Life in a time of Coronavirus, March 17, 2020

Has anyone else noticed this? Taking a walk yesterday, neighbours were actually pretty bad at keeping a full 6 feet away, but they were very intent on not making eye contact.

It’s as if, I don’t know, people can’t look each other in the eye without coming close? Or their instincts are muddled and they do the wrong kind of social distancing.

It’s strange.

Sarah is working hard. Maybe today she will finally finish her draft. We’re running low on vegetables. 54 eggs left.

We took a walk around town yesterday. Restaurants closed and hurting, but still putting a brave face on it. A local tenants union has been trying to form for a while, it seems. (Go go Boston DSA!)

There’s a new group in town: MAMAS: Mutual Aid Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts. They have google groups, google docs, etc. They have a website with overlays of “neighborhood pods” where a pod captain is meant to coordinate everyone in a roughly 3-block radius.

Like this:

I hope it works.

Meanwhile, there’s a battle between the democracy/civil rights orgs who say: “absolutely never delay elections, this could set precedent for very bad things”, and others who say “are you insane? Crowding election places run by elderly poll workers is a recipe for needless death”. Maybe both are right.

In Illinois, it seems like the workers took charge: they just didn’t show up to the election places. Polling locations are closed all over chicago, I hear.
There is weird stuff happening in national politics. Trump is saying one thing “checks for everyone!” while his negotiators are trying to get the opposite. Some D senators have good plans, some R senators have good plans. But R senators are also trying to make things worse. Seems like a mess of confusion.

I begin to hate group phone calls or video calls even more. An event I’m helping plan is transitioning to becoming a long conference call that is also a passover seder.

Will it work?

Friends are beginning to host social events online. Live concerts. Trivia times. Webinars. The concerts are fun to listen to. Everything else takes more participation energy than I want to give. I can’t stand staring into a webcam any more.

Last night, I got into a long talk with my dad about social insurance, pandemics, and taking things seriously. Thankfully, it seems like he’s isolating correctly. I’m not too worried about them: my whole life, there’s been a stockpile of food in my parent’s basement. My mom reminds me that she stayed home before, during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Instead of leaving home and getting sick, the danger was leaving home and getting shot. Ah.

Except for that one cold walk, I haven’t left the home in days.


Love in a time of Coronavirus: March 11, 2020

The prisoners are going to die. All those packed inmates in prisons across the country. The people in concentration camps at the border. The victims of ICE raids housed in crowded conditions in cities across the country: when the virus hits, they’re going to fall like dominoes. But daily life continues.

Daily life continues, with small changes: people take up the “Wuhan handshake” of feet taps instead of handclasps. Fist bumps are replaced by elbow bumps. The supermarket puts eggs, milk, cereal on sale: but only if you buy 5+ cartons at once.

Things have started to escalate. The concert sends an email saying “we aren’t going to cancel, but if you want a refund, we’re thinking about giving you one”. Two days later, they just straight up cancel. The grocery store is decidedly out of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and most pasta. A few bags of frozen vegetables make a valiant stand to cover shelves and shelves of otherwise empty space. Classes cancel. Students are told to get out of their dorms. So much for the last quarter of senior year, class of 2020. Get your last-minute crush revelations and awkward hormonal goodbyes done before you fly home in 5 days.

My partner worries about graduating into a recession. My mom starts coughing. I retreat into clearing my email inbox, buying almond croissants for the former and calling the latter every day.

The house starts getting messier. I make a pilgrimage or two at the supermarket every day. I document the shelves that start getting bare. So far milk, eggs, bread, and snacks are holding up fine.

Links start getting passed around. Long medium articles about how bad things are going to be. Lion tamers of data whipping it into terrorizing shape. People joke about how we can’t trust government, how they’re denying or classifying everything, that it’s just like the Soviet responses to crises we read about in our textbooks. Haha.

On my todo list, I make a recurring daily item: breathe deeply for five minutes. Kiss your Sarah.