Tag Archives: covid19

A pandemic diary: Being here

May 17, 2020

Saturday I attended an online meeting of the Atlanta Writers Club, an organization that predates the last pandemic and is rolling with the punches during this one. Sadly, another much-loved Atlanta event has gone dark: a monthly jam session for singers, including my wife. A bandstand plus a roomful of vocalists and fans is beyond social distancing, and Zoom can’t fill the void. My wife misses working with fine local musicians; I miss hearing her sing the jazz standards we both love. No one else ever dedicated “My Funny Valentine” to me.

Even without the jam, we had a perfect spring day, the kind that’s becoming rare as climate change pushes winter closer to summer. The mercury topped out at around 80 degrees with no humidity and scarcely a cloud in sight. The breeze filled the living room with the sweet, lush fragrance of honeysuckles, which Fats Waller immortalized in “Honeysuckle Rose,” and are like nothing else, anywhere.

It was a day to sit back, savor what we still have, and rest our souls for tomorrow. I’m not the spiritual type but I gotta tell ya, boychik, Ram Dass was onto something when he said, “Be here now.” Where else can I go? Take care, be here, and be safe.

How many more?

Fifty years ago (May 4, 1970) I was a sophomore in high school. Everyone was stunned, the atmosphere in the building hushed, uncomprehending. That day or the next, we had an assembly, about which I remember nothing except a girl singing, “Blowin’ In the Wind.” The song below still sends chills up my spine.

Too many had already died before Kent State, especially people of color, and more would die at Jackson State soon after. How many have died in the time it took me to write this? How many more? How can you run when you know? How many more, goddamn it, how many more?

Allison Krause
Jeffrey Miller
Sandra Scheuer
William Schroeder

A pandemic diary: Notes from the bullseye

April 30, 2020

Another grocery pickup today. We found toilet paper with no trouble but didn’t get all the meat we ordered, which is ominous in light of all the recent warnings about shortages. We at least came away with two big fresh whole chickens. Even they might be in short supply in Georgia soon.

Our sanitation protocol goes like this: Gloves on to go through the bags and verify the order. Gloves off before I touch the wheel and the dash. Gloves back on to carry everything to the porch. Gloves off and wash the hands CDC-thoroughly to put the goods away after they’ve been wiped down. Wash hands again. Repeat as necessary and sometimes when it isn’t. This routine drives me nuts, or as Damon Runyon might have said, more than somewhat cuckoo, but of course the alternative is much worse.

There seem to be a few more people wearing masks at the store. Traffic on the roads has clearly surged since the governor started reopening the state against the advice of damned near everybody, even Trump. Sometimes when both sides are on your case, it means you’re doing something right. Not now. All the scientists say there’ll be a second round of infections, and unless we keep our distance it’ll be faster and deadlier.

Think of the plague like a hurricane. One of the eyewalls has just passed over and we’re sitting in the eye where the winds are calm, but the other eyewall is just waiting to blow in. Hurricane Michael (below) devastated the Florida Panhandle and came frighteningly close to my beach house. I’m staying in my shelter.

A pandemic diary: A wild weekend!

April 20, 2020

Have I got plans for THIS weekend! Friday I’m finally going to get that Hell’s Angels tattoo I’ve always wanted — and afterward, once my shoulder stops hurting, I’ll hit the bowling alley. Saturday it’s time for a long-overdue haircut, followed by a massage to work the stress of the last several weeks out of my frame.

Sunday, to keep myself limber and relaxed, I’ll join a gym. Monday I’ll start the week with a bang by eating out for the first time in ages! I’ll probably overindulge, so Tuesday it’s back to the gym to work off the eggs, sausage, grits, and hashbrowns from the Waffle House. (Sorry if I just made y’all hungry.)

All this will be possible because the governor of Georgia has decided to reopen the state, though a lot of mayors warned him not to and he didn’t listen. The businesses I’ve mentioned can soon operate again under “guidelines:” masks, screening workers, and social distancing.

Of course, as quite a few people have pointed out, it’s tough to keep six feet apart in a nail salon. Also, Georgia is near the bottom of the barrel in testing, which all the experts say is critical to avoiding another outburst of illness and death.

I’ll spare you my thoughts about the right-wing goons who are pushing to reopen, their rich backers, and the gutless imbeciles who are pandering to them. Personally, I’m not going anywhere except the grocery store for a good long time. I’m not about to risk my life for a movie, a haircut, or even a double order of Scattered, Smothered, Covered, Chunked, Topped & Diced hashbrowns. Take care and be safe.

