I did it. I left the country.
We were invited to visit an old friend of Mr. Parker’s in Mexico. The two hadn’t seen each other in about 25 years, and I’d never met the man. But, they both seemed to think it was a swell idea. Also, this old friend had told my husband that we should come for at least two weeks. “So much to see.” So, a plan was made. Plane tickets were purchased. Careful-ish-ness cast to the wind!
With travel being open-ish, then closing again somewhat, then kind of relaxing again, we had no idea if we’d actually be able to travel when the time came. But, as luck would have it, Mexico had no travel requirements for Americans to enter the country other than a vaccination card. We had those. Plus, we’d both caeful-ishly gotten boosters. The only catch: the U.S. would require us to show proof of a negative COVID test 72 hours or less before returning home, and that was easily attainable.
But, what to expect when we got there? Who knew? We weren’t going to one of those places that Americans typically go to for long sessions of lounging on a beach with umbrella drinks. We were headed to Cholula Puebla. This is where Mr. Parker’s friend, John and his wife own and operate a craft brewery. Oooooh. The friend has a brewery! It’s called Cerveceria Crazy Moon. Ulterior motive? We can stay home and drink beer, ya know. No passport required.
The flight to Mexico City was on one of our favorite carrier’s older planes. That was bummer number one. (Not that I’m counting.) We tried to not let it get us down. We whipped through immigration and dashed for the motor coach (see: nice bus) for the two-hour ride to Puebla. While we got to the counter in time, sweaty and panting, the bus was sold out. We had to wait another 90 minutes. Bummer number two. Once aboard our bus, it turned out they had a movie. A movie! Yay! Except—loud audio throughout the coach. We got to hear Peter Rabbit starring Rose Byrne and Sam Neill dubbed in Spanish. Loud. Bummer number three. And that, my friends, was the end of the bummers. These are first-world problems.
Arriving in Puebla, John greeted us with open arms. And his wife, who neither of us had ever even spoken to, treated us like old friends. We brought a bottle of craft bourbon as a gift, shared it alongside some craft beer, then promptly passed out.
The rest of the two weeks featured tours of beautiful old towns, a visit to the largest pyramid in Mexico, enjoying various kinds of street food, learning much about Day of The Dead, and enjoying the company of our friend’s friends. Truly, that latter part was the best. Everywhere we went, we felt like we were upping the U.S. population by 100%. It was a rich dive into someone else’s culture. Warm and fascinating. I could go on too long.
But what of COVID? The Mexicans have a much different approach to COVID than we do in the U.S. Everyone was wearing a mask, even while walking down the street. All public places, restaurants, churches, museums, all of them take your temperature before you can enter. There are hand sanitizer pumps everywhere. And no one had a problem with it. No one. When we asked about their mindset, our friends told us that everyone was determined to do everything possible to keep businesses open.
Speaking of business, we visited our friend’s tasting room and brewery. And I’m not just blowing beer foam when I say: the product is exceptional. The Munich-style Helles lager reminded me of Oktoberfest in Munich. The IPA was easy drinking without being overtly bitter. And the stout was rich without being heavy. It’s a bourgeoning craft brewery, and I can’t wait until they export to the U.S.
It was a magical time in Mexico. We’d been there long enough that we acclimated. It all just began to feel like home. That is, until it was time to leave. We’d gotten our swab-to-the back-of the-brain COVID test, which was comical. My Spanish left me as the very nice nurse with the foot-long swab up my nose kept laughing and saying, “¡Gracias!” And, of course, we were COVID-negative. All good.
Our flight out of Mexico City was very early, so we’d decided to spend the night at the Airport Hilton. Smart, right?
Wrong. Good luck finding the Airport Hilton at Mexico City Terminal One. Mr. Parker had seen online that it wasn’t easy to locate, but it’s literally in the airport. So come on. How bad can it be?
