Flowers in the Attic

Helloooo out there! I was recently reprimanded by my daughter because my blog had expired. Whoa! Huge oversight. Where the hell have I been? I can only say that my draw to writing has been so incredulous throughout my entire life that I can never stay away from writing too long and I am ensnared in this neck deep. The blogosphere will not be getting rid of me that easily.

So, without further ado, let’s just state the obvious here. There is a pandemic happening and we have all been affected. A few memes come to mind, and we have all seen them. The one that sticks out for me the most is the one of Will Ferrel lounging in a tacky blue suit saying, “Well… that escalated quickly.” My mind has gone the route of other seemingly ridiculous things such as Stephen King’s super flu in the movie The Stand, the movie Outbreak, and most recently to the movie Flowers in the Attic.

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Part of me wishes for the Tom Cruise War of the Worlds ending where aliens are attacking the earth, and then the plot abruptly ends with a solution as simple as water but let’s be real, our solution here may not be as simple as H2O. I just keep wondering when I can don my apocalyptic gear and we can get things going full throttle like some epic Burning Man festival. Yet in all seriousness, this is not one bit amusing, I’ve seen all the humor and I was feeling rather prudish about it in the beginning, until a friend kindly pointed out that humor is a coping mechanism for a lot of people.

Make no doubt about it, many of us are in that place Dr. Seuss referred to as “the lurch” or “the waiting place.”We’re all trying to make the best of things being confined at home as if we are the children in the movie, Flowers in the Attic only no one is feeding us cookies with arsenic. As for me, I  am still in fact eating cookies, and have not had to open any of my cans of rice yet with a twenty year shelf life or break open the the ham flavored bucket of TVP which is so old I can’t even read the expiration date.

Like everyone else, I could not come by regular grocery items. Last night was my first time making cookies with Turbinado sugar, and Funfetti pancake mix was never my first choice, but this sounds like such a first world problem. Luckily, I have beer to make beer bread because yeast has been a hard commodity to come by. I’m not a mom desperately seeking diapers, formula, or distilled water for a child that has an NG tube or something. So, in many ways I’ve been blessed.

In some ways, I feel this virus is making me resourceful. I have packets of seeds in drawers and I’m researching growing veggies from scraps, composting, making distilled water from home using a pan and glass lid, and how to make yeast from potatoes, among other things.

I have no reason to come onto this blog and beg for any amount of sympathy nor am I in any position to hand out hope like candy. Yesterday, Donald Trump was asked, “what do you have to say to people who are scared right now?” Then Donald Trump jumped all over the person who had asked the question and told him what a terrible reporter he was. Now, that wasn’t very presidential of him, but in all fairness that is such a loaded question.

I log onto my computer and pick up my blog from where I left off and it’s as if my computer screen is staring me in the face with the same prompt. I suppose I could garner some sympathy points because I woke up to a 5.7 earthquake on Wednesday morning and experienced after shocks until Thursday.

I did recall the earthquake drills I used to have in school that are almost non-existent today, and I can tell you I did nothing that I was supposed to do in those damn drills. We’d had some earthquakes last year, but they only lasted a few seconds. So really,  I did not move until I realized that this one was a little more jolting and had gone on long enough. Like, it didn’t seem to be another one of those short blips, so my thoughts were that I had better get off my duff and do something. 

My daughter was yelling out like she was having a nightmare which pulled me in her direction . My son ran into her room also, and by that time the earthquake was over. Thank god nothing hit us on the head. We ran outside with our blankets expecting after shocks while my dog clawed the hell out of my legs in a panic. I applied Neosporin, and that was my only earthquake related injury. That was when I had my first rational thought, “Don’t go to bed anymore at night without pants.”

