Sunday, March 22, 2020
Plague diary March 22
The outlook is not 100% rosy in our household today. Yes, our new freezer is compressing away, keeping things nice and cold. No, our new freezer refuses to stop compressing. Left to its own devices it stays at 30 below, 30 degrees lower than what we tell it to do. Yes, the serviceman has sort-of-promptly come out to fix it -- twice so far -- but no, he hasn't accomplished anything. Last time he was here, on Friday, he helpfully offered to leave a space for us on his Monday schedule just in case (great confidence in his product).
Our new governor has acted decisively in shutting down many activities in Kentucky, including but not limited to schools, sports, restaurants and bars, day care centers, gyms, salons, libraries and concerts. We still don't have enough testing, but so far the rate of transmission seems to be lower than in states under fewer constraints. We hope this continues.
I have been following the changing emotions of many friends, family and bloggers over the last several weeks, comparing them with my own. The first response of all of us seems to be almost exhilaration, as we realize that we don't have to work that shift at the gallery, we don't have to prepare for that board meeting, we don't have to go to the concert or the book club. Yes, there is a disaster waiting to happen out there, but for now we will have studio time! We'll be able to read a book! We'll be able to take a long walk every day! We'll be able to sleep in!
My sister-in-law from Australia wrote as they retreated to their second home far from Sydney, "Have all kinds of bread recipes to try out! I find it interesting that my friends are all looking forward to 2 weeks of self isolation. What does it say about our busy lifestyles? Being forced to cancel everything is some sort of relief?"
The second phase comes when people start to hunger for human contact beyond those with whom they share their home, or even sooner for those who live alone. Lots of people are said to be holding virtual parties or even virtual quilt retreats via FaceTime and Zoom and other platforms that I have never heard of. I've settled for fixing a drink in advance of long phone conversations.
Many of my fiber friends are organizing round robins, gift exchanges, virtual show-and-tells and other activities to encourage people to make art and stay in touch with friends. In fact, here's a little bit of art that I made for a friend in one of those programs -- scanned for my files and installed at my friend Suzi's house. Fortunately she has a wonderful art deco statuette as a stairway finial and my string-o-art looks great hanging from her lamp.
All this is fine, but I detect the onset of phase three, in which good intentions start to give way to moments of despair. When you want to hang up on your sister because the conversation keeps being about the pandemic and how it's being managed or mismanaged. When you find yourself sitting at the computer for an hour playing a mindless game because it would take too much energy to go to the studio. When you worry about whether your gallery or your friend's business will be able to escape bankruptcy. When you start to wonder who will be the first of your friends and acquaintances to test positive.
I haven't figured out a strategy for avoiding the despair. Do mystery books work better than nonfiction to keep your mind off the pandemic? Should I concentrate on healthy eating and home cooking or pour another glass of wine and open a bag of junk food? As it has always been for me, the sewing machine is my best therapy, preferably projects with minimal thinking and maximal stitching. We're getting in a walk every day when it's not raining. But we've only been in lockdown for a week and a half and I'm fraying around the edges. I'm not a happy camper.