Today In “I’m Occasionally Reminded I Live the Life of a Hermit, Even Without COVID As an Excuse”

John ScalziI went into a bank for literally the first time in years. 

Why would I do such a thing? Because Krissy, who usually does our banking, is currently laid up recuperating from her foot surgery (she’s doing great, thanks for asking, but she’s not up to doing errands out of the house yet) and I had some checks I needed to deposit. And yes, I still get checks sent, because I like to see some physical form of my money before committing it to the banking system.

So, off I went to the bank, as part of a whole day of errands, which also included grocery shopping and going to the post office, two things I also do seldom, but not seldom as going to the bank.

And it was fine — I handed the checks over to the teller along with a deposit slip (which Krissy filled out in advance, because she’s good like that), she handed me a receipt and some cash that I has asked for, we made chit chat while the transaction was happening (she recognized my name and noted Krissy was usually the one depositing the checks), and we both wore masks as we did it, because neither of us are fucking monsters who wish to potentially infect other people with disease. It was all very civilized.

But as the headline suggests, it did remind me both how infrequently I get out of the house, not just now, when it’s best to stay at home unless you have a compelling reason to be elsewhere, but in general. I work from home and when I am home, and not traveling, I generally don’t have much call to wander. Krissy is the one who works out of the home, usually, so she handles most of the out of the house errands, if for no other reason than she is already out and about (well, there’s also the fact that I am notoriously lackadaisical about things and that if it were left to me, the checks and bills would pile up for months, and Krissy, who likes and expects order, would have to murder me. But never mind that right now). It’s a good system for the both of us.

It also reinforces how much I rely on my spouse for, well, lots of things. Which is why when she is unable to do things — or asks me to do pretty much anything — I snap to and pick up the slack as directed. Even when it means (gasp!) leaving the house, and walking into an actual bank.

Question: Is there some formerly regular task outside the home that you have not done for a very long time? It can be because of COVID, but it could also be just because. I’m curious to know.

— JS

105 Comments on “Today In “I’m Occasionally Reminded I Live the Life of a Hermit, Even Without COVID As an Excuse””

  1. I haven’t visited a bank in years. Once my bank began offering mobile check deposit by taking a picture of both sides of the check, it took away my last regular reason to visit.

  2. I haven’t changed the oil in my car. It was overdue when COVID started. Now I rarely drive, but I do wonder if I am doing something terrible to the car the few times I have. Not enough to get the oil changed, that being said…

  3. After going weekly for years and years, I haven’t been to the dry cleaner since March. I actually feel bad for the nice lady who owns it. I think I may get some cleaned just because.

  4. C19 pretty much inverted my world.

    My office went virtual early, so first week of March was the first week of the rest of this year.

    I live alone, and now leave the house maybe once a week. Previously, I was engaged in various extra curriculars – Burning Man prep was starting to get going, and that’s a part of my life; I volunteer with a theater group; various less organized things. And I had been seeing someone for long enough that we were starting to start to get serious.

    All of that ended. The burn, of course. And theater doesn’t work very well for the same reason sports don’t. And my girlfriend went back to her country when it became apparent C19 was getting serious.

    I’ve found some replacement activities to stay marginally sane with; at least I talk to humans once in a while. I’m a pretty serious introvert, and highly selective about people. So I think getting by, if probably becoming weirder.

    But the disconnectedness reminds me of moving to a new city, and making me wonder if maybe it would be the time to do that. The Bay Area is a lot less interesting if you never leave your home, and you can put me down as firmly against the replacement of the fall season with flaming hell on earth. I’m less confident than I used to be that I’ll like what the US has become when I get to my old age, so I’m looking at a couple possible routes to living elsewhere.

    And that’s how all this has me considering going expat.

  5. After going weekly for years and years, I haven’t been to the dry cleaner since March. I actually feel bad for the nice lady who owns it. I think I may get some coats cleaned just because.

  6. A check isn’t a physical form of money. It’s just a description of what your money looks like.

  7. Well yeah, picking up the slack in the chores is just part of a good marriage, isn’t it? I think taking over the family duties that one does best is good, too. My wife is the organized one, so she keeps track of bills and important papers. I did the repairs, car work, etc. until my body said “Uh uh, bro. No more.”

    As far as Covid goes, what little social life we had has been put on hold. We bought a house and were settling in when all this happened, so we’re putting off any housewarming gatherings indefinitely. We are taking this time to do some repairs and upgrades this place needs, like a water softener, etc. My wife continues to build up her business on Etsy (Anyone Sews, if someone wants to look), so she keeps busy. When my ailments allow, I putter around in my all-season Man Cave model building studio in the yard. If not, I read John’s books, listen to music, walk our Shelties, and annoy people on Facebook. 😉

    We don’t see our oldest and her family much even though they’re only a few miles away. Our youngest lives with her family a few hours drive away and we saw them only to help them move a few months ago. We have as much as we can delivered, from groceries to aquarium supplies. Store runs are for things we run out of between deliveries, medical or professional appointments, etc.

    Yeah, our lives in retirement is kinda boring. That’s okay. We earned it.

  8. “It also reinforces how much I rely on my spouse for, well, lots of things. Which is why when she is unable to do things — or asks me to do pretty much anything — I snap to and pick up the slack as directed.”

    My husband relied on me for lots of things, so when I was unable to do things, or asked him to do pretty much anything, he yelled at me, accused me of trying to ruin his life, and then refused to talk to me in anything other than a grunt until I relented and did the thing myself. So you’re doing better than he did–but Krissy deserves your appreciation!

  9. Not doing meetings in person is one thing I’m doing. My Soroptimist group is on board–primarily because I have a paid Zoom account and absolutely did not want to give another member’s conference call app my credit card number. But the quilt group is not.

    Also not doing the weekly sew day that my quilt group has been doing.

    Not planning to do bazaars. That’s a significant impact on my book income, because I do handsell a tidy amount of books and chapbooks at these events.

    Not driving six hours to visit our son 350 miles away.

    We’re getting most of our non-perishable groceries delivered, and the husband goes to Safeway every two weeks (Safeway is the main grocery store in our small rural town).

    No horse shows. I had planned to try barrel racing this summer. Nope.

    Doing a lot more stuff online. But damn, I sure miss my local social life, especially the monthly literary readings sponsored by Fishtrap.

  10. No more banks since we got the ability to deposit via smartphone. Can’t remember the last time I was in one.

  11. Haven’t been to the library since January. First because of the weather – Iowa on January = brass monkey danger; and then because of COVID-19 restrictions for about 2 months and now because our Governor has her head up her butt and we don’t have many restrictions, but our positive case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths are up, up, up. We’re going for “herd mentality” here in the Hawkeye state, as our Republican state government is embracing the Trump herd mentality. 2020 gets to be a more challenging year, day by day.

