We have met the enemy and it is squalor

I am ok. You?

When you spend a lot of time at home (especially in multi-person households) it is easy to let everything go to hell. You have to figure things get grubbier than usual. The only other experience that compares for me is getting cooped up during a major snow storm but it’s a lukewarm comparison. I am keeping up. The stuff I’m avoiding: Stacked dishes in the sink, a funky ambience in the bathroom, piles of papers gathering, overflowing trashcans, unmade beds, loads of unwashed laundry. Living in squalor would just make it all worse.😐

I consider myself fortunate, well, in a number of ways, but in no small part because HOME is pretty much my favorite place. I absolutely love being outdoors in nature (and need to be) but I don’t want to live there. Being at home isn’t a huge change for me. Over the years, particularly during the time I’ve had this blog, I have really worked to make Home a good place to be.

It happened that my everyday food stockpiling coincided with the quarantining/pandemic. By happenstance I bought a lot of food in January and February. But for that I’d be a lot more anxious. Last March I blogged What does Colette eat? , a list of all the food I had on-hand. Why? I made the list for myself, in part so I could keep track of what I needed to buy at any given time but shared it because I thought it might be interesting or helpful. Last week I made a new list. It”s handwritten and not blog-ready but it is very similar.

I’m not a big fan of groups in the best of times (generally preferring the company of one other person at a time) so there again I am not struggling greatly but my connection to people, to humanity, is writ large. I feel very connected to other people; to other bloggers, to people across the U.S., to people around the world. Never have I felt in my decades, such a sense that to some degree or another, we are all experiencing the same thing. I am also thinking about all the people I’ve known and cared about. This doesn’t mean I want to “reach out” or anything like that; it’s just thinking and remembering.

I really feel for people in worse circumstances. I am impressed by all those whose jobs put them at risk. I’m sure they are frightened but still they continue their work. It was a small thing but I put a hand-written THANK YOU on the door when trash & recycling collectors came on their regular schedule. Think of how it would be if people weren’t still filling these and other roles (of many stripes) either out of sickness or fear.

The people who were nice before are still being nice and the people who were jerks are still being jerks.

I saw on on TV that people were putting up Christmas lights to cheer up their neighborhoods which I thought was charming (I guess so long as it doesn’t tax the power grid 😢). I put lights out too.

On a community Facebook group someone posted about putting teddy bears in the window for children to see (I don’t know if that’s everywhere). I don’t have a teddy bear (just two small stuffed animals whose fur might suffer from condensation 😯) so I collected a few friends to display. (My boy Gumby was previously seen here demonstrating tricks I do at the playground.)

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At times I tear up watching the news. The news about the postponed Olympics made me cry outright. Not because I think that’s worse than thousands dead and sickened but maybe because it shows just how big this is combined with a long-standing emotional response to the Games – I’m not sure.  When emotions are running high it’s hard to know what will trip them, even obscure or seemingly unrelated things. Anyone who’s gone through raw grief will likely recognize that phenomena as true.

My father’s parents (long dead) were from northern Italy and came to the U.S. as young adults, only to later return to Italy with their first four children, including my father, only to again come to the U.S. but despite being half-Italian, I claim no true connection to the region, which has been so hard hit by the virus. I honestly don’t know how to think about it. There is this: you keep hearing about all these old people dying (in Italy and elsewhere) and there can be a tendency to think, well, they’re OLD. But old people have had plenty of time to touch many lives, they probably have friends, children, grandchildren, maybe great grandchildren. They leave behind people who will mourn them, who wouldn’t want a demise like this virus for them but a peaceful, family-gathered, or “quietly dying in their sleep” end. I relate from that view.

Is it weird or what to see VP Pence looking and acting more presidential than the president?!

I take comfort from certain leaders and certain people in the public eye. I have been surprised that TMZ is striking the right note for me, a mix of information, genuine emotion, humor and even a little dishing.  I enjoy Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest together. Before this I didn’t habitually watch their morning show, Live With Kelly and Ryan, and had very little interest in their interviews but liked the first ten or so minutes of the show where they banter and share news, personal and otherwise, when I happened to catch it. Now that they are respectively self-quaranteened and doing the show, I find them and the show very relatable, including the celebrity interviews. Maybe it’s because I believe the affection between them? I find the Dr Phil show very formulaic (and pandering to ratings with its content ) and usually avoid it but the man himself has been compelling since I first saw him long ago. He says things that help me, going way back. I still have notes I took after Sep 11, 2001 about the suggestions and advice he had for people on how to cope. Anyway, he’s gone to a podcast style of his daily TV show and I expect to watch. He makes sense and has a crackerjack mind.

