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Pandemic Viventium #3

Shit happens. So do birthdays.

I don't know how it happened, but I turned 60. It wasn't the huge house party I threw myself at 40. It wasn't the trip to Hawaii I took at 50. But it was a celebration for the times we live in--my partner, my dog, three close friends, all socially-distanced around the fire pit in the backyard, eating scrumptious cake, sipping Prosecco, and talking politics.

Politics is all I'm able to talk about. Understandable, and I'll let myself off the hook about this since every sentient soul knows Cheeto Jesus is going to do everything in his power to keep the power he has. Never mind that hundreds of thousands of Americans are dead in large part because of his incompetence, graft, and lies. Never mind that gassing of protestors in D.C. so he could get that photo op with the (upside-down) book he's clearly never read. Never mind the fact that all lists like this should come in threes, but there are three thousand "never minds" worth listing, and I can't even.

Joe Biden wasn't my first choice. Or my second. But maybe he's the man for these times, and he's got my vote. If he wins--and I think he will--maybe I'll want to talk about something other than politics again.

Rats. I need to write a novel now. I've been in another (virtual) writing class this semester. I started with the intention of churning out a decent short story for our times, and I've come to realize that the darned thing isn't supposed to be a short story--it's supposed to be a novel.

Trust me, if I could shake this thing out of my psyche, I would. I like things I can read in one sitting. But there's no ignoring this story. So it's time to map out that first draft of "Rat Girl"--a dystopian tale set a generation from now in a permanently-flooded New Orleans where urban rat farming is "not exactly legal, but not exactly not." And yes, there's an outbreak of a novel virus, and yes, our pregnant protagonist holds the key. So we'll see where that goes.

Gratitude--and so much of it. I am so damned grateful for so much. More than six months into the pandemic's swell (and perhaps because turning 60 makes one think about grander things), I recognize that I am among the very, very lucky people out there. For starters:

  • We're all (still) healthy. My partner, my family, my friends, and my colleagues take this thing seriously, and we're not about to let up until we've got vaccines in our arms.

  • Work picked back up. When things fell apart, I lost all but one client. In late summer, a new one came to the rescue. In other words, the lights will stay on for the foreseeable future.

  • Technology helps. Like everyone else, I'm weary of Zoom. And Facebook pisses me off almost as much as the current administration does. But technology and related platforms mean that I get to work from home. I can go to class. I can see friends for virtual happy hours or read their latest updates online. I don't even want to think about how people coped in previous pandemics. I'd have gone batshit crazy.

  • He put a ring on it! When lockdown was first announced in mid-March, my partner of a couple of years came on over. We thought it would only be for a few weeks. The safety of it all felt good, and I was hungry for his company in those early weeks of massive uncertainty. It went so well that he never left. I always knew he was a funny guy, and smart as hell, and a wonderful kisser. But I didn't know just how complementary our individual gifts are. I didn't know what it was like to live with a considerate problem-solver whose brain operates in ways wildly different from mine. And, while there's no rush to get to City Hall, two adults with a general aversion to commitment have changed their minds because it feels so damned good to have a true partner through both the happy and the crappy.

Isn't that something??



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