I’ve had no inclination to write for such a long time, even before the pandemic occurred. Now more than ever it has been difficult trying to align cohesive thoughts and feelings and translate them into words. I hadn’t even bothered to see if there were any comments to my old posts. Email notifications are supposed to arrive when a comment is posted, but for some reason that feature doesn’t seem to work. I don’t even have the energy to try and sort it out. With little motivation, when the automatic renewal charge for the site and domain came up on my credit card statement last week, I thought to myself “Why am I even paying for this anymore?”
When logging back in the other day, it was therefore a surprise to discover a message from a reader – someone I do not know personally – letting me know they missed reading my posts and was hoping all was OK. That was the nicest thing that happened to me that day – a reaching out in the darkness, a little validation to spark some motivation. I was touched. So here is a post. It’s long, but there may or may not be another one for a while.
Here we are on the Pandemic Sea; it feels like riding the surf when you are not very good at surfing. Or swimming. Or maybe don’t even like the water. The Virus. So much has been written about The Virus, we are so tired/afraid/sick of/sick from/stressed out about The Virus. The Virus. The Virus. The Virus. We are drowning in news of The Virus.
The potential freak-out factor: Like everyone, I worry for my family members who are working in the health care system and in the National Guard. Of course, I am worried for myself, one of the “vulnerable” population in both age and health conditions. There is that little wave of anxiety almost every time the SO leaves the house and returns. He’s not all that careful. “Did you wash your hands?” “Take off your shoes!” “Drop those clothes in the washer!!!” I’m tired of his lack of seriousness regarding recommended protocol after he is out and about in public. He asks, “How do you know we don’t already have it?” I’ve grown sick of following his invisible trail of potential virus, going over everywhere he touches with bleach wipes and a spray bottle of disinfectant. It is exhausting and disheartening…. and possibly futile. And he is greatly sick of me chasing him around and expecting more of him than he already is doing. He thinks I am nuts. It’s true, one minute you are wondering if you are overreacting and the next minute you think maybe you are not taking it seriously enough.
A little personal aside here – yeah, masks are no fun, even the cute ones. Being a person who depends on lip-reading to hear and dealing with everyone wearing a mask so you can’t see their mouths has been a whole different level of awful. And those loops keep pulling the hearing aids off your head…. It’s become frustratingly laughable/cry-able.
Addressing the valley of the emotional wave at this point and to rant a bit, specifically about masks: To those so self-involved as to not be wearing the masks meant to protect others, to those breezily blowing by everyone else unmasked on your bicycles or in your running gear, breathing hard and leaving the possibility of virus in your wake for the rest of us to inhale, or walking three and four abreast, often unmasked, on sidewalks and walking trails instead of practicing social distancing – get over your big ego selfish self and start showing some respect for other human beings. We are all so glad you consider yourself fit and healthy, but it’s not about you. You might not be feeling so cocky if someone blasted virus all over your mother or your child. To those of you so lucky to live in a state where the pandemic has not wreaked incredible loss to you or your community (yet), do you realize how deplorable your baby-tantrums seem because you can’t have free run of Walmart right now? Get over your pathetic self and pray to the universe you do not get caught in the undertow of this.
And while you are at it, stop discarding used and potentially infected masks, gloves and wipes in parking lots, in the street, in the woods where you have been. What kind of parents did these people have anyway? Were they selfish pigs too? Clean up your own damn crap instead of leaving it for others to pick up after you. Some vulnerable essential worker probably making minimum wage ends up having to deal with picking up your disrespectful mess.
Before the wave crested, when this whole process started to go down, I felt pretty much in control, balancing well on the surf board. Due to a habit of inadvertent duplication of products in this house, by mere coincidence in addition to having the usual four bottles of tamari sauce we already happened to have plenty of toilet paper, cleaning supplies and food. I can easily, comfortably and often prefer to spend time alone, so that didn’t seem as if it was going to be an issue. I looked at it as a “hunkering down”. Just think of all the things that were going to be accomplished! The projects completed, attacking the pile of sewing repairs, the jewelry-making that was started and never finished, my henna practice, the purging of stuff from the attic, the movies to catch up on, the stack of books and magazines to complete. The learning of new things! Self-care! Cooking! Exercise! Using up all the unused items in the house! Riding that wave!
The truth is, all of this could have/should have been accomplished prior to the pandemic. Who was I kidding? Well OK, that organic green facial masque that had been sitting untried in the cabinet for two years has finally, almost, been used up. I can honestly say I don’t look any different for all the promises printed on the tube. The assorted soaps, creams and conditioners that had been bought long ago and migrated to the back of the linen closet have been brought forth and are in circulation now. No waste. Good things!
The clothing and other items destined to be donated or sold have been pulled out of closets but are now are sitting in bags throughout the house with no viable destination at the moment, sort of like living in a rummage sale. The thrill of walking the dog unnoticed on eerily, beautifully empty neighborhood streets in my leopard-print pajamas and giant rain boots has long ago worn off. Online retail therapy saw a minor surge on my part but just as suddenly offered little appeal and has been stopped. I’ve packed away my sewing machine after a few pathetic attempts at making face masks and am grateful and relieved to have been gifted some. Planned trips looked forward to with great excitement have sadly been canceled. Paddling in flat water now, waiting for the next wave.
