Plague Diary, 4/24/20

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About exactly a year ago today, I flew to New York to visit my best friend on the same day that Longreads published a piece I wrote about a nanny I had when I was thirteen. By the time I got off the plane, I was informed that I was getting a crazy number of reads, which was shocking. I didn’t think the piece was that special, but strangers seemed to love it.

Three days later, when I sat drinking coffee with a stack of brand new NYRB classics in the Brooklyn Center for Fiction, I received an email from my editor, Katie, letting me know that she’d been contacted by a movie producer looking to buy film rights for the piece. We did the requisite vetting. He was legit. I went outside to stand on a sidewalk in downtown Brooklyn to scream and do a little “Holy Shit, I’ve made it!” jig, even though I knew better. Who knew what would come of any of it? I’d been on the precipice of success before, close enough to taste it, and the floor had crumbled beneath me. Why would this time be any different? Why was this any more real?

It felt for real. The next six weeks were a fizzy, discombobulating journey as I was approached by two more producers, two agents (one literary) and a publisher. I spent a lot of time reviewing contracts and researching life rights (because it was memoir), film licensing and whether or not I wanted to be involved with the screenplay (one of the producers thought I should be). I took hours-long calls with people in New York and LA and filled notebooks with questions and answers. And even though, it probably wouldn’t have been much money and who knows how anything would have actually done out there, I had a moment or two of feeling like everything I’d ever done was actually leading to something real and tangible. That I could introduce myself as an writer and have it, for once, not feel like bullshit.

Anyway, the deals fell through for a host of depressing reasons (I don’t have a celebrity-followed Twitter account/Influencers aren’t into me/I don’t have 500K people reading my blog every day/ I’m old and not sexy/I overshare/I don’t share enough/I don’t have a unique enough story/I’m too much of a boring, white middle class white woman/I’m too southern/ “But it would be better if you had more of a regional flavor? What happened to your accent? Are you possibly from an obscure religious tradition? Is there any particular hardship in your life that would make you more interesting/marketable?” Also “Booksmart” evidently flopped at the box office because people don’t want stories about quirky young women, etc. etc. etc.).

The end came as swiftly as the whole thing had begun. The wave I’d been riding washed out behind me and I was left exactly as I started: hollering into the void, not really interesting enough to interest people, feeling pretty stupid, as a theoretically world-wise middle-aged aged woman, that I’d actually believed it might work out again, that finally –FINALLY—the bullshit would have been worth it.

I knew—I know—the whole deal. What you write, what you play, what you create—it’s not supposed to be for someone else. You should be perfectly happy to toil quietly, taking pleasure only in the act of creation. But, like, I know I’m not the only insecure grandstander out there, right? I mean, I don’t know if it was a childhood spent freebasing (metaphorical) greasepaint doing a bunch of marginal local theatre or just the natural result of being part of a family full of loud-mouthed, larger-than-life creative types all jostling for the spotlight all the time. I do know that I’ve never achieved that sort of DGAF attitude about success or attention that we’re all supposed to strive for. I shouldn’t need that to make me happy. I know the healthy thing would be to stop trying so hard and settle into the way things are. Because things are fine.

But when everything fell apart, I fell a little bit apart. Normal enough, I guess, but I felt embarrassed talking about it. Because in the grand scheme of disappointments, not having a book with my name on it or an unexpected movie deal feels about as crass and ridiculous a complaint as you can imagine. I’d hate the version of me that complained about it. I kind of hate the version of me complaining about it now.

I know you’re waiting for me to turn this around and tell you that (a year later) in the throes of the pandemic, I’ve recognized the truly important parts of life have nothing do with book publishers or literary agents and I have learned to be happy with merely the suggestion of sunlight on my face and air in my lungs. I haven’t. I still think back on a year ago and I wish I had a different ending for that story. I still put on Edie Sedgwick eye make-up and glitter sneakers and dance around my deck in the middle of the night dancing to “Fame” (Irene Cara, special UK 12” mix, icyi), and God help me if I ever stop, because I honestly don’t know what else I’d do.

