Working from Home, Quarantine Day Whothehellknows
I promise I will get to the X you sent me as soon as possible. I am working from home. Thank you for your patience as we all adjust to our new normal.
I am working from home and my husband is working from home and my children are schooling from home.
Schooling from home is different from home-schooling because home-schooling is a planned and chosen thing. I believe home schooling has a schedule. I’m pretty sure said schedule does not include six meal breaks and snack breaks and extra time for Tik Tok-ing and collapsing in hallway to shout “I so hangry. Why you no feed me?”
Right now, as I am about to work on the X you sent me, my husband is sitting across from me at our home office, also known as our dining room table, blasting Faster Pussycat from his computer.
If you haven’t listened to Faster Pussycat, the metal magazine Sleaze Roxx gives the band its Super Sleaze rating. Super Sleaze gives extra points to the band members for extending their teenage hormones into mid-life. Super Sleaze gives double points to Faster Pussycat for making it out of the 80s alive.
My husband loves hair metal. Right now, he’s wearing the same hair-metal t-shirt he’s worn for the past who-knows days.
I’m not judging.
I haven’t showered for two days, maybe three, and I haven’t worn a bra in weeks. My hair is yanked into a messy bun that looks like a rabid groundhog gnawing on my head.
You probably didn’t need to know about the bra.
That was unprofessional of me.
Today when the UPS guy delivered my case of subscription-service wine, he took one look to make sure I was 21 and therefore allowed by the great state of Pennsylvania to legally imbibe in subscription-service wine.
The UPS guy made a squinchy face. He gave the box a shove with his foot, and backed away fast.
I like to think he was social distancing. I like to think he had many deliveries and miles to go before he slept.
I sniffed my pits just in case.
Then I asked my husband to sniff me.
These are things people who love each other and who’ve been married a long time do.
Also, one symptom of Co-Vid 19 is loss of smell.
Trust me. We’re okay.
My husband’s favorite day-shirt is swag from a Kiss cover band called Mr. Speed. Kiss cover bands were big in our neighborhood before the pandemic. My husband and my brother-in-law Dan loved to go see these bands at a place called The Lamp.
Kiss cover band shows always sold out The Lamp, even though the beers there were warm and served in plastic cups. Warm beer in plastic cups belong only at frat parties.
Imagine frat parties — all those people crammed together, keg-standing in a basement, slam dancing to 80s hair metal, someone puking on someone else’s shoes, forever and ever amen.
Was that even a thing?
Today, when I should have been working on your X, which you sent me some days ago and which I should have finished by now, I thought about frat parties, which made me look up a classic Michael Shannon video from Funny or Die. The one where Michael Shannon, an actor of such Shakespearean intensity he always looks like someone twist-tied his intestines, reads sorority leader Becca’s insane letter to her Delta Gamma sisters.
If you don’t know it, go ahead. Look it up.
Time is a construct.
Time waits for us all.
Becca waits for us all, too. Becca will find you. She will.
Last I checked, Becca, who motherfucked her sorority sisters to the hell they deserved, graduated.
Last I checked, Mr. Speed,, the best Kiss cover band in the history of Kiss cover bands, was clocking quarantine time making Kiss collages to post on the band website.
Collages are fun! Once, at an employee retreat, my boss made us make collages. We cut pictures out of fashion magazines. We cut out letters.
Where do you see yourself in five years? In ten?
In five years, I saw myself as a best-selling novelist. I look nothing like Stephen King, but I glued his face to my collage anyway.
In ten years, I saw myself as a best-selling novelist. I have never read Fifty Shades of Grey or a single Harry Potter book.
At night, when I am supposed to be working on your X or writing a book that will not be a best seller and my husband is supposed to be working on his own X or writing a book we hope will change our lives, I change into my black leopard-print fuzzy pajamas.
Black leopard-print fuzzy pajamas sound sexy, but are meant for comfort, which means baggy-crotched.
When I change into my pajamas, my husband changes into his bright orange t-shirt, the one he bought for $5 at Shop ‘n’ Save this past Thanksgiving.
The t-shirt says “Gobble ‘til You Wobble.”
Thanksgiving was in November, whatever.
Remember: Time = construct.
The Gobble t-shirt is soft and comfortable. Before he hangs up his Mr. Speed shirt, my husband sniffs it and passes it to me to sniff. We both deem it good for another day’s wear, at least.
Rock on, Mr. Speed.
The best Kiss cover band, other than Mr. Speed, according to brother-in-law Dan, is Minikiss. Minikiss is “little people illuminating Kiss.” The band’s motto: “You wanted the littlest, you got the littlest!”
