Primary Source

Today in my Facebook feed, a fellow educator (Tina Boogren/Self-Care for Educators on FB) I love and admire greatly noted that we should journal today…about this…all of this. So here we are…you and me, my furs without jobs, and half a gin and tonic remaining.

To be clear, I generally don’t drink often, just socially (and as an introvert, that’s rare), but of late, it’s becoming something that makes me feel…better, I guess. I shared an ugly cry last weekend with a bottle of wine provided by a wonderful mother during the holidays because we won’t see this batch of kids again before school is out. I sobbed uncontrollably through three out of four glasses (that fourth one was because you just can’t leave one glass in a bottle…) I sat on my deck several times last week with a crowler of Hazy IPA and food truck food (#supportlocal #shopsmall) trying to do my part to keep the people I care about in business. I participated in a virtual happy hour with a group of which I was the outlier, but I loved listening to their stories of one another, of people I once knew. Not my tribe, but near enough for a few hours.

I held myself together in Costco yesterday, but just barely. We went for the long list my boyfriend had made of things his house needed and all I needed was toilet paper. I had two rolls left and apparently you have to be willing to give a kidney to get more. I left with near $100 in other things (salad, raspberries, yogurt, the above referenced gin) but as he flitted through the aisles (Note: We do not shop the same way in a crisis, or otherwise..not one bit. And I will learn to live with it because I love him–he shops like my father and it drives me absolutely insane.), I stayed with the ever increasing in weight cart at the end of an aisle watching others, in makeshift face masks, rush through to snag everything they might need for a while. I watched unmasked parents with unmasked kids wander from aisle to aisle as though time didn’t matter much and they were just seeing what all was there…and witnessed one little one getting a lecture about why kids don’t run ahead of parents in places like Costco and then pitch crying fits when they look back and parents aren’t there.

There was a list on a big whiteboard when we walked in that noted all the things they were out of, all the things they were short on. And I saw people sigh heavily when half their list was on either side of the board. I, too, sighed audibly when I saw that toilet paper was on the “don’t have” list. I got lucky, and spied a pile of it in the rear of the building, and so now, barring any huge allergy attacks, I have toilet paper for a while. But I’m lucky. I have to worry about me, my furs without jobs, my mother, and my boyfriend and his family. We can cobble together things among all of us if need be.

What hurt the most to see was people queueing up outside as someone wiped down a cart for them, both masked and maskless. with kids and without, but all with the same nervous look in their eyes. Fear.

I lost it a bit when we got into the car. I hate this, I said to him, as he got out another disinfectant wipe to wipe down the steering wheel after touching it with gloved hands that had touched the cart and items we’d bought I’d rolled my eyes when he wiped down the door handle for me when I got in the car…

I hate that people are ecstatic when they can score something as simple as toilet paper or eggs. I hate that friends who have lost parents in the past couple of weeks cannot have proper funerals or burials for their moms and dads and grieve in traditional ways…with people they love surrounding them and food and proper wakes or receptions. I hate that kids can’t play together at the park or outside in neighborhoods, and I hate that I worry which of my 11 other neighbors might have touched the doorknobs to get out of our building and haven’t washed their hands and might be a non-symptomatic carrier. I hate that I can’t walk across the parking lot and sit in my mother’s house for long–I know that every time I do at her request, it might be MY fault she gets sick and dies, because lawd knows she’s old and high-risk. We can’t have healthy and simple things up in here…

I hate that I can’t socialize my puppy properly, taking her to coffeeshops and breweries and the dog park and puppy class and to be with kids at school where she can learn not to herd humans and bite their ankles when they leave my office. I hate that our lead and staff meetings are online and I don’t know if my coworkers are wearing pants at all (pretty sure they are, but…). I hate that our teachers, all of them in my building and beyond, are killing themselves trying to figure out how to do this the right way, to meet the needs of kids and families at the same time, and still be hardasses about incomplete work and accountability, all while their own kids are melting because they can’t log in to see their classmates and their spouses are considered “esesential.” I hate that friends who do church and crave that connection can’t be with their people on Sundays. Online streaming is great, but there’s nothing like the electricity of a church full of people whose hearts are together in prayer. I hate that the one thing I love about the Easter season–a preacher from somewhere else talking about “Sunday’s a-comin'” has to be streamed this year–not experienced live. I hate that people think this is a joke…a left-leaning liberal coup to cause problems for the current administration.

