Seattle is opening back up, and the plywood street art covering businesses is starting to come down. It’s been a comfort these last few months!
We take care of ourselves, you see? Government can get bent. Stay off my land. Don’t tell me how to think; what to believe; who to trust.
I grew up here, and I have a stubborn libertarian (left-bertarian?) streak. So I can’t get too huffy about the culture. It’s a part of me, too.
Besides, we Americans aren’t heartless. It’s just that our focus is centered on our families and our personal liberties, not the nation or world as a whole. But you can see the problem. There are times, such as when fighting a pandemic or climate change, when you want individuals to put collective needs first.
You might have seen that one doofy guy on the news who shrugged and said “If I get the Rona, I get the Rona.” While he later apologized for being a bad example, he struck me as emblematic of how we tend to do things here. That fatalistic, stubborn independence?
It’s classic Americana.
Give me liberty or give me death.
Locally, there’s a long line of partiers headed to the beach for the holiday weekend. And someone we love is bar hopping, literally courting death, two to three days per week. No words can sway him.
In my darker moments, I envision attending his funeral. And my heart sarcastically calls out: USA! USA! USA!
Give me liberty or give me death? In response, the Pandemic leans forward with a big grin full of rotting teeth. Why not both? Go out! Have some fun. You’ve been cooped up too long. You deserve this.
To all who hear me, you deserve something far better than a fun holiday weekend. You deserve a long and happy life. Tell the Pandemic to get bent. Stay close to home, and cheer our nation’s beginning from your backyard or living room.
Gatherings can wait. Truly. They can wait. Now let’s fire up the family barbecue and enjoy our nation’s birthday. Disney+ is showing Hamilton this weekend, and red white and blue M&Ms are both festive and delicious. We’re having hot dogs and potato salad too.
Today we sat down at Uptown Espresso at an outdoor table. We haven’t sat at a coffee shop since… February? Five customers were in line inside, six feet apart, masks on.
It wasn’t the old normal, but still, it felt luxurious.
And after a week of getting annoyed at photographs of large jubilant crowds elsewhere in the US, I’ve decided to take a sabbatical from caring what other people do.
I mean, I do care, in the sense that we’re all interconnected. And I care in that I don’t want a second big wave of infection slamming hospitals and killing people. But I’ve also seen that caring deeply about what I have no hope of controlling is a path to despair. So I’m focused on what is in my control: Being personally cautious, loving my husband, and writing MOAR books. 🙂
Washington State continues to take the slow-and-careful path toward re-opening the economy. We’ve had about a thousand deaths since this started, which is sad, but also kind of amazing given that we started out as the epicenter of the US outbreak. But there’s also a growing sense of this-can’t-go-on-forever that I feel swirling around. P & I work from home, we don’t have kids, and we’re used to living in a small space with our own projects to keep us company. So it’s easy for someone in my shoes to say “Sure, let’s be super-cautious and take our time!” But not everyone’s situation is so cushy, and caution is an expensive luxury when you can’t afford not to go into work.
Amid the outrage about idiots chanting slogans and waving guns in the air, I think we forget that not everyone can work from home, and people need to eat and pay rent. I’m grateful for the small business loan program that has been putting people back to work, including my younger brother and the barista down the street.
Seattle is starting to thaw. While my county is still in Phase One of lockdown for a while longer, the environment is already starting to change. Our local coffee sh0ps are coming back online, one at a time, ending the great coffee clampdown of 2020. (Take-out only) King County had it’s first day without coronavirus deaths recently, a beautiful milestone, and I’m seeing a lot more people wearing masks, even outside. This morning we woke up to traffic noise, something that used to be normal, but which seems shockingly loud after months of near-silence outside.
In a way, this moment feels like the morning after a storm. You go outside and check for damage, counting broken windows and dangling power lines, wondering how much it’s going to cost to put everything back together again. Only the thing that’s broken isn’t a house or a neighborhood, it’s the entire economy. And without a vaccine ready there are likely to be more storms rolling in. Still, even knowing that, I’m relieved to discover tiny moments of reprieve. Like a brief chat with a barista while they pull a shot of espresso, or twenty minutes sitting in the grass in a park.
Give us a taste of that sweet, sweet, normalcy!
Still, my cautious nature tells me that this pandemic is about to get more dangerous, not less, as pent-up humans rush out into the world hungry for the experiences they’ve been missing. We’ve all seen those shocking videos of of packed beaches, busy casinos, and overflowing parking lots. Millions of workers will soon return to work out of financial necessity, and state governments, despite some valiant efforts, have struggled to procure as many testing supplies as they need. Unfortunately, our own federal government has been hostile when they should have been helpful. My state recently received a large shipment of Q-tips from the federal government instead of the promised testing swabs. In this climate, it’s difficult to interpret such a “mistake” as anything but an upraised middle finger coming directly from the White House, but after four years of Trump I’ve reached a point where such events are like being kicked in a sore spot already sore from too much kicking. It hurts, sure, but what can you do?
