Nobody seems to remember what day it is. I thought it was just me. Two weeks ago—I think it was two weeks ago—I spent a half-hour trying to convince Glenn it was Saturday. He said it was Tuesday. I was furious with him. He was gaslighting me! Tuesday? No way. That meant it was the beginning of the week and not the end. It was Saturday. I was emphatic.
I finally gave in and looked at my phone. He was right—Tuesday it was. Good news is, on Tuesdays I FaceTime with my shrink. If it couldn’t be the end of the week at least I got to talk to someone who is paid to listen.
Our lives were once based on activities and rhythms and patterns of behavior. Just going to the office or taking a gym class let us know what day it was. Remember when we used to consult our calendars? Wednesday, let’s see: a 10 A.M. dentist appointment, lunch with Arnold followed by work. Then Pilates at five. Meet Glenn at the David Sedaris lecture at the Y at seven.
Now all of these things have been stripped away.
Frankly, I need to see the dentist. I wish I hadn’t canceled my appointment the week before the world stopped. I also need to get the lenses on my glasses replaced. I go to an optician in my building, and I used to go in and just try on glasses and talk to all the girls who work there. I so hope they reopen. I do miss all the somewheres.
The point is, no one seems to know what day it is. And I’m beginning to think no one cares.
The Circle of Life
Everyone, whether they’re in British Columbia or eastern Long Island, is foraging for food. No matter whom you talk to, that person is either looking for food or complaining they can’t find the food they are looking for.
My friend Brucie had to jump off the phone the other day, saying, “Got to go. We need to go find food.” He lives in West Hollywood. It sounded like he and his husband were going to go shoot a bison on Rodeo Drive. It’s all become very primitive. We are all living our own versions of Survivor.
I broke down twice this week. The first time was when I realized we had nine containers of blueberries and no onions or yogurt. What would we do with nine things of blueberries? Then I got a brilliant idea—freeze them. So we did, and I stopped crying.
I broke down again on Friday night when some nice young man from Instacart named Adam was doing the shopping I had ordered two days before. I told him to “STOP” when he texted me that the Oatly milk had to be replaced with Planet Oat. He ditched the oat milk and kept shopping. Another text that the fresh ginger was being substituted with ginger ale. “NO. PLEASE STOP, ADAM,” I texted. The Beyond Meat was being replaced with Beyond Sausage. “NO. NO. NO. STOP!,” I called and texted at the same time. But the texts had stopped going through as he had no reception. I could almost see him tossing things in the basket as he checked them off. Three things of blueberries since the raspberries were out of stock. I broke down. “NO MORE BLUEBERRIES!”
The fresh ginger was being substituted with ginger ale. “NO. PLEASE STOP!”
I went online to tell Instacart, but there are no people there. Only those little message boards. I was No. 107 in line when Adam finally got service. I told him he had to return everything. He said the system did not work like that. I told him if he could make it work like that there would be $25 in cash waiting for him with my doorman. The order was somehow canceled.
I am terrified of running out of oat milk. (Anyone who drinks oat milk knows that when I say “oat milk” I mean Oatly.) Terrified. And I know what this fear stems from. It’s not Freudian or because I wasn’t breastfed. I am not a Quaker. It’s because when I first fell in love with oat milk, I did so with the rest of my ilk. And for about four months, everyone was always out of it. So, I make a point of always having at least one backup. But now with the food shortages, I decided I need five at all times. Two more arrived this afternoon.
Hoarders, Season 2020
When I realized this paranoia I’d developed around running out of very specific items, I took to Instagram to see what other people had too much and too little of. My daughter Taylor said she has way too much kale. I had no idea she cared about kale. And I know her pretty well. She does not know how she has so much kale.
A girl on the Internet called @State of_Grace is up to her ears with peanut butter and ramen. My friend Jodi shares my blueberry problem. In fact, it seems like blueberries are one of the most popular hoarding foods. Also, hummus. We have five tubs of hummus in the fridge right now. Still no onions, though.
“Got to go. We need to go find food.” It sounded like he and his husband were going to go shoot a bison on Rodeo Drive.
This is all new to me as I have historically never bought a lot of anything but dog food. I shop like a European. I get what I want when I want it, in small amounts. There is never much in our fridge unless we are having people over. Remember that? People, over—inside your house!—to keep you company …
Anyway, at least this foraging is time-consuming. We were watching a food film that Michael Pollan did about an indigenous tribe in Australia where the women would go out and pull this sort of armadillo-like creature out of the ground. It would take them hours to find one. Perhaps like being No. 107 on the Instacart call queue, I thought.
When they found one, they were so joyful. They would snap its neck and club it with sharp instruments. Then they would throw it on a fire and have a feast. The throwing-the-armadillo-on-the-fire part I did not relate to at all. But finally finding the sucker and breaking his neck somehow resonated with me.
In my dreams Trump was the armadillo and my friend Mayanne and I pulled him out of the earth, clubbed him, and threw him on a fire. Then they served him at Mar-a-Lago to Wilbur Ross for dinner. It’s just a dream—in these crazy times, everyone seems to be having extreme dreams. But I am awake now. So I better start shopping. What day is it again?
Tracey Jackson is a writer living in New York City