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I'm old enough to have lived through some trying times. I was eight years old when our president was shot and killed. Even my parents hadn't experienced that before. Granted, they'd lived through World War II, which was traumatic enough. But an assassin propping his rifle atop a window ledge and firing it at the president? It became a tired question: "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" Of course, no one asks that anymore, except perhaps inside nursing homes.
In 2001, we all felt like the world was exploding. I was at work that Tuesday morning, headphones plugged into my portable radio, when I heard about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. The internet was clumsy then. The only news site I could maneuver to was MSNBC. My workplace's workout room had one TV mounted on the wall, and little by little, a cluster of us converged beneath it. We didn't know what was happening -- no one did. As the morning ticked on, reality sank in. Some of us trundled outside for morning break and we scanned the sky for wayward airplanes. Suddenly the question became, "Where were you on nine-eleven?"
I've never experienced a pandemic. Neither did my parents. My grandparents did. There were no antibiotics or ventilators in 1919 -- there was palliative care administered by nurses wearing white caps and white hosiery. There were priests conducting last rites. In 2020 we suddenly have another one. What? In the twenty-first century?
I'm someone who always thinks everything will turn out okay. When news of the virus was first reported, I felt it was completely overblown. I might have even clucked my tongue while watching the reports. In my defense most of the news is overblown. Then suddenly my workplace began asking strange questions, such as, what's your phone number; do you have a computer at home? My pitiful timing caused me to take today off, and lo and behold, we received an email that informed us we would need to prepare to work from home for a month. I'm not prepared! My computer won't connect to the workplace system -- something about an authenticator app that's not configured correctly (I learned after three hours of trying various remedies and finally reaching someone from our IT Department). I'm counting on my fingers the number of vacation hours I've stored up, which I was counting on as a dollar cushion for when I retire in June. I'm finally resigned to going in to work on Monday (to a ghost town) to get the needed system do-dads in order to slink back home, away from the germs and (fingers crossed) do my job from home.
I'm in the vulnerable category -- over sixty; lungs compromised. I have a stuffy nose -- do I have it??
And I don't have enough coffee! I'm going to run out of coffee and if I have to work here at home, how will I exist? I can't send my sixty-five-year-old spouse out to buy me coffee. I wasn't prepared for this! How did this thing happen? My Amazon packages that will be delivered to my workplace will sit on the shelf for a month. HR sent an email that said someone lives with someone who was potentially exposed to the virus. Who is this person?? The one who sits in front of me?? Someone I sat in a meeting with yesterday, blissfully unaware??
All over a stupid-ass virus. Thank you, Wuhan.
I was trying to think of songs to calm me, and for some reason I came up with this. Maybe it's the tinkling intro.
I'll be better tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow will look brighter.
It has to.
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