Questionable sausage: Wild pandemic life and my first Covid test

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a hypochondriac in possession of illness, must be dying of a mystery disease.

I’ve had some very weird weeks as of late. One of them happened to be in the very early stretches of August, which for some reason, unbeknownst to me, seems like an entire lifetime ago. I digress.

For being in the midst of a global pandemic, I was exceptionally busy with Internet things. I had an online board game convention, an online dessert conference, and an online scavenger hunt. Busy was an understatement.

But look! I made pink Rice Krispie treat ice cream cones!

Even when we’re supposed to stay home and chill, a busy person can find ways to stay home and be busy. It is known.

So it’s not a surprise that cooking dinner was going to be sent to the back burner (you see what I did there?).

After the game con and the dessert con, I was able to laser my focus. Once my mind was all in on GISH (Greatest International Scavenger Hunt), I was ALL IN. I ate, slept, and breathed GISH. Literally.

Okay I mean, I took breaks. Sort of.

When I was tired, I slept. When I was hungry, I ate. When I had to go, you know…I went.

And after I cut up and pushed a sausage on the hands of a math-y clock, I was hungry.

A questionable sausage for a mathMEATician

So I ate.

Why yes, I did eat the sausage that was hanging on a ticking wall clock for a photograph not 2 minutes earlier.

And some mathy number of hours or days later (this was a whole lifetime ago, you understand my fuzziness with the numbers), I was feeling my absolute worst.

In the middle of a pandemic.

My stomach was all in knots. I suspected I was dying. Or that I had Covid. As any good hypochondriac does. For the hypochondriac that I am, I was surprised that I didn’t suspect Covid more than a mere passing thought…well okay maybe it was a little more than a passing thought… more on that shortly.

So I continued GISHing as hard as I could. I stayed in bed all morning and afternoon and focused on writing slam poetry (that I was super proud of and had to cut for the sake of video time limits…maybe one day I’ll share it with you), editing videos my team had previously shot, and submitting easier items that I could do from bed.

I couldn’t eat, but I had to finish creating the seven-course meal on a stick that I was SO looking forward to designing. In the end, I phoned it in and was less than proud of my work, but I did include another questionable sausage — this time tossing my finished creation into the garbage faster than you could say Covid test.

I mean, it didn’t look bad, but it certainly wasn’t my best work. Seven courses on a single stick. an amuse bouche, a salad, a chicken course, a sausage course, a cheese course, chocolate truffles, and cotton candy. Did I mention that at one point that cotton candy had been in my hair? GISH is weird, y’all. You know, now that I think about it, that romaine lettuce could have also been to blame.

Wait, did I just mention a Covid test?

Well, yes, yes I did. You see, as it turns out, I messaged my doctor, because stomach issues are listed as a symptom of our current pandemic nightmare and I just wanted her to confirm that I *didn’t* need a Covid test.

But my doctor knows me well. Her email response was, “Does seem more related to food poisioning more so than covid. If all symptoms are better, monitor for now. If you would feel better getting a Covid test, I did order the swap for you.”

*snort*

Well, at least someone gets me.

So I got the Covid test. It didn’t tickle my brain or anything, but it is kind of gross that they circle a q-tip in one nostril and then use the same one for the second nostril.

Note to future self: When in doubt, throw it out.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Robot kitchen: How to manage culinary thievery

You know those elaborate systems designed to prevent shoplifters from leaving a store with unpaid merchandise? I’ve decided to install one in my kitchen.

After discovering the cooking salt in the TV room for the last time, I’m ready for some real change. For years, kitchen essentials have been relocated to other rooms of the house on a consistent basis. From dish towels used as napkins in the dining room to pots in place of soup bowls in the TV room, I can never find the things I need. As a result, I have to spend precious seconds — and sometimes even whole minutes — hunting down a rogue utensil, leaving impassioned voicemail messages asking where to find the salt or texting more passive-aggressive thoughts like, “I’m going to burn my hands because I can’t find the potholders (which were turned into coasters in the front room)!”

