Tuesday, November 09, 2021

okay to not be okay

The passage of time is a tricky thing.  Today, I was doing the most mundane, unexciting thing--waiting for the exterminators, who make their rounds on my floor every 6 months pretty much like clockwork to spray under the sink. ( though I haven't seen any critters in my unit, I have seen one or two scurry down on the ground floor near the mail & packages, so am ever vigilant. The price of city living stacked amid 19 floors of apartments. )  It entails emptying the bottom cabinets and rounding up wayward cats and then just waiting for them to show up so I can put everything back again.  It occurred to me as I was doing it, that this is round three since they started doing the regulars in September 2020, each time, putting on my mask and allowing the dude with the spray can in.  Outside of some assessors when they were in the process of selling the building last spring, the exterminator, besides my boyfriend and my dad, is one of the only people who have been in my apartment since March 2020. When I think of it like that, the pandemic seems interminable.  Like it's just been happening forever. Like it will be happening forever. Despite things opening and groups be allowed to gather and a lot of people just carrying on as they were before. (if they ever even cared to take precautions at all, that is.)

And yet at the same time, it's fast. Those first few months during lockdown were over in seconds.  Even going back to work has been this strange loop. When I say "Oh, that was years ago," and realize it was only last fall. Or, "Didn't that just happen?" and it was 2019.  I lost track of many things I was working toward pre-pandemic. Some things became more important.  Some less. During the pandemic, I have written 19 rent checks. I have drank around 1, 000 cups of coffee. I have died my hair at least 20 times. Taken close to 500 showers.  I have written many poems, including the entirety of one manuscript (collapsologies) and part of another. I even published three books--one with another press and two on my own.  I've given a handful of zoom readings and library presentations, some of which I was even paid for. . Have laid out over 50 chapbooks and designed slightly less than that of covers (excluding the ones done by other designers or the authors themselves.)  I have built about a half dozen online exhibits for the library and processed hundreds of outgoing and incoming books. 

An yet, time is rubber band. Barring those first three months where I went nowhere, I have ridden the bus over 300 times, masked and at times, more afraid than others. I've visited family only about 6 times.  Eaten in a restaurant even less. Things I haven't done in the last 19 months? Had drinks in a bar. Gone to the movies. Really shopped in a store outside of quick run-ins. Visited a museum. Traveled.  Been to an inside family gathering. These are not things I always do on the regular, but part of me gets angry when I think about how they were things I'd easily give up if it meant banishing this crazy thing and getting back to normal. Like that we'get them back eventually. Like if we all did our part, it'd be over quickly. But some people didn't quite understand the assignment, so here we are. Even 6 months ago, as I got the second dose of vaccine, I was hopeful. And maybe there were a couple weeks in June pre-Delta where it seemed like we may be free of it. Many people rushed out an took advantage.  Some of us figured we had the rest of the summer mostly Covid-free so treaded slowly. Not so much,

As we face another pandemic winter, and a slight rise, yet again in cases in Illinois, I keep reading--articles, blogs, memes--that it's okay to be not okay.  I worry less of myself and those immediately around me (because vaccines, yo), but more about the tolls and costs and general societal, cultural upheaval. I cannot believe I live in a country where a cousin of mine says she refuses to get a vaccine because she simply doesn't like being told what to do. Another is unduly influenced by the hick idiot she tethered her life to.  Portions of my mother's side are Trump supporters. Where large amounts of people gobble huge amounts of  misinformation via suspect news outlets and social media the spew it everywhere..  Add in my own personal issues--questioning my job, my pursuits, my life in general, and it's sure to be a rocky winter, harsh in the way winter always is, but far worse. 

I recently watched an episode of the new Creepshow where a man is hired to exterminate a group of people occupying a buiiding under development, in which he poisons their communal pot of stew then goes mad, snuffed out himself like an insect. Yet humans don't need exteminators, since most of them will apparently happily march themselves right into the traps.

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