I live in New Jersey, Life

Social Isolation’s no vacation

March 18, 2020

Content warning: Contains despair and doom. And photos that have nothing to do with that.

New Jersey is now mostly shut down. All gyms, casinos, amusement facilities, bars, and schools are closed. Restaurants are take-out and curbside pickup only, and close at 8. There is a curfew in place from 8pm to 5am. We are good with supplies and are hunkering down for the haul. And I feel like it’s going to be a long haul. WM is braver than I am. He’s been venturing to Home Depot early in the morning to procure home improvement supplies. I don’t particularly like that he’s going, but he’s not ill (which means nothing) and he’s keeping his distance from others. With the exception of lunchtime walks around the neighborhood and sitting in my yard when the sun is out, I’ve been in the house since Friday night. Which doesn’t matter if he’s bringing it home but I’m clinging to what I can here, okay?

toilet paper and twix
My diet has been shit. Luckily, I’m prepared.

For the last 10+ years, I’ve had an off and on wheeze. I’m on a daily inhaler and I have a rescue inhaler. There are two doctors at my doctor’s office: one says I have reactive airway syndrome and the other says I have asthma. Okay. Great. I am sniffly from time to time due to general allergies. When I am anxious, my chest tightens. Suffice it to say, I’ve been paranoid that I’ve had coronavirus since Saturday morning. I mean, it’s a matter of time, right?

I’ve been mainlining news and tweets for a week and it finally caught up to me last night. I became anxious and overwhelmed and weepy. Are we all just locked up in our houses waiting to die? Which of my coworkers is going to get it first? Which friend? Which family member? I feel like a cornered Qbert with Coily rapidly advancing.

This is what used to be called entertainment. Source: skunkworx.org

So today, I did not look at the news. I did not look at Twitter. It helped a little. Can I manage to hide from news for a week? I might have to. And I have to realize that this whole thing is beyond my control and all I can do is follow guidelines and take care of myself each day.

With every event cancelled or postponed, I wonder: how much time do I think is worth sacrificing everything fun in order for all of this to flatten and come under control? I was okay with two weeks. I’m okay with a month. Three months? Am I willing to give up an entire summer, my favorite of seasons, to get through this? I might not have a choice. But a summer without outdoor concerts and neighborhood festivals and time on the beach? Despair. I’d never have survived an actual war.

I am not brave.

I planted lettuce, onions, and potatoes, with my eye on summer. The gardens are going to be gorgeous.

The cut potatoes will be planted later on.

Both WM and I are working from home. I think the work from home aspect is the easiest for me. I’m doing things. I’m slinging my spreadsheets and my SQL. Everything falls neatly into rows and columns, and if they don’t, I can figure out why they’re not and I can FIX it.

The dogs are the happiest they’ve ever been, because we are both home with them all day.

Things that I’ve been doing to keep myself centered:

  • Box breathing, which is when you inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, repeat until calm.
  • Limiting social media. I was already off of Facebook for Lent. I muted everyone in my Twitter feed who was “WE’RE GONNA DIE” or worse, “well, this is how it ends.” I muted the keywords. But it still wasn’t enough. I’m going to stay off of Twitter for the rest of the workweek. (Ironically, this blog posts to Twitter automatically.) Instagram soothes me, so it can stay.
  • Visualizing how amazing it’s going to be when I can ride the train again. When I see my parents without worrying I’m going to kill them. When my coworkers reunite for the first time. When I can stand on the beach and listen to the ocean. It will happen (if I don’t die) and it will be the most beautiful things.
This is Dale, our porch chipmunk.

Spring arrives tomorrow at 11:50pm, coronavirus be damned. Inhaling for 4 seconds…

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  • Jim Merullo March 18, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    I can’t believe you not only pulled out a Q*Bert reference, but mentioned Coily! Respect.

    We’ll get through this, Kim. It’s gonna suck at times but we’ll get through it. What choice do we have? If you need a friend to scream to, you know where to find me. Perhaps I’ll send you another push button Janet telling you to breath….

    jmerullo AT gmail.com

    • Kimberly March 20, 2020 at 8:56 pm

      Thank you, Jim. Maybe an Idris Elba frame this time? 😉