No, I haven’t read all of Proust. Fighting the coronavirus humble brag
David Hockney has painted 10 new iPad works. Barbra Streisand is working on her memoir. On Instragram people are baking bread and working out. Friends are calling to say that they’ve Marie-Kondo’d their homes.
And all their getting-things-done is stressing me out.
What this is is an epidemic of humble brags.
People are knitting and quilting and reading children’s stories aloud, and giving lessons on how to play the slide guitar and reading plays aloud and performing music together with other people in their rooms all over the world.
It is incredible. And it is insufferable.
Yes, I could be using this time to read all of Proust, or Dante’s Inferno, or even Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks. I know I could because other people are.
But I just don’t feel like it. This pandemic is sucking the ambition right out of me.
I could be out searching for a box of 100 latex gloves or a stack of N95 masks. I could be braving the lines at Costco or Trader Joes. But I just don’t want to.
I have things to do. Things that I should be doing to make money for all the things I’m not using — like my office and my car.
Every morning I seal myself off in our guest room which I have taken over as my office. And then, I sit there.
I’m not saying that I don’t get anything done. I’m just saying that I’m getting less done than before, and I certainly don’t have time for extra personal projects.
Yes, I really do want to learn to play chess well. Or maybe even Bridge. Or Mah-jongg. I have always wanted to be able to play blues piano. Or the Harmonica. Or even the Ukulele. Or memorize the lyrics to a dozen great Bob Dylan songs.
But I’m not going to. I’m going to spend most days looking at my computer screen. How do I not hit refresh on Google News? How do I not spend time with the evening news?
I feel I should be supporting my local restaurants and ordering takeaway meals from all those highly rated restaurants I’ve never been to and normally couldn’t get a reservation at.
But I’m not. Instead, I’m making sandwiches out of leftovers. Last night’s bolognese meat sauce was today’s sandwich (and it wasn’t half bad).
What I’m doing most of all is going on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter — but mostly Instagram, to hear about all the things that other people are doing.
I’m watching movies with my college age daughter. Of course they are not the movies I want to watch or feel I should be watching — revisiting all of Fellini, or the AFI’s 100 best movies. No, we watch what my daughter wants, which is reliably something with Mark Wahlberg in it.
That’s what I’m doing. How about you?
Tom Teicholz is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author who is not doing that much right now in Santa Monica, CA.