I hate that that news anchors cry when they interview yet another person who has lost a loved one to this because so many won’l take it seriously and people are out there spreading outright lies. I remember when Peter Jennings teared up reporting about 9/11 for far too many hours in a row and how others before him had cracked voices when reporting on tragedy in wartime–that created a humanity in an event that was incredibly scary…and here we are again.. I hate that yet another principal or teacher succumbed to it. I hate that nurses and doctors and home health care workers and EMTs and all the others who are considered “essential” in times of crisis don’t have what they need to be remotely safe, and have to send their kids to live elsewhere (or move themselves) so they don’t increase the possibility that their loved ones will catch this. I hate that they can’t do the compassionate work they were called to do–to be with those in times of suffering–the way they want to, leaving other human beings to die alone.

I hate that I can’t trust my government–people elected to office to represent us as a whole. I can’t trust that they’re being straightforward or honest, because on so many occasions they have not been. I can tolerate a lot, but dishonesty and lack of integrity are two things I cannot. I hate that our stay-at-home date keeps getting pushed back and the number of confirmed cases of this and deaths from it keeps increasing and I can’t even say that it’s accurate…so few can be tested that we have no idea of any real numbers…we just know people got sick and died.

I hate that parents are now facing the fear of unemployment. I hate that my tribe has to file for unemployment, disaster loans, and other supports because their businesses can’t even be OPEN much less functional.

I hate that kids whose home lives are less than ideal are stuck. My heart aches for them. Those who don’t know whether they’ll have breakfast tomorrow or if their parent will be able to come home at all or need to pick up another shift to make rent because rent is still due. I hate that kids whose home lives are violent are more at risk now than before–at least they had a few hours of respite at school three weeks ago. I hate that families who were already struggling to survive are more at risk than ever before. I hate that schools need to provide breakfast and lunch, and that families have to ration what they do receive because there may not be much else. I hate that kids who “have not” really have not right now…

I’ve been listening to a mystery series on our library app for a few weeks and it’s about British spies during WWII and it just kills me how much people in Europe had to give up to simply survive when the war began–might not be the best writing but the author did her research. Food was rationed. Work was scarce. One never knew if they’d make it home each night… And here we are, worried about having enough toilet paper to last so we don’t have to make an emergency trip to Target or Costco and hope for the best, and looking at over 10,000 dead in our own country–not a third world one, mind you–from a disease that has circumnavigated the globe, affecting everyone from the poor immigrant trying to find a better life to the prime minister of a fairly wealthy country.

And I rolled my eyes at him from behind my sunglasses as he wiped down the car door with a disinfectant wipe so I could get in. I put on my buff to humor him as we entered Costco. The fear is real, folks. We joke about it on social media, but the fear is real.

And I don’t like being afraid. I want this to be over. Done. Finished. I want people to do their damndest to stay home, to distance appropriately when they do go out, and to not be jerks about this. I want them to take it seriously. Democrats/liberals in America didn’t create this as a way to get back at the current administration–people are dying world-wide and quarantined around the globe–to the point that they can’t walk their dogs outside without the threat of jail time or fines because of it and have to go to the market on specific dates by last name or address number. This isn’t a joke.

I don’t like being afraid. I hate it. And I hate that kids are more afraid than I am…I have lived through scary things…this is their first. And it’s one that they shouldn’t have had to live through at all.

So my glass is empty and my words are…well, let’s just say there are too many that aren’t organized reasonably in my head to keep writing. I apologize if I’ve offended anyone–it wasn’t my intent. I feel the things, for more than just me sometimes. And if I have the ability to put words to…screen, I guess…then I’ll do it on behalf of all of us who can’t.

I wish the best for all of you, dear readers–that you can find something good in every day, even if that day it’s something tiny like a new bloom or the buds of leaves on a tree. Do what you can to bring joy to someone else. Take care of your needs–if that means a nap, a drink, or a walk outside in the sunshine. Take care of your people…your tribe. Make sure they know they are loved and appreciated for all they’re trying to do. Love your furs without jobs if you have them, and spend a few extra moments cuddling them. Laugh and find joy where you can.

We’ll all get through this….together.

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