How Are You Holding Up?

Strange times, eh? And such a quick, sudden shift for just about everything. Aside from whiplash, how are you holding up?

I find myself going back and forth between trying to continue some semblance of business as usual, and being in shock at how this is not business as usual at all.

In the business as usual category, we’re coming up on Spring and all that entails. The yard needs some clean-up, gardens need to be tended, and so on. The weather continues, and birds and animals are out and about as if nothing is different.

The shock comes from looking at the news. I’m not sure my brain is equipped to process everything that is going on.

On one hand, things seem bad. This virus is just getting going. We are in this for a long haul. Panic-buying is occurring at grocery stores. Financial markets are being wiped out. The entire country is increasingly closed.  Our healthcare system isn’t designed for this.

Knowing that many people live paycheck to paycheck means that within a week or so, enormous numbers of people are likely to become desperate.

If I start imagining the cascading effects, I can get depressed.

On the other hand, perhaps this is an event that ultimately cause changes for the better. It’s astounding to me how “socialist” centrist Democrats and Republicans have become in a matter of days. Mitt Romney proposed sending $1000 to every adult each month until this is over (but don’t elect Yang!). Others are proposing free healthcare and paid family leave (but don’t vote for crazy Sanders!) The optimist in me hopes that when this is all over, some of these crazy socialist ideas become standard, so that when this sort of thing happens again in a year or two, we’re better prepared.

So what to do? It seems like we should be making plans to stay inside and avoid people for quite a while, perhaps months.

Usually when we have a big crisis, we come together. We work together side by side to solve the problem. In this case, we have to solve this in semi-isolation, and virtually.  It’s weird.

It’s more than just weird, it is surreal. The world of a month ago is gone.

We’ll have to find ways to keep our spirits up. We’ll have to get creative about finding things to do with out time. We can clean our houses and apartments top to bottom. We can tackle projects we’ve put off until there is time. Write that novel! Read that epic tome! Compose that symphony! Learn that foreign language!

As it warms, we can get out into the sun and air a bit. Exercise helps.

Pets are good distractions if you have them. They are innocently unaware of global news, and are rock solid in their commitment to routine. Playtime will not and cannot be cancelled or postponed!

Specific to this site, we’re going to need some people to write up some book and movie reviews, or offer up suggestions for passing the time.  We’re also going to need people to remain calm and help others remain calm. If you have ideas or suggestions, add ’em.

And, hang in there. Hopefully the shutdowns and precautions will keep us all safe.

Comments | 37

  • Is it safe to buy seeds?

    I’ve been reading a lot of international news lately, and I watched this virus coming (as many others did) like a slow motion train wreck for a couple months before it finally got here. And then, something kind of exponential happened and what we had been discussing as unlikely contingency plans a week before became likely and present realities a week later. The scale of the shutdown is breathtaking. Never in the history of capitalism has anything like this happened, that I know of.

    We did our panic shopping early. Not a lot of it, but we made sure we had all our staples and bought one extra four pack of toilet paper before the shortages started. I know. We noticed that staples at the Co-op were thin almost a week before the shortages hit everywhere, which caused us to buy a few extra bags of rice and beans, because you never know. This week it turned into “buy what you can” which fortunately wasn’t much — I was able to get my morning oatmeal, which made me happy.

    I feel a bit wiggy, truth be told. Sometimes, I don’t think and I’m fine. Then I think, and I’m not fine. I think therefore I worry. If Descartes was right, then to be is to worry. Clearly, thinking is a problem.

    Also screens. I’m trying not to be too compulsive a screen watcher. It’s hard though, when everyone is writing to you from everywhere with coronavirus updates, not to get caught up in it.

    I’m thinking about starting seeds. That requires buying seeds. Is it safe to buy seeds? I think so, but these are the questions I find myself asking these days.

  • Yeah, this is weird

    Thanks, Chris, for starting the conversation, and for checking in.

    I think I might be in a state of diminishing denial. Last week, and this week, too, I have been doing the “business as usual” thing because so far, COVID-19 hasn’t affected me in ways it’s affected other people in other places. Also, because I’m moving out of my house into a much tinier living space this month, the stress of THAT, and my horrible financial situation, have occupied my brain. Those are things that affect me RIGHT NOW.

    But, when the WHO and the CDC amped up the alarms last week, I started paying more attention, and my denial started decreasing. I think I’m still kinda there, though. I’ve gone to the hardware store (packing tape!), the falafel place (falafel!), to get my taxes done, to the deli next to the tax place, etc… I visited some friends for dinner the other night. I don’t think I’m “supposed to” do those things. I think I’m supposed to stay home and avoid all human contact. Maybe I’m a horrible person. I don’t know. I just try to get through each day without totally losing my shit.

    When I do think about this pandemic, it’s hard for my mind to comprehend it. Do we fight it by quarantine, then it will just peter out? Is that how it works? No new infections, the sick people get better (or don’t…), then it’s over?

    Everything keeps changing, but that’s the way of the world anyway.

