The Shelter in Place Diaries

record scratch

You might be wondering how we ended up here, blog buddies. One minute, you’re drinking coffee at your desk and the next minute there’s a nasty virus sweeping the globe and we’ve all been asked to shelter in place. This might not be the Zombie Apocalypse we’ve been training for, in our movies and in our fiction, but it feels vaguely familiar. Those who have been banking canned goods and ammunition for years will find that canned goods are more useful as neighbors help neighbors. The smelly zombie hordes of fiction are well-represented by the wide-eyed masses of TP-hungry shoppers at your local big box store. And we’ve all seen what happens when a member of the group hides a zombie bite from everyone even though it endangers everyone. In this situation, the zombie-bite hider is your coworker Joe*, the one who went out bar hopping because the pandemic was NO BIG DEAL and EVERYONE IS OVERREACTING.

Thankfully, Joe has no desire to crack your head open and feast upon on your brains. Whew! But there’s bad news too. Joe is infected, and his carelessness may contribute to the needless deaths of others.

Fuck Joe, you might be thinking. And that’s fair. But in any population of millions there are bound to be thousands who have a hard time wrapping their heads around a situation like this. And unfortunately our President is basically another Joe only he has the country’s biggest megaphone. And those are just a few reasons why us non-essential workers are…

(insert dramatic music)

Sheltering in Place.

Shelter in Place Diary #1

Seattle Downtown



Ah, Wednesday. The sun is out, and P is doing calisthenics on his yoga mat on the other side of the room. An hour ago we heard a man screaming as he walked down the street. He deposited his screams block by block like a trail of auditory breadcrumbs. These weren’t I’m-hurt screams, or a someone-is-attacking-me screams, but screams of pure self-expression. I felt solidarity with the screaming man today. He is us, and we are him.

Scream, random man, scream.

Over the years I have become a sommelier of downtown screams. There are the screams of bar patrons being let out at 2am (varietals: happy or looking-for-a-fight), and the occasional shouts of a visiting rando walking down the street. Actual help-me screams are extremely rare, and those you investigate. That’s happened perhaps twice in ten years?

But some people just need to scream, ya know?

Also, I’m hearing more sirens than usual. When we first moved downtown I heard sirens constantly – there’s a fire station not too far from here – but after a few months I stopped hearing them unless they were rolling right down my street. But because we’re sheltering in place and thinking hard about our circumstances, my ears have decided to notice all the sirens again. This is likely a cognitive distortion brought on by a hyper-aware mind. Either that or there are more sirens. Either way, it doesn’t change my responsibility: stay inside.

The sun is shining at the moment, and I’m feeling grateful for our rooftop deck. P & I live in a tiny condo, basically one room with a bathroom attached, and we’re used to getting out of the house several times per day for exercise, air, and peace of mind.  Now we alternate between quick little walks around the block and trips to the roof to get some air and sun. A few days ago I went to my usual park with a friend but it was too crowded and I felt uncomfortable. Also, it’s difficult to walk with a friend in a crowded park at the recommended six feet of distance.  But P and I are sharing germs, (Matrimony, yo) and so we can take our little walks and wave at the public health workers wearing masks as they welcome those who need help to their clinic over on Blanchard Street. We give a wide berth to others. Especially the idiots. There aren’t many. Most everyone is being careful.

As our Governor Inslee said recently, “The National Guard cannot protect you from the consequences of your own choices.”  I’ve started referring to Governor Inslee as America’s Dad.

As the novelty of shelter-in-place starts to wear off, and as we settle in for a longer haul, I’m thinking about putting more routine into my day. We need to exercise (P has that one down) and we need to get some fresh air when we can and we need to find time for work and play and checking in with loved ones.

Personally, I’m limiting my time spent reading TERRIBLE NEWS OF THE WORLD and I’m looking for novel ways of blowing off steam. Yesterday I blew bubbles off of our roof for a while. The wind currents picked the bubbles up and sent them careening between the skyscrapers like tiny fighter jets. This afternoon maybe I’ll break into my craft closet and throw together supplies for a few art projects.

Understandably, writing upbeat fiction in these conditions is difficult, since writing is all about tuning the real world out, and our world is extremely loud right now. But others have it far worse (my Mom is on the front lines of retail and I think of her every day, not to mention all of our medical folks risking their lives), so I’ll remind myself that I’m lucky and that my problems are extremely small.

Okay. Enough blogging, because I have work to do! Stay safe,  friends. Stay sane, and keep washing those paws.


*No offense intended to all the rational Joes out there.