We walked the length of the terminal four times, getting wrong directions from multiple airport employees. Yet, find it we did. Next, our very fine dinner in an airport steakhouse cost us more money than any other meal during our trip (yet half the price of a comparable meal at home). After that, we returned to the hotel bar for an adult beverage. That’s where we heard all the stories of people whose flights had been cancelled the previous day due to bad weather in Atlanta.
Realizing that we’d be getting home well before people scheduled to leave before us, I let it all go—until the next day, when the non-VIP treatment in the airline VIP lounge let us know that the best part of our trip was well over. It was filled with entitled passengers and surly staffers. But, two uneventful flights and we were home—home where no one was wearing a mask.
The bottom line? Traveling during COVID is just plain weird. The being-someplace-else part is fine. Allow yourself to adopt their rhythm of life and it all seems normal. Then, traveling back breaks the spell. It was the trip of a lifetime with people I hope to count as friends forever. Will I travel again in the near future? Mmmm…we’ll see.
We’re heading towards a new phase of lockdown: The Release.
Coming out of pandemic seclusion will and should be slow. But some of us are starting to get back to things we haven’t indulged for over a year. Like excited butterflies worried about leaving the cocoon, we are venturing out.
I’m one of those butterflies.
After getting both vaccine shots, I made my way into the world, hoping desperately that nobody would spit as they spoke.
In my case, “venturing out” meant sitting on the outdoor deck at a ski-resort restaurant, ordering food that neither Mr. Parker nor I had to cook or clean up. Crazy!
For the last year, we’ve been eating only that which we crafted with our own hands. And by “we” and “our,” I mean, “he” and “his.” I married the best cook I know, and he has no need for me to try to best him. Not that I could. He is also one of those “Turn the kitchen upside down” cooks. So, I’m cleaning up. A lot. (Not a complaint. Merely a fact.)
But anyway, here I was. A sunny day. A big deck. Mask in place, I skied with my bubble friends to one of my favorite spots on earth. Located at the top of a ski run at Park City Mountain Resort, the restaurant is called Lookout Cabin. That may sound decadent, but remember: I live here. For me, this is like a neighborhood bar.
Stepping onto the deck and looking out over the snow-covered ski runs filled my heart. I was back.
But it was also weird.
First, walking through the restaurant to get out to the deck was different. It felt a bit post-apocalyptic. Half the normal number of tables were set up inside. In front of the bar was a wall of Plexiglas, like it was a giant sneeze guard from a NYC salad bar.
Part of me really did want to sneeze on it. But behind the glass was my favorite bartender, so I quashed the urge.
The restaurant manager, our waiter and my favorite bartender all took turns telling us what a busy season they’d had. Really? Seems not everyone’s approach to a global pandemic is the same as mine. But I was glad that all these good people were employed and doing well.
Did I mention that I was with my bubble? At the table were the two couples we’d spent most of lockdown with. All were masked. All were looking around like puppies on a car ride.
A girlfriend and I decided to share a dish. It was a banh mi sandwich that sounded fantastic. That’s due in part to the fact it’s not something that I’d eaten at all in the last year.
After the waiter brought it out and walked away, we realized that we had only one plate. My friend asked if I wanted it. Then she pointed out that I could also use my napkin.
That’s when I realized that it hadn’t occurred to me to put my napkin on my lap. I hadn’t done that in forever.
I grabbed the rolled-up napkin and unrolled the flatware within. It felt like unwrapping a holiday present. I was giddy. I’m going to use a napkin! It felt like an activity from another time and place.
Now, this is where Mr. Parker points out that I may not want to share with the world that I haven’t been using napkins. But few who know me will be shocked that my manners have their limits.
BTW, just as I’d hoped, the sandwich was fantastic.
Of course, to celebrate this first outing, we all had more than our share of good wine. When lunch was over and I had to ski home, I did so careful-ishly.
Have you been out yet? How was it for you? Did you use your napkin?
Cheers to getting back to the world.
I guess the real question is: What are you laughing at now that you didn’t laugh at before lockdown? Like, things that perhaps didn’t even exist before lockdown so couldn’t be laughed at.