    Yes, Spring is here. The crocuses in the front yard were blooming on Saturday. The early ones, with the cute yellow faces, are very early this year. I usually don’t see them until about a month from now. A few weeks ago I started hearing birds I haven’t heard in many months. Last week I found myself in the middle of a lively conversation between a group of redwing blackbirds. Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

    I, too, share your hope that by realizing the fragility of our inadequate systems, and the necessity of — oh my goodness — actually taking care of one another, formerly “impossible” policies such as guaranteed basic income, universal health care, etc, won’t just be possible, they’ll be standard. And anyone who denies they are crucial will be seen as a total barbaric jerk. Wouldn’t that be cool!

    I like your idea about using iBrattleboro to share things to keep oneself occupied. I might offer a book or movie review or two.

    For now, here’s an article about emergencies that I enjoyed reading. https://www.currentaffairs.org/2020/03/the-politics-of-emergencies

    Happy reading!

  • Social responsibility during the pandemic

    Whilst looking up Vermont’s coronavirus cases this morning, I stumbled across a very good essay by a doctor up in Randolph who wanted to explain why following social restriction policies during the epidemic is important. I know a fair number of people think the government is overreacting to coronavirus, but he makes a good case for why “staying safe” really does matter. His forest fire analogy is a good one.

    https://vtdigger.org/2020/03/17/joshua-white-social-responsibility-during-the-pandemic/

  • Still Wiggy

    It certainly is a nice day out, weather-wise.

    Hoping everyone is hanging in there. I know there is a high likelihood that people will be feeling a bit on edge, cranky, and irritable at times. I know I am. Getting outside and walking around bit, or avoiding screens for a while, seems like it helps.

    Another thing that has helped is silly animal video that are circulating. Thank you animals! I watched a pair of dogs jump into enormous leaf piles for a few minutes yesterday, and have been enjoying the Chicago aquarium’s videos of penguins. They’ve let the penguins out to wander the halls since no people are there and, well…. it is what you’d expect. Penguins wandering about the lobby, hopping down stairs, and looking at exhibits about fish.

    Having a pet is helpful. The cat is blissfully unaware and simply wants attention and playing.

    I’m doing my best to limit interactions out and about, but there are things that we’ll need from the store soon.

    Books – I’m reading a biography of Einstein – quite the young rebel! I also have cracked a book about growing up in southern Vermont by Paul Gardner’s brother.

    Movies – haven’t gone too deep into the library yet. I watched Altman’s MASH the other day. A movie about the insanity of war seemed appropriate. I’m guessing our library of depression-era feel-good comedies and musicals will be very handy. Busby Berkley, here we come.

    TV – Netflix has a Very Very Secret Service – it is a french comedy set in the early 60’s all about intelligence officers. They accidentally cause the Bay of Pigs, and other dark humor. Worth a watch if you are looking for something a bit different, and funny. Give it a few episodes. I’m also enjoying tracking down ancient game shows – To Tell The Truth, What’s My Line, Penny to Millions, It’s Academic, Do You Trust Your Wife? and so on.

    The one thing I really need to do is alter my plans for the projects I was going to do. I HAD planned on doing some priming, painting and repairs over the next few months, but now I’m starting to think about home projects that don’t require any trips to the hardware store. Maybe some new free-time animation is on the horizon.

    Work-wise, we can keep doing web work for people for the duration, as long as others keep going. We’ll be fine IF everyone else is fine. Kinda big IF, but for the immediate future, helping people get their web sites in order remains semi-essential. Everything may happen online for a while.

    I’m counting on everyone getting personal bailout checks, and soon. I think my biggest worry remains for all of the people suddenly out of work who live paycheck to paycheck.

  • Not the Same Old

    Since I’m home alone 90% of the time, the closures and changes aren’t affecting me the way they’re affecting others. I could somewhat easily slip into a lala denial of it all. But I do read news as usual, and hear the dramatic insanity from relatives watching Foxnews (who are blaming “those foreigners”, expecting a Chinese invasion, and are keeping their guns close by).

    I didn’t stock up on anything. I have enough food in the house for a couple of weeks as a normal thing. Someone else does my shopping, and if they can’t shop for a week or 2 I still have to eat, so I keep up. The TP thing puzzles me, but I hear they’re selling 4 packs on the street in NYC for $10 so that may be why the hoarding happened. Capitalism loves a crisis.

    One thing I was surprised at was a friend going to Sloan Kettering for breast reconstruction was sent home because of a mask shortage; no elective surgeries until this is over.

    The worry is there, squatting nearby and now and then throwing up a topic. What about people without incomes? What about all my friends with health issues who’re already not doing very well? What happens when people can’t pay rent? Who’s already carrying the virus, not knowing they have it? There are videos about the 1918 flu pandemic that are both informative and scary. 1/3 of the world had it, and it killed between 50-100 million people. Stories of people who were fine in the morning and dead that night. People turned blue. The virus mutated and became more deadly. The story of the Philly parade where hundreds were infected and passed it on to thousands more made me glad the St. Pat’s parades were cancelled. Currently the mortality rate is 1.4%, down from an initial 3.7%. There are good reasons for worry.