We had random after shocks throughout the days after that and really my mind was at, “Covid-WHAT?” I just wanted the ground to stay still for a reassuring amount of time. I don’t know where the lesson was in all of that. Things could get worse perhaps? Our schools shut down on the Friday before the earthquake, and all home schooling was supposed to be up and going live on Wed. so our emails changed from “due to the Corona virus outbreak” to “due to the Corona virus outbreak and today’s earthquake, we are not yet prepared to do a launch of school today, -have a nice day.” Like I could scarcely believe any of it was happening if it wasn’t all truly happening.

For some reason, my mind keeps going to all the Monet’s, Renoir’s and the impressionist paintings of people in Paris dining alfresco with their companions or looking solemn in bars surrounded by people. Like, it’s only been a few weeks, and I miss those days. Like I would be happy to go into a restaurant and sit shoulder to shoulder with a stranger with a happy little buzzer telling me it’s now my turn to be seated at the Red Robin.

Like really, these things used to be exasperating and I have always, always, been a recluse. Only leaving my house to go to the store? Sometimes me. Avoiding crowds? Usually me. Picking the least busy time to do something? Definitely me. Now, I am just pissed as hell about it and my life really hasn’t changed all that much. Like, why would I intentionally do that to myself? I wasn’t living. At least not on a social scale. Maybe, behind a computer, virtual reality living, but anybody can do that. Okay, I wasn’t living.

I wonder how many teens or anyone really are asking themselves, you know I was WITH someone and all we did was look at our phones. We weren’t really present. Like, I’d love to just walk up to a bar, order a drink, and just listen to all the people around me. Then I could think, that is the sound of normal. That’s the sound of life abuzz brewing with normalcy. Like, I think I could get emotional watching an episode of Cheers right now.

For once, I really really hate social media. I open it up to face-space, inst-chat or whatever, and everything looks so apocalyptic. People are quoting scriptures, people are pissed about panic buying, people are pointing fingers, some people are saying this is an overblown exaggeration, others are saying this is serious as F. Some people are trying to be helpers, some are loaded with Pollyanna optimism, A few of my friends are saying let’s start a game and distract ourselves, and on an on…and all I can think to myself is that this is not normal. This is SO NOT normal.

All I can do is try and be patient because what I am seeing on the grid is that everyone is trying to deal with this in their own way, and really it reminds me so much of the stages of grief. Some people are bargaining, some are on to acceptance, some are in anger, many are in denial, and so on, and so forth.

For me personally, I like learning about the Co-V as much as possible. I approached this whole thing from a research perspective. I was all about the charts, the graphs, the numbers, the origin of the virus, etc. To some, that is too much, but for me I felt like knowledge was power. I wanted to learn everything about it until I got tired of hearing about it. I don’t even like to say the C word anymore, I don’t even like hearing about it. My kids and I have thought of a word we could call it besides what it was. I think we’re going with the Who flu or “the Rona” until we think of something else.

I wasn’t panicked at first because I’ve worked on an infectious disease floor. I’d already been exposed to Staph, MRSA, active TB, Necrotizing fascitis, C-dif, and a whole lot of everything else. “Wash your hands” and personal protective gear were my former mantras. Just about every room I went into had contact precautions. I have even worn PAPR’s a few times and I’ve been fit tested for N95’s I even thought to myself, “I should SO have an iron immune system by now.”

Well people this initially came with feelings of no anxiety to moderate anxiety. I’m all good and fine until I hear the word’s “possibly airborne” or “sometimes airborne” and “can be airborne in such and such circumstances.” I have no intentions of rattling anyone’s cage but I know what I know and what I know is that those on the front line’s are nowhere equipped for this. It is a problem.

So I can’t get on the old blog here and say we don’t have a problem, nothing we already didn’t know. Okay, so I am going to be forthcoming and address the fact that we DO have a problem and we are all dealing with it in our own way and that it’s okay to not be okay with all this all of the time. There’s no manual for this.

Personally, the first ten minutes of my day are the hardest because I wake up to what I think is going to be a fresh new day, until I go…Oh…yeah….the Rona virus thing. We’re still doing this. It gets harder when I have to address the emotions of my family members, or reconcile myself to the fact that three of us have been sick and two of us still are, and the coughing at night is enough to give me insomnia because with every cough, I tend to consider the worst.

