It's not that you're depressed, anxious, or stressed in all the familiar ways. It's that quarantine is making things downright weird.
Congratulations, parents! We made it through April — the longest April of our lives, probably. But May is upon us and the end of distance-learning is on the horizon. Unfortunately that brings with it a plethora of projects, papers, finals, and virtual insanity. If your house is anything like mine, it’s beginning to look less like distance learning and more like a prison riot. The kids are at the end of their ropes, and to be honest, most of us probably are, too.
If you’re not sure where the end of your rope is, or if you ever had a rope to begin with, I made you this handy checklist to assess whether or not you might be going a little quarantine-crazy.
1You're punctuating spoken conversations
There are few things I’m as grateful for during this crazy time as the miracle of voice to text dictation. It literally saves hours of typing, whether you’re thumbing out text messages or trying to bang out a work email while dinner smokes alarmingly in the kitchen. Voice to text has been my savior – but it’s brought with it an interesting development. This past week, I’ve found myself punctuating everyday conversation. Not texts or emails, but real, live, in-person conversations with my kids or parents. I keep saying things like, “did you finish your Latin assignment question mark” and “the boys had baths last night dash but maybe do a smell check period.” At first it was mildly amusing; by now, it might be alarming … if I had any bandwidth left for alarm.
2You've developed new and unusal snack habits
Generally speaking, I’m not a snacker. It’s a habit I eliminated years ago and I’ve never looked back. But stay at home orders have done some weird things to me. 24/7 access to the fridge and pantry — along with plenty of stressors to propel me into seeking emotional comfort — have led me to snack again. But not in any kind of sensible way. It’s not that the choices themselves are bad … it’s just that the combinations are completely bonkers. Dried mangoes and peanut butter? Check. Wasabi peanuts and Mandarin oranges? Check. Apple slices dipped in chocolate pudding? I am deeply ashamed to admit that, yes, check. It almost feels like weird pregnancy cravings but with no actual pregnancy. Hopefully I’ll look back at this time and find it amusing rather than alarming … but I guess that all depends on the scale when quarantine finally ends.
3You have a new recurring nightmare
We all have that one nightmare. You know, the one where you’re giving a presentation at school and suddenly look down and realize you’re naked? The one where you’re falling and wake up just before you hit the ground? For me, it’s being chased by something and then feeling as though my legs are stuck in mud, and waking up just before I’m caught … at least, that’s what it used to be. But thanks to quarantine, I have a brand new recurring nightmare: I’m using the bathroom and then suddenly realize I failed to end my last Zoom training session — the one with 100 people logged in. I can’t tell you how much I hope this nightmare ends when lockdown ends because it is not cool.
4No one can find their shoes
We’ve been very obedient to the stay-at-home orders. We go nowhere and see no one, even getting grocery pick up or delivery. Unbeknownst to me until yesterday, this new lifestyle doesn’t require the use of shoes. Sure, we’re outside plenty — playing in the yard, taking little walks, swimming in the pool. But those are all barefoot friendly. So it wasn’t until I decided to take the kids with me on a grocery pick up that I realized that.none of us had any idea where our shoes were. It was baffling. They weren’t in the usual places – I started to ask everyone when the last time they saw them was before remembering it was months ago. Then I realized: all the usual places aren’t actually where the shoes belong. They’re just the places we leave them when we wear them every day. After 20 minutes of searching, we finally found our shoes — in our closets. Which is giving me a lot to think about regarding my post-quarantine organizational habits.
5Bank trips begin to resemble hostage situations
The first time I went to the bank and realized they had installed a virtual bank teller system, I was kind of weirded out. It seemed bizarre to have someone’s head pop up on the comically oversized screen next to my car door. Alas, those were the days before quarantine. I’ve gone to the bank three times in the past month, and only one of those trips was actually necessary. On the first trip, I was so genuinely overjoyed to have a conversation with a stranger that the bank teller had to gently cut me off mid-monologue to remind me that there were four cars in line behind me. In normal times, this would be pretty embarrassing. But this is not a normal time. I was not embarrassed at all, just overjoyed to find a social outlet. I’ve gone back to the bank twice since then — for minor things that I definitely could have accomplished online. I just can’t resist the siren song of social interaction, even if that interaction is with a patient, long-suffering bank teller virtually projected onto a screen.
If you find yourself checking off one or more of these, don’t worry. I’ve had enough conversations with friends to know that we are all in a similar space of weirdness. I genuinely believe we will look back at the strange things we did during isolation and laugh, but I also believe we will never again take for granted that precious face to face time with our friends, family, and even total strangers. So hang in there, y’all — we will get through this. And we will be better for it.