Life + Health

I ordered a bidet, and other thoughts from quarantine.

Rio Chama, New Mexico -

Yesterday, after wandering into the kitchen for the twelfth time in three hours, I found myself in what I call a “refrigerator trance.” Maybe you’ve experienced it, too—suddenly your mind snaps out of a hazy fog and into reality, and there you are. Staring into your open refrigerator. Not looking for anything in particular, really, just…staring. So you shake your head a little, close the fridge door, and wander into a another room.

It’s similar to when your brain comes into focus and you realize you’ve been sitting on your bed for 45 minutes, wrapped in a towel post-shower, thinking about nothing. Or maybe thinking about everything? Who’s to say.

I tried really hard not to get caught up in the Great Toilet Paper Hoard of 2020, but when it became apparent that there was not, in fact, going to be any toilet paper available at all in the near future (the shelves at my Target have been completely empty for weeks), I bought a couple of large packs. Nothing crazy, just enough to realistically get me and my boyfriend through a few months.

I don’t know what the hell is going on. Every day is a new kind of nightmare, and I the fact that this is all happening three years into an ever-evolving nightmare of a presidency has made me disturbingly capable of putting myself into refrigerator trances and post-shower towel trances when my brain needs a break.

I’m worried about my family. I’m worried about money.

A couple of days ago, I started to get worried that maybe there still won’t be any readily available toilet paper in three months. So I decided to hop on the bidet bandwagon. Yes, I know that bidets and lotas are super common all over the world in many different cultures, but I’m apparently much too American to have gotten on board with what seems like a really practical, common sense thing? So I pre-ordered a Tushy, because of course all reasonably-priced bidet attachments for toilets are on back order. It’ll be here in about a month, and in case you’re wondering, I went for the Tushy Classic in white with a bamboo knob, because my boyfriend says that’s the one that’s “most in keeping with our house.” Okay.

Plaza Blanca, New Mexico -

I’m really out of shape. This is not a new thing. I was pretty physically fit until I stopped living and working in New York City, because life there often demands that you walk for miles a day and climb lots of stairs and generally have a lot of hustle on a regular basis. Life as a freelancer in New Mexico demands that you sit at a computer all day and occasionally walk to your car. This is a lie, of course, because that’s a choice. There are lots of places to go for hikes here, and nothing’s stopping me from walking the mile from my house to the middle of the city of Santa Fe (well, other than a plague-driven quarantine), but it’s easy to get away with being sedentary here. It’s not easy in NYC.

The last time I went for a good hike was in Abiquiú with Geninne in October. That’s when I took the photos in this post. New Mexico is beautiful and large. I miss being able to spend time with Geninne.

I bought 24 pounds of dried lentils and beans from an out-of-state Indian grocery because I haven’t been able to find any dried lentils or beans in stores locally, and I eat a lot of lentils and beans. I think we’re all in a tough position right now of trying to decide whether it’s better to stay home and order necessities online or go out and support local businesses.

There’s no right answer. I find myself thinking that a lot these days.

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  • Reply Jen March 25, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    This is probably my favorite quarantine post so far. Since we’ve never had one of these in our lifetime, I don’t think anyone knows how to feel. I’m not sure that telling people not to panic is making people NOT panic. And posts that are overly sweet/positive/optimistic don’t feel right to me either. That group of celebrities to serenading me on Instagram actually increased my anxiety level. Anyway, I love reading your stream-of-consciousness and I also ordered a bidet attachment that’s on the way!

    • Anna Dorfman March 25, 2020 at 3:10 pm

      Thanks, Jen. It’s funny—nothing makes me feel more anxious and desperate than people who are (or who I perceive to be) overly-optimistic. I’m really trying to be less cynical right now, though, because I know that kind of stuff is helpful for some folks. I get it. (Enjoy the bidet!!)

    • Lara March 29, 2020 at 4:16 am

      Yes Anna. This. Thank you.

