Quarantine Chronicles Day 2: I’ve got plenty of dough but I’m low on bread

I think I might’ve mishoarded. It’s Day 2 of my self-inflicted isolation due to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s urging people of my age and older (at 65, I’m young for my age group; practically a kid) to shut themselves in their homes and avoid contact with anyone in the outside world, and already I’m not only out of Duraflame fireplace logs, but I only have half a loaf of bread left. Maybe just a third. I have trouble with bread math.

Who knew that when you can’t leave your home, you wind up sacking your own cupboards for food rather than strolling down to the local sandwich shop when you get hungry?

The upside is, I’m saving money like a miser. I’m so loaded down with twenties now, I no longer fret about what I’ll use when I run out of toilet paper.

I’m a little unsure about the rules regarding self-quarantine (or, for that matter, the difference between self-isolation and self-quarantine. I’m not by nature a DIYer). Can I scamper down to the Circle K for a quick Slim Jim and maybe a Duraflame log, if the damned hoarders haven’t snapped them all up?

So far, I’m saying no. I’m a strict Constitutionalist when it comes to matters concerning the spread of coronavirus, or at least until my cabin fever hits 106 degrees and I wind up sprinting out of the house and running around kissing nurses like the war had just ended.

An idea I’ve been batting around for the last few hours: Isolating myself from the internet, or at least the social media. I still rely on and care about real coronavirus news in Long Beach as reported by my dearly missed co-workers at the Post, but once you stray from real news and begin wading in Facebook and, for godssake Next Door, you find yourself hip deep in wackos. I foolishly thought Next Door might finally be of some value in times like this, but it’s just like it’s always been: rumors, sniping, vigilantism, and name-calling. I gave up when one poster said there were 1,000 people in Trader Joe’s “spiting” on produce and putting it back.

On the other hand, regular old email is a good way for isolationists to keep in touch.

My friend Vicki writes: “I am down to 1 Duraflame log myself. We shall persevere.

“On home arrest, I’m focused on perfecting my reputation as an older, newly retired person. So I’m splitting my time between learning to crochet, starting my first sourdough bread starter, and trying to learn sign language.

“For the record, the only one of these I have any real confidence in is the crochet. Need a cloche?”

I do not need a cloche, but I’m interested in the bread, and can we talk about the Duraflame log? I can trade a plastic jug of Gilbey’s gin for it.

My second friend, Louise, who is a seasoned isolationist in her Signal Hill home, thanks to recovery time from a series of surgeries, warns me that “there is danger of a of prolonged indoor psychosis:  Quarantineousis” and she lists the top symptoms:

— Incessantly watching the TV news, followed by tufts of hair missing.

—The people in the paintings on the wall are watching you with their eyes.

—The cat starts to talk to you.  With some sort of odd accent.

—Believing that Bed Head is a good look, along with week-old sweats.

—Believing that spray cheese on three Oreos is a complete meal.

“If any/all of these symptoms show up, one suggestion: Try binge watching old TV shows.  A dozen episodes of ‘Dragnet’ or ‘Gilligan’s Island’ will fix you right up. Repeat as necessary.”

And my third and final friend, Jolene, from her home in the locked-down Bay Area, has been keeping a tenuous hold on sanity by putting together a pan-genre COVID-19 Spotify playlist that spans from Peggy Lee’s “Fever” to “Mask” by Bauhaus.

So, we’ve got video-bingeing ad Spotify to help pass the time, and then, of course, there’s the quaint act of reading.

My Kindle right now is topped with “Broken Faith: Inside the Word of Faith Fellowship, One of America’s Most Dangerous Cults,” by AP reporters Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr.

“Hi Five,” by Joe Ide, the fourth in his series of IQ novels, featuring Holmesian genius Isaiah Quintabe, with much of the action, as always, taking place in Long Beach. Lots of good name-drops for us locals.

And “Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy,” by Stewart O’Nan. The story of a 1944 Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance with a crowd of 8,000 people under a tent that had been waterproofed with a mixture of paraffin and gasoline. What could go wrong?

So, enjoy yourself in these quiet moments, and feel free to share your coping ideas, recommendations and idle thoughts by dropping us an email at [email protected], or hanging out with us @grobaty on Twitter and Facebook. Do not Next Door us unless you see us creeping around your neighborhood acting suspicious.

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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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