April 2, 2020 by 8junebugs
I mean, sending out the “Schools will be closed through the end of the school year” on April Fools Day was an interesting choice… The governor hinted at it last week, the superintendent not long after, and Vermont and Virginia pulled the trigger six days ago.
I feel like I did when Vermont passed Civil Unions and I was looking around the Bay Area going, “Wait, what? How are we not first out of that gate?”
Ah, well. This is one hell of a timeline.
I feel like working on “major customer incident response” strategy for a couple of years has left me eerily prepared for the ebb and flow of disaster…which is weird, as there is a big difference between a business “disaster” and a pandemic. But the approach to understanding and moving forward is the same. “What’s that? Something has gone a bit off and it’s going to affect lots of people? How many? What will happen to them? Can they avoid it? And what should they do if not? Okay, when will you know those things? Oh, now it’s more people because of whatever and they also need to do blah blah blah. Got it. What’s next?”
We hold a blameless post-mortem after incidents, but I dearly hope there will be a reckoning when we’re on the other side of this. The federal government’s cruel recklessness throughout this emergency is appalling, to say nothing of the downstream effect on residents of states with sycophantic governors. I want every avoidable death tallied against the leaders who could have made better choices with the information they had at each step of the process.
I’ve said before that it feels like the evening of 9/11, when we were quiet and wondering and feeding people out of a need to connect and nourish.
But it also feels like earlier that day, when we finally obeyed the evac order and went out into the city. I was a journalism student at AU and I looked up to the sky, wondering about all the nooks and crannies of a very big developing story/crisis. I had these dispassionate moments that worried me later — curiosity trumped safety concerns for a while. It was chaos on K Street. Traffic wasn’t moving, no one could get their cars out of the garage or get a cab. We walked nearly all the way back to my place on Wisconsin and it was as fascinating as it was tiring and scary.
We were in that particular place at that particular moment in history, and I don’t think I’d ever felt so calmly analytical.
My boss noted in my annual review that she’s never seen me lose my shit, and I think this might be why. I was in Times Square on New Year’s Eve 1999 when everyone was afraid of Something Happening when the clocks clicked over. I was in DC for 9/11. I was actually supposed to visit a vendor in New Orleans in August of 2005. And if experts are right, I’ll probably be here in Oakland for The Big One.
Then there was navigating the personal crises of 2019 (and 2008 prepared me for that). I am, perhaps, overly trained for not losing my shit in an emergency.
It’s not foolproof. When the asshole down the street couldn’t control his dogs and they attacked Rodney, Graham, and Ken, I did scream obscenities at him on the street. It didn’t do me any good, but it was an understandable response.
I worry, sometimes, that being able to distance myself too easily from chaos and tension tampers with my empathy. My brain accepts data and tries to solve, which may make me miss the opportunity to give someone a hug they need. WEIRD, WEIRD, WEIRD for a Cancer, right? We’re supposed to hug first and are perfectly welcome to stick with the hugging. But here I am.
And here are my kids, growing up in a continual cycle of crisis and disruption. We’ve already seen the impact on Gray and healing that will take some time. Alex has honestly never known anything else and other than being 3, has been able to skip along merrily adapting to whatever comes our way. He could not care less about school being out — he’d rather play with his brother or watch “Stinky & Dirty.”
The best I can do is model how best to live through this, even if it means being touched out by 9am. I’m walking a line between making sure they understand, at their respective levels, that this is not normal and dropping them into panic wells. One of them is more prone to that — Gray goes through short phases of being really good about hand-washing because of the virus, then being scared to go in the backyard because he doesn’t want to catch it. We’ve been VERY clear that this is not dangerous for kids, but our community’s safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Still. We remain a bit more on edge than I’d like. I’ve never before wished so hard that Grayson liked movies.