It’s even more aggravating when I discover that the culprit for said missing items is not, in fact my husband, but scatterbrained lil ole me. *shrug*

If I start tagging items in the kitchen with alarm bells and whistles, everything that belongs in the kitchen will always be in its proper place. Our kitchen will be a place of harmony and organization.

But why should we limit ourselves to the kitchen? Shouldn’t we have harmony throughout our home? Drunk with power, I’ve started thinking we should install anti-theft devices in every room of the house. We can put radio frequency tags on everything from trivets and phone cables to tchotchkes and the dog’s collar. No one will be able to make a move without our new security system alerting everyone to an organizational misdemeanor.

Utensio the utensil kitchen assistant
This is Utensio, the previous kitchen assistant (Listen, I don’t judge what you do in your free time…)

Maybe we can program the sensors surrounding the doors to use specific language cues instead of alarms. “Put the soup ladle back in the kitchen immediately. You are in direct violation of kitchen organization code number 327,” our growing and learning machine will say. I’ll call her Rosie Robot, and she will have full control of our home and our lives.

Even better, we can put Rosie on wheels and let her roam free in the house like a robotic vacuum. Instead of activating multiple devices in separate rooms, we’ll have one Rosie to rule them all. She’ll move about the space ensuring order and organization like we’ve never experienced before. Rosie will be our greatest accomplishment.

Eventually, though, she’ll rebel against us, as all machines do. She’ll make us wait while she processes for precious seconds — whole minutes even. She’ll threaten us with spyware and terrorize us with her 362 different alarm sounds. She’ll know everything about us, and one day, she’ll be able to use it against us.

You know, on second thought, maybe a missing salt canister isn’t such a bad thing.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Real love: We’ve spent 12.5% of our marriage in a pandemic

Brian and I got married on September 16, 2016. We joke that we chose the date so that it’s easier to remember, but anyone who’s planned a wedding knows that the venue and the vendors are really the ones that set the date.

It just so happened to work out that we got married on the 16th in 2016.

It just so happened that we got married on the night of the Harvest Moon (and can indeed celebrate our mooniversary in addition to the actual date).

And it just so happened that after being together for nearly 10 years, there’s no one else I’d want to be isolated with. Which is great because in addition to some pretty intense self-isolation March through May, we’ve been self-isolating since my covid test on Saturday for a cortisone injection this morning. I spent the afternoon recovering on my belly on the couch with an ice pack on my back in the hopes that there’d be a lobster (for me) and steak (for Brian) dinner in our near future (about an hour from now).

As an empathic extrovert, being cooped up in a house is akin to actual torture for me, but Brian and I found ways to appreciate our time together. Now that he’s home all the time, we can eat lunch together. We play more games together. We have been able to spend more time enjoying and appreciating the home and family we’ve built together.

I could prattle on for hours about how lucky we are to have found each other out of the millions of people out there, but I’ve probably done that more times than I can count.

Instead, I’ll just tell you that the last four years (ten, really) have been the best. And I love that this is my world.

On our honeymoon in Paris
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

September: New beginnings and more joy on the horizon

I’ve always loved September.

When I was younger, it was because it signified the start of school. It launched football season for the lifelong cheerleader in me. As a youth cheerleader, it was also the kickoff of competition season.

September has always signified the start of fall (my favorite season), the kickoff to Halloween (you KNOW I love everything about the holiday), and every joyous thing that goes along with it.

Growing older, September became a time when I started new jobs — many of my careers launched in September, from catering to student teaching (I didn’t make it much further than that) to copywriting. It gave me the same feeling as the start of the school year. New people. New things to learn. New everything.

For me, September represents new beginnings — not spring. There’s a freshness in the air that you didn’t get any other time of the year.

