I remind myself every day: successful people set their intentions first thing.
On this day, my intentions include reading, working, a workout, working some more, cleaning, walking the dog, relaxing.
I grab coffee, open Facebook, trash that plan.
I interrupt Mike. He’s sitting there, eyes closed, maybe meditating, maybe napping. Whatever. His eyes are closed. I nudge him to share a cute dog video on my phone. He ignores me.
Our dog scratches the door, then looks at us. Whose turn? We Rochambeau. Mike wins.
I pout. Best two out of three?
Mike wins again. The dog is about to claw through the door. I sigh expansively, my head falls back, my shoulders droop. Mike lets the dog out. Seven seconds later he lets her in.
She runs to me with thanks. You’re welcome, sweetie.
Time to work.
First, though, more social media, then maybe a nap.
I call mom. Talk her out of grocery shopping, explain online ordering instructions, then give up and ask for her list.
I pick out groceries on Albertson’s site. Find out they won’t sell beer online.
I leave my virtual shopping cart in the middle of the virtual aisle in my virtual huff and hop on over to the brewery site that WILL sell beer online because priorities.
It’s only 10 am. Look at me, planning.
I click into a zoom meeting. Change my profile name to “Quarantine Markley.” Mike clicks into a meeting, explains to his boss why his profile name is now “Quarantine Markley.” I laugh. He shoots me a look.
It’s not my fault we’re logged into the same account. I’m not in charge of how stuff works.
My meeting moderator asks me to enter my real name in the chat so people know how to address me. My group apparently doesn’t appreciate creative Zoom nicknames either.
I briefly consider various options while peeling the sad remnants of last month’s manicure from one pinky:
The moderator asks me a question and I realize I haven’t been paying attention. I give a reasonably coherent answer and congratulate myself at everyone’s contemplative expression at the wisdom I just threw down. Success!
“You’ll need to unmute yourself,” the moderator says.
Later, I’ll try to figure out why logging in to Zoom from my laptop doesn’t automatically connect me from my work account, so I can name my profile whatever I please. Then, I’ll get wrapped up in thinking of new noms de plume and corresponding virtual backgrounds:
A sushi bar.
A desert wasteland.
A space station.
The dog wants in from outside. We both ignore her.
I click back over to Albertson’s. I had a list, but my cart has timed out. There are seven thousand tabs open in my browser and my computer feels hot, like it’s going to melt.
I give it a rest, go load the dishwasher.
Struck by inspiration, I make Mike swear we’ll clean out the junk room, patch up the hole in the drywall, clean up the yard and do all sorts of other productive stuff this weekend. Then we share a good laugh over social constructs like weekend because time has no meaning anymore and we don’t even know what day it even is right now.
The neighbors text an invitation to driveway cocktails. I mull over whether this requires showering first, and then grab a hat.
We stand in their driveway, more or less fourteen feet apart, with coozy-covered beer cans brought from home. A buff colored Pomeranian runs from one of us to another, shying away at the last minute from outstretched hands. The perfect pet for a plague.
That’s a crazy looking hamster, Brad says. We laugh. Jen tells the story of the dog eating her ex’s mushroom stash from under the bed. He’s almost twenty (the dog, I mean. I don’t know how old the boyfriend is), so the way he bites at the air could be the ill effects of ingesting psychotropic substances or maybe just age.
Nancy’s silver Corolla rolls by. I imagine her giving us the stink-eye when she passes, but her tinted windows mitigate the effect. Mike waves at her, crossing in front of me to obstruct the bird I flip on instinct.
He knows my moves and is better at being neighborly.
I swallow my beer, wondering whether that catch in my throat is seasonal allergies or a sign of imminent doom. I wonder at the havoc regular spikes in cortisol with every breaking news story or inane daily presser from our buffoon-in-chief are wreaking on our national psyche. I wonder if we’re even doing this right? Whether or not, even separated by fourteen feet, a stiff, spring breeze, and a spastic Pomeranian, we’re still infecting our neighbors?
Is it any wonder we’re struggling to find our productivity footing in this real-time dystopia?
Maybe Nancy’s right. It’s time to break this up.
Later we’ll order takeout to be left on the porch and binge on Tiger King. I’ll Google terms like “meth mouth” and “toxoplasmosis.”
I’ll generously get up to let out the dog. Because I’m a giver.
And I’ll set my intentions early: Tomorrow we’ll be productive. Pinky-swear.