Mar 16, 2020


I work on vocabulary with most of my students. On one particular list, we learn the words "endemic," "epidemic," and "pandemic." All three of those words are usually unfamiliar. I can probably leave "endemic" on there, but I will definitely take those last two off the list and replace them with something else. No one is going to need to learn those words. 

It's weird to experience history in this active, conscious way. It's sort of how I imagine it must have felt to live in Berlin during the early days of World War II, where every day new shit kept happening and things escalated from no bicycles and a curfew to all your Jewish neighbours have been shipped off to god knows where in no time at all and you're left standing there wondering what the fuck just happened.

The range of human reactions to this crisis is interesting: denial, humour, panic, despair. The sharers of memes and the sharers of information. The optimists and the doomsday prophets. (It's easy to judge others based on how divergent their reactions are from your own, but remember that some people are more equipped to deal with trauma than others. Some people can't do hospitals, some people don't cry at funerals. Now is the time to be understanding.) 

It sickens me to hear stories of opportunistic people profiting from the suffering of others, and it saddens me to see how selfish some people have become. 

I worry for all the people who will lose their incomes and am glad to see governments around the world stepping up and breaking the rules so that people can survive. 

I think about how the crematoriums in Italy must be working overtime.

I think about the student who missed lessons for a couple weeks in a row because he had a bad cough, and the one who went to China for Christmas vacation to visit her family. I wonder if I should cancel classes or just continue to make them wash their hands when they arrive. 

I wonder about my own cough. 

I think about the doctors and nurses and technicians and scientists doing everything they can to combat this virus and take care of the sick and the dying. 

I think about how many people I came in contact with last weekend (a lifetime ago) when we went shopping and out for dinner and to a bar to see a friend do his first DJ set, before the shit really hit the fan. 

I take echinacea and oil of oregano and B12 and a couple of gummie multivitamins. I fill the car up with gas. I buy a new tube of polysporin.

I call my mother to check in. I think about my friends and my family. I hope they are safe. (Some of you are so very far away.) 

I am grateful for the moments of solidarity and generosity that renew my faith in our inherent goodness. The toilet paper sharers, the balcony singers, the free babysitters, the employers that allow people to work from home. I am impressed by people's ingenuity, their creativity, their compassion.

There are moments when I forget that the world's gone mad. Slicing beets for soup, doing the dishes, sitting at the table doing a jigsaw puzzle, letting the cat out (and letting her in again). And then I check the news and the health ministers are looking even more exhausted and more events are cancelled or postponed and fewer stores are open. 
I think about how this will change how we live when it's all over. We might buy a couple extra cans of soup when it's on sale from now on, just to be safe. We might get that gun license. We might say I love you more often.  

I think about how many more people will die before this thing has run its course. 

I think about our global responsibility to each other. 

I can't sleep, so I sit on the couch in the dark and feel like crying.