It is always so interesting who comes into the spotlight at crisis points. That Dr Fauci is rocking it. So are some governors including mine. Regular people online make a big difference too if only to distract us with humor. I am grateful to all.

I am here on the blog to distract myself in part, and hopefully to offer a little distraction. If all goes well I expect to be blogging more. I think it’ll help me. I want the connection. I think I will write about the typical topics I do, deliberately. I don’t want to focus only on the virus and its effects. I hope that is okay.

We are requested to stay home where I am but not yet ordered to.  My work has little contact with people and I can stay 6′ away so I can work some which is good on several fronts. The numbers of infection are still rising. I just don’t want to get sick but I felt that before. All winter I was working to not get the flu.

I would say I have a low grade level of agitation.

People are cooking & baking at home, they say. I was already doing that and am just trying to keep up good habits. Even so, I crave foods I wasn’t going to be having anyway, whether because they are too expensive – a huge plate of steamed shellfish – or not a usual thing I let myself eat – bags of chips and candy.😐

There are not bombs falling on my community or soldiers in the streets.  It IS scary but not the scariest, not at all. Perspective. Isn’t that what everything, always, is about?

There wll be scholars writing about this time for years to come. There will be crackpots ranting. There will be movies. It will be taught or mentioned in school curriculums. The worldwide pandemic of 2020.

Remember a few weeks ago? The impeachment, Harry and Meghan, the Australian wildfires? I haven’t heard a peep about any of them. Gone. (Although the absurd Kanye/Kim/Taylor thing got renewed steam in the last day or so. Way to rise to the occasion!😕)

I feel badly for the kids missing proms and graduations – I remember what a big deal everything associated with school and my friends was to me when I was in their place – and love that some jurisdictions promise to do these events for them later.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to have real problems or concerns now that are in addition to the pandemic fears, people with cancer or advanced stages of diseases.  They have to fear/wonder if they will still get the treatment and medications they need and if they will contract the virus further compromising their original illnesses.

Illness and disease have been wiping out populations for a very long time. I think that we’re taken aback that it can still happen independent of how prosperous or technologically advanced a society is. Money and advances will help but they can’t prevent every bad bit of business that comes along. We grow so accustomed to our structures and routines in western countries, so assured in our worlds. Events like weather and pandemics are equal opportunity.

13 thoughts on “We have met the enemy and it is squalor

    1. Colette Post author

      I’m sorry, I just found your comment in spam! I appreciate it – that “in it together” feeling keeps increasing. It is bizarre to have just about everyone in the world having the same experience.

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  1. JT Twissel

    In previous pandemics – before there was the internet and television, infected people were sent to remote locations and basically imprisoned. I think asking folks to just stay at home is a kindness which unfortunately many people don’t realize.

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    1. Colette Post author

      Yes, I’ve seen footage of people lined up in cots. It sure looked pretty dreary. You were sent to get better or die, however it turned out.

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  2. Ally Bean

    I agree with you about not living in squalor. I’ve found myself being more tidy since we’re here all day all the time. I’m rather pleased with this new version of me. I’ve never seen Kelly and Ryan, not being much of a TV person but I can imagine how personable they are. I, too, am finding that the nice people are nicer, while the jerks are getting jerkier. Not surprised, but it makes life even more difficult at times. Stay safe, be well. I look forward to reading more blog posts from you.

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    1. Colette Post author

      Many thanks Ally. Who knows how long this will last; I’m trying to keep up good habits and I expect it offers a sense of normalcy/control. I’m afraid people will get uglier with one another as fears, tensions, and inconveniences increase. I am warning myself to be mindful and stay out of any fray (although admittedly doing some judging internally.😐).

