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I woke up on the morning of the fourteenth to a handful of missed calls and a five-alarm fire on Twitter. The stock market had crashed. Not that it mattered to me, I have never had enough money to bother investing some. Just made for an interesting news day. The kind of news day that puts your shoulders up by your ears for hours, until midnight when the final headlines are out. Anxious from my brief glance at the TL, I begin to go through my messages. I work freelance, and my clients based in New York had already been up for hours. Each one had left an emergency message. After the first two, I understood what was happening. Everybody had been told their budgets were frozen, and non-essential employees had to go. Now, if you asked me, I would not put “copy writer” in the “non-essential” category, but everybody’s priorities are different. Truthfully it’s a job that, at the end of the day, can be done internally. And anyway, it seemed like for the time being, nobody would be buying much. The need for tampon/dog toy/etc commercials had ground to a halt.
By noon, LA had mandated a shut-down of restaurants, bars, gyms, and entertainment venues. I stood in my kitchen, looking out the window and listening to Governor Gavin Newsom talk gravely about public safety. As if out of a B-list summer action movie, it was raining an apocalyptic amount. Overwhelming the drain system on my street so that the water gathered in a scary, flood-adjacent way. The city river, typically mocking its own classification by being completely dried out, was full and moving fast. It seemed like even the fish were fleeing.
I thought all day long about Italy and China, and what a six-week lock down would mean. My therapist used the scenario to suggest that my boyfriend and I move in together for the quarantine, which made me question her professional qualifications. It is my experience that no couple is better for having spent 20 days in a row together.
The next four days, despite all predictions, speed by. Turns out time flies when you’re not doing a damn thing. It strikes me as strange how quickly we were able to adjust to a “new normal”. Mine, for instance, is staying home all day long, waging a silent war against my cat. While he is typically extremely tightly wound and poorly behaved, it’s easier to ignore when I’m out of the house. Now I sit at my desk for hours at a time while he yells at strangers from our window and breaks things I own. All day long I check my phone out of habit, forgetting that I am unemployed. It is flooded with emails from every restaurant, clothing store, and nail salon I’ve ever even looked at. Why Hollister felt the need to update me on their COVID-19 plan, I simply couldn’t tell you. I get outside about an hour a day. I take a lot of baths. I watch apocalypse movies, as though I am doing research.
Weirdly, I still can’t seem to find the time to read a single book.
– Ellory Smith
Ellory Smith is a writer and stand-up comedian in Los Angeles. She calls herself “a witch from hell with references, writer at Robot Chicken, product/host @funnilingusLA.” Follow her @ellorysmith.
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