Half Empty - Jul 18, 2005

By Ariel Leve.

The other day I was reading about Martha Stewart. She has done more in her four months under house arrest than I've done in the past decade. She's got a talk show, a magazine and a reality show, is redoing her stables and baking coconut cakes; without leaving the confines of her house, she's running an empire.

I never leave my house either but what am I running? The bath.

Martha is allowed out for 48 hours a week and only if it's for work-related activities, grocery shopping or religious services. That sounds like a joy. I can't imagine a better excuse to not go somewhere than to tell someone: "Sorry I can't come to your party on Friday night but if I go out, I'll be arrested." Who's going to argue with that?

If I was under a government-imposed house arrest I'd be thrilled. It would be no different to how I live now, only so much better because I'd have the ankle bracelet. When Martha goes out, everyone knows about it. When I go out, no one cares.

I leave my house for 48 hours a week for work-related issues (getting coffee), groceries (coffee), and religious services (my devotion to caffeine) but I never look forward to it the way I bet Martha does. Chances are, when she's out, she wishes she had more time. But for me, when it's time to come home, I'm relieved. I would love to have a set time that I had to be back or else. I would make that deadline every time. As it is now, there's very little reward for returning home.

Also, when I go out, the only people who consider it an event are me and my doorman. Sometimes, if I happen to run into my neighbour while re-entering the building, he'll comment on how healthy I look. I think it's his way of encouraging me to be outdoors. But invariably, I panic. "Healthy? As in sun on my face? As in probable skin cancer?" What was he thinking, telling me that?

From now on I should start telling people that I'm in lockdown. The only problem is, everyone will think I'm getting things done. Then I'd really be stuck because what would my excuse be?