Are you sick (no pun intended) of the c-word yet? I know I for sure am, but what else am I supposed to write about? Somehow this latest in an eternal series of unfortunate events in the news that heretofore have kept a respectful distance from me is turning out to actually be a big screaming deal right here in the U.S. of A. It's like nothing I've ever seen in my lifetime and frankly scares the crap out of me, but I suppose it's overdue. Why should I go along feeling like calamities on this scale are only supposed to happen to Liberians or Venezuelans or Australians or Italians or whomever? We're not exempt, I'm not exempt and I suppose there's nothing for it but to take a deep breath (not literally) and ride out the storm we have coming. It can't be stopped, it can only be delayed long enough to protect our already broken healthcare system from being completely overwhelmed, which is the point of all these closures and cancellations that conspiracy theorists and self-proclaimed experts on the internet are calling an overreaction.
As it happens, I know someone in Italy. She was an exchange student at my high school. Today she told me that everyone is locked at home and it looks like "zombie land".
I don't think for a moment that most of the people who are suffering and will soon suffer have done anything to deserve it, but collectively as a people this seems like a needed dose of humility. We think we're such a big screaming deal with our civilization and our technology and our infrastructure, and it's all brought to its knees by the tiniest organisms in existence (if a virus can technically be called an organism, which is debatable, but you know what I mean). It reminds me of The War of the Worlds, in which Earth's militaries are totally impotent against the Martian menace, and all hope seems lost until the latter is (spoiler alert) "slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man's devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth."
I've given some thought to my odds of not surviving this. On the one hand, I'm obviously very young and seem to have a better than average immune system. On the other hand, I do have a pre-existing respiratory condition of sorts. Six years ago almost exactly, I had the most brutal cold of my life and the coughing aspect never entirely went away. Coughing for no reason is literally just a part of my life that I take for granted now. I did go to the student health center after a month or so, and they said my throat was harmlessly inflamed and gave me some medicine that tasted like motor oil and didn't do anything, so I just got used to it even though it's stupid and annoying. Now it might make me too weak to recover.
You never know and it never hurts to be prepared. So consider this an official request: in the event of my death, my surviving sisters, if any, may do what they see fit with my worldly possessions. The meager contents of my bank account are to be divided evenly between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Doctors Without Borders. Please donate my body to science, burn whatever they don't want and sprinkle the ashes over Glens Falls, New York. The Spotify playlist I prepared some time ago for my funeral can be found here. If you never reached out to me while I was alive then please shut the hell up about how much you miss me. Oh, and I have a letter on my laptop that I wrote to my neighbor C for no reason other than to sort through my own tormented thoughts and emotions. I can't give it to her and had no intention of trying but if I die and she doesn't, I would like for her to read it. Someone please ensure that she gets it. She may file a restraining order against my corpse, but I can live with that, or not as the case may be.
Truthfully, though, I think God is having too much fun abusing me to let me die just yet. The real question is how much it will suck to be infected and for how long. And whether I'll be able to find sufficient food. And how many others I'll infect because I can't afford to skip more than a couple days of work. #capitalism
Today, in fact, is the two-month anniversary of that day which I now realize was the worst day of my life. I -
Yes, of course, thank you. I wasn't sure at first, because I've had plenty of contenders for that position, but two months later I can say that not one of them individually has had such a persistent negative impact. It turns out I'm not as strong as I thought I was and I haven't really moved on. The raw, soul-shredding trauma of the event is easy enough to forget if I don't think about it in any detail, but it nonetheless remains a constant weight on my psyche every day. I've been trying to pray every night for those who wronged me. I was just saying empty words until I learned more second-hand information about what makes them tick and why they might have done something so immature and uncalled for, at which point my words took on heartfelt meaning. I want them to wise up and be happy. Yet sometimes my pride reasserts itself and fills me with animosity toward them, and I struggle back and forth on that sometimes multiple times a day and it's a real joyride.
On the plus side, I spoke to the good roommate about getting my book back from the pathological liar, and she spoke to the pathological liar about giving my book back, and the pathological liar left my book on the doorstep along with a few homemade cookies that turned out to have nothing poisonous in them.
This guy I've seen at church a few times killed himself recently, and though I barely knew him at all, I knew him a tiny bit which is more than I've known any of the other locals who have killed themselves over the years, so it's kind of a weird feeling. He was good friends with one of my good friends who's already been dealing with a lot of crap she doesn't deserve. He did it on her birthday, no less. I feel really bad for her and even though I know better it's tempting to think he was selfish and insensitive. Actually, he had a rare form of incurable and untreatable depression. If I had known him better, been privy to these things and wanted to stop him from killing himself, what could I have said? That it would get better, knowing full well that it wouldn't? That I wanted him to stay alive for me, knowing full well that every day of the rest of his life would continue to be hell? So I feel bad for those he left behind, but I honestly don't see that he had another viable option. I have every confidence that he's happy wherever he is.
I'm not at that point and I have a lot to live for and a lot to do. Unless the beer bug takes me after all. That possibility hasn't become really real to me yet even though I've been thinking about it for a week straight. I admit that in addition to my very real fear, I also feel a childish and sick kind of thrill that the suffering is still too far removed to dissipate. As I said, it's like nothing I've ever seen in my lifetime, and it's the closest thing I can imagine so far to a zombie apocalypse. Walking through campus and seeing the event signs with dates scribbled out or the word "CANCELED" plastered over them, or through the grocery store and seeing the empty shelves, gives me an unreal and indescribable feeling that brings to mind this most underrated of Koji Kondo compositions.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.