the coronavirus diaries: week nine

Last week, one of our pastors included this image in one of his check-in emails. It’s the same image that we studied in our MDS orientation for disaster management.

I’m not sure where I am, exactly. Unlike a single-hit disaster like a tornado or hurricane, this disaster is on-going. It’s world-wide. It’s happening in different locations at different times, and in fits and starts which are often the direct result of how it’s being managed (or not managed).

Emotionally, I feel like I’m in the pit of the disillusionment phase. I’m skeptical and dismayed, frustrated and angry, disappointed and anxious. Yet I suspect I’m actually only a partway down — as this drags on, I’m bound to dip lower.

How about you?

***

The mixed messages make me want to pull my hair out.

It is safe to buy take-out, they say, yet our church is no longer encouraging people to bring meals to new parents. We’re not supposed to step inside each other’s houses, and yet there’s talk of opening schools. The numbers of infected people are continuing to rise and yet they’re dismantling the coronavirus task force. (Oh hang on, now they’re keeping the task force.)

And if you’re looking for any continuity regarding masks, forget about it.

On Friday, I popped into the grocery store for milk and apples. None of the store employees were wearing masks. NONE. When I later mentioned this to my sister-in-law, she said that when she’d stopped in at the same store just two days before, she was impressed to see that nearly every employee was wearing a mask.

Did the store have different managers with different approaches? we wondered. Did this have anything to do with some states opening up? What was going on?

***
***

With no clear national response to the pandemic (it appears that Trump’s plan is to have no plan), I’m constantly sifting through the information, creating a plan of action, rationalizing my choices, and then, as new information unfolds, tweaking my actions accordingly. It’s exhausting.

And terribly confusing. If everyone’s doing whatever they want, then does it even matter what I do? 

My choices, no matter how conscientious and thoughtful, are, ultimately, dictated (or at least influenced) by my wants, my personality, my social circles, my bank account. Take my confusion — the confusion of an educated, adequately-informed adult living a secure, mostly unthreatened, existence — and multiply it by a couple million and: holy crap we’re screwed.

my mojito’s not the only thing getting muddled

***
And then there are the “covidiots,” oh woe (says the woman who blew on her mother after cutting her hair, ha).
***

I hear people saying this pandemic will make us better. Heck, I said it — or quoted it — last week. But truth is, I don’t know if I believe that.

After the last election, we said, “Oh wow. What a wake-up call; we need this. We have problems. Now we see. Now we can do better.”

But are we? Humans have infinite capacity for evil, and atrocities seen but not addressed are still atrocities. Falling to new lows isn’t a sign that we’ll turn around — it’s a sign that we’re falling.

Even if our eyes are open.

***

I considered skipping this post last week. And again this week I wondered, Why write? There’s nothing new to say about this pandemic.

And yet I know that when I force myself to write, even when — especially when — there’s nothing to say, I usually feel better. Forcing my thoughts into words, teasing out my underlying feelings and questions, helps give shape to this giant swirl of Strange.

*** 

Our older son decided to move out to the clubhouse. He built a bed and moved out some shelves, a chair, and lamps. And then he said he wasn’t sure he wanted to sleep out there after all.

“Well then don’t,” I said. “Just, please decide where you’re going to be and then stay there. I don’t want your stuff taking over the whole house.”

“But you guys want me out of the house,” he said.

WHAT???? I stared at him, slack-jawed.

“I keep getting mixed messages,” he explained. “You say you want me to live at home and save money, but you also say you don’t want me to live at home. I don’t get it!”

“Oh, good heavens,” I cried. “No, no, no, no, no. We want you at home, absolutely! We don’t want you to be here because you’re not supposed to be here — you’re supposed to be in college living with friend and doing all sorts of cool stuff — but if there’s a pandemic, then there’s no place I’d rather have you be than here!”

He’s decided he’ll stay in the clubhouse anyway.

*** 

*Friday night, we watched National Theatre’s Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch as the monster. The acting was phenomenal, and the story — I’d never heard it before — was much more thought-provoking and philosophical than I expected. Tonight’s the last chance to watch, DON’T MISS IT! And even if you don’t have time for the whole thing, just watch the first twenty minutes: the monster on stage, alone, being born. (How is he not covered in bruises?)

*Have you read Girls Like Us? It’s young adult lit, and one of the best books I’ve read in a long while. Now, at my older son’s urging, I’m reading On Being Mortal.

*We watched Big Night for our family night movie. The last scene is my favorite; my kids were like, That’s it?

*Coronavirus School Closures: An Educational Opportunity. This article was posted back in March, but for those of you with schooled-now-at home kids, how’s it going?

From one of the article’s commenters, a homeschooler: “For us, the social distancing mandates have brought a strange sort of relief, even from the busy-ness of our regular, unschooly life. I realized how much pressure I still put on myself, and how I must certainly be communicating that to my kiddo.”

That, right there, yes.

*And finally, for a bit of (much-needed) levity, here’s Adley again…

xo!

This same time, years previous: with my children, settling in, a simulation, stages of acting, fence, not what we’re used to, the quotidian (5.6.13), rhubarb diaquiri.

4 Comments

    • Natalie

      Agree. I learned about several informative articles from your weekly posts, Jennifer, and your words help me feel less alone during these challenging days.

  • Cheryl

    I understand completely. It's as if there is no one steering the ship and we are headed for an iceberg. Do this, don't do that…depending on where you are live. There is no Obama or Clinton or even a George W. to help calm our fears.

    The one saving grace for me is our Governor, Andy Cuomo. I may not always agree with his decision(s), but at least he picked up the reins and is trying to steer this runaway horse, with a calm and reassuring manner. We have had too many deaths here and elsewhere in the country, but without him and a few of the other Governors, Ca. Mi, etc. there would be more deaths I am sure.

    Let's face it, we do not have a strong leader in the White House right now, way too much instability. Hopefully that will be addressed in November.

    For now, I look up to Heaven and ask my Mom and God to watch out for everyone, listen to the birds chirp, watch the trees and grass green up, smell the fresh air and try to keep busy. Sometimes I can almost forget the bad stuff for a minute….almost.

  • Becky

    Thank you for writing this.

    My husband has decided to fix up the old playhouse – he also built an oversized garden structure for climbing plants, but I am joking with him that one more yard structure and all three of us will have an outdoor place to hang. So yeah, I get moving into the clubhouse.

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