Monday, May 25, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Chapter 8

So I'm talking about two topics today...


#1: MASKS

OMG, Miss Piggy, put on a mask! And pants, while you're at it.


So the Mask Wars continue. There are daily fights about masks online and regular videos depicting fights about masks in store aisles.

From my post on April 7, this is what The Mask Wars looked like wayyy back then:

Person A: "Be sure to wear a face mask if you need to go out in public."

Person B: "Face masks are ineffective!"

Person C: "Medical professionals need those face masks more than you do!"

Person D: "YOU SHOULD NOT EVEN BE GOING OUT IN PUBLIC IN THE FIRST PLACE!


And this is what they look like now:

Person A: If you wear a mask, you are a left-wing, anti-freedom, cowardly sheep! And here are twelve memes that agree with my stance!

Person B: If you don't wear a mask, you are a right-wing, pro-MAGA, grandma-killing moron and should be have objects thrown at you and be driven out of town!

Person A: I AM BEING BULLIED AND OSTRACIZED BY PEOPLE IN MASKS!

Person B: I AM BEING ASSAULTED BY THE GERMS OF PEOPLE WITHOUT MASKS!
Everyone and No One: STOPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPITTT!

And seriously, it's almost become less about whether masks are or aren't effective... and more about what wearing (or not wearing) a mask really means. Apparently, your choice (to wear or not to wear) is an outward expression of your inner core, political leanings, even moral compass, oh yes.

I can't help being reminded of the immediate weeks after 9/11, when we were being encouraged to wear the colors of the American flag to show our solidarity with... I dunno, America. The victims? (Not peace, though. Peace was taboo.) For a few weeks after 9/11, if you wore red, white, and blue to the grocery store, you were considered to be patriotic and caring. If you thought the whole thing was pointless and you chose to wear green instead, well... you were basically letting the terrorists win. Thankfully, this movement didn't gain much ground, and it went away pretty quickly... at least where I live.

I also can't help being reminded of Freedom Fries. That was a thing for a while. If you used the term French, you must be anti-American, pro-terrorists-winning, and all that.

Same if you were against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Being against the wars meant you were against the military... therefore you were against the individual men and women who were brave enough to serve. You were anti-human. Anti-bravery. Anti-everything. In sum: The worst.

I use these examples because these are times, in my memory, where someone's opinion on one issue could be streettcchhhed into absolute absurdity by weak connective tissues. But that's what people did. And what people still continue to do in the Mask Wars.

My stance remains the same. I wear a mask. I wish other people would wear masks in public. But I understand why some people can't. And I don't think those people should have stuff thrown at them or be yelled at. I just think they should be given a wide berth. And if a store has a policy, follow the policy or simply (and without making a big deal about where you are taking your money), shop somewhere else.


#2: The Re-Opening Of Society

Nearly everyone is sick of being stuck at home, but a small portion of these people aren't just sick of it, they're completely done. They're ready to come out and dance. They want society to go back to normal. No, not when it's safe. NOW. 

NOW NOW NOW.


There's a lot of talk about "Essential Services" and what  services are, or are not, essential. 

Perhaps due to pressure by a minority of irate citizens, perhaps due to the failing economy, perhaps both, the authorities are beginning to allow certain places to reopen. So smalls stores, GoodWills, salons, restaurants... here they come....

The U.S. president has declared he thinks churches should reopen. Sigh. That person doesn't give three straws about going to church. He just knows that saying that they should reopen is going to get him support, and pave the way for other things to reopen. Sure, people will disagree that churches should reopen. But they can just be labeled heathens or whatever. Go home, church haters. 

As for me, I would like to go to church when it's safe again. We used to meet in this big building with a stained-glass window at the front of the sanctuary that could cause partial blindness mid-service if you sat in the wrong pew at the wrong time of year. Since March, I've been listening to the sermons online. But they could reopen the building today, and I wouldn't go. I won't go until the curve goes downward and/or there's a vaccine.

