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reject fear

1. I caught a little cold or flu bug around Presidents' Day. I lose all cravings for alcohol (except for that delicious, cherry-flavored nighttime cold/flu medicine), when I'm ill. I decided that the following Friday (February 21) would be a good time to officially begin another round of detox--for one week with the option to extend it further. I cheated, on the evening of Thursday, February 27 (just a few hours short of my goal) with two glasses of delicious brandy after an unhappy day at work. I resolved, the following morning, to continue my detox and ride the wagon through March with a possible end date of April 3. I saw myself extending this even further--but no later than April 18: I definitely intended to celebrate Record Store Day with some adult beverages. I was confident and excited on February 28--unaware that the whole goddamn world would soon grind to a halt.

2. During the early weeks of March, my boss asked me to order more facial tissues, hand sanitizers, and disinfectant wipes and place them all over the office. Soon, there was a panic. I was asked to order 30 cases of hand sanitizer, so we could ship them out to our other offices, as needed. But the vendor was unable to fulfill our order. Just wash your hands, people. Jeez.

3. By March 16, most of the people in our office had started working from home. I was part of the skeleton crew still going in every day. I very much enjoyed the peace and quiet. The bosses discovered that people had been stealing the hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes. So I was ordered to round up all the sanitizers and wipes and keep them in storage until everyone returned. I didn't see the logic in that. Why did I have to put it all away, if there was no one left to steal it? But keep my paychecks coming, and I'll be happy to repeatedly dig a hole and fill it in.

4. I realized things were serious when the organizers of Record Store Day announced that it is being postponed until June 20. I'm relieved that it hasn't (yet) been canceled. And I'm pleased that the list keeps getting revised with new additions. I'm not sure if I'm going to ride the wagon all the way into June.

5. Keep in mind that millions of Americans die every year--tens of thousands from the annual flu strain. But now hysterical politicians and media find a convenient excuse to shut everything down, kill jobs and businesses, and crash the economy. Manufacture a crisis and then be a savior riding in with a solution--all the while seizing more control, spending more money, and further eroding liberty.

6. Monday, March 23 was my group's last day in the office. I rose before dawn, the following morning, got cash from the ATM and went to the supermarket. It was busy for that time of morning--but not too bad. More people wearing masks, anxious and moving quickly. Toilet paper, paper towels, and most of the canned goods were gone. I stocked up on tea, juice, and most of the things I normally buy (minus beer and wine). I returned to my room and settled into my little world. I've practiced "social distancing" for most of my life, so this whole situation is a kind of boon for me. I resolved to remain calm, be patient, and wait for the rest of the world to come to its senses.

7. My neighborhood hasn't been exactly a ghost town. There's still moderate foot and auto traffic. It's more like when everyone leaves town for Christmas or Burning Man. I feel bad for everyone who is now out of work and not getting paid. My favorite cafe with the beautiful lady was open (but minus the beautiful lady) for a day or two. Then I arrived one morning to find the windows and doorway still caged, a sign reading that they would be closed until April 7. I wonder if I will ever see the beautiful lady again. I've been frequenting another cafe that is still open for take-out orders only. I don't know how they're holding on. They were closed for remodeling for at least a month or two, late last year. They are very appreciative of my daily visits.

8. I'm relieved that I still have a job and am still getting paid--even though there's not much I can do from home. Our group started having short teleconferences every morning. I've handled a few small research projects since working from home. Today was a real fustercluck. What I thought would be a routine shipping task I would perform quickly for the bosses turned into a day-long trouble-shoot. We managed to get the job done early on, but I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out why I couldn't do it easier and more efficiently. I am inconsistently perfect. I handle some tasks really well--other times, I am humbled and embarrassed by the limits of my poor little brain unable to clear what appear to be such small hurdles. I signed out of my work email late in the afternoon and took a walk around a neighborhood park. It felt nice to be out in the wind and the cold. I was disappointed in myself and the way I handled my dumb work problem. I was really tempted to cruise by the liquor store. Instead, I returned to my room, made another cup of tea, and settled into evening. My brandy craving subsided, and I was glad I resisted it. I chatted with a pretty lady who used to work with me but now lives in NYC. She joined our group about six months after IL left. And, like IL, she was with us for only a short time before moving on. But we've been friends ever since. We talked for a bit, in the evening, and she cheered me the hell up.

9. I used to be quite the news junkie. Now, I pay little attention to the news. I can only take it in short, infrequent bursts. It's all fear-mongering hysteria. I've replaced all that with history podcasts. I enjoy shutting out the world and being a tea-sipping monk. It's nice and quiet--way down here.

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