Anyway, virus, Trump, etc. Pretend I just spent 800 words on something relevant. Picture today is of the Flamingo in Las Vegas on Halloween 2018, because crass and ridiculous.

As of this writing, 775, 578 people have recovered from COVID-19

Plague Diary, April 19-20, 2020

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Dear People In Charge:

You don’t know me. I’m a peon, a single, middle-aged, middle class woman at peak invisible. I live in a small town. I write trivial things that you’ve probably never read. I’m maybe not even the most well-known writer with my same name to write trivial things that you’ve never read. In my professional life, I work in the shallow end of the communications industry in a not-terribly populated side of a southern state. I work with small businesses and small non-profits and small local governments. You probably don’t know most of them either, though you should, because they’re pretty much all wonderful people doing extraordinary things in places you should visit (though perhaps not right now).

There are millions of people working with millions of businesses and organizations like the ones I work with all over the country, all over the world. I understand if you’ve lost sight. We get it. This pandemic is bigger than all of us. And while you may feel a pang when we tell you that we’ve lost a parent or a spouse to COVID or that we’re afraid we won’t be able to buy groceries next month or keep paying our employees or maintain a last, desperate hold on our sanity as we face indefinite fear and isolation without reprieve, we know you’ll probably forget our name or our face. We’re useful as composite, as the wave that comprises the curve, as voter rolls, as possible targets for whatever virus-targeted advertising, conspiracy theory getting passed around on social media, or wingnut argument the President of United States feels compelled to trot out.

In a global pandemic, there is no time for individualism. This is war. How can we defeat this thing? Only as a community. Only as a nation. Only as a world. We’re told to focus on the big picture (which we have no control over). We’re told to focus on the small things (so we don’t go mad thinking about the big picture). We must sacrifice to protect the vulnerable populations, but all populations are maybe vulnerable. (Except you? Including you?) This is working. It’s kind or working. It’s not really working. (Does anyone know if it’s working?)

There are a bunch of crazy people out in the streets, agitating to open shops and sports events at the expense of their lives, stranger’s lives and the whole economic and health infrastructure that holds all of our lives together. Those people are crazy. Definitely crazy. Haven’t they read all the worst case scenarios? There are so many worst case scenarios. Financial Doom. Health Doom. Foot riots. Authoritarianism. Body bags in the street. Depression. Sickness. More unpredictable sickness. Things will only ever get worse, much worse, then maybe better. Maybe not. Folks will face unimaginable hardship. Folks will be forgotten. Folks will be sacrificed for the economy, at a whim. Folks will lose everything, up to an including a single good reason to keep on going, because politics, because public health, because Trump on Twitter.

I know you don’t know what to say, People In Charge, but you really need to strike a balance between “The End is Nigh” and “Nothing Matters.” There’s a way to express to people that we’re all in this together without reducing them to statistics. You need to work harder on that. You might want to balance your worst case scenarios with the occasional soupcon of hope. In my professional experience, people are more willing to deal with privation in the short term if they believe in the promise of the long term. I know you don’t want to lead anyone on, but ffs, no one enjoys being continually clobbered with the unforgiving apocalypse. (Maybe Cormac McCarthy? But I’m pretty sure he’s an outlier.)

Because here’s the thing: those crazy people protesting? They are crazy (and being manipulated by a bunch of corporate interests that definitely don’t have their best interests at heart). But they won’t be the last or the only. And the longer this goes on, and the more hopeless it looks, the more stalled out and stuck in the mire everything feels? The crazy is going to look less crazy and more like a reasonable, if destructive, response to being told that nothing is working or changing and the situation will maybe/possibly/probably never get better. Because if you believe there’s no hope at all, why not see your friends? Why not do a thing you love one last time? Why not rage against the dying of the light?

