Statewide Stay at Home Order and Cheap Gas.

quarantine

Like many other states, my home state (North Carolina) just ordered a statewide Stay at Home mandate until April 29th.    I got temporarily laid off due to the coronavirus (I do not have it) more than a week ago, for two weeks.  Obviously now that’s extended.  I’m glad to be getting the stimulus check (though it should be for more and it should be recurrent, like Canada is doing) and I also applied for unemployment, but I’m having problems with their website and also don’t understand why they’re still requiring proof that I’m looking for work.  That’s just stupid under these circumstances, for obvious reasons.  My boss thinks so too, but she thinks they just haven’t updated their site, which could be the case.   I tried to call but it’s not possible to get a real live person to help you.  I almost pulled all my hair out yesterday in frustration.

I didn’t realize how much I appreciated my job until now.  Not only because of the income, which I need (unemployment pays HALF of what I earned and it’s not nearly enough), but also because I’m getting stir crazy laying around the house.   When I’m not busy, my brain starts turning on itself and I start ruminating and worrying about things I have no control over.   I start imagining all sorts of crazy things.  I’d like to spring clean the house, top to bottom, but even though I have the time, I’m simply not motivated, not yet anyway.   Maybe soon I will be.   The stink in the fridge is starting to get to me, so I’ll probably start with that (and get it out of the way first, since cleaning refrigerators is the grossest household task I can think of).

It was very warm today (actually hot) so I went out for a drive and just looked at the spring flowers and blooming trees.   But as of Monday, it will essentially be against the law to be out for any reason other than buying necessities.  But I’ll go nuts if I can’t take the car and just drive, at least.  How is driving around spreading a virus?    It’s not as if gas is expensive either.  It’s the cheapest I’ve seen it since 2003.  Just for fun, here’s a list of gas prices from 1978 to 2017.

Speaking of low gas prices, I took these photos this morning.

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The silence, lack of traffic, and lack of necessary provisions (like toilet paper and pet food) in the stores is very surreal and creepy.  I feel like this is what it must have been like to live in the Soviet Union.   It’s hard to get used to this new lifestyle, especially after Monday when staying at home becomes the law in my state (we already are on curfew).

It’s too easy (especially under this current administration) to weave conspiracy theories about the “real” reason all these lockdowns and mandatory quarantines are happening, but the fact is, we haven’t done enough.   Trump may want everyone to “go back to work,” but these restrictive measures are necessary to stop or slow down the spread of this dangerous disease.

Look at the bright side.  Has there ever been any other time when you can sleep late every day and sit around the house doing absolutely nothing and know that you’re helping to save lives?  You can enjoy being lazy without the guilt!  And if you’re an introvert to whom social distancing comes naturally, can you recall any other time when wanting to be alone was not only socially acceptable, but your civic duty?

 

I just got temporarily laid off but it will be okay.

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I knew it would happen, but I wasn’t sure when.

It happened to me today.

This morning I got a text from my job, saying the owner decided to close for at least two weeks, and possibly longer.  Of course, this throws me into the category of people who are panicking that they soon won’t be able to pay their bills.  I’ll be okay for about a month or so, but after that?   Well, all I can say is I hope things return to normal by then, even though that’s probably unlikely.

Nothing will ever be the same again.  Not here, or anywhere else in the industrialized world.   This pandemic is a worldwide crisis, and America’s seven or eight decades as leader of the free world is over.  The proverbial chickens have come home to roost, the piper must be paid.  Our entire monetary system looks to be in freefall.   In fact, I’m pretty sure American style capitalism itself is collapsing, and I’m far from the only one who believes that.   Unregulated capitalism was never a sustainable model as it always collapses into fascism and brutality.   It happened to the Roman Empire and was followed by a thousand years of dark ages defined by widespread ignorance, short brutal lives of constant toil, and a feudal economy.  It happened to Weimar Germany and every other regime where unfettered greed and inequality ran rampant.   We are now standing on the precipice of a new dark age — or a rejuvenated society that works for everyone.

We were not even remotely prepared for this pandemic.  We were already too weak internally to withstand it, a house of cards ready to be toppled over by the first gusty wind that came along.

We must change — or we perish.  

Positive change and revolution has never happened without a lot of pain and suffering, and even death and bloodshed, occurring first.  The immediate future looks like nothing we have ever experienced in this country since at least the Great Depression, but I think we will arise from it stronger, more self sufficient, more community minded, and more compassionate to our fellow human beings than we were before.  Perhaps the United States of America as we knew it won’t return, but that may not be a bad thing, if we emerge from it better human beings ready to build new and better institutions out of the rubble left behind by an outmoded system that encouraged and rewarded only greed and exploitation of the most vulnerable.

So, back to my immediate situation.  I know a lot of you must be experiencing layoffs and closings too.  I know a lot of you too are wondering how you will pay your bills, your rent, your mortgage, and avoid becoming homeless.   On top of that, we have to worry about staying healthy and not contracting this virus, or spreading it to others.

