Monday, May 18, 2020

Short Imagined Monologue: Coronavirus edition

Listen, man. I get it. I suck or whatever. But at the same time, you gotta admire how f***ing powerful I am. Right? Like, I’m basically invisible to the naked eye and I am still pwning you all so hard right now.

Sure, you’ve got your “strong economy” and your “healthcare systems” and your “toilet paper.” But one particle of me, between 0.06 and 1.4 microns big, and BOOM. Unemployment up to 14%! Refrigerated trucks being used as temporary morgues! You’re wiping your butts with rags made from old t-shirts!

I did that. Me. All on my own.

Okay, well, I guess TECHNICALLY y’all helped. All that coughing and sneezing and breathing on each other. Skipping the handwashing. You’re disgusting animals, all of you. And I love it.

I especially love when y’all disregard all the recommendations that are supposed to protect you and your loved ones. Please, keep gathering in large crowds to protest the government “taking away your freedoms.” Please don’t wear a mask in public. Please stand way too close to each other in line. You are the true MVPs of my campaign to f*** up humanity.

But I simply can’t go any further without acknowledging the folks in power who made me so powerful. I’d like to thank my boy, P Trump, and his gang for basically disbanding Global Health Security two years ago. Y’all really opened the door for me. Hell, you f***ing rolled out a red carpet. (I don’t really get how that Cheeto-d*ck perv is your PRESIDENT, but whatever.) Make America sick again, libtards!

Hm? What’s that? You miss sitting in restaurants? You want to get a haircut? You still want your “really good friend” to come over because you can’t survive two weeks without getting laid, even though y’all are “just casual”? Tough titties, all you cool cats and kittens. You can’t have any of that. Because of me.

Because of me, the line to get into Home Depot winds around a city block. Because of me, aisles in grocery stores have “one way” signs. (Shout out to all my peeps who blatantly ignore those signs, btw.) Because of me, there’s caution tape fluttering in the breeze around every public play structure. Because of me, everyone who works in live entertainment is f***ing out of a job for the foreseeable future.

Ha. The future. As if you could make any plans beyond tomorrow’s to-do list. I know some of y’all are counting down the days to when things are “back to normal,” but f**k you. This is your new normal, b*tch.

See, I’m forcing you to face the delusion you’ve been carrying all this time—that you ever had control over your life in the first place. Your bank account, your career, your shopping trips, your travel plans, your daily routine are all subject to the whims of fate. Or in this case, the whims of a badass coronavirus like yours truly.

It’s like in Jurassic Park. So many of you are John Hammond, sitting in a room and eating melting ice cream and saying things like “When we have control again.” But you should be Ellie Sattler, yelling across the table “You never had control! That’s the illusion! I was overwhelmed by the power of this place. But I made a mistake, too. I didn’t have enough respect for that power and it’s out now. The only thing that matters now are the people we love.”

I’m the power she’s talking about. And I’m out now.

Granted, you guys have tests. Although it kinda makes me happy that it’s soooooo uncomfortable for your fragile little bodies. Raise your hand if you want to have your brains scraped out of your head through your nose to check to see if I’m hanging out in your cavities! That’s what you gotta do to get to me, dude. You’ve got to go somewhere and have your brain scraped out of your head through your nose, and then wait 2-10 days for someone to call you to tell you whether or not you have to stay alone in your room for two full weeks.

And also, granted, you do have masks and social distancing practices and medical teams working around the clock and coordinated efforts to control me in these “unprecedented times.” And okay, FINE, so you’ve made strides in recovery and treatment and containment or whatever.

But I’m just trying to survive, you know? And if I have to kill a few healthy cells in your fragile special little snowflake respiratory systems to stay alive, then so be it. I’m not so different from you, you motherf***er who refuses to wear a mask. We’re both just trying to live our damn lives. Who gives a damn about anyone else.

Monday, May 4, 2020

COVID-19 blah blah blah, for posterity

Here’s what it was like. Here’s what I will remember.

I spend early January to mid-March dismissing everyone’s fears, before actually doing the research and realizing that this is serious. Not necessarily because of the mortality rate, but because our healthcare systems will not able to handle the load, and that will lead to a loss of life on a terrifying scale.

Early on, grocery stores are chaos. They’re quickly cleaned out of hand sanitizer, bottled water, and toilet paper. When I go grocery shopping, I can’t find eggs, flour, baking powder, vegetable oil, or frozen lasagna. A lot of other things are almost gone—butter, cereal, sour cream (for some reason?), canned veggies, fruit, beans, meat. With toilet paper being so hard to come by, I decide to take a “greener” route and learn how to use and launder “the family cloth.” I get into the habit of ordering my groceries online for curbside pickup. We all wear masks when we're out in public. (AT LEAST WE'RE SUPPOSED TO.) When we do go into grocery stores, the lines all have markers six feet apart, and the aisles are all one-way only.