If you’re reading this blog, it’s safe to say you agree that laughter is a prized commodity. And during COVID, it’s been in short supply. Yet, during the last year, we’ve had a few new opportunities for “Ha!”
For example, just the other day, Mr. Parker and I were out buying a few items for the house. Bathroom mats, kitchen trashcan, stuff. I don’t get out much, so when we got to the store checkout and were confronted with impulse purchase items, I gave in to the impulse. I purchased fudge brownie M&Ms. (Fudge brownie M&Ms? Who knew?!)
At that moment, I had to know. What does this new treat taste like?
We got in the car and each tried one. Did we like them? Unsure. We each tried another. Perhaps this wasn’t the taste sensation we were hoping for. They were, fine. (Not meant as in, “fine dining.” More as in “fine, you’ll do, you fat-laden over-sweet candy treat line extension.” )
Fudge brownie candies in hand, we continued on our way. That meant stopping at yet another store. After returning to the car, Mr. Parker reached for what was left of the M&Ms. Another impulse. And, impulsively, he popped a couple in his mouth.
Or did he?
Nope. His mask was still on his face. Little candies bounced around the car. We both started laughing at the ridiculousness of it.
New and silly laughter.
Then came the choking. My laughing brought on coughing. And now, in the time of COVID, coughing makes me worry, “Do I have it?”
Which, of course, made me laugh harder at myself for being such a pandemic hypochondriac. I knew exactly why I was coughing, but I still worry.
I’m an idiot.
So, there. Two new ways to laugh at ourselves. All in all, I’m calling it a win.
How about you? Have you laughed at some new aspect of life during lockdown?
Cheers to all of our quirky behavior.
Yes, laughing and spitting. It was a sunny day in beautiful Park City, Utah. And Mr. Parker and I found ourselves sitting in our car in a hospital parking lot, spitting into tubes and laughing.
What has brought us to this bizarre circumstance? Two words: COVID testing.
We’d made it almost a year into the pandemic without needing a test.
That’s saying something, considering we were actually in ground-zero Seattle on March 11 2020.
These days, we rarely leave home. We go almost nowhere…and the liquor store. Our COVID pod is small and select.
But people we like were about to enter that pod from out of town, and everyone was getting tested first. We were doing our part. Hello, testing!
Until now, I’d thought that a COVID test meant a long swab up your nose and into the back of your brain.
That thought alone was enough to keep me from going anywhere or engaging in mask-less mingling.
But there’s a new kid in town: the spit tube.
Sorry if this creeps you out , but…
All you have to do is juice up enough saliva that you can spit three milliliters of it into a plastic vial. Then, drive up to the spit take service entrance where you hand it to the nice lady in the hazmat suit.
Simple. Painless. No one touching your precious gray matter.
Let’s do this.
It was a bluebird day as we drove to the hospital and pulled up to a temporary office hut that looked like it might be possible to purchase coffee from the gentleman inside.
When that smiling gentleman leaned out the hut window, Mr. Parker placed his order.
“COVID tests for two, please.”
“Spit or swab?”
Not even a question. “Spit, please!”
The gentleman then informed us that this test is not acceptable for travel to Hawaii. Have you ever said to yourself, “Thank god I’m not going to Hawaii?” Yes, it was a first for us, too.
He handed us our plastic tubes, told us to where to park, and showed us how much spit we needed to produce.
“Get to the line marked 3. If there’s a head on the spit, then the bubbles need to reach the number 4.”
I’ve been spitting for longer than I can remember. I got this.
Surprise. It’s a long, involved exercise in purposeful hypersalivation.
(Mr. Parker found that word for us. He’s like that. I was happy to stick with “working up spit.”)
We pulled into a space, parked, and started spitting. How hard could this be? How long could it take?
Answers: hard and long. (Yes, I said hard…and long.) My spit dried up in a matter of minutes. Mr. Parker quickly gained quite a lead on me.
Should one put on music for such an exercise? What would be appropriate?
As it turned out, there was no need for a soundtrack. The longer it took to fill the vials, the more we laughed. And laughing lead to more laughing. The kind of laughing that takes over when you’re watching a good, bad movie.