So, look, people in charge: figure out how to take care of people. Work on the testing thing 100%. Invest in all the PPE and get it to the front lines. Then, make sure the second, third lines—from Irene down the block, who is still pulling shifts at the supermarket to your Mom who might eventually have to go to the store herself if she can’t find a delivery service—have masks too. Get people paid and keep them paid and fed. Be honest about when it will happen and how it will happen. Technical errors will be inevitable, so don’t lose extra time on stupid vanity projects, scattershot ideological arguments and unnecessary red tape.

And for the love of God, work on the message, because your narrative sucks. You need to remind people not just of what’s at stake, but why it’s worth it. You need to remember that every single one of those people has a face. Your job is not just to scare us straight or goad us into giving up. Your job should also be inspiring us to go on and think about the future.

The medical community sees those faces. They deal with patients one on one. They see what virus is doing to people. That’s why they’re hitting so hard.

The small towns, small organizations and small businesses I work with? They similarly haven’t lost a sense of character and plot. Which is why you’re ten times more likely to find a shred of something hopeful on a local message board than on the national news. They’re doing everything they can to take care of their people, because they know only way we survive this is together.

It would be awesome if it felt like anyone upstairs—federal government, national media, etc– cared half as much.

Get your shit together.

Signed,

A Concerned Peon

Picture today was taking in front of the Capitol about three years ago, in May of 2017.

As of this writing, 641,804 people have recovered from COVID-19.

Plague Diary, April 17-18, 2020

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Thursday night, in between a personal Wu-Tang Clan dance party and the conclusion of a slightly drunken pound cake baking session, I cooked up some frozen salmon I’d stocked for quarantine back in the days when going to Trader Joe’s still felt like a thing that didn’t require a battle strategy. The salmon tasted fine, but either it or the lettuce I used for the salad wasn’t and around 2:30am, things went south, or rather north, then south. And queasy, at three-am, slightly wired, I spent several sleepless hours in the Google vortex of aggressive hypochondria.

There’s no worse time than a Pandemic to not feel good, not just because literally everything is now a COVID symptom (Eye pain? Weird taste? Listlessness? Anxiety? Bad at Math? Preferring Blur to Oasis, probably?), but because there’s a real sense that if it’s anything else, nothing can be done about it. So I surfed through the typical hypochondriac’s playbook, convincing myself I had everything from salmonella to Terminal Liver Disease to various rare cancers, disorders, infections and viruses, before I finally drifted back into maybe a half hour of unsettled sleep, hoping that if death was coming, it would at come quickly and painlessly. S

uffice it to say, I’m still alive. I wrote the GP the morning after, who literally kicked off his emailed response to me with, “You know, Alison, I don’t want to diminish what you’re feeling here, but unless there’s a whole lot you’re not telling me about symptoms, I’m pretty sure you’re going to be fine. Drink fluids. Take it easy, etc.”

Under normal circumstances, and for normal people, that would probably settle everything, but because I’m me, I spent the day advance-grieving my probable demise via ______ and repeatedly taking my temperature (which averaged about 97.7 F, for those playing at home). As noted in the last plague diary, the whole medical shitshow in the fall really did a number on me, and it’s hard for me to remember that every little ache, pain, oddity, etc, probably does not presage immediate doom.

Still I’m taking it easy and I’m taking all necessary precautions. (Is it sinus? Is it Covid? Is it a brain tumor?) Would it hurt to remind you my loved ones that I expect my funeral to kick off with James Brown’s “People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul” and conclude with the B-52s “Private Idaho?” Probably not

Picture today is of an empty Coney Island, circa 2017, on a lonely winter day, which is sort of what the world feels like right now. As of this writing, 582,599 people have recovered from COVID-19.

