Surviving Quarantine – The Lessons of Negative Daydreams and Pretending Not to do Chores

Negative Daydreaming

The hoi polloi tell us to think positively. This is lovely, but not always possible. Realistically, I spend a fair amount of time every day wanting to slap someone so it’s important to have a way to channel those thoughts. We can’t all be adept at voodoo, so it’s enjoyable and easy to imagine horrible things happening to people who are being unpleasant. Wishing them dead is too simple, as is wishing that they get the virus. What I like to do is imagine I get a call from a hiring committee asking about a particular troll in my life. That makes for a very pleasant 5 minutes. Wishing that they find carpenter ants in load-bearing beams or termite infestations is good – as are swarms of locusts, bed-bugs, baby crocodiles swarming in their sewers and wasps nesting in all their windows. You try it! Fun and easy!

Another good negative daydream technique is remembering awful places you have been and being glad you aren’t there right now. For me:

  • in Brindisi killing time waiting for a ferry to Greece
  • statistics class
  • on a 12 hour flight
  • the Fortnum and Mason tea room (Darling, j’adore dear F & M, but when I was in town alone and made a reservation for one, they put me next to the kitchen door and no one came to the table for 12 minutes, so I walked out. Darling, just because it is a lovely place does not mean they can get away with such rudeness)
  • driving across Kansas
  • conversations with people who don’t revere Queen Elizabeth
  • when I learned someone I had trusted betrayed me (yes, X, I still remember and no, you are not forgiven)
  • being forced to eat beets in my childhood
  • those moments after hearing Bush was elected, Trump was elected, Brexit passed and Johnson was elected

Not Doing Chores

Most humans don’t understand that in stressful times, you need a lot of time to sit and do nothing. You need to zone-out, watching horror movies, musicals, tutorials for building gecko art museums or whatever gets you through. Do NOT be afraid to revert – Muppets, Friends, Disney series, Godfather trilogy, whatever you listened to in high school, Firefly, Prince, Fred Astaire. Darling, you must have time to laze and do nothing, watch nothing, talk to no one. Find the happy medium, not enough and you become stressed and unpleasant with noticeable foot odor. Too much and you become a slug. Most unattractive.

But your house also needs to stay this side of hazard waste site guidelines (no, Darling, you don’t qualify for the Superfund, no matter how many clothes are on your floor). This is particularly troublesome for people who are working from home. After typing away for 6 – 8 hours, the last thing you need to do is cook and clean for another 2 hours. So follow cherished auntie’s plan. An hour or two at the spreadsheets, then stand up and do something else for ten minutes. Quite enough time to blitz clean a bathroom, fold laundry, put something in the oven for dinner, tidy up something or attack a floor – play music and move. Two or three songs, then sit back down and at it again for the spreadsheets. Repeat every hour or so. When I am done at 7ish – the house is in a reasonable state and I can laze (elegantly, in a silk chemise on the chaise lounge) for an hour. This is why, weeks from having been to a beauty parlor, my eyebrows STILL look perfect, yes they do, don’t they.