My vial was all bubbles. Mr. Parker, overachiever that he is, had already made it to line five. Five! Damn. That’s when I gave us our new temporary rapper names: Juicy and Li’l Bubbles.
Finally, I crossed the finish line.
We called the phone number for spit retrieval, and as per instructions, we drove to the hospital side entrance.
A nice lady in a bizarrely enormous hazmat suit came out. Kinda like if the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man’s very happy wife showed up, dressed for surgery.
She bounced out the door and smiled big as she confirmed out birthdates.
We held out our juice and bubbles. She held out plastic bags. We dropped the vials inside. She smiled again from inside the big plastic fish bowl on her head. “Have a nice day! Stay safe!”
And, just like that, the adventure was over.
In truth, figuring out how to get the results from the website was another adventure. And no laugh track.
Drum roll…Negative and negative!
Oh, the adventures of pandemic-living. Here’s hoping you don’t have to go to Hawaii any time soon.
Juicy & Li’l Bubbles
If you’re reading this, you made it past 2020. God bless us, everyone.
But here’s something that keeps sticking with me through the beginning of the new year. So many people kept talking about how they couldn’t wait to be done with 2020. As if the change from 2020 to 2021 would magically make things right again.
I don’t think it will be that simple.
So, what do we all want from 2021?
Maybe surprisingly, despite the absurdity of Careful-ish, I have a certain amount of optimism for 2021. Why not? Eye on the prize, right?
There’s a saying in auto racing: “Watch the wall, and you get the wall.” Meaning: look at what you don’t want to hit and that’s exactly where you’ll go.
Here are three things on my 2021 short list.
1.My favorite drink at my favorite bar. What and where are that, you say? In the last couple of years, the Vieux Carré has become my favorite cocktail. It’s a uniquely New Orleans concoction of Rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, bitters and a maraschino cherry. And my favorite Vieux Carré is made by a committed young barman named Eric, who tends bar at a Park City restaurant called The Farm. Since The Farm also happens to be a short walk from my digs, I can stumble home responsibly.
2.Make many, many more people laugh. I loved writing Careful-ish, in great part because it has made so many people happy to laugh, sometimes out loud. I’m closing in on finishing the sequel, and I’d love to bring a bit more of the joy of ridiculousness and infectious fun to folks feeling the overwhelm of life behind a mask.
3.Hugging my father. Here’s where I get sappy. In Careful-ish, Steph’s father is Murray. He’s based on my father, Jerry. Steph’s mom Ida is based on my late mother. I haven’t seen my dad since April 3, 2020. That’s the day I left him in New Jersey and flew back to Utah. Two days later, my mother passed away. We were well into COVID by then. While I was in Jersey, Jerry was recently over pneumonia. I had just flown in from Utah. For all these reasons, I didn’t hug my dad. But before I left him, I broke down. I had to touch him. So, I kissed him on the forehead. He looked up at me, then finally asked, “Do I feel like I have a fever?”
So many other things are beckoning, things I’m looking forward to experiencing, seeing and eating. But the three on this list keep bouncing back into my brain with the rest of the Super Balls in there. I’m excited for each and every one of them.
Now, let’s assume world peace is already on your list. What else do you want to see happen in your world in 2021?
I’d love to hear about it...
Oh, the things we ill-advisedly shove in our mouths and justify later.
And I’m not just referring to the calorey-laden goodies that can feel so comforting in the moment (particularly after the alcohol we drank tells us, “Go ahead. It’ll be fine”). I’m talking about flat-out weird choices. The odd combos. The items we try, knowing they’re likely a bad idea.
Years ago, I was single in New York. That alone is a combination that makes many bad choices seem like good ideas. At the time, I hit on something I thought was genius. And yes, the alcohol agreed with me completely. To me, the mark of a good snack combines something to spread with something to spread it on. After a fun night out, I came home, opened my fridge, and stared inside, searching for two such components. Something to spread…? Cheese! Now, something to spread it on…? Cheese! Yes, I spread cream cheese on Swiss cheese and felt like a genius. I couldn’t wait to wake up in the morning and share my discovery with the world. (Here’s a surprise. When I woke up, I no longer felt that the world was waiting to hear about this.)