Minikiss is represented by a company called Book a Dwarf, which advertises – forgive me, I’m quoting — midgets for hire, sensitivity being so pre-2016 and all.
Book a Dwarf also manages Mini Lady Gaga, Mini Elvis, Mini Slash and Mini Marilyn Manson. The company promises to meet all your elf, leprechaun, and Oompah-Loompah needs.
Book a Dwarf seems awful, but I hope they pay well because Minikiss is great. Check them out online.
You can see Minikiss in the elevator scene from Paul Blart Mall Cop 2.
Watch the first Paul Blart Mall Cop too.
You have time.
I worry about Minikiss.
I worry about bands and mall cops. How are they getting by? Unemployment? Stimulus checks? Venmo? Pay Pal?
I worry and spend time worrying about the world when I should be working on the X that you sent me – when was it? — and that you were probably expecting by now.
I am working at home. Did I mention that?
Also, Faster Pussycat is not a bad band, but the speaker on my husband’s computer statics a lot and even though there is a nice Bluetooth speaker within reach, my husband prefers to let the static ride.
Static is the sound of my brain on quarantine. Or it’s the sound of the bacon I keep cooking for breakfast, every day, bacon and bacon and bacon since my husband and kids and I are home and so what if breakfast is now 3 p.m.
Physicist Carlo Rovelli says time is an illusion.
Ancient Egyptians invented time or at least the hourglass.
Cyndi Lauper’s song “Time After Time” was big at my college homecoming dance. I wore a polka-dot minidress and drank grain punch from a hollowed-out pineapple and puked in the bathroom.
Cyndi Lauper used to babysit my friend Joe from Queens years back. Joe became a cop, then a criminal, then a life coach and security guard, which is kind of like a mall cop.
Einstein said time is a burrito, folding in on itself.
Cyndi Lauper is 66 now and her hair is still pink fluff.
The Egyptian’s hourglass became a clock, which became a watch that takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
Magritte said a pipe is not a pipe and a clock is the wind.
Dali melted all the clocks.
We are all Dali now.
My dear X, I would be finishing your X right now, which would normally take me 20 minutes, 40 tops, but now my husband is reading Metal Sludge stories aloud.
Did you know the band Ratt just did a Geico commercial?
Did you know Sebastian Bach, who according to Metal Sludge’s Penis Chart is about average, didn’t shower much long before quarantine and is now selling his Kiss collectibles on E-Bay?
Many years ago, I dated a guy who looked so much like Sebastian Bach people would stop us on the street in New York. The guy I dated had good hygiene, certainly passable hygiene, but he wasn’t into Kiss. He was into muscle cars. Meth maybe, though he had great teeth and beautiful hands. He was a painter and a musician and his hair was soft and smelled like burnt marshmallows.
My Aunt Peggy, maybe 80 back then, fell in love with him because she thought he was cute, that soft marshmallow hair and all. He’d kiss her to make her happy and she’d giggle like a schoolgirl.
My Aunt Peggy has been dead for years.
My parents have been dead for years.
Some days, I’m grateful they’re not alive because if they were alive, what then?
Is that selfish?
I wonder if my old boyfriend is still alive.
I hope he is. I hope he’s happy.
I hope everyone I’ve ever loved or hated or been ambivalent about on this earth is well and loved and loved.
“Greetings and Salutations, a Man in Quarantine Says Upon Seeing Other Humans,” a recent headline from the Onion read.
Greeting and salutations to you.
I was about to begin working on your X, which I should have finished, no excuses, but my daughter Phelan just sat down next to me. Right now she’s examining the breakfast sandwich I made her – scrambled egg, the aforementioned bacon, American cheese on a sweet roll – like she’s about to taste-test poison for Henry the Eighth.
Phelan likes scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, American cheese, and sweet rolls.
“But not all together!” she says, and tries not to cry.
I hope she won’t cry. I will her not to cry. When she cries, my daughter calls it “draining the bathtub.” It takes a while.
Phelan puts the sandwich closer to what may or may not be her good eye.
She’s due for an eye doctor’s appointment.
She’s due for the dentist, the orthodontist, her annual physical.
Locklin, her brother, is due for all this, too. Plus his wisdom teeth need to come out.
I need to remind myself to remind myself of this.
And now, just as I was about to turn my full attention to your X, my son Locklin sat down, too. He sighs. He sighs again. He sighs and puts his head on the table. He bonks his head on the table, just once, until I have to ask what’s wrong.
He’s furious because today is April 20 – you know, 420 – and he’s out of weed.