  • Reply Ana March 25, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    It’s crazy how things are different from place to place. Shelves have definitely been empty in stores in Brooklyn, where I live, but I can find all the things you mention – tp, tissues, Clorox wipes, beans, rice etc at my corner store which is literally attached to my building! And the prices have remained the same. God bless NYC bodega owners. I think if I had to get in my car and drive to store after store and not find what I needed my anxiety would be through the roof too. Hang in there, we’ll all get through this together.

    • Anna Dorfman March 25, 2020 at 3:12 pm

      What I wouldn’t give for a bodega right now!! I think NYC might actually have a little advantage when it comes to supplies, simply because most people don’t have the space to store a huge hoard of toilet paper in their apartments. I think people here are buying up massive amounts of everything and keeping it…I don’t even know. In sheds?? In their garages?? I saw someone buying (at least) 20 bags of dried tortellini at once at the grocery store the other day.

    • Jon Lagerberg March 26, 2020 at 10:44 am

      Had to take a cheap shot at the President, not necessary to the story and frankly made me disinterested in all youhad to say.

    • Anna Dorfman March 26, 2020 at 11:23 am

      I’m glad to hear that, Jon. Bye!

    • Allison March 29, 2020 at 6:09 pm

      Thank you for holding the president accountable for his criminal negligence that is putting so many Americans at risk. And thank you for writing my favorite blog–can’t wait to see the interior house design posts <3

  • Reply Jules March 25, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    I ordered a bidet weeks before the pandemic because I was feeling guilty about all the flushable wipes we use. My bidet was less expensive, but it’s not nearly as cute. I would be jealous about this but currently lack the energy for emotions.

    • Anna Dorfman March 25, 2020 at 3:13 pm

      Maybe set a reminder on your phone to remember to feel jealous sometime next year?? (laughing, crying)

  • Reply KC March 25, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Oooh the tushy looks good! I got a bidet attachment about 6 months ago, but i wish i had seen the tushy spa! The warm water sounds..worth it.

    • Brenda March 25, 2020 at 2:47 pm

      warm water? I need to look into this again. So funny how many of us were commenting at the same time – there was just one comment when I started writing mine.

    • Anna Dorfman March 25, 2020 at 3:14 pm

      I didn’t get the one with warm water! I figured the cold blast would help toughen me up.

    • Geninne D Zlatkis March 25, 2020 at 8:38 pm
    • Anissa March 26, 2020 at 4:02 am

      We ordered the basic model which resulted in me being terrified to try it. The water coming out of our upstairs sink in the bathroom is ice cold. My husband tried it first reported that it wasn’t bad at all. I was not inclined to believe him, but when I did finally try it, it was not bad at all. There was no shock to my system. It was completely comfortable.

    • Anna Dorfman March 27, 2020 at 11:54 am

      That’s good to hear, Anissa!!

  • Reply Arin March 25, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    I’ve been thinking about many these things/exhibiting these behaviors too, including ordering the Tushy. I find myself drifting off, being angry at the administration, sad and frightened for the people who are losing jobs, those who are sick and dying, and those working on the frontlines. Also wondering WTF?! It’s a lot like grief, I guess. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anna Dorfman March 25, 2020 at 3:15 pm

      I saw a psychologist on CNN (?) a few days ago talking about how this really is like going through the stages of grief. Except we’re all doing it together, at the same time. Physical health aside, the world is an emotional mess right now.

    • Mimi March 26, 2020 at 1:15 am

      My mentor and I talked about this… well, not so much about the stages of grief but that we are all facing our mortality in a new way. He likened it to surviving cancer in the sense that most people who live through cancer have a shift in their perspective and come out the other side changed. Now, experiencing this pandemic we can change as individuals and as a collective but we have to go through the test before us first.

    • Tracey March 26, 2020 at 7:32 am

      I read this article about the stages of grief we’re experiencing right now and I found it very comforting and so relatable. Thanks for the post, Anna!

    • Anna Dorfman March 27, 2020 at 11:55 am

      Thanks for this, Tracey.

  • Reply dkzody March 25, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    You are right–no right answers. Each of us will find our way through this just as we have done with previous life situations. Some will succeed and some will fail. Don’t beat yourself up or blow up your ego on whatever the outcome.

