What better way to map the passing of these days with random notes about pandemic living? I stole the idea from one of my favorite bloggers, right down to choosing an ancient-language title.
I’m a lucky, lucky woman. More on that at the bottom, but I thought I’d set the record straight right here before I rant.
I’ve been thinking about this thing called the Rotor. It was an amusement park ride, and there was one at Hersheypark in PA near where I grew up. Riders would step inside a big barrel and stand with their backs against the wall. The Rotor would zip around with increasing speed—up to 3g—and then the bottom literally dropped out as riders were clapped to the wall by centrifugal force. A regular byproduct of The Rotor was nausea, and people are said to have vomited mid-ride only to have the contents of their stomachs latched to their faces and hair.
The Rotor comes to mind for the first time in decades because it seems an apt metaphor. We’ve been splayed against the wall, spinning around with no floor under our feet since Trump took office, hanging on by virtue of physics and one fried donut away from a regurgitated mess. Then, about six weeks ago, the Rotor blew apart. The walls flew off, and we were hurled far apart from each other by a new villain. Dazed and dizzy, we’ve been crawling towards safety, shaken to our core.
This was the first week I felt like I could stand and look at the wreckage with some clarity. The first week my eyes could quite literally focus again. I hate the fucking Rotor, and I always have.
I worry about hoarding and the food supply chain. I know that look of emptied store shelves right before a hurricane, and this ain’t it. People aren’t thinking about an extra week’s worth of food. This is apocalyptic, and now I’ve got visions of the Four Horsemen holding rolls of Charmin and cans of pinto beans. I get it. We have no fucking clue what’s in front of us. Grab that lone jar of pasta sauce before someone beats you to the punch. Grab the ice cream while you’re at it, because who knows when that’ll stop flowing and you'll need it for your Netflix binge.
The cruelest irony? Gas is cheap as hell, the tank is full, and there’s nowhere to go. It’s like I’m back in high school—but grounded.
I worry about paying the bills by year’s end. Art shows and gigs are canceled for the foreseeable future, and I’ve lost more than one consulting client as well. The economy is in free fall, my retirement savings have tanked, and unemployment rates will top those of the Great Depression. I’m turning 60 this year—a wildly employable age, I’m told—and am dancing as fast as I can to find new clients and build new revenue streams. A storefront is coming to this website. An Etsy store is next. An online course to complement my consulting work is something I’ve planned to do for a long time anyway. Right now, I’ll build anything to dismiss the soul-searing vision that I could be working at Walmart by year’s end. However…
Everything—EVERYTHING—takes longer than you think it’s going to take. Go ahead, just nod your head because you know it’s true. And if that weren’t enough…
Weren’t we supposed to be really productive with all this extra time? No, not really—not at all, actually—but that doesn’t mean we’re not clobbered with some guilt here. Out of work or reduced hours? Lucky you! Now you can take that photography class online, or start your macrame business from home. No more commuting for the foreseeable future? Boom! You just got two hours back in your day to bake bread and garden.
Yeah, that didn’t happen, did it? Like I said earlier, I lost about six weeks to mental angst, but that doesn’t stop me from some self-flagellation now, and I know I’m in good company. That’s why I’m clinging to the wisdom of many in the mental health profession: It’s okay to not be okay. And I’m not, because none of this is okay. It’s not normal, it’s not predictable, and it can’t be reduced to an appointment on my calendar. So, for the time being, fuck it. There’s ice cream in the freezer and Netflix to stream. I’m just sickened and pissed that…
This pandemic means that the book I’ve been writing has just gone to shit. Complete shit, for real. For over a year now, I’ve been crafting a set of interlocking short stories that start in 2015 and would have ended in 2024. In fact, the most recent story—first drafted last fall—was to take place in June of 2020 in New York City. The problem? The time/place of said story no longer bears any resemblance to reality. And that story was to have fed into the next story… and the next…
So, my Jenga tower has collapsed. Fuck me. Sure, I’ll wait it out—maybe there’s something to be salvaged in those pages—and write some new stories. But I’m full-on pity party over this.
My poor opinion of Facebook has taken a backseat to acknowledging its current value. At least temporarily. I can’t stand Mark Zuckerberg or his B.S. laissez-faire approach to demonstrably false political advertising, but I must admit that there’s a little comfort to be found in hearing how friends and colleagues are faring out there. I trust this sentiment won’t last long, and Zuck will fuck it up for us all.
Thank Sweet Baby Jesus this thing didn’t happen at the start of winter. As a devotee of Daylight Savings Time and warm weather, I just say no to early sunsets and frost. If we’ve got to isolate, at least we’re able to walk the neighborhood without mittens. At least we can soak up some of that Vitamin D that I hear is good for combatting respiratory infections.
I am a lucky, lucky woman. I share this house with an extraordinary partner and our beautiful, willful husky-schnauzer mix. We are healthy, and so are the people we care about. We may be frugal as hell right now, but there is still money coming in. Neighbors are more neighborly than ever, and the neighborhood I’ve walked for 20 years is full of delights I’ve never noticed. Everyone at the grocery store is kind and keeps their distance. Friends check in on each other.
People wonder when we’ll all go back to the way it was. When we’ll go back to normal. I’m not sure I want to go back there. I like the kindness I see—it’s a reminder for me to be kinder. Never mind that the shittard in the White House is a walking sack of cruelty. We’re not. At least, we’re not right now.