I stumbled into the kitchen at 6:20 a.m., bleary-eyed and hopeful that coffee would wake me up. While I waited for java to brew, I opened the dishwasher to unload it. But the dishwasher was already empty. “Thanks for unloading the dishwasher,” I told my husband.
He stood at the stove, frying eggs. “I didn’t do it.”
“You didn’t? Strange,” I mumbled, figuring I must have emptied myself and forgotten.
But the next morning, the situation repeated itself, and so did the day after that. Cabin fever was getting to me, I decided. I couldn’t remember what I did the night before.
Thankfully, my teenager solved the mystery. “Did you see I unloaded the dishwasher last night after you went to bed?”
“That was you?” I asked.
He nodded. “I emptied the dishwasher the other nights, too. It’s kind of fun. Better than loading the dishwasher, at least.”
Fun is an adjective that’s difficult to come by this fall, as we hunker down in gloomy weather and continue to survive the pandemic. Fun makes teenagers turn into magical helpers in the middle of the night. It also transforms sixth-grade girls into tweens who spend their days memorizing how to say the 50 states in alphabetical order.
“Mom, listen to this,” said my daughter. “Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas…” She continued, rattling off states one by one.
“Wow.” I raised my eyebrows, unsure of what to say. “Just, wow.”
“She learned that from Taylor Swift,” said my son.
“Taylor Swift?” I asked. I knew that the singer had encouraged her fans to vote, but I didn’t know she was giving geography lessons.
“It’s on YouTube,” my son explained.
“Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin,” my daughter said, as she kept going. She ended with a big finish. “Wy-o-ming!”
I clapped, proud of both of them for finding productive things to do. But I was also a bit sad. Sometimes it feels like we are orcas trapped in an aquarium tank, swimming around in circles with nothing but school and work to occupy us. The most interesting thing to do is watch the neighbors build not one, but two sheds.
I’ve picked up weird entertainment habits, too. I’ve gone back to an old hobby, “bookstagramming.” That means taking pictures of books I’ve read and posting them on Instagram. Usually, I stage them with props like greenery from my yard and hot cocoa in one of my great-grandmother’s teacups.
I tell myself that this is smart marketing, building up my social media accounts in preparation for my new book, “Sweet Bliss,” launching next summer from Montlake Romance. But really I’m just bored and looking for something to do.
It’s either that, or unload the dishwasher, and that job’s taken.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at email@example.com.