    Still, we know what to do now. Keep a distance, just in case. Wash your hands. A lot. Get good sleep and nutrition. Wear gloves and masks if you’re so inclined. And be kind. I know, I’m cranky and pissed off too. But you’ll be dealing with the same folks when this is over, and they’ll remember how you treated them when you came into their store and they had no toilet paper.

    I think this will change us. Not sure how in the short or long term, but it will. For now, I’m enjoying the neocons who are hoping for some cash from the government and rethinking universal healthcare.

    • I Will Shop 4 U

      (You can sing the subject line to the Prince song, which you’re probably doing anyway.)

      Let me know if you need me to get groceries for you, annikee. I’m still healthy, as far as I know. I can leave the bags at your door, or come in and keep my distance and put them on the table for you. You know where to find me! 🙂

      • Darlin' if you want me to...

        Thanks Wendy! For now, things are fine, but who knows what will happen. I think there’s a lot of Prince in my future. And I just ordered “Johnny Dangerously”. Time for comedies! Let me know what you want to borrow.

  • Virtual Socializing

    A few days in and I’m on track to talk to just about every family member out there via some sort of virtual meeting. FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, and so on… I spent nearly three hours last night checking in with folks, and more family meetings are scheduled.

    We’re seeing more of each other now than ever. : )

    • Family gatherings

      Nothing like a crisis to bring families together. My immediate family have all managed to get on Zoom and we’re using that to hang out. It’s a lot of fun. I was amazed when I logged in last night and there was my mom sitting on her sofa. Something very reassuring about that. We had a lot of yucks about how much typing we’ve been doing lately on email. Everyone made frantic typing pantomimes from within their little boxes.

      Anyway, I agree with Chris. Social distancing has resulted in the most social activity I’ve personally participated in in decades. But no hugging! and I can’t just ask my brother to bring me a beer while he’s up….

  • Somewhere in week two

    Hoping everyone is hanging in there.

    I’ve noticed a slight increase in crankiness and irritability. Perhaps the novelty of sudden change is wearing off?

    We’re still working. The web is still open. (We definitely chose the wrong career for enjoying holidays and extended breaks… never happens!)(But the right career for a time when all physical locations are ordered closed.)

    Little enjoyments recently include watching some videos people have made of home-made Disney park attractions. Some die-hards are recreating things like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Tiki Room. Some even have ropes pulling lawn chairs or sleds through their apartments to mimic the cars and boats. I saw a pair of people slide down their stairs on a sled to recreate the first waterfall drop in Pirates… (they also included the pirate with the toe… you know the one.)

    I saw a story that comrade Brittney Spears posted something about a general strike and redistribution of wealth. Time they are a changing’, eh?

    I’m really enjoying seeing inside everyone’s houses. Everyone is video streaming from their home, so you get a glimpse into the lives of folks from Jimmy Fallon to AOC. What books do they have on the shelves? Why don’t they have any books? Where did they get that lamp? That person’s place looks rather ordinary. Wow, who does that person think they are?

    Of our three potential leaders come election time, I’m most enjoying President Sanders’ live streams. He and his message are tailor-made for this crisis. Trumps’s are hard to watch given the discrepancies between his hopeful talk and the reality of what doctors think. Biden seems lost. I’m really worried that Democrats have rallied around the wrong candidate. But maybe we won’t have an election this year! ; )

    Health-wise, I get nervous every time I have had to go out to the store. It’s like the timer gets reset… I was okay and safe until I went out, now I have to wait and see again. Tick, tick, tick…

    I’ve also noticed that any ache or pain or sneeze or cough leads the mind to coronavirus. All other possible ailments have escaped my mind. Sore from hauling firewood? Nah, must be coronavirus…. : )

    I am glad to hear from people here. iBrattleboro was designed to be nimble in case of emergency. Lise did some updates (the online user count is back! and spam blocking has been increased….), too, which is nice.

  • Stir Crazy

    Not so much an issue for me, but friends are losing it already. There’s a lot of extra eating going on, and melting into couches. The boredom and stress from work has become boredom and stress from not working. And since most everyone I know lives paycheck to paycheck, the worry is amped. Some sort of relief better materialize…

    • Stir Crazy

      It does seem that the people not used to being at home for extended periods are having the roughest time.

      My dad, who generally lives on the couch and watches TV except to go to the store, is doing what he always does. Almost no change of lifestyle at all – except groceries are getting delivered.

      People are rapidly running out of money. Some have been without it for a while… paycheck to paycheck, or tip to mouth, is not a good system for us to return to when this is over.

      • Maybe Something Better

        You’re right: it’s not a good system for us to return to. Maybe this will inspire something better for all of us. Even before this pandemic, many, many people (especially the young’uns) were getting mobilized and organized to demand and work for a more equitable way. Could this pandemic kill capitalism? Stay tuned!

  • My New Life, For Now

    Aside from a few bouts of loneliness and anxiety, which always pass, I’m holding up well. I just keep reminding myself, “We have no idea what will happen.” I find strange comfort in that.