Plague Diary, April 15-16, 2020

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About six months ago, I stood up on the side of a steep slope, wheezy with an inconvenient chest cold I picked up traveling, and looked down into the stark beauty of Glencoe, momentarily sunlit and full of (literal)rainbows between showers, and considered what a crazy year it had been. “The craziest!” I thought. All high peaks (real possibility of creative success, travel) and dire canyons (possibility of creative success pretty much dying on the vine, hospital, infection caught in hospital), but I’d made it so far, and here I was, in Scotland even, carefully settling into some cautious status quo. Not quite normal, exactly, but spitting distance from. A new normal. I could adjust.

I’d been home from Scotland for two weeks when my landlord told me he was selling the house I’d been renting for the previous 15 ½ years. I’d been anticipating that announcement for months, but I still wasn’t ready for it, and after several nervous weeks for negotiations, and for reasons both more and less complicated than I feel like getting into, I couldn’t buy that house, which was a blow. No place had ever felt more like home, and I wasn’t sure I could get a new place nailed down. It was, by then, days from Thanksgiving, weeks from Christmas, not even two months from a new year. I felt like the rug had been yanked out beneath me. First health, then housing. What a year, I thought. It’s like playing Jenga with Abraham Maslow up in this piece.

I found a house, a dreamy house, in a dreamy spot, and entered into a super-speed closing (seller’s request) that took the typical stress of closing and, by abbreviating the time frame and spacing it right in the middle of family and holidays and follow-up medical procedures, amplified it exponentially.

I passed through Christmas a total wreck, New Year’s worse, and even after I finally closed (not quite on schedule, but close enough) I spent the last night in my old house sobbing in my bed, surrounded by a throng of befuddled (though supportive) friends, all wondering why I was such a basket case.

The mess of it all, the combined psychological weight of the whole experience had crashed me out. And even as I moved into the dreamy new house, in the dreamy new location, I still felt residual aches and pains, anxiety about the health stuff coming back, half-convinced I didn’t belong in a house this nice. I didn’t deserve it. I secretly worried I couldn’t sustain it. I didn’t sleep well. I didn’t eat well. I tried to keep the new house at arm’s length, because I didn’t want to love it. Because I secretly thought it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped, and I found myself back in the wilderness again.

Funny thing.

The thing about living alone in a new house during a pandemic is that all you have to do is fall in love with your house. And I did. I have. It’s extraordinary. Every morning I wake up, before and after the wave of pandemics, I look around and think, “I can’t believe I get to live here. It is remarkable to get here before this hit, because look how cool.” Of course, the worst thing about falling in love is the accompanying fear that you now have something else you’re terrified of losing. There’s so much uncertainty. I have this thing now that I love. For the first time in my adult life, I have something of my own, outside of a bunch of records and a fifteen year old Corolla, and outside of the pangs about illness and death and maybe never seeing the people I love again, there’s the whole, “what if I lose my job, my house, this house that I actually love now? What happens if I truly go unmoored? Where do I even go? How do I even survive? I’m not great at survival. I’m way better at having houseguests and dinner parties.”

When I was in the throes of house drama, back in December, when not knowing if I could close was the scariest monster stalking me around the middle of the nights, I offered up prayers to a whole pantheon of entities I don’t really believe in. I promised that if I could get my house situation sorted, I would make my house a haven. I would never turn down a guest. It would be open for whoever needed it. I would use my house to take care of people. Which I guess, by not leaving it, is what I’m doing, but I still worry that I’m welching. I don’t have a lot of faith, but I’m genetically predisposed to an appalling amount of superstition. What if I’m doing this wrong? How much do time I have left here? Do I even bother to plant flowers? Should I even think about trying to make it better for a future I’m no longer sure I have?

The shrinks in the papers tell us the best way to muddle through this is day-by-day, which is fine, because I’m not going out to get paint for the downstairs powder room anyway (I hear the hardware stores are nightmarish at present). But night-by-night I like the house more and more and thus day-by-day I worry about losing it more and more. Sometimes it’s overwhelming.

