April 7, 2020
I had therapy with Rivver today. His Zoom waiting room is populated by pictures of his kittens, Madame Shoelaces and Doctor Licorice. Their cuteness lives up to their names.
The last two days have been inspiring. My quarantine buddies and I are planning to start having morning classes on various things to keep us sane and semi-structured, and we’re having a house Olympics soon. In anticipation, we are setting up a Model U.N. in the house, and we used an online random country generator to designate ambassadors to nations. I am a proud diplomat representing the nation of Mozambique, and Special K is my brother in arms negotiating for Nigeria; Bean Curd and T are neighbors, representing Romania and Moldova respectively; Zilch speaks for Chad, and his allegiance to Muzz brings his landlocked country under the wing of Australia; Alyssa is Iran, and The Shark has yet to roll for his seat. May God have helpings of us all.
I’ve been meditating a lot. As I lay playing half-dead on the couch this afternoon, the backs of my eyelids were punctured with images of other people’s faces chiding me, a psychological phenomenon I call “ego-swapping.” When I say I am ego-swapping, I mean that I am fretting about some other person and thus imagining myself as that other person interacting with me, usually berating me for (say) my poor etiquette during card games or my dumb face and life. My mind is keenly trained to help me avoid external criticism, and it does so by criticizing me, constantly; somehow the whole thing is sort of a drag. Most often these imaginary meanies are friends and family, anyone who has seen me have a mental breakdown or spill cheesy quinoa down my pants. While I was meditating, trying to find calm by chasing the stars in the blackness, the face of a woman I have never seen before screamed into my sub-conscious to inform me that I was a bad husband. I have things to work on, but at least I’m asking the big questions. Who am I? What do I value? How do I spell “Mrs.” unabbreviated?
I took three walks today, and talked to my brother on the phone for one. He says that Guatemala has closed its borders and is now arresting people after 4 p.m., but he is still confident that he will be teaching there come this summer. The class he’ll be teaching won’t even get out till 4:30, so, the way things are now, I suppose his daily routine will be to wake up, say hola to his roommates, go to school, teach the kids, eat a packed lunch, give the kids their homework, leave school, get arrested, grab a bunk, and repeat.
“First paycheck is in August,” he told me. “Looking forward to it!”
It’s not for me, but it’s structure, and I do admire his lack of general anxiety, as well as his chipper attitude towards working at Target while the apocalypse rips through the homeland. I try not to listen to too much news about The Big C nowadays. Corona is tragic and I am fortunate not to deal with the horns of this pandemic hands on, and to have a plague-proof dead Daddy, of course, but the rollercoaster of keeping up with it all is a nightmare. At first, I was being told that Oregon was one of the worst five states in social distancing and had the worst hospital beds per capita in the Union, but then the other day I heard that Oregon was sending masks to New York. Are we bailing out or balling out? I can’t say.
Today, Trump said he wanted to stop funding the World Health Organization, and yesterday the Surgeon General foretold that the next few weeks would bring the saddest days of most American’s lives, calling it “our Pearl Harbor” and “our 9/11.” Being a very young child on September 11th, 2001, I thought that the footage of the Twin Towers exploding was an action flick, a movie so moving that school was canceled. As a much larger child, this situation feels much more surreal, though I am quite aware that it is not playing out on a film reel. And who is the Surgeon General? Is he the best surgeon in the Army, or is he just a generally supreme surgeon, the secular Pope of cutting people open? I refuse to look it up, but I do wonder.
On my second walk, I talked to Riley on the phone and strolled around the neighborhood, and he said I should come to New York. It was a good talk, but all I will share of it is my ill-received revelation that he looks like the twin who Bo Burnham tried to eat in the womb.
My third walk today was with Cecilia and Maude, to accompany Cecilia home. There were packs of quarantine kids — qids — marauding through the streets, gunning down sidewalks on their push bikes and having social distancing picnics by dominating all the corners of four-way stop with their pink blankets and their sticky, sprawling scooters. As we circumnavigated the qids and interrupted spiritual conversations being volleyed in yells across the street, a brown cat with a bobbed tail hunched and menaced Maude; it looked like a malevolent bunny rabbit daring to rip us to shreds, but we were lucky enough to survive the encounter.
After I dropped Cecilia off, I walked home with Maude, trying to keep the leash continually taught with the same tension, balancing my direction and Maude’s while neither pulling her nor giving her slack. It is difficult to be both receptive and creative in the gentle art of dog walking, especially when your partner is willing to choke herself to death and drag both of you to a yellow sack of someone’s dog shit.
My phone has been acting odd, and my day ended with it yelling at me in the living room, demanding, “I’M SORRY, IS SOMETHING WRONG?”
“I’m trying my best, okay?!” I squealed as my roommates watched The Office. “Mozambique needs me.”
How is a boy who wiped his ass with a Postmates napkin today going to rally the United Nations behind a nation and a flag with an AK-47 and a farming mattock as an insignia? I don’t know even know what a farming mattock is, but I’m betting it’ll be a hard sell to incorporate it into the upcoming Olympics.