  12. Choir rehearsal (community choir, not church). We won’t have choir again for a long, long time since it turns out to be one of the most virus-spreading activities around (aside from working in the White House). A couple weeks ago our choir director started a new program where she gives a lecture about choir music during a period of history and introduces us to two pieces. The next two weeks each section gets a half-hour rehearsal and the fourth week we sing along with a recording. She doesn’t hear us, no one hears anyone else. Singing choir pieces alone in your room is a sad substitute for the real thing, but at least we can see each other and we get a chance to chat with people in breakout rooms. And we get to see and hear our director whom we love dearly.

  13. I miss going to the library; my youngest is falling behind on reading and the library was a nice place to get a selection of books. It’s hard to do on the Kindle.

  14. But have you ever let checks pile up long enough some have reached their “not valid after X days” date and won’t be accepted for deposit? Asking, uhh, for a friend. Yeah, a friend.

    I’d planned my retirement for the end of March months before Covid-19 reared its head, so I’d been planning to spend more time at home.

    But I’d also planned to go the coffee-shop/library route to take the place of the writing time I squeezed out of empty moments at my pre-retirement job. That’s been a real struggle in a house stuffed to the gills with More Important Stuff to get done. (Welcome to the House of Guilt.) The word counts have gone *way* down since March.

    (Thinking, now that daytime temps are finally dropping below triple-digits, I may try taking a tablet and a Bluetooth keyboard out to the back porch and trying to get writing done there. Literally turning my back on everything else crying out to be done.)

  15. Earlier in the pandemic we had to actually go to the bank to sign papers for a refinance on our mortgage. Prior to going in they sent us links to this fancy website where we created a special password access account and then officially signed, initialed and agreed on several mortgage related documents. Apparently that was ok to do and perfectly fine by the bank. But in the end we STILL had to go in. Whaaa??? If we can sign some documents why can’t we sign all of them and not have to go in? Silly questions I guess. So, off we went to the bank. Getting out of the car to go in I noted to my wife that this would be the first time going into a bank wearing a mask and that just felt weird, like it had never felt like going into any other location with a mask on. We are making a killing in savings on the lower rate so, in a way, we did feel like Masked Robbers. :)

    A task we no longer do – We don’t clip coupons any more. Shopping is an in and out surgical strike, Who wants to ruffle through coupons while the mask-less yahoos are wandering around the store with you? It is a blessing to be in a place where we can not have to worry about that financially,

    John – I have noted an uptick in longer pieces from you here on Whatever again. Just wanted to let you know I missed those and really enjoy seeing more of them again.

  16. My spouse and I have gravitated to the errands/chores we each find easier. I haven’t vacuumed or mopped much for the past 25 years, or cooked dinner. He hasn’t done laundry for the same period. I do all computer work of any kind. It works out. Married 32 years and counting.

  17. Grocery shopping. I used to pick up things on the way back from work. Not much, but enough to carry from the train station. Now there’s no trains and since only one of us needs to go, it’s been my wife for pretty much the last 6 months. Except a few times when we get things delivered.

  18. Last week, I got a haircut for the first time in ten months. I was curious if the pandemic would pass before I got sick of my hair. My hair won, unfortunately.

  19. Used to take the dog to a groomer but now we have a woman in a mobile grooming van come to the house. It doesn’t cost that much more and it’s much less stressful for the pups (there are two now since we got a pandemic puppy).

  20. So, I used to go thrifting fairly regularly, and that’s *completely* gone on hold during the pandemic. I still check my pull-box at my comic shop weekly, but I skip *all* of the thrift shops I pass on the to and from the comic shop. Any of the stuff I would have gone hunting for at thrift shops (records, books, video games) I go to Discogs and eBay for instead.

  21. Going to the park or the trampoline place or other fun stuff with the kiddo. I’m also hanging fire on having someone look at my roof until the plague recedes, because SWMBO has a weakened immune system and this place is cheeto-cultist central, so you can guess how well people wear masks and social-distance.

  22. Well, my wife and I would have spent the summer in Europe and she would have visited her mother in a retirement home more or less daily, but that isn’t happening. Since March I’ve seen the dentist once, doctors (check-ups) twice, dropped off the mail-in ballot, got a flu shot, and that’s about it. Food and alcohol (rather more of the latter than previously) are delivered.

    We have a nice movie theater in town. At least, we did before, and I hope we do afterward.

    Spent a lot ot time in the garden. Also unusual. Discovered our rhododendron was still there, under the weeds. Now the weeds are under control. Not actually gone …

  23. I was noticing that as we were driving our kid to her second day of not virtual school that I used to park in the parking lots of stores. Like everyday shopping plazas with groceries and coffee shops. It felt strange because that used to be a regular banal boring occurrence. Super frequent a decade ago. Less frequent the last couple of years. And now it does not happen at all.

  24. Have not been inside a grocery store for probably over a year now, and that was just to run in and get a non-food item. I haven’t done in-person grocery shopping in almost 3 years. I love grocery delivery. The relief of stress, mostly from being in a store, but also from dreading being in a store, worrying what I might forget that would force me to go back to the store, working out how long I could stretch things to avoid going to the store, was even bigger than I’d expected. Like when you don’t realize how loud you have the radio turned up until you shut it off.

  25. We are lucky to live in New Zealand, having had two lockdowns, both successfully eliminating community transmission. After the first lockdown ended, we flew to Wellington for CoNZealand (despite it being a virtual event, we’d already had flight & accommodation booked, and it felt strange but in a good way to travel out of town).

    After the second lockdown I went to Napier on a business trip. Both times travelling out of town felt a little strange, having greatly limited travel during lockdown. The country is currently at Level 1 restrictions which is effectively life as normal.

    The big one is that New Zealand’s borders remain closed unless you are a returning resident or citizen, in which case you have to spend 14 days in a government-run quarantine facility (hotel). This has killed off international tourism for now, though a little of that loss has been offset by increased domestic tourism (people who might go on an overseas holiday are holidaying within New Zealand).

  26. I maybe step inside a bank once or twice a year — I usually do all my banking either online, or at the ATM after hours. And I’m trying to open a checking account with an Internet bank so I don’t even have to do that, and can use ATMs fee-free everywhere (rather than hunting down the five Chase ATMs in our county now!).

    Also, thanks to COVID-19, all my psychotherapist appointments are virtual, and most of my doctor appointments. Unless I need my vitals taken or I need to be looked at, I don’t physically go into the doctor any more….

  27. I need to get to a store and buy underwear. Here in Chicago, everyone wears masks, so I’m not too afraid of walking into a Target store, but I’d have to haul my raggedy butt out of the house…

  28. Not a task, exactly, but something I noticed.

    I have worked from home for several years, so the transition to quarantine work from home should have been seamless. It wasn’t, because I had never realized how often I would invent an errand to get me out of the condo at lunchtime. As in, “I’m already out to pick up cat food, so I might as well eat somewhere since it’s lunchtime.” The quarantine eliminated the errands which eliminated the lunches, and suddenly I was eating a whole lot more of my own cooking.

  29. Going into the lobby of our vet practice. It’s essentially curbside dropoff/pickup with phone consults. I wish I could just say “going into the vet practice, but alas we had to make last visits for one of our cats and one of our dogs within the last two weeks. :-( The practice handled it very well, though- there is one of their examination rooms that has an outside door so we could come in (masked) and hold our pets while they passed without running undue risks for us or the vets or their staff.