And listen, I know. It’s an extraordinary privilege to be worried about this thing right now. I’m lucky I have a place to live at all. I still have a job and money to buy food and pay bills. I’m not sick. My family is not sick. There’s no particular reason to think I’m going to come out of this so much worse than anyone else. In fact, odds are good that I’ll come out a lot better. Maybe better enough that I can make good on my promise to feed people and host people in this house that I don’t want to lose and try remind my guests that the show isn’t over and there are probably a few good episodes left before the finale. Because that’s how I make myself believe it. The houseguests and dinner parties are how I survive, not what I survive for. Because the bringing people together and sharing what I have? That is not just the good part, but the best part. The greatest argument I have for seeing it through.

Friends, I really hope we make it through. I really want to have you all over again. Because this house? It’s great. I love it. But it’s not the same without you. It’s wasted when it’s not full.

Picture today is the front of my house, about five minutes ago.

As of this writing, 527,471 people have recovered from COVID-19.

Plague Diary, 4/14/20

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I’ve had four meetings today, which I could complain about, but I still have a job, so in this economy, I wouldn’t dream of it. I tend to drift on long conference calls, which means half of the time I end up down some rabbit hole horror show of virus-related bullshit that leaves me in a state of reckless unease. I read more stupid articles and want to start fights with all those people who seem to be basically cool with this situation. The people who aren’t worried about their jobs. The people who are lucky enough to be with the people they love. The people that have a responsible amount of savings. The people who eat only healthy meals and do lots of yoga and are using this time to get right with the universe. The people who look toward the future and see a fine time for us to go zen or whatever and never go shopping or think about dumb, silly, trivial shit again. The people that are apt to remind you, “Think of how good for us, and good for the planet, and good for our souls it is for us to live like this.” You know, those a-holes that tend to think it’s selfish if you’re unable to find joy in the moment and you’re petty for being like, “Dude, I cannot fucking wait to drive somewhere loud and kind of dirty and completely unessential and breathe near people again.”

Dude, I cannot fucking wait to go somewhere loud and kind of dirty and completely inessential and breathe around people again.

Getting mad at those people is worthless though. We all have ways of coping, and I suspect their Goop-flavored serenity is just another means to an end. They’re trying to cheat their own despair via desperately wanted (if maybe unearned) transcendence, the same way that I am trying to keep my brain from fritzing out permanently with daily fashion shows, Negronis, massive quantities of cheese, and frantic dance parties to least peaceful, meditative music I can think of. It’s cool that there is more quiet and birdsong or whatever. But you know what else is cool? Trying to get the squirrels hooked Iron Maiden, blasted top volume from your home office windows. (Trust me, they’re into it)

Also, it’s a total cop out to get mad at your friend’s ex who keeps posting mindfulness memes because you’re actually just mad at the fact that your Federal Government is an absolute trainwreck. Actually, that understates. It’s a trainwreck that hit a boatwreck that somehow managed to crash into an asteroid that’s slowly rolling into an erupting volcano. My local government is great. I actually think my governor is really doing the right thing, but I’m historically wary of what happens when you just let states handle things without some kind of coordinated federal response. And, like, North Carolina is not California.

Mostly, I’m tired of being afraid. And I’m really tired of people trying to scare me. I’m the most tired of the federal government telling me they’re going to do things and then bailing, like that friend you still go out to meet at the bar, despite the fact that she only shows up about 50% of the time, because “Oops, overslept,” and you’re like “How did you oversleep? It’s 7:30 at night? Are you a vampire?”

I keep writing about this stuff like it matters, like it’s going to change anything (it doesn’t, it won’t). I keep writing because I can’t turn off or turn down and it’s, if not better than drugs, at least cheaper and easier to get my hands on during a pandemic. I keep writing because I need something to do with my hands and I’m still the worst knitter/guitar player/handcrafter you know (and sadly, the plague has not bestowed upon neither great and wondrous new talent nor great and wondrous new will to improve).

I dreamed about South of the Border last night, so that’s where today’s picture comes from.