  • Reply Brenda March 25, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    I feel so lucky to be able to have groceries delivered to my front door while still supporting local businesses at the same time. has been supporting local growers all along along with a good number of our local small healthy food stores. There’s a waitlist though. I hope they’ll be able to grow their list and hire people who need work to help. They’ve been taking more new locals on during March to help support neighbourhood food suppliers so it seems this is the direction they are headed.

    OK – so to the bidet. Is the water cold? The last time I (well really my friend, Helen) did anything to my toilet that involved shutting the water off and back on again was that time I leaned down to flush and my new glasses fell off my head and went down the hatch and got stuck in the bendy trap. I digress though, the point I’m trying to make; about 6 months later as I was getting out of the shower I stepped out of the tub and into a puddle of cold water spraying out that little lever beside the toilet that looks like where I’d be screwing the bidet hose into – the one we’d turned on and off to lift the toilet off so we could get at the trap (or whatever it’s really called) to get my mangled glasses. I was so lucky I was home when it happened because I have two downstair neighbours. I live in a stacked condo. The water had gone down through a series of overhead ducts and started dripping in my living room. Çlean water but nonetheless.

    I suppose though, thinking this through now – I will more than likely still be home, six months from now, if things go they way they appear to be going. Hmmmm. Is the water that cold?

    • Anna Dorfman March 25, 2020 at 3:20 pm

      Brenda, that is QUITE a tale!! My goodness. It’s like a scene from Faulty Towers.

      Tushy does make a version with warm water! If your sink is within 9 feet of your toilet, you can connect it to the sink’s hot water line. I got the (cheaper) original version with just cold water, though, so…well, we’ll see how that goes.

  • Reply Geninne March 25, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    I miss you like crazy! Thank you for the link to the Indian grocery store I also stocked up on lentils and basmati rice. Manolo made me buy a 25lb of anazasi beans on amazon
    It’s so shocking to believe this is our life know when we we’re just slurping on a big bowl of ramen at Mampuku not very long ago. Can’t wait to go there with you again ♥️ The word ‘tushy’ reminds so much of my daddy and it made me smile 🙂

    • Anna Dorfman March 27, 2020 at 11:59 am

      I miss you too!!! I think about going to get ramen again on a daily basis. ❤️

  • Reply amy March 25, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    So real…it’s all so real! Lots of refrigerator trances here in Detroit, too. And sitting indoors, walking only to/from my car, and cooking beans, and trying to balance online ordering (safe) vs. local shopping (important).

    We were reflecting last night that our 1912 duplex is basically the only one with any memory of something like this, and somehow that’s a small comfort, that at least our (somewhat sentient) house knows what to do.

    Wishing you comfort in little things like aesthetically pleasing bidets and still getting to create, amidst the grief. Be well!

    • Anissa March 26, 2020 at 4:05 am

      Amy, I just wanted to let you know that it’s not safe to consider all of your online packages of us free from the virus. I was a bit paranoid for the last couple of weeks spraying down all of my interior packaging with alcohol and yesterday I was listening to a radio show on NPR where they described that the virus can live on cardboard for 24 hours and quite a bit longer, maybe three days, on plastic or metal. So, it is wise to get rid of your cardboard outside and sanitize whatever packaging is on the inside that will go on your shelves or on your table or in your kitchen.

    • Anna Dorfman March 26, 2020 at 6:31 am

      Thanks, Amy! I’ve been taking precautions for this reason.

  • Reply Karen (@inateapot) March 25, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    Maybe consider Bandelier National Monument for a hike sometime! (Once this is all over…) a little over an hour from Santa Fe, I think.