  30. Being a 60 year old overweight male with rheumatoid arthritis I am the one in the family who is generally reluctant to go out, though I am getting much better with that. The one thing I would not do is get my hair cut commercially.

    Well we dug out an old hair clipping kit, and my industrious and lovely wife is now cutting my hair, and has become quite capable. It is also something I don’t expect will change if and when we are past COVID, because it saves $15 every six weeks, and $15 is $15.

  31. I did go into banks, but not to cash checks. I had to go in to get quarters and singles for bus fare since ATMs pretty much only give out $20 bills.
    But of course I don’t need that currently since I’m not going anywhere on the bus. I’ve even switched grocery stores to one that’s a more reasonable walking distance, but since we’ll still be half-assing things when the snow comes I won’t be able to walk to the new store.

  32. Haircuts. I don’t really remember the last time I went to a barber shop to get an haircut. Years and years.

    Not that I don’t cut my hair, just I do it at home. Yeah, I cut it *very* short.

  33. Like you, I naturally hermit, so the main thing I used to do that I don’t do anymore is go to the office. Obviously that means I am not using gas at the rate I used to. Otherwise not much has changed for me. I was already only going to the bank when I did things like “fill out refinance paperwork”, and there’s a handful of one-of things that I’ve put off (e.g. getting someone to fix some drywall).

  34. I haven’t escaped the grocery store or bank; I’m low tech and don’t want strangers picking my produce or meat.

    I’m also going to have to brave the dentist’s office in the near future because mouth pain.

    I haven’t been able to attend academic conferences, visit the tax man for a correction or go into an office to retrieve various documents.

    I’ve only missed out on non-essential stuff like dining out, potluck get-togethers at my and friends’ houses, annual Halloween festivities like Universal Studios Horror Nights and our big low out on the day in question.

    this is a bummer, but not as big a bummer as catching and spreading covid would be.

    Every time I catch my self-griping about how sucky and inconvenient things are, I remember the more than 215,000 families who’ll never again do any of these things for or with their dead loved ones.

    I think about the other families who’ll spend this and future holidays planning funerals that almost no one will be able to attend.

    Puts it all in perspective.

  35. I haven’t been to a barber shop in probably 13 years. I just buzz cut my head once a month

  36. Shopping in the local town center. Here in my area of the UK non-essential stores were closed from March until July so my book (and some other) needs were fulfilled by Amazon UK. Since stores reopened I’ve been into town twice (wearing a mask, of course). I have several small shops near me and have been using them for food, etc.

  37. Not sure why anyone *wants* to handle actual money. You’ll wear masks and distance yourself but handle money that could have been up a strippers’ butt-crack? Did nobody ever read anything *else* by Frank Herbert than ‘Dune’? Find a copy of ‘The White Plague’ and note how it gets spread.

    Yeah, I carry cash, but I use my credit card and pay it off, less contact is safer. I don’t have a ‘smart’ phone or I’d dam’ sure deposit checks remotely, because I don’t know who was in that bank kiosk before me. (I don’t get many checks, so…)

    Look for the holes in your defense. Then plug ’em.

  38. All this “I don’t do X because my wife/husband/OH is better at it” makes me really sad. I lost my Lovely Man last year to aggressive cancer, and I am alone after more than 47 years. It’s the jobs I didn’t do that bug me, for all I can actually do all of them just fine, as long as they don’t involve heavy lifting. I didn’t sharpen knives or wash up and I only cooked half the dinners..
    I was (and still am) the breadwinner and run my own business, I’ve been seriously busy during the Long Pause as I sell sewing-machine parts online and by mail. Hey, folks, what if she/he/they have a stroke or fall off the stairs and you have to do stuff for your self? At least ask where the Passwords Book is kept…
    My LM did lots of useful stuff before he died, including transferring all his pensions and making the tax accounts up to date, and I’m grateful. I would be so stuffed if he hadn’t bothered or hadn’t been able to. And I’m so glad he’s not here to see me struggle with all this stupidity…
    I do go out, taking care all the while, I cannot manage without shopping and the Post Office, but I do miss being able to just drive off somewhere for a couple of days
    Make the most of what you have, please…

  39. I used to be a library nut about two to three times a week prior, but nada since this fun filled virus hit the streets; except for the credit union (my employer (state of CT) has a credit union totaling several branches and as far as I know, one drive thru), I’ve been inside the bank only once. The one time that I did, after completing my transaction, I stepped to the little isle where all the slips are kept to briefly separate my money (about a minute tops) but was basically told to GTFO by a branch manager. Seems that my bank branch took all of the proper precautions in order to reopen, but basically wants you to leave once you completed your business (and they allow roughly two people in line at any given time). So, I continue to patronize the drive thrus.

    Not doing the library really hurts, because i haven’t really cracked opened a book since i finished one about the Crusades in mid-April.

  40. I seldom go into a bank, and that predates covid. When i get a paper check, it’s easy to deposit with my phone, and i don’t have much other business that can’t be done on line…maybe picking up blank registers occasionally, because I do like to keep my accounts balanced.

    Like others, my visits to the dry cleaners have just about stopped during covid.

  41. “maybe picking up blank registers occasionally, because I do like to keep my accounts balanced.”

    Can do that on a simple spreadsheet; probably 10,000 c heap-to-free apps for it too.

  42. I haven’t been in to the library where I work since March, or set eyes on any of my co-workers in person. I only go to the grocery store once a week instead of several times. I belong to two Meetup groups – the book club is still meeting via Zoom, but the social group has (natch) come to a complete standstill. I used to treat myself once a month or so by going to a movie and having a hamburger afterwards, not doing that anymore. My public library has been doing online requests and curbside pickups, so I am keeping up with my reading. For the most part, my introverted life has continued without much disruption.

  43. We haven’t been to our local YMCA gym for a swim or workout since February, nor are we ever likely to go back. We converted the home office into a gym. A stationary bike and a set of elastic resistance bands coupled with daily walks with our Cairn Terrier, with a sprint at the end, has to suffice.

  44. We used to eat *inside* restaurants, believe it or not, kids. Back in my day, the drive-thru was just for people on the go, and the rest of us would head inside, sit at a table wiped with a damp dishcloth and only minutes before occupied by complete (possibly infected) strangers, and actually *touch* that table right before eating. Now I don’t think I could even consider it.

  45. Well, I can’t think of anything offhand, other than not going to the post offal. Since I used to have a mail order book business, I was in the post office at least a couple of times a week. But, we’re retired and there is little cause to go there anymore. If I need stamps (I do most of my banking online and only send the occasional check), I get them at Costco. Can’t remember when I last mailed a parcel.

    Another is driving my wife to work (she doesn’t drive), but since, as mentioned above, we are retired, that is no longer a part of our lives.

  46. I haven’t used cash in years.
    A few weeks ago my mother gave me some cash to reimburse me for something or other. I haven’t had cash on me at home in Norway for years, so just stood there panicking slightly over what to do with them. In the end I gave them to my wife who likes old fashioned things.

