Friday, May 1, 2020

Life, Death, and Love in the Time of COVID-19

This hasn't been the best week. I will admit at the outset that I am being overly dramatic and ominous, but I want to be transparent and open with my feelings. From someone who is usually very guarded and cautious with my words, I am just going to come out and say that I am scared, exhausted, overwhelmed, and angry.

If you follow me on Facebook, either as my friend or as a reader of the blog (thank you, btw), this revelation shouldn't be all that shocking. I have been cussing up a storm and have been much crankier than normal on my personal page, whenever I take to that particular soapbox to opine. This week's rant was about the Executive Order to keep meat processing plants open. I read/heard about that the previous evening, but I must have awakened to some fresh realization that the fuckery and chaos wrought by this DESPOTUS just continues on, unchallenged. I keep wondering if the reporters are just there to earn a check, because it is only the rare occasion when some brave soul comes within moments of shouting WHAT THE ENTIRE FUCK--REALLY MR. PRESIDENT??!!

Or maybe, that is just me. I stopped watching the briefings, but every now and then, I leave the TV on MSNBC and right on time, that bullshit express comes roaring through...

I don't know if I took time to properly call out the ass-holery of Drs. Oz and Phil yet (so put a pin in that for now), but last week during the middle of the day, I caught a whiff of the FOX News hour hosted by Harris Faulkner. None of that booshay was in the mix as reporters and news readers alike openly questioned the DESPOTUS's bizarre suggestions about UV light and/or chemical cleaners as some kind of miracle fix. Perhaps only in the metaphorical sense is daylight a disinfectant against ignorance since their analysis was consistent with what was being addressed on the other networks. Even Karl Rove made sense in his rational discussion about the role of federalism, states' rights, and social distancing.

Yeah, so with all due respect to the remarks made by Oprah's favorite things...

Donning face masks and maintaining a six-foot wing-span of distance between people aren't attacks on your liberty. You can quote Patrick Henry all you want, but he's dead and I doubt he would compare coronavirus to a tyrannical King George III. You can kill people if you insist on going about uncovered in public. And we got laws against reckless endangerment. So if MC Karl Rove knows that and the anchors at FOX News (who even appeared in a promo that encouraged social distancing) know that, then what is the damn problem? Oh, that's right...Karen needs her haircut.

(Allow me to pivot from the political to the personal by sharing this article I found on emotions based on the movie Inside Out. The graphic helps to illustrate why our emotions appear to be all over the place.)

Personal emotions tend to be more complicated for me to express: I am anxious and scared. Anger is easier for me because that serves a public function. Anxiety and fear are more internal. During this pandemic, I've been guzzling a mixed cocktail of these emotions daily. Add in some lethargy and loneliness, and you've got Busy Black Woman Blue on the rocks (shaken, not stirred).

I'm not the only person who is feeling this way. I heard an NPR story about an increase in the number of calls to mental health hotlines. There was that emergency room doctor who committed suicide. There are folks who were stuck in difficult situations that are now in serious crisis. I'm guessing that for all of the productivity that has kept some people fired up, the depression that engulfs some of us has become much deeper. I haven't reorganized anything. Even people who are immune to stress, like my Dad, are showing signs of strain and weariness. He appears resigned to an inevitability--not that he feels endangered or at risk, but that he's fine with not seeing us if he can keep us safe. And I'm like don't you have that backwards, and wait, you seriously don't miss us??? That is the closest thing to crazy I've ever heard him say.

Ever since our roles reversed years ago, it has been my job to keep them safe, which is the main reason why I haven't forced my way over there. I'm sure that at some point on a necessary outing, I have already been or am at risk at being exposed. And I take into account the fact that I live with a free-range Montessori kid in pre-school--the same child who gave me the flu in March 2019 and skipped around here with no symptoms. I miss them even though my Dad drives me crazy.

So no, it is not an acceptable risk to endanger the lives of my parents because you say so, Ben Shapiro, you heartless fuck.

Now that I'm speaking in angry Black Womanese again, the Ben Shapiros, the Karens, Drs. Quick and Quack, the Troll King, and his Prince of Fails act like getting sick is no big deal since they all have the means to avoid exposure, and then have access to better care as necessary to treat the disease. They have made it clear that the old people dying in nursing homes, the essential food workers and delivery people, and the front-line medical personnel are all expendable. The danger is primarily to people who are out of sight and out of mind. That's why it is perfectly acceptable to allow the Postal Service to fail, to force people off unemployment, and to pit states against each other Gladiator-style for medical equipment.

Thus, the Kid has been in this house and this is where she'll stay until the coast is clear. In an ironic twist, her Over-Protective Papi seems to think that summer camp is a go, so I am trying to keep the peace by not going full Clare Huxtable in asking if he drank any Presidential bleach. Sure it would be nice to send her to camp; I could use a break from these daily homeschooling tantrums. I was the stay-at-home parent for three years before she went to school, so I will endure a few more months of upheaval as long as you keep my wine subscription going, homie. I can find other uses for the money you would have spent on those summer vacation plans because we're not going to be at anybody's beach house either. You had your beach vacation in February.

If I knew how to edit gifs, this would say STAY home.

Am I being irrational? Maybe. Oh ye of little faith? Yeah, you can quote Bible verses to me from six feet away while wearing a mask. Foolhardiness is not an ordained ministry.

Furthermore, I don't have the emotional bandwidth or the mental space sufficient to handle the illness or potential death of a relative or loved one from a virus that seems to be situated in the places where we all live. I am unprepared to deal with ramifications of having someone I know contract this disease from some careless asymptomatic Becky on the beach. I am not willing to allow my child to be a test case for social distancing pre-schoolers.

I have had enough tragedy shared on my timeline. In some form or another, I have been in mourning since this year began, and it is all too much. Enough that the death of an actor is just as difficult for me to process as the death of a family friend, the news of both revealed on the same day. Neither were COVID related, but at this point, does it matter, especially when there is no meaningful way to say goodbye?

And then finally, I am going way beyond my comfort zone in sharing that Busy Black Women get weary and lonely too. It would be nice if I didn't feel like the world assumed that I can do fine all by myself. I wish I could get some encouragement, some emotional support, some reassurance that I am on the right path. That what I do has value on some level. After years of uncertainty, I know that writing is my calling and that this isn't a frivolous hobby. I think about that a lot as folks are enjoying live dee-jays, live music, TED talks, book readings, tutorials, and virtual gallery tours on social media. What am I doing in this pandemic, I ask myself as I finish off another playlist that gets a few clicks or a piece that gets read by a handful of people. I know to encourage myself, even if no one shows up, but I will be honest and admit that it can be hard to stay motivated. It has been this way for years; yet, I know art is never a wasted endeavor. It has value. It brings joy.

This is the joy I contribute to this bleak world. It may not be much bigger than the light from a candle in the dark, but this is my light.

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