Day Two in the Quarantined House

I cannot quite decide if rolling from bed to desk, hopping on a Zoom call unwashed and unbrushed but saved by the mercy of a laptop camera so bad my face is all but obliterated is the best thing that ever happened to me or the beginning of what I always knew would be an unattractive demise.

Today is Thursday. I thought yesterday was Thursday so living the same day twice has me achieving what UCD philosophy professors assured me was, if not impossible, at least highly unlikely. Take me to the river and take that Hercalitus!

Once you hear those magic, incendiary words, you know the jig is up and you might as well just hand over your white flag and credit card details because you’re now all in on the three-course takeaway order that 40 seconds previously you were swearing you didn’t want because “you weren’t even hungry.”

Tomorrow will be Friday and maybe – just maybe! – it will see me fully clothed, achieving a productivity that continues to elude me and actually managing to go more than thirty minutes without aimlessly opening and closing the fridge in search of something to plug the void inside me. (I keep thinking it’s Brie but a sheepish return to same fridge ten minutes later tells me otherwise).

Day Two of chronicled quarantine does bring with it small miracles, however.

I am finally working my way through my guilt-list. Not to be confused with a to-do list, although they are similar. The key difference though, is that a guilt-list consists of things I don’t strictly have to do but somewhere along the way I have decided, or someone has decided for me, that I should do. This is a list that, unlike a to-do list but very much like my attempts at weight loss, only gets bigger the more I try to make it smaller. This is because guilt-lists consist of things that you either a) don’t want to do b) don’t know how to do but don’t care enough about to Wiki-how them c) have become inexplicably terrified of even though they are perfectly harmless and seemingly routine tasks or d) are actually really big and scary mammoth life changes.

For this reason, my guilt-list is a permanent but rotating collection of the character flaws I dislike most about myself – flakiness, complete lack of willpower, selfishness, stubbornness, gluttony, chronic lateness, indefatigable laziness, a terrible grasp of irony. Examples of longstanding fixtures on this conglomeration of failure to launches include:

  • Respond in a timely and considerate manner to friend’s messages
  • Call my grandmother on her birthday; do not text her belatedly a week later
  • Subscribe to The Guardian after years of ruthlessly gorging on their articles without paying a penny
  • Exfoliate my skin
  • Move to Australia
  • Handwash my delicates
  • Check if my mum has reclaimed the €200 taxi ride I got from Cavan that one time my car broke down in October. If not, GIVE MUM €200.
  • Sign up to at least 50 Patreons because we must support those doing great things/do unto others blah blah blah
  • Something to do with taxes and the long-cherished belief the state owes me at least three grand

Today, I conquered The Guardian subscription (it has now been replaced with more frequent and more regular tipping of the myriad of baristas who fuel my oatmilk latté addiction. This new agenda item has snowballed into a plethora of other ‘shoulds’, one of the most prseeing being: “campaign against extortionate pricing of non-dairy beverages”. Seriously, 60c for porridge’s morning piddle?? IS THAT A JOKE???)

Now, did I lower the expected monthly Guardian subscription rate? Potentially. Is it still the thought that counts? Absolutely. Besides, I need extra funds for the all the Patreons I’m soon to be supporting. Once I get my next paycheck.

Further observations from my cluttered desk and 3/any pm slump:

My days in working-from-home self-isolation appear to consist of avoiding plans or making plans it is unlikely I will ever actually carry through for the simple fact that time travel is still not easily accessible to the masses and I have not yet mastered the art of surviving without sleep.

Every conversation I begin with my sisters is premised with the plaintive yet ebullient question “Do you know what we should do?”

I am met increasingly with silence.

I am snacking less but eating more. Yes, it is confusing.

And then there’s the sister – and it’s always the one who will take three bites and declare herself “full” (whatever that bizarre concept is) – who, while we all know she definitely won’t finish whatever pizza + side + extra side she orders, swears she won’t have anything left to share.

I am running down back roads on my lunch hour. While doing so I’ve taken up the glorious habit of listening to podcasts that make me cry. I hope the crying means I burn more calories – I don’t run very far or fast and I’m pretty sure the podcast-listening is slowing me down to an IBS-sufferer’s in-company, post-curry dash to a bathroom. Essentially, a hesitant but determined.

It is now 9.40pm and the guilt-list is blurring my vision of the TV so all-consuming is the self-loathing for not having written a novel today. I am on the couch beside a fire that could power the engine of the Titanic so voracious are its flames. I try not to think of the environment and remind myself I am pretty much a vegan (minus void-filling with the occasional Brie binge) and cycle everywhere.

