Friday, March 13, 2020

What a Week.

It's no exaggeration to say that we've never experienced a week like this. My honest reaction to the coronavirus response is a vacillation between a kind of quiet thrill that my busy calendar just cleared itself (so much space for reading novels at home!) and an existential dread about the impending collapse of our capitalist economy and perhaps the unraveling of the very social fabric of our existence. You know, the usual.

I am concerned about all the folks who are most vulnerable to this crisis--the elderly, the immuno-compromised, those with respiratory issues. I would also be lying if I didn't say that the fact that it doesn't seem to be particularly devastating for children has kept my anxiety at a very low hum rather than full throttle panic. My aunt and I were talking about polio in the 1950s and how terrifying that must have been for parents of small kids. But I imagine the experience was also quite different without the onslaught of up-to-date information from a zillion different sources of varying levels of repute.

From a privileged point of view, I'm relieved we didn't have travel plans and didn't have to make any difficult decisions about that. From a human point of view, I recognize those kinds of decisions aren't anywhere near the level of difficulty that some people are going to have to manage when it comes to lack of health insurance, lack of sick leave, lack of adequate childcare, and the need to pay bills. I've seen others comment on this more eloquently, but it is a shocking and undeniable exposure of the enormous rift in our society between haves and have-nots--and I'm not talking about those who have yachts and summer homes in the Hamptons. I'm talking about those who can afford to see a doctor and those who cannot. It's impossibly unfair.

And of course I have no confidence in our political leadership, which is an underlying anxiety as well.

As for the minutiae of my daily life, my campus is empty of students and as I'm now in a staff position rather than faculty, I'm still showing up to campus. The good news is that I don't have to try to figure out how to move discussion-based classes online (Also I'm thinking of friends who teach chemistry labs and the like! How do you even?). Also, parking on campus is a breeze. The bad news is that campus is eerily empty and I'm now having advising appointments over the phone or via Zoom. Interacting with students and talking about their plans and advising them on projects and scholarship opportunities is my favorite part of my job. So it feels really odd and unsettling.

Zuzu has heard about the coronavirus. She reported that a friend from school has it (FALSE) and she has wanted to learn more about it. Monday or Tuesday evening I went upstairs to find her in her room, listening to NPR on her little radio/cd player. She does not seem particularly concerned, but definitely curious.

Coco came to work with me yesterday. Her school was not closed for the virus, but because of parent/teacher conferences. She was actually so good at work with me. She did worksheets from a kindergarten work book all day long (literally a huge stack of them--probably 50 pages). My coworkers were also very sweet about entertaining her. We visited a friend in another department on campus and mid-afternoon took a break for her to literally run to various statues and landmarks on campus and then run back to me while I timed her. Poor kid is definitely used to being much more active than we were for most of the day! Of the three, though, Coco is undoubtedly the easiest one to bring to work.

Meanwhile, I'm also wrapping my mind around the fact that I actually have an almost-one-year-old. G is standing and balancing and screeching (we call her the baby pterodactyl because of the screeching sounds she makes) and saying "mamamama" and "da-da!" and when I ask her if she wants mama-milk and do the sign language for milk, she laughs in delight and wriggles her whole body in excitement.

(She's still not sleeping through the night and I feel like I got approximately four hours of sleep last night between staying up too late reading and then baby waking and nursing and my own brain not turning off.)

So that's what's going on here. I'm trying to decide if I should go to the store or try to do Instacart this weekend (I know they're swamped, so I'm leaning toward shopping, but my friend just posted a pic online of a LINE out the door at Aldi. On a weekday morning. What is happening?). I have plans to get a happy hour drink with a friend tonight, and we were both like, "Is this still okay to do?" I'm still not sure. These are strange times.

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