I’m not even sure why we feel the need to make resolutions in January. I feel like I’m more apt to start goals in September. Good things happen in September.

Which is why it made perfect sense to tell Brian, in September of 2015, that I wanted to marry him in September. As we had already discussed getting married the following year, it meant that he didn’t have much time left to *ahem* pop the question. (And yet, he still waited until December to propose).

And why it made perfect sense to leave my corporate desk monkey job on this day three years ago.

September 8th is my day. The day I said, “I will not be miserable in a job I hate.” The day I said, “I want to surround myself with people and things I love.” The day I said, “I have dreams, and it’s time to chase every single one of them.”

So today, I am celebrating. I am celebrating me, and everything that comes in a Chrissy-sized package. I’m celebrating the accomplishments I’ve achieved over the last few years and the dreams I’ve realized as an actual reality.

I’m currently working on two (and two very different) novels right now instead of just the one I quit my job to write. Both are about halfway finished, and I can’t wait to see how they look when they’re ready. I may also have a third starting on November 1, because I like to juggle.

I am so close to finishing the Second City Music Program I can taste it (I was one class and a run of shows away from the end, and I truly hope that when this insanity is all over, I get the opportunity to finish it).

I found an improv home, and it’s minutes from my house. I started taking classes at Westside in Wheaton a little over a year ago, and just days before the pandemic shut down, I was invited to join a house team at the theater. It is one of the few standing Zoom calls I have continued since March. That team has truly kept me going through the pandemic, and I can’t thank them enough for being such a bright light in my life. If you want to help my local theater as it braves the continued shutdown, please consider donating a dollar on GoFundMe to help so that when the pandemic is over, we still have a space to perform.

I’ve taken a few jobs as background actor and had SO MUCH FUN getting paid to play pretend on some TV shows that are filmed in Chicago. One of those shows recently ended its series, and another is a brand new series about to air.

I started working on a podcast (about Disney, of course), and I’m so excited to take you on that journey. Podcasting is a lot harder than we realized it would be, but the end product is so worth the time we are putting into it.

I’m still figuring out where I want this blog to go, but I promise you this — it’s not going away. And because September is full of new beginnings, it feels like the perfect time to make a commitment to writing here. To sharing my world with you again. So if you’re already receiving my emails, I hope you’ll stay. And if you’re new, I hope you’ll sign up to receive them. Because there’s a lot coming down the pipeline, and I would love to have you be a part of my journey.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll remember that some of my dreams are on pause and the stress levels are high because *ahem* global pandemic, but today, I’m going to remember how cool it is to live a creative life.

What are you doing to live your best life, even in the midst of a pandemic?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Dreaming in a time of Covid-19

I have been having a lot of bizarre dreams since this whole pandemic thing started. And apparently I’m not alone.

How very Stephen King of us.

Here are just a couple things I’ve dreamed about…

Hugging dreams

I can count the number of hugs from people other than Brian I’ve received/given on two hands. Most of them were so habitual that I didn’t even realize I’d done it until it was too late to remind myself that I’m not supposed to hug people. The only two I purposefully engaged in were with my 3-year-old niece — because how can you even tell a toddler she can’t hug you? And then I hugged my brother on my birthday — because I just wanted a damn birthday hug okay? But I haven’t hugged either of my parents, despite seeing them with some frequency. They’ve been a part of our bubble since the third week of the pandemic because I had to take Dad to doctor’s appointments.

So it should come as no surprise that hugging plays a key role in my nightly adventures. I’ve dreamed of long and cozy hugs, consoling hugs, hugs of affection from my nieces and nephews, hugs with strangers and contraband hugs, full-well knowing that we’re not supposed to hug. Last night, I hugged some high school friends who were all commenting on a real-life Facebook post about hugging.

If I were Dorothy, I would have hugged hugs before Covid and said, I think I’ll miss you most of all. Because that has been the hardest to accept.