He’s in college, a legal adult, and he has a medical card, but it doesn’t kick back in until tomorrow and all his friends are on Tik Tok, partying on and so.
“This is not good,” he says, and I say, “What’s not good?” and he waves his arms every which way to show me the world.
You are all a lost generation, Gertrude Stein told Hemingway, but Gertrude Stein was an asshole.
Have you read Hemingway? Read Moveable Feast, the original, not the restored version, those bastards.
Did I mention our pet rabbit Waxy may have either ear mites or ear wax?
Waxy is named Waxy not because of ear wax but because she came from Waxahachee, Texas. She’s a rescue bunny.
“Waxy is a dumb name,” Locklin said, so I added Kardashian to Waxy’s birth name because Waxy’s backside could break the bunny internet.
Also, as an adoptee, I am against changing people’s or animal’s birth names. It seems traumatic.
“We should call her Snoop,” Locklin says, for Snoop Dogg.
Waxy Kardashian Newman is a girl.
Waxy Kardashian Newman is white as Becca from Delta Gamma.
Waxy Kardashian Newman is a rabbit.
I met Snoop Dogg once when I lived in New York. We were in a tiny bar in the East Village, red carpet on the walls, red vinyl bar stools. Snoop bought me a shot, something sweet, Schnapps, maybe.
Snoop Dogg killed people, probably, but he’s nice. He’s friends with Martha Stewart, who he calls “10-Toes-Down” because Martha Stewart is no snitch.
When my son is alone with Waxy, he calls her Snoop anyway. I hear him. He says, “Yo, Dogg.” He says, “What up, Dog?” He says, “I feel you, bro.”
I feel you, X.
I feel everyone now.
I really am sorry about how long it’s taking me to get to the X you sent me. I’m on it.
My husband also has an ear wax problem, which he thinks is from lying on his side when he sleeps and watches Netflix. He walks me through the many ways he’s planning to deal with ear wax – Vaseline, tweezers, a hot shower.
“I can’t hear,” my husband says, but he can hear me when I say, “What’s wrong?”
The answer of course is everything.
The hot shower is tricky because our hot water tank may or may not be dying. Everyone in our house is angry because sometimes the water is hot and sometimes it’s not. I can tell the water temperature based on the sighing and/or swearing that leeches up from the basement, which is where we have to shower because the shower in our upstairs bathroom leaks.
The tub upstairs works, but whenever anyone wants to take a bath, I have to boil water on the stove and in our electric tea kettle to get the temperature just right.
I have to order bath bombs from Amazon to convince my daughter Phelan that bathing is both worthwhile and fun.
I dream of good plumbing, endless supplies of hot water, and feel bad for thinking about such things when the world may or may not be ending.
Excuse me while I remind myself to remind myself to order bath bombs from Amazon.
Also baby oil for rabbit and human ear wax.
Also underwear. Don’t ask.
Unlike me, my husband has given up working from home today because his company’s server is on the fritz. Hence more Metal Sludge.
Phelan tries to swallow a tiny bite of her sandwich and her eyes roll to the ceiling like she’s waiting for a lightning bolt to save her.
Locklin drops his head to the table and stays there.
Phelan would like to know what’s for dinner.
My husband would like to know what’s for dinner.
Locklin would like to know what’s for dinner.
Locklin would like me to learn how to make carrot bacon because he’s seen carrot bacon on YouTube and thinks he’d like to start a diet centered around carrot bacon.
Waxy the rabbit is jiggling her ears a lot, like antennae trying to tune in aliens, but her appetite is fine. She likes carrots just the way they are. We have canned baby carrots. We have baby carrots in the freezer. There are dandelions all over our lawn.
“I can’t go on,” Samuel Beckett said. “I’ll go on.”
My husband swears rabbit hair is everywhere, so I vacuum and vacuum, to keep the peace, to keep things nice, to keep us steady.
I promise I will have your X to you as soon as possible. Just as soon as my internet goes back up. Just as soon as I take a nap.
Right now my internet keeps saying “unstable.”
“You’re on earth,” Samuel Beckett said. “There’s no cure for that.”
How are you, X? How’s your internet? Is it strong? Is it stable?
Once I’m stable, I will get to work on the X you sent me, first thing. I promise.
Thank you for your patience.
Lori Jakiela is the author of several books, most recently BELIEF IS ITS OWN KIND OF TRUTH, MAYBE (re-released by Autumn House Press in 2019), a memoir that received the William Saroyan Prize for International Literature from Stanford University. Her work has been published in The New York Times (Modern Love), the Washington Post, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Magazine and more. Her author website is http://lorijakiela.net.