A stink bug dropped onto my head while I lay in my bed in the dark, reading on my Kindle before sleep. It’s not the first time I’ve had one appear out of nowhere. Discussions with my son-in-law lead me to believe that our neighborhood has had quite the invasion this year, the kind when if you flip a piece of wood that’s been lying outside for awhile, hundreds might emerge from their dark place. In fact, an article appeared last fall, warning that this particular invasive species, mostly a nuisance, also damages crops – one more thing to worry about.
A day ago, I read about an insect called the Asian giant hornet which has turned up in the United States, posing a big threat to already endangered honeybees. From what I’ve read, it also packs quite a painful sting when a human gets in its way.
East Africa is contending with a second wave of locusts which is being nicknamed “Locust-19,” as this invasion is coinciding with the inexorable advance of Covid19 across the continent. Already threatened, the increased risk of famine will only make life more impossible there than it is already.
Was it only mere months ago that the world’s eyes were focused on the astonishingly devastating wildfires that were racing through Australia, killing millions of animals while destroying homes and poisoning the air? And Indonesia that was struggling its way through massive flooding? California was suffering through a terrible wildfire season while Washington State was being inundated with rain.
These were the headlines we were reading:
Australians flee massive bushfires as new fire threat looms.
And then there was the sudden tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, the shock of which reverberated around the world, a painful reminder of how quickly life can change, how fast lives can end, no matter your age, your health or your privilege. Finally came this coronavirus which swiftly forged to the head of the news cycle and has come to dominate the consciousness of the global citizens everywhere.
All these events reminded me of a time back in college, when it seemed that there were daily events that I’d read about, nature-based and otherwise, which compelled me to start what I called “ The Apocalypse Notebook.” For years, I clipped articles from newspapers and magazines, selecting astonishing articles which were interspersed with average daily stories. I remember thinking how easy it was to become inured to the unthinkable, those eye-popping tales tucked in between a story of people who’d just celebrated a 60th wedding anniversary and a description of a new restaurant opening. Stories of brutality, stupidity and for me, incredulity when I pondered how easily they came and went, just part of another news day. Here are a few of the headlines from recent times which would’ve made it into my apocalypse notebook, if I was still keeping it up to date.
Husband and wife poison themselves trying to self-medicate with chloroquine.
President Trump Wondered Out Loud If Injecting Disinfectant Could Cure COVID-19.
Kushner calls administration’s coronavirus response “a great success story”
I’m no Nazi, says mom of 7-year-old with swastika.
It’s no small wonder that people are searching for ways to cope and stay healthy through this truly dystopian time. In my part of the world, it’s become clear that my government is turning its attention to kickstarting the economy, pushing aside public health as a number one priority and looking ahead to the effort to re-elect our impossible president. That being the case, it’s become obvious to me that I’m going to have to make my own decisions about how I choose to live going forward, with no access to testing, no proven treatment for Covid19 and far from what I think will be a legitimate vaccine. I’m pondering what the risk vs. reward paradigm means for me.
You can’t really tell by looking at the photo above, but that is actually a ditch that I had to get hauled out of the other day. One of the ways I’ve used to circumvent social distancing has been to drive to an out of the way place and park my car next to a friend’s so we can roll down our windows and spend a few hours having a foodless meal together. One friend is my breakfast buddy and the other is my weekly lunch date. I’ve actually enjoyed chatting without the usual incumbent meals, as I’m always trying to keep calories at bay. In any case, this nice sunny day meeting took place at a different spot than our normal meeting place. Unbeknownst to us, the ground was saturated by heavy rains from the day before, so my attempt to straighten out my car turned into digging myself into what felt like marshland beneath the wheels. Thankfully, I have an app for that and a nice young man showed up with his tow truck to drag me out of the abyss. My friend and I still had a lovely time. I’m thinking that though I’d like to exchange some hugs other than virtual ones, this mode of interaction is going to suit me for an indefinite time, until I see how this virus situation plays out over the coming months. An odd choice? Maybe. But I feel uncertain right now and I’ve found a way to not feel so isolated. So that’s one thing.
Then there’s the pool question. I am sorely missing swimming and I mean that both literally and figuratively. I’m one of those humans who feels as comfortable in the water as I do on land. After almost two months of being unable to swim, I feel much less fit than I did before this virus changed everything. My body is stiffer and less fluid in its movements. I’m really grateful that my knee replacement surgeries allow me to take walks as an alternative to swimming. But I don’t get any endorphin rush from walking and I need to go for a lot longer than 40 minutes to feel like I’ve gotten a real workout. So what will I do when the pools finally reopen? I’m really on the fence about my favorite recreational activity. I keep envisioning leaping into a petri dish. Crowds of people splashing around. Locker rooms with so much traffic there’d need to be full-time cleaners to keep up with sanitation. Could I really enjoy myself with that anxiety? Adult swim hours would help but right now, I’m not sure that would be enough for me. So as an alternative I just purchased a below the desk elliptical machine. Between walking, using this thing and working in my garden, I’m hoping to keep myself healthy and strong. I’ve always been a person who looks ahead. I want to give myself alternatives now, in an attempt to prepare for whatever is coming down the road. Luckily for me, I hate grocery shopping. I think that after having done it for so many years for my family, I just got to the end. Except for when my son is here, I only have myself to worry about. The online services of ordering food and either having a delivery or doing my own pickup is just fine. I don’t think I’d care if I never saw the inside of a grocery store again. But the movies. I am a movie junkie. I can certainly watch movies at home. The plethora of choices in platforms is amazing and I get that. But ever since I attended my first movie at the Iowa Theater in downtown Sioux City, “The Giant Claw,” I’ve been irresistibly drawn to sharing the darkness and the flickering images reflected on the faces in the audience, the smell of fresh popcorn with Milk Duds tossed into the container as a warm chocolatey surprise. I haven’t seen a theater movie in months. Michael and I shared that love of movies. Before we had kids, we’d go a couple of times a week. When the babies came, I popped them into their Snuggli and kept them quiet by nursing them throughout the films. When will I go back to a theater? I guess that depends on how reopening looks. The same is true for restaurants. I don’t want to be crammed into any crowded waiting spaces. Maybe al fresco is the way to go. Picnics in the park with carry out seems like a good alternative. That is, unless the giant hornets take up residence in this town.
Trump Says Some States Will Be Able To Open ‘Literally Tomorrow’ If They Want To.
Maybe if there was a real national plan, I wouldn’t be busy with trying to figure out who I’m going to be for awhile. But there isn’t a national plan. All the states are on their own. So I’m just thinking about daily life. I’m not contemplating anything really big like whether I have taken my last trip, whether I’ll ever travel again. The biggest thing for now is to try to stay well, for myself and my family, overburdened with the complications of working from home and educating their kids. And there’s my son with his Phd, postdocs and no job market because of the pandemic trashing of higher education, along with everything else. All I can think of regarding him is that health insurance is expensive and what if the government eliminates the Affordable Care Act? The terror of no national health care. So, yeah, I’m going to be careful and slow. No malls for me. I’m going to auto-visit, grow a ponytail and work in my yard for the next few months. What about you?