Two weeks ago, I mentioned that I had caught Covid. Once I had tested positive, I was required to self-isolate for at least seven days. Since the duck and I do not live alone (as in just the two of us), self-isolation for me meant spending virtually all day in my bedroom. The duck isolated with me in solidarity for the most part. Fortunately, I could convince the duck to go on occasional solo outside walks. Since there are no duck-specific Covid regulations, we decided that as long as the duck kept a safe distance from other strollers, it would be okay. Just because I was stuck in a room – at some point, I had resorted to counting the wood fibers in my sand-colored ingrain wallpaper (that was beginning to look like a delicious oatmeal waterfall) – didn’t mean the duck shouldn’t get some fresh air from time to time.
Whenever the duck came back from a solo outdoor adventure, we had a lot to talk about. The duck told me about the first heralds of spring. In return, I shared some of my most interesting isolation-induced insights:
A coworker once told me I have “computer hands,” a phrase I have reused many times to describe my hands since then.
At work, I regularly touched hot surfaces, washed my hands, and used the aggressive sanitizer provided. As a result of that, my hands had become uncomfortably dry. Whenever the opportunity arose, I would bury them in a thick layer of lotion to combat that dryness. After witnessing one of those moisture-replenishment sessions, my coworker asked me what was wrong. I told her that I had acquired the power to pick up dry cleaning cloths with my stretched-out hands (because my palms were so rough that they had a decent grip). She grabbed my hands, examined them, and casually told me: “Yeah, you have computer hands.” Unfortunately, our work didn’t involve any computer-related tasks.
After I had moved to Japan with the duck, my hands slowly regained their computer state. For a while, they were happy, regularly typing away on computer keyboards, with no consistent, aggressive sanitizing and hot-surface-touching to speak of.
When the pandemic started, I preferred to use my own mild sanitizer instead of the harsher ones provided at the entrances of public places (I love how I no longer have to hide my sanitizer bottle inside a pocket. Now I can walk around with it attached to my backpack without anyone judging me for being “too extreme”). My hands were happy, I was happy, and the duck was happy (because I wasn’t complaining about my dry hands).
Then I got Covid. I ended up using a lot of hand sanitizer, and not always the mild and moisturizing kind, throughout the day. Paired with washing them much more often than usual, I infuriated my spoiled computer hands (because, let’s face it, “computer hands” is just a term for hands that haven’t had to do a lot of strenuous work. In short: the hands of a lazy person, like myself). They were getting ready to revive the dry cleaning cloth magic trick. It’s been weeks since then, but my hands are still not back to their lazy, “let them eat cake”-state. Fortunately, I always have a few extra tubes of hand lotion stashed away!
Even if you’ve never watched The Shining, you’re probably familiar with the clip of Jack wrecking the bathroom door with an ax, peeking in, and exclaiming: “Here’s Johnny!”
Well, that very image popped into my head several weeks ago when I read the result of a COVID-19 lateral flow test I had just taken: “positive.” The duck and I had had a positive case at home the previous week, and I was recovering from flu symptoms, so the positive result didn’t come as a complete surprise. However, being the homebodies that we are (we were socially distancing before it was cool), the duck and I had always secretly expected to be among the few who would never catch Covid. At least I stayed true to my lazy lifestyle andgot infected at home. Even though everyone at our place (but the duck)* was triple-vaccinated at that point, and we had been careful, especially after that first positive test result, that sneaky virus outsmarted me somewhere along the line. Maybe this will be a new ducktective case for us to solve? Either way, I’ll leave it at that, for now, brew myself another cup of lemon ginger tea, and pin all my hopes on the duck, who will now have to defend our honor as lazy, Covid-free homebodies alone!
I hope you’ve managed to stay healthy throughout the winter/summer. And that you will never have to experience the disintegration of your favorite excuse for at-home laziness! (Well, at least I gained “self-isolation” as an excuse for an extra lazy few days.)
This is a story about something that happened last summer, at a time when I was running on a lot less sleep than usual:
It was the evening of a day I had spent running lots of errands, trying hard to not get lost on the way and to avoid bare-faced strangers who were looking for conversation. I was standing at an unfamiliar train station, blankly watching the strip of evening sky between an ugly building and the station roof change colors. I barely paid attention to the podcast I was listening to, partly because I didn’t have my coat and it was getting chilly, partly because I was thinking about whether I’d make my next appointment – with Berlin public transport being so unreliable, especially during the evening rush hour. While I was standing there, lost in thought, a train approached the platform. After a glance at the information board to confirm that it wasn’t the one I had to take, my gaze found the train windows that were passing by me at a decreasing speed until I could make out individual passengers. When I realized that they were all wearing masks, I was genuinely shocked. The thought that this train full of incognito criminals would soon open its doors and thus remove the barrier between us worried me. Only then did I remember that we were in a pandemic and that wearing a mask on public transport is mandated, which meant that all those apparent criminals were everyday heroes. As I continued to gaze at the windows that were now slowly gaining speed as they passed by me, I was shocked at how exhausted I must have been at that moment and decided to get some much-needed rest after that last appointment. I should definitely stop making fun of the duck’s numerous Christmas market and cookie daydreams after this embarrassing incident that, hopefully, didn’t show in the tiny bare section of my tired face because, yes, I had forgotten that I was wearing a mask myself. I would have been one of the criminals.