Worldwide cases top 850,000, deaths near 42,000.
Today our governor extends the closure of non-essential businesses until May 4th. Trump caves and admits that the States will lose 100,000 to 240,000 people in the next few weeks, according to models (everything is according to models—we’re all in uncharted swamp).
Two days ago at the grocery store they erected four-by-four pieces of plastic to screen the high schoolers manning each cash register from the questionable breath of the valley’s shoppers. Reusable bags from home now forbidden.
States in a bidding war for respirators. Nurses wearing single-use face masks for a week straight. Doctors threatened with termination for complaining to the media about equipment shortages. New York City buying 14 refrigerated trucks to store bodies. Homeless folks relocated to parking lots and sports stadiums.
Countries are slamming borders shut. Citizens stranded in far-flung bunkers across the globe. The CDC considers telling Americans to wear masks outside. A church in Florida congregates in defiance, its pastor saying, “Because we are raising up revivalists, not pansies.”
Your political party determines your level of COVID-19 panic. We scoff at each other over a growing mound of the dead.
I’m in a long, desperately slow slog, sucking me away from comedy and buoyant mental health. I slouch on my couch and tap on my laptop for ten hours straight, churning out copy and clicking between a dozen windows. Agnes naps beside me or ducks into the bedroom for peace. I suspect that was her daily routine, when daddy went to the office. At 5:30 each night I feel mentally dead and physically hungry. I chat with dudes. I watch porn. I flirt, then rebuff. I talk dirty, I turn cold. I ask several times a day if a fuck is worth death? Or is that dramatic? I shrug and click to another headline about the end of the world.
An unofficial survey of friends confirms high levels of quarantine masturbation. Hackers are breaking into Zoom accounts and interrupting the workdays of corporate slaves with hardcore porn. Kmart is selling many more shirts than pants these days. Gotta look good from the waist up—home office apparel is the new business casual.
Yesterday the building next door set up construction equipment outside my window. Today they shredded asphalt. I’m taking this in stride, surprisingly., though check with me next week.
I’m stuck in a mess I can’t really write about, which is frustrating the fuck out of me, as writing is how I endure the unendurable. I’m in close confines—metaphorically—with a vocal Trump supporter and I must remain, for very good reasons, nonvocal in response. But having that so close to me, while I watch the soulless, moronic trainwreck “steer” the country into mass death and ruin, is beyond rough. It’s crippling me. I want to flee but—like the entire world— I’m handcuffed in place.
Worse, I can see a path for him to reelection, and that makes me want to give up completely on my countrymen. Moving to Canada was a clichéd response. And in light of global pandemics, no longer an option.
It’s hard to find hope.
But my anger and despair is only making one man suffer. It isn’t making the Trump supporter suffer, or the president suffer. Fox News anchorpeople still sit in blithe ignorance of my bitterness, probably sexting their news directors during commercial breaks for Depends undergarments.
In tough times I still revert to fantasy. I picture a universal ledger of suffering, locked in some dim basement, and in my delusions its caretaker flips to the right page, catches this oversight, and corrects the mistake.
But there’s only one man to blame for my own happiness. And waiting for life to revert to the hard-fought form I built and defended is futile. I’m lucky. I have a home, no annoying quarantine roommates, and a paycheck (for now). I’m in perfect health. There are people in the world who love me. I still think human connection is the thing. I would like to avoid subtracting from the world’s happiness during one of the strangest times in its history.
What’s coming? Fuck if I know. Tonight, as I sat with the chihuahua by the pond across the street, I watched two boys fishing from the dock. They cast and reeled and cast again, their faces wrapped in scarves, calling to each other from where they stood, six feet apart.