COVID Confidential: Vol#1

All I can say is wow.

This epidemic is our generation’s global Black Plague. The difference this time is that it’s a global pandemic and not just a disease isolated only in Europe. The US is sadly late in the game with a plan to combat this intrusive and deadly invader. Some people are treating this epidemic with an “end of days” mentality by hoarding basic essentials such as toilet paper (TP) that we all would benefit from to prevent a bad situation from getting even – crappier. I’ve even gotten caught up in the hysteria. For the past several mornings, I have ventured out into the darkness in search of the fluffy and multi-layered bounty at the local area stores. Only to return home empty handed. Okay, Eric and I had four rolls of toilet paper left so it’s not like we were down to our last few sheets. I guess I just needed some extra assurance in the event things get worse our backsides would be covered. Besides, had we actually run out of TP, we still have a collection of Starbucks and other food napkins we could use to wipe our ….well, you know. 

Things around me (us) feel tenuous and even the looks on people’s faces reflects that fragility. I’m trying to preoccupy my thoughts with things less apocalyptic and more productive under our currently imposed shelter in place rule. Work only acts as a partial distraction from the perils that potentially lurk beyond my front door. It’s been a little more than a week since my office imposed a temporary workplace relocation initiative (now the statewide mandate), and I already miss the social and sassy banter of my colleagues. Ok, the sassy part is usually me. Even though we’re all now working remotely, we still engage through text, and G-chats, but it’s just not the same as physically being present with them. It’s now the weekend and I’m still trying to make sense of the uncertainty of these times. 

I feel like we’re trapped in a never ending alien movie where the creature picks off their unsuspecting victim one by one. You only know that you’re the next victim when you lose your sense of smell and then there’s nothing you can do to protect yourself. I’m anxious and trying not to fall down into the rabbit hole of despair and sorrow but stay vigilant and informed at the same time by relying on definitive information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and not certain religious zealots preying on a scared and ill-educated flock. It’s difficult to relax with all that’s going on. What makes it worse for me, I’m also a bit of an empath and have to not only be careful being around people, but about how much of the media (TV & Facebook included) I consume.  

There is so much strange energy around us. I understand, people are nervous, angry, and scared. Nervous they could get infected, angry at the government for delaying action, and scared about their financial future and rightfully so. The weight of the world really rests on our shoulders but that energy tends to manifest itself during my sleep. My dreams are troubling and confusing and I wake up more exhausted than when I went to sleep. For the second time this week I woke up early and couldn’t fall back asleep. I tried to think of calming melodies that could lull me back into my slumber but then I began hearing the airport noise. Portland International Airport is about 20 minutes away from where we live in North Portland, but when the air is cold like it was a few nights ago, the noise of departing aircraft can travel. The noise then prompted me to think about my (our) vacation / anniversary trip scheduled for the end of April to Europe which is now doomed. Yes, I know that I am being selfish and I own that. It’s an honest reaction. Eric and I will have to celebrate our 20-year anniversary in a less European environment but as always.

By now it was finally getting light outside. As I glanced over at Eric’s side of the bed to see the clock it was 6:40 AM. Since I was already very awake, I decided to try my luck again at the store for toilet paper. Like a warrior preparing for battle, I armed myself for the anticipated battle.  Before I walked out the door, I applied my hand sanitizer and put on my gloves. As I approached the store, crowds were already gathered at both entrances. There were actually more people waiting this morning than on my previous visits. I was on a mission for toilet paper and judging by the number of people in Aisle 18, I wasn’t the only one. There were people grabbing right and left for the finally in-stock super-mega-ultra-plush treasure. As I was reaching for a 24-pack, I was hit by a shopping cart being pushed by a woman who was in a rush to grab her share of this white bounty. I wasn’t hurt but a bit stunned that TP could cause folks to lose their shit (pun intended), but I was happy to have finally scored a pack of the two-ply goodness.

Question: Why is it that all of a sudden, handwashing has become a new concept for the salvation of humanity?

In the darkest of times, humanity always finds a way to overcome adversity. We are resilient and we are innovative. I’m impressed at how clever some people are in their ability to make the best of the situation. The videos in Italy of neighbors singing and performing on their balconies are heartwarming. Although not a laughing matter, song (video) parodies like “Stay Home Vogue” by Chris Mann encourage us to stay home as a way to combat the spread or being exposed to the virus that made me smile. I’m a people person, or as Eric affectionately calls me, a Social Whore. So social distancing and sheltering in place are a real challenge for me, but it is a necessity. Eric, the introvert, is perfectly content sitting on the couch watching an architectural or historical program on the television. I’m not completely isolated, I get my social fix with the virtual happy hours and virtual parties happening. At least we’re able to see and hear each other online without any inadvertently causing each other harm.

Though we need to physically distance ourselves from each other, doesn’t mean that we have to be alone. We will get through this together. It’s not going to be pretty but our common spaces will likely be cleaner and we’ll likely be grayer, smarter, and heavier when we do.   

Thank you to all healthcare and supermarket workers for all you do and for going the extra mile! 

#flattenthecurve #coronavirussucks #socialdistancingworks

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