Weird habits picked up during pandemic monotony
By LISA SMITH MOLINARI | Special to Stars and Stripes | Published: February 12, 2021
“Honey,” my retired Navy husband woke me this morning with a steaming cup of coffee — a sweet routine he started since he began working from home last March — “I just transferred money into your account because you’re twenty bucks in the red. Now, I know you had to buy Anna’s birthday gifts and groceries, so it’s no big deal, but please … just don’t buy any more stock, okay?”
I’ll admit it. I got sucked into the fascinating drama over the GameStop stock price. Out of sheer boredom, I downloaded the Reddit app and joined the now famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) subgroup “WallStreetBets.” Initially, I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Before I knew it, I had bought a share of GameStop stock with our grocery money and was slinging terms like “diamond hands,” “GME go brrr,” “stonks,” “YOLO” and “to the moon, baby!”
What happened? How did I, a 54-year-old stay-at-home mom and military spouse with a signature meatloaf recipe and sensible shoes, become a bloodthirsty amateur stock trader?
Shut any military spouse accustomed to constant change into a house for months on end, and she will soon feel like a caged wolverine in search of fresh meat in the form of entertainment, distraction, and excitement. In our desperate state, new extremes are reached … standards are abandoned … peculiar habits are formed.
In other words, things get weird.
After our collective obsession with Tiger King waned and we all gained ten pounds from baking bread, we looked for the next thing, and the next, and the next — limping along until herd immunity restores some sense normalcy to life.
I’m actually proud of some new habits I’ve picked up. Others, not so much.
In an effort to add extra zip to watching Netflix every flipping night, I finally figured out Sudoku. However, I also regularly swipe and giggle like an idiot, stuck in TikTok video vortexes, forgetting to defrost dinner, let the dog out, shower, or go to bed.
Pandemic monotony has caused me to think deeply about things I never had time to contemplate before. As a military spouse who moved frequently, I was rarely up to speed on local news, but now I read Rhode Island updates with my cup of coffee every morning in bed. Unfortunately, my new daily news habit has also given me an in-depth understanding of national politics, at a time when ignorance is arguably bliss.
I’ve always been a football fan, but I was content to keep my interests at a surface level, never reading the sports page or watching ESPN, preferring to focus on game day recipes and which quarterback is cutest. But a few days ago, I actually uttered the words, “I can’t wait to see what the Steelers roster looks like after the draft this April.”
Who the hell am I?
Recently while cleaning out a closet, I found the old potholder loom I bought twenty years ago for the kids. Despite the fact that those ugly hooked potholders are too small to adequately protect one from third-degree burns, I ordered four bags of loops on Ebay and just finished my third potholder last night.
Speaking of Ebay, this evil shopping app has sucked me into digital wormholes from which there was no escape. By the time I climbed out, I found that I’d purchased items I never knew I needed. Case in point: I now own a complete set of Mary Kay cosmetics, and I rarely wear make up.
Other strange pandemic habits I’ve picked up include obsessive vitamin intake, restoration of my circa-1985 second left ear piercing, a newfound penchant for Jamesons, staying up until 1:00 am on a regular basis, and an unhealthy nut addiction.
The pandemic is a lot like a deployment for military spouses. We do whatever we need to do — no matter how weird — to make it back to normal life. When that day comes, I’ll keep my third earring, but will I give up my new obsessions with stock trading, staying up late, vitamins, TikTok, Jamesons, potholder weaving, Ebay, nuts, news and football?
Only time will tell.