Crisis, am I right? As a generally non-anxious person, let me just say that I was fully unprepared for the physical side effects of abject and unrelenting fear. They’re a real cornucopia of suckiness. And as a fan of both horror films and world history, I’m a little pissed that none of the books I read about, say, Lovecraftian Terror Gods or Pompeii or The Blitz or whatever covered what sustained panic does to, say, your lower back, your sleep schedule or your appetite. I’ve been home for not quite three weeks (which feels like, roughly, an entire geologic era or two) with a stocked pantry, a whole cake and more liquor than I’m comfortable admitting in public. I’m pretty sure I’m down a dress size. Awesome, just in time for non-bikini season.
My profound apologies to anyone I’ve ever known in my life who deals with anxiety issues. I, for real, get it now, friends. I sincerely wish I didn’t, but I do.
Of course, we’re all dealing with this in a different way. If I can pull myself out of the disaster loop for a minute or two, I can appreciate the sort of mass psychological experiment we’re all part of, and recognize that the seeds of several libraries worth of dissertations have been planted over the last few weeks. There are the worriers and the deniers. And the freak outs and the philosophers. Most everyone I know is pretty scared. It’s oddly comforting to know that we’re generally not scared of the same thing at the same time (you may be more scared of dying of COVID, I may be more scared of everyone else—nay, civilization itself– dying of COVID, Kevin over there might be worried about dying of starvation because he doesn’t have a job because of COVID, Mary is probably worried about dying of COVID because she’s still working so neither she nor the e rest of us will starve during COVID, the President is definitely worried about actually having to live in a non-gold toileted, golf-courseless White House, without a trip to Mar-A-Lago for more than two consecutive weeks, land of contrasts, etc,), because your friends can tell you that you’re being ridiculous and you can tell them they’re being ridiculous, even though no one knows what worse-case scenario is actually the most likely.
Of course, some people are staying relatively sane. Among them, my coming-up-on-94-year old Nana, who gets foggy on facts and sometimes loses track of short term memory from time to time, but is pretty good for the long view. The daughter of a coal miner, she was an extraordinary, inspiring success in both business and the splendid life on her own terms (the rest of us be damned) said success afforded her. She made it through the Depression (and the Depression in the rural south, mind) and World War II and being a woman with brains and opinions (not always ones I agree with, by the way) in a context when that wasn’t necessarily a thing that was valued.
Her view: She’s not worried. But stay home. Don’t mess around. “People in this family are prone to lung problems,” she said, as she audibly took a drag off a cigarette. “But I’m not planning on having this virus get in my way.”
A legend. A queen. Exactly who I needed to hear from today. And guys, if you still have a Nana, call her. You have the time. She would love to hear from you. I promise.
Picture today is one maybe my all-time favorite of the woman herself—Gloria Maxine Mitchell Altizer Moran—late 1940s, captured from a photograph of a photograph, so apologies for quality.