    I am working on art projects, doing laundry, cooking SO MUCH food, washing SO MANY dishes, writing letters to friends, calling people (not random people. I haven’t pranked anyone since… I think 8th grade), listening to the radio, resting, reading “Why Comics?” by Hillary Chute, doing Sunday NYTimes crossword puzzles, taking the occasional car trip to get outta the house.

    I kinda have a routine. It varies slightly. But, having some semblance of a routine does help.

    I’m also packing, because I’m supposed to be moving soon. That’s up in the air. So, I’m slowing down with the packing. I’m almost done except for essentials, and I need those! Sadly, I’ve already packed most of my decor, so my famous clown bathroom is almost completely without clowns. Except for the one who is writing this post. Har har.

  • An observation

    The previous “roaring twenties” lasted an entire decade.

    Our roaring twenties lasted a few months.

  • Easy Listening

    I continue to ask… how are you holding up?

    I’m doing pretty well except when going out for supplies. Makes me nervous, especially seeing so many NY and CT plates in store parking lots. We overheard one woman at a store talking about how she drives up from CT all the time, and is just buying food for her friends back home. No big deal! she claimed.

    I’m reminded of the summer I spent working at an easy listening radio station. 40 hours a week, from midnight to 8 am. I slept all day and didn’t see many humans for three months. At first there is the novelty of it all, but that wears off and is replaced by trying to remain sane.

    I could get most of the necessary work done in about an hour. I had to program the day’s commercials and load up tape machines. After that, my only responsibility was to make sure the music and ads continued to play over the air. That meant I had to listen to the easy listening music continually. (One exception – once a week I’d make a recording of the American Country Countdown to combine what they sent on record albums with local commercials to create a local show for a sister station)

    One thing I learned was that volume helps easy listening. Turning it way up helped. If you are ever stuck listening to something akin to muzak, turn it up.

    Another thing I learned was that easy listening was a vague term, and lots of music was piled into the category. I’d hear 101 Strings, Frank Sinatra (Summer Wind – yea! When I was 17 – oh , no! Not again!), and even some Simon and Garfunkel.

    But mostly, it was boring. Dull as dull can be. No human contact. No internet. Can’t turn off the music. What does one do?

    The answer – slowly go a bit insane. It became common to talk to myself out loud. I’d walk around announcing what I was doing. “Time to go into the other room!”

    I’d play with tape decks and audio equipment, and experiment with multitrack, multi-speed recordings. I’d record snippets off the air and loop them and play with sounds. The water cooler made a good conga drum. Glasses in the kitchen made okay cowbells.

    One real joy was around 5 or 6 am when the newspapers were delivered. First, it was the one time when I could go outside for a moment and get fresh air. We got three papers delivered at the station, and I’d read them cover to cover. Every comic. Every story. Every classified ad. Every night.

    As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, the only way I was keeping time was watching my beard grow out for the very first time. I figured it was a good experiment, so I could see what it was like, but no one else would.

    I started to do exercises. I’d go for a jog around the station, which had a an oval configuration of hallways. Counting laps.

    I got very good at estimating time. Everything at a radio station is timed, and watching clocks for three months meant getting very good at knowing how long 10 seconds was, and how much could be packed into that amount of time. To this day, I can often use a stopwatch to start and stop and land exactly on 1 second. (Yes, I was tracking the three months in tiny intervals.)

    I started to know the playlists. Recording the country countdown each week meant that I started to learn the top 40 country hits of that summer. Country wasn’t my genre at all, but when forced, some of the songs started to sound better than others. I started rooting for certain songs to climb to the top. I think my favorites that summer were “Don’t Mess With My Toot Toot” and “Old Hippie” which I can still sing… “he was an old hippie, and he’s not sure what to do, should he hang on to the old, or grab on to the new…”

    By the end of three months, I was pale and bearded, full of country and easy listening music, had learned some recording tricks, and was feeling rather out of place and nutty. The first thing I did to celebrate the job ending was shave my beard. Ahh, I’m done!

    No. The person I trained to replace me had flaked-out after a couple of days and they wanted me to go back for another week. Imagine being asked to return to solitary. Out of duty and a desire for more money, I went back in and did another week. I felt terrible. My mind was mad at me. But it ended.

    I imagine that many people are now going through their first attempt at amusing themselves for months while being alone. It isn’t easy, and you do need to find ways to occupy yourself. Even so, you might feel a bit crazy at times. Get creative and do what you need to do to maintain yourself.

    Anyhow… stay safe. The models and graphs of COVID-19 spread clearly show that reducing contact with others will reduce the dangers. Total lockdown is the safest, but we aren’t there.

    • Safety Dance

      I’m playing more music than usual, and singing and sit-dancing to it. This is beginning to feel like a Phillip K. Dick story. “I saw my neighbor in person today, she was pale and listless, but it was a change to see a human in real life.”

      Working the Lobster/Graveyard/Living Dead shift is something you’re born to do, or not. I made it 10 months before becoming a Poe character. At the start I loved it, alone in an office, good money, good stereo system. Near the end I was throwing xeroxes of body parts out the office window onto E. 45th St for the 9-5 office workers to ponder.

