Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Pandemonium Diary, Episode 1

Yesterday was a not great day. The weather here in Easton was terrible with lots of wind and rain and then we were under a tornado warning.  Tornado warnings/watches give my anxiety so much anxiety that my chest tightens and I spend the day mildly hyperventilating.  I run around the house closing all blinds and curtains so I can't see the sky and then I go to bed. That was yesterday.

Today is better.  I got over my grocery store trepidation and went early. And you know what? It wasn't bad at all.  The shelves were stocked (except in the TP aisle) and the aisles weren't crowded. The only weird part was everyone wearing masks and gloves.  I so hate that part. You remember on Star Trek how they would step into that tube thing and then get transported to somewhere else? That's what it feels like to me when I look around and see all these people wearing masks.  Like I somehow got transported without my permission out of the United States and into some third world country.

I feel compelled to write today. There's nothing else to talk or write about so I am giving in to writing about the current state of affairs.

But I cannot give in to the platitudes, overused sayings, cliches, etc. that are everywhere right now and then regurgitating them here so if you are looking for that sort of thing you will be disappointed.  For example:

Stay Home or #StayHome
I'm not going to tell you to stay home because it's kind of a no-brainer right now, no?  Besides the grocery store or maybe Home Depot or Walgreens, I can't figure out where you'd go if you didn't stay home.
Going for a walk around the block is technically not staying home but is probably really good for your mental health so if you can manage to do that, you should. Walk slowly, maybe take a camera with you, notice things.  Springtime is springing everywhere you look, a good reminder that life is still life, still happening while we're all sitting in the house eating everything in sight.
Certainly don't go for a walk if you have desire to run up on other walking people or otherwise invade their personal space, though.  People are terrified of other people now, you can tell because so many avert their eyes and won't say a friendly hello if you're anywhere near them in public.  I don't get it - especially because we all need niceness now more than ever. 
Anyway, now is not the time to try to make new friends outside.

Having a dog is a great excuse to go outside multiple times a day. Luna and I go for nice little walks but we give other walkers wide berths or just cross the street so they can feel assured that any cooties that might be present on us will not jump off, take a six-foot leap and land on them.
If you don't have a dog, maybe you can get one of these so you, too, can have an excuse to take multiple walks:

They're only like $8 on Amazon. Don't worry about people thinking you're weird; we're all weird right now.
Also, if you are walking an invisible dog it's almost a guarantee that people will give you a wide berth and/or cross the street so no worries about their cooties jumping onto you even though that is not at all how this virus thing works.

Next on my list is We're All In This Together or AloneTogether, etc.
Do these kinds of sayings help you or bring you comfort?  If so, that's really great. I get a whole lot of nothing from them and I think they're actually making me angry. I'm watching less television that I normally did before this all happened because of the incessant commercials with these messages. I don't claim to know a whole lot about how things like what we're dealing with now work, but I do know that it's 2020 and people can't work and families can't be together and a whole bunch of other bad stuff and so the kumbaya catch phrases aren't doing it for me right now.  My 80 year old mother is two hours away and alone and scared and no one can visit her and her grocery store is out of everything and I promise that I am not saying to her "we're all in this together".
I'm not being a jerk - I get the sentiment.  I guess what I mostly don't like is how fast commercials and advertisements were put together for this thing.  It feels like it's making it more permanent when I badly need it to be very temporary.

And don't get me started on the "in these uncertain times" thing.  That term does wonders for the anxiety we're all feeling (sarcasm)"In these uncertain times we here at the Humongous Corporation understand and that's why we're offering you 0% interest for 84 months on that thing you shouldn't even be thinking about buying right now. Afterall, we're all in this together and we want you to know that we're here for you."  I vacillate between yes, you should buy whatever you want when this is over because at this point there's no telling how life is going to play out...
or, no, don't buy anything, save as much of your money as you can so that you can buy a lot of toilet paper.

I'm working on the anger thing but it comes up out of nowhere pretty regularly right now.  Finding humor and nonsense during this difficult time helps tremendously.

I like to think that maybe some good is coming from this in small and big ways.  It's hard to think that way as I pray fervently for this to pass, for healing - it almost feels wrong to look for some kind of hope or optimism.
But out of nowhere these little thoughts and nuggets show up in my brain and I have to let them come.  I have to mull them over and let the hypervigilance subside a little to let them in.  Plus they're really good distractions from the almost constant anxiety.

Today I was thinking that maybe some people are making connections now that speak to their hearts and minds and souls - not their bodies.  And I got a little bit happy thinking that.
What if some couples will come together on a deeper level?  What if they're on some dating site or app during this because they can't socialize in person and they're telling each other things about themselves, like how they prefer Charmin to Cottonelle?  Or that they hate cheese or love waffles or that time their heart broke? What if 26 or 27 years from now it's their 25th anniversary and everyone wants to know what their secret is to their happy marriage and their answer is "well, we got to know each other a little bit first". 
I wish someone a long time ago had imparted to me how important that is.

Bleh.  I probably wouldn't have listened even if they tried to. 

Years ago I had to write an artist statement which is one of the most unpleasant things to write, in my opinion. It's supposed to describe what you make and why/how you make it which you might think is an easy thing to do but isn't. I went looking at other artist statements for inspiration...and fell asleep while reading most of them. I was wanting to be find inspiration from their inspiration; instead I found over and over again glorified CVs. I don't know about you but I've never been in the middle of admiring someone's art and started right away wondering about their education.  This is an amazing piece of work, I'm so moved by it. I wonder what college they went to?  Nope, never happens. So, as usual, I went left of center and wrote what my feelings were (in 3rd person - so weird) when I was working on my magical realism photo art pieces: 

"People don't slow down enough to look around and see the magical world they live in," she says. "I capture my photographs by taking long, aimless drives on endless beautiful back roads. But I am forever pulling over to let speeding cars pass me. They're going too fast to notice the beauty all around that I'm seeing and I think that's sad. I needed to find a way to make people see and feel again...to make them slow down, to pause for just a minute. That's where the fairytale, magical realism look of my artwork came from. By making things look a little bit wonky or whimsical...this gets their attention. This makes them see."

So here we all are now: slowed down, pausing the lives we're used to.
Maybe if one of those small good things that could come out of this is that some of us are noticing the magical world we live in, the beauty all around...even if we're only seeing it from looking out our windows.

the window from which I watch the dog walkers, the kids on scooters,
the mail person, various birds and insects

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