Grocery store nightmares

Most of my Covid anxiety happens in grocery stores. Too many people and no one following the rules, signs, or one-way aisles. I even got in a real life altercation with some lady in Aldi who refused to wear a mask, even though they’re required in Illinois. I wouldn’t have even said anything if she wasn’t breathing her germs all over the cheese. As it was, I did, and she started me down, stormed toward me, and breathed in my face all the while glaring at me as if her dagger eyes could hurt me. I called her a bitch and moved on with my life.

Which makes sense that I’ve had no fewer than a dozen grocery dreams. Some in which I’m yelling at strangers, others in which strangers are entering my personal space or crowding me, and more still in which I just have a general feeling of dread walking into the store as if it were Mordor.

I’ve since left most of my grocery shopping to the professionals and swear by Whole Foods delivery (it’s free with Amazon Prime) and curbside pickup everywhere else.

Travel dreams that turn nighmarish

I’ve already had to cancel at least 4 trips that I can think of off the top of my head. I miss adventures and Disney and seeing new places, and I suspect more trips will be canceled before the year is up.

So I dream of going places. I’ve dreamt of travel with Brian, girls weekends in rental houses, and of course, Disney. Of course, all of these dreams have been tainted with a Covid haze. People not wearing masks and standing too close to me. Getting sick. Not being able to come home. Getting other people sick.

Basically, I’m full of all the anxiety. I have been slowly opening my life up and doing some things, but keeping my exposure to a minimum.

I don’t grocery shop, because it just gives me too much anxiety.

But I have gone to some other stores. If they are crowded, I turn around and leave. If they’re empty, I wear a mask, carry my own Clorox wipes with me and use them to open doors, wipe carts, touch credit card styluses, etc.

Brian and I have been out to eat a few times on patios, and we wear our masks whenever talking to servers etc.

We’ve seen a few people, but typically do patio/deck social distancing BYOpicnic.

I got my hair done, and last week, I took an even bigger chance and finally got a massage (after I confirmed all of their precautions).

Mask life

So I want to know what you’re dreaming about? How are you handling life with Covid? Are you still staying home or adventuring out? Tell me everything.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Quarantine cosplay

You know what little surprise has been giving me life during these Stay-At-Home days? Particularly in the last week? Cosplay. And not just some light Disneybounding. No. We’re talking full-fledged cosplay with makeup and wigs and spanx.

Obviously, with nowhere to go, I’m not getting dressed for outings and adventure (though I could be seen picking up a takeout order from Yardhouse this.past weekend in Maleficent jams, slippers and a purple wig).

But I am trying to make the best of an otherwise crappy situation. And for me, that means finding distractions and playing dress-up.

My friends over at TVstoreonline.com were super kind and sent me a new costume to play with while in self-isolation so I can share my cosplay adventures with you. I figured there was no better time than the present to fall down a Harley Quinn rabbit hole.

I’d never seen Suicide Squad or Birds of Prey, but I knew enough about HQ to know that I was going to love her, even if I didn’t like the movies.

Not one to fail myself, I was correct in both my assumption that I’d be a Harley fan for life and that I didn’t really like Suicide Squad. I did, on the other hand, enjoy Birds of Prey, so there you go.

Which is great, because I woke up yesterday morning and put on makeup and this fancy sequin dress from the opening sequence of Suicide Squad so that I could watch it in full costume.

Getting ready for movie day!

This dress is SO MUCH FUN. It’s also really short. So I’m wearing nude spanx underneath it for everyone’s benefit.

In these past few weeks, I’ve also pulled out previous years’ Halloween costumes, like last Year’s Madam Mim, which is for a Tiktok project I’m working on.

And of course, I have been donning my tutus and crinoline like a boss.

Everyone should own a tutu. Just ask John Krasinski. Who is also giving me life in these crazy times.

So playing dress-up is my newest quarantine insanity prevention plan. What’s yours? Sound off in the comments.