With every laboured exhale I am regretting the pizza I swore I didn’t want but was peer-pressured into getting and the entire tub of garlic mayo consumed with it at nobody’s behest. When I say peer-pressured, I really mean emotionally manipulated. And by emotionally manipulated I mean of course being told, with folded arms, and a “don’t-even-think-about-it” raised eyebrow, “Suit yourself but, if you’re not getting anything, you’re not having any of mine.”

Is it possible to sue siblings for blackmail and/or enabling worrying behaviour patterns? Nothing is so coercive, so passive-aggressively manipulative as the sentence “well I’m not sharing with you.”

Once you hear those magic, incendiary words, you know the jig is up and you might as well just hand over your white flag and credit card details because you’re now all in on the three-course takeaway order that 40 seconds previously you were swearing you didn’t want because “you weren’t even hungry.”

And then there’s the sister – and it’s always the one who will take three bites and declare herself “full” (whatever that bizarre concept is) – who, while we all know she definitely won’t finish whatever pizza + side + extra side she orders, swears she won’t have anything left to share. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO IN THE FACE OF SUCH THREATS? Take the chance that this might be the night she does indeed finish the XL pizza and extra-cheesy garlic bread?

She stands there, taunting me with her challenge, dangling the takeaway menu as she would a bone to an insatiable dog, hypnotising me with the sweet promise of its garish font, as I undertake frantic calculations of probability:

did she have a big lunch today? Did anyone see her snack in the last three hours? What deal are they going for – family meal or midweek madness? What stage of her menstrual cycle is she at? Was she stressed at work today?

All of this to ascertain exactly what my chances are of the odd crust, sly slice being begrudgingly pushed my way that will enable me to proliferate the myth that I am assiduously “eating well.” Tonight, she is not budging, and has youngest sister in cahoots with her. The kitchen is filled with echoes of “don’t even think you’re having any of mine” and pointing fingers, eyebrows condemning me like tinted gavels to a hungry death and – and this is without doubt the cruelest part – a flurry of excitement and prolonged dissection of what meat toppings to choose, just to spite my selfless vegetarianism.

Thus, as the sweat forms, droplet-like in the intensity of this tug-o-war between lust and need, desire and very acute awareness of the extensive portions of cake I already consumed today (and yesterday), I cave to the “ahh, feck it” that is this global pandemic. I surrender to the uncertainty, the purgatory of these strange times and sacrifice that make any aspirational eating redundant. What good is a future toned body if there is no one left to share it with? What good depriving myself of pizza when my pizza-eating days might be numbered?

God damn you, COVID-19, you annihilate my already limited reserves of willpower in your carpe diem temporality. God bless you, COVID-19, you free me from the shackles of remembering to practice willpower as a kindness to my future best self.

I order a large pizza and am militant in ensuring the provision of sides and more garlic dips than there are members of my family.

Afterwards, I moan about eating too much and announce I feel sick. Three minutes later I unearth a cure and decide that ice cream will make me feel better so I shuffle towards the tub of Haagen Daas but on the way to the freezer I remember the freshly-made apple tart that will go to waste unless I eat it. When I add the ice cream to the warmed pie, it still looks lonely so, I naturally add whipped cream.

I wake up in the middle of the night with stomach pains.

Tree Tings

Here’s where I lecture you cause, let’s face it, I’m a bit of a know-it-all douche. No, here are tree tings I did today that made me feel good and perhaps might awaken similar serotonic (made this word up but kind of obsessed with it? Serotonin + tonic = YAS QWEEN) vibes for you. Also because if I see ONE more person on Instagram talk to me about their craft corner/baking/fifth walk of the blooming day I will actually explode with inadequacy – WE ALL HAVE THE SAME HOURS IN OUR DAY, PEOPLE.

It’s called ‘Tree Tings’ because my foreign friends (from the terribly exotic UK) used to “joke” that I don’t pronounce my ‘th’s’ so we only ever talked in trees. The year I turn thirty-three is the year our long and enduring friendships will end and I will block all of them from all communications portals permanently (or at least until I’m in my forties)

So, with loads of further ado, here are TURSDAY’S TREE TINGS:

  • Jaywalking in the middle of the road. I know I just gave out about all this walking people are doing but walking in the middle of the road now it is safe to do so is FOOD for the soul – empowering, liberating, adrenaline-inducing. Get out and DO IT – fly in the face of social convention, flaunt danger, flirt with the law for a cheap, cheerful, and non-psychosis-inducing BUZZ.
  • The Daily’s special episode on Tom Hanks – balled my eyes out while jaywalking listening to why this human is the best human. Don’t think, just click
  • Cinnamon and turmeric in my first milky coffee of the day. Liquid gold is the only way to begin a working from home day – the turmeric brings you sunshine, the cinnamon, heart.

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