What a Fucking Time to Be Alive: Dispatch #002 from Day 5 of Quarantine

I guess I curse more when I’m in isolation. Consider this the third in what is becoming a string of real-time recaps from the dikes of quarantine. By the time you read this, I think it’s going to be Friday, but I’m writing it from Thursday morning. Currently, it’s 9:14am. I’ve taken a shower, I’ve fired off at least 30 frantic text messages to 6 people, one of which was to a co-worker—the rest are friends. I’ve consumed a slice of banana bread from a loaf I made yesterday with Madelaur (it’s not very good, but it’s mine, so I like it) and set a schedule for the day ahead. If all goes according to plan, I’ll spend the next—

Now it’s 1:18pm. I have insofar as completed no part of the schedule that I laid out for today, but I did take Laura to the doctor—she’s got an ear infection; the ten-block walk was like the shot of espresso with hope-dust mixed in that I knew I wanted but didn’t realize how badly I needed. Have you been able to inhale fresh air today? I hope you have been.

She’s okay, for what it’s worth. She meaning Laura. I’m going to sautee kale soon—using a recipe from NYT Cooking that calls for red wine vinegar and vegetable stock. Earlier this week I learned that if you heat coconut aminos in a pan, they reduce to this syrup-y, teriyaki-style glaze. I’ll probably cover the kale in the glaze.

Today is different from yesterday which different from the day before. I think that’s what it’s like when you’re in survival mode, right? I mention it because last night when I was FaceTiming with my mom, she said something like, “To be perfectly honest, I feel more in my element than usual. I’m a survivor.” It clicked for me as she was saying it that what I have been calling her “refugee mentality” for a very long time is actually the sensation of living in a heightened state of survival mode where no time exists beyond the time that’s right in front of you. There is no planning beyond the one hour, 12 hours—if you’re lucky, 24 hours ahead because there’s not enough information to think further out. All you have and all you know is what confronts you at the moment. Trying to prepare for any period beyond that frame is futile; too much is changing and it’s happening quickly. You know? I realize I’m most comfortable in this heightened state of paradoxically routine panic and chaos, too. It can make me feel like a prisoner of my own life when there is no reason to panic. Abie does not maintain this quality—he thinks years ahead of me. That’s one of the primary things that attracted me to him, this sense of psychological freedom I could feel emanating from him. I’ve never been able to identify that before this moment.

I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to the feedback—the way in which a “me too!” or piece of constructive criticism or word of wisdom ties the visceral experience up in some kind of knot that allows me to put it on a shelf and observe it preciously from a distance as if something I’ve achieved. Does that make any sense? Now it’s 2:02pm. Laura just started crying again. I am supposed to enter a Google hangout meeting. My left eye is twitching, the top half of my back is aching and I’m pretty sure the coffee cup that has been sitting next to my bed since 9:14am this morning is starting to frost and, fuck, I forgot the kale.


Graphics by Lorenza Centi.

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Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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