The new normal

The new normal of COVID, the new normal of a job, the new normal of being a mid-50’s guy with random aches and pains.

The nicest new normal is that our anniversaries no longer feel like milestones. Last year at this time, we celebrated five years of marriage, and that was a big deal. And then this January we celebrated twenty-five years together and that was a huge deal. But yesterday it was our sixth wedding anniversary and now it’s just a normal yearly thing, like a birthday. And that’s fine.

Last year, we celebrated by spending a weekend in Cape May, which was lovely. We’ve had our eye on Cape May for forever as a possible vacation home spot, and had a house rented there for a week in August, planning to spend it with our nieces and their families. But we cancelled, of course, and that sucked. Also, last year’s vacation was in the middle of the time I’d realized I really couldn’t stay at my current company, and then the fall became more and more heinous until I got laid off – normally a sad thing, but in this case a blessing.

Our 25th anniversary was nice too, I think. But that was during my mom’s last weeks and our attention was elsewhere.

We did pretty good yesterday, I must say. C loves to recognize the traditional anniversary gifts, but is hard to buy for unless he gives you a list. For sixth anniversary, the traditional gifts are iron, (or wood for modern), turquoise, amethyst, and sweets. He’s on keto, so I couldn’t give him candy, and I got him a wood bowl last year (wood was the traditional gift for 5th anniversary). After some abortive ideas, I got him little ‘healing crystal’ stoppered jars of amethyst and turquoise chips, an iron heart-shaped ‘6 years’ keychain and made up the difference with an Amazon gift certificate and two dozen roses. He got me some really nice handmade chocolates (I’m delighted to receive food gifts, giant body shape notwithstanding) and a beautiful wood hinged box from American Craftsman. We also ordered in dinner from Uncle Peter’s, a nice mostly-Italian restaurant up the street. He went off keto and had carbonara (we’ve both been having insomnia problems, and we figured it would knock him out, which it did), and octopus. I had a Caesar salad, lamb chops (wonderful), a side of linguine in garlic butter, and tiramisu. It definitely cheapens the experience to eat all this stuff out of takeout containers, but we’ll take what we can get.

Speaking of dining out, or in, I did spend months getting takeout from my favorite local restaurants for lunch, where normally my joy would be to plunk myself down with a giant book and eat there. But most of them used those months to set up outdoor dining spaces and, for now at least, that’s been fine. Our local corner restaurant, very nice, a favorite for brunch, has some tables under a big giant open tent thing, and then others that are just picnic tables with umbrellas. I went out on Sunday, a particularly breezy day, and got one of the remaining umbrella tables. And sure enough, a huge breeze took the umbrella out and over, knocking over the mimosa and water jug into the muffin plate, the entree plate and my lap. Arrrgh. They were super-nice – the owner and staff did some stuff to more firmly plant the umbrella and redid my order. This time I chugged down the mimosa quickly and managed to eat one of the muffins and most of the eggs and stuff before it happened again, even worse (lots of broken plates and glasses). I sighed and called it quits. No fault of the restaurant, they’re doing what they can.

Middle-aged stuff. The saga of the root canal is now done as of the placement of the new crown on Friday. But for a week now, I’ve been living with something very strange – a pain in my left arm that would be no more than annoying except something’s wrong with my fingers. They still basically work, but only about 95% percent and not reliably – typing isn’t easy and playing piano is worse. I have trouble taking my wallet out of my left pocket. I can elevate my right index finger from a hand flat on the table, but not my left. Weird, huh? Best-case scenario is a pinched nerve – easily could have slept on my left shoulder ‘wrong’ – worst-case is that I had some sort of cardiac thing, although I think that’s unlikely since the effects are so specific (nothing’s wrong with my left leg, for instance) and you think I would have noticed, right? Anyway, I have a tele-meeting with my doctor this afternoon, I guess we’ll see. So weird.

Certificate study: still moving slowly, but forward. Current plan is to take the test in early October, during the three-day weekend. I think I will do this regardless of whether I’m fully ready (although I should be) and if I don’t pass the test, I’ll re-evaluate next year whether it’s worth re-studying and re-taking. It’s a lot of money to take the test, so if that happens, it’s not a no-brainer. (It’s, I guess, a ‘brainer’.)

Movies: we saw:

  • “The Lady Vanishes”, a BBC remake of the classic tale. I thought it was fine, but C knows the classic movie really well and didn’t think it measured up.
  • The Jackie Robinson biopic “42”, in honor of the late Chadwick Boseman. Not a lot of stuff happens, but it’s very well done, and a great cast.
  • “Bad Education”, an HBO movie about Long Island school district admins embezzling, with fun performances from Hugh Jackman (an Australian playing an Italian-American), Ray Romano and Alison Janney. Worth a rental.

Last week of summer, let’s make it count. No, I don’t want to hear any ‘well actually’ about solstices and stuff, everyone knows that summer starts Memorial Day weekend and ends on Labor Day.

This post is part of a larger project, #MOC19. Read more about the Mass Observation COVID-19 project here

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