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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Does anyone really know what time it is?


Living in quarantine involves the loss of time and days.  Living and working in the same place turns holidays and weekends into just another day waiting. Waiting for the next phase. Waiting for a vaccine. Waiting for a return to what?

I can't say it was better before we were shuffled off to our homes to work.  The days were pretty much blurred as well. And I was still waiting. Waiting for the day to be over. Waiting for retirement.

Now I'm worried I'm getting a taste of what retirement would be like. I just wouldn't be tied to electronics all day and blurry eyed from back to back video meetings. But I'm afraid I still wouldn't know what day or time it is.

So the pessimist in me thinks this whole thing is just a wash. Different paths, just the same destination. Only difference is that I need to wear a mask.

I am going to the dentist tomorrow morning to hopefully begin restoring a crown that broke off several weeks ago when I was eating popcorn. And oddly enough I am looking forward to it despite my dentist being in downtown Seattle and the potential risks of leaving my hidey hole here at home.

But at least I will be doing something different if not fun. At least I'll be out of my cage and doing something different, but ordinary.  Then again, I'm not looking forward to the idle chit chat about how bad things are and how the economy has tanked.  At least my dentist will get some insurance payments. I just hope it won't be a prolonged thing that requires several visits to resolve.

I'm also going to swing by my office for the first time in two months and bring home one of my big monitores so I don't have to do all my work on this postage stamp of a laptop anymore. That will be weird seeing my office again. 

I had planned on taking the train in and light rail to the dentist. But my wife thought it would be safer to drive and avoid the risks. And since I work for a public transit agency, I feel guilty buying into the perception that the train isn't safe.  Then again, I didn't like the idea of being downtown all day and spending an hour commuting.

But what is time anymore anyway?




Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Predictions



I am getting a bit tired of dire predictions, especially those bearing the phrase "new normal" (and the word "dire" for that matter). Even the New York Times has written semi-parody pieces about the conflicting information coming out every day. I wish just one expert would come out and say, "We really don't know shit about any of this. You'd be better off consulting a psychic."

And while I'm on a rant, I am pretty tired of statements about "trusting science." Science is pretty much about trial and error. So they are winging it as well, just in a more orderly way. In a perverse sort of way, Trump is trusting science when he announced that he is scarfing down malaria medication to ward off the COVID-19 spirits. Perhaps the medication's risk of increasing heart failure combined with his morbid obesity will up his belief in science and my belief in a god.

Bottom line, I don't want to hear about COVID-19, pandemics, financial crisis, social distancing, phased recovery or why we should or shouldn't wear face coverings.  I want to walk down the street and not feel my stress level rise if I see someone approaching me on the same side of the street.  I want to go on a vacation to a tropical environment and have the toughest decision I make be where to have dinner and what to drink.

Instead, I get my joy out of buying stuff on Amazon (mainly face coverings) and waiting excitedly for it to arrive only to find out it is yet another face covering that doesn't really fit or prevent my glasses from fogging up. I've ordered five masks and filters from China through eBay. From the ad they look kind of like something Darth Vader would wear. But since they are from China I probably won't get them until the pandemic is over.

But who can predict when that will be.




Thursday, May 14, 2020

I wonder if even Tom Robbins gets the blues?




I ordered a copy of Tom Robbins memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie and even started reading it (I stopped reading most books that didn't rhyme when I had kids).  It is reminding me why he is my favorite author and why reading his books in the first place inspired me to want to be a writer.

For the record, I still want to be a writer.

I imagine Tom Robbins is locked away in his home in LaConner, Washington staring at the Puget Sound and thanking his lucky stars he doesn't live in Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle anymore. It is hard to know what Tom Robbins would be doing.

I actually have seen Tom Robbins in person twice in my lackluster life. The first time was at a lecture at the University of Washington where he was asked to speak about love. Someone asked him how to make love last and his response was, "Make love first." I thought that was genius.

The second time I saw him was at the Blue Moon Tavern in the University District. He was one of the judges of the Darrell Bob Houston Literary Award in honor of one of his friends he'd worked with during his years working for newspapers. I didn't interact with him. I was just another barfly on the wall so to speak observing from afar. It took him awhile to show up. 

While I waited I recognized one of his friends, Walk Crowley, a Seattle writer. I had met Crowley through my job. He was always pitching local agencies to pay for vanity press books that he would author. Crowley always wore a bow tie and I found him pompous and condescending. I watched him approach the bar and order a beer, "Bar keep, tre ordinare please."

I told you he was pompous and condescending.

Eventually Tom Robbins showed up with a young woman on his arm. I didn't get close enough to meet him or even hear what he said. It was getting late and I had to get home.

So that is as close as I ever got to greatness. But as I read his memoir, I feel like I know him. But then again as I read each of his books, I felt like I knew him. That's what makes him a great writer.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Bubble man


Walking now is like a strange, sinister ballet. You never know what the other person is going to do when they approach. It's like a social distancing game of chicken. Who is going to veer off before you reach the six-foot buffer zone. 

I've noted joggers are the worst.  They inevitably come too close and are usually huffing and puffing and splattering spittle without a mask. People with little kids and strollers are pretty bad, too. But I can't blame them. Toddlers are like cats and difficult to herd.

Picking up take out is stressful, too. Some restaurants are very organized and everyone knows where to stand or hover waiting for the sanitized pen to sign or the iPad with plastic wrap to insert your debit card. But last night this woman came in behind us and just stood in the doorway so you couldn't possibly keep six-feet between us and her when we exited. I find myself feeling very nasty towards my fellow humans in all of this.

Warm weather makes it worse. People want out of their houses and they flock to the waterfront to marvel in its expanse. We see them standing like zombies staring at the sun while it sets and then shuffling off into the dark when it has melted into the Puget Sound.

While walking, I have noticed how wildlife has become emboldened by all of this. There are rabbits everywhere. And I swear we saw a couple of feral love birds in the trees a few days ago. A owl has been frequenting the wild hillside behind our house and pairs of crows are strutting around on every corner. It's as if they are all waiting for us to leave and give them back the planet. Though the sea gulls will miss the french fries. But they'll adapt.

Monday, May 04, 2020

No news is good news


Literally. I am convinced that all of the reporters working remotely rehash even the slightest utterance about COVID-19 into upteen stories that usually contains the pronouncement, "No one knows why..." Which confirms that no one knows anything about COVID-19. 

And I am also convinced that the term "medical expert" is an oxymoron. I've never been to a doctor who was sure about anything. All of the information you receive is conjecture based on conjecture. First they say not to wear masks. Then they insist you wear masks. They say if you get the virus than you are immune. Then they say that having the virus doesn't make you immune. 

The truth could set you free, if, there was any truth. But the constant bombardment of "facts" simply feeds the fear. And NPR, the self-proclaimed bastion of unbiased Journalism, is just as bad as the rest of them. It parades expert after expert through interviews asking if this safe or is that safe. And the experts hem and haw about unknowns and other factors beyond their control or knowledge. So why bother asking?

It's like everything else that I hear since Trump, the true disease, was thrust upon on us. I have been constantly filled with false hope that he will be forced out of office, but he is like a cockroach constantly surviving scandals that would have toppled any other political figure in the past. It is the same with COVID-19. I hate listening to the news because I don't want to get sucked up with some false hope that they have developed a vaccine or that the danger is past. 

So I continue to live in uncertainty acknowledging that life has always been uncertain. We never know what the next second will bring let alone the next day, week, month or year. So nothing I hear is news to me.