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Emails to my Therapist

18 Highly Personal Lockdown Quirks

Cobwebs in my car?  Nicholas, I gotta tell ya: this business of staying home for months has produced some surprising little lockdown quirks at my house.

Two messy people in a log house in the woods do expect surprises–like the possum that once got into our semi-outdoor washing machine–but these months at home have produced some new kinks.

A partial list of these trivial but startling discoveries:

*Not only cobwebs in my car, but weeds in the driveway

*Zoom. Now I see myself as ithers see me.

*Canned beans. At first I was surprised to discover how many kinds there are. Now the variety doesn’t seem so large.

*Hair down to my second shirt button. Split ends at a clinically diagnosable level.

*Drawing. Never did more than a few attempts at sketching and hadn’t for years. Now have started playing with it again. (It’s not that the bear dances well, it’s that the bear dances.)

Kitty contemplates state of world Attempt #5

*Forgetting my mask. I’m capable of doing that–have a couple of times–even though it’s a life-and-death matter.

*Plants watered more than occasionally do a lot better. When I was at the office during the week, they were lucky to get a drink on a Saturday. I thought it was impossible for anything planted after May to survive in North Carolina. Not so.

*I can live without going to my office.

*Absence of French. Studying a little French has long been a hobby of mine. Seems this would be a good time to do that, but I have been unable to make myself read, listen to, or say one word of it. A friend who is only reading books he has read before says it’s too much to ask of ourselves now to learn anything new. Just way too much.

*Streaming. Out in the country where we are, with terrible phone reception, I didn’t think our TV would stream. I discovered it will, opening vast new worlds.

*Watching the ocean on TV.

Wind-blown boy jumps off pier Attempt #6

I grew up on the coast and I am longing for salt water. I dreamed a few weeks ago that I was desperately searching a city for the office of Dr. Ocean. (Did I tell you this before? Well, hearing stories more than once is often the fate of a psychotherapist.)

*Weight loss. When I saw in the first week at home that I was snacking almost continuously and quickly growing, I told myself: okay, three meals and one snack a day, tops. Nine pounds went away. I note this in part, because in my eating disordered twenties, losing weight was a way of dealing with problems. I don’t think that’s happening now, because I’ve stopped losing;  but I keep the risk in mind.

*How much food Bob and I eat and how much garbage we produce. When it’s all happening in one place, the quantity is dramatic. For a pair of not-huge oldsters, we’re serious consumers.

*Reading a wider variety of books. Not just literary fiction about dysfunctional relationships of highly-educated contemporary urbanites. I even read a (literary) historical fantasy last week.

*Getting to sleep more difficult again.

Attempt #4: when I couldn’t sleep

Obsessing over mistakes I’ve made, damages I’ve done in life, as soon as I close my eyes. This tendency being a major problem of mine, it shouldn’t be any surprise that it would crop up a bit at this time. Still, I don’t like it. I need the sleep.

*Itchy feet. Since I do like to travel, this could be a metaphor. It’s not. The soles of my feet started itching in the first couple of days at home and haven’t stopped.  There’s no sign of any skin problem. I think this is weird.

*And travel? Well, Bob and I signed up a year and a half in advance for a cruise we were really excited about, in the far North this December to look for Northern Lights. (We both like to read, eat, and look at water, so it was a win-win, Lights or no.) In all the world a few cruise lines went back into action this summer; one had serious problems. Guess which one!  the one we signed up with, Hurtigruten, which also serves as a ferry service between coastal towns of Norway (no big nightlife or casinos, mainly good food and windows with views) They had an outbreak of 62 cases, potentially exposing folks in dozens of coastal towns.  So–maybe next year?

*The sofa. I work there and I read there. Sometimes sleep there. Also draw and snack there.  And do crossword puzzles. Getting up from the sofa can feel like an outing. Sometimes I feel as if I’m weighted there.

*More possums. On three different days, a youthful possum walked by me outdoors only a few feet away.

Maybe the same one, maybe a litter. At first I had no idea what I was seeing. Way too big for a mouse, not a rat or a rabbit or a vole or a mole or like any possum I ever saw before. Had to Google to find out what it was: a heedless adolescent possum, unwilling to do its civic duty by staying home.

*Fond hope: that the power not go out. Don’t like the thought at the moment of no AC, no computer, no water (since we have an electric-pumped well.)

What about you? Any interesting surprises? I’m guessing that we all have some personal lockdown quirks.

Still lucky to be healthy and have the power on,


Attempt #1  Debuted on Facebook. Geico’s answer guy explains everything.

#quarantine quirks





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  • June
    August 15, 2020 at 9:54 pm Reply

    Visiting in Boylan Heights, Ral., a few days ago. Came upon, not a partridge in a pear tree but, a possum in an arborvitae shading the porch. And it was pretty much fearless.
    FYI, enjoy your posts. Recently, especially the Wilmington one. Need to buy Zucchino book.

    • Peggy Payne
      August 15, 2020 at 11:08 pm Reply

      Thanks, June. I’m pleased that you’re reading them. Possums–well, I don’t think they have sense enough to be scared and therefore often get run over. The little one was cute though. I hope you’re staying well.

