closet, etc. thoroughly?
I’m moving, so doing all of that now.

22. Are you spending about the same amount of money?
More, and my dermatologist appreciates that. (Now is the time for things like getting spots off, laser resurfacing, etc.)

23. Done Zoom, Facetime, etc. meetups?
Not with video enabled. I despise cameras for all kinds of reasons, but videoconferencing has taken my hatred of the things to a whole new level. First, people don’t even use them right. They talk into their monitors, so they don’t even look like they’re looking at you. You’re supposed to talk into the camera. Second, I’ve seen up more nostrils than an otolaryngologist at this point, so ick. Third, enough people have passed comments about liking to look into other people’s homes that it totally got my back up about it. I am a SUPER private person that way. I am aware that one can use backgrounds and so on, but then people comment on that like it’s an affront to them that you dare to protect the sanctity of your home and ah, shaddup. Really. My home is my sanctuary. Aside from service contractors, you have to be special and dear to me to cross the threshold, and that includes with cameras.

24. Had a social occasion with a small group of people you consider safe?
NO SOCIAL OCCASION WITH ANY GROUP OF PEOPLE IS SAFE.

This is why we can’t have nice things—like a flattened curve.

25. Did you vote? In Person? On Election Day?
I voted in October, in person. I couldn’t wait to make my mark against Tangerine Mussolini.

Thomas

As I began cleaning out my current apartment this morning to decide what to keep, toss, or donate, I came across a little bear named Thomas, and I thought I’d share this entry from many moons ago on a now all-but-defunct website. I hope this isn’t considered cheating for Holidailies purposes, but I was reminded of it, so here it is.


Thomas

About six months after my mother passed away, my eldest sister had one of her coats made into four little teddy bears, one for each of “the girls.” The coat was my mother’s pride and joy and the envy of every woman on the block because it was a “leopard” coat.

I put leopard in quotes because it really wasn’t made from a leopard pelt. It was made from stenciled calfskin. Back in the 1940s, when people didn’t complain so much that this job or that one was “beneath” them and they took any work that amounted to an honest day’s pay, my grandfather took a position as a tanner, and he learned how to stencil patterns onto calfskin so that it looked like something other than what it was.

My grandfather gave the coat to my mother before my mother met my father, and she used to wear it when she went out in the evenings. The coat was soft and sleek, with trim made from some sort of fur that was probably real, though I’m not sure. It had fluffy black cuffs and a fluffy black collar to match the black in the “leopard” spots. It was her “good” coat up until the early 1970s, when the fur had rubbed clean off in places. The seams had begun to loosen as well, and finally, one day, my mother put it in the back of the coat closet in the hallway next to the front door. That was pretty much the last we thought about it until my mother died and my sister had the teddy bears made.

I named my bear Thomas, which is my grandfather’s name. The name we knew my mother by is Thomasina, although her birth certificate says something else entirely. Back in the 1920s, when she was born, the Roman Catholic Church insisted that parents name their children after saints. There was no saint by the name my grandparents had originally chosen, and my grandfather blurted out the first thing that came into his head when they were in the baptistery and the priest told them they needed a different name.

Thomas sits on a nightstand next to our bed, next to Ross’s childhood ceramic Dumbo bank, a crystal vase with glass pebbles and a carved flamingo “flower” a friend gave me, and a cherrywood picture frame that holds a photo of Ross and me from before we got engaged.

Last night, after talking with one of my sisters about our forthcoming trip to Hawaii this summer to finally carry out my mother’s last wish to scatter her ashes there, I got to thinking about Thomas. After I got ready for bed, I picked Thomas up and noticed his ears and eyes were getting a little dusty, so I brushed him off. Then I brushed off his tummy, arms, legs, and back, and the tufty tail on his bottom.

Then—and I don’t know what compelled me to do this—I ran my fingers along the seam on his back, below the red ribbon around his neck, and held him to my face.

Softly, sweetly, a scent so faint that I thought I was hallucinating rose from the seam.

It was my mother’s perfume.

I sniffed again, and there it was, barely discernable, just a hint. It was so faint that if I had never smelled that perfume before, I wouldn’t have caught it. But it was there. My mother’s perfume must have rubbed off on a sleeve, or she must have given herself a last-second spritz with an atomizer on her way out one night.

They probably don’t even make that perfume anymore. The last time I saw my mother wear that coat, I must have been about five or six, which would mean 1971 or 1972. She still wore the perfume whenever she and my father went out on a “grown-up night” until about 1980, when one of my sisters gave her some Estee Lauder signature scent. In the late 1980s she switched to Oscar de la Renta’s signature scent, and in the 1990s she started wearing Tommy Girl. (“Naturally,” she said.)

And all the while, the coat remained in the back of the closet. It must have been there for 25 years before my sister took it out after my mother passed away.

Standing there sniffing Thomas, I had a flash memory of my mother standing in the doorway, looking into the living room, waiting for my father, who was always running late, to get himself together so they could go out. It was a kid’s eye view, so I don’t know what kind of clothing she was wearing, just that it was long, black, and velvet. It might have been a floor-length skirt, or an evening dress, I really can’t tell. I just remember the coat over it. I think she had on gloves, and I think she was holding an evening clutch. When my mother went out, she was always dressed appropriately, in line with Connecticut Yankee etiquette. This was when there was no such thing as “creative black-tie” and everyone knew what the word formal meant on an invitation. Her hair was dark brown, too, so it’s an old memory, as she started going lighter and lighter when she started working, until finally she was a blonde when she passed away.

All of this came back to me as I stood there sniffing this little teddy bear. When I couldn’t smell anything anymore, I scratched the fur against the grain, and the scent came back a little bit stronger, but still faint.

I felt a gentle touch on my arm. Ross had reached up from where he lay in the bed, and he was looking at me with curiosity. I told him I could smell my mother’s perfume on Thomas and he gave my arm a comforting pat.

Finally, I set Thomas down on the nightstand again and climbed into bed. After I turned off the light, I thought of my mother for a long time, probably about an hour. I thought of the time my parents came to visit me in Hawaii, and how much she loved it there. I thought of her as Class Mom, when we went to the pumpkin farm for a Halloween field trip. I thought of her in her pajamas, and in her work clothes, and in this outfit or that, sometimes with her hair done, sometimes in curlers.

Before I fell asleep, the very last thought I had of her was of her in her coat and her black velvet again, only this time, my father had opened the door for her, and she was stepping out into a soft, magical night.

—January 23, 2004


I made only minor edits to this entry, including changing my ex-husband’s name.