Chaos coping is an Olympic sport.
I refresh my Twitter feed. Again. Trump, fraud, election, yada yada yada. Next, Instagram. I scroll for a while, liking the occasional post, wondering if I’ll ever have her fabulous wallpaper or their romantic Italian vacation. I recently went back on Facebook after deleting my account a year ago. Everything yet nothing has changed. Posts from the same four people over and over again. I check out the New York Times and the LA Times. Everything is terrible. Blah blah blah.
Ten months into Covid-19, cases are surging and Los Angeles is in crisis. Yesterday, LA County Emergency Medical Services issued a memo: to conserve a limited supply of oxygen, ambulances will take only people who for sure will survive to hospitals. Note to self, don’t have a heart attack.
Today the LA Times reported that hospitals are discharging sick patients early to make room for the critically ill. Upside: now lots of people will know what it’s like to have a baby and be rushed out of the hospital with a swollen and stitched up vagina because insurance only covers a 24 hour stay. Perhaps that’s why the United States has a disturbingly high maternal mortality rate. But I digress.
It’s a fucking mess out there. Anti-maskers are protesting in malls and barging into grocery stores while every 10 minutes in Los Angeles, a person dies from Covid. The cognitive dissonance would blow my mind if there was anything left of it to blow.
My son and husband had Covid. My otherwise healthy 19-year-old college athlete son was sick for seven weeks. SEVEN WEEKS. My 55-year-old husband was ill for a few days. Somehow my daughter and I didn’t get it. A friend of mine, a triathlete, had Coronavirus induced mini-strokes for three months. She thought she was out of the woods, then her hair started falling out. Another friend’s husband was in the hospital for three weeks and has permanent lung damage. Almost 400,000 Americans have died.
This shit is Russian Roulette, which is fitting since an inept federal response and the politicization of mask wearing came from a Russian loving POTUS. A fish rots at the head, but my god our leadership has failed us at every level. The stench abounds.
It’s chaos and death and uncertainty of historic proportion. Coping is an Olympic sport. Take a walk! Find Yoga on YouTube! Netflix and chill! ZOOM with your shrink! Bake bread! This past summer that feels like twenty-years ago I bought a used spinning bike. Sometimes I take live Zoom spinning classes to feel connected to the world. I’ve also discovered videos of people cycling through Europe. The other day I rode 20 miles through the Italian Alps and pulled my back out, but it was so worth it.
In March, they furloughed me from my side-gig in a clothing store. In December they fired me. I’ve tried many things to cope with mind numbing boredom and heart racing anxiety. Getting high to clean my house. Drinking too much wine. Outdoor social distance gatherings, Zoom parties. I’ve walked the dogs more miles than any of us wanted. I’ve cooked and baked and eaten more sugar than any human should. I’ve written a lot, most of it garbage. I’ve binged watched excellent television while wondering if I’ll ever write a screenplay again.
There’s only so much a human being can take, and we are all taking too much. I wonder what we’ll say a year or five from now. Will we find a mask at the bottom of a purse and wistfully say, “oh my god, I loved this one! I bought it on Etsy!” Or will the discovery of that mask send us into a psychotic PTSD meltdown?
I don’t know, and I kind of don’t care. I need to get through today. Perhaps I’ll overeat or walk the dogs or drink too much wine or smoke some weed or call some friends or write some words. Perhaps I’ll do a little of each or none at all.
The only thing I know for sure, is that I will be gentle with myself. I used to be a clinical social worker. On the first day of training, all clinicians learn, you meet your client where they are. You don’t set an agenda for them. You start where they are.
So today I’ll start where I am. Which is still in pajamas on my couch with a third cup of coffee as the clock strikes noon. I won’t judge or castigate myself for taking a fourth oatmeal cherry cookie (they are so good). I won’t check my step count, as if walking from the couch to the bed to the refrigerator to the toilet might add up to meaningful exercise. I won’t condemn myself for not being or doing or achieving or forgetting to brush my teeth.
I will just love myself for living. And for doing the best I can. Because seriously guys, that’s all we can do.