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      1. Ally Bean

        Ditto here. I too wonder how long this will last, but while it does I plan on connecting more with people in the blogosphere, less with people in real life. Leaving comments hither and yon is totally virus-free. 😉

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  3. Maggie Wilson

    Hi Collette – glad to read you are OK and coping – and Gumby – oh my, Gumby and Pokey… there’s a blast for the past…

    I know what you mean about sudden crying jags – for the most part, I’ve been coping OK with the new normal – it was my old normal, really – being retired, living in a remote community, and hubby does most of the shopping. But I have been feeling compelled to check in with people. And to use social media more – like the blogs. Every now and again, though, I feel overwhelmed and fearful – then I sit and look out the window and I see the same trees and sky and distant hills and it’s like a steadying hand has reached out to pull me upright again.

    be well, and stay in touch

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    1. Colette Post author

      Oh Maggie, thank you, a kindred spirit. Yes, this is not wildly removed from my regular life so it’s not as jarring to me as for many. Especially since I can still go outside, as you say, and see spring coming on. The birds & squirrels are quite unconcerned with pandemics and the daffodils really don’t see a problem.😀 I appreciate your words and am glad you’re hanging in there. If we don’t connect it can be easy to get locked in our heads thinking too much and feeling overwhelmed.

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    1. Colette Post author

      It is surreal that we are all in the same circumstances. Here, Trump wants to start loosening restrictions for some areas but that seems unrealistic and a poor idea while cases still rise.

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  4. dweezer19

    Hi. Nice to meet you. I enjoyed your thoughts and am on the same wavelength as you are (are you a Cancer, by chance?) with but a few differences. I rarely get into daytime talk shows, mostly because I don’t care for the banter that goes or the constant delving into celebrity and social goings on.I prefer a great old movie or watching movies that inspire me with hope like Hunger Games or Harry Potter, The X Files. That anything is possible if you accept your own power and use it for the good of the whole. I love Instagram but FB is just an awful place. This is way too much a ‘me,me’ society. Perhaps it is an age thing as well. I have my devices and grown sons who help me when those things get challenging, but I am quite functional technologically speaking. Still, I have always had a pioneer spirit and understand that little more than 200 years ago this country was still learning how to walk. People still lived on farms and grew their own food, children were sent off to college ( who were lucky) with the intent to become educated to earn a better living so that they could help their families, not just themselves. At that time, getting a college education was considered a privilege, not a right. Too many people, young and older, are getting college degrees, end up in debt to banks and the government who feed sell their victims on the idea that a degree will bring instant wealth. Too many are then left with student loans and nowhere to use their education.
    The Social Distancing is not far off from my norm. I like to be at home for the most part-baking, doing the things I love like art, jewelry making, writing. I have friends but they mostly live away. My family isn’t close enough to visit daily so that isn’t an issue and I am so thankful for Duo video to spend time with them and the grandchildren. I am in the medical field, but non essential, so we are working on rotation to see emergencies until things get back to normal, whatever that is. The things I miss are Nature, going out to the beach and photographing birds, lizards, butterflies, anywhere I choose. State parks are my favorite places, but I am blessed to have nature around our home as well. The big thing that is difficult for me is not having the comfort of human contact at will. I’m a big hugger, even with patients who need consoling because a spouse passed or they just found out they have cancer, or those familiar ones that become like family. To remind myself I have to keep distance from EVERYone right now is difficult. I walk a wide circle around folks in public because, well, honestly people have become very nasty in general. But when I feel a connection I want to connect.
    I wish you all the best. As for old people and dying, I have two points. As I told my administrator and friend just the other day. The idea that old people just need to die already anyway is appalling. These are the people who had the true hardship of building this country to where it is. They didn’t know what lay ahead as pitfalls for the environment, they had to dig in with their hands to the hard earth and plant crops, work in factories to build machines, travel door to door selling books and vacuum cleaners. There were no ‘work from home’ situations. They ran bakeries and dress shops, took care of their families and prayed for enough money to send a child to school with decent clothes. Secondly, shame on all the doctors who are so money hungry they hide behind the Caduceus to extract every cent a person has to keep them breathing when, if left to the natural course of life, they might have a peaceful death. All of a sudden there is talk of all the elderly dying from this disease and suddenly they have become expendable?
    I love life and have had such a grand experience so far. I am not ready to leave it yet, but sad it has become. Very sad. You keep your independent nature, stay well, and work to create the world you envision as magnificent. Remember, it is the hard work which gives you peace of mind and allows you to sleep well. Hugs.

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    1. Colette Post author

      I have to routinely remind myself to pay attention & avoid people” when I’m out, not because I want to interact but because it’s easy to get distracted watching a squirrel or admiring someone’s flowering landscape, or just rooting around in my bag for something. Avoiding people requires *concentration.

      The idea of an elderly person dying sick, frightened and alone weighs on me and I hope that someone can offer them some compassion but with the numbers there’s been, I’d doubt that’s always possible.

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