Schools close for “two weeks,” which quickly becomes “until the end of the school year” as the governor publishes a “shelter in place” directive until the end of April.

Early on a Wednesday morning in mid-March, we’re awoken by a 5.7 earthquake in Utah. My roommates and I feel dozens of aftershocks, and spend the whole day sitting in the living room together, for comfort.

America collectively loses its mind over a Netflix documentary series called "Tiger King," which has everything from polygamy to arson to murder-for-hire, because in the hours we're watching that, we're not thinking about the pandemic.

K goes to Boise to be with her parents for a few days, although things are so uncertain when she leaves town that we say goodbye accompanied by “See you in a few days! Or a few months…?” She stays there for four weeks.

A and I have “reading parties” in the living room most nights. We trade book recommendations back and forth and read the same things at different times. There’s one memorable night when we get high and watch “A Goofy Movie.” At one point, early in the movie, A struggles to reach the remote to pause the movie and say to me, very seriously, “This is important. I need to tell you this. All of the teenagers in this movie are dogs.”

When K comes back into town, our reading parties turn into “reading, stitching, video gaming, writing, puzzling” parties. We spend one week watching films based on/thematically related to novels written in the 1800s. All of our home improvement projects are put on hold, since we can’t go to Home Depot for supplies. I work from home roughly 4 hours a week, and spend the rest of my time cycling through the same half dozen activities.

I complete jigsaw puzzles on an app on my iPad. I journal. I read. I watch TV. I listen to podcasts. I stitch. I write. I do some work for Royter Snow. I do chores. I go on so many walks that I grow bored with my neighborhood and drive out to other neighborhoods to walk there. I come to enjoy the solitude of the days when A is at work and K is out of town, although I joke to A that I understand why housewives in the 1960s rebelled because this is “boring as f***.” Lock-down has turned me into the housewife that my Mormon upbringing has trained me to be. When K does return from Boise, it takes me a few days to adjust to someone else being there during the day.

My sleep schedule, despite my best efforts, reverts to its preferred pattern of 1:30 am – 10:30 am. I take a lot of naps early on, dealing with the stress of it all. Time has ceased to matter or make sense anyway. I rarely have a strong sense of what day of the week it is, and the passage of time is impossible to measure. At any given moment, it feels like we’ve been under lock-down for at least three months.

On a morning in early April, I awake longing for the pillowy soft sweetness of a freshly made donut, and lament that it’s out of reach for who knows how long. I attempt to make beignets to satisfy this craving, which is only sort of successful. I do learn an excellent apple dumplings recipe a little while later.

After a while, I find myself applying COVID-19 social distancing rules to the characters in books I’m reading. Sometimes the characters will be having a big gathering, and I’ll think, “No! You can’t do that!” before realizing that it’s not real.

Around mid-April, my dreams start to get strange and vivid. I mention it to A and she tells me that multiple people have mentioned the same thing. Later that day, National Geographic publishes an article about how the pandemic is causing widespread vivid dreams—both because of the lack of new stimulus to process, and because of our anxiety about a virus that’s essentially invisible to us.

Beckah and I begin a tradition of watching bad Netflix movies together once a week, via Skype and a Google Chrome extension called “Netflix Party.” By far the best one is “Iron Sky 2: The Coming Race,” the sequel to “Iron Sky,” a Finnish-German-Australian-comic-science fiction-action film. Major elements of the film include a reptilian Sarah Palin, a cult of Apple lovers called “Jobsists,” a hollow earth, a moon-F├╝hrer, and Hitler riding a T-rex. At one point, Beckah and I get really hung up on one particular plot point regarding how a compass would work in the middle of a hollow earth before remembering that no part of the movie made any sense.

My cousin starts a movie watching group and we meet weekly on Zoom. I do a lot of Zoom/virtual meetings. We all do. Patrick and I are stuck in separate homes, and connect through Skype a few times a week, and I long for his arms around me so much I can hardly stand it.

I learn how to play Risk on my iPad, and decide that I’m a Risk prodigy, winning 51 out of 56 games by the beginning of May, at all levels of difficulty, against both bots and humans.

I deal with my anxiety about the current situation by small-scale compulsive internet shopping, purchasing new sheets, new cookware, fridge organization sets, and a dozen other things I probably don’t need, but will definitely use.

Most of the time nowadays, I’m okay with our “new normal.” I feel guilty about the times when I’m not…when I wake up in the morning and fill with dread at the realization of being stuck at home for who knows how long. But we’re all taking it one day at a time.

At the time of this writing, from January on, I’ve played 56 games of Risk, completed 31 jigsaw puzzles, and read 9 books. I could look up how many stitches I’ve completed and how many hours of podcasts I’ve listened to, and all of the television and movies I’ve watched, but the answer doesn’t interest me enough to do the work required.

That’s what it’s like right now.