  • August 15, 2020 at 11:33 pm Reply

    I don’t know who the messy person besides me could be – you’re one of the neatest, most orderly people I’ve known. I know you think compared to the average person you’re messy, and I really can’t understand that. Is it like an eating disordered distortion of body image?
    I’m enjoyin’ the rain and how cooler it is now. Maybe all the energy you put into managing my cluttered ways takes up too much brain space & makes you think it’s yours as well as mine?

    The quality of the brownish light in your photo-ed drawings make me think of very old chinese art, which I really like.
    I too’ve lost weight, 12 pounds, not by resrticting what I eat, but by restricting the time window when I eat – nothinng from bedtime till the next day’s dinner, about 7:30PM – it’s easier’n I expected ‘cz my morning ADHD med keeps me from being hungry a very long time – kinda more like cheating than discipline – whatever works.
    I regret you’re picturing unpleasant things when you go to bed – maybe you can change the channel to watching one of the active Netflix series you like so well?

    • Peggy Payne
      August 15, 2020 at 11:43 pm Reply

      Imagining a Netflix series is a great idea, Bob. Thanks. I’d tried substituting imaginings of rowing on the Ganges and kayaking on Jordan Lake. That worked for one night. But rowing/paddling had the downside of leaving my mind free. On the matter of my being messy: I’ve probably gotten neater in self-defense, but I still think most people would find the inside of my car perturbing. And one of my stepsons as a teenager memorably commented that our fridge gets “a little rough” sometimes.

      • August 16, 2020 at 1:45 am Reply

        I strongly suggest you arrange and take a poll of non-OCD viewers of the inside of your car, without pointing out what you think is messy.

        • Peggy Payne
          August 16, 2020 at 2:06 am Reply

          I am so unlikely to do this, Bob, but what an interesting idea.

  • kenju
    August 15, 2020 at 11:33 pm Reply

    I love your drawings. I need to start that again, and if I could ever stop playing games on my phone, I might have the time to draw.

    I am reading more during this pandemic. I’m enjoying it…too! But don’t read Never Home Alone, or you’ll find out about the billions of germs we live with daily!

    • Peggy Payne
      August 15, 2020 at 11:45 pm Reply

      I will definitely steer clear of the germ book, kenju. Do try drawing some more; it’s wonderfully hypnotic. Two hot pastimes I’ve never yet tried: video games and podcasts. As my mother used to say about computers, maybe I’m just saving those for the old folks’ home.

  • Robbie Lane Jackson
    August 16, 2020 at 4:59 pm Reply

    Peggy: you made me really laugh, today! Thank you. Love the possum. Love all of them, all the possums. Would be very happy in a possum sanctuary. Guess I should start one? Next time you’re Down East, go visit the OWLS shelter on 24, near Morehead. Delivered a tiny baby possum last yr, found inside in our seed bag. Owls Lady opened the door to another room, showing me 17 baby possums hanging in tiny, knitted and stitched pouches. A lovely thing!
    The drawing of the Geico gecko is amazing. Keep going with your sketching. RL

    • Peggy Payne
      August 16, 2020 at 5:15 pm Reply

      Oh, good! Thanks, Robbie Lane. A room full of baby possums in their custom-tailored sleeping bags is pretty amazing. The picture I chose of the possum was the cutest one I saw. My husband looked at it and said, “That looks like an Australian possum.” Turns out it was. I was astounded he knew that. He said, “Well, I’m an animal guy.” Yes, but I wouldn’t have guessed that he knew his way around Australian possums.

      • Robbie Lane J
        August 17, 2020 at 12:22 am Reply

        Love it! Never heard of it! Stay well, your former cameraman

        • Peggy Payne
          August 17, 2020 at 1:00 am Reply

          Thanks, RL!

  • Lee Grohse
    August 16, 2020 at 6:02 pm Reply

    I wold enjoy the possums. We have none but we have two raccoons that take shelter in our chimney when there is a sudden, intense storm and I like that. Your Geico lizard is very good. I am definitely having the itchy feet/travel problem, too, and it seems to the same area of the globe. Our trip to Norway for our son’s wedding which was to be at an inn on the coast at Harstad where his fiancé grew up was cancelled, or at least indefinitely postponed. They live in Tromso and in winter have lovely views of the Northern Lights from their deck. I hope you get to see the lights before too long. It is good that you will happy with the trip even if the lights are not in evidence, since they are notoriously unpredictable. Wishing you continued good luck with your cabin home-stay.

    • Peggy Payne
      August 16, 2020 at 6:49 pm Reply

      We’ve gone looking for the Lights before, Lee, and not seen any. And met others who’d been trying for years to see them. This cruise line gives people a free cruise if there are no Northern Lights at all on the first one. That seems a pretty good deal to me.

      I’m sorry about the postponed wedding. That’s way bigger than any Lights trip. Tromso seems to me such an interesting place to live. I hope we all get to go soon.

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