      This is all strange; the outdoor silence, the getting-rare sight of people walking around (often wearing masks and gloves), the death toll in NYC alone is shocking. And this free-floating anxiety is coming out in people’s bad habits returning with a vengeance. I haven’t craved cigarettes in years as I do now. By the time this is over I expect I’ll have regained all the weight I fought off over the last year and a half. It reminds me very much of the mid-’80s and the AIDS epidemic. Though I do think that was much worse.

      When and where this ends is unknown. But for right now, I have lots of things to keep me occupied and not thinking too much. Stay home, stay safe. Look for the laughs.

      • PKD and Science Fiction Generally

        Funny you should mention PKD — we just watched Blade Runner a couple nights ago. I love that film. It’s so glamorously dystopian. But yeah, lately, everything is about the unreality of every day life.

        Another book I need to revisit is DeLillo’s White Noise, which is similarly unsettling.

        Currently reading The Decameron, featuring 10 young noblepeople sitting around someone’s estate after fleeing the plague. To pass time, they tell stories. The stories are pretty good! The intro about the Plague of 1348 makes you think people haven’t changed that much in their response to epidemics (or pestilence as they called it then).

        For the most part, my life isn’t that much different now except instead of getting out once I week, I don’t get out at all. Still busy with work, very busy in fact, because it’s web-based. I have lots of social content if you count video chat and email.

        The biggest problem is groceries, which my brother summed up as follows: “I could make dinner if I could get a pepper. Now where can I get a pepper?” It’s not that bad, really, but for a while it felt like it was. Now it’s just — how can we avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store? Which amounts to the same thing.

        Is it time for Life of Brian yet?

        • Life of Brian

          Well, for the April 1 edition of Brattleboro’s nightly 8pm bell ringing, Centre Church sent the tune of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” wafting through the air on Main Street. That’s what happens when bored quarantined Monty Python fans have church keys. We were actually inspired by a church in NH that did the same a week or two earlier.

          • Best April Fools joke ever

            When I read this at first I thought your whole comment was an April Fools joke, except you posted it on the 5th. So this really happened. My hat is off. So sorry I missed it. Had I been there, I would have gotten the best laugh in many’s the week. As it is, it cracked me up (remotely). Thanks for letting us know!

  • Annoyed cat

    The cat informs us that he does not enjoy the temporary kitty litter we found and would sincerely like us to locate his preferred brand. We’ve arranged a zoom meeting this afternoon to discuss with him.

  • Weirdness level increases - masks

    The latest change is the wearing of masks to go out and about on errands. We’re still making them, so yesterday I had to use a scarf.

    In Brattleboro, no one was wearing one that I could see. Still, I did what the Guvnor asked, and wrapped myself up with a black piece of fabric.

    The weirdness came with the errands. I dropped by the bank wearing a black mask – something I could never have done before (and had I been dark-skinned I’d probably have been shot). If I had been wearing a black hat I would have looked like Jesse James.

    Same at the store I dropped into. Outside of Brattleboro, about half of the people I saw were wearing masks of varying sorts. I still looked like a gangster. And while most people were observing good distances, some still aren’t. They come walking right at you in a store aisle. Ugh! I did a lot of fancy footwork to jump out of the way quickly. It was weird wearing a mask at checkout.

    Still, wearing a mask gave an illusion of safety that wasn’t there prior. “Ah, this porous piece of fabric must certainly being helping!”

    I think we should give awards for creative mask designs as time goes on. : )

    Cat update – the preferred litter has been obtained. All is well for now.

    Zoom meetings – it occurred to me to mention that most of us that work from home never do zoom meetings in normal times. It’s all just email, phone calls, and the occasional in-person meeting. It’s almost never the BEST way to accomplish something to get a whole bunch of people together for a video chat. Recommendation – if you are new to working at home, don’t feel obligated to have lots of video meetings. It’s not really much of a thing… : )

  • Bandits

    We’re about a month in, now, and everyone is starting to look like a hospital worker or bandit, depending on the mask.

    I fancy myself more in the bandit fashion. I started out using a black scarf wrapped around my face, then replaced that with a tropical fabric mask that is both black and brightly colored at the same time. Bird of paradise bandit.

    I’ve gotten over the initial weirdness of the masks, but a few oddities linger. It’s harder to talk to people when you can’t see their mouth, nor much of their facial expressions. You have to get good at using your eyes for expression, and figuring out what “mumble mumble mumble” means when the masked cashier says something from behind a wall of plastic.

    I’m finding the stock market to be odd. Terrible news everywhere and it soars one day. Nothing much changes and it drops the next. Unemployment at record highs – it soars again. I’m guessing a lot of machines are doing buying and selling.

    I’m still enjoying spying on celebrity homes when they do their remote broadcasts. There are a few I wish would give tours of their book or record shelves.

