Quarantimes Week 20: Rare and Fleeting Joy

July 29th, 2020

I had a dream I was on a plane, cornered in a window seat. Apropos of nothing, the woman next to me said, “The weirdest thing… I went to my parents house, and they were all sick, and now I’m sick. Can you believe that?” I looked around in terror and realized the plane was packed and none of us were wearing masks.

Other people’s dreams are dull, but the collective anxiety is real. 

I take my small bits of joy any way I can get them these days. Recently there was a movement around Instagram to post black-and-white selfies upon nomination by a female friend. My initial reaction was, ugh, that sounds self-involved and silly. But I am a sucker for a challenge and also happen to love self-expressive photography. (Thank you, Cindy Sherman, for that.)

I couldn’t help but notice the surge of dopamine I felt seeing face after lady face on my Instagram feed. I have so many incredible women in my life, strewn across the world, and it was with great pleasure that I scrolled through a litany of their black-and-white faces. 

Then, as always, the backlash began. This particular tweet irked me:

I can be cynical like the best of them, but right now is no time to tear other women down for showcasing their diverse beauty. It’s a little fucked up to imply that women putting themselves out there to celebrate the beauty of sisterhood is shallow and vain. You might be too cool to post a black-and-white selfie, but hey, let the rest of us have our rare and fleeting joy in a shitty time!

Sometimes I do tire of all the cynicism.

Ironically, this all happened around the same time I realized that I hadn’t shaved my legs in a millennium or so. I had gone full-rogue with the leg hair, and the eyebrows might be a lost cause.

I’ve been cutting my own bangs, badly. I’ve gained, ahem, a wee bit of weight. I no longer wear jewelry, outside of my wedding ring. I pretty much only wear sweatpants and big billowy dresses. When your children start always and only referring to your stomach as “Mama’s big belly,” it’s time for a come-to-jesus. 

It’s important to do what you can to feel good. But might something be said for the morale boost of actually trying to look good? Look, I am committed to my natural hair color (grayish beige) and plastic surgery is not in my stars. But I may embark upon a quest to buy a tube of mascara that has not expired. 

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What I’m reading:

Should 5-Year-Olds Start School This Year? in the New York Times.

Some Students Should Go to School, Most Should Stay Home on Medium

What Is It That Keeps Most Little Kids From Getting Covid-19? In the New York Times

How Devastating Pandemics Change Us in National Geographic

What Vermont and Its History Might Teach the Nation About Handling the Coronavirus in the New Yorker

What I’m listening to:

The podcast Vermont Edition on VPR

What I’m watching:

The Great, on Hulu, is just what I need right now. (Thanks B.)

What I’m eating:

Our garden is finally starting to produce tomatoes. Tomatoes are only good when fresh and in season. Accordingly, this is the best time of year!

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What I’m working on:

For Box: Work Unleashed: Northwestern Mutual creates stability in a chaotic time

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