I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve put on a shirt that wasn’t a T-shirt with at most the flannel or work shirt over it – and most of those times it was a plain black American Giant T of some sort. I’ve alternated between the same pair of cargo shorts and the same two pair of jeans for six months. Footwear is either the black plastic Birks or the soft-footbed suede-leather Birks, with the very rare use of the canoe mocs if I’m leaving the house for somewhere even slightly presentable (although usually it’s either the walk to the corner, a medical professional or the farmer’s market if I’m leaving the house and the car at once).
Then there’s the diet. Black coffee in the morning, peanut butter honey sandwich for lunch, beef or turkey jerky for a snack, or maybe an apple with almond butter, and at least 48 ounces of black iced tea to wash it all down with. Occasionally a walk out will lead to a big Coke Zero, or a boba run will add a Baja Blast to the mix, and if there’s a convenience store stop it usually comes with a couple of pop tarts or powdered donuts, but the days of keeping bags of donuts and bags of pizza rolls and multiple styles of ice cream in the house are mostly gone. Even the booze supply has been curtailed to whatever will make a couple of standard pints on Sunday night and almost nothing in between.
And the gadgetry has even been simplified since the beginning. It’s reached a point where the phone is the only iOS device, and on the work laptop, all personal stuff happens through the browser only. The iMac on the desk is still used for ad-free YouTube videos on pub night and for workday Zoom, basically an enormous two-way television. The iPad doesn’t get used at all for anything. We’re down to a watch (which replaced the Fitbit’s ecosystem) and a phone and a keyboard-equipped browser, and until a week ago, it genuinely seemed like there might not be a new phone in the works before Christmas 2021. There may yet not be, who knows.
And there’s a routine. Meetings at the same hours every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. The Thursday night family call. The Sunday pub night. After nine o-clock, it’s go upstairs and lay on the hot pad and use the chi machine whilst listening to Brexitcast or something similar, then shower, then read myself to sleep. The same three or four amusements on TV if left to my own devices: Watched Walker, Country Music, maybe rarely a turn through the U-Verse shows or the mallwave videos again from earlier in the crisis. Even the regular TV shows have gone by the boards since Ted Lasso ended, and Clone Wars hasn’t driven the same engagement as Rebels, and the new Mandalorian doesn’t start for another week and a half.
I have reacted to the world by building a cocoon of stability and retreating inside. In a world of nothing but uncertainty, I have tried to make everything around me as simple and certain as possible. No plans for the future beyond the occasional drive, or maybe an unexpected Zoom call. Minimize inputs, eliminate surprises, bring down the anxiety and the pulse rate by putting things on rails as best I can. And hope the rails don’t break.