Flash forward. When lockdown began, I was grieving for my mother. Her decline over the last two years had led to some pretty bad eating habits, and my weight was far from happy-making. So, I was looking for snacks that would satisfy while I tried to take off some pounds. Where did I land? Remember, I require something to spread and something to spread it on. I hit on raw cauliflower with yellow mustard. Hang with me while I justify. Raw cauliflower has a lot of crunch, so that element is taken care of. And yellow mustard is a tangy flavor bomb. You know you’ve eaten something. And you could literally eat an entire head of cauliflower with mustard and not feel like you’ve gone too far. Well, not in the calorie department anyway. It’s also beyond filling, and I’ve never been able to eat more than three whole florets in one sitting.
How bizarre is this combo? When meeting with my doctor for a physical, I told her about it. She thought it was genius. And not the cheese-on-cheese variety of genius. Cauliflower is high in fiber. Low in calories. Low in sodium. She was so impressed with the idea that she was going to give it a go. Then, on a recent hike, we ran into a friend who had friend of his along. Let’s call him Jake. The conversation turned to food. And Jake said that he and his wife love cauliflower with different mustards. I felt like I was in with the in crowd.
So, what new taste sensation have you eaten during lockdown?
Cheers to all our quirky behavior.
(I’ll share mine if you share yours…)
A little bit ago, I promised to lay bare my guilty pleasure during COVID: my music-filled rabbit holes. So, buckle up and hang on. Here we go!
While writing the Careful-ish sequel, Daughter Of Careful-ish, I was doing “research.” (See also: productive procrastinating.) That process served up a musical genre I never saw coming: Arab heavy metal. I know, right? Who even knew it existed?
Well, the answer to that rhetorical question is: an enthusiastic member of the Careful-ish group on Facebook. Within minutes of sharing what I was listening to, she came back with recommendations for two more foreign metal bands, one from the Netherlands and the other from Israel. Wow. So that’s what I’ve been listening to for the last two days.
Back at the beginning of lockdown, I was bingeing on Christina Aguilera. My psyche was way down in an emotional rabbit hole back then. Between the pandemic, politics and my mother passing, I needed something reflective of what I was feeling.
Christina’s voice and style is so potent and passionate, she was the right tool for the job. But then, the result was I couldn’t sleep. I’d be lying in bed with the lyrics from “You Lost Me” playing in my head on an endless loop.
So, goodbye Christina. Hello, Kelly. YouTube suggested Kelly Clarkson, and who am I to argue with the algorithm?
Back in the day in Hollywood, I used to work out with celebrity trainer Bob Harper. (No, I was not a celebrity. And neither was he. Yet. The Biggest Loser was still a few years off.)
Not long after Kelly Clarkson won Idol, Bob played her hit, “Miss Independent” in one of his workouts. You could tell that others in the workout group weren’t sure if that was cool or not. Yes, she was a TV talent show winner. But was she a real artist?
The answer Bob and I came up with was a resounding, YES. Total artist. Totally cool. So, I went down Kelly Clarkson lane all the way into the trees at the end. That included listening to unknown artists attempting Kelly’s hits. (There’s talent in them there hills.)
After deep-bingeing on Kelly, I turned to my personal tried and true genre: Broadway musicals. How did I not start there? I grew up in a house where Broadway was always on the record player.
Remember my parents? (If you’ve read Careful-ish, you’ve met them.) Every year or so, when I was a kid, they would head up to New York for a weekend. They’d go see three musicals, and come back with at least a couple of new albums smelling of fresh-pressed, music-rich vinyl. So Broadway is in my blood.
After Kelly, I started bingeing Stephen Sondheim. The song “Ladies Who Lunch” from Company is what lead to the scene in Careful-ish where The Joy is pouring Vodka Stingers for herself and Kimi. Really, how do you not love a song with its own cocktail?