  47. I’m actually in the opposite boat. My wife is immunocompromised, so I’ve taken over doing most of the going-out chores. I’ve gotten pretty used to it since March. In fact, the couple of times my wife has joined me or had to undertake a journey because I wasn’t able to, she’s remarked on how weird and otherworldly everything feels. Of course, I’m used to it, but it’s valuable to have a Before Times perspective on how things have changed.

  48. Getting back to what OGH was actually looking for (stuff you used to do but stopped well before the plague), for me it’s going to the office. I spent the first 23 years of my career in a cubicle farm, with a few years where I had an office or could get permission to work from home one day a week or something. I stopped doing that in 2011, with the exception of rare individual weeks on a client site, and have worked from home full-time since then with varying amounts of travel time to client sites to spend weeks in conference rooms, power plants, and substations when needed. Much like banging your head on the wall, the absence is overwhelmingly lovely; given a choice between returning to the cubicle and going full-time with the banging of the head on the wall, I’d probably stock up on paint and drywall repair spackle and get to it.

  49. I used to mow a large-ish suburban lawn about 18 times every year. DId that for 26 years. Now I live in a town houSe with an association that does all the mowing. So now when the grass grass shaggy I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to lift a finger! Let it get shaggy AH HAHAHA. AAAAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHA.
    I don’t have to pull a single weed, and in the fall I don’t pick as much a a single leaf! Let it all revert to native prairie, not my problem!

  50. Sue Burke: one word – Amazon. My wife seems to be ordering something or other (shoes, lamps, coffee, pretzels, you name it) every day or two, and I’m sure you can find underwear.

    I do occasionally go into a bank, mostly just to use the ATM. The only time I speak to a teller – behind Plexiglas, both of us masked – is if I need to get a roll of quarters to pay for parking and laundry. I occasionally think about banking in the Dark Ages when we first got married (coming up on 50 years very, very soon). Banks were open 9 to 3 five days a week, kids, with a late night Thursday until 7. There were no ATMs, let alone online banking. My wife got her paycheck twice a month, but as she didn’t get out of school until 3:00, we couldn’t go to the bank unless it was a Thursday. I’d have to go downtown to the bank (I worked at home) the next morning, and wait on line. It was a huge help once direct deposit came in. Before that, she was handed her July and August checks the last day of school, and had to wait until July 15 and 31 to deposit them, tough in years we were in Europe. Saturday morning banking was another welcome innovation.

    So stay off my lawn, OK?

    helenehowes: sorry for your loss. Yes, you are so right. My wife is always promising to watch how I pay bills online (she knows where the list of passwords is), but somehow never does.

  51. Fortunately here in Western New York we’re half to three-quarters open, so I can go to the library carefully and get books. As a dedicated semi-hermit, my own house library is well stocked and I have a weight bench in the basement, and routinely do things myself instead of using services, so things haven’t changed, but the few social encounters i did have are mostly stopped or on Zoom.
    One thing, I used to light a candle in church for friends, as situations would arise. Three are just now in dire straits, so I’m hoping candles at home are good substitutes.
    Yesterday I took a drive out into the country side to see the fall color, really splendid this year. Usually I would see it on the way to the horse rates.

  52. I haven’t paid bills using checks for years (apart from one off instances like school expenses or doctors office fees that weren’t available to pay at the time of the visit.) I do as much as possible online, and I’ve set it up so that as much as possible is regular auto-payments, so I also don’t have to remember to go in and pay the utilities in a timely fashion.

    Relatedly, I’m really bad about making sure I open and deal with my mail and filing, so my husband took that over years ago and now if there’s mail that only I can deal with, he leaves it at my place at the dining room table. I have the occasional thought about how screwed I’d be if he were ever to stop handling the mail for any reason.

  53. To be perfectly honest, COVID hasn’t changed much of my daily routine. With the exception of wearing a mask when I do go out, of course. I live in rural Texas. I go into town for grocery shopping once a week. We rarely go out to eat. All of my banking is done online. I haven’t written a check in years. The first physical check I’ve seen in years came from the fed, and it was deposited electronically. My weekends are spent working on the land, so I don’t really go anywhere. I really am a bit of a hermit.

    I do miss live music, though. I went to a concert in Houston back in February. I miss that.

  54. Movie theaters. My visits to the theater had dropped off to none over the past decade for all the normal reasons: more comfortable at home, cheaper, better snacks, no annoying others talking/texting/surfing the net on their phones during the film, great home A/V set-up with largish 4K flat screen with a set of nice speakers, and how quickly movies end up on either streaming services or DVD I can get through the library these days, and I can watch on my schedule–stay in on a nasty cold rainy night and enjoy a good evening’s worth of entertainment. I can invite friends over for a movie night and have a relaxed time, not tied to anyone’s schedule. I realized how long it’s been when back in June I read that the new “Top Gun” release was going to be pushed back, that was a movie I had thought about seeing in the theater because they flying scenes are supposed to be great and they’d probably be even better in IMax (I used to do some flying so I wasn’t particularly worried about any motion sickness from watching a lot of banking and yanking on the wall in front of me), and I couldn’t remember the last time I had darkened a theater’s doors–it’s been enough years I couldn’t think of the last movie I had seen in a theater (Heath Ledger as the Joker came to mind–it’s been that long).

  55. I live very near the US-Canada border, so sometimes my mom and I would decide to go over to Canada just for dinner; there used to be one or two locations of this one restaurant on this side of the border when I was growing up, but apparently they decided to close them for tax purposes. There’s still approximately a million in Canada, though, including one that’s actually a shorter drive from where I work than it is to drive home from work.

    I think the last time we went might have been my birthday last year? (My birthday this year is in a week.) Mostly we kept meaning to go and then realizing I didn’t have my passport. And then Canada (quite rightly) closed its borders.

  56. I’ve stopped going in for regular dental cleanings, because despite my dentist’s insistence that they’re being safe, I absolutely cannot get with the idea of someone else sticking their fingers in my mouth right now, or being close enough to do that in the first place. I used to go four times a year.

  57. Bookstores. I used to go to the bookstore most weekends, many times with friends. We didn’t so much shop for books, though that did go on, as sit in the coffee shop area and chat and snack and such. I deeply miss that activity.

    Helene, you have my sympathies and understanding as I lost my wife in December to cancer as well.

    Helene gives some good advise in her post – especially about passwords. My wife and I both use(d) password apps to keep all of them and we always made sure that each of us had the passwords for each others application. So much of our lives now require passwords that it’s critical that you have access to each other’s. Getting into a fight with Google over account access is not something you need right then.

    I’d like to add to what Helene said as well. If you can, put as much of your life as you possible in both your and your spouses name – the house, car, bank accounts, the lot of them. The last thing you need, when grieving, is dealing with legal issues and by putting everything in both your names, you can avoid most or all of the messy parts of probate. For example, here in Saint Johns county Florida, I didn’t even have to file paperwork to move the house over to just my name – the county took note of my wife’s passing and just automatically removed her an a co-owner of the home.

