Life: Writing Amid Too Much Real News

Tiny clip from the reliable https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/ site

I’ve been quiet here, because there is a lot happening. A LOT. I’m not good at pretending otherwise.

I don’t want force false cheer or deny current events in my posting, because then it will read as, “A dangerous pandemic is raging out of control around the globe, my home state is on fire, my lungs are filled with smoke, my country is sliding into fascism, and HERE IS A NEW RECIPE FOR PICKLED BEETS!”

–me, just now

I’m having two kinds of interactions with people about the current state of affairs.

People who are cautious and have changed their lives since the pandemic became widespread are easy to chat with about our condensed, indoor lives. We’re trying to stay healthy and almost sane. We exchange recipes, movie recommendations, tell each other stories, share links, have video calls, compare masks, and discuss ways to solve pandemic-related logistical problems. (I want some of that fancy, vacated office space to be made available to schools which can no longer safely accommodate all of the students. Some of those offices (the ones that won’t have elevator lobby traffic jams) have VAST amounts of floor space, decent ventilation, zippy fast internet, and natural light. At even 30% occupancy per floor, they could support a lot of students! And yes, we’ll need to hire more teachers and support staff to make that work, and that would be worth it and potentially good for the recovery! And and and and…) My friends who are cautious may need to visit ailing relatives, and plan long, arduous car trips that may not involve stopping. They run errands, but do so cautiously and efficiently while masked. They avoid non-cautious people. If I have seen them within the last six months, I socialized with them outdoors and while wearing a mask.

People who are not cautious are living very different lives, and I can’t entirely relate to them. They are flying in airplanes. They are going on vacations and drinking in bars. They might as well tell me they are from Alpha Centauri. They aren’t appearing in Karens-gone-wild videos, thankfully, but I’m still judging them the way I judge people who don’t stop at stop signs. It’s not that I don’t understand taking risks to oneself: it’s putting others at risk that really bothers me.

These events are also changing what I read, and my reading has become GEEKY IN NEW WAYS. I have waaaay too many conversations about virology, antibodies, vaccine development, how clinical trials are supposed to be done (no, not all the researchers who don’t have the illness injecting themselves – THAT is just a bad version of Phase 1, people!); I’ve given two brief informal gushing chats on angiotensin-converting enzymes 2 (ACE2); I’ve translated acronyms for cardiac conditions potentially aggravated by COVID-19 to my father; I’ve started “liking” too many posts from UCSF about their nanobody-based potential treatment, AeroNabs; and I am constantly frustrated that I’ve got a lung health issue that is holding me back from going out to show up in person for the biggest civil rights mass movement of my adult life, Black Lives Matter.

I am NOT sending Twitter invitations to that asteroid that everyone is writing about, either.

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Will #asteroid 2011 ES4 hit Earth? 🌎 No! 2011 ES4’s close approach is “close” on an astronomical scale but poses no danger of actually hitting Earth. #PlanetaryDefense experts expect it to safely pass by at least 45,000 miles (792,000 football fields) away on Tuesday Sept. 1.

I’m sure I’ll find a way to write, perhaps even as if there isn’t ash in my hair from taking my compost bin out, but my brain is full, I’m tired, I’m discouraged at the state of my country, and I have not done anything to get the abs I was convinced (half-heartedly) that I could have had by now. This will all inevitably seep into my writing, and that is okay.

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