  • Reply Karin March 25, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    Writing from a whole other part of the world – a small country called Estonia in Europe. The feeling of grief or kind of being lost is very universal right now…Found myself doing the refrigerator look-see too today, went outside after that to sit in the garden and try to articulate what was going on. There are luckily no more shortages in stores after the previous weeks crazy hoarding/shopping – tried not to get on that bandwagon.
    I already work from home too as a freelancer these past 1,5 years…crazy, no more projects for a few months. I am lucky to live in my own small home, but still the uncertainty of what might happen – scary.
    The false positivity or even worse – the apocalyptic proclamations going around are just anxiety inducing, gaaahhh
    Luckily, You’ve started writing again and Daniel@manhattannest is painting , so there’s some hope yet 🙂

  • Reply Lesley March 25, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    I’m in the same situation, in NYC I walked miles a day, climbed a million stairs, took the stairs vs the elevator some days (like to the 12th floor to get extra exercise!) Then sometimes after work still went to the gym! Then I moved to NM (I’m also a freelancer) and gained a ton of weight! Depending on where you live, walking is not easy here even if there’s no destination- just literally going for a walk. I have to get in my car and drive someplace to be able to do it so right now I feel pretty trapped! Even driving to the gym feels like a waste because you have to drive home vs just walking and stopping in on your way to the train. I can’t get myself out of this mindset even after 9 years here. Bidets are great- I feel spoiled, ours has warm water! I also hate these super optimistic posts about our current situation. I feel they are dangerous actually. If I see one more “Don’t feed into the fear! The universe has your back!” Type posts I’m going to scream.

  • Reply Kami Gupta March 25, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    Anna, I live in Santa Fe too and have been desperately looking for red lentils to make tomato dal. Could you post a link to the online Indian grocery? I love your blog, btw and have been reading it for years!

    • Anna Dorfman March 25, 2020 at 8:47 pm

      Kami, I will email you privately! I don’t want to overwhelm the seller.

    • Kami March 27, 2020 at 7:54 am

      Thanks, Anna!

  • Reply Laura March 26, 2020 at 12:03 am

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been using a cold water bidet for about a year and survived. It’s cold but then Goop wants us all jumping in ice cold lakes and stuff so there’s that. I feel as though this is the first time I’ve ever felt so connected with the entire planet. I also feel very aware of my privilege to be able to ride this out so consequence free. It still doesn’t feel easy, though. It is amazing how we can ask stay so connected via the internet in spite of keeping our distance.

  • Reply Cait March 26, 2020 at 4:54 am

    I’m an American living in Asia and my neighbors just decided to evacuate back to Virginia to wait out COVID-19, and they packed 60 rolls of toilet paper to take with them! I have been watching the stories about TP shortages and feeling bad for Americans who have not discovered the joy of the bidet. Where I live, handheld sprayers are the norm and I like that you have control over the direction of the spray.
    The best toilet I have ever encountered was in an airport bathroom in Japan. The stall was spacious, the walls went floor to ceiling and there was a motion activated white noise maker. The toilet seat was heated and you could choose the temperature, intensity and direction of the bidet and then there was a lovely blow dry. Pure bliss after a 15 hour flight.

    • Anna Dorfman March 27, 2020 at 12:12 pm

      Cait, you sold me. I am ready to move into that toilet.

  • Reply Susanna B. March 26, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Here in Chico, CA we have all kinds of lentils: red, green, french – you name it. But garbanzos? Oh boy! I had to settled for **canned** for a while, until I found some dry ones in a pricier natural food store. Also, I have been eating a bowl of old fashioned oats for 20 years, and oats are MIA – quick, rolled, all kinds – GONE.
    Your post about working from home pushed me to finally upgrade my office chair. I am teaching five college classes online now, so all the hours I used to be on my feet are now spent on my bum. Talking about shortages, the chair I ordered is shipping on April 10 because EVERYONE is buying office chairs. Only the ugly kermit-green model was available immediately. BTW, I love that you’re writing again. I mentioned this years ago in a comment, but you were my tiling guru. Thanks to you I have tiled two bathrooms, a laundry room, and a kitchen.

    • Anna Dorfman March 27, 2020 at 12:14 pm

      I went grocery shopping yesterday for the first time in over two weeks, and I FOUND OATS. AND A BAG OF DRIED GARBANZOS. AND A BOTTLE OF BLEACH. It was very exciting.

