Everything is fine except for this pandemic thing.*

Remember last Saturday? Back when we were seriously concerned, but could still buy pasta and milk at the supermarket? Back then, I was relatively unfazed.

Photos of empty aisles in the grocery store.
Were you looking for pasta? No can do.

On March 14, a blanket of toxic fog erupted from all sides of our decrepit station wagon, and the world around me disappeared. I steered toward what I hoped was the side of the road to call the spouse. “The wagon died,” I said, in exactly the same way I would have said, “It’s March fourteenth,” or “We need more broccoli.”

Back then, I was still in shock.

I’d already had the kids home for over a week, and though I knew I’d have them home for three more, that seemed doable.

“Maybe we can have a quiet little spring break in Tahoe,” I thought. But then we were ordered to “shelter in place.”

“Now I’ll have plenty of time to find more work,” I thought. And then the economy tanked.

“Okay. This is a great opportunity to reconnect as a family,” I thought. But then the governor announced that schools may remain closed through the summer—which seems less like reconnecting and more like the tenth circle of hell.

“All right. I can catch up on some house projects I’ve been avoiding, like staining the handrail to the basement…” By that point, I’d downgraded from Hopeful to Resigned, but I was still looking for silver linings. “Maybe we can find some cool art or yoga online…or something.”

BUT THEN, THE WASHING MACHINE BROKE DOWN.

Though embarrassing to admit, that’s the moment when the enormity of the current public health crisis hit me full force. While I’ve been following the news and the new rules, I’ve been operating as if I were gathering information for an ethnographic study: “Wow. Look at how people are behaving during this moment of historical significance.” It just didn’t feel real.

But now? Now I’d like to curl up in a corner and sob into a gigantic glass of wine. Someone please crank up my dosage of memes, adorable animals, and McSweeney’s.

 

*Thanks to Ellen Schatz for the post title and for being smart and funny even while the world is falling apart.

 

 

Published by

Beret Olsen

Writer, photographer, teacher, and part-time insomniac.

6 thoughts on “Everything is fine except for this pandemic thing.*”

  1. Hang in there! I hope you can get the washer fixed. We are a week or two behind you (Minnesota). Our Carleton daughter—home and prepping for online college—informed us that there will need to be some hours that we don’t talk to her, or look at her…so it begins.

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    1. Seriously. Apparently there was some online version in 2015, but it seems to be gone! For now, couldn’t everyone just show their cards via the google/zoom camera? or maybe we send the cards via text to whoever is dealer? That could work, right?

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  2. Beret,
    Thanks for this “pandemic thing*”!! 👏😜 😳😜👍🏻
    a quote i rely on – “when you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on”. Be well, stay safe.
    Much love to you and yours,
    Carol

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