Quarantine Chronicles Day 20: Too busy isolating to get to ‘Tiger King,’ never mind the kitchen cabinets

So, Day 20 falls on a Saturday this year. Back in the olden days, that would mean I wouldn’t have to work (or, rather, get to work: I miss clocking in at the plant more every day) and I could just sit around at home in my easy chair and spend a glorious day watching Netflix and reading. Maybe if it’s a rare gloomy day, toss a log in the fireplace.

Little did I know a month ago that I’d end up doing that for a living. I’ve gotta tell you, it’s becoming drudge work sitting in a chair staring at these six walls (my living room is a bastard size) and out the window waiting for the occasional dog-walker to stroll by, which causes my own brace of guard dogs to go full-on rabid.

There is still a vestige of my old job to keep me occupied for a bit, including editing stories and running the Post on weekend mornings before handing over the con to Melissa Evans or Jeremiah Dobruck at noon.

And there’s the twice-daily reports from my niece Katie regarding my sister Debi’s condition. She’s still struggling with the coronavirus in ICU at Memorial, where she’s been for a week now. It’s largely a numbers game: First it was the number of liters of oxygen she was using. Zero is perfect, 15 isn’t good, and when she hit 40 she was put on a different machine and now the numbers to watch are the percentage of oxygen she was needing, and that peaked Friday night at 75%, then she slept most of the night at 70%. Today the nurses are knocking it down to 65% to see how that goes.

And they’re going to try to take her off a clear diet, which paves the way for such delicacies as Cream of Wheat and, if there’s a just and loving God, ice cream.

Debi and I have been communicating mostly through trading YouTube videos. Yesterday, she sent me a video of the Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman,” because she knew the Byrds were my favorite band back in the roaring 1960s. I responded by sending her favorite from that era, Herman’s Hermits, doing “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.”

She texted, “Ha! Yeah. You were always the cool one.”

I can’t help that. At 7:03 she wrote: “We just had an earthquake! Swaying around up here!”

Ha! Debi was always the sensitive one. I didn’t feel a thing.

And finally, before she fell asleep, we agreed that Love’s “Alone Again Or” is one of the best songs ever, with the added benefit of having an apt isolation title.

Despite having hours that need filling each day, there’s an awful lot of things I haven’t gotten around to yet. Like watching the “Tiger King” documentary on Netflix. And, of course, reading William T. Vollmann’s seven-volume essay on violence, “Rising Up and Rising Down,” which my friend Thom gave me for Christmas in 2003, so I’m now in my 17th year of circling it warily. If I’d started it when I got it, I’d be almost finished with it by now.

I’m pretty sure I’ll get to “Tiger King” shortly, but I think I’ll continue to save the Vollmann opus for retirement, which those millions or billions of us living in isolation now, are currently getting excellent practice for.

And I swear, I’m going to get to work on cleaning out some kitchen cabinets. When we moved into this house we had about five kitchen cabinets. After a remodel, we had more than a dozen. But just as building more freeways begets more traffic, so, does increasing storage space beget more things to stuff into them. In pre-remodel days, we didn’t have the luxury of storing pomegranate liqueur or flamingo cosmo glasses or a box of sparklers from July 4, year unknown.

This COVID era doesn’t appear to be ending soon. There’s plenty of time to get things done, as long as you can stay healthy and sane.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.
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