At this time last week I was wondering what the future was going to look like. Now, I know. Everyone is on lockdown, schools are not going to be back in session at least until September, and it seems likely that Oregon will be moving into a shelter-in-place state mandate starting as early as tomorrow. That is unfortunate, but to my mind at least, absolutely necessary.
This week, I did the best I could to return to some semblance of normalcy in terms of the work that I do, and I made some progress in clawing through the backlog that I have from last week where almost nothing got done. The one thing I can say is that there is not a day that goes by that feels normal in any way, and something tells me that unfortunate fact is going to make this entire period of time very memorable; something that I will never forget. I have mixed feelings about that.
To be fair, alongside what feels like incessant and often unmanageable levels of stress, I do find moments of joy and beauty when I observe my children playing in the yard, who seem to not be worried much at all. Their unlikely happiness is my validation, and they remind me every day, along with my beautiful wife, that I am very lucky to be able to weather this storm in the way that I am. We have food, we have toilet paper, at least for now we still have money coming in, and we are fortunate to be able to pay our cleaners not to come, and to still pay for the private preschool that is not able to stay open right now. We order our groceries from Instacart, and we tip very well; I don't know if that makes me kind, or just bourgeois; my wife has been ordering gift cards from our favorite local retailers, we are doing what we can to spread the love. I fear that it won't even be close to enough to keep most of these businesses afloat, as the Republicans use this moment to give more handouts to their corporate buddies, and most of the Democrats are using this moment to lecture the plebes about means-testing as our unemployment rate skyrockets to 30% and beyond.
What is most difficult, I think, at least in terms of writing, is that there is just too much going on. This new coronavirus is spreading faster than we can handle it, so far testing in the US continues to be hard to come by and expensive, and politically we have the twin dumpster fires of this inept administration and the truly mind-boggling extent to which our so-called democracy is willing to attack the campaign of Bernie Sanders in the name of corporate compromise. 3 weeks ago Bernie had undeniable momentum; two weeks ago the entire mainstream media decided to shiv his campaign, and inexplicably anoint Joe Biden as America's savior. This week, as this entire nation collectively endures the first horribly-real pandemic in generations, Biden is nowhere to be found because his ceilings aren't high enough.
Other shitty things: there are US citizens stranded abroad due to sudden travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak, which is horrible. I can't imagine the frustration they are feeling right now.
Unsurprising, but still very disappointing, are the layoffs from billionaire man-child Michael Bloomberg. After promising to keep his staffers employed until November, he let go of his whole team, and wrote it off with a small donation to the Democratic National Committee. He spent over 900 million dollars on his failed campaign; he donated only 40 million to combat the coronavirus. I won't even get into how lopsided that is.
Senators on both sides of the aisle were caught dumping stock and clearly making attempts to profit off of the crisis, even as they were reassuring the public that there was nothing to worry about. This is a new low for the senators of our once-great country, and although they should all face criminal prosecution for their malfeasance, the chances of that happening are very low.
And then, of course, the usual suspects of private industry are making their demands for bailouts before a single check has been written for the millions of American workers that are out of a job right now.
The movements change, but the song remains the same: The only proof of human kindness that you are liable to see will be coming from your family, your friends, and perhaps your neighbors. We need to take care of each other, like our lives depend on it, because they do. We have yet to see any billionaires step forward with any meaningful contributions, while hospitals across the country are running out of basic supplies like N95 face masks and other protective gear. MAGA Trumpers are buying all the toilet paper, criminals are stealing supplies from nonprofits just to sell them on Craigslist, and we need to counteract all of this with as much kindness as we can muster. But here's why I am worried: remember my neighbor, who had two kids with fevers on Monday? Well, they felt better the next day, so without any testing, their mother decided they were fit for playdates later in the week. They may be ok; but they also may be carriers for coronavirus right now, simply because their symptoms were mild, and that bothers me to no end. Stay home; no visitors. Do the right thing. As they used to say on a TV show once - the night is long, and full of shadows.
Federal guidelines: nothing new.
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US: 33,018.
We need to do better.
About the Author
Krister Bjornson Axel
Paris, France. Madison, Wisconsin. Los Angeles. Ashland, Oregon. Ottawa. I write music, I write about music, and I write code. See also: photography, prose, podcasting. I have 1 gorgeous wife, 2 amazing kids, and many interests.
Read my poetry here.