  58. I injured my knee on the way back from Helsinki WorldCon – wow, that must be a full three years ago now – and I decided to try ordering my regular fortnightly food shop from the supermarket instead of going in to buy it.

    It’s so convenient that I have run a trolley (cart) around a supermarket exactly twice since then, both times when helping out my parents, not for myself.

  59. December 2019, Mom and I decided to plan a week in the Black Hills for my birthday in May. Then Covid showed up. We decided surely this would be under control by the fall and rescheduled the VRBO rental to this past week. I still took the time off work, but I spent my vacation right here at home. Luckily, we could get at least some of the cabin rental money back.

    Every-other-Friday dinner and Zombicide with friends was an early casualty. Part of the group has migrated to biweekly Guild Wars 2 (running Skype simultaneously so we can chat during the game), but it’s not the same.

    I work for a dry cleaner. I’d estimate at least a third of the locations we had around town pre-pandemic are closed for good, even if the company website has them listed as “temporarily closed”. Annual company picnic? Not this year. Business is starting to pick up again, as schools/businesses reopen, but we’re seeing a surge in this area so that may not last.

  60. True story, I haven’t driven a car in almost 7 years. One of the perks of packing up and moving to a country with reasonable mass-transit options.

  61. Clothes shopping in a store. I find it annoying and it takes too much of my time….enter the internet shopping with secure Apple Pay!. All mail order now and for a few years. LLbean has my size shoes, jeans, tshirts, sweaters and coats. I am good.
    Ditto the bank…not in years. Remote deposite checks works perfect and I can do it in just a minute using my phone. I do keep the physical check around to make sure it clears.

    Auto repair shop for oilchanges etc….we have a Chevy Spark electric car. Nothing for them to do..hahahaahha!

    You did not ask, but one thing I still do even during restricted spacing is visit plant nurseries. I do order some bulbs on line, but a visit to a plant nursery is uplifting, so not really a chore.

  62. For all those who miss their libraries, PLEASE check to see if your library offers digital books and movies, and try them if possible. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but often libraries are judged by their circulation statistics. If those drop precipitously, staff and eventually small branches or the library itself is put at risk. Politicians are looking for any way to reduce spending, and libraries are prime targets that often have very few defenders. Digital circulation statistics can help offset the loss of physical circulation. If your library has it and you’re not sure how it works, call and ask. Call statistics can also help offset the lack of physical patrons (yes, libraries often count and report the number of people who come inside, use computers, make copies, etc).

    My wife has to mount a defense against closing her library every year, and every year there are less and less people who are willing to speak for it at commission meetings because many are elderly and, well, you know. This year is going to be particularly bad.It’s harder for politicians to close something that’s being used by hundreds or thousands of potential voters.

  63. Our library allows you to order books online, they pull it from the shelf and tag it for you, send you an email, and you have to clear a masked security guard to go in one at a time and pick it up only, but it keeps me in hard copies, which I prefer, and that’s pretty great.

    As for errands, my situation is almost the reverse of yours. My bride is in her 70’s and post surgery, so I do all the running around. If a bank stop is required, I’ll use the drive thru ATM, and wear a latex glove for the screen and key pad. Pull that glove off inside out and flip it into a garbage bag before it’s allowed to touch anything inside my car. Once in a while, my lovely gets a check for her alone and she likes to have cash on hand. On those days she gets out of the apartment for a drive, masks and gloves up, and goes into the bank. She finds it hilarious that a masked person can now go into a bank, hand them a slip of paper and they give her money, with no questions asked.

    Anyway, we have one of those stops to make today, so she gets out of this cage for a little ride. Hoorah for her!

    We tried curbside pickup for groceries, but the store substituted stuff we didn’t really want, so it’s better for me to go in a rush, grab what we need, and get out. I can do that.

    Really glad Krissy hasn’t murdered you…yet.

  64. The post makes me think of carrying cash. From March to September I not once had paper (plastic?) money in my wallet. In September I went to a cash-only food truck and ended up withdrawing $20 more from the nearby ATM than I spent so I had $20 in my wallet until last week, when I handed it to my wife for use at a different cash-only food truck.

    (There’s a whole other category of “things that other people do all the time but I don’t and now at age 45 I’m so embarrassed that I don’t know what the common culture around them is that I avoid them at all costs” – I’ve literally never been to a dry cleaner in my life, and I haven’t been in a taxi since 2006.)

  65. Helene, I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

    In addition to the suggestions of Helen Howes and Jay Brandt, my PSA is to make sure you have your health care power of attorney and living will both existing and current.

    We had to manage the decline and passing of both my parents in this last decade, so I will be even more happy than most to see the ass end of 2020.

    Having those documents for both parents simplified many matters, avoiding a lot of administrative hassles at a time when we already had too much to do.

    A general power of attorney for if you are unable to make decisions, and a will, are also good ideas. And those for things often come in a package deal anyway.

    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

    ObForgoneCovidTask: Besides the dental cleaning and proper haircuts, I miss going to the movies.

  66. Sure, I’ll chip in.

    1. Banking: recently switched to online banking since my assets and income are easy to manage at this point and haven’t had to go into a bank in a while because of it. Made the initial lockdown easier to manage.

    2. Work: COVID-19 related, of course, but I am working remotely now because my job is fairly tech and can manage that. I pick up physical cheques once a month.

    3. Shopping: not fully, but instead of going in and buying things off a list, I’m ordering online and picking up in the designated area. Severe changes here: everything is thought out and planned and this has reduced bills significantly. No more impulse buys! Until I get to Amazon which has perfected the art of the online impulse temptation purchase…

    4. Appointments: as many are done remotely as I can manage. Dentists I’m still trying to wrangle since we just went back into Phase 2 lockdown, the rest can manage with virtual visits.

    5. Social: we’ve done some back-deck visits, open-air and socially distanced, otherwise, all virtual. I’ve hosted virtual watch parties using available resources and game that way as well. Seeing someone in-person is a more impactful affair at this point. There is still the occasional door-to-door solicitation; I give them the stink-eye and they slink away quietly.

    So I’ve gone from someone going about their business to a mostly hermit holed up with their household. Not a bad state of affairs; we’ve had time and energy to focus on communication issues and work together to resolve them (including therapy for some of the more intractable issues that keep coming up) and it has worked out well for us. We’re committed to changing for the better, which helps.

  67. I haven’t gone grocery shopping since lockdown back in March. My partner usually did most of it, but I’d swing by on my way home after a day in the office to pick up this and that. But now because of Covid I’m not going into public buildings/shops/etc. It feels really weird. I know it’s the right call (I have health issues already and have to be extra careful) but it’s really weird and kind of sad. Also I started a large new tattoo right before lockdown – I had my first appointment, but then the rest had to be cancelled and now who knows when I’ll be able to go back. Thankfully my artist totally gets it, but it’s a bummer. At least the black outlining I did get looks cool by itself.

  68. I have not used earbuds in seven months. Since I’m no longer commuting by subway or video meeting at the coworking space, I’m not sure what these are for.

