Saturday, April 4, 2020

My Guilt-Free Pandemic

Sheltering-in-place is hard for everyone, but perhaps more so for those of us who live alone—even if we’re introverts. Sure, I love what my sister calls “bonding with my apartment,” but that’s usually after a week of work, working out, socializing, and dealing with the stuff that goes along with running a household: laundry, garbage, recycling, cooking, bills, and all the rest.

Here are five things I won’t feel guilty about during the pandemic—and perhaps not ever again:

1. Not Cooking: Although blizzards and pandemics send many people scurrying to the kitchen to produce huge quantities of comfort food, challah, brownies, and the like, I’m not one of them. In the three weeks I’ve been home, I’ve made one batch of chili and one chuck roast—most of which is in portion-size containers in the freezer. That’s enough. Cooking brings me no joy, no comfort, and I’m not going to do it anymore. I’m going back to salads, veggie burgers, and scrambled eggs. My kitchen and I will both be happier that way.

2. Not Reading: There’s nothing that goes better with bonding with my apartment than curling up with a good book. There’s a problem here, though: I don’t have the bandwidth to read. No concentration. No attention span. No comprehension. Therefore, no guilt.

3. Not Tuning in to Minyan: Prayer can be challenging in the best of times. These days it’s nearly impossible. I think I’ll stick to a Mi Shebeirach for each ambulance siren—and there are a lot of them here across the street from NYU/Langone Tisch Hospital—and for the people I know personally who are fighting COVID-19, including a friend from my hereditary cancer network who is hospitalized on a ventilator. Any more than that is… Just. Too. Much.

4. Not Observing Passover the “Right” Way: In a year when my MacBook Air—not MetroNorth—is going to take me to the seder, does it really matter if all the chametz is out of the house or if I shake out the crumbs from the toaster-oven before Wednesday night? About some traditions, though, I say, “Pandemic, be damned.” Come the virtual seder, I’ll still want assurance that shmorah matzah tastes exactly the same as the box it comes in and that Elmo is going to make his usual guest appearance in time to sing “Echad Mi Yodea.”

5. Oreos: Drastic times demand drastic measures, and if Oreos are my comfort food of choice right now, so be it.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and wash your hands.