    I’m also enjoying: that families are getting to spend extended time with one another, creativity seems to be on the rise, traffic is down, things seem calmer, people are appreciating things they hadn’t noticed, everyone is getting time to think a bit more, we get to reevaluate what is important and what isn’t, more people are cooking again, the length of this is long enough for habits to change, and pets are getting extra attention.

    • How to hang on to the silver lining

      All the stuff you mentioned at the end of your comment – family time, creativity, reduced traffic, appreciating what matters, thinking, evaluating, cooking, attention to people and pets — these are all frills in normal life. We generally can’t afford them because we don’t have time.

      Is there a way, I wonder, for us to be able to retain some memory of this time, and for this experience to change our habits and our lives for the better. Maybe we really do need to restructure society a bit, and even daily life, to make it more livable. We could give ourselves back some of what we lost when we got to be modern, virtual people.

      We could if we wanted to, that is. But you know, the economy….

  • Sometime in April

    Thought I’d check in again.

    Seems like small businesses got screwed by the emergency funding. Big corporations took all of the first round money, and will likely take a bunch of the second round. Next time, define small business!

    I worry that lots of municipalities will be utterly broke in the near future. Brattleboro does a fairly good job of saving for emergencies, but there’s really no way to save for this. All of those little side taxes – on rooms, meals, liquor, and the new 1% on nearly everything else – won’t be there for quite a while. Much of the income from programs that support departments isn’t coming in. Property taxes were already high…so there isn’t much wiggle room there. Anyhow, I’m thinking about this a bit now.

    I worry that there are still quite a few people being sloppy with their social distancing, and that a number of people (who don’t seem to know math very well) are ready, now, to just go back to “normal”. They’ve “suffered” for a few weeks and that’s all the sacrifice for the greater good that is in them. “Me! I want my (fill in the blank with something trivial) back!”

    I’ve been thinking about addicts, too, and whether they are able to maintain their addictions in this period. People who drink or smoke tobacco are taken care of as usual, but what of those who smoke marijuana, use opiates, and so on? Are those underground markets still open? How about sex addicts? Where are gamblers getting their fixes?

    And then there are the 18 year olds. What a crappy hand they’ve been dealt. Born out of 9/11 stress, raised in a semi-police state, hit by ‘the great recession’, school shootings and lockdowns to deal with, and now cancellation of proms and graduations. (We found the way to end school shootings – just end school.)

    Not only that, but young relationships. I would have gone nutty if I couldn’t see my girlfriend for the final few months of my senior year. Losing one’s virginity is vastly better in person, I’d argue, than over Zoom.

    I’ve also been singing the theme song to the WGBH show “Zoom”… an interactive kids show from the 70’s that reemerged in the 90’s (I think). “Send it to Zoom, Boston, Mass, 0…21…34. Send it to Zoom!”… and wondering where Nina and Joe are today. : )

  • Mes Miserables

    Here we are, at what, 5 weeks in? It seemed to me that people I know were walking the line between being bummed that their regular routines, income, life in general was upsot, and somewhat happy and intrigued at all this free time. At least for the first couple of weeks, anyway. Now, people are stressed at waiting for their Plague Money while they try to get by on little to no income. Many who were wearing some sort of mask and gloves combo have abandoned them. Social distancing is out the window for way too many. If we’re going to do this right the first time, we need to be serious about prevention. I don’t see that happening.

    This has to be really tough on the young ones. I can’t imagine having no social life the last days of high school. No senior trip, no prom, no illegal partying, nothing. As Chris noted, they’ve had a crap hand dealt from birth.

    My Foxviewing relatives are convinced this is a Chinese plot to invade the USA.
    My NYC friends are afraid. They see and hear of the numbers of sick and dead nearby, and the bodies being stored. A cousin’s friend is on the grave digging detail on Hart Island. He said they do a small committal service for each unclaimed person, and the bodies are catalogued in case someone comes for them in the future.

    I’m in isolation and may stay that way thru the Summer. Neighbor talk goes on thru windows or yells down the hall. I miss my friends, the small gatherings and laughs and hugs. Not being able to be with people for celebrations or support in bad times is getting stressy. We’re missing events, and time is crawling by, and these moments won’t be replaced. I wonder if I’m getting agoraphobic. I wonder if I’m going nuttier than usual. I’m ok physically, but not so great otherwise.

    When leaving the apartment I wear the stuff and do the things. But not everyone does, especially the ones who hitch rides and gad about town.

    This somewhat reminds me of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s. Then, you realized that when you had sex with someone, you were having sex with everyone they’d had sex with, too. Now it’s a case of everywhere, everything, everyone someone’s touched or coughed on, is suspect. Crackpottery abounds, just as it did then, with people denying it exists, and people pushing snake oil fixes.

    The seed company I order from has had over a thousand orders a day for 3 weeks and is swamped. One more month and I’ll plant flowers. One more month…

    • Plague Money

      It is an astonishingly low amount, delivered much too late for many people, and won’t last long.

      I don’t do direct deposit so I’m waiting for paper checks. No Trump signature in the mail yet. I tried the IRS site to check the status and after I gave the IRS my social security number and basic info, they reported back that I wasn’t in the system and couldn’t check the status. I checked the help section and this error message could be because they haven’t entered data at their end yet. Really? I’ve only had my social security card since age 10 or so.

