Plague journal

Self care and surrealism

Another month-long week has passed. March 32nd went better than expected after everyone decided April 1st had outlived its usefulness. In a world where RuPaul is fracking and Republicans are actually urging letting grandma die to help the stock market, the April Fool tradition has outlived its usefulness.

The official story is now somewhat in accordance with reality. People no longer tell me I’m crazy for saying we will see over 100,000 dead. I wish being right felt better but it doesn’t, it hasn’t since 2016.

I was becoming a fan of at-home mail order medical tests even before the current situation, but now the chance to skip visiting a doctor’s office seems very appealing. It’s colon cancer screening time. You can work out what that involved. I couldn’t help thinking of John Waters' “Pink Flamingos” (RIP Divine). It probably didn’t help that we watched a nature documentary this week that featured actual pink flamingos. When I went to take the box to the UPS Store I couldn’t help noticing that Austin finally has its traffic problems solved. Pity it required an apocalypse.

Mental health self care is exhausting. Don’t look at the news. Every story on every channel is about the nightmare, so don’t look.

Try a podcast. This American Life brings you stories from the Apocalypse. Radiolab brings you their new series about Guantanamo and torture and the creeping fascism under the surface layer of disaster. Planet Money on the economics of why the hospitals don’t have ventilators. Two hours of Ross and Carrie in quarantine. Back Story and Stuff You Missed In History on the history of past pandemics. OK maybe not podcasts then.

Don’t look at the train wreck. You’re in the train, and the driver is a madman, but don’t look.

Social media? Sure, let’s check in on how many of your friends have COVID-19, how many are unemployed, how many are short of food, how many are falling apart mentally. Let’s watch people scream at each other because they have to let it out somewhere. OK maybe not social media.

Don’t look at the car crash. That’s your friend in the wreckage, but don’t look.

How about some TV? A nice sitcom. Laugh at the people in their pre-apocalyptic world. Oh look they’re at a restaurant. Oh look they’re visiting friends. Oh look they’re hugging. I remember those things. OK not TV then.

Listen to some music. Oh this is a live recording, remember gigs? Remember crowding into venues? Something else. A studio album. A bunch of musicians in close proximity in an enclosed studio space. Maybe not.

Play video games or something. And try not to think about the fact that next week is going to be worse.

I saw an article talking about the sense of doom during the Cold War, but that wasn’t like this. Normal life was normal during the Cold War. Plus, I had a plan: if we got the warning, I would climb to the top of the tallest building I could get to, face towards the US nuclear command and control bunker located about 10 miles away, and wait to be instantaneously vaporized by the first round of Soviet missiles.

I didn’t say it was a good plan.

I looked up the bunker for old time’s sake, and learned that it was shut down in 2007. It has been photographed by some urban explorers, and is now a listed building.

All the usual routines are gone, and everything feels surreal, like a nightmare you can’t wake up from. That’s why Animal Crossing is so massive, getting extensive coverage in The Guardian, the New York Times, NPR, and other outlets that wouldn’t normally cover a video game. Everyone is using it to stay sane. It ought to be allowed HSA spending.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go see a raccoon about a bridge.