Sondheim segued into the Ken Burns documentary, Country Music. The rabbit hole was quickly packed full of all Dolly Parton all the time. That included her work with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. Dolly is a musical genius, period. The songs she wrote in 2019 are as good and as relevant as what she wrote back in the 1960s.
After Dolly came another left turn down another deep rabbit hole. One day, my phone rang. The caller ID showed up as “Bacharach.” I have no idea why, and neither did the caller. But he and I started talking about Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Dionne Warwick. So, so fantastic.
I not only started bingeing the music, but any and all documentaries I could find about them. (Yes, if you’re wondering, that’s why the banner art for my blog page includes a screenshot of a YouTube video about Burt Bacharach music.)
Right now, while writing the sequel, I started listening to Japanese rock (thank you Benji). And then came the Arab heavy metal.
But now, going down the rabbit hole of writing this post, Christina has popped in again. Circle of life. Are all rabbit holes are interconnected?
During all the time spent in lockdown, you must’ve started listening to something that you didn’t see coming. What is it?
Here are two facts about alcohol consumption: 1) When times are good, people drink more. 2) When times are bad, people drink more. And wow, do we have circumstances (no need to spell them out) pushing us to fact #2.
Here’s the “twist” that the pandemic has brought to the “mix.” We all had to work with what we had. So, unless you’re like good friends of ours (you know who you are), and in your basement you have a tavern with stupendous wine cellar, you ended up making do. A “drink ‘em if you got ‘em” mentality swept the nation.
So, what have you been drinking?
In our home at the beginning of lockdown, before we eventually ventured out, it was all about what we had in the house. First, we went through our supply of wine. That didn’t take long, as we’re spending lockdown in a ski condo. See also: Not a lotta room for wine storage. Then, we hit the whiskeys. From there, on to vodka and then tequila. Once they were all gone, we started saying things like, “What’s this weird bottle? Who gave us that? Shit, just pour it.” And then, that was gone too.
Of the two of us, Mr. Parker has been the one venturing out to places like the supermarket and the post office. I mostly left the house for hiking remotely. No stores for me. But where was the first enclosed space I went to? You guessed it: the liquor store. It was like going into a sci-fi Candyland. New possibilities! Exciting! But… So many people! Freaking me out!
Now, I’m a straight-liquor drinker. Neat is neat. So for me, stocking up on the basics isn’t complicated. But I’ve had this thought in my head all through COVID: a drink that was introduced to me at a Bourbon tasting in Kentucky. Thank you, Phifer Pavitt winery. They call the drink a Moxie, and it’s a take on a New York Sour. They make a whiskey sour with their new Date Night Bourbon, then pour it into a hefty rocks glass with one large, square ice cube. Then, they add a wine float using one of their stunning Date Night Cabernet Sauvignons. How much has this beverage been on my mind these days? It was the inspiration for The Joy’s joyful cocktail discovery in Careful-ish, her New York sour.
I’ve yet to play mixologist and attempt to make a Moxie at home. I’m afraid of breaking the spell it has over me. What if my mixology doesn’t live up to the stand-out flavor living inside my head? Is it better to remember fondly than to experience my own inadequate version? So, for now, I’ll let The Joy enjoy. I’ll continue dreaming about someone else’s cocktail while I drink what I have on hand. Neat.
And I ask again, what have you been drinking?
Lockdown means we’re all spending a lot more time alone. Unless, of course, you’re quarantining with a house full of kids. But still, there’s more than ample time to do things you might not otherwise do if someone was watching.
So, let’s get embarrassed together.
The characters in Careful-ish make all manner of “self-grooming” choices that they normally wouldn’t. From the ever-popular “digit in the nostril” to digging out dollops of ear wax to be disposed of later, the rules get lax. But what about me? What have I done when I thought no one was looking? Hmm...
It’s almost hard to think of something. It all seems so normal now.