      If this was in the not-so-distant past, and I was living paycheck to paycheck and reliant on my employer (say, the old Children’s Museum I was at for a long time…), I’m certain my paychecks would have ended a month ago and I wouldn’t have had any savings at all to last until unemployment or other relief funds were voted on and mailed out. The typical back up plan in those days was to rely on friends to get you through, but no contact is allowed now. It would be extremely stressful to have no income, be alone, and not know when the situation would change.

      Our business is applying for the PP program, but money ran out before we could get the application done. Seems like there is a new window now, if the rich folks don’t take it all again. : ) We’ll try again.

  • Four furry surprises

    Four baby foxes emerged from under the back of the garage today and started playing in the yard while mom went off hunting. Got to watch them for an hour or so. Three have now gone back under, but one is still sleeping at the gate waiting for mom to return.

    Suddenly having four kittens play in the yard was an unexpected lift. Did not see that coming. Thanks, foxes!

  • We started this thread on March 16

    Well, it is May.

    It seems like tensions are rising a bit.

    On one hand, people are eager to get back to doing what they used to do. Some think COVID-19 is no big deal, some think it is dangerous but they themselves will be fine, and some need income to start flowing again. Some seem to think reaching peak was the goal, and now that that has likely happened, all is well. I’d estimate that people eager to return feel things should be opened up now or within a couple of weeks max.

    On the other hand, a peak is just a midpoint. It takes time to get into something and time to get out. Nothing is certain until there is a vaccine. Some are telling us that it could be years before things are normal, due to resurgences, economic rebuilding, and the time it takes to develop a vaccine.

    Open next week or in a few years? Those two estimates/viewpoints are very much at odds with one another. It can make one a bit crazy trying to make sense of it.

    I’m in the take-it-slow boat for the most part. I don’t want to catch this nor do I want to unknowingly spread it. As long as it is out there, I’m all for avoiding it.

    I can also feel myself getting ever-so-slightly lazy with safety. I have to work harder now to follow the rules. I have to remind myself of why I’m doing this, and that a minor slip-up could be dangerous. I guess that this will get even harder as time goes on and weather improves. Stay strong, I tell myself…. : ) and I check the daily numbers to see how we, as a region, are doing. It bothers me when others are being sloppy with their social distancing, too.

    As for distractions, there is yard work to do, garden beds to prepare, and endless media to consume in all forms and formats. I’ve been enjoying DJ Rob Swift’s series of lessons in mixing and scratching. He’s a really good teacher, and it is a fun subject to watch someone teach. I’ve been dabbling in old episodes of Mary Hartman and Fernwood 2nite. Very weird TV, and incredible that it ever made it on the air at all. And I just finished a book about growing up in Newfane in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.

    I’m in pretty good spirits, myself, but can see that others are all over the place. Hang in there!

  • Things I Miss

    Although I’m a total introvert and don’t need a lot of socializing, almost none is not enough even for me. Chatting without having to think about distance, masks, etc would be nice.

    I also miss browsing in shops, especially the used record and book stores, Label Shopper, junk emporiums, and the like. I love to scavenge and if I have a few bucks in my pocket, better still. I don’t really know when I’ll see a tag sale again, but I know I’d be vulnerable to temptation if I did.

    It’s not that I need anything really. I’m still years from finishing the books I have now. But you know how it is.

    I also miss news about something other than Covid-19 but since that seems to be most of the news, there’s not much to be done. That said, Trump is still trying to take out the Venezuelan government, as if wiping out socialism in the southern hemisphere was anything Americans really want him to do.

    Hey, maybe I don’t miss news as much as I thought I did…

  • On It Goes

    It’s not quite 2 months (I mark Friday the 13th of March as the last ‘old normal’ day) and I’m sick of this. It feels much longer. Of course I’ll do the things and continue doing them, but not with the same what- certainty? energy? pizzazz? It’s a hassle and a bore and will go on being so for months ahead. And any other thing that happens feels like an insult. I don’t like feelings, much less all these feelings. Bah.

  • More

    I’ve noticed that sometimes in parking lots, the people park 6 feet apart. Some are better at social distancing their cars than themselves. : )

    The foxes are gone but there is a robin’s nest with 3 eggs right outside out dining room window within easy viewing. Mom’s been sitting on the eggs for the last couple of days almost all of the time, so I expect them to hatch relatively soon.

    Been digging out some garden beds. I’m probably one of the few garden bed diggers who enjoys finding big rocks… I’m collecting them for another use in the yard.

  • Music is appropriate

    Hi friends.

    Do you know that Gary Numan song, “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” It seems like these days, for those of us who live alone, all of our friends ARE electric. I talk on the phone (including my landline because I am that old), send texts, emails, Skype, Zoom, etc. and that’s mostly the only way I interact with my friends. Friends are electric.