As of this writing, 466, 478 people have recovered from COVID-19.

Speaking of writing and in the event you’ve missed it, a friend and I have launched a new creative project, here. It’s fiction, so less about me bitching bout quarantine, so possible bonus for you.

Plague Diary, 4/13/20

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I don’t know what is about Monday mornings, but it feels like, since the arrival of The Pestilence, the newspapers have just let ‘er rip with the worst of the worst. It’s like they held the truly awful until after the weekend’s passed. Perhaps out of some general nod to day of rest. Perhaps because they figure some nice old people—maybe their own parents—are more likely to take a gander at the headlines on a Sunday morning. Perhaps because they’d like to remind us that, even though we’re not actually going to the office anymore, it is the beginning of the work week, and hence only appropriate that we rise hating ourselves, our world, our lot in life and wondering why we keep trying if nothing means anything. You know, typical Monday stuff—now with bonus apocalypse!

As I think I’ve mentioned before, the worst offender here is the NYT Opinions page, which on any given Monday reads like a Nihilist Variety Show co-hosted by the cast of a terrible community theatre production of “No Exit” and Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. I have no idea why I still look at it, because after the front page, it’s kind of like squeezing an entire sack of salted lemons into an infected would—am I a glutton for punishment? do I genuinely expect anyone to share single hopeful thought or positive development? (don’t know, can’t say).

And this morning was, of course, absolutely par for the course. I’ll spare you the details because even the Four Horsemen called and were like, “Overkill much?” but I can tell you that the real piece de resistance was a piece was a piece seeking to (not even try to) answer the question “When Will Things Be Normal Again” by simply listing out the vast amount of things we don’t know about the virus, the world, the economy and the human condition by simply listing them as statements, in bleakest terms possible.

So in response, I would like offer you a list of things we do not know, because I’m pretty sure that guy left out some critical components . You don’t have to read the original (in fact, I’d pretty much advise against it), but know that I’ll try to leave you in the same state heady ignorance as the original, but with maybe a smidge less existential despair:

We don’t know how many people have been infected with Covid-19.We don’t know the full range of symptoms.

We don’t know whether spontaneously remembering the words to cruise line jingles from the 1980s and then getting said jingles stuck in your head is just a coincidence or that your subconscious has a sick sense of humor.

We don’t know exactly how much more pollen you can inhale on your repeated trips out to the porch because #quarantine and whether that much pollen will eventually cause you to mutate into some kind of weird yellow-tinged superhero who maybe helps bees but sneezes a lot and that makes everyone uncomfortable even though sneezing isn’t really a symptom of this thing, right?

We don’t know why people we like and respect are actually falling for this 5G nonsense. We don’t know whether your friend/coworker on Zoom has had Botox. Like kind of recently, in the last six months, had Botox. We do know it’s probably impolite to ask, but seriously . . . you noticed that too, right?

We don’t know why that “Improve My Appearance” button on Zoom only seems to work for people who are already hot.

We don’t know whether it’s technically okay to be eating nachos for dinner more than one night a week as an adult human. We don’t know how we’ve already finished that whole bottle of gin (we do, actually, but we’re not admitting to it).

We don’t know if this will actually make me want to date again or if I’m just currently thinking about it because bored and still over-fixated on dying from choking on an olive because single.

We don’t know exactly how well the porn industry is doing during this crisis, but one would have to suspect “very well.”

We don’t know why my cat spent a whole two hours last night inexplicably camped out in the powder room cabinet.

We don’t know whether the pandemic will lessen the chances of a low-rise jeans comeback, but a girl can hope.

We don’t know exactly what our neighbors are doing, but we have to assume, every now and then, it’s something cool.

We don’t know when this will be over or how it will go, and maybe it will stretch for years and get horribly worse and all the catastrophists will be right, but even if—especially if—they are, I think my future self would want my current self to chill out and drink that gin and eat those nachos and spend too much time on the porch. After all . . .