I see this as a time families and friends must come together.  But since not everyone has family or a large circle of friends they can count on, I think we’re also going to see communities come together and figure out ways we can all help each other.

So, I’m going to be using my downtime from work to spend a lot more time blogging, just like I used to a few years ago.   I used to write in this blog at least once a day, sometimes as much as four or five times a day.    Some of you may remember that.  Although I don’t blog for the money, this blog is monetized, so if I can boost my hits by writing more often, that also helps me make an income, small as it may be.   It’s going to be the only job I’ll have for a few weeks, and possibly longer than that, depending how long we are locked down and businesses are closed.

I’m also thinking of getting involved in some sort of volunteer work in my community.  I am sure it will become necessary.  I want to feel useful, and give back to my community, and help others who may be even worse off than myself.

A lot is going to be demanded of us in the coming days, weeks, and months emotionally, physically, financially, and even spiritually.

So instead of feeling dread for this time away from work in which I probably won’t be getting paid, I’m actually feeling excited for the opportunity to get involved in things I always wished I had more time and energy for before.

It sure beats just sitting around worrying about things I have no control over, such as how bad this pandemic is going to get, or how dystopian life may soon become.    These are times we are called to be the best we can be and find strength, empathy, and creativity within ourselves we never knew we had.   These are the times we will be forced to slow down, abandon the rat race, and focus on the things that are really important in life.

 

The silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic.

Just as the aftermath of the Black Plague of the 14th century opened the door to the Renaissance and the Enlightenment,  the Coronavirus pandemic could pave the way for positive changes that will improve the lives of future generations.

This article is wonderful, and gave me hope.

Coronavirus Will Change The World Permanently. Here’s How. 

How’s everyone holding up in this pandemic?

manwithcold

It’s scary what’s happening around the world with this Coronavirus pandemic.  It doesn’t seem that America is handling things well at all.  Not nearly enough tests are available, the entire pandemic response team no longer exists (thanks, Trump), many people can’t afford to get tested or treated, and of course there are the constant lies from our own government about COVID-19.  There’s also just a lot of misinformation being spread around, as there always is in a crisis like this, but that makes things even worse than they need to be. Misinformation ranges from nutty conspiracy theories all the way to “it’s not as big a deal as the media makes it sound.”  It certainly is a big deal, but we can’t believe everything we hear either.  It’s best to stick with trusted sources like the CDC or WHO for pertinent information about this pandemic.

I haven’t seen any toilet paper fights yet (except on video), but it is hard to find in the stores!  I should be okay though.  What is the deal with toilet paper anyway?  I hear bidet sales are up, and America may finally be catching onto an idea that is both more sanitary and better for the environment than toilet paper.   I’ve stocked up on a lot of rice, beans, spaghetti and peanut butter.  Not exactly exciting, but they are nutritious and will last a long time without taking up a lot of space.

I’m not under quarantine yet, but it’s likely my workplace will close soon too, as it’s “nonessential” work.   My son self quarantined:  he was here a couple of weeks ago, and on his last day felt a tickle in the back of his throat.  When at the airport, he coughed and they wouldn’t let him board the plane!   He was okay after that, and managed to get a flight the next day, but decided to quarantine himself after that for two weeks.   I’m trying not to worry about how I’m going to pay my bills should we go under lockdown or should my workplace close.

Like everyone else, I’m trying to practice social distancing (not too hard for an introvert like me!) and a lot of handwashing and using hand sanitizer.  I’m also attempting to avoid eating out, and learn to like cooking.

I wonder what’s going to happen.  The trajectory doesn’t look promising; there are no signs that it’s going to “flatten out” here in the USA.   I don’t want to speak of my fears of what could happen and put that out there.   I’m just taking things one day at a time, and trying to remain calm.   It’s incredible how we can be an advanced society one day, and revert back to Black Plague like conditions mere days later, scrounging for food and toilet paper.

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Coronavirus cases worldwide.  The US trajectory shows no signs of “flattening out.” 

I’m impressed with Italy, which has been very hard hit due to its elderly population and a lot of tourism (which has now stopped, of course).    People are dying so fast that families can’t even hold funerals for their loved ones.   And yet,  Italians still know how to find joy, even though the situation there must be terrifying.   I’m sure most of us have seen the video of people singing out their apartment windows in the midst of mandatory, nationwide lockdown.

I think when all this is over, we are going to learn some hard lessons and change the way we live.  We will relearn such old fashioned concepts as community and being good neighbors to each other.  We will learn to appreciate the simple things again.  Most important, we may come to value empathy, compassion, and service to others again, over the greed and selfishness we have come to lionize in recent decades, and with any luck, this will spill over to our government, if we don’t become a dictatorship first.