“I am constantly relocating, moving from room to room. I dare not stay in one place for too long . . . . When Emily starts a home project, she is relentless—a project Terminator. It’s too early in the season to work outside on the flower beds, so she has armed herself with a paintbrush. It appears as if she is painting everything that doesn’t move. I’m exhausted . . . but . . . I . . . must . . . keep . . . moving.”—Tim Bayer
Won Over By Reality
By Tim Bayer
Editor’s Note: My Assistant Editor (and STEM brain that disc-golfs merrily outside my body), Tim Bayer, appeared in my life (courtesy Jocelyn Goldberg-Schaible) some 15 years ago, and it is Tim who has made “Hubris” possible. If I could imagine it, Tim could code it. So, here we are, Tim and I (and “Hubris”) entering our 14th year. The essay here appeared in the belly of the beast that was COVID lockdown, in May of 2020.
ROCHESTER New York—(Weekly Hubris)—1 April 2023—In a self-imposed two-week quarantine (following CDC guidelines) after possible face-to-face contact with someone infected with COVID-19, I thought I would keep a Quarantine Log . . . .
Quarantine Log, Day 1: She seems nice.
I get very focused and I have been told that, sometimes, I can miss out on other parts of life. When I get up from my computer and go to the kitchen, there is a woman there. Her name is Emily. She says she is a teacher and is home because schools are closed. She seems nice.
Quarantine Log, Day 2: Dish mystery.
I put dirty dishes in the sink last night. Today, they are clean and back on the shelf. I don’t know how that happened. Perhaps Emily can help me solve the mystery.
Quarantine Log, Day 3; The delivery.
From the home office desk, I can see the driveway. When the delivery guy walks up the sidewalk, I hurry to the front door . . . then realize . . . I can’t open it. So I stand there . . . and bark at him through the closed door. Woof! Woof!
Quarantine Log, Day 4: Grass growing.
For the past three days, I have been looking out the window at the front yard. Yes, it is possible to watch grass grow. Not exciting, but possible.
Quarantine Log, Day 5: Technology Master.
My commute from the bedroom to the home office was traffic-free. At around 8:00 a.m., I head out to get tea, but can’t make a right turn into the kitchen because Emily has opened a cupboard door and is blocking the path. Undaunted, I use the GPS on my phone to reroute: left to the dining room, right down the hallway, and into the alternate kitchen entrance. Today, I am the undisputed Master of Technology!
Quarantine Log, Day 6: I venture out.
I ventured out of my burrow this morning. I did not see my shadow, but I did see snow. Snow is unusual for this time of year in Western NY. Does this mean there will be six more weeks of Quarantine?
Quarantine Log, Day 7: Delivery distance.
Since I wake up first, I make coffee and place the cup on the nightstand next to Emily. I was curious: Could I save time by reducing delivery distance?
Two days ago, I put the cup on the nightstand on the opposite side of the bed. Yesterday, I put the cup on the dresser near the door. Today, the cup was placed outside the bedroom door.
The scream I just heard indicates that the experiment is over.
Quarantine Log, Day 8: The gallery.
I have glanced at the pictures on my walls and refrigerator many times. I realize, now, that the pictures are not just fond memories, but, rather, an unspoken promise of future adventures.
If I look closely, too, I see details previously unnoticed.
Every few days, I will wander into a different room, revisit a gallery, and take a closer look at the images. Not conforming to the rules of “Quarantine,” picture-inspired memories and human imagination are not confined by walls.
Quarantine Log, Day 9: Not a chore.
It is interesting how spending more than a week indoors can change one’s perspective. Instead of a chore to be accomplished, going outside and cutting the lawn is now . . . entertaining.
Quarantine Log, Day 10: It was impressive.
My cat can move silently from room to room. Stealthily moving. Silently stalking. I will look up and suddenly see a motionless creature staring at me that has seemingly materialized from thin air. Impressive! Stealth. Stalk. Stare. Cats do this all the time.
Emily said I’m not allowed to do it again.
Note to self: For felines: cute. For humans: creepy.
Quarantine Log, Day 11: Interesting things.
The back story: My niece, Tracey, had a 1st birthday party for her son. In lieu of bringing a gift, Tracey requested that attendees bring a b-day card inscribed with some wisdom or a life lesson. Tracey’s plan is to save the cards and give them to Sam on his 18th birthday.
I was organizing/archiving pictures today and came upon the wisdom card I created for Sam that had this quote:
“Most conversations are about what you have done. If you want to tell interesting stories, do interesting things.”―Tim Bayer
Quarantine Log, Day 12: Must keep moving.
I am constantly relocating, moving from room to room. I dare not stay in one place for too long.
When Emily starts a home project, she is relentless—a Project Terminator. It’s too early in the season to work outside in the flower beds, so Emily has armed herself with a paintbrush.
It appears as if she is painting everything that doesn’t move. I’m exhausted . . . but . . . I . . . must . . . keep . . . moving.
Quarantine Log, Day 13: Solitary.
My hands are dry from the constant washing. While in the bathroom, I mistakenly dispense too much hand moisturizer.
Ordinarily, it’s not a problem. But the old doorknob on this bathroom door does not turn easily. The excess lotion makes the doorknob too slippery to turn.
Damn! I’m stuck in solitary confinement.
Quarantine Log, Day 14: The advantage.
A package was delivered to the front door in a brown, cardboard box with no markings to indicate what’s inside.
Here’s the advantage of being forgetful: I never remember what’s been ordered. So, every time I open a package, it’s the perfect gift—it’s EXACTLY what I wanted!
Quarantine Log, Day 15: I get to reenter.
Good news: After 14 days, no temperature, no symptoms, I get to reenter a realm of physical distancing, face masks, and hand washing.
The new, odd reality reminds me of a Calvin and Hobbes strip: