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Whimpering into the void
Whimpering into the void

Whimpering into the void

Yes, I flat out stole that title (well, the gist of it) from Chuck Wendig. If you follow Chuck on Twitter or read his blog Terrible Minds, you see why I appreciate his humor and insight. I also think he’s a helluva writer, one I aspire to be when I grow up. And if you haven’t yet read his Wanderers, what the hell is wrong with you? Stop what you’re doing and go snag yourself a copy. Wait. Finish reading here, then go snag yourself a copy.

But where Chuck gabbles into the void, I’m whimpering. It’s all I have left. It’s been a long year and I’m weary.

Independence Day has come and gone so it’s all downhill from here. Summer will be over before we know it, and Back to School on our doorsteps. Only…will it? What will it look like? The American Academy of Pediatrics, among other experts, has called for in-person school this fall, declaring that students have been harmed by distance learning and must return to brick and mortar education. That’s all well and good, but last I checked it’s not just students in a school; there’s a metric crapton of adults as well. Until very recently I hadn’t heard one expert mention the danger to the teachers, administrators, and support staff that run a school. This nightmare of a virus is running unchecked and I don’t see it pausing for us to return to school. “Oh, you need to return to traditional in-person learning? My bad, I shall scurry off to the depths of hell from whence I came and return at a time more suited to your liking!” If only.

A few nights ago I read two posts on Facebook that threw me into the lap of a panic attack (and a third one yesterday…note, I don’t know who this guy is, he could be a dystopian fanfic writer for all I know, but his scenario is far too plausible). Been awhile since a panic attack gave me a wet willie, usually they wait until I’m just dropping off to sleep, but hey why not change things up. I suggest you go read those posts; even if you don’t have kids or know a teacher you should read them and know what we’re dealing with. Then pop a couple Xanax and rock with me under that table over yonder.

I’ve been trying to keep it lighthearted here when I write about the pandemic because I reckon we all have enough stress without me adding to it. Laugh at the chaos, laugh to keep from screaming, laugh to scare off the boggarts. I’m not going to try now, I simply don’t have the energy.

Wear a goddamned mask. WEAR A GODDAMNED MASK. I don’t care if you can’t breathe, if your lungs are that bad, stay home. I don’t care if you don’t like my tone, wear a goddamned mask. Wash your hands, stay a fully extended trombone’s length away from people, and wear a goddamned mask. Don’t like it? Think it’s infringing on your rights? Swell, keep your ignorant self at home. Otherwise, wear a goddamned mask. Oh, by the way, it covers your nose, too. Otherwise you look like this:

No idea who drew this, but I want to make cards to hand to people at the store.

Why Jen, you sound a bit perturbed!

Damned right I am. In fact, I’ve sailed right past perturbed and cannonballed into simmering anger. I have not hugged my parents since March 1st. Know how I remember the date? Because my dad organized a big celebratory dinner that night for my mom, because she’d spearheaded a nightmare of real estate, selling two homes and buying a third. Twelve days later we were in lockdown; my mom has been unpacking almost entirely by herself because it’s not safe for us to be there for any length of time. Jack has left our property exactly three times since March 13th. I played one of the most satisfyingly musical concerts of my adult life on March 8th; I can’t see returning to band rehearsals anytime in the next 18-24 months and my heart breaks over that. Life came to a screeching halt in mid-March and no amount of ignoring COVID will start it back up again. And my family has been so, so lucky; we’re healthy and still have jobs.

Look, it’s bad out there, really bad. It’s going to get worse, much worse. Illinois’ numbers are still rising; the last three days we’ve topped 1000 cases a day.

How are we in Phase 4?

There are many other states with considerably worse numbers; I get that. Our state numbers are with precautions; we were one of the first states to slam the doors on schools, for example. And that’s what makes me so angry.

Schools are slated to open this fall to in-person learning. When we closed up shop on March 13th there were very few cases; now there are 151k and counting. I’m convinced that opening schools will be opening Pandora’s box, shaking out all the crud in the bottom, breaking it down, then using it to start the fire pit in the backyard in which we burn the contracts we made with the demons that got us to this goddamned point of society. Demons greatly dislike it when we burn their contracts; they say it shows a lack of respect for the longstanding tradition of selling souls or something, I dunno. I know kids need to be educated, I know spring CoronaLearning was abysmal at best, and I know I don’t have the answers. I just know that the virus hangs around in the air for shits and giggles, and band rooms are full of aerosolized spit. On the bright side, if I teach in a hazmat suit I guess I don’t need to worry about dropping the COVID 20 I gained this spring; those things hide a multitude of sins.

So I’m weary and whimpering and there is no end in sight. I know I’m not alone in this, but that doesn’t help much.

Just…wear a goddamned mask.


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