The Storming Bohemian Punks The Muse: Covid 19 Edition #14 – “Reflections On Time Spent In Corona Land, Three Months Along”
Written on 06-15-2020
So sometime last week, I realized I had been checked out, emotionally, intellectually, and physically for a few days. Since the beginning of this shelter-in-place (which I began exactly three months ago, almost to the day on March 13th) I have been pretty conscientious about having a disciplined life.
Pretty consistently, I’d wake before 7 in the morning, spend an hour in meditation and prayer, another hour or so on various writing projects, go for a walk, read for a while, and relax in the afternoon. I began writing this column, and took a couple of online classes. I bought an Instapot and learned a bunch of recipes. My meditation practice became more consistent than its ever been, and I began to notice the benefits.
“I’ve got this,” I told myself, day after day. I bought an exercise machine. I went to a few AA meetings on ZOOM. I treated myself to a hundred dollar investment so I could take unlimited “Master Classes.”
I was very proud of myself.
But then, I began to notice other things than the benefits of my contemplation and daily routine. Beneath the happy talk and the “I’ve got this” mantra, things started to get kind of spooky. For one thing, there was the squirrel invasion. They are everywhere, on the roof, running along the wires, hiding under the car, scampering up the redwood trees. I hear them scratching on the roof at night. The neighborhood is not what it was. A skunk took up residence under the porch. The quiet in the street began to take on an ominous quality.
I limited my grocery shopping to twice a week. It seems impossible to imagine now, but these shopping excursions were accomplished without any worries about wearing a mask. With each trip, it became more difficult to find supplies like toilet paper, paper towels, then long-grain rice, then pasta. Then came the masks and every trip became a battle. More than once, I called someone names for not wearing one. I got into arguments with security guards and encountered store managers who refused to wear masks. I’d go into the market notice the eye rolls from the manager and the cashiers, their faces saying, “Oh, Jesus, here he comes again.”
The number of COVID deaths topped 100,000. I noticed more and more masks in the street. But at the same time, I noticed a few stores opening up, in defiance of the health department. I walked past the antique store in downtown Vallejo and noticed a crowd of customers outside, and a few more wandering around inside. I went home and exploded with rage on Next Door. When I was on my way to bed that night, I noticed I was shaking. The next day I woke up with a migraine headache.
My habit of waking before seven started to unravel. Instead of sleeping eights hours a night, I began sleeping 10, then 12, then 3, then 7, then 14. I felt like a pebble in an avalanche, went numbly through the days, babbling on FB, then crashing into bed at night, exhausted.
The one steady note of consistency through it all has been that morning hour of meditation and prayer.
And then came a bizarre turn of events: Suddenly, in the midst of panic, it seemed as though the President had decided the crisis was over No more Coronavirus! Victory was declared. Stores began opening up, restaurants began serving dinners outside, folks were filling the beaches, happy days were here again. On the TV, Rachel Maddow looked every night as if she were about to burst out crying.
In spite of my fear, I went to the now open craft supply store and purchased canvasses and paint, ready to start working in my studio again. It was not to be…
[TO BE CONTINUED NEXT COLUMN . . .]