Growing up in a conservative Baptist church, we were regularly told that a "church" is the people, not the building. We were taught that even people in Bible times only went to The Temple once a year (and that was when it was intact!) because of distance/feasibility. And Jesus didn't even preach indoors half the time. He preached on a mountainside or by a lake or wherever the people were. The Bible is full of stories of people wandering through the desert without a permanent home, or being in exile in strange lands without a temple nearby... and they still found ways to worship. I think if they'd had the internet and could have had internet church services, they'd have been all over it. 




So here I am. I'm staying put. Teaching online. Trying to grow a garden. Subsisting on home-cooked meals. Dreaming of a vacation to another part of the world. Lightly mourning the June trip I had to cancel. Treading cautiously. And not because I'm anti-freedom. Because I'm anti-dying.

I mean, I know I'll have to do it eventually, but for now... procrastination rules.

* * *

Previously: Chapter 1 (March 19), Chapter 2 (March 26 & 27), Chapter 3 (April 7), C
hapter 4 (Oldtimey Historical Edition, Circa 1918), Chapter 5 (April 14-22), Chapter 6 (April 30- May 6) Chapter 7 (May 9-17).



Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Chapter 7

May 9

While driving around today I saw not one but two vans parked on corners, with people selling -- no, not flowers for Mothers' Day -- no, not fruits or vegetables...

Masks. They were hocking cloth masks.

My first thought was, Really? 

My second thought was, What took them so long?


May 13

The big deal these days (and by these days, I guess I mean "the past two weeks") has been certain people chomping at the bit to get the country opened again. For "normalcy" to resume. Some argue that by keeping us in our homes, we're being denied our freedoms. "We did what you said for two months! Now let us out!"

If I wear sunscreen every day in June and July, but decide in August that wearing sunscreen for two months is enough... guess what? I'm going to get a raging sunburn (or worse) when I stop wearing sunscreen in August.

If I'm given an antibiotic for an infection, and the doctor tells me to take it for 10 days, but I stop after 4 days because I'm starting to feel better... and that infection comes raging back because I didn't give the antibiotic enough time... who's fault is that?

With the Corona virus, we have a similar situation, but also different. See, if I stop wearing sunscreen, stop taking my prescribed antibiotic, etc., I'm only putting myself at risk. But with this virus, if go out and start mingling in a "normal" fashion, it's not just myself who I'm putting in danger. It's everyone. Because I may be asymptomatic and not know it.

It's crazy, but I'm STILL hearing people say that the virus isn't a big deal. I'm reminded of the story of the 10 plagues of Egypt from back in the day. Locusts and frogs and hail, and everybody kept on suffering, partly due to the pharaoh, who was like, "Nope. Not going to let my slaves go free." Only the final plague, which killed the pharaoh's son, was enough to (temporarily) convince him.

Is that what it will take for people to take it seriously? For every person to have at least one loved one succumb to the virus? That's horrible. And yet...

These are the stats as of this minute, today as I'm writing this on 5/13:



Here's the link, if you want to see the latest numbers: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/coronavirus-us-cases-deaths/

That's just in America.


May 14

I can't believe all the arguing that's going on regarding masks. Should people wear them, or shouldn't they? Do they help prevent the spread of disease, or are they totally useless? Do they give people a false sense of security? What about those people that wear the masks incorrectly... should they be shamed?

These days, I wear a mask if I'm going to be around people. If I'm just going on a walk with my mom, I usually don't. (We rarely encounter anyone else on our walks.) The rest of the time, yes. And whether or not wearing masks can prevent germs from getting in or out, I don't know. What I do know is that wearing a masks helps me do one very important thing... it keeps my hands away from my face.

I can't even tell you how often I touch my face. I usually don't even realize I'm doing it. I'll be chatting with someone online and suddenly become aware that I'm gnawing on one of my nails.  I rub my eyes. I play with my lips. I can't count how many times I've been watching a movie on my laptop, caught my reflection in the screen, and been like, "Why is my finger pressed to my lips?" But there it is.