  69. Hair cut … I now have a 4″ pony tail that keeps curling up into a man bun. By the time we get a safe vaccine in April, it will be 6 or 7″ long.

  70. My husband and I have reversed normal gender roles to some degree.

    Fun story: When my daughter was 5, she and I built an awesome lemonade stand from scratch. She used it and someone asked her if her dad helper her. She said, “No, my Mom and I built it…..But, my Dad made the lemonade and the cookies!”

    He does all cooking and dishes and sets up auto pay for bills, and hauls kids to appts.

    I do grocery shopping, laundry, all the IT tech stuff, do the repairs around the house (and hire the handyman if i can’t), set the appointments, manage the kids, and keep track of all. the. stuff. (Sometimes this tracking is called the mental load. If you haven’t heard of it look it up. It is real)

    It works out great for me, and hopefully he is happy with it too. I used to also do the cooking and dishes – but at some point I couldn’t handle all of it and said if i had to cook we would order takeout every day.

  71. The bank I use has closed several branches in Greater Cincinnati, and quite frankly, I’m not surprised. With all the online options they have been increasingly offering, there is less and less reason to physically visit a bank.

    I also miss buying the newspaper (or even having it delivered to my yard). I get my news online now.

  72. Right now, not much (but at the beginning of the pandemic I stopped doing a number of tasks). I have to go into work every day and I tend to do my chores on the way home. I’ve delayed getting some stuff done. For example, I’ve put off taking my cats for their annual visit and shots. I also need to empty out a storage unit I’ve been renting.

    I’m learning to do as much online as I can (thank you Amazon and drive-in windows at restaurants). I had to renew my drivers license back in March and I was forced to do it online since all the MVD offices (including the commercial Express MVD companies) were shutdown. All my credit union stuff has been online for years but I did have to visit the CU to access my safety deposit box. That required an appointment and masks and a guard unlocking the door to let me in and other fun stuff that made the experience a bit surreal (only the drive-in was open for regular transactions).

    I’m a knitter and I used to go to different knitting groups three or four times a week at restaurants and local yarn stores. Now, that is all done via Skype but I only see a fraction of the folks I used to see (many of them are tech-adverse, I guess). A couple of us have gotten together in person a couple times after they re-opened the restaurants but the vast majority refuse because most of the knitters and crocheters I know are over 60 or have health issues and fit in the high risk group. Consequently there are friends I haven’t seen in person or at all in 7 months or more.

    I’ve been doing some things less often. I grocery shop now once every two weeks instead of weekly, which means I may go without some items for nearly a week since they spoil or are consumed before the next grocery visit (fruits and veggies).

  73. I have not been inside a store since early March. As we’re older and I’m disabled, we order groceries online and the hubby picks them up. Anything we can’t get by that or other curbside pick up, we order online.

  74. I’m a freelance writer and novelist who works out of the house, but I actually do the banking because I’m around the area where we do our banking while my wife Leanne is not and is typically passing said bank(s) before and after they are open. That said, although there are many, many chores I do around the house and/or share with Leanne, I have not done laundry in, hmmm, well, probably 27 years shortly after my oldest son was born and Leanne was in the hospital for a while with him.

  75. I used to play pub trivia once a week. I was part of a long-established group that would share food and split bottles of wine and take pride in making the national leaderboard regularly. In late 2019 I returned after a 7-year absence and it was like I never left. I was really enjoying participating again and getting a very different kind of conversation than I get at home. It’s the one place the weird useless knowledge in my head is valued by anyone. I began attending conventions again too, and was looking forward to getting back into cosplay.

    And then 2020 came. The trivia team is led and organized by a dear friend who is also a libertarian. We had a few conversations over email about statistics and risk, early in the summer. They got increasingly heated and now we haven’t emailed since May. I would like to see the group again but I literally everything I liked about trivia night is unsafe in the era of covid. Drinking, talking, laughing loudly, sharing anything–I can’t enjoy any of this outside my house right now. I feel like I have moved to the prairie and the nearest neighbor is a half day’s ride away.

  76. As a writer and an introvert, my life hasn’t really changed at all.

    For me, getting out of the house is just that: getting OUT of the house. I’ll go for a walk or two daily. When I want to really get away, I go find a trail to hike or take my motorcycle out for a ride. When I really, really, want to get away, I go camping and gold prospecting. All of these activities pretty much exclude large crowds. One problem with all this is all the public parks that have been forced to close.

    The one thing I haven’t been able to do is go out and see family and friends. My niece and nephews are growing up, and I haven’t seen them in almost a year—for the youngest, that is a huge portion of their life! I haven’t been to the concerts of my friends who are musicians. I can’t meet with friends at the local eatery and have laughs over dinner. I’ve missed out on social functions that were cancelled. Being an introvert, I really need time alone. But just as much, I really treasure the time I can spend with family and friends. In that respect, this has not been a good year.

    There has been added stress due to the part time job I work. The fear that I might be the one who infects the people I care about with Covid-19. So I try to avoid coming in contact with family members unless absolutely necessary. 2020 has fallen so short on all expectations I had for this year, it’s hard to even make jokes about it.

    One thing that has really come to light is virtual meetings really do work. The first attempts were awkward and disjointed. Over time people got used to it and it really began to work. While I haven’t been able to share space with people, I’ve been able to hold conversations with some people whom I haven’t seen face-to-face in years.

    I have the greatest faith in our medical scientists that they will find a solution in a timely manner. It certainly won’t be as quick as we want it. But it will come to us a lot quicker than it did when our ancestors were hit with the Bubonic Plague pandemic. Until then, I’ll just have to be patient and keep on riding or walking when I need to blow off steam.

  77. Husband and I are both over 65 and retired. We each try to limit shopping/errands to one morning per week. Always wear masks.

    Before the pandemic I would get pedicure & facial every 6 to 8 weeks. Haircuts every 5 weeks to maintain very short hair style that I have had for 35 years. No salon visits since early March. Tuesday was my first haircut in 8 months – everyone wearing masks. Could be many months before next cut.

    Before haircut I stopped at local pharmacy for seasonal flu shot.

    Last dental cleaning was 12 months ago. Local positivity rates are low and have a cleaning scheduled for next week.

    Normally travel to Minnesota 2 times a year to visit family and friends. No trips this year only FaceTime or Zoom.

    Since 1972 I have voted in person for every federal, state and local election. In April I applied for a mail in ballot. Texas automatically approves absentee ballot requests for anyone 65 and older. I decided to personally drop off my ballot instead of using US postal service. Yesterday I drove 50 miles round trip because our governor allows only 1 drop off location per county. Not optimal for populous counties – I live near Austin. Well organized collection site. Park in designated spot, hand over ballot, staff compares signature on ballot outer envelope to driver’s license, voter signs roster & gets “I voted” sticker, and you watch staffer stamp envelope with date/time and insert into ballot box. Took about 5 minutes.

  78. I haven’t been to a bookstore in, well, months and months! I’m donating to a couple local favorites on GoFundMe, in hopes that they will still be around when I can finally indulge again.

