Sometimes the only way to deal with a uncontrollable and terrifying situation is to jump feetfirst into something else. In an attempt to manage my near paralyzing fear right now, I’ll be doing my best to blog more often. It’s a win-win: I regain a sense of control over my world, and you can be entertained for however long it takes you to get through a thousand words or so. So let’s dive in!
Today’s post is a personal check-in so if you’re looking for reviews, check back on Wednesday for Cinema Quarantino: Comfort Watches.
State of the Jen
One thing I can say with certainty is that it is Monday.
I am well and healthy. My family is also well and healthy. No one has been exposed, no one is awaiting test results, no one is sick. My folks, who live an hour and a half away from me, are antsy and refused my offer to pay for their Instacart because they cherish their one grocery excursion a week. They go to Publix on Wednesday mornings with the other seniors, during which my father slathers both of them in a cocoon of Purell. They live on a big piece of land 15 miles from their town, and there’s only been 13 cases in their county so fingers crossed they’ll be safe. I am much, much, MUCH, MUCH more fortunate than most.
My coworker’s wife’s COVID-19 test came in negative, which was cause for celebration from the whole office. We’ve been working from home since March 18th, but it’s still nice to hear she’s in the clear.
My best friend sent me the book A Simple Abundance, and reading it has been helping soothe my anxiety. A movement that began in the 90s with an Oprah episode, the book is about taking a moment every day to appreciate what you have, where you’ve been, who you are, etc. in order to clarify and appreciate your Authentic Self. The 25th anniversary edition came out recently. It’s aimed at women, but if you are a man who doesn’t mind passages encouraging you to unleash the woman within, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s also a bit religious, but I just skim through those bits.
Guilt in the Age of Coronavirus
In a weird way that I feel bad about, I am doing great. I don’t feel lonely at all, and have been eating healthy, drinking less, keeping up with chores, exercising, cooking, and enriching my mind. I think this enforced pause on life for the foreseeable future has also soothed my anxiety by removing some of the biggest sources of it – options. I am fulfilling my responsibilities, no problem. But the vague guilt that I should be out living my best life at all times and am wasting my existence because I’m not is gone – and I’m so much happier. There are certainly things I want to do – I’d like to take a trip to the Pacific Northwest, and another to New Orleans – but they aren’t at the forefront of my thoughts. I can wait.
My current indoor bloom might also be due to dealing with the recent stress of trying and failing to buy a house. I found one, liked the layout and location, I made an offer, the offer was accepted, we did the inspection (460 big bois) and then… the economy went bonkers. My closing costs on a 182k dollar house would have been 18 grand. That would have wiped me out completely. It hurt, but when the inspection found 60-year old wiring, only half a new roof, polybutylene piping, and a host of other necessary fixes, I was relieved. I ended the contract, begged my realtor for forgiveness (even offered her money! She put in HARD WORK and I felt like shit that she got nothing for it, but she averred and we’re still friends) and renewed my lease for 2 months.
Keep Calm And Stay At Home
On Twitter the other day someone said ‘You are not working from home. You are working at home during a crisis’ and that resonated. The reality of the present weighs on me as does a constant fear for the future. I had my first panic attack a few weeks back. My heart was racing and I was short of breath. Ironically when I realized it was a panic attack I felt better afterward, and haven’t had any since. Perspective helps – after all, British people made it through the Germans bombing England during WWII by hiding in basements and using blackout curtains. Refugees in Syria and other conflict zones have lost their entire way of life.
There have been a few occasions when my brain completely disengages from reality. I’ll be on a walk, or showering, or cooking, or just doing whatever, and for a short period I am blissfully unaware of COVID-19. Then suddenly I’ll remember a childhood friend’s post on Facebook about how, when she gets home from her nursing shift, she has to change clothes in the garage, put her scrubs directly into the wash and then go shower, sleep, and go back to work, all without seeing her kids at all. People are saying goodbye to family members through walkie talkies, or through Plexiglas windows from outside hospitals. People have lost jobs, benefits, savings. Some are just stuck in limbo, waiting to find out what happens next and if their companies will compensate them for months at home. Sure, evictions and utilities disconnections are ostensibly on hold now, but that’s a hold, not a forgiveness. Will landlords and companies forgive those extended overdue bills?
It’s a lot. This is an historic event, and since a vaccine is at least 12 months away it’s not going to go away anytime soon. Healthcare workers and other emergency support personnel are burning out or dying, supplies are short, government supply chains are failing. But there are also people going through their sewing stashes to make masks; students jury-rigging 3D printers to create medical equipment; billionaires funding response teams and hospitals; landlords forgiving rents. People are still being people, and hopefully more good than bad.
The horrible reality is that some of us will not get through this, and mostly because of stupid reasons. Funds and supplies aren’t being released because of profit margins or spite, politics are playing more of a part than they should, facilities are overwhelmed, and worst of all, people aren’t staying home. Not to belabor a point but there’s a lesson here and I hope we’re smart enough to learn it.
Good luck, reader. I hope sincerely you and yours are well and safe, and have found some helpful coping mechanisms. If you need to vent, you can vent to me in the comments or get in touch some other way if you want to keep things private.