My wife Michael pointed out to me how strange it is to read tweets and posts by people who claim to be bored already. I can’t speak for the rest of the world, or even all of America, but I feel fairly comfortable in thinking I represent the, well, fairly comfortable. Even if I wasn’t a homebodyâ€”not unadventurous, since I do enjoy road trips and travel; I’m just most comfortable at homeâ€”suggesting that my house lacks for mental stimulation is absurd. Even leaving the laptop and Internet behind, I have about 200 or more curated DVDs and subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and the Criterion Channel (best Christmas gift I ever got). Between me and Michael, our shelves hold a possible thousand or more books. We have plenty of puzzles, kits, and video and board games; a lovely backyard and an even lovelier hometown that affords a short walk to a Lake Michigan beach; a plenitude of arts and crafts supplies and woodworking tools; and a home that, frankly, has never looked cleaner. Bored? I am inebriated on both pastimes and the actual time in which to perform them.
Of course, work life comes first, as well as the coaching and ride-herding of the children. The former has certainly been sufficient. If any of my bosses are reading this, believe me, I may be home but I’m earning the hell out of that paycheck, writing and editing and proofing and podcasteringing (that’s the verb, right?). I confess, I squeeze in a quick 20 minute nap sometimes because I’m getting old. My body seems to like it, and it repays me (and you) by making me more alert and creative. Just keep that in mind when I get back. Say…do I really have to come back?
As for the kids, they’re certainly happy to be home, but providing direction and suggestions is an ongoing task. As I mentioned we’ve been having “school” from about 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., which usually involves them checking their Chrome books to see what their teacher has posted, worksheets (Flynn likes doing mathâ€”let’s hope that keeps up), about an hour and a half of reading, and usually what are called “specials” in their schools (art, gym, etc.). We had art today. I took them outside to draw pictures and write pleasant messages in sidewalk chalk to the many folks who walk by the house every day with their kids or dogs or pathological need to run, even in shitty weather. On our walks Mike and I saw that other folks had done so. My favorite was the one from the neighbor who started with their address: “647 LOVES Our Neighbors” with the parenthetical note: “(From Six Feet Away).” We went with “Stay Happy.”, “Stay Healthy”, and Nate’s “Stay Positive”.
Now, let us be clear… I am not a ball of sunshine. I am frequently goofy or humorous in a deadpan way, and certainly not unfriendly, but I’m not touchy-feely. I despise glurge. I guffaw at trite blandishments. I don’t believe a decapitation can be fixed with a band aidâ€”even one of those great big knee ones. But this is a very different time.
I bring this up because today I saw someone tweeting about how ashamed they were of the twee movement that took place in their youth during the early 2000s. The tweet appears to be gone now, but as I recall they rankled at public pillow fights, flash mobs, precious rock bands and naif lyrics, and so on. Mostly, they seemed to dislike whimsy and, perhaps, false bonhomie, such as that supposedly practiced by people conversing through posters in their windows.
I’m sure the tweeter had the best of intentions, but it was a useless sentimentâ€”not to mention a touch cruelâ€”in the current climate. (Not as blithely cruel as the writer who felt obligated to point out that many of us hugged and kissed our relatives for the last time without knowing it…but that’s another issue.) As I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered, to my annoyance, that unlike me, not everyone has learned when to be tough. I don’t mean they’re weak. I mean they never figured out how to suck it up and drain themselves of emotion in order to make the hurt go away (I got very good at that in my twenties). These people need the kindness, not the snideness, of the tough folks to carry on. So, that’s why my kids and I wrote silly, inspirational messages in chalk on the sidewalk and driveway. Oh, and a platypus.
Maybe nobody will notice, just pounding over our pictures with their trainers or standing on them while their dog diddles on the tree. But when you can’t do anything, it’s nice to feel like you’re doing something.