  79. Grocery shopping. I don’t think supermarket delivery has really taken off in the states (I dunno, I’ve been an expat for over a decade now), and I resisted it for YEARS, but sometime around getting pregnant we started getting groceries delivered to us. I still go get stuff from the village greengrocer, and we occasionally go to a farm shop for meat, and even more rarely go to the local Asian market for all the amazing stuff that white people don’t stock (bless the local Korean population for stocking all the East Asian stuff in their shop–as a PacNW gal I miss that stuff) but most groceries show up on my doorstep at a prearranged time. I don’t think I’ve been to a supermarket in nearly a year. It was probably around last Xmas–a time when I REALLY appreciate not going into shops. It paid off when lockdown hit, because even though it was a nightmare to try and book delivery slots, they shut it down to new customers.

    And yeah, like you, Covid-19 has allowed my husband and I to live our best life (ie sitting on the couch with each other, the dog, and the kiddo) without having to think of excuses to not leave the house. I miss going out to eat, but there’s a distinct lack of decent restaurants around here, so it’s not like we did that before lockdown (I REALLY miss the West coast).

  80. Trips to research library special collections rooms. Normally I fill up my summers in the USA with these (they’re professionally necessary), but now I have been here almost seven months, and not one research trip.

    On the other hand, I go to my credit union’s drive-through to deposit checks and cash just because it gives me someone to talk to help postpone losing my mind completely in isolation.

  81. They aren’t tasks – unless you consider maintaining quality of life a task – but no bookstores or libraries visited since the start of this whole thing. My wife points at Kindle but IT IS NOT THE SAME THING.

    Sorry, but it’s been a long, cold, turkey.

  82. My wife and I used to eat out at least once a week—we enjoy it, have favorite places, are a little foodie-adjacent, so we consider it one of those things we do together, like other people go ballroom dancing. The last time we ate out was March 8, right when Washington state was shut down. I’d also used to have regular events outside the home, like going to the gym or playing in a band, but those had been on a kind of hiatus anyway before COVID hit due to having other priorities. (My writers’ critique group moved online, so it’s not on hiatus, but it does save a trip to the local coffee shop). Aside from runs to stores for essentials, that’s it. We’re hermits. Spent the summer working in the yard, building a sidewalk, writing a book, playing video games… and working from home, which we’ve both been fortunate enough to be able to do. I can count on one hand the number of times a friend came by the house and and had a masked conversation with us from the driveway. We haven’t visited anyone like that. No hugs with anyone outside the family either. 😢

  83. The astronomy club I belong to is known for doing public outreach, both at a local observatory and also for schools and other groups. The group outings are called Astronomy On Wheels, and we set up telescopes and do indoor presentations.

    The last time we did this was back in early March. Schools have been closed, and it’s unknown when we’ll be able to start doing it again. One issue is that Covid can be in the eye, and getting the eye too close to the eyepiece of a telescope can potentially spread the virus.

    So we’re exploring what we can do with CMOS or CCD cameras and computer screens or feeding into HDTV monitors.

    Anyway, I really miss doing that.

  84. Now the boys are home “at the office” and “at school”, so I have less time alone than before. Banking has been online for years. Shopping has collapsed to one day. I go to the Y for class, else I’d never exercise, and yes, hiit class can be done in a mask.

    I will also second/third/umpteenth having all your paperwork in order, up to date, with the right names on it, and everyone knows where it is.

    I’ll add keys. House, car, boat, storage units, safes, and safe deposit boxes. Banks won’t open safe deposit boxes without the right person holding the right key. Or a lawyer holding the right key, with a letter of authority from the right person. With an ink signature. Ask me how I know….

  85. I haven’t ridden the subway (the T in Massachusetts) in six months. I haven’t gone that long without riding public transit in possibly a quarter century. There’s nowhere to go. I hate it.

  86. We’ve been doing most of our banking online or by mail for years, so not much has changed with COVID. We are writing more checks. Not all of the local farm stands take Paypal, and several new farm stands have opened.

    We still see people, but we entertain in our backyard. Luckily, we live in an area where it never gets cold or hot enough to kill you, so we’re hoping to keep seeing people this way through the winter. We only have small groups, so we’ll miss our bigger parties, but we had been doing more smaller ones before COVID anyway.

    Amazingly, our small town has Instacart and Doordash, so we haven’t been in a store for a while. Even before COVID, we had already gotten used to buying so many things online, that we feel at a loss when we are in a store. COVID just eliminated a few more offline stores.

    I don’t think retailers realized just how awful shopping could be. Starting in the late 1970s, the big thing was recreational shopping, but shopping for the hell of it was getting old even ten years ago. It’s much nicer just to buy what you want without searching heaven and earth for it. Besides, most people don’t have the money for that kind of entertainment anymore.

    We miss getting into the local big city, but we gather that the local big city is a bit of a ghost town. The restaurants, many hotels, museums and theaters are all closed anyway. We did a lot of traveling last year, so we’ll get by on memories and hope for better times than these.

  87. Independently of Covid-19, I’ve become less and less social over the past 10 years. I used to go to SciFi/steampunk conventions many times per year; used to belong to multiple meetup groups; used to lead hikes nearly every weekend. Then at some point I just… lost interest. Getting to and from, worrying about parking, etc., made it all so tedious.

    What I miss now – what Covid-19 has taken away – are things that aren’t primarily social, but are about lifelong interests:

    Going to museums, to the zoo, the aquarium. Public lectures, readings. Yard sales and thrift store hunts. Clothes shopping – generally, I won’t buy what I can’t try on. Eating at a restaurant – inside the restaurant, rather than outdoors or in my car.

    Book shows, RV shows, home & garden shows. Art walks and art studio tours. Going to a park – well, we can do that again, but the parks are incredibly crowded and not everyone is masked. (There are a couple of parks I know that seem to be hidden treasures, and I do go to those.)

    Getting together with friends on the spur of the moment for coffee, food, movies. Taking the ferry to Whidbey Island, or the Olympic Peninsula, and bopping around there for a day or a weekend.

    Also: international travel. I used to head up to Canada once or twice a year, wanted to drive the Al-Can Highway; was going to visit my brother in Norway this year, maybe add a few days in Iceland. All postponed indefinitely: hardly any other countries want USians coming over, thanks to how we as a nation botched responding to the pandemic. (It’s strange, sad, and enraging to watch one’s homeland change from a 90% First World country into a 75% banana republic.)

    Once this is over, if it’s ever over, it will be fascinating to see what we’re like on the other side. What will we get back, what will we have lost forever, and – most interesting of all – what we will have decided we didn’t need after all.

  88. Thank you! Reading this, I realised I had been sent a not insignificant cheque that has been sitting in my in-tray waiting for me to fill out a form and get it in the post. Dug it out, and to my shame it was from August.

    What can I say, I think it is the first cheque anyone has sent me for the last couple of years. I can’t remember the last time I actually wrote one!