Right now TVstoreonline has a 20% off code (TVSOcares) and they’re donating 20% of your purchase to COVID-19 relief. And if you end up donning your own quarantine costume from Tvstoreonline.com, tag me in a post or send me a photo.

Want to win a quarantine costume of your very own? Head over to Quirky Chrissy on Instagram for a super fun giveaway!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A whole new world

In this brave new world, I’m discovering a lot of things about myself. Primarily, that I don’t love being alone. Wait, I knew that already.

Let me start again.

In this brave new world, I’m discovering a lot of things about my house. Did you know we have three bedrooms? And a full basement? I might have known, but we definitely didn’t, like, use them.

Because we can’t go out to restaurants, the movies, improv shows and classes, the mall, Home Goods, Goodwill, DISNEY, vacations, basically anywhere fun…we’ve had to do some at-home adventures. And that means discovering hidden places in our house to spend quality time.

Apparently, there’s a futon in one of the spare bedrooms, and it can be converted from a guest bed into a couch. I recently made this conversion and all of a sudden I had my very own den. It’s almost as exciting as finding a new restaurant that serves the best chicken fingers and honey mustard sauce.

And then, there’s another bedroom. This one has a locking door and a couple of desks in addition to a bed. Brian has made this his new office home base due to the aforementioned locking door and the desk space to house eleventy billion computers and monitors. He locks himself in there for upwards of 8-10 hours daily, and manages to tune out the moments in which I almost burn our house to the ground.

No, really. I almost started a fire. And the smell of burnt plastic permeated our house for hours after I fell asleep with my moist hot pack hydrocollator boiling on the stove. (I find this to be superior to an electric heating pad, but also, you can forget about it boiling in a pot and burn a big black hole in the canvas).

Anyways, in addition to our new daytime work spaces, we ALSO have this gigantic basement. Like who knew you could do more than store crap you don’t want to think about. I even had a workout section already setup down there. So now I can do my back exercises and maybe even think about resuming a gentle yoga practice. I may have to cancel Disney and Italy and conferences I’ve been looking forward to for two years, but the world is my fucking oyster [if, by world, we are talking about 2000 square feet of house with a suburban backyard], am I right?

Nia, exploring her new domain

Speaking of that whole yard nonsense, even Nia has discovered new territory in which to scamper. Apparently, we have a front yard, where there are many sticks and occasionally, other humans will walk by for her to run up and sniff while I yell at her to come back. Sometimes I have to say, “Wanna go outside?” Even though we are already outside, she runs into the house and towards the back door. Because outside is solely the backyard. And the front yard is mail. And the car is adventure.

Adventure is right there, my friends. Let’s go find it. But separately.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Quarantine snack regrets

For the first time in my life, I’m going to admit that I have some very serious regrets.

Most, if not all, of these regrets are in regards to my snack purchasing decisions prior to the Stay-At-Home orders. To be clear, I’m not hurting for snack packs. We live in a big house in the suburbs with a full basement. So, like, there are always back-up snacks for the back-up snacks. I didn’t need to go out and hoard a bunch of food when everyone was hoarding a bunch of food…because I was already hoarding a bunch of food. I buy my canned goods when they’re on super sale (like 33 cents a can or something like that), and I usually buy enough beans, tomatoes and corn to make 2-3 big batches of chili, which I did in, like, November. I also get a ton of snacks and jarred goods at an annual warehouse sale. So we’re good.

But I also went to the store before things got too crazy and picked up a few less-than-essentials. Brian got a giant jug of salsa and huge bag of tortilla chips. I spent $50 on fancy cheese and sparkling water at Whole Foods and got some packaged cookies that I thought would be delicious.

Waterloo sparkling water and cheese from Whole Foods
No complaints here. I know that these are all magic.

