Life’s so rotten, let’s focus on worse times.

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The Covid zombie apocalypse has got me low.  I’m sadder than Ben Affleck before he found Ana de Amas. I live in a shaky world where fainting is a palpable possibility and slumber is a nice-to-have requirement. But all the nervousness, political anger, and family closeness makes me realize that things have been worse.

Heartbreak Erupts into Obsessive Movie Habits

In 1994 I was so heartbroken that I spent three days watching Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts” on an endless loop — only stopping to drive by my ex-boyfriend’s apartment to envision all the sex he and his new teenage girlfriend were having. I was staying with my sister and she’d occasionally yell at me to refill the ice tray and throw away my molehill of smoked butts, but other than those strained interactions, it was just me basking in the pain of a 3-hour movie. I was proving a point, but I had no idea what the point was or to whom I was pointing the point.

Have you ever watched “Short Cuts?” It’s psychological torture. Watching it once messes with your head but watching it for days while chain smoking vacuum seals you right into the bell jar. I eventually aired myself out, plucked a few more eyebrows, and found another troubled boy to date. And yeah, life got better, but it was an even worse time than pandemic schpandemic.

Summer School Bullying

Then there was that unfortunate year when I failed high school science and was given the social-life death sentence of summer school in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. My mom was so angry that she plucked me out of my dazed summer party scene and forced me to endure summer school in a foreign land. I was stuck with a group of dumb kids who taunted me by calling me “Cure Girl.” As a big fan of The Cure, I was pleased with my new moniker.

A few weeks in, the teacher quietly called me up front and asked, “What are you doing here?” I responded with a well-practiced shrug. Say no more, say no less.

I’ve Been Uglier

I’ve definitely looked worse. Sure, I am currently sporting white hair on my head, eyebrows and other unmentionable areas, but I’m still prettier than I was during my elementary school love affair with the perm. I had reddish curly hair, a face full of freckles and ONLY wore clothes with rhinestones, lace and tulle. Of course I needed a perm!  

I think I know why my first kiss happened in the last few days of 7th grade during a ‘7 Minutes in Heaven’ game gone wrong. While waiting in line, having a slight panic attack, I could hear the boys discussing how bummed they’d be if they got me. Well someone did and wowza, I’d been kissed, albeit in a forced situation and years after all my girlfriends. Don’t worry though, I developed nicely that summer and made up for lost time.

Mistakenly Dating a Homeless Man

Yes, life can always be more painful. Right after college while I was hiding out in Portland, Oregon, running away from my parents needling me about getting a real job and escaping an arrogant manchild, I found a mysterious coworker to dig. He was much older, secretive, and good looking. What more does a naive girl need?

After months of waiting for Tim to ask me out, he finally did. He didn’t have a car — which now I see is a warning sign but this was Portland, Oregon and the crunchies rode bikes. So, I picked him up at a street corner.

My mind raced with all sorts of theories. Perhaps his home was so luxurious that he wanted me to know the real Tim. Could he have a secret family? The night staggered on and we drank enough alcohol to cloud all bad judgments into smart ones. There was some making out and a shared cab ride to his street corner and my apartment.

Tim didn’t show up to work the next day, or ever again while I was employed there. Seems Tim was living in a homeless shelter where sobriety was a requirement and his walk of shame landed him right into a court-mandated rehab. Who knew? Not I. But everyone else at work knew and I quickly became the girl from Massachusetts who caused Tim’s downfall.

So, it could always be worse folks. You could be married to Meghan Markle or Sean Penn. We could be members of the Cyrus family and have to listen to them all sing during Thanksgiving. Even worse, you could have a mom like me who bribes her children to tape her doing the WAP dance. It can always be so much worse.

April Showers Bring Mayday Mudslides

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Two toothpaste containers and menstrual cycles ago, I shut my door and buried myself with books, ample facial moisturizer, and “Mad Men.” Sometime in March, I put on an eternal pot of strong coffee that has somehow produced a pond of joe from which I drink all day, every day.

Other than a few trips to the Zombieland grocery store, a walk with my zany sister, and a sad meetup with my best friend where we each sat in our cars and conversed through the cracks in our windows, I’ve been here. I’m watching my children outgrow the clothes they wear, and wondering what’s next.

Nothing is funny anymore, is it? Every complaint and gossipy story must be prefaced with a “I know I’m lucky not be sick,” or “I hate to complain, but…” Can’t we be grateful to be healthy AND be disappointed in this horrifying situation – while fitting in wisecracks? Perhaps we can all give each other a chance to whine and vent without being so judgmental.

So here it is, some things that have spread a smile across my stressed face.

A Love Letter to Ben

The relief we all crave.

Ben Affleck has been popping up during COVID with his new girlfriend, star-on-the-rise Ana de Armas. They gaze at each other lovingly, like new beautiful lovers do.  As they clutch their Dunkin’ coffees, dog leashes and donuts, they’re effortlessly and casually chic.

Ben is an honest slice of Americana, a man bold enough to smoke a cigarette, in public, while wearing his mask. Ben’s deep drag on his butt is the collective relief that we’re all desperately craving. One doesn’t have to be a smoker to know that need. I feel it every time I pass my pantry and stuff chips into my mouth, looking down at the crumbs that have fallen on my kitchen floor and not really caring. I feel that release as I down my eighth cup of coffee, knowing that I just extended my bedtime to 2 a.m. and not caring.

Ben, I thank you for your loyalty. You’re steadfast in your zest for coffee, nicotine, and Boston. I thank you for your daily COVID walks, no doubt traipsed by paparazzi. I appreciate your white beard hair, fluctuating weight and honest portrayal of your battle with addiction.     

Somewhere in Malibu, Jennifer Garner is rolling her little eyes.

Notes During Quarantine

Reality TV’s Basic b&^ch.
  • When I pleaded for a celebrity scandal, I wasn’t hoping for Kristen Cavallari and Jay Cutler divorcing. Yup, I’m guilty of watching “The Hills” and “Very Cavallari,” and I can assure you that Kristen Cavallari is the most boring “celebrity” of all time, that Jay Cutler provides the only entertainment on “Very Cavallari,” and that somewhere there’s a “Bachelor” reject waiting to marry Cavallari in a soon-to-be televised reality series. YAWN.
  • I can cook approximately nine dinners and if I ever eat them again, I may never want to eat again.
  • Proving, once again, that Britney Spears is the celebrity gift that keeps giving, Queen Spears recently announced that she burned down her own gym. In her own words, “Hi guys, I’m in my gym right now. I haven’t been in here for like six months because I burnt my gym down, unfortunately.” Thank you, Britney. You are what the world needs right now.
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  • I just watched all 92 “Mad Men” episodes again. I know there are so many new programs to watch but I needed the comfort of double nostalgia. Nostalgia for a time I never lived and nostalgia for a cooler time when I watched the series. I love everything about “Mad Men” and watching it again is refreshing and sobering. Don Draper is a wretched man, Peggy Olsen is a comedic revelation of ambition and sadness, and January Jones’s Betty Draper is what nightmares and daydreams are made of.
  • It’s impossible to know if people are smiling or frowning behind their masks and it makes interactions extra scary.
  • Fiona Apple’s new album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” is exactly what I hoped it would be and so much more. There could not be a more fitting soundtrack for quarantine than this poetic masterpiece.