It takes five months, but I reach the “cut my own bangs” stage of the pandemic. Even Google tries to warn me against it. Right below a “how to” result, it offers a question it deems just as important: “Is it a bad idea?”
I have no regrets, but that’s likely because it turns out fine. And *that’s* likely because standards are lower now.
Amy Schumer has a cooking show.* A local weatherman broadcasts from his basement. Major networks conduct major interviews of major consequence over Zoom. We expect the connection to be poor sometimes. We accept pixelated policemen and candidates for President.
Grocery stores still don’t have everything. At first, I took pictures to capture the strangeness of empty shelves and social distancing signs, but they aren’t strange anymore. Somehow, I continue to be startled, to feel unnerved by every half face floating above a cart making its slow way up and down aisles.
They say now bandanas and neck gaiters are not good enough. And an infectious disease expert tells CNN we may be wearing masks for a few more years. Asked about forever, he does not say no.
The wait time for takeout is twice what it was before the pandemic, and we don’t complain. We’re grateful. Without compassion for each other and what the hustle requires, what do we have?
People die if we have no regard.
I bingewatch Fear The Walking Dead where the idea of who is good and who is bad depends solely on which side of the gun you’re on.
Some camera angles are works of art. Foreground: the blur of an exposed wound on the latest zombie killed. Background: Jenna Elfman in sharp focus, playing a woman who has lost a child and will not reveal her true name, stands on the porch of a remote and rustic cabin. The fictional virus is everywhere, too.
If this is a pandemic journal entry, it’s the first I’ve attempted since May.
I spend the whole day on the couch when I want to, sit through work calls on mute. Twice a day it registers what time it is when the neighbor walks by with her old black lab: 7 a.m., 7 p.m. I pile belongings I don’t want anymore on a table on the lawn. I carry what’s left each night back in. I trim fingernails short as they go, paint them dark, shiny tones. “Va va violet” is Thursday’s choice. The task requires bifocals, which I wear almost all the time now.
The cat is back in Oklahoma. I still talk to him, brace for the possibility he’s underfoot. Old habits. Like this: someone delivers an oversized zucchini I did not ask for. As if it’s a normal August. Nights turn colder.
Someone spray paints “SMILE UNDER YOUR MASK THIS TOO SHALL PASS” on a white sheet and drapes it from a bridge over I-90. I don’t remember when I first noticed it and just now realize I’m unsure it’s still there.
Hulu knows where I am better than I do most days. Whether I watch on the big screen in the living room or on an iPad in bed, it picks up where I leave off. It holds my place.
I email a local music shop to see if they want to buy my french horn. I haven’t touched it in years, haven’t become who I thought I would.
I order makeup I don’t know how to use. I will watch YouTube videos on boy brow and dewy glow and emerge from this a new person.
The retailer promises radiance and a 30-day return policy, like so many advertisers who have my undivided attention. It’s important to buy leggings you can’t see through. Surely, we need new furnishings to elevate our home offices. I guess the company that invented car vending machines prepared us for this moment. But where will we go?
Within walking distance from where I sit right now, there’s a farm stand with plenty of sweet corn. And I can get fresh coffee in my very own kitchen. I’m making it these days with fair trade beans from Nicaragua.
When the UPS guy plunks the 5-pound bag in my most recent purchase, I hear him singing from his truck to my porch and back again. The chorus of “On the Road Again” lasts throughout the transaction.
*Have you seen it? Each opens with a strong cocktail, and the married folk banter is a relatable blend of adoration and annoyance.