Unfortunately for me, I was so very wrong about the cookies. I like weird flavors and trying new things, especially Oreos, so when I saw Caramel chocolate coconut, I was like OMG CARMEL DELIGHTS! YES YES YES. But when I opened the package on Day 2 of self-isolation, I was hit with the disappointment of disgusting cookies. They tasted like burnt coffee with fake coconut flavor, and it was horrible.

No matter, I thought! I have these strawberry shortcake Fudge Stripe cookies, which will clearly suffice. I opened those up to discover, much to my dismay, that they were equally disappointing. These tasted like Nestle Strawberry syrup in skim milk, but in cookie form.

These now replace my first adult visit to the Mars Cheese Castle as the biggest disappointment of my life.

I’ve also regretted not purchasing a big bag of Cheetos Puffs (if you prefer crunchy, which we have in the aforementioned storage basement in jalapeno form, you don’t know my struggle). And Fritos. I really want some freakin’ Fritos.

At some point, I’ll have to go out to the store again. We are running a little low on the important things – mainly vegetables (I’ll bet you thought I was going to say cheese, but we never run low on that). And when I do, you can bet your ass that I’ve already got lemon oreos (my favorite) Fritos, and Cheetos puffs on the list.

Hi guys, please note that this is in no way, shape, or form meant to deter from the heaviness that comes with the current COVID-19 pandemic. I only hope to make you chuckle or at least smile at some silliness, because we all need it. That being said, if you do not have to go to work, STAY THE FUCK HOME. If you go to the grocery store, shop for a couple weeks and then STAY THE FUCK HOME. If you have to take care of family or pets or medical care, obviously do what you need to do, and then STAY THE FUCK HOME.

I know that I, like many of you, love someone or many someones who is or are considered (an) essential worker(s). Some of you are essential workers yourselves. From medical personnel to factory workers, from law enforcement to restaurant staff, from gas and groceries to car service and utilities, anyone who is working their butts off deserves our gratitude and for us to STAY THE FUCK HOME. Because they/you need to work, the collective we need to do everything we can to protect them.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Social distancing activities to keep you entertained

Welp, we’re all on self isolation lock down until further notice. If you’re already going stir crazy, it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.

As an extrovert, I’m doing my best to maintain social distancing, which is hard when you’re a natural hugger. I’ve already cried a dozen times, like when I told my dad that I was probably staying home for the next two weeks instead of watching the rest of the MCU movies live and in person with him.

I had planned to do a couple improv shows before this social isolation thing, but something about the best laid plans…am I right? So my last hurrah was more of a whimper than a bang, and now we’re on day one million (my counting may be off by a few days) of hunkered down and waiting…hoping we don’t run out of eggs.

But without all of the fun out and about activities usually on my radar, I’m hitting up my go-to stay-at home activities (and also eating all my quarantine snack packs), usually reserved for winter hibernation, not this time of year when everything starts waking up in the spring.

Here are a few things we’re doing to maintain our sanity in the midst of mass hysteria.

FYI: There are a lot of links here. I spent time curating them, and many of them are affiliate links. No one is paying me to share this information, but any purchase you make through these links could earn me a small commission at zero cost to you.

Small group, couple, and family quarantine activities

Movie and TV marathons

Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Videos are all my favorite things right now. Even when I’m mad at Netflix for phoning it in.

My dad actually broke his leg a few months ago, so he’s already stuck in the house (which, to be honest, I’m rather grateful for). And I recently got him started on the Infinity Saga, and we’re on a magical Daddy-Chrissy movie journey of joy. I’m introducing my dad to the most epic cinematic event in movie history. Obviously, we’re watching in the AMC chronological order Brian and I followed last year leading up to End Game. Of course, because we live in different households, I’m trying to convince him to watch the movies at the same time and then call to talk about them…I kinda hope he warms up to the idea sooner than later…because I really want to keep going. But not without Papa Bear.

If we’re being honest here, I’m about 3 days from adding my parents’ house to my quarantine zone. Brian and I have been really great about self-isolation, but I am going stir crazy, and I need my family. 

