Plague Diary 5: One Month


Baked Alaska, a downtown restaurant, now closed of course. The weather continues beautiful, which makes it all somehow worse.

It is one month today from the Monday I went into the office to find out that I would be working from home forthwith. I’m still working from home, even though yesterday I called in sick. It is kind of ridiculous to call in sick when you work from home, like, okay, I cannot make the arduous 15 foot commute from my bed to my desk, but I couldn’t do it. I don’t think I have IT – I think instead it was a message from the old gallbladder, to wit, “I am DONE, I QUIT, get me OUT of here!” I guess it could have been a sneak Rona attack except without the cough, fever, or anything corona like except total exhaustion and a completely miserable gastrointestinal system. Really, in a just universe all other illnesses would be cancelled right now; the suspense is just too much. I’m really tired: could be the Rona! I’m sneezing a lot: could be the Rona! I keep forgetting shit and I can’t get motivated: could be the Rona! Or, you know, I could be freaked out, depressed, have spring allergies and a gallbladder that in the normal course of things would almost certainly have already been removed.


But this is not a just timeline or even a remotely normal one. The weasel hit the large hadron collider in 2016 and it’s just been downhill from there.

I have taken to driving on the beach. This is something I swore I would never, ever do – I hate the people who drive on the beach, I hate having to worry that my dogs will be hit by a CAR on the fucking BEACH – but now I guess I have to hate myself just a little more. My son urged it upon me but he is right: since they closed all the beaches but one, if you want to get to a deserted or even slightly less crowded part of the beach, you must drive. That would be because everyone else is driving. On Sunday, which was Easter, the shiny new gates to the beach access road were closed to deter crowds and you had to walk in. The crowds were not really deterred. Dozens of families with clam guns were marching sullenly along the road, all to cluster together directly in front of the access. Social distancing: this ain’t it. I walked about a quarter mile south and there was only me and one distant, clever clammer. It was perfectly lovely. Why are people so goddamn weird?

It also turns out, okay, that driving on the beach is kinda awesome. It’s like driving on snow only less scary but with that same faint slippy slidy feeling, except on the beach you have way more wiggle room. The ocean is right there, the wind, the sand, the sun, the whole thing – it’s pretty great. I still think it should be against the law, though, partly because I am just a killjoy old lady and partly because I want the beach left to the birds and the wind and the sand crabs and, I don’t know, the driftwood and jellyfish, as much as it ever can be. It’s always a mistake, making it too easy for humans to get somewhere.

In plague news, we’re all getting used to it and that’s terrifying in and of itself. Bit by bit, things just get weirder and weirder and yet I feel as if I’m supposed to just go on pretending they’re . . . normal. They’re not normal. None of this is normal. I am one of the lucky ones: I still have my small, underpaid, nonprofit job, but meanwhile my son has no job and no hope of getting one and neither does my daughter and neither do squazillions of other Americans. The lines at food banks are five hours long and if you try to call the Oregon unemployment office, you only ever get either a recording that tells you the lines are overwhelmed or a relentless busy signal. The $1200 coronacash payout has not yet arrived in this household and exactly how does anyone think that lasts more than a couple weeks anyway? What are people supposed to do? Nobody knows and most definitely, nobody cares.

Day 30! It just keeps on getting weirder and not in a good way.


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