Friday, March 27, 2020

Nurse the Hate: Thoughts From The Bunker

One of the things I have discovered during this mandatory lockdown is that with the exception of not being able to play music, my life isn't remarkably different.  In many ways it is much more pleasurable.  As I plow through mindless work reports, it's nice to blast music.  The ability to not just mentally zone out but actually physically zone out when a co-worker asks for clarification on a point made clearly three minutes earlier is quite nice.  The lack of direct human contact though his beginning to play tricks on my mind though.

For example, as I walked the bassets the other morning in a completely quiet and desolate subdivision, I began to think "what if none of this is real?  what if life is a dream like state?  Not like the Matrix where there's some creepy host living off my body, but more like consciousness itself being a lie..."  The next thing you know, your mind can drift into the idea of your body being composed of atoms, and you yourself are nothing but a particle of an atom that is part of a larger creature which is actually a particle of a larger creature and so on.  The idea of "God" is actually just the realization of a larger creature you are part of which builds upon itself on infinity.  Meanwhile I'm just a guy walking a couple of dogs wondering if he can make his credit card bill.

I try to get past the existential arguments roaring inside my head.  There is a distraction of sorts.  The good news is The Boogie Man of the virus is everywhere.  It is the perfect villain.  The virus is invisible.  It is deadly.  It lives on all surfaces.  It floats through the air.  People carry it who don't even know they have it, yet if YOU get it you will die gasping for breath in a leaky tent on a high school football field.  I am being told I need to support restaurants and get pick up food, but I have also been given dire warnings that if Kendra from the Starbucks drive though window even grazes my espresso cup with her disease riddled fingers, I will be twisting in fever and body aches within hours.  I have no choice but to return to my bunker and attend pointless meetings on Zoom.  The only safe place is home with my cleaning agents and toilet paper.

I have stopped looking at the news every 15 minutes.  The last time I looked it appeared New York was doomed, the Federal Government was useless, and various counter narratives are chattering away.  The virus is going to kill us all, yet someone else is saying that current models suggest it won't be as bad as we had initially thought.  The Fox News narrative is urging their largely senior and working class viewers to disregard warnings from scientists.  This is probably in the hopes of bolstering the Fox News ownership stake stock portfolios.  Meanwhile it is unclear if the talking head scientists are understanding the idea of achieving some sort of acceptable risk level where a larger number of people than the quarantine ideal will be exposed to the virus in exchange for not living in 1931 again.  Who knows?  We can get down to the finger pointing later I'm sure.

I am reading.  James Joyce.  The Grapes and Wines Of Northern Italy.  "Million Dollar Bash" about The Basement Tapes.  There is a lot of bad TV to watch.  I am digging into my record collection.  There are weird things I haven't been able to pay attention to in the past.  Goat, The Chills, Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, The Black Lips...  The one thing about this virus quarantine is that life has slowed down.  There is a certain gift in being able to take a second, look around and assess.  I am having longer lingering conversations with neighbors while walking the dogs, neither of us having manufactured deadlines urgently pressing on our subconscious.  I still find myself fighting back an internal alarm telling me to keep moving, don't waste time.

I feel that regardless of how this scenario plays out, our lives will be changed.  Priorities will be shifted.  The fear of deadly microbes and invisible danger will permeate our day-to-day.  I look at a pen to sign a credit card slip at a retailer.  Is it safe?  Who touched that pen?  There is a certain feeling of distrust in others that has seeped in.  Strangers are unclean.  I see people walk the other direction when seeing me with the dogs.  Squinting eyes assessing me.  "Is he sick?  Is he a danger to me?"  It doesn't seem likely we will get out of this without some of the residue sticking to our character long term.

There are 867 coronavirus cases in Ohio with 15 deaths.  There are 11.8 million people in Ohio.  That is .007% of the population with the virus.  Is this all hysteria?  Did Ohio act responsibly to minimize our infections?  I have no idea.  I am along for the ride like everyone else.  Eventually life will continue and I won't think twice about using an unfamiliar pen.  At least, I hope I will.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Nurse the Hate: Exciting New Times In The Days Of Coronavirus

There was an undeniable Zombie Apocalypse feel to the end of this week.  The run on toilet paper and chicken was not how I pictured it, but then again this is sort of a B-level Zombie Apocalypse where instead of having Matt Damon as the lead we have Jason Priestly.  It would be much more exciting if this disease came and made you bleed out of your eyes and anus instead of just giving you a wicked ass case of the flu, but this is the disease our good friends in China thoughtfully created for us.  We have to play the hand we have been dealt.

America being what America is, sales increased sharply for cheap liquors and guns.  I am not 100% positive on what many people have for a game plan.  I picture them bunkered in their homes with bottles of Yellow Tail wine and Old Crow, crouched behind walls of hoarded toilet paper, trembling trigger fingers ready to shoot at a virus if it dares to enter their door to interrupt their binging of Netflix series.  To all of those that ran out and bought all the chicken and 600 cases of water...  now what?  I'd recommend that Miles Davis documentary.  It will be fun to watch that and have some baked chicken with a bottle of Dasani.

By the time Friday rolled around, I wasn't sure if I should disregard everything as a complete hysteria or get on board The Freak Out Train myself.  The more news I consume, the more sure I am that this sinus infection I have is about to blossom into me being on a ventilator in a rain soaked tent outside of an overrun hospital.  The pervading feeling is fear and distrust.  I walked the bassets and the rare times when I came across someone else walking I could see them evaluating me thinking "Is he infected?".  Their eyes squint slightly and bodies tense, involuntary reactions no doubt to the constant stress of The End Of The World.