We don’t know what happens tomorrow. Could be terrifying. Could be that I finally get around to making that caramel cake.

Picture today is of a couple of neighbors (we don’t know where’ they’re headed) taken from porch quarantine in the wake of some truly crazy storms.

As of this writing, 443, 786 people have recovered from COVID-19.

Plague Diary, 4/12/20

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So, I come hardwired with an authority problem. As a teenager and young adult, I thought that made me more daring and interesting. A real rebel. `As a forty-four year old woman, I think it’s kind of embarrassing that my first impulse is to argue with anyone who tells me what I can’t do (or worse, what I SHOULD do). It’s so pronounced that the fastest way to get me to do a thing (eg: quit smoking, write a novel, start running, buy a house, etc) is to tell me I can’t or won’t. It takes real effort for me to believe that any advice is not just a challenge or double dog dare to do the opposite. It takes a while for me to get that Rules are sometimes useful, occasionally for the greater good, and not just a golden opportunity for creative defiance.

It took me until approximately today (4 weeks, four days) into quarantine to muddle out that my failure to handle people telling me what to do with even a modicum of grace is big part of why all this has been tough for me. I don’t like Rules. I really don’t like being told Rules by old white dudes in ties. I don’t being compliant. I don’t like feeling compliant. I really hate accepting that This Is The Only Way Things Can Be Because there’s got to be a work around, right? A loophole? A tunnel under the dungeon? A middle finger and a daring escape?

To be clear, I have been following The Rules. These Rules. I have not left the house, save to walk around the neighborhood, buy groceries (thrice) and pick curbside takeout (a couple of times) in over a month. I haven’t had friends over. I haven’t visited friends. I haven’t seen family. I haven’t partaken in inessential services. I haven’t left town. I haven’t spent money on anything fun. I haven’t really done anything fun, at all, save the occasional adult beverage and the somewhat less occasional solo late night dance party.

And I hate it. I hate the life following the rules affords me almost as much as I hate thinking of myself as the kind of person that follows rules.But for all I hate The Rules, I’m absolutely 100 % sure I hate the idea of becoming the embarrassing drunk aunt in the virus transmission death conga line even more. Like more by a factor of a bajillion. I don’t want to unintentionally kill somebody, who could be somebody I love, who could be someone someone else loves. I don’t want to unintentionally get someone sick. I don’t want to feel like Raskolnikov because I flouted the stupid rules for five minutes of ultimately trivial jollies. So yeah, I’m not going anywhere. I’m following orders. And I will continue to do so until . . . I mean, your guess is as good as mine, but I’m hopeful we’ll be paroled sometime before my hair has grown out into a Ronnie Dobbs-level mullet (a risk) and I’m referring to myself in the third person while trying to seduce my household appliances (“Why did you spurn Alison’s romantic advances, you heartless washing machine!”)

So, for those that bristle and buck at the rules, I feel you. Every single time I hear “Stay Home” AS IF I’M NOT ALREADY DOING IT, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. And my inner teenager wants to be a real brat and remind you that I HEARD YOU THE FIRST FIVE HUNDRED TIMES, MOM. GOD! And then maybe slam the bedroom door and turn the music up really loud and rage cry into my pillow and write in my journal about how unfair life is. Because honestly, I got nothing better to do and I’m not going anywhere else.

Storms are coming and I’ve been alerted power might go out tonight. If you don’t hear from me for a day or two, it’s probably because I’m stranded alone in the dark, trying to figure out how much money I’ll lose on spoiled groceries and day-drinking Scotch while dressing up the lamps and pretending they’re my friends. You probably don’t need to HAZMAT-suit-up and drop by to see if the situation has devolved into full “Marie Provost” for at least a few days (though if it has, you’re welcome to the leftover toilet paper).

Picture today of me on Easter Sunday, back when I was still legit cute, sometime around the end of Reagan’s first term.

As of this writing, 537, 873 people have recovered from COVID-19