COVID-19 Update #1: Anxiety + Optimism

Everything is up in the air, so to speak. All local events have been cancelled. My college classes are cancelled for the week as we switch to online instruction. Public schools are cancelled for a month, meaning my side job as a substitute teacher is on pause. The dance school I work at is still maintaining its schedule, for how long, who knows? And will a small business who’s service requires physical contact make it through this?

I’m guilty of spending too much time online. This morning I woke up and scanned every social media (especially Twitter, where my city posts a lot of emergency response information) to see what the general state of things is. My mind feels frantic.

I have grandparents with health problems. I have a pregnant sister. I have another sister who is currently living in a Naval hospital in another state because of a knee injury. My partner’s father works in geriatric health. There are so many ways that so many things could go wrong that at times over the weekend I felt frozen.

Just digging it all back up to write about makes me feel frozen again.

I don’t know what’s going to happen this summer. The internships I applied for were all low-paying positions that would be the first to get cut by the companies who will lose money during this time. I planned out my first semester back in school so that I wouldn’t have to worry about money during the semester, and could work flexibly to make and save money for May-July. Most of my bills are paid off through the end of April. But now, mid-March, I don’t know what the state of things will be.

Growing up in Louisiana, I learned a thing or two about hunkering down for a hurricane. I know what supplies to stock up on. I know how to do my laundry if I don’t have electricity. I know that its important to have comfort and joy in times of crisis. But, as a friend put it, “I keep waiting for the hurricane to hit, but its not a hurricane.”

I’m trying to navigate this pandemic mentally, physically, financially, and morally. I dipped into my savings to pay for groceries. My partner and I have been making sure we’re not just stress eating, and are still getting exercise. I’ve frantically cleaned every inch of our home and sorted things to donate. The majority of our pillow talk is about our concerns over the immediate future and how we can minimize our contribution to the damage. I mean, sure, Postmates is doing no-contact delivery, but I still sent a person into a public space to bring me food. But that food made me feel better and more normal, like the world is still functioning the way I understand it to. But that person could be at-risk and only out working to pay their bills for their children or their at-risk parents.

I support a full, city-wide shut down. I wish I lived in a society that had the infrastructure set up to support one, too. I wish I had faith in the systems set up to see us through times like this. Maybe enough people will do enough that all of it will add up to be minimal damage, this will blow over, and by the fall we’ll be thinking of very different things and worrying about something else. I honestly hope that the leaders can lead and the systems can handle and the people will come together. It may be optimistic, but it’s all I’ve got right now.

Note: For now, the majority of my Instagram stories and posting is of my cat, Sirena, who has no clue anything is happening and is generally very entertaining. If you want to see that in your feed to break up the pandemic news, give me a follow at @janakingonline.

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