The good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful

Ugh. I feel like I’ve been writing this blog post for a million years. Or since mid-April. Same thing. How is it only/still May? Of 2020???

The good is … I’m feeling mighty privileged right now. Nobody in our immediate family has contracted C19 (although of course we worry for Tim’s siblings in the medical field). We live in a rural place on a lot of land so I get outside every day, just as much as I used to, because we don’t have any close neighbors (we can barely even see their houses through the trees!). Tim has been working at home, which means he’s been getting a steady paycheck through all of this and I haven’t had to worry about him going into an area that has a higher rate of contagion than what we have out here (last I checked there were between 5 and 9 people in our zip code with C19). Sales at HaldeCraft have been Christmas-time level numbers; I’m selling soap almost as fast as I can make it, and have a waiting list for a handful of mugs. While our small grocery stores have been out of a few things the rare times I go (three times now I’ve gone out and done shopping for at least 3 weeks worth of food, and I’ve had to go to two grocery stores each time) for the most part I’ve managed to get everything I need, if not everything I want. And stock is coming back onto the shelves – our grocery store even had toilet paper this weekend! I bought some even though we don’t need it, so I have twelve extra rolls. Hit me up if you need some!

Anyway. My point is that we’re healthy, we’re fed, there’s a roof over our heads, and there’s money coming in.

So then why am I so anxious all the time????? Hi, welcome to 2020. If you do not already have an anxiety disorder, one will be assigned to you.

I didn’t realize at the beginning of all of this that a good chunk of my anxiety was Tim going into work every day. I mean, I knew there were things I was anxious about — having grown up on dystopian, post-apocalypse science fiction I was ready for anything from disruption of supply chains to an increase in home burglaries, internet or cell phone or electricity problems, and anything from severe government overreach to lack of any functioning government at all. I was worried about my friends who live in big cities. I was worried about my friends who work at Disney. I was worried about my friends who live alone. I was worried about my friends who already fight invisible demons every day. I was worried about my older relatives, Tim’s older relatives, even some of my friend’s older relatives.

I had about a week or so where I was fighting off panic every day, and wanting to reach out and take care of people I love but it was everything I could do just to keep moving and not crawl under my desk and chew on my hand like a dog afraid of fireworks. I emailed my Primary Care Physician to ask if it was possible to up my Prozac dose (I’m on a super low dose for blood pressure, because a lot of blood pressure medications can’t be taken when you have only one kidney, and Prozac is relatively safe). They upped my dose and I started to feel better after a couple of days, and then Tim started working at home and my stress level went down even more. I was still finding it hard to concentrate, hard to focus (especially on writing) but at least I felt like I was in a better place to take care of people and started reaching out to my loved ones, checking in on them, seeing how they were doing (and if they needed toilet paper, haha) (seriously Denise and Tarrant are probably really tired of me asking if they’re OK on toilet paper).

And I started to see some really beautiful things about humanity. People rage-sewing face masks, for sale or for donation or for loved ones (I have a friend who has sewn so many she’s broken two sewing machines, and GUUUUUURL. YOU ARE A BADASS!). People going shopping in dinosaur or storm trooper outfits. People making tiny art galleries for their komodo dragons or guinea pigs and posting about them online. Artists, musicians, actors, yoga teachers, fitness instructors… so many different people from different walks of life all reaching out online and offering … things. Yoga classes. Fitness classes. Readings of poetry or literature. House concerts. Tours of museums and parks. Just… so much. So much being offered, so many people lifting up a gift and saying “you need this right now, but also I need to give it to you because this connection is everything.” One of the podcasts I listen to has quite the following, and they got an email from a group of listeners in a big city that said they were putting together a sort of… supply train; they were putting together care boxes for other listeners of the podcast in the area who didn’t have toilet paper or couldn’t feed their kids or whatever. Just… people taking care of people. Those that have taking care of those who don’t have, because it could be any of us at any time.

The truth that it’s the people who have the least making sure that people who have even less than them are taken care of is not a truth that’s lost on me. I mean, I see a few CEOs and company heads taking pay cuts or donating their salaries to employees, but not many.

I also see a bit of a … quiet turning. With a lot of big chain stores temporarily closed, I see people turning to farmer’s markets, local farmers and CSAs, planting quarantine gardens, learning to bake bread, learning to sew, knit, make things. I have at least four friends I can think of off the top of my head who have gotten chickens. The roadside fruit and veggie stand on the way into Gainesville has been packed with people every time I’ve driven by (which ok, it just twice, but to see their parking lot packed both times?!).

I also still see people carrying burdens without complaint. Friends undergoing chemo. Friends who had to get pets put to sleep. Friends whose parents, aunts and uncles, spouses have died. Life goes on. The world keeps spinning.

Of course now I’m also seeing people shooting people who are just out jogging, shooting people because they’re asked to wear a mask, people who just months ago were 110% “blue lives matter” who are now screaming into the faces of policemen that they’re being oppressed… and that’s a whole entire level of what-the-fuckery that I almost can’t even with. Of course I want to immediately go out and slap some sense into people like that — you have to fucking wear pants, too, and you’re not crying oppression about that. Your rights are not being infringed upon, you’re being asked to be aware of other people. And stop fucking shooting people because of the color of their skin! Ugh. The only way I can deal with things like that is to feel sorry for those people. They must live in constant fear, and fear makes you lash out because you haven’t any other coping skills, and that must be terribly… draining. That doesn’t mean I condone their behavior – not at all. But the only way I can deal with it emotionally is to fight to choose compassion. Otherwise frustration is going to eat me alive. I would rather use my energies to choose to take care of the people I can than to fight the people who wouldn’t even notice or listen to me.

Speaking of energy, I should wrap this up and go focus my energy on a little treadmill time, followed by a (hopefully) productive day in the studio. Thanks for reading, y’all. I know many of you feel the same way.

2 Comments

  1. Beth Camero

    Nice little write up, Lorena. I feel a lot like you do, with the privilege part. Except both my roomies still go into work. I have a lot of anxiety about Bob going around to the different pharmacies but it is what it is, so… we make him wash his hands a lot when he comes in. He wears masks full time now (and hates them) so that helps. I still am about 80% sure this household had C19 in March. But, you know, I also got stung by some odd wasp so I may have already had Murder Hornets as well. Hey, we got this!
    I hope I can learn to breathe without hyperventilating when I’m masked. So far it gives me panic attacks and I end up running out of places. Great! Sister in Idaho is the same way but she … takes the mask off. Glad she lives there and not here.
    Meh. This, too, shall pass.

    • Ugh, I’m so sorry – I feel your pain! I’m claustrophobic AF and and honestly kind of surprised I can spend so much time in a mask. I mean, not like I’m in it all the time, but, like, at the grocery store — I’m surprised that I can be in it for half an hour or forty-five minutes, surrounded by people all going the wrong way down the now-one-way aisles, hoping I’m not the asshole going the wrong way….!

      I had to go to WalMart for groceries and a few other things, and I knew it was going to take a while, so (and I don’t know how this didn’t occur to me earlier), I wore my headphones and listened to John Prine the whole time I was shopping. It actually made the anxiety of the experience a lot less. I’ll probably continue to do that after this is all over, because I really hate the shopping experience!

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