Monday, November 16, 2020

Life In the Time of the Virus - The Abyss Yawns

Automat by Edward Hopper 1927
Month Eight. 

Things are getting worse in the outside world. You knew it was coming, those of you were that were paying attention to how these things work. As we move from summer into fall, people move indoors, so spreading the virus is easier among groups. As a result, we are spiking, both here in King County and across the nation. A spike happened during the winter months in the Great Influenza a century ago and is happening here.

We are better prepared, the disease is more survivable, and vaccines and treatments, while still unproven, are promising. But hospital beds are filling up again and patients are being airlifted into Seattle from overloaded states like Utah and Idaho. The Federal Response remains abysmal, and the states are once more left to shift for themselves. It is the sort of thing that everyone was aware was in the works, but nothing much was done, so we confront another potential seasons of lockdowns, self-quarantines and shifting away from voluntary semi-isolation to a more hard-edged version once more.

[And over the course of writing this, news comes that we are shutting down further. No small gatherings. No meals in restaurants. No museums. Not a complete lock-down, but still extremely severe and stronger than any time since March. If I knew of a better way forward, I would definitely suggest it, but I don't.]

Of course, in the midst of this there was an election. Look elsewhere on this page for all the commentary therein. On election day, I turned down the media, social and otherwise, and retreated into a book. Unfortunately, the book was a Mary Beard volume on Rome, detailing its slide from sort-of-a-Republic into full-fledged authoritarianism, so probably it was not the most relaxing choice. I shifted over to a collection of Nero Wolfe stories about halfway through the evening.

I think that the sense of quarantine and isolation may be more pronounced as we move to the winter months, which in the Puget Sound means grey, rain, cold, the rare snowstorm and the occasional high winds. We had been eating out (or sending out) for food more of late, and that may get cut back if the restaurants have to reduce again. 

All work in on-line and with video chat, and while that keeps me going, the lack of in-person relationship and general haranguing is felt. Meetings in conference calls are usually for a purpose, and less for just messing about - talking about the latest professional sports game, the latest computer game everyone is playing, the latest movie. We do an on-line happy hour once a week, which is very good, but still does not match the sudden digressions into medieval trade practices that once marked the middle of my work day.

Pro sports teams are playing to empty stadiums with piped-in crowd noises. The newspaper is a slender thing, lacking a lot of its advertising. Catalogs, however, have made a comeback, and the Post Office has been loading the mailbox with the pre-holiday crush. And I am getting spam robocalls (Currently Kate from the Warranty department wants to get in touch with me. A lot.), so they have returned to their natural habitat, at least.

But I miss live theatre. I miss museums. I miss bookstores. I miss going to new restaurants. I miss sudden decisions to go shopping. I miss sushi. As it grows chiller, I miss sitting on the beneath the new deck, watching the daylight linger..I miss sunlight late into the evening, and soft rains that clear by morning. Now comes the winter of our discontent, lacking a glorious summer in the immediate future.

More later,