I cut my own bangs, poorly, and I really don’t care. Nobody is going to see them. And even if someone does see the hack job I have done to my hair, I still really don’t care. Are any of you that worried about what you look like at the moment? I gave a hesitant and somewhat strange haircut to the SO, who doesn’t seem to really care either. Meh. Perhaps it is a healthy check on vanity. Isn’t it a bit liberating, sort of? This could swing either way.
Could you imagine trying to weather this without the internet? So grateful for the technology. Yet where FaceTime and Skype used to feel like they were bringing the caller closer, suddenly it just highlights how far apart from each other we actually are. Zoom meetings and parties have quickly lost their novelty. The discipline of our physical distancing leaves a palpable ache somewhere beneath the ribcage, around the heart. I yearn for my children, my grandkids, my siblings. I find myself wishing for my parents but glad they are not here to have to live through this. The hugs are both missed and needed. I have fantasies of irresponsibly breaking this imposed distancing and risking it. I see others doing it. But I could never forgive myself if something went wrong.
Like many, a significant amount of income that was depended upon has suddenly come to an end. The investments carefully planned on helping to take up the slack in the future have somewhat tanked. I have discovered that The Ostrich Method of Not Looking seems to be the healthiest and best course of action concerning these developments at this time. There is not much else to be done about it right now.
The push/pull of social media is just that. Grateful for the venue of connection, yet not enjoying the dependency. Initially enjoying the dark humor of some of the cleverest memes (and still do to some extent), I’m starting to skim past the constant COVID stories. Before, those stories were just about “the distant others”. I could cry about the distant others. Now the degrees of separation have narrowed and oddly, it’s harder to cry about that. More numbing, or denial, or something else.
Diversions – Lately I have posted daily photos of favorite record albums from the past, of the silly socks in my dresser drawer. Things that are light, of little substance. Look away.
Dreams – Has anyone else had the weirdest of the weird? More vivid and convoluted dreaming than usual? Disturbed sleep? Every night has been another strange journey.
Routine – Get up. Make the bed. Take a shower and get dressed, even if going nowhere. Clean the kitchen floor. Brush the dog. Bake. Cook and freeze the extra for another meal. Call the family. Speak to a friend. Pay your bills if you can manage to. One hour of news only, if that. This last part has helped a bit.
I’ve read that some people are starting to lose some of their mental grip. I believe it is so because I just experienced an incident concerning someone last week. There was the unfortunate need to totally block all contact with a person after they became increasingly and inexplicably paranoid, plunging into such an alternate reality that I actually started to feel afraid, both for them and of them. Almost as if the threat of virus removed a veil of normalcy they had been wearing. There was no reasoning or ability to fix it or help them. That was pretty disturbing and has left a troubling aura in its wake.
And speaking of alternate realities, it has been most healthy to immediately change the TV channel the second that egotistically bloated, inept toddler spewing idiocy who is supposed to be leading our nation comes on, choosing instead to tune in to the brand of sane, intelligent and mature leadership that is being broadcast out of New York State during this crisis. Listening to someone grounded in reality and substance while also adept at stringing together a sentence/paragraph/concept is beyond necessary. Anyone who is bothered by my opinion on this, please feel free to click on by.
All of that has been the bottom of the wave, but then the wave comes up and we ride atop again. The scent of the slow greening of Spring is an uplifting drug. Spending the time in nature, even if only in the back yard, has been healthy. Sitting on the ground, pulling weeds in the sun on a cool day with the dog lying in the dirt by my side has been satisfying, healing. Simply chatting with my neighbor, from a distance, over the fence has left an unexpected glow that has lasted for hours.
The woman who lives next door has a small koi pond. The fish have managed to survive through the winter. If I stand at a certain angle, I can look down and see their little orange bodies dotting the water from my second floor bedroom window. Both their survival and bright color bring a bit of joy, finding the gift in the simplest of things.
The Dog. There is probably not so much coincidence that dog spelled backwards is God. They are just there for you, accepting and loyal, no matter what. Comfort, like a teddy, but much, much better.
Another interesting thing I experienced many years ago when going through a life-threatening illness concerned those who were there and those who weren’t. How some people you never would have expected anything from suddenly came out of the woodwork, while some people you were sure would always be there for you surprisingly ended up not. There seems to be parallels with that scenario during this viral situation, the disappointing and the heartening occurring at the same time. I’m sadly missing some old connections, yet enjoying some of the newer ones, while greatly delighting in a few surprisingly renewed ones.
A roof over your head. Food in the pantry and fresh food still available. Keeping in touch with loved ones who have managed to remain healthy through this. Incredibly grateful to and humbled by those health care and other essential workers who are balancing the weight of it on their shoulders for all of us, as we try to navigate the waves and not wipe out.
And for the reader who sent the message – thank you. This post is for you. Stay safe! Be well!