COVID Confessions

Sometimes when I’m washing my hands I only get halfway through the second “Happy Birthday.” 

Sometimes I only sanitize my hands before or after I touch a door handle – but not both.  

Sometimes, when I get home from the grocery store, instead of washing my hands first thing when I walk in the door, and then washing them again after I take all the items out of the paper bags, and then washing them again after I recycle the paper bags, and then washing them again after I put everything away, I only wash my hands first thing when I walk in the door, and then again after I put everything away.   That means that if there is virus on the bags that transfers to my hands it could transfer to the groceries, or to the handle on the refrigerator door.   But nonetheless, sometimes that’s what I do. 

Sometimes I put the grocery bags on the kitchen table, and then I sanitize the kitchen table.   But sometimes I forget the part about sanitizing the table and a few hours later set the table for dinner.  So if there is virus on the bags and it transfers to the table it could then transfer to our forks or knives or spoons, which we put in our mouths, and then we could get the virus.   Or the virus from the bags could go from the table straight to our hands; and since we’re at home and we have washed our hands first thing after we walk in the door we might feel a bit cavalier about casually touching our faces, and then we might get the virus that way.   But nonetheless: sometimes I forget to sanitize the kitchen table after I have put the bags on it.  

Or sometimes I just pretend to forget. 

Sometimes I eat cereal from a box that has been in my cabinets for less than three days.    

Sometimes I open the mail the same day that it comes into my house, without segregating the mail and letting the virus die off for 24 hours before I open it; and then I recycle the envelopes and wash my hands.   But sometimes I forget to wash my hands after opening the envelopes but before opening the drawer to the recycling bin.   So if there was virus on the envelopes and it gets on my hands and then I transfer the virus to the drawer handle and someone else then comes and touches the drawer handle and doesn’t immediately wash their hands, they could get the virus.  Or I could get the virus.    But:   sometimes that’s what I do.   And sometimes I don’t even wash my hands immediately after recycling the envelopes.   

That’s how bad it’s gotten.

Sometimes I wear the face mask that I sewed out of a bandana early on, before I read the article in the New York Times about how you should really make face masks out of fabric thicker than bandanas because thicker fabric is better at trapping the evil itty-bitty viral particles. 

The New York Times goes on to suggest that the best approach is to make your masks out of tea towels. After we read that article we made some masks out of tea towels, and promptly learned that it is not actually possible to breathe through tea towels, and that not breathing has some distinct disadvantages, although it is also undoubtedly true that not breathing is also an effective strategy both for avoiding inhalation of the virus and for not transmitting the virus to others.    So we threw out the tea towel masks, and ordered some regular cotton quilting fabric and made a bunch of masks out of the cotton quilting fabric, and mostly now I wear those masks.   But sometimes, when it is really, really hot out, I wear the bandana fabric masks because they are just so much cooler, and I just walk around pretending that I didn’t even read that New York Times article.   

That’s what I do, sometimes. 

Sometimes there are days when I don’t clean my cellphone with alcohol, not even once, even if I took my phone out of the house with me, and maybe even if I used it when I was out of the house.   

At the beginning of the lockdown, I happened to have some cleaning wipes in our apartment and I used them just about every day to clean frequently-touched surfaces like door handles and such.   But then the wipes ran out, and buying more is impossible.  So I did some research on alternatives and found this article in the New York Times about the way to clean without wipes, which is basically to create a solution of diluted bleach and to spray it on things and to make sure they stay wet for five minutes and then wash off the bleach with water, all of which is way more of a pain in the ass than just using wipes; but it is not possible at the moment to buy wipes.  So the spray-with-diluted-bleach approach is how I now clean my frequently-touched surfaces.  Except that sometimes I do it every second or third day instead of every single day.  

This same article reminds us that bleach is actually volatile, especially once diluted; so it is important to mix up a new batch of diluted bleach every day when you are performing critical tasks such as cleaning frequently-touched surfaces.   But sometimes I don’t mix up a new batch of diluted bleach every day.  Sometimes I only mix up a new batch every second day, or third day.  Or fourth.  Or once a week.    

OK.  Not sometimes.  ALWAYS.   I have never mixed batches of diluted bleach on two consecutive days.   Bleach is toxic and miserable to inhale and there’s only so much ventilation you can achieve at the kitchen sink, plus I worry about using kitchen measuring utensils to apportion my 3 tsps. of toxic bleach per quart of water.   But of course that means that if I mix the bleach on Saturday and I use it on Thursday to clean the doorknobs and the bleach has degraded, and it’s on Thursday that I open the mail and then don’t wash my hands before recycling the envelopes and there is virus on the envelopes and the virus gets on my hands and then on the handle to the recycling drawer (because I didn’t wash my hands before recycling the envelopes), and then I open the drawer later to collect the recycling to take it outside and the virus transfers back to my hands, and then I open the front door to go outside to the recycling bin, thereby putting the virus from my hands onto the front door handle, and then I clean the front door handle but with five-day-old diluted bleach that has degraded sufficiently that it doesn’t completely kill the virus, then I or anyone in my household touches the door handle, then if we subsequently rub an eye or pick a nose, then we might get the virus, and give it to everyone else in the house.  And that could be very, very bad. 

Sometimes I get so sick of this endless, tedious germophobia that I could rip off my mask and scream at the top of my lungs.   But loud vocalizing of any kind could spew massive plumes of the virus (that I may or may not have) into the air, potentially infecting everyone who passes through that particular patch of air in the subsequent 15 seconds or 3 minutes or 9 minutes.   

So ripping off my mask and screaming is not something I do, not even sometimes.   

At least not when I am outside.