We all have our anxieties and fears. I suggest just owning them. I was almost relieved to wake up to an earthquake the other day. I’ve had anxiety enough to know that the more I push it off, the more it comes. It sounds counter-productive but just feeling what I am feeling and breathing through it almost seems better than the battle of constantly having to push it aside. My feelings are valid, everyone’s feelings are valid.

Just like this virus is new to the human species, this scenario, is new to us also. I’ve no arsenal to pull from. I suggest honesty and transparency, which may require being vulnerable. I KNOW I am at my weakest in the morning. Opening up my day to the latest breaking news has been no good for me. I’ve realized I’m not addicted to the news, I am just hankering every day for some GOOD NEWS and to be honest each day, has been somewhat of a disappointment. I face each day with an overwhelming surge of disappointment of my own expectations. Disappointment is not a good way to start the day.

My only item I have to throw from my personal arsenal right now is to find the time of day where I am most vulnerable and find something significant or meaningful to fill that space. With my son home schooling now, he has driver’s education with me. I now look forward to our morning drives to go to the parks, get out of the car, run through the fields with the dog, and look at all the things. If I did not start my day out like this I think I’d go crazy.

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I am also realizing that creativity and anime are getting us through. I’ve decided to use this time to plant a garden and cultivate the ground it seems we are confined to. The corona virus has made it’s way to America but my lilacs have still made their way into my yard, and they are not going to give me any kind of disease that I’m aware of.

I imagine those nature spores strengthening my immune system. I imagine nature just saying “Shh… this isn’t personal, I am just fighting to stay alive.” In some demented way, I am almost cheering nature on. Darwinism, Survival of the fittest, thinning the herd, and all that jazz than I slap myself in the face and say what kind of terrible human am I?

People I love can caught up in this, the weakest among us, myself even. Yet, I almost feel like that magician who was killed by his own white tiger, who said, “It wasn’t the tiger’s fault” even as he laid dying. I want to say, “but did you really have to go for the lungs?” It just doesn’t really seem fair does it? Now, I know I am just over killing this, and maybe I should go back to cutting crafty shit out of paper again, “flowers in the attic” so to speak. Keep my thoughts in the eaves where they belong, create my own world for the one that I want to drown out.

Anyway I just wanted to perhaps share my unbridled thoughts with you to let you know that it’s okay to let them run wild for a moment and we are not doing this alone. This reminds me of another meme I saw once that said,  “introverts unite! individually.” Now introversion can be replaced with “social distancing” together. I’d love to tie this up into a tight little bow but one of the best pieces of advice I got from a writing teacher is that you don’t always have to wrap everything up all nice and neat into a tight bow. This was a non-fiction writing teacher, which seems all the more relevant. This isn’t fiction. I wish it were. We’ve got some lose ends that still need tying up and it’s okay to acknowledge that things have come unraveled.

The strings are dangling people, the shoes have come untied, maybe the door is coming off the hinges. some days I wonder if I am going to be living the equivalent of something close to Hooverville. I hear declining stock market and imagine people jumping out their windows. I just have to pull myself back to center and live what I am living in the here and now. I have to think of the Monet’s, the singers on the Balconies, and all the things that remind me of the beauties of the human condition under the most dire circumstances. Some may not have such a melodramatic approach to any of this, but undoubtedly this is history in the making. We are living something momentous and somewhat jarring  and yet we are here.

So anyway, that’s it my friends. I have nothing overly cathartic to reassure scared people. It’s such a loaded question, and this is my loaded but honest analysis and perception of my current state. Take from it what you will and I hope by next post I have something more distracting and stimulating to offer but as always, I could not just rake over this like it didn’t matter. This does matter. It all matters. Thank you all for reading and I truly wish any reader out there the utmost strength, courage, and peace in these tumultuous times. Until next post!

 

Rachelle Whiting

 

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