      I hadn’t thought about a shortage of office chairs!!! That’s wild. Wow.

  • Reply Judi March 26, 2020 at 9:06 am

    Thank you so much for this. And thanks to everyone for the thoughtful responses. I have also been having weird random thoughts lately…mostly at 3:00AM. And I’ve been considering buying a larger TV. Here’s a weird question: Does working from home feel more isolating/lonely/disconnected to you than usual? I’m an introvert anyway, and used to love being part of the gig economy from my home office, but now, somehow, even though I’m not going out *that* much less than I used to, it feels…different.

    • Anna Dorfman March 27, 2020 at 12:15 pm

      Even though I’ve been working from home for almost five years now, I still really miss going to an office every day. I’m definitely an introvert, but I love my old coworkers. Seeing them daily was invigorating—maybe because they’re a bunch of introverts, too.

  • Reply Stella Ramirez March 26, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    What a strange, demented time we’re living through. I completely relate to how you’re feeling; I admit that I’ve thrown myself into work (and I’m half-assedly getting myself to slowly get the apartment back in shape). I’m incredibly lucky to have a job for the foreseeable future, and that I get to spend social distancing with my husband, but I worry about our loved ones. Most of them are 3 hours away and we cannot drive over to see them because of the lockdown. I wash my hands to the point that they’re cracked, and I worry that it’s not enough. I worry about what will happen next semester. I’m anxious because I finally took the plunge and started applying to grad school, and now it seems like that will never materialize. I manage to work through those anxieties during the day, but at night, they always come back and claw at me, specially when I’m trying to fall asleep.

    Thank you for sharing how you’re feeling. Hugs all the way from Puerto Rico. Also, welcome to the Bidet Bandwagon!

    • Anna Dorfman March 27, 2020 at 12:16 pm

      Yes. All of this. My family is all on the other side of the country, and I really, really, REALLY wish I could be with them right now. It’s so hard to fight against the feeling of wanting to be close to your loved ones.

  • Reply Jen March 26, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    I dreamt about Purell last night 🙁

    • Anna Dorfman March 27, 2020 at 12:17 pm

      I immediately thought of the episode of Ren & Stimpy where Ren thinks the bar of soap is an ice cream sandwich because he’s so sleep deprived. Were you drinking the Purell, by any chance?

  • Reply Katie March 27, 2020 at 10:25 am

    I was lucky that my roommates and I normally get a big thing of toilet paper delivered every other month or so (we also live in NYC, and we just settled on ordering a bunch every couple of months instead of running out and taking turns splitting 4-packs from Duane Reade), and we had one delivered right before everything got truly crazy. Now I find myself doing the weird thing of calculating how long the TP is lasting…I’m predicting we can go about a month on our current stock, so in two weeks I figure I’ll get serious about finding more. The fact that this is taking more than .001% of my brain space is absolutely absurd to me though.

    • Anna Dorfman March 27, 2020 at 12:19 pm

      Part of me feels like it’s my right as an American born in the ’70s to not have to ration toilet paper, but here we are!

    • Judi March 27, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      The internet has your back! Believe it or not:

  • Reply Adriana Schwartz Gores March 27, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    this sounds really strange but i thought i should share. you may or may not know that the sound of a beeping smoke alarm (when the battery is low) can make dogs crazy/ill. Hiding, agitation, panting, etc. Well, my husband got all exciting about the electric Toto washlet and it literally made our dog sick. She became so lethargic that i thought i was going to have to take her to the ER until it occurred to me that it might be something to do with the toilet. (based on our experience with the smoke alarm) It wasn’t enough to turn it off, i ended up having to unplug the whole thing. Evidently it makes some kind of high pitched sound humans can’t hear (think sonar and dolphin’s bleeding ears). Anyway i thought you should know in case i can save someone from the ER.

  • Reply LaDonna March 28, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    My bidet from Tushy came in the mail a week ago. It was easy to install. I finally found some toilet paper in stock on Amazon pantry. I immediately checked out without having enough in my cart to get free shipping because I was worried it would go out of stock again. I’m fortunate to be able to work from home.

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