Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Wearing a Mask

I decided that even though most people in Cache Valley, and in Utah in general, aren't really taking this whole pandemic thing seriously, I'm still going to try to do so. The grim facts are that as of today, 28,000 American's have died from this thing; more than any other country in the world. We're in a bad place, but I'm trying to do my part for the health of my community. So, I ordered a cloth mask online (actually, I ordered three, but two haven't come yet). The CDC recommends wearing them, so I'm going to wear one. I know it's not going to keep me from getting it, but if everyone would wear a mask, the spread would slow. I'll wear a mask for you, you do the same for me, and together we protect one another. That sounds like a great plan... if only people would actually do it.

A couple of people around town have started wearing them now, but they still get seriously strange looks. In the midst of a deadly pandemic, people are still judging others for covering their damn faces. I tend to be sensitive to those sorts of things, in general. Anxiety keeps me from wanting to be seen or do anything to draw attention to myself. But these aren't normal times and I've decided that however self-conscious I feel about it, I'm wearing the mask. 

Of course, that will only be when I go out and I can't remember the last time I actually left the house. We went out to get grocery pick up a few times in the last month, but I haven't gone in anywhere in a long time. Pretty sure I haven't gone anywhere at all since around the 5th or 6th of this month, and I have no plans to do so anytime soon. But, as I've said before, Matt does. He went to Wal-Mart for meds yesterday, and I'm terrified that he brought it home with him. The same way I feel when he comes in from work. But, I know I'm not going anywhere if I can help it. I'm sheltering for as long as I feel threatened, which may be for a very long time if the news is to be believed. 

This thing is kind of turning into a pandemic/quarantine diary lately, so I'm going to stop here. I'm trying really hard to write about the day-to-day of this thing that's having such a major impact on my life, all our lives, without it devolving into a narrative about fear. Easier said than done when this thing has me so afraid.

Mermaid mask from @Mertailor on Instagram

Monday, April 6, 2020

Unwilling, Not Unable

I don't know how this post is going to turn out. I feel like I want to write about the pandemic, but I'm so crippled with anxiety about the whole thing, it's hard to get the words out in an organized way without devolving into negativity and near-hysterics. I tend to catastrophize when things are good. When things are bad, and in this case they are very bad, that tendency to catastropize becomes uncontrollable. I don't know how to handle my fear about this without immediately going straight to the most awful possible outcome. 

As of today, Utah is one of only 9 states still not issuing shelter-in-place orders. I have no idea what our idiotic governor is thinking, but his complete and total willingness to disregard the health of Utah's citizens is appalling. It's not only irresponsible, it's disgusting how little regard our state government has for our public health. But, it's not just our governor who isn't taking the public welfare seriously. There are still Utahn's saying it's a hoax, it's just a flu, it will pass, they're still going out and living their lives. They're talking about their civil rights and how the state government doesn't have the right to take away their liberties. I'm baffled and terrified. 

Without shelter-in-place orders, people won't stay at home. Hell, even in some places with shelter-in-place orders, people aren't staying home. When we went out to get our grocery pick-up, there were just as many people out and about as ever; maybe more. Our little town's residents aren't bothering to stay at home and our mayor won't take action to force it. Matt had to go into Wal-Mart for his prescriptions and there were tons of people inside, walking right up to/by others without another though, standing in groups chatting. A few folks were wearing masks, but mostly just families out shopping like there's not a goddamn global pandemic.

This is the thing I'm struggling with the most: The community's unwillingness to care about itself. It's not an inability, it's an unwillingness, which is a matter of choice. It is absolutely and completely inexcusable to me that the people here pretend to care about one another and to be part of a religion that pretends to care about the community, while completely disregarding public health warnings. This, beyond all the other issues the pandemic has brought, is horrifying and disgusting. I despise pretense. If you don't give a flying fuck about others, don't pretend to, it's easier to swallow.

It doesn't help that it seems like there's no real way, even if you do stay home, to completely avoid it. It stays on surfaces for extended periods of time, so if you get grocery pick-up (we do!) or deliveries, you've run the risk of carrying it inside your house. As part of the supply chain, Matt's an essential worker, so he's coming into contact with hundreds of people a day. He's potentially bringing it inside the house every single time he comes home from work. He's worried, but he can't do anything about having to go to work.

I've been trying to do my part to minimize our risk by staying the fuck at home. Thank goodness I have the luxury to do that, with a job that allows me to work at home for the last two and a half years. I bought myself a cloth mask online, which I'll start to wear when I go out, and maybe even sometimes when I'm home so that I can break the habit of touching my face and hair. I'm considering sleeping in the guest room, too, because I'm afraid Matt's crawling with this stuff after being out in society all day. So far, he's objected to that idea, so I haven't had the heart to sleep alone in there. I might have to bargain by telling him it's that or he has to shower at night before getting into bed. He's incredibly difficult to bargain with, so we'll see.

This thing feels like it's never going to be over, and maybe it won't. It could be my inability to see past catastrophe to a light at the end of the tunnel, but this feels like it's world changing. I know I'm not the only one who feels that way, but I feel kind of alone right now. I feel simultaneously like I'm over-reacting and under-reacting. I think I would feel better if we actually lived in a state that cared about the public welfare, in a place where people were less concerned about their individual selves than they were about their neighbors. Maybe tomorrow will be the day our pathetic governor will grow a pair and start to give a fuck, but I doubt it. Maybe tomorrow will be the day that our neighbors realize this is serious and stay home, but again, I doubt it. At least I know that I'm not one of the assholes, that I'm doing my part to protect them, even if they won't do the same.