Got it. I spent most of the summer in the same two pairs of shorts. I own two pairs of denim shorts. One is a traditional blue denim, the other is a light-blue, almost white denim. It got to the point where the blue shorts were for every day. The white ones were for fancy. Like, sitting in a neighbor’s back yard.
I’m here to say, those shorts are now really soft.
And how often was I washing them? I don’t think either pair saw the laundry before they’d been out visiting at least four times. Color me proud.
In a similar vein, it has become normal to sleep in a shirt I’ve been wearing during the day. Hey, it’s already on. And will I wear it the next day? Maybe. Well, OK. I do. The surprising thing is that Mr. Parker never mentions it. So, my next question is, did lockdown make him not notice or not care? Or is he doing the same thing? I haven’t noticed.
All this said, I do maintain some degree of dignity. I never take a phone call without wearing a bra. That’s a rule. It’s been a hard and fast policy since I began working from home over a dozen years ago. (Remember those cheery, pre-virus days?) Having the ladies locked and loaded just makes me feel in charge. But maybe, just maybe, my summer-shorts habit also made me feel in charge. It was neither fashionable nor polite, and maybe not even clean. But damn it, it was my choice to make and I made it. And in a time when our choices have become limited, that brings a kind of empowerment.
How about you? What have you done during lockdown that you would normally turn up your nose at? Or at least laughed at?
Cheers to all of our quirky behavior.
First, what is a COVID Rabbit Hole? I’m defining a rabbit hole as a subject that pulls you further and further down a path. A passing obsession. Therefore, a COVID rabbit hole is a passing obsession during COVID. Simple.
During COVID, many of us have found that more time at home has lead us down new, and sometimes helpful rabbit holes. In the book, Careful-sh, Steph binges Call the Midwife. The civility of the show helps her stay calm. For me, one of my rabbit holes started as a similar binge and moved well beyond. Here now, how The Crown got me through part of the COVID crisis.
Like with Steph and Call the Midwife, the show The Crown leads with civility. Something I sorely needed. A calmness. My world felt out of my control in so many ways. Pivoting my business, my mother passing, lockdown… In The Crown, even when there's a nationwide crisis, everyone behaves with a certain level of reserve. The high quality of acting, directing and art direction all work together to reinforce the feeling that you’ve gone someplace civilized. Yes, problems arise, but are handled without raising one’s voice or spilling one’s tea. I could feel my heart rate come down. (Perhaps dangerous for someone with a resting heart rate of 43.)
But once I’d found my place of calm, it became something more. It went far beyond “show bingeing.” More than say, watching an entire season of Mrs. Mazel (also mentioned in the book) in one weekend. I became obsessed with the British Royal family. I’d left bingeing and progressed to craving information. Rabbit hole. What next? I found several documentaries on the House of Windsor. Truly fascinating. I saw different points of view on several of the family’s major players. Were they agents for good? Self-serving? Both? And this look at their characters from multiple angles had me thinking about seeing people in my own life from different angles. None of us are one-sided. And that understanding was also calming. And drew me in further. (NOTE: At this point I was drinking a lot of tea.)
Next step? I took my rabbit hole online. On YouTube, I found documentaries about the origins of the House of Windsor. Back to the family’s roots in Russia. Next, the connection to the Russian czar Nicholas and how he was cousins with King George V. And how King George had offered the czar and his family refuge, but then rescinded his offer, which ultimately led to the family’s death. Okay, perhaps I’d left comfort and civility at that point. That’s where this rabbit hole bottomed out for me. But it took weeks, gave me a focus beyond my own problems, and I learned so much more than I ever did in a high school history class. I also had a new lesson in human behavior.
So, what’s been one of your COVID rabbit hole? I’d love to hear about it.
(My musical COVID rabbit holes include Burt Bacharach and Broadway. But that’s another blog post.)
Honey Parker has been writing, writing, writing for decades, decades, decades. In there, she has also been a standup comedian, a Hollywood screenwriter, a director, and a co-author of edgy business books. Careful-ish is her debut novel. It is the first in a trilogy. It is comedy-ish.