When the number of cases start to ratchet up, The Fear will start to feed onto itself.  This period of time will be a real test.  I won't be surprised to see flipped cars serving as barricades on the Rocky River Bridge, open fires burning in barrels.  Nearby residents will have turned into tribes, enslaving the weak, many of them disregarding current fashions and now dressing in animal pelts with chains of human ears serving as punctuation to their descent into Lord of the Flies/Mad Max.  Language will have evolved into the last 48 hours into a new simplistic series of grunts.  "You no pass bridge.  We take car.  You slave now."  Meanwhile I was just hoping to get into Lakewood to buy toilet paper.  It will be a drag to serve as a slave in a tribe of guys that used to be window installers and Home Depot employees, but it's important to adjust when life throws you a curve ball.

Maybe I can become some sort of cryptic advisor.  I can picture myself in robes with a belt made of keys that don't open anything.  I will speak only in riddles.  The Tribe War Lord will beckon me to his chamber (what just two days ago was a yoga studio).  "Advisor!  What say thee?  Shall we make war on thy tribes of Rocky River so we may take thy toilet paper and water?"  I will stare off in the distance, strolling slowly as a slow smile spreads on my face.  "The moon that is full is like the bear that has been awaken three days before Spring."  Now if this was a week ago, these guys would look at each other and say "What is that dude talking about?".  Yet, even though it is only two days from now, they will have adjusted to The New Normal and speak in this odd new language.  "The Oracle has spoken.  Thy words truth.  Gather slaves.  War we make."

Life comes at you fast.  Whatever we would be hearing from the government normally would be taken with some skepticism, but as this current leadership group is incapable of speaking honestly, all bets are off.  I assume the truth is some sort of weird variance from whatever is being presented.  The combination of incompetence and pathological lying gives us facts through a funhouse mirror perspective.  Who knows what the hell is happening?  It's worth trying to make lemonade from these lemons.  This disorienting pause in our lives could be a benefit in disguise.

These weeks will be like an extended snow day without the snow.  As long as you don't let your mind wander into thinking "this is what it would be like if a neutron bomb hit", it could be nice re-set in our lives.  This is a good time to re-evaluate what is important.  I fully suspect people will emerge from this period of pause and gain the perspective to understand that their daily grind is largely an illusion of purpose.  Having this forced time to catch your breath and evaluate might not be all bad.  Well, unless you get enslaved by a war party of Lakewood Barbarians.  That would be bad.

Good luck in your bunker.  Enjoy your chicken.  See you soon.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Nurse the Hate: Coronavirus!

The coronavirus is the biggest mass hysteria event in my memory.  There are three people in Ohio that have tested positive to this largely non-fatal disease.  There are 11.7 million people in Ohio.  The governor has declared a State of Emergency.  Sure, why not?  Clearly things are out of hand.  People are hoarding toilet paper.  Yet it is confusing.  Some events are being cancelled, but not all.  Don’t go on airplanes!  Buses and trains run as scheduled.  Don’t go to a basketball game.  Movie theaters are apparently fine.  Office workers are working from home.  Hourly employees are still at Subway and McDonalds.  Once again, there are three (3) people out of 11.7 million that are diagnosed with having it (Two back from a Nile cruise and 1 from a conference in Washington).  I love my odds of survival.

The finger is being pointed at the media, and this is a valid criticism.  All the tools TV and radio stations use to get viewers hooked in on the latest storm events has been unleashed with great glorious power on this ideal super villain.  Coronavirus is invisible, can seemingly strike from anywhere and can never be stopped.  Only by changing all your normal routines and avoiding everything/everyone can you possibly be spared, and even then, you still are AT GREAT RISK.  If you thought the specter of a never-ending war on the terrorism boogieman was good, bask in the glory of the unseen superdisease!  The fact that we can also pump in some Nationalism and blame the Chinese for causing it makes it even better.  I heard the virus was caused because rural Chinese men have sex with bats, and then made soup from the semen soaked dead animals, but this might only be an internet rumor…  USA!  USA!  USA!

I got back from Dublin last week and after the jet lag/lack of sleep, came down with a head cold.  If you want to be a pariah in the United States in March 2020, sneeze in a grocery store.  Check out the looks you get if you cough in a line for coffee.  It’s like I have dripping open sores from leprosy as I walk into the water at Kalahari Water Park (which has probably happened by the way).  Everyone is on full alert, neighbor ready to turn on neighbor.  My co-workers are convinced I am spreading coronavirus, this despite the fact I came from a place with no cases and am showing none of the symptoms of the virus.  I am sick and now ALL illnesses are coronavirus.  There is no longer such a thing as congested sinuses or allergies.  There are only gradations of coronavirus. 

I have decided to go with the flow as opposed to swimming against this strong tide.  I am openly telling people I am sick with the coronavirus, have no intention of staying home, and have licked their phones.  Embrace it.  We are all going to die from something, and you are going to die from the coronavirus I brought from the cesspool of viral infection, Ireland.  With luck I will get national media attention as instead of staying quarantined on a doomed cruise ship, I actually swim out to meet other oncoming vessels to infect all those aboard.  I will do nothing but attend pro sporting events, ride in airplanes, march in parades, and work very, VERY closely with children.  The coronavirus is not really a disease.  At this point, it’s an idea.  Cradle the fear.  Give in.  Let the hysteria wash over you like a microbe filled stream.  You are IN DANGER.

By the way, you just touched your face.