i thought i was going to write about weeding

April 11, 2020

I should be outside. It’s partly sunny. The temperature is warming up. MTB is working away in the backyard, bringing her botanical vision to life. She’s a god damn garden genius. It’s gonna be an oasis back there.

But I am sitting at the one desk we have. Reading news, window shopping online, listening to podcasts. Despair. I feel it right there, under the skin. We stopped the world and it’s collapsing in on itself.

The two retail shops closest to us that are open are a gun shop and weed shop. How did gun shops become essential businesses? Rhetorical question, I know. Americans are gun obsessed. Our minds have become so twisted or so defeated by firearm fanaticism that we can’t even bring ourselves to do one fucking meaningful thing to protect kids. I’m talking teenagers, adolescents, children. You know.

Some states are trying to use the pandemic to ban abortions, which is a disgusting abuse of power, by the way. But no governors are using the pandemic for gun control, which is pathetic. The NRA, which was losing some clout, is newly invigorated. Gun and ammunition sales are sky rocketing. Gun control is a public health issue. We aren’t just having a global public health crisis. We are in below ground zero public health crisis. In the upside down. But god forbid, a mother fucker can’t go buy a god damn gun.

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i’ve got work to do

April 10, 2020

Our dog won’t stop barking at me. I’m on a zoom call with MD (we do a weekly writing group) and our dog Billie is furiously barking. I think she gets fired up by all the voices coming out of the computer. I tried earbuds tonight. But then MTB came in the room carrying her computer or phone and someone was talking out of that device. Barking ensued.

I’ve stopped talking to write and Billie has stopped barking. A miracle.

I was on a work meeting video call today, and the person I was meeting with has a young child who had discovered the doorbell. Ding dong. Ding dong. Ding dong . . . and it’s not like my colleague could mute herself, as our meeting required conversation. We both laughed. We still got our work done.

I’m on a lot of work video call meetings and there’s something very endearing about seeing my colleagues in their homes, often in a sweatshirt, mussy hair, dogs barking, kids walking through the frame in the background. Inevitably, someone is eating something that involves unwrapping something in polypropylene wrapper, like a power bar, or pulling something out of a polypropylene bag, like a potato chip, and the bag or the bar is sitting right by the computer mic, and the noise from polypropylene is exponentially loud.

The performative work self has been undone, at least at my job. We’re getting work done, a boat load of work, but without wearing our work facade, which in the past could get in the way of getting work done. It’s fitting. Hunker down. Get real. Get shit done. It would be weird if it were any other way.

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staying home

April 6, 2020

Did I brush my teeth today? That question pops up in my brain almost every afternoon. I don’t like to brush my teeth before I have my coffee and these days I have my coffee right away when I first get up. And if it’s a work day, I just start working while I’m waiting for the water to boil.

When I was going into the office, I would brush my teeth first thing when I got up and then have my first cup of coffee at my desk. As a bike commuter, (or am I now a former bike commuter?) with a longer than average commute, it never worked for my gut to ingest more than a glass of water before my ride.

But I get it – what’s happening with the tooth brushing thing. I need a new routine. I need to adjust to the new shape of my days, really, the new shape of all of our days, that’s been imposed on us by the pandemic. Or really it’s the shapelessness of our days that feels so impossible. But creating structure for myself has never been my strong suit. And right now, I’m angry and sad and feel scared, and I don’t want to fucking create a new routine so I make sure to brush my teeth every day.

Yes, I am being hyperbolic. And stupid. And trying to make a point out of a low stakes something, which maybe didn’t work. I don’t know.

MTB went grocery shopping today. One of the other shoppers was wearing an N95 mask. GD and MB walked with their kids to Irvington park to find about maybe 20 people bunched up around the basketball courts watching a pick-up game. On Instagram and Facebook, I’m still seeing photos of friends at beach or on a trail. I don’t get it. It’s both disheartening and infuriating.

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April 3, 2020

Right now, I’m in a squat off with my friend BH. She texts me, SQUAT, and I get up from my desk and do 30 squats. My bike thighs are already starting to give way. I’m hoping the squats will salvage them, at least kind of. Right now we doing 4 sets, so 120 total squats. My plan is to increase our sets by 1 a week until we are at 10 sets of 30 or 300 squats.

My other friend, MD, has workout flash cards, illustrating all sorts of body weight exercises. Core strength is what they are currently into. Tonight, on our Zoom hang out, we talked about V-ups for a good 5 minutes .

Most days, MTB does hot yoga in the back room of our house, courtesy a space heater turned on high. Sadly, her online yoga class often freezes up We have a bandwidth issue and often at the same time she is doing yoga, I’m video conferencing for work. We tried to upgrade our internet connection, but that would mean some dude coming into our house to hook us up with a new modem. No thanks.

