Living on the edge of chaos. The death toll is rising. The economy’s in cardiac arrest. The world is melting down, and we are powerless to stop the burning.
Weeks in quarantine have been a blur, as if time is standing still. There’s activity on TV and on the streets, but my cave is quiet.
Like most of us, I’m pressing on through this crisis, working from home, trying to create some normalcy. But these times are far from normal. After a restless sleep, I awaken to cats meowing to be fed, completely unaware of mayhem outside. I amble downstairs to the kitchen, start the coffee, and briefly think, “did I fill the gas tank?” Oh wait. I’m not driving to work. I’m not driving much of anywhere these days.
I head upstairs to shower and dress. Dressing seems pointless with my office now just a desk downstairs. No one will see me except during Zoom meetings and then only from the waist up. Should I just throw a sweatshirt over my PJs and call it a day? I opt to dress as if I were going to work, albeit on a dress-down day.
I pour a cup of black coffee and settle down at my desk, logging on to the network to read my emails. I chuckle at messages trying to sell expensive services in a time when offices are shuttered, budgets are slashed, and employees are held hostage under threat of layoffs and wage cuts to save the “corporation.” In times of crisis, we quickly learn how “disposable” we are. I want to reply, “Seriously dude? Are you aware there’s coronavirus out there shutting down our economy?” Instead I hit delete.
I hear a strange creaking. I look around. It’s not the cats. They’re peacefully asleep in my favorite recliner. I never realized how many eerie sounds the walls of this old house made until I stayed home all day, every day, week after week.
Ghosts? Perhaps, although the though of ghosts isn’t nearly as scary coronavirus. We have no control with coronavirus, and it’s very unsettling. We can take precautions, but the virus remains, lurking, ready to strike.
I think about how fun it will be when my grandsons are born this summer and all the things I will do with them. For one brief moment, my thoughts go dark. I might not even be alive, so why think about it? The thought is fleeting , quickly dismissed, but it heightens my awareness of the negative self-talk that is invading my psyche these days.
It’s 8:30. Time for a Zoom meeting. I log in and before I hit the button to activate the camera, I study myself on the computer screen. Wow. Should have curled my hair. It’s hanging flat like overcooked, limp spaghetti. My old-age wrinkles and sagging jowls are magnified by the unforgiving camera angle. Ugh. I shove my hair behind my ears and hit “activate camera.” During the meeting a cat jumps up in someone’s lap. Later a dog enters someone’s screen and barks as they push it out of camera range. Just another day at the office.
When the meeting ends, I refocus on my work and knock out a few press releases. Hunter jumps up on the desk, strolling across my laptop keyboard before I can shoo him away. I go back to work, only to discover I have no internet connection. Damn it, Spectrum!
I spend several minutes diagnosing the connection issue only to discover Hunter had pressed the airplane mode key during his journey across my workspace. Sorry Spectrum. For once it’s not your fault. I verbally chastise the fur baby who is now sleeping curled up in his perch, completely unfazed.
At noon, I break for lunch. I throw together a sandwich and turn on the news. Coronavirus. Deaths Heart-wrenching stories. Someone dies of the virus every 44 seconds in America, a news anchor announces. Crap. I turn it off and finished my lunch in silence, except for the loud purring of Crash who has joined me in my recliner, aka his recliner.
I’m back working when my daughter, a baker, comes home from work. She leaves her shoes outside, strips off her mask and clothes and heads to the basement to throw them in the washer. She walks past my desk in her underwear, heading upstairs to the shower. Our new normal.
This is a routine for essential workers who fear bringing home the virus, especially when you’re living with your 64-year-old mom in the high risk category. She’s one of the unsung heroes, 6 months pregnant, working because she needs the money and healthcare, yet isn’t paid a decent livable wage for risking hers and her baby’s life to keep America fed.
I watch Governor DeWine’s daily press conference, which is part of my job. I’ve done this for weeks, so much so that I now have a T-Shirt that reads, “Wine with DeWine. It’s 2 o-clock somewhere.” His calm command of the situation is reassuring in this uncertain world. If we all don our caps and masks and work together we can win this war.
After the conference I catch a news flash of mask-less, gun-toting protesters shouting in the faces of healthcare workers who are risking their lives to save us. A shiver goes up my spine. The thought of risking another’s life for my own self-interest is foreign to me. We are at war. Not with the virus, but with ourselves.
As Ohio begins to reopen, these supercilious individuals will be out there … ignoring social distancing, willing to risk the lives of others with their threatening demands for the government open Pandora’s box. Our personal attempts to stay safe could be undermined by one thoughtless, menacing being. I left out the word “human” deliberately.
Maybe we deserve this crisis. Maybe the world is so full of egocentric, angry ruffians this is a wake up call from the Creator. Shit. Another negative thought. Need to jump on Facebook and look at cute puppies to get back to my happy place.
At 4:30, work is over. Cook or take-out? No more sit-down restaurant options that I used to love. Take-out it is. After dinner, I must make the most important decision of the day. What will I do this evening? Walk? Read? Crochet? Finish binge-watching Peaky Binders? Exciting stuff, right?
Yes I’m bored. Yes, I have quarantine fatigue. I hate wearing masks and am tired of washing my hands. I want say “fuck you” to coronavirus and go shopping, attend the theater, and rock out at all the concerts cancelled this summer. Instead, I’m wearing a mask, washing my hands, and sacrificing my self-interests to keep everyone safe.
To those who are angry, feel this government overreach, or just think coronavirus is a hoax, I’m sorry your feel this way. I suspect, though, that you haven’t lost a loved one to this dreaded virus. You haven’t suffered the pain of not being able to say goodbye when your loved one dies in a hospital, alone.
Yes, I’m taking precautions and will continue to sacrifice to keep everyone, even the brainless, gun-toting egocentrics, safe.
We ARE in this together. We can use this crisis to divide us or unite us. We can continue to bring politics into a national health crisis, bash each other on Facebook, or work together to save lives.
Be kind to others. Be full of joy. Be thankful. But most of all, breathe.