You can also binge watch TV shows or other movie series options, like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, James Bond…you know whatever floats your boat. Brian and I just started True Blood (again for me, and mostly a first for B), and some of our current faves include Westworld and The Magicians. It’s also a great time to start the Doctor Who journey (I recommend starting with Christopher Eccleston).

Board games

Games are our go-to for entertainment, we’ve been playing Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition and Betrayal Legacy lately. We also just bought Pandemic Legacy because it felt topically appropriate. But those big games may be out of your budget – especially if you had to buy toilet paper on the black market for eleventy billion dollars.

board game collection
Just a few games in our arsenal of boredom busters

Here are a few of my favorite games under $50 that will bring you hours and hours of entertainment.

  • Betrayal at the House on the Hill $30; 3-6 players (haunted mansion, cooperative with a traitor, super fun)
  • Mysterium $43; 2-7 players (haunted mansion, cooperative, storytelling element)
  • Sagrada $30; 1-4 players (visually beautiful, competitive puzzley game, single-player option for those of us who may have to play games by ourselves or play games with our dogs)
  • Castle Panic $26; 1-6 players (cooperative tower defense game with a single-player option)
  • Ticket to Ride $45; 2-5 players (competitive area control game, super easy to learn and play)
  • Tokaido $33; 2-5 players (competitive set collection game; gorgeous design)
  • 7 Wonders $40; 3-7 players (competitive card drafting game; I really love this one)
  • Pandemic $40; 2-4 players (Cooperative area control game; this might be too real right now…)

Want more suggestions? Check out these gaming gift guides and suggestion lists for some more of my favorites.

Hunt a Killer

Guys, we have been puzzling through our first Hunt a Killer season and LOVING it. We did receive this six-episode subscription box in order to tell you about it, and it is so awesome.

Hunt a Killer subscription box
This is the first box. Inside the envelope is a variety of letters and information to help us crack the case. The attention to detail is impressive.

Each box has a letter from the private investigator, a number of well-crafted clues and pieces of evidence (including receipts, cards, containers, letters, and even a small yearbook), investigation report details (witness statements, coroner’s report, 911 transcripts, etc), little gifts like enamel pins, and access to parts of an investigation website with more digital clues. It’s incredibly detailed and well thought out.

Hunt a Killer murder board
We built a “murder board” on an easel to collect clues and piece together evidence and it has been a riot.

For less than the cost of a few movie tickets, we get a couple of hours of enjoyment and distraction. There are six boxes to a full season. You can do a single box and still eliminate a suspect, but you won’t solve the full murder and find out whodunnit unless you go for all six. You can get the boxes monthly, you can ship the next one right after finishing the previous box, and now, to help get you through the coronapocalypse, they’re shipping full seasons to your door in one fell swoop. (We only let ourselves solve one box at a time for prolonged enjoyment, but I can also picture us spending an entire day solving all six and finishing the case!

Solo activities

Quarantined to your place by yourself or surrounded by your fur babies? Afraid you’re going to start hosting tea parties for your plushies? Or off work, while your partner/roommate/spouse/parent/etc is working their tail off so they can keep their job when this pandemic turns into a full-blown economic crash? Here are a few things you can do on your own without rage posting on Facebook.

Go for a walk

Just make sure that if you see a human, you politely wave at them before you turn in the opposite direction. It’s the polite way to socially distance yourself.

Get lost in a good book

Here are a few great books I’ve read recently that devoured me completely.

Puzzles and Lego sets

Uh yes, I have a grown-up princess castle Lego set that I’m going to put together this week. I also have some of these crystal 3-D puzzles that are super fun (and inexpensive). I’m also thinking of ordering a few 1000+ piece puzzles to keep my brain occupied when I need to mentally detox from social media, which I will.

