Sunday, March 29, 2020

Life in the time of COVID-19

Hello, fellow denizens of the Handbasket to Hell!

When I decided to start blogging again, I really thought I was ready to pick up the mantle again.  I really did.  After all, we were now living in a time when Goddess knows there was plenty to rant about.  But perhaps it's too much.  So I find myself in a state of paralysis.

Oh, I've started more posts than I can count.  The last one I started and couldn't finish was about Chris Matthews, who I loathed so much that I once started an entire blog devoted to his awfulness, who after his management grew weary of his hysteria over Bernie Sanders, decided to take his dollies and dishes and go home and sulk.  But I wasn't able to finish it.

Truth be told, I have never regained my focus and concentration.  I lost it during Mr. Brilliant's illness, and it has never come back. Right after he first died, I chalked it up to "widow brain" -- the fogginess that often occurs after someone loses a spouse that makes us unable to concentrate on anything and can even put us at risk of Alzheimer's. Oh, I stayed at The Job That Ate My Life for another four years, mostly with the help of an amazing colleague from a clinical research organization who covered a multitude of sins and took on the detail work that I was no longer able to do.  I was fine with meetings, and deciphering protocols, and understanding how to do disease assessment in various kinds of cancers.  But the intensely detailed work of my day-to-day tasks was beyond my ability.

And so it has been with blogging.

I've been thinking about this lack of focus for the last few days, as like many Americans, I am under a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic. One would think that without flitting around here and there, going out to lunch with friends, or to the gym, or to a movie or concert, I'd be getting things done around the house.  But one would be wrong.  I've managed to put together an exercise regimen thanks to tai chi and YouTube workout videos.  But most days, I turn around and suddenly it's 2 PM and what have I done?

I find myself thinking about Mr. B. a lot these days.  I used to think about what I would have to fill him in on if he were to suddenly come back from the dead (something that still happens frequently in dreams) -- about how Facebook and Twitter seem to now run our lives and about how a smartphone is mandatory now.  I'd have to tell him that he really didn't miss anything by missing the last episodes of Dexter, and about how Game of Thrones ended. I'd have to tell him about Uber and Lyft and Instacart and Hulu and how he shouldn't even TRY to find a full-time job because EVERYONE is in the gig economy now.  But most of all, I'd have to explain to him about how Donald Trump became president.  Sometimes I can even hear him laughing about that, because for someone who had a finely-honed sense of irony and the absurd, President Donald Trump is the most ironic, absurd thing EVER.

I find myself alternately feeling bereft that at this time when impending doom seems right around the corner,  I am in this house alone talking to the cats, and being grateful that I only have to worry about myself right now, because to be honest, I don't have much energy for anything else.  I think that when Mr. B. became ill, my customary hyperemotionality went largely numb, and like my concentration, never really came back.  So I'm not overly anxious in the way to which I was once accustomed, but there IS a constant sense of being unsettled, of the earth being tilted off its axis somehow. And sometimes I think Mr. B. was the smart one back in 2013, when his medical condition offered him a chance to exit what he called this "God-forsaken level of reality" without pain or fear.

Oh, don't worry, I'm far from suicidal.  In fact, before SARS-CoV-2 came along to remind us that Mother Nature has pretty much had it with our miserable species, I was living a pretty contented life, with good new friends, staying in touch with old friends, a home that I love in an area full of music and culture and mild winters. People have even stopped asking me if I'm "dating" (an absurd concept in the over-60 crowd), much the way they stopped asking me if I had changed my mind about not having children once I turned 50. Moving away has allowed me to remember the life I used to have without being stuck every day in a constant reminder that I don't have it anymore. But living in a constant state of dread, as if the world I live in has become a distorted funhouse mirror of the one I know, has me feeling deeply unsettled.

I suspect that's prevalent these days.

I know more about ventilators and breathing tubes than I wish I did, and all this relentless talk of ventilators is making my brain retrieve images of Mr. B. in those last two weeks of his life in the neuro ICU of a hospital that is currently moving patients like he was off to other facilities so they can focus on COVID-19 patients.

I hope you are all doing as well as can be expected.  Who knows, perhaps this country will do some soul searching during all of this and we'll come out on the other side with better awareness that "America Fuck Yeah" is no basis for a system of government OR a culture.