Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Plague Diary

Hill of Beans, via Jubilee Health Place.

This doesn't prove he didn't get tested, as far as I can see. It's not necessarily inconsistent with reality: the test isn't meant to be uncomfortable, but speaking as someone who has had many things stuffed up his nose and down into the pharynx, from feeding tubes (some of the most violent pain I've ever had, and I'm pretty sure they weren't doing it right that time) to tiny cameras (between rather and very uncomfortable for a second or two if you have a little deviation in the septum), but this is a swab like a Q-Tip end and doesn't go all the way down beyond your uvula, as mine do, so I imagine it's pretty easy. Then again who knows what kind of shape Donald's septum is in?

But we've heard so many cases of Donald pretending to know something he knows nothing about to recognize the symptoms—the slipperiness, the avoidance of concrete language in favor of value terms, the refusal to take a position—this is exactly what he'd say if he hadn't taken the test, and hadn't bothered to ask the doctor how it works, trying to convince us that he had.

On a personal note, I'd like to spend some time complaining about my own situation, in the category of old white-boy problems that are making it so annoying I hardly have time to be scared.

Namely, in the first place, that the gas has been turned off in my building for couple of months, so that we can't use the stove or oven and family cooking is restricted to an electric hot plate (Cuisinart, bought at Zabars and not too shabby, but never hot enough to stir-fry properly or cook pasta at an appropriate rolling boil), electric rice cooker, and microwave. The building is from 1896 (though renovations in the 1960s gave made it remarkably ugly from the outside, with a stupid white glazed-brick façade), and there are I don't know how many compromised lines to individual apartments, and it's going to take months more before it's fixed. Also the driers in the basement laundry run on gas, so we now require a drying rack (cheap at Bed Bath and Beyond) in the living room, and have to do some laundry two or three times a week instead of once. But the stove issue is miserable in the context of our more confined lives, because cooking requires simultaneously more creativity than ever and lower standards.

Then, my city's progressive government chose now to implement the ban on plastic bags, a project I would totally support if I had the time. I go out once a day to buy things, with totebag and hand sanitizer in hand, but yesterday I forgot and had to return home. Allowing myself to get stressed by such tiny things is making me an old man.

"Working from home" has become somewhat possible. The old lady, who had been teaching classes online for a while anyway, is having less difficulty. She's young enough to feel more entitled to go outdoors than I do. My problem in getting work done is especially this online-social world, here and in the neighborhood and on the Twitter, an all-day water cooler conversation I can't distance myself from, but being here is self-care.

The girl, isolated and "working from home" in Brooklyn, calls often enough, but she's not coming uptown; the boy, whose bartending jobs are canceled for the duration, is here, restless or asleep in alternating phases. Unlike so many in the F&B world he's got a secure bedroom and all he can eat. He was sick last week, however, in a worrying way, though his temperature was mostly normal and never went very high; I'm glad he was stuck home when the bars were going crazy before closing down altogether. He's enabling me to feel that my own isolation is protecting others rather than protecting myself. I'm as healthy as I've been any time in the last ten years and going back to exercising I gave up during a back pain crisis late last year. I think of all the people who can't stay home, the workers in essential services, bank tellers to grocery stockers, and moving the goods, which really aren't in short supply, all around the country, and instead of rightly admiring them I feel a little jealous.

The girl is keeping balanced by sensible and creative projects, including baking things of which she texts tempting pictures. I could get into something like that myself, but of course I don't have a damn oven.

My problems don't, of course, amount to a hill of beans, though they make up a substantial little mound. How's everybody else?

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