When we went to Target a couple of weeks ago, we’d been hoping to score a jump rope and some 20 lb barbells, but the workout and fitness aisles were almost laid bare. All that was left were some 3 lb weights, an exercise ball and a couple of yoga mats. It was unexpected. And the unexpectedness felt jarring.

I bought some new running shoes. I’ve had them for a week. So far all I’ve done in them is march up and down a single step stool for a half hour while watching episodes about Gwenyth Paltrow’s horrible Goop enterprise. But the weather has been crap. Cold and rainy, and I’m not going to start up running until the sun comes back out.

I can’t tell, am I newly interested in body or trying to keep my anxiety and depression at bay? Am I dabbling with some magical thinking that fitness is going to protect me or that fitness proves I’m ok? I think all of it’s true. And in the absence of testing, my fitness is a sign to me, that today, I’m ok.

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Shopping Now

April 1, 2020

Work a little bit. Take a short walk to walk the dogs. Work some more. Then take a longer walk. Come home, eat food, load up dishwasher and then run it, for what seems like the millionth time since we were ordered to shelter in place. Will there eventually be a run on dishwasher detergent? Confession: we bought 2 extra bottles a couple weeks ago on a weird and depressing trip to Target.

There was a big sign right when you entered, alerting everyone: This is not a COVID-19 testing site. We don’t watch White House press briefings; so we didn’t know that the Dump had lied to everyone who does watch press briefings, announcing that there would be testing at major retail stores. I only just caught up to this particular lie this week, which, in retrospect, made the sign make more sense. At the time, MTB and my response was, what the fuck.

There was a real foreboding feeling, pushing our cart around Target. It was the first time either of us had been at a big box store since the lockdown, and the first time we’d been confronted with the gaping swaths of empty shelves that normally hold all the things everyone keeps buying up and or is hoarding: toilet paper, paper towels, flour, disinfectant cleaners and wipes, rubbing alcohol, aloe vera, and Cheerios. Even the shelves that weren’t completely emptied out had at least a couple of significant and un-ignorable gaps. Like, when did everyone start eating canned peaches? The panic underlying all that emptiness felt visceral.

Oh, good lord, I just scratched my forehead. Even though I haven’t been anywhere all day, except for a walk, where I didn’t touch anything, and I’ve washed my hands a gajillion times, most recently, just 10 minutes ago, touching my face brings on a jolt of anxiety. I hate it. I wake up in the middle of the night, scratch my cheek and hope I’m not infecting myself because I closed the bathroom door last time I got up to pee. I don’t know about you, but I miss mindlessly picking my nose.

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Everything changed

March 30, 2020

Today I took a longish bike ride. Like around an hour. It’s the longest ride I’ve taken since I last rode home from work a little over two weeks ago, when we got the word we’d be teleworking for the foreseeable future.

It wasn’t a surprise, exactly. There had been less and less people around the hospital campus in each of the preceding days. Less car traffic on each commute. The week before, I’d asked if we could get hand sanitizer in our suite, only to find it was already sold out every where. My co-workers and I co-workers were punching elevator buttons with our elbows and using paper towels to open the doors of the fridge and the microwave. We had been getting daily COVID-19 updates since the end of February. On that last day at the office, there were 75 confirmed cases in Oregon, and 1187 confirmed cases in Washington.

When I got home, the dogs ran up to the gate and barked, like they always do. It was sunny and vaguely warm. Beau darted back and forth in front of the garden fence, tracking a squirrel scampering across the top of the cement block wall than runs parallel to the fence and stands at the back of our lot. Billie circled the yard looking for a bone to bring me. I rolled by bike into the shed. I fed the dogs. I fed the cats. I got the mail. I set my pannier down in the middle of the living room and emptied out the extra things I’d grabbed from my desk in a hurry: a power supply, a can of soup, a bunch of bandanas I kept in a drawer drawer and used for napkins, a sweatshirt, a special pen, and a small bottle of hand sanitizer I’d brought from home. I got on my computer and re-read the update about working from home for the foreseeable future. It felt so ominous, like officially ominous.

I did 2 things after that. First, I cleaned the two front windows on our house that are not covered by the porch. The dirt on the glass had been bothering me for weeks. I didn’t even mess with changing out of my bike clothes. I closed my computer, got out the windex, grabbed a roll of paper towels, and took them and a step stool outside. My neighbor across the street gave me a hard time about getting a jump on spring cleaning. The second thing I did, was put on my sweatpants, take out the weighted blanket I gave MTB for her birthday, crawl under it on the couch, then turn on the TV and fall asleep. I slept until MTB came home around 10 o’clock.

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