    When I do get to see people in-person, then the song switches to “What’s Behind The Mask?” by The Cramps. The first four lines tells it all:
    “I been seeing you for months
    Coming to this place
    Now what I want to know is, honey
    When can I see your face?”

    Seriously, though, it is such a balm to see people, even from behind a mask. Even from six or more feet away. Days when I have that are better days than when I don’t.

    Chris, I have also noticed that sometimes in parking lots we all park six feet apart. I notice it mostly at the grocery store where I saw you just over a month ago — on my birthday eve! — but that’s the parking lot I’m in the most these days, so maybe it’s happening elsewhere, too.

    Meanwhile, back at the homestead, the birds are keeping me company. I’m still learning to identify them, but so far I’ve seen a few cardinal pairs, a gaggle of goldfinches, a mourning dove or two, some blue jays, a bazillion sparrows and robins, and a few crows. Back in late-March early-April I saw a woodpecker in a tree bordering the cemetery on South Main Street.

    I saw a chipmunk run across the yard yesterday morning, its face stuffed with acorns or something.

    And the cold weather has refrigerated the daffodils, leading to a longer daffodil season, which I love. Then again, maybe that’s just my perception because time is moving so strangely.

  • Week whatever

    Doing fine overall. Still planning on this being something we live with for years, not months.

    I realize my new prejudice to fight against is people with out of state plates. I see those out of state plates and can’t help but think “oh no!” I try to tell myself that maybe they have self-quarantined for 14 days, or maybe they just live here and haven’t changed their plates yet, or…

    I worry about the people who have had to live for the last two+ months on $1200 or so.

    I’m getting annoyed at those who are telling everyone to go spend money and save all the businesses. Individuals don’t have enough collective cash to do that. It’s a pipe dream. What is needed is more direct payments and forgivable loans. The government needs to bail businesses out; shoppers can’t do it. Especially with little money.

    I’m noticing that while stores may re-open, people will only return to them when they feel safe. And that is a personal decision for each shopper. A lot of new online habits have been formed. Stores without robust online options going forward may be at a disadvantage.

    I’m realizing more and more, too, that I have little interest in a “return to the way things were”… that wasn’t working for the majority of people. It bothers me that so many say they long for that world. Right now, for example, we have no homelessness in Brattleboro. Why would anyone want to return to what we had before?

    I’m very curious about when and whether COVID-19 comes roaring back. I’m expecting it, based on the non-distancing I hear about and see. Also curious to watch other disasters on top of COVID-19 to see how we respond. It’s almost hurricane season!

    Masks are getting a bit more stylish and fashionable. There is a market for them now.

    Hoping everyone is hanging in there! Chime in and say hello.

  • What a mess

    Wow. It is only a few days later and the world has gone mad.

    A white policeman in Minneapolis killed a black man by putting him on the cement and kneeling on his neck. (Everything is shut down except grocery stores and police killing, it appears).

    This event has led to mass protests in many cities. Police using rubber bullets and tear gas against these protestors, which shows a major contrast to how police handled protestors with rifles at a state capitol a couple of weeks earlier. Rifle holding protests went on without interruption. That has increased the unrest. Riots in some places. Police station in Minneapolis burned down. Black CNN reporter + crew arrested.

    The president is mad at twitter for holding him mildly accountable, and as a result signed an executive order attempting to undermine the basic law that allows many services to operate. Despite his claim that twitter censors him, he won’t delete his account, and neither will they.

    Over 100,000 people have died of COVID-19. People are moving quickly to reopen things, despite no vaccine. Seems mostly fueled by a desire to “get” liberals and make money, and a fair number of people think the virus is a hoax or an intentional event unleashed purposely to hinder the president’s re-election chances.

    Individuals are starting to go stir crazy from not having been out or with other humans for too long. People are snapping now. (See Riots, above).

    There is still a big disconnect between what people would like – the optimism that says “let’s get things going again” and “back to normal”- and the uncertainty of the duration of this event – the pessimistic view is that we will be isolating and wearing masks through the end of the year, at minimum, and “we are forever changed”.

    This split view is very difficult for most people. It’s approaching summer, we’ve been following rules, numbers in some places (VT!) are quite low… it seems as if all is well. But there is no cure/vaccine, they are still learning about this virus, it can still spread, numbers can still rise if people aren’t careful.

    Stories are also circulating that some don’t plan to vaccinate if something does come available to protect them. Vaccinations don’t kill off viruses unless done at scale. So it seems like there is some resistance to eliminating the virus when and if it becomes an option.

    Doesn’t seem like any planning is being done for the inevitable next time this happens.

    Doesn’t seem like the government is really going to take care of individuals. You got your check. Fend for yourself. It’s almost as if additional stimulus funds are being withheld to put pressure on the poorer amongst us to go back to work sooner. (I see a Republican Senator has proposed a bonus of $450 a week for people who return to work.

    Unemployment at record levels. Stock market doing fine.

    The right-left divide is being cranked up to 11. Perhaps it is just election year stuff, but it seems like we’ve crossed some line somewhere into something new and unpleasant.

    I think I may self-isolate for the rest of my life just to get away from all of this looniness.

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