Saturday, March 21, 2020

Melting Calendars and Flattening the Curve

We've just been given the warning that we are on the brink of a "stay home" order from the Governor and the Mayor and the County Chair. We are currently under a "strict social distancing" order and that was upgraded earlier today (Friday, March 20, 2020), with the details to be released next Monday.

My body has many words inside, my head and hands haven't yet found the words to move them onto the page - virtual and paper, or in the form of pictures. Hybrids.

Every day, several times every day, the news changes.

We are so far into this pandemic now that I check not only the date of an article or an announcement, but also the time. Something which was written or announced two days ago is old news. If it was yesterday, there is probably an update, but there may or may not be major changes. Then double check that, even if it was earlier today, there is not something new.

Early on Friday I received what I am jokingly calling my "hall pass." Jokingly because this is all very real and it also feel unreal. Surreal. My "hall pass" is an official government paper from my work, which in the case of a curfew or actual "shelter in place"/lock down, identifies me as essential emergency personnel so that I can drive to work when we're supposed to be staying home. I have my official document and my work badge and it allows me to be on the streets and not be arrested or get a ticket. Surreal.

My very full calendar of theater and meetings about theater has emptied, leaving my my "essential emergency personnel" work and a few reminders. Even my provider appointments were cancelled or rescheduled, one person is doing phone or video calls. I had three shows and one event cancel in two days - and just realized that was only one very long week ago. Shows dropping off one by one - some I was scheduled to interpret, some I was coordinating, some I was consulting. A few more went away this week. There are three or four which have not yet cancelled but I expect they will - or be postponed. One show I was involved with is postponed until next fall; another show I was going to watch (not work) is postponed indefinitely. Theater is one of my passions and my fuel and a creative outlet - now gone.

So when Ariel Gore posted that she was doing a Social Isolation Writing Intensive online, I signed up. I'd just lost a bunch of work and, although my calendar has opened up, the financial hit won't start until 30 - 45 days. So I did it. I clicked register and paid. And I'm writing.

And wondering what the next day or the next few hours will bring.

I am not in a panic. I am aware. I am keeping anxiety at bay. I don't know how long this minimization of activity will last and when or how we will return to normal; and I am completely aware that "normal" is relative and life will be different - but I don't know how.

A time of upheaval. Changes many of us didn't predict or couldn't predict, but it's here. Now. Not some dystopian future. Now.

Wait. Listen. Be Aware.

In the words of the Oregon Governor, "stay home and stay well and save lives."