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.


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