You keep on living.
My book sales are up, probably due to my marketing efforts, but possibly because folks are reading more. More broadly, I think we’re all still waiting to see what the economic fallout looks like. Seattle, with its high proportion of tech workers, may fare okay on average, but even here the consequences seems serious. Our local restaurant scene is pretty thrashed, tourism, always huge here in the summer, is non-existent, and I can’t imagine feeling safe getting on a plane or a crowded bus anytime soon. Like many people, we’re wondering when it will be safe enough to go and visit our parents. And when will it be safe enough to get together with a friend or two? Also, what does safe enough even mean? And if pent-up humans go crazy and start smearing their germs all over one another in an orgiastic late-summer hug-fest, should the rest of us still stay inside and wait for the second wave of infection to burn itself out?
I suppose we’ll figure things out, as we always do, one small decision at a time.
Take care, everyone, and keep washing those paws.
Greetings from week who-the-hell-knows. Days have no meaning. Weeks have no meaning! I mark the slow passage of time in the number of grocery deliveries we’ve had in quarantine. Yesterday was our fourth delivery, I think. Or was it five? All I know is that the trees downtown are in full leaf. Sunny days outnumber the rainy ones. Summer is here. Our rare precious months of Pacific Northwest sun have arrived at last. And we’re stuck inside waiting for the world to change. We’re waiting, waiting, waiting. And even though logic says we’re lucky to be the ones waiting, not the ones risking, waiting is…
Well, you know.
This quarantine is right and good. And why fight rightness, even in your own mind? I say this to myself, daily, yet Resentment sits next to me on the couch like a crumb-spewing squatter, unwelcome and conspicuous, dragging down my mood. She sits there, eyeing me, making huffing sounds and poking me in the ribs.
Go away, Resentment. I don’t want you here. She laughs.
And so here we are, P & I and the third roommate I never wanted. But maybe if I stop fighting Resentment she’ll get up and leave on her own.
Hope springs eternal.
I’m not an adult today. I’m a frustrated eight year-old looking out the window during the last week of school. When will this wait end? Why is it taking FOREVER? When can I go outside and play? Cold logic allows me to go for walks, to spend some time out in the fresh air, but the relief is temporary. Put on the mask. Dodge to the far side of the sidewalk when others walk by. Don’t dawdle, because exercise is allowed but otherwise it’s ESSENTIAL ACTIVITIES ONLY and you’re just being a jerk standing on a street corner waiting for someone to cough on you. Keep it moving! Exercise, smell the trees, and return to your cell to wait.
Right now, I’m missing the feeling of being on a crowded Metro bus, the cabin swaying, people clutching their backpacks and grocery bags, chatting about the weather or staring down at their phones, tap-tap-tapping. Crammed together, we were at one with the living city. Without noticing, you’d shift your body as crowds gather and move, gather and move, flowing together like blood carrying oxygen and ideas and commerce to every road and tributary and building, big or small, old or new.
I miss Seattle as it should be, as it’s always been for me, luminous at dusk, glittering, shining as thousands of windows form a golden mosaic atop dark behemoths jutting into the sky, the yellow-gold lights glowing ever brighter as the sky dims from grey-blue to muddy-black.
I remember the blissful hours of rest before the buses rolled at five in the morning out like Autobots, ready to serve, and later on, the cars pulling into garages, and also the people – so many! – arriving for work in suits and jeans and construction hats, and once we were all here, together, with coffee in our hands the day could begin again and the world would turn once more.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Seattle had a rhythm, once. A pulse.
We live among towers made of glass and light.
Yet we are small, soft, cautious animals, waiting in our dens for the danger to pass.
When will we return to life?
Breathe in. Breathe out.
I can do this.
I can wait.
Photo by Nick Bolton at Unsplash.
The headline says a second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating while the actual quote says there is a possibility things will be even more difficult.
No, I’m not being picky here. There’s a difference between a possibility of something happening and it being likely. And how about difficult versus devastating? Those words have different meanings as well.
HEY. JACKASSES. WORDS HAVE MEANING. AND THE WRONG WORDS USED INTENTIONALLY TO MANIPULATE REACTIONS CONSTITUTES A LIE. (I scream into my coffee.)
Headlines need to summarize content. That’s true! And papers want to hook their readers. I get it. But misleading isn’t summarizing. It’s shading the truth in an attempt to get more clicks. I enjoy fiction. But leave it out of my newspaper, please oh please. Tell the (expletive) truth or get the (expletive) out of my life.
Sadly, it seems this type of fear-stoking and truth-shading is happening continuously in the media, even for critical topics like the pandemic. And even in mainstream papers. So keep your eyes sharp, friends.
Grumble-grumble… If you can’t tell the truth in a headline, why the (expletive) would I trust your article?
PS: I redacted 75% of my swears. LOL. And I’ll simmer down once I’ve finished my coffee.