Quarantine Chronicles Day 9: Another gray—or, rather, charcoal heather—day in isolation

I am besieged these days by sweatpants ads. It’s almost as though Google or whoever it is that’s behind the curtain running the internet knows what I’m doing. Maybe it’s because I keep hollering “Alexa, where’s my sweatpants?” at my electric Alexa machine. Or maybe it’s a result of the spying from my Apple Watch, which has been reporting my increasingly sedentary lifestyle—“42 steps and he barely even breathed today”—to fitness headquarters in Cupertino.

At any rate, I can’t get through a news story on the web (and I so wanted to explore this morning’s LA Times story with the breezy headline: “It’s going to get bad”) without a pair of charcoal heather sweatpants (quit with the flowery description; they’re gray, just like all sweatpants) popping up.

The athleisurewear company Vuori, for instance, figuring that I’m working at home, and taking a wild guess that I want something to wear in which I can run and lift weights and otherwise beat myself to death, recommends either the Sunday Performance Jogger ($89), “Great for running, traveling and chilling,” or the Ponto Performance Pant ($84) “Great for traveling, yoga and chilling.”

Well, travel is largely out of the question these days and the last time I tried yoga, the Post’s owner came in and caught me in the middle of an Extended Puppy Pose. That leaves chilling, which only partially describes how I spend these days in Isolationland.

“Chilling” implies relaxation and blissful stretches of idleness, but it’s hard to be truly chill while trying to get a glimpse of the news story hiding behind the sweatpants ads: “It’s going to get bad,” and binge-watching “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” on Netflix.

I’ve been wearing sweatpants (Russell Athletic; $20. Color: Oxford. How many different names are there for gray? Perfect for walking around the house, sweeping the kitchen, taking out the trash) for more than a week now. Sweatpants and T-shirts, occasionally a flannel. My days of gussying up for work at the office are rapidly dwindling in my rearview mirror. Maybe once a week I shave, mostly out of boredom.

But boredom doesn’t last long, and thank God for taxes, am I right, everybody? Got a big break (not a tax break, I never get a tax break) in killing time on Tuesday by finishing up whatever tax issues my wife has asked me to look up. Scouring a year’s worth of American Express statements, it turns out almost everything I paid money for in 2019 wasn’t even a thing 20 years or so ago: Spotify, Netflix, Amazon—though to be fair to myself, 20 years or so ago I would have played the radio rather than subscribe to Spotify and, for some stupid reason, Sirius satellite radio. Or I would’ve gone to record shops. I would have just watched whatever was on network TV or gone to the movies rather than streaming everything. And I would have patronized any number of stores: Ace Hardware, the Broadway, Target, etc., rather than sitting around in my Oxford-colored sweatpants ordering from Amazon.

In between those excesses is the occasional write-offable item, mostly stuff having to do with journalism, like my AP Stylebook subscription and a box of pens. I don’t have a good feeling about a giant refund check.

At any rate, the tax research was an activity I could do at home, in addition to writing this column and doing some off-site editing. I haven’t been this busy since I filed out my Census form last week.

Shoot, I even find some pleasure in doing housework, and I continually find myself singing Glen Campbell’s “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife” to myself as I scour pots and pans. Singing while doing chores always reminds me of my mom doing some tiny task while singing “The Prisoner’s Song”: “If I had the wings of an angel, over these prison walls I would fly.”

Some people are more cut out for housework than others.

So, how are you you grappling with your time in isolation? I’m here to listen and dispense avuncular advice. Drop me an email at [email protected], or check in on Facebook and Twitter where I’m known as @grobaty.

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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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