Life In The Time Of Pandemic

A historian at one of the nearby universities wrote an article this week suggesting that we all keep diaries of this unprecedented time.

Write it all down.

Life In The Time Of Pandemic, I guess.

Where has he been? Pandemic 2020 is going to be the most documented event in the history of mankind. (Peoplekind.)

Where were you when the wash-your-hands edict came? When the don’t-touch-your-face came? When the toilet-paper-hysteria came? When the ban on gatherings of 1,000 … 500 … 50 … 10 came? When today came? I know. Twitter and Facebook and Instagram told me.

There seems to be an ever-increasing number of cat photos on my feeds. Just to break up the latest round of bad news, I guess. So, doing my part, here’s Zuzu …

(I am not gloating because extroverts are freaking out about this stay-at-home thing. But, I admit, there is a smug-but-not-gloating satisfaction. Now you know how it is for an introvert like me when I’m feeling pressured to go to one of your big parties. Different thing. Same gnawing discomfort.)

“Hey! What’s Going On? Where’d Everybody Go?”

I had a dream last night that I went online and this site was gone. WordPress was gone. The Baseball Bloggess was gone.

Just like baseball. Gone.

A week ago, that would have been just a weird dream. Last night it woke me up. Week ago, weird dream. Last night, nightmare.

A Week Ago, This Was My Happy Place.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Central Virginia – sunshine’y, in the 60s. We should have been at the University of Virginia baseball game. Instead, I was learning how to order “to-go” groceries – including a lifetime supply of jalapeño peppers – from an app.

Lifetime supply? Is that a pandemic’s lifetime? Or, a real lifetime? Or, is that now the same thing?

The woman who brought the groceries to our car – keeping an appropriate distance – told us that a couple drove down from Baltimore because they heard that our grocery store – 125 miles away – had toilet paper. By the time they arrived, it was gone.

A five-hour round trip for … nothing.

We unloaded our groceries, including the lifetime supply of jalapeños, on the porch and disinfected things with a wipe before we brought them into the house.

Because that’s what we have been told to do.

(Do you think those people from Baltimore stopped at the Rest Area on I-66 and emptied all the toilet paper dispensers as they drove back home? Or, do you think someone else got there first?)

Even This Little Tree That’s Blooming Along Our Pasture Fence Line Looks Sad And Alone. 

Mark Shields and David Brooks were on PBS NewsHour last Friday discussing leadership in the time of crisis. It’s worth a watch, although much has changed since then. Every day feels like a month … a year.

 

Here’s the thing that stayed with me …

David Brooks said he tried to find out more about how people coped with the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, but very little was available:

“It left no trace on the national culture.”

He determined that little is available because people didn’t document it.

Because they were ashamed of how they behaved. Especially once the fear set in.

Leaving no trace is not an option today. We’re writing it all down. We’re filming it. We’re documenting every single second of it.

A hundred years from now, what are people going to think of us?

Tom

Embed from Getty Images

 

And I showed you stars you never could see

I remember where I was, exactly where I was, the moment I first heard Tom Petty.

There are reasons why a random memory like this decades-old one sticks and others do not and it has to do with axons and neurons and blood vessels and synapses in the brain all just popping open at the right moment, sweeping up the memory, and storing it.

Don’t you hear the rock ‘n’ roll playin’ on the radio?
It sounds so right

It was 1977. It was morning. I was on a school bus.

I can tell you where I was sitting … on the left side, probably over the wheel well, because that’s where I always sat.

The driver had rigged up a radio with a speaker, his primitive way of piping down the student savages that he carted back and forth everyday down miles of unkept gravel roads on the longest bus route in the county.

It was always tuned to KFYR.

The song was “Breakdown.”

And, my still half-asleep ears perked up in a “What’s this?” kind of way. It jangled. I liked any music that jangled. I still do. And, I really liked this.

Between classes that morning, I was walking down the hallway and my best friend Jana was walking the other way.  She handed me a note.

That’s what we did. We wrote notes on scraps of paper and passed them in the hallways. Like texting.

And, in this particular note she wrote … and I’m paraphrasing a bit, because my memory might be strong but it’s not all crazy-weird perfect. She wrote this: “Did you hear that song by Herbie and the Heartbeats????????????”  (There may have been more ????????? I’m not sure of that.) She had heard the song on the radio, too.

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