Pandemic Diet

Remember when we got cellphones?

Overnight, phone greetings changed.  After a brief hello, we inevitably asked, “Where are you?” because we could no longer take it for granted that the other party was at home.

We wanted to fix that person in our mind—to know when we were pouring our heart out over a recent breakup the other person was listening intently on their back deck and not rushing through a supermarket checkout line.

During the Great Pandemic of 2020, we don’t need to ask—we’re all at home, all the time, or at least it feels that way.

Instead, when catching up with friends and family we have a whole new crop of questions:

“Are you back in the office?  Any idea when?”

“How are the kids doing school?  Full remote, hybrid, or attendance with masks and plastic cones around their desks?”

“Did you skip Trick-or-Treat last night or shoot the candy to the kids through a six-foot pipe while wearing a hazmat suit?”

And if you thought politics, religion, and sex were taboo topics, try asking someone these controversy inflaming questions:

“What are your plans for Thanksgiving?  Oh, and what does your mother think about that?”

“Are you eating in restaurants?”

So since I haven’t done one of these Sunday blogs since July, here’s my covid condition:

I’ve been working from home since March 12, when we were sent home on a Thursday with the instruction to work from home for one day to test our IT systems “in case the virus progressed.”

Spoiler alert:  It progressed.

Since that time, I’ve been in my office for exactly ten minutes when I stopped by to pick up my Sam’s Club bulk box of oatmeal and my desktop monitor.

My feelings on working from home cycle like the seasons:  I go from loving the flexibility and quiet, to being indifferent, to longing to see my co-workers, even the ones I hate.

I’ve got newly hired co-workers I talk to everyday whom I’ve never met.

My house has never been cleaner:  if you’re boring me on a conference call, rest assured I am dusting something.  If you’re really irritating me, I’m drowning you out with the vacuum cleaner.

I worry most about how Blinker will react when I finally go back into the office.

I haven’t seen most of my friends since my friend Allison threw a prohibition-themed Leap Year Party.  If I knew then what I know now I would’ve played Jeopardy and drank sidecars until dawn.

My friend Ginger, who I’ve known since junior high school, was married in September and I wasn’t there.  That one, more than anything else I’ve missed, tears my guts out.

I swear off following the presidential election coverage five times a day but am always lured back in.

I tamed my desire to hoard through most of the summer, but with the prospect of a long winter I’m starting to obsessively acquire toilet paper, cat food, and coffee again.

I stopped cooking over the summer.  Back when I went into the office every day, I was disciplined in preparing all my meals for the week on Sunday.  Lunch and dinner, pre-made and packed into Tupperware containers.  But now that I was home all the time, I kept telling myself I would cook a brand-new lunch and dinner each night, like a normal person.

It would be wonderful, I thought, having something new at each meal.

It was not wonderful.  It was torture.  Thinking of something new to eat, every day, twice a day?

I don’t know how people do it.

So reader, I started eating toast.  Forget my bulk box of oatmeal, I had toast for breakfast.

Then one day I ran out of cheese and lunchmeat, so instead of having a sandwich for lunch, I had toast.  The next thing I knew I was eating toast for lunch all the time.

It wasn’t a plan, it just happened.

And since addiction only goes from bad to worse, eventually I started eating toast for dinner.

I’m here to tell you that woman can live on toast alone.

It’s hot, it’s easy, and it’s delicious smeared with butter.

And even though it’s butter and carbs, if you consume literally nothing but toast and black coffee, it doesn’t do much to your waistline.

But it’s also madness.

Fortunately, as the weather has cooled, my desire to cook—and my sanity—has returned.  I’m back to making a big batch of soup, stew, salad, or casserole on Sunday. 

And though I dread the upcoming winter, at least I have something to look forward to besides toast for dinner.

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