  89. I worked for a bank for 10 years and will never willingly do business with one again. Credit unions are a small step in the right direction; but I’ll take what I can get. But even my tiny little credit union has an app that lets me deposit checks by photo. I know from reading here that you are techie enough to have a current gen phone at all times; so that trip had to be entirely unneeded. Admit it, you just wanted to talk to strangers face-to-face. :D

  90. What puts it all in perspective for me — yeah I keep repeating it too much for some folk — counting refrigerated trucks outside hospitals. Rumors that there’s now a shortage due to cities trying to bogart the limited supply of refrigerated trucks, anticipating wave #2 (and #3 and…) will be worse.

    Still not everyone is willing to prep for death. Which is mind-boggling!
    Short list of critical issues… Videotaping themselves reading aloud their asset distribution (“last will ‘n testament”). Inventorying assets. Listing accounts (fiscal, internet, gvt, vendors, NGOs, investments, pension, insurance, magazine subscription, etc.). Passwords. Detailing burial/memorial/organ donating preferences. Videotaping a detailed living will for end-of-life decisions. Divvying up heirlooms. (Side note: if you want to save $8K for funeral and ease agony of next-of-kin, then donate your cadaver to medical school and leave behind a self-serving humble-boast of contributing to society to read aloud at your wake.)

    Haircuts. Toilet paper. Netflix. Flour. Twitter. Museums. Yeast starter. Porn. Masking. Books. Theaters. Facebook.

    We each find something that annoys us for: (a) suddenly lacking or (b) surprisingly growing in importance or (c) involuntarily moving into new ideas or (d) forced to moderate routine behavior or (e) someone else is happily exploiting new venture. Everybody in NYC is struggling to be normal and we cannot achieve it. Yeah, lots ‘n lots of social distanced outdoor restaurant seating but many are skipping it claiming ‘safety’ loudly but in point-of-fact quietly saving ‘luxury cash’ due to uncertainty. My co-religionists in Brooklyn are howling about bigotry because they are forced to mask up, and have to moderate traditional behavior and getting pushback for supporting Trump. (Stupid that any Jew would support so openly a racist under any set of circumstance; the distinction between ‘black’ and ‘Jew’ is whether racist dreaming of slavery or genocide.) Fewer NYCers of all religions are willingly mask up, learning the wrong behaviors from ‘mid-west patriots’.

    Getting answers to questions from bureaucrats has gone from annoyingly delayed to outright scary-impossible; it is getting to be quite obvious this is not the least bit accidental. And that deliberate self-sabotage is scary for what will constitute the ‘newer normal’ these next three years, until a vaccine is completely deployed. And we can once again get up close ‘n personal with arsewipe bureaucrats.

    Add your own to my list: government agencies, medical insurance companies, medical service providers, telecom vendors, credit card charge errors, et al.

    Krissy Scalzi: thank you for not murdering your husband for too many moments of cluelessness; he is an ‘essential service’ in this time of pandemic. At the very least he gets points for stockpiling huge rolls of toilet paper (but loses half those points for posting just how high a heap he’s hoarding; you ought expect gun totting loonies seeking to liberate it from you any day now).

    John Scalzi: now if only you’d learn to touch type with his toes, you could double his output. Really wish for more “Old Man’s War” novels. A universe wide enough to compete with Star Trek. (Suggest: open it up to franchising like Eric Flint’s 1632verse. It might make money but leastwise keep fans and semi-pro wannabes busy till quarantine is fully lifted.)

    Lois McMaster Bujold: please, please another ‘Vorkosigan’ book;

    John Ringo: ditto for ‘Vernon’ book;

    Charles Stross: it hurts to hold my breath till that next (last?) “Merchant” book drops;

  91. I put petrol (gas) in the car last week and realised I had almost forgotten how to do it. How do I open the flap for putting petrol in? Oh yeah, there’s a lever on the dashboard – get back in car to open flap, etc.

  92. It’s going to sound terrible, but I’ve put off having my teeth cleaned. The thought of being that up close, face to face, with only one of us wearing a mask is more than I can handle.

    I also haven’t hung out in the library, even though it’s open. I put books on hold so I can pop in, grab them off the shelf, run them through self-check and be out the door in under five minutes. If they didn’t screen at the door and require masks, I don’t know if I’d do even that.

    I live in maskless covidiot land, not an area that takes it more seriously. Cases are spiking, so of course they’re opening up restaurants completely. Of course. We’re getting lectures on vigilance from our governor.

  93. I can’t think of anything other than dental visits that I have put off (and probably would have anyway, I’m terrified of those sharp thingies). I am a pure introvert who is completely happy staying home with my nose in a book, and I work in a library so I have no shortage of material to choose from. I rarely got invited to do anything pre-Covid, and if I did I found excuses not to do it, so it hasn’t really affected my life in a huge way at all. I had a fairly major surgical procedure done at the end of February that had me off work for a couple of weeks, and we closed a week after I came back, so I was home for almost 2 months at the beginning. I was able to go back to work for the limited services we offer back at the end of April as well. I do feel for people who are missing all of the social activity and human contact, but I’m just fine with it. I do have a substantial home library, so I have a couple of people whom I trust to return the books that I will borrow a bagful at a time. Conversations off the front step suit me just fine.

  94. I used to love the physical evidence of my paid bills in the form of receipts. Since COVID-19 hit I’ve been paying online… can’t believe I used to waste time in those long lines just to pay bills!

  95. After reading your question I thought a while and concluded that almost nothing has changed since SARS-Cov-2. I used to go to my gym several times a week and to the gas station to get gas to go to the gym. Now I drive only to swap cars in the garage in order to charge up batteries. Maybe once a year to the dentist and my family doc. Those can wait another year. Added TRX and resistance bands to the elliptical and treadmill I already had to replace the gym. Used Amazon excessively (to avoid spending too much time in stores searching for stuff). Spouse now shops much less often. But really no changes.

    It’s hard for us to realize how momentous the pandemic is. Once in a hundred year sort of thing and we are alive to experience it. Younger folks don’t intuit how unusual this time is. And how sterner measures are so necessary to survive medically and financially and socially. Maybe in 2022.

  96. I am normally very hug averse so I wasn’t minding social distancing. I had a bad week last week though, and now I know what it feels like to really want a hug.

  97. I’m normally the go out and do errands person in this household, since like you and Krissy, I’m the one with the outside job, while my husband’s is primarily remote, or requires travel. And is about to become even more so, since his company is selling off all the local assets, including his supposed office, leaving him an employee without a particular location other than his home office. Also, terminal cancer means his energy is pretty limited, and the strictures on him being out and getting potentially exposed are tight. (He’s doing well on that front. 6 and a half years into a “you have 2-3 years” sort of diagnosis.)

    On the other hand, he tends to handle all the phone stuff. Nearly every scrap that doesn’t absolutely have to be handled by me. I dislike phone calls pretty intensely, and any official sort of phone call gives me high levels of anxiety. Perhaps my parents shouldn’t have made the first time they had me call someone on their behalf, calling the IRS at tax time to request extension paperwork? It was pretty traumatic.

    It’s a good division of labor for us. I’m hoping he lasts until I can handle any remote business through email and websites. (And beyond)