King Tut likes dystopian

And make sure you say I’ve been at it since January.

Funny place to start. Pretty close to the end.

Everyone’s writing about the virus. It’s the only game in town. Quarantines, fear, unemployment, death. Deep, personal, life changing topics. Today Sophie got in the game. “I’m supposed to write about how an incident affected me personally. The coronavirus doesn’t work, it affects everyone.”

“No, I think that’s valid,” I said, “Write about how it affects just you.”

Susan weighed in: “Talk about how your mother keeps asking if you’re OK. About how your dad constantly checks the stats.” Sophie started walking away.

I called after her: “And make sure you say I’ve been at it since January.” An early adopter. I want credit for my foresight. I was tracking the pandemic before anyone I know.

On Sunday, February 2nd, running a trail, it hit me like a bolt of lightning. “We need to move our retirement investments out of stocks.” I saw a crash coming. I read this exact scenario in a post-apocalyptic novel. Monday morning, the market opened low and started climbing. I laughed off my fear.

I get no credit. Yes, I checked the stats, but I did nothing with my knowledge. We lost our savings like everyone else. Now the coronavirus is old hat. It’s everybody’s topic. But there’s nothing else to write about. I wake up, check the news and then go into work all alone. I keep things running but I don’t start anything new. Containment mode. I never know if I’ll be coming in tomorrow.

Today, my governor locked down the state. I saw it coming for a week. Each day, he added a few more counties to his stay-at-home order. I think he felt bad about creating extra work for his staff with his piecemeal approach. He added the rest of the counties in one shot. Now we’ll all stay at home. I’m kicking myself. I needed to buy a lawn mower. How will I cut my lawn?

Other’s are panicked as well, but mostly about haircuts. Three years ago, I wrote about the Hair Wiz—a low-tech product from the seventies. You insert a razor blade into the tines of a plastic comb. As you comb your hair, the Hair Wiz cuts it to a uniform length. My post, a humor piece, is getting at least fifteen hits a day.

Eli’s going nuts. “Let’s go get that lawn mower at Lowe’s. Let’s get carryout. Can we at least go buy some ice cream?” Thirty more days is a long time for a fourteen-year-old to be cooped up with his family. And truth be told, I think it will be longer.

The low point of my day is Zoom. It’s the only time during the day I interact with anyone outside of my house, but I still don’t like it. I’m too self-conscious to be plastered on the video screen. I hate participating in conversations where I can’t read body language. I always start talking at the wrong time. Either the last person isn’t finished or the next person is already starting.

IMG_0641Today we had two Zoom meetings. The second one was about how we can interact with library patrons remotely. One of the new features: staff member’s pets will make book recommendations. During the meeting, I texted a picture of Eli’s bearded dragon to our communications director with the caption: King Tut likes dystopian. I didn’t get a laugh. For the past two Sundays we’ve had Zoom happy hour with Susan’s family. Fifteen people. I’m not much of a people person, but I definitely prefer them in real life.

Starting tomorrow, I need to drive with a letter from the governor’s office describing how my job is essential. Library finances doesn’t sound overly important, especially when the library is closed, but we still need to pay our bills. A couple of times over the past few days, the gravity of the situation has caught up with me. Each family unit is hunkering down in a protective crouch, trying to survive. Whether it’s loneliness, mental health, joblessness or the actual virus, we all have an enemy lurking, stalking us.

When I’m not checking virus stats, Zooming, or hyperventilating over our crashing society, I’m enjoying gratitude. I like the company of my wife and kids, and I’m seeing more of Sophie and Eli than I have in years. My home is comfortable and close to nature. Susan and I are both working. And as of today, we’re all healthy. 2020 has been a weird year so far. I think I’m simultaneously creating some of the worst and some of the best memories of my life.

22 thoughts on “King Tut likes dystopian

  1. So far I’ve avoided Zoom or any other video conferencing app and I hope I can keep it that way. Like you, I dislike situations where I can’t get the visual body language cues that go along with the spoken words. That said, if a job depended on it, I’d be all in.

    I like the idea of pets making reading recommendations. Your suggestion was apparently too sophisticated for your audience. Don’t give up!

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    • When I’m working from home, King Tut is my office mate. He stalks about his tank right behind me. Maybe some of my sci-fi taste is rubbing off on him. I’m sure our feature will be all cats and dogs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like that King Tut likes dystopian and am aghast that you didn’t get a laugh on that! Who are these people you work with? People who like zoom apparently. Did a spin class on Zoom today, and one participant was in Italy. So there is some good to come of it; whole-heartedly agreeing with your gratitude 🙂

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      • Well the first thing they tell you is to mute your cameras, so only the instructor is audible. The music didn’t really work at all, but there are preset Spotify playlists each person can play individually. It’s an… Interesting experience…

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Nick. I’m running out of material. I wish I could remember my dreams like you do. I wake up every morning with disjointed images soaked in stressful feelings. And of course my jaw hurts from clenching my teeth.

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  3. Today is the first day the kids have to Zoom – Declan for his class and Catelyn for soccer (not sure how that is going to work). I don’t think Declan will do it – it’s all too “weird.” But I will try to sign him on. I do zoom for my gym but I don’t have to say anything so it works out well for me. I’ll give you credit – you did call it first. This is affecting us all, and will, for a long time.

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    • Another reader has been doing zoom spin classes. I should get off of my butt and pursue some of this. It’s probably a unique opportunity. I’m actually finding myself busier than usual. Work has ramped up pretty high, and when I’m not working, my bored children want to do something. Getting hard to get out for a walk or run.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. For my husband and me, “normal life” won’t be that much different than this crisis mode. Oh, I miss the socializing and going to actual races and runs with the running club and I am very tired of cooking EVERY DAY but we were both retired. I think it will be hard for families to leave their comfy nests and go back to the hectic pace of school/work/outside responsibilities.

    I have been using Zoom and loving it! So far, I have done a happy hour with 2 friends, a family reunion (my kids and their families), and a cocktail party. It’s not like IRL, but for me it’s better than nothing.

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      • That’s pretty good! Apparently we have almost 300 confirmed cases in our borough, which is about 7 square miles (~300,000 people). I’m sure there are more unconfirmed cases though. We basically just stay inside, except to grocery shop. We are well though 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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