Plague Diary 7: Masks and Social Distance


It’s a beautiful mask. 

Today was store day. We have been trying – and mostly failing – to only go shopping once every two weeks. This is actually what I was doing before the plague hit and honestly, I was a bit better at it then. Now that there are two people to feed along with the two dogs and the godDAMN cat * we seem to end up at the store more than we should. Nevertheless, the plan is there and so today I went to Fred Meyer all decked out in my mask. This is the second time I have worn my newish mask – made by one of my talented and lovely friends in Portland! – and I hate it. It’s a great mask, but I hate it as much as I hated the paper mask and, even though I am totally ordering this mask because fuck yeah, guillotines, I fully expect I will hate it as well. I put the mask, any mask, on and the very first thing that happens is my glasses fog up. I adjust it to a point where they don’t fog up quite as much and then, after about two minutes in a mask, the panic begins. “You can breathe” I say encouragingly to myself. “Really, you can breathe. It is okay.” It is not okay. My brain is convinced that I can’t breathe and on some deep lizard level, that means I need to get the fuck out of where I am: if you don’t flee right now, it tells me, you will have to fight the velociraptor and the odds are not good. This is a super fun feeling when you’re trying to pick out decent onions without actually touching them.

I am nothing if not really good at beating back panic attacks with a combination of icy logic and just straight up stubbornness but still. That just gets them under control, somewhat – it doesn’t make them go away and the effort of keeping myself from just ripping the mask off my face and running screaming out into the parking lot doesn’t leave me much brainpower for anything else. So about halfway through a shopping trip I have mostly lost my higher reasoning abilities, which is to say, I have no idea why I have two packages of udon noodles now but no salsa. Yes, I forgot the dental floss and the large padded envelope. Also my glasses have fogged up completely again and so I can’t see either. Watch out, fellow shoppers. That’s me, careening wildly through the aisles, half blind and oxygen deprived. Today at the Fred Meyer I got to one of those aisle  intersections that were awkward enough before. Now, they’re pure hell. I stopped and then everyone else stopped and we all stared at each other, masked and panicky. You can’t smile politely – or apologetically, either – with a mask on. You can’t make that weird grimace that indicates: “sorry! I am from Mars!” with a mask on. All the little social cues (which honestly I am not all that good at anyway, let’s face it) have disappeared and here we all are, masked but not having fun.

There was toilet paper but no rice. I got the last package of turkey coldcuts and almost the last tofu. There were less eggs. I hear that in other places there are egg shortages and that is scaring me. Here, so far, we have eggs. There is still no yeast and hardly any flour and no ramen. The only paper towels were the huge multi packs. The cat litter was almost gone. This whole slow motion apocalypse is just so fucking weird. That’s the thing, I think, it’s just the weirdness of it all. There’s no rice and the president is urging people to drink bleach; banks are sending emails saying they want to help you, which means, I think, that they won’t help you at all; the unemployment offices have just given up even trying to answer the phones and so on and so on and so on. Working from home is not getting any easier. On Thursday I went AWOL and just headed to the beach for a couple hours. Sometimes, a lot lately, I just can’t, quite. Do anything.

In other, non plague news, the microwave died. Well, to be absolutely honest, the microwave didn’t die so much as it had an episode – suddenly, there was lightning in the microwave! Whoooeee! – and that episode made me actually look really closely at the inside of it. This is the part where I confess to being a completely shitty housekeeper; anyway, I have cleaned the microwave before, I swear, mumble mumble, last year mumble. I had guiltily assumed that the brown crud on the bottom was just horrible grunge but it was under the glass plate, so, whatever. Haha nope. I am not as gross as i think I am: turns out that the bottom of my microwave, much like the bottom of a Honda I once owned, has rusted out completely. So goodbye microwave and since the oven died about two weeks ago, that means we are down to the stovetop and the toaster oven for cooking options. Therefore, we are going to Costco and/or WalMart tomorrow for a new microwave and so the Coronacash dwindles away, eaten up by things like microwaves and two new tires and jesus christ groceries have gotten expensive.

I want to get a new gas range but somehow the whole thought of everything that will have to be done, find someone to run a gas line from the box room to the kitchen, buying a range, getting it installed, seems like an impossible mountain that cannot be climbed. I’m still trying to figure out what to do about the sewer and I just want to scream, it’s the end of the world as we know it! I do not at all feel fine! And expecting us all to behave as if everything is the same as it ever was is not working! I wish it was.


I found this on the beach on Thursday. Yes, it’s a rack from a restaurant dishwasher. It had been out in the ocean long enough to grow barnacles and seaweed and after a couple days in the back of the truck it smelled amazing, let me tell you. I put it in the recycling because I don’t actually need it but it has boggled my mind a bit and I wish I knew where it came from.

* the cat has taken to peeing on my bed whenever she gets the chance and I find that our friendship may at this point be ruined. Yes she’s been to the vet, no, there’s nothing wrong with her, she’s just old and fat and for whatever reason, she has decided that she’d rather pee on my bed – where she sleeps too! – than anywhere else although if she can’t get to the bed she will use the bath mat or the kitchen rugs or the dog towels or, if absolutely necessary I guess, her litterbox. ARGH.

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3 Responses to Plague Diary 7: Masks and Social Distance

  1. The poor old cat may be going senile…….

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