Plague Diary: March 20, 2020

COVID / Plague Diaries

Yesterday was rough. Today is objectively beautiful. Pollenated, but beautiful. This is not to say that today is challenge-free. The endless thrum of anxiety continues, a steady murmur, rising and falling like a crowded sidewalk Remember crowded sidewalks? So far, today’s there’s been less yelling, less sudden screaming, gasping and keening from my internal chorus a steadier pace, volume level 5 (no 11s), no unexpected sirens or squeals of feedback.

I had a weird moment last night where I realized I was almost jealous of the people that work in the hospital because they have a thing they can do, and it’s a thing so consuming that it forces them into the present, and near-present, as opposed to sitting idly by worrying about two months, ten months, two years down the road. That thing they do is hugely, unimaginably difficult and fraught with peril. They are the front line army at the gate and we are the city under siege.

I hate the dread with intensity. I hate the helplessness. I’ve always hated going to sleep. I wish I were busy with something doing something that felt hugely, critically Necessary. I wish everything I loved doing didn’t just feel like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I sat in bed last night, staring at the streetlamp through the curtains in the stillness of pandemic spring thinking, Hey, I think I totally get why people sign up for battle when there’s a war.

I know my Homer. The deep, dark secret part of myself, the imaginary heroine part, always kinda thought if I ever ended up in Troy, I ‘d be Penthesilea battling Achilles. I never believed I’d be Cassandra, tormented by visions, trapped behind the walls, desperate to believe the worst never will actually come to pass, unable to do anything but wait. I wonder if Cassandra was perversely jealous of the soliders too. I wonder if she was like, How do I expend all this energy? How do I get caught up in a swell of activity and bravado to quiet the brain? Is there a place I can go and just make surgical masks or ventilators or whatever for a while? Does anyone need me to drive around all day and deliver groceries? It’s cool if I have to wear a HAZMAT suit to do it.

Of course, I’m not Cassandra either. I’m just an ordinary Trojan with a decidedly non-critical job and a definitely non-epic destiny, hoping this shit with the Greeks doesn’t go on forever, hoping the people I love all come out of this alive and still reasonably sane.

To that end, I’m kind of back on writing fiction in a big way. These posts aside, I can’t seem to get into the spirit of recounting my own trivial past life, because it just makes me miss things. So let’s do make-believe. I may have a sort of collaborative project to report about that in the next few. I’ve also started futzing around with stories about pirates again. Will keep anyone updated that’s interested/bored.

Pollen, guys. It’s all over my computer screen.

Picture today is of me and a college roommate after a production of “Penthesilea,” a weirdo play about feminist theory and the Trojan War I participated in Freshman year (I played Aristotle; she played Helene Cixous). Neither one of us got to duel Achilles in the show, but we definitely both got drunk with her at the cast party, hence our state in the picture.

As of this writing, 87,351 people have recovered from COVID-19

The Author

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