So when I wear a mask, it reminds me not to touch my face -- at least until I get home and can wash my hands first. I even keep the mask on in the car after I've run an errand, because, oh yes, I will absolutely hold the steering wheel with one hand and scratch my nose with the other. I know this, because it has happened.

And if I'm not touching my face in public, guess what else I'm not doing? I'm not spreading my facey germs around via my hands.

So yeah. I wear a mask. And I wish other people would, too. Because it's a little thing we can all do.

And yes, masks fog up my glasses. So it goes.


May 17

Sometimes when May rolls around, I have flashbacks to May, 2012, and the hardships in the months that came afterward. This year, especially, things feel a little too familiar... not being able to travel (because back then I had to stick close to home to receive treatments 5 days a week)... not being able to eat in restaurants (physically, I could... but not being able to taste much of anything for two months kind of negated all pleasures in that.)

And then I have to laugh, because there were so many other things about that summer that... well, I can sit here and be grateful that I'm not living through those things right now. The burned skin, the sore throats, the smell of that radiation beam, that sickening stuff I had to drink before my CAT scan, the mouth soreness, the inability to fully close my eyes (hello, shampoo!)

So I can't go to restaurants right now. Okay. So I can't travel right now. That is a bummer. We had to cancel our Canada trip that was to take place next month. We were so looking forward to it. My mom and I hadn't been able to travel together in years, because my grandma needed caring for.

But I've been through this before. Sort of. I mean, I can maybe say I've been through... worse?

And someday this will all be over (I hope?) and then... yeah. Everything just has to be put off, postponed. It makes me sad, but it also seems silly to be sad?

HELLO, my emotions.





Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Chapter 6

April 30

Earlier I was thinking... how strange... it was only LAST MONTH that we were still in school and  doing normal things!

These last 7 weeks have felt like a year. Possibly even a decade.

Not much has changed around here since my last post. The tasks involved in working from home have increased over the past two weeks. So far I'm keeping track of all the different video chats I have to do... this one, four days a week... this one, twice a week... this one, sporadically. Some are better than others. Yes, I wear pajama pants to all of them.

One of my new tasks for work involves doing book readalouds onto video. I've already been doing some of these to send to my nieces. Perhaps because I've devoted my energy to doing these (or perhaps because my workroom has become a disaster area, thanks to the piles of books and curriculum), I've really let my production drop on my vlog. Oh well. It's not like I have a plethora of viewers to disappoint. (Waves to my three viewers.)

I've been watching a lot of Youtube and Hulu lately (mainly Top Model). I watched Deep Impact over on Netflix for the first time in probably a decade, and walked away from it thinking, "That sucks... at least (for most people) Corona isn't necessarily the end of the world.")


May 6

A week ago I finally made my latest book, Caitlin The Magnificent, available for preorder on Amazon.com! This is exciting because, well, it is not easy for me to finish things. I started this one in 2015, and it could've been published two years ago if I'd really buckled down, but this whole quarantine thing has changed me in some very weird ways.

For example, the other week, I had to make phone calls for work. I hate making phone calls. But I knew I had to do it. So I sat down one afternoon and just did it. A few weeks later, we were tasked with making even more phone calls, to different families this time. And so, once again, I took a deep breath and I did it. And, to my amazement, I did not drop dead during or after. And recently, when a relative called me and left a message asking me to call him back, I did not wait six days to do it. I called him back the very next day. (I would have called him the same day, but I... forgot.)

What is happening to me?

Anyway, among other things, I made a little webpage for the book, and it is here, if you would like to view it. Also, please order it. It's really cheap. You  might even like it! It's supposed to be the first in a series. I do have a pretty good draft of book #2. Please, if you know me IRL, occasionally pester me to finish it, won't you? I'd really appreciate it.

A couple of photos from my walk today...