My COVID Times Diary – A day in the life
We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation doesn’t liberate it oppresses. ~ Carl Jung
So as I said in the first COVID Times Diary post that I did, part of the reason I’m writing these is for historical purposes. I want, years from now, for people to be able to read about what was happening in my life during this truly historic time. Particularly my young nieces and nephews who will only somewhat remember what it was like.
Today was one of days. As you can see from the image above, when I opened my door for the first time this morning it was a different world. One advantage of working from home is that I can sleep in. I hope to start work each day at 9AM, like I did on campus. Most days that means waking up at 8, checking email, getting ready and starting work by 9. When I woke up this morning it was still dark in my apartment, really dark. I knew there was a small chance of rain and so I thought it must be dark and cloudy. Once I got up and moving I decided to look out the door, wow. The sky was yellow! To say it looked apocalyptic would be to downplay what it not just looked, but actually felt like. I started work and at about 10AM took another look outside, it was darker and even more eerie, the sky, as you can see above had gone to a dark pumpkin color. A really interesting coincidence was that I had thawed out some homemade pumpkin soup for lunch, the sky matched the color of my soup.
The skies are a result of unprecedented fires on the west coast, according to the news, the smoke overhead was actually from the fires in Oregon, not California. And while there are insanely fast moving and massive fires in Oregon, we have the same thing occurring in the central valley of California. In the last couple of days, small towns in Oregon and Washington have burned to the ground, Medford Oregon had 10,000 people evacuationing. The national guard airlifted 200 hikers and campers out of a campground surrounded by fire in California. Turns out there are hundreds still sheltering and trapped due to fire closed roads in the same area.
Today I talked with an employee who is waiting on COVID test results and learned of two students who are quarantining because of COVID exposure. Today will also be the 14th and final day of a friend’s quarantine for the same reasons. Tonight the board for our college will start the process of making it official that we will not be on campus in the spring. This means we will be working for home for at least 15 months. A promising vaccine trial for Astrazeneca was put on hold today due to a severe problem with a person receiving the vaccine. The news also broke a story that claims the President of the United States purposefully downplayed COVID risks for political reasons.
Six months into the pandemic, life in many ways has returned to something resembling normal. Masks are the order of the day so things absolutely look a bit different. If not for the masks, on the surface things look pretty normal. Well, except for the sky today. But if you look closer you can see all of the little places where the differences show up. The self-check registers at the grocery store only take credit cards because there is a coin shortage due to people spending less in person. You can’t bring your own shopping bags into the store anymore. There are ever changing shortages. Not in terms of not getting food, but in certain items and variety disappearing. Not the mass shortages of last March but little changes. Barley right now is not available in stores locally, tofu and tofu based items from time to time are out. Today, I could only find giant family sized breakfast sausage links and the vegetarian sausage links have rarely been in stock and are up about a dollar in price. Single sized cans of vegetables are rare, corned beef hash recently has become incredibly sparse and frequently out of stock.
Life right now is not what I would call hard for most of us. Now, for the people who have lost their job or who own a struggling small business, it is very difficult. But for most of us, things are not hard, but I think tense is a good term. People are very stressed and uncomfortable and so when you add in anything else, a local protest turning violent, wildfires, yellow skies, or all of the above, it can push people near their breaking point. The thing about everyone being under pressure is that it reveals people, who they really are, what they can handle. Add into the mix the most contentious presidential election in my lifetime and it’s a lot.
Today I heard a lot of nervousness in people’s voices in meetings, in their comments on email and texts. It was unnerving to see a sky that you have only ever seen before as the backdrop in apocalyptic films. It even had me a bit freaked, thank god for the internet, information and science that explained what it was. A hundred years ago, waking up to these skies would have had us all sacrificing animals to the sky gods. It now seems like it’s not if another disaster will occur, but what disaster will occur next, we spend all of our time waiting for the next shoe to drop. ~ Michael ‘Rev’ Kane