A day of lasts: At the beginning of the pandemic

Forgive me, as today begins the long list of memories that are about to flood my social media accounts.

One year ago today, I took my last in-person improv class. I stayed until midnight for the optional student jam to get one last class in. We played a game called elbows and wrists, in which we could only touch our peers using elbows and wrists, a way to “acclimate” to new touching procedures that may be implemented.

One year ago today, I hugged the last stranger I’d ever hug. She was a friend of my nephew, and I’m a hugger. We were at my aunt’s new house, celebrating her move home.

One year ago today, I ate inside a restaurant for the last time. I met my friend, Kristen for dinner before my class. We only talked briefly about the pandemic in hypothetical terms and not in a we’re living in the end times way. We both knew something was coming and a lockdown was inevitable, but we weren’t sure what, when, or how.

One year ago today, I got dressed in one of my favorite Disneybounds to date, a gorgeous belted dress/top ensemble with a baller accessory game.

Chrissy Disneybounding as EVie from The Descendents wearing a blue dress and belt with black leggings and an evil queen purse.

I didn’t wear a mask. I didn’t carry hand sanitizer or Clorox wipes in my purse. The phrase, “social distancing” was only just starting to rear its ugly head. Hand sanitizer was made available, and I knew that even if we had an in-person class the following week, I wouldn’t be there.

I was already nervous, worried more about my family than myself, and preparing for my own personal lockdown. Much of the last year has been an introspective journey for me, and I know that I’ve learned a lot about who I am, and who I want to be.

But I wish I could bottle that last night in a jar, take it out and consume its essence. It was representative of everything my life was in the Before Times. Performance and play, dress-up, friendships, restaurant meet-ups, and family. Sure, all of those are still a part of my life, though some in a vastly different capacity. I knew it was going to be a long time before the world resumed as it had been, but I never realized the little things I would miss, or the memories, tiny bright sides, and glimmers of hope I would cling to in the darkest moments of the year.

The day I got in my car, drove to a parking lot nearby and sobbed for an hour. I finally called my mom, and she told me to come over. I played with my toddler niece and felt that rush of joy I had been missing.

Toddler niece surrounded by toys in a backyard patio

The Easter Brian and I spent alone, the first and hopefully only holiday we ever spend without family, brightened by the nicest bottle of bubbles we had in our wine rack and a feast for 10, for 2.

Easter dinner with lamb roast, vegetables, rolls, salad, sweet potato casserole, and champagne.

The two weeks we should have spent in Italy, spent instead trying out local Italian patios and take out orders and relaxing waterside in my blow-up kiddie pool.

Chrissy twirling in front of a mural in downtown Naperville with the caption "twirls in 'Italy' (Naperville)"

The Halloween without our annual party, made just a little more festive by the small single household of friends who came for an outdoor fire.

The Christmas not spent surrounded our extended and immediate families, made a bit lighter by getting drunk with my parents while watching White Christmas and eating mostly carbs.

Brian and Chrissy masked and drunk on Christmas

All the while planning, dreaming, and hoping. Learning what I’m not willing to give up and what it’s time I say goodbye to. It’s been the longest year, and it’s been shitty at the best times.

2.63 million people have died. We can’t change that. There’s no positives to that. Millions of families have lost loved ones to the virus. That doesn’t have a bright side.

But we have a vaccine. We have hope. And we have a future.

It’s okay to find a bright side, as long as you remember that your bright side might not be the same as someone else’s. And it’s okay to be depressed and negative. And it’s okay to mourn your past life. It’s okay to feel all the feels. But it’s not okay to negate the feelings of others.

So feel how you feel, and try to remember to have some compassion for people whose experiences are different than yours. Your empathy might save someone’s life.

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!

I hate it when nightmares become reality

Listen, I can’t help that I’m a bit of a psychic, I was just born that way. As a kid and well into college, I honed my skills for good. I lost a necklace or a bracelet once. It wasn’t terribly expensive, but it was a gift from my grandfather. I searched everywhere for it. Under my bed, in my closet, in all the piles of stuff laying around my bedroom…to no avail.

