After two and a half years of Covid waves and last year’s elusive hot-vax summer that never was, Americans are depressed, bored and clamoring for something to do. I’m one of them. Yet when it comes to choosing what to do, many of us are paralyzed by an embarrassment of riches. Allow me to be the thorn in your side that says: get off your La-Z-Boy and go do something. Anything. Scrolling through Netflix for your next binge-watch doesn’t count. Give your couch cushions some time to regain their figure.
I’m probably the worst person to be penning this advice — I’m five days delinquent on my column deadline, and have been at least as late every month for as long as I’ve been writing in these pages. I’ve watched over time as my editors’ emails have gone from lovingly forgiving to prodding and stern. I’m pretty sure they’re now lying to me about when the actual deadline is, in anticipation of my relentless tardiness. Most writers I know share a version of this relationship with their editors — and know that sometimes the best cure for writers’ block is that adrenaline rush that comes with almost not making it to print. Most non-writers I know think this makes us an incompetent and unprofessional bunch. Whatever: every rose has its thorn.
But since professional habits often become personal ones, I’ve watched myself evolve — especially over the course of the pandemic — from the stereotype of an anal type-A neurotic (with just the tiniest touch of OCD) to a sloth who can’t help but push things off until the very last minute. Procrastination, it turns out, is contagious.
But our hot-vax summer do-over is here, and I’m going to stop ignoring the items on my to-do list. I’ll travel, read, eat, pray, love and try to stop plagiarizing cheesy book titles.
Some other things on my list:
- Learn to ride a bike
- Finish knitting the blanket I started two years ago for my daughter (then in my belly), give it to her soon-to-be sister (currently in my belly)
- Try a microdose of shrooms (post-birth, of course). Are they still made from actual mushrooms? Where do you get the chocolate variety?
- Ask a lactation consultant if consuming said shrooms while nursing is a no-no
- Start golfing so my husband stops ditching me every Sunday
- Buy cute golf outfits and personalized balls with my initials
- Sell said items when I accept that golf is not my sport
- Buy an ice cream machine. For the little girl in me. And the little girl next to me
- Learn how to use Excel
- Get in the ocean, even though it’s freezing and I currently look like a beached whale
- Preserve lemons. Cook with preserved lemons
- OK: cook anything at all
- Unsubscribe from emails I don’t want instead of just deleting them in frustration every time I’m in the bathroom
- Try meditation. Give it more than five minutes
- Learn to play guitar. The chords from “Smoke on the Water” don’t count
- Go through my closet. Donate the items that have been buried and unworn for at least two years. Simply: everything except T-shirts, sneakers and black leggings
- Get over my fear of jellyfish
- File my next column on time
My list is pretty mundane because I’m a nice Jewish girl from the Upper East Side. But the world is finally open again. Don’t let my being a milquetoast vanilla millennial cramp your style.
The number of American adults suffering from depression exploded from 8.5 percent in 2019 to 27.8 percent in 2020 and a whopping 32.8 percent in 2021. It’s obvious to everyone paying even a modicum of attention that the pandemic has been devastating to our mental health. Not just in the initial, obviously jarring ways: the intense isolation, the cancellation of events and excitement, the fear and trepidation that came along with every previously quotidian decision (Thanksgiving with family? Take the subway?). It has had far deeper effects. And even now, when Covid is increasingly accepted as just a regular part of our lives, the consequences for people’s mental health are terrifying.
Homebodies like me relish being able to work in our sweatpants from the couch. But humans are social animals. It’s not healthy that I could go an entire week without seeing anyone except my immediate family if I wanted to. Despite the knowledge that Covid is never going away, we’re still contending with the bad habits we’ve developed in the last few years and the minor disruptions that endure.
We all need to break through the tedium of this moment. And we can. If you get your lazy ass up off that La-Z-Boy.
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s July 2022 World edition.