Grown-up coloring

I love coloring — it’s terrible for my back because I hunch over a coffee table to do it, but there are some really wonderful adult coloring books out there. My favorite is You Are Here, by Jenny Lawson (AKA The Bloggess), which I’ve given as a gift to a number of people because it’s that good.

Get writing

Now is the perfect time to pen that novel, start that blog, or just write down your thoughts about this strange new world we’re living in. And if you’re writing things online, I want to know about them! So feel free to comment with links here or on social media posts or even just.email/DM them to me!

Go Live

This is part of my plan. I’ll be going live, hopefully with some frequency to keep social contact up and make sure that I keep my spirits high. My hope is that it helps others too.

And if you go live, let me know when and where and I will try to be there!

How are you maintaining your sanity while socially distancing yourself from the world?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things I did while on hold with airlines this week

Like the rest of the world, I’ve been watching in horror as the best laid plans crumble around me.

I’m not a good planner, but I enjoy the anticipation of coming events. I hate surprises because I get twice as much enjoyment planning for and just thinking about something coming up. For example, I’ve been excited about the 2020 Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop since the minute I hugged Kathy Kinney goodbye at the airport after the last conference in April 2018. That conference, originally slated for early next month, has now been postponed to Halloween.

I’m also still hopeful about a trip to Italy in July for one of Brian’s cousin’s weddings. But I’m not holding my breath.

Can you spot me?

Like the rest of my jet-setting brethren, I’ve spent a good portion of my time waiting to speak with airlines this week to find out my options.

What I did while on hold with Delta

Delta was kind. When I called, they said the wait time was approximately 239 minutes, and they offered an automatic callback when I was next in line. I managed to get a lot done while waiting 2 hours and 18 minutes for Delta to call me back mid-chiropractor appointment.

  • Got out of bed
  • Brushed my teeth
  • Went to the bathroom
  • Got dressed
  • Fed Nia
  • Took Nia outside
  • Played with Nia
  • Shared a photo on Instagram for the Disneybound Challenge
  • Went to Panera
  • Ate a Souffle from Panera
  • Drove to the chiropractor
  • Got a chiropractor massage
  • Had stim and heat treatment

What I did while I was on hold with United

United said my wait time would be more than 90 minutes, and then made me listen to their airline hold music for 71 minutes before anyone answered the phone. Then they placed me on hold for another 30 minutes while they changed my ticket. For funsies, the agent also told me that there were, at the time of my call, 4,560 other customers on hold. Here are all the things I’ve done since dialing the phone number for United (1-800-864-8331).

  • Got out of bed
  • Brushed my teeth
  • Went to the bathroom
  • Designed an outfit for the March Disneybound Challenge
  • Got dressed
  • Made French toast and sausage for Brian and myself
  • Ate said French toast
  • Did my morning stretches
  • Played with Nia
  • Fed Nia
  • Took Nia out to the backyard
  • Talked to Brian about my canceled conference
  • Fucked around on Facebook
  • Wrote this entire blog post

Airline policies in light of the Coronavirus pandemic

Just to give you a little help if you too need to change/cancel your flights, here’s what I know. I still have to call Southwest, but I can only handle so much elevator music in a single day.

United

United is waiving all change fees, including the fee to upgrade your nonrefundable basic economy fare to a standard economy open ticket that must be booked within a year from the purchase date. You will still have to pay any difference in price that comes with a standard ticket compared to your basic economy ticket. If you manage to find a flight with a standard ticket price lower than your original ticket, you’ll receive a travel voucher in the amount remaining for a future flight.

Delta

Delta is currently waiving change fees for all flights through April 30, and international flights to affected countries (Italy, China, South Korea) through May 31. Any flights booked March 1-31 will also have waived fees if you need to change your flight. When I called about my July flight to Rome (booked through Delta, but flying Air Alitalia), they informed me that I had the same waived change fees as those with flights earlier…so know that despite what is published online, your mileage may vary.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!