One night I dreamed about said jewelry, and I dreamed it was under my bed. I woke up, reached under my bed, and BOOM. That motherfucker was in my hands so fast. I was baffled.

In college, my boyfriend lost his fancy money clip. It was like gold and a family heirloom or something. Why he was carrying it around a college town, while he was likely quite in toxicated was beyond me, but it was a big deal that he had lost it. It was the onset of winter and a proper midwest snowstorm was in progress. He was never going to find that money clip. We searched the parking lots, our apartments, and the cars we had ridden in that night. Nothing.

That night I had a dream that it was on the sidewalk outside our apartment. Woke up, went down and out, and BOOM. There was a shiny piece of gold twinkling in the snow 30 feet from our door.

I’ve dreamed of break-ups and reunions. Finding lost items and other silly little things.

And at the start of this month, I had my typical anxiety nightmares about my upcoming lumbar surgery (I’m having a microdiscectomy — in which they remove the herniated part of my disc in an effort to relive some if not all of my chronic pain). In my dream, I was at the hospital for the surgery, and I realized that I hadn’t stopped taking medications I was supposed to stop taking. I hadn’t washedthe surgical site with the antiseptic soap for five days prior to the surgery. I hadn’t taken the acetaminophen I was supposed to take 4 hours prior to the surgery, and I hadn’t drunk the Gatorade I was supposed to drink. I was fucked in all senses.

The dream continued with a lot of other weirdness (waiting in the parking lot in a hospital gown with my brother, eating cheeseburgers and salads, a weird science art wing of the hospital devoted to science art research, and some other odd tidbits that made perfect sense in the dream, but none in real life).

So I thought I was just having anxiety dreams, because I was 2 weeks out from my surgery when I dreamed the dream. And we all know how well I heed warnings…I didn’t realize that my dream was saying, hey dummy, quit taking turmeric today. I didn’t realize that my dream was saying, hey dummy maybe you should check the email with all the details of your varying prescriptions to ensure you do the things right.

And then it was Monday. Almost a week before my procedure. When I got a migraine and thought to check whether I was allowed to take an anti-inflamatory. And realized that I had taken not one, but two of the prescriptions/herbal supplements that I was supposed to have quit days prior.

Obviously, I called the nurse in a panic.

“Hi um, I’m sure that I’m probably just a hypochondriac, and this is all fine, but I took these medications and my surgery is next week. Did I fuck everything up?”

Yes, I said fuck to the nurse. We’re both grown-ups. It’s fine. Nurses love me. I make them laugh.

Anyways, she was all, yeah, you’re fine. We’re not idiots. We plan for fools like you. Thanks for at least paying attention a week early. Just you know. Stop taking them now.

So I stopped. And then yesterday, I managed to score an appointment for a Covid vaccine (insert cheers and confetti here) for tomorrow. So I had to call them again.

“Hey so like I know I’m not supposed to take a whole bunch of stuff, but am I allowed to get the vaccine on Thursday?”

And she was all, “Look dude, we WANT you to be vaccinated, so if you got yourself an appointment, go forth and fight the spread of Covid-19. Kthxbye.”

And then I was like “Waaaait! Can I also take a gummy if I’m not allowed to have pain medicine? Because my back hurts like a mofo…”

“Yeah, sure. Just like. Don’t take it the day of your surgery, dummy.”

And I was like *phew*. (I’m probably still not going to take one, but I wanted to know whether the option was available to me.

Anyways, so to recap: Surgery is next week. I’m a hypochondriac. And also a bit of an idiot. And hopefully, 6 years of back pain is ending soonish. And also, I get a vaccine tomorrow. OH! And please go watch/like/comment/share my vaccine video in all the places you social media (YouTube is here, IGTV is here and Tiktok is here). Because I’m really proud of it.

Thanks for being the best people ever. Love you, friends!

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 CARAMEL 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!

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!