A pandemic diary: Our daily bread (but not hot sauce)

April 17, 2020

My wife and I are lucky because we can afford to keep ourselves fed and haven’t had too much trouble finding the essentials. Still, “going to the store” is nothing like it used to be.

First off, we never go inside. Too many people won’t keep their distance. Every week, we put together an online order and arrange a pickup time, which is getting tougher because the slots fill up fast. We park in a designated spot, pop the trunk, and a staffer loads the bags — no up-close contact required. If we’re buying beer, like we did today, we leave a driver’s license in the trunk to confirm we’re a few years past 21.

The weekly load

Sound easy? It’s just the start. A few weeks ago, we got home and found we didn’t get everything we’d paid for, so we had to go back to the store (twice). Now, we drive across the road to an empty parking lot and sort through all the bags to be sure the contents match our list. Except for toilet paper we haven’t run into many shortages, though we haven’t been buying large amounts of meat, and today for some reason we couldn’t get Tabasco sauce.

Finally, at home we wipe everything down with disinfectant before stowing it. Some of the experts say this isn’t necessary but as long as grocery workers are getting sick we’re not taking any chances, however small. The people at the local Kroger’s are always helpful, polite, and understanding. One of them told us he’s an actor who was thrown out of work when everything shut down. Now he has one of the most important jobs in the country, and one of the risky ones.

At least the delivery people had sun and mild temperatures to work in today. In the Chicago area, where my photographer cousin lives, schlepping beer and milk around the parking lot would be no fun at all. Take care and be safe.

A pandemic diary: the ugly, the bad, and the good

April 15, 2020

Though I try to avoid cliches, today’s title fits like an old shoe, the one I can never find because some lunkhead (guess who) knocked it under the bed. But I digress. Here’s the latest.

The ugly: A trip to Lowe’s and Home Depot to pick up a few critical items for our new house, which we didn’t want to ask our builder to collect. Despite all the pleas to stay home, on a Wednesday morning both parking lots were so packed that it felt like a Saturday morning in the good old days (a couple of months ago). Some of them were contractors but I’m sure most were just bored, risking others’ lives to finish their honey-do lists and buy things like plants.

Cars, cones, and too many people at the store

At Lowe’s, everyone waited outside at six-foot intervals, with no one allowed in until someone else left. Even so, there seemed to be an uncomfortable excess of people in the place, walking too close to us, entering through the exit, and generally acting like the virus doesn’t exist. Maybe half the customers wore masks. All the employees did, but some put them so low on their faces that their noses and even their upper lips were uncovered.

The bad: We got home and found WalMart had suddenly cancelled today’s grocery delivery because of “unexpected demand.” Well, damn. We have food on hand. I just hope this isn’t an omen of worse disruptions to come.

The good: Our stimulus payment hit the bank account. I’m glad we didn’t have to wait longer than necessary, unlike the millions of low-income people whose paper checks will be delayed because Trump wanted his name printed on them. When I worked for the IRS as recently as 2015, this kind of political meddling was unthinkable. No more.

More good: My cousin Chan, who’s a great photographer, is sharing some of his pictures. The one just below was taken at the Chicago Botanical Gardens.

That’s all for today. I think. Of course, the world could change in the next few seconds. Take care and be safe.

A pandemic diary

I realize this is a drop in the ocean. But I want to record these times in words, if only for myself. It’ll help me sort things out in my head, keep me busy, and ease my writer’s frustration, especially when I get stuck trying to finish my novel-in-progress. I’ll update as warranted, but won’t post just for the sake of it. A babbler and navel-gazer I am not. So here goes.

April 14, 2020

This is day 34 of distancing for my wife and me, or D+34, as they might say in the army. On March 8 we had tickets for a “house concert,” with a great jazz musician playing in someone’s living room, and decided not to go for fear of being in a crowd. Our last restaurant meal was about the same time. Now we hardly go anywhere except the grocery store and even then don’t venture inside: we order online and have the bags brought to the car.

On the scale of suffering, we’re pretty near the bottom. We haven’t gotten sick, nor have any of our family and friends, though we think of them all the time. We have a full pantry and enough of our vital meds to last months. Because we were already retired, our daily routine hasn’t been turned upside down. Our musician friends are streaming their concerts. We know we’re lucky.

I can get by without face-to-face contact if it keeps us alive. There’s no particular thing I’m yearning for and can’t have. I won’t even be upset if they scrub the football season. And of course, I’m still writing.

I do wish I could write about a world where people could go about their lives without sickness, countless human and economic tragedies, desperation, and constant fear. But I’m not a science fiction writer.