Wednesday, March 11, 2020


If you're like me right now, you're thinking constantly about the movie Contagion and how it's happening EXACTLY (almost) how it was depicted in the movie.  In the words of all the scientists, this coronavirus be craaaaazy.  I finally found an article referring to the movie during this bizarre, tense time. Sean and I watched it several weeks ago when this business was just beginning and I'd jokingly tell my friends, particularly my nurse friend for instance, "Take care-- watch out for that coronavirus and don't read a bunch of stuff about it and then watch Contagion like I did."   But it's kind of really crazy how it's playing out.  I'm now sort of telling people, "go watch Contagion to see how this is going to play out."  But not really because I don't want to feed the fear that already threatens at the doorstep of my psyche.  I do, however, think I'm one of those people who doesn't know how to appropriately behave in an emergency and will be making wildly inappropriate jokes until the very end.  Should probably be noted.

When I lived in New York, we had mega-storms every year, it seemed like.  Late summer hurricanes and then winter snowbombs.  Wasn't a storm named a bomb??  Oh yeah, bomb cyclone!  There was also Frankenstorm (happened at Halloweentime), Irene, Sandy, the Polar Vortex (not a storm, but still a cool name), and others I have forgotten.  A few stand out in my mind as particularly stressful.  I remember that brewing concern, the gathering with friends to discuss, the repeated lessons on emergency preparedness that felt applicable.  The trips to Target or Costco to build up our food storage in a practical way like stocking up on bread and granola and tuna (things we'd eat) vs. giant cans of wheat, etc (things we wouldn't).  But it feeling weird because it's not like we had any space for anything.  Feelings of panic would rise and fall, like the unpredictable waves of the ocean, but would feel more justified the closer the storm got.  Walking outside in an ordinarily constantly human-filled environment to one now emptied, quiet, with shop windows boarded up and supermarket shelves cleared out of all the things you'd think of first.  That quiet and creepy lull. Bit by bit, more things telling you you should be doing this too, in some capacity.  More than once I would fill up the bathtub, a trick i was taught many times, before a storm hit.  I would make the same joke about heading straight for the ______'s house who lived in a full brownstone home and who we knew had ample food storage, and then about how I KNEW we needed a boat tied up and hidden somewhere, so we'd somehow be able to get off that island during the stormpocalypse.  Snowpocalypse! I thought of another one.  Oh, and Snowmageddon! I think those might have been for the same storm and we couldn't decide which was better and neither could local news stations. Anyway.

The weird thing is that a lot of things were affected very near me.  Flooded land and structures, apartment buildings near the water's edge completely without power or means to get food.  We actually delivered meals to people in dire straits, affected by a storm we, 1.5 miles away, were left unscathed by.  It was weird.  But it felt like it got a little real.

Now, the storm comes not in the form of a traveling hurricane or brewing blizzard which may threaten some, perhaps only mildly, and then devastate others, but in the form of a menacing disease which all the important people know very little about. So the storm transfers to our imaginations and fears of worst case scenarios.  We start drawing a very widely spaced out dot-to-dot, reaching maybe the number seven, max, and say "well if this happens, then THIS happens, which will lead to this, and this and this and THIS happens" and then, instead of being left with a satisfying picture of a pretty sailboat, the world has collapsed and we're all dead.  Is the dot-to-dot in our heads. What a bummer dot-to-dot.

 I have read so much about this COVID-19 and continue to, in spite of myself. Every day there's something new--new closure, new cancellation, new region named, new, higher numbers. Social media is a frenzy of commentary. So many people are posting things in an effort to spread information and calm the fears.  Others joke through the nervous energy. Others still want to prepare but don't exactly know what for so they just make vague preparations that they constantly question if they're smart or crazy, smart or crazy.  Or not TOO crazy, just a little bit panic-induced, ha ha ha. {nervous face}

I find myself being hugely interested in the reality of this and how it's looking.  The cruise ships, for instance.  I read an article that said something like, "avoid crowds, unnecessary travel, and above all, don't get on a cruise ship" -- the last part being an alternate title to this post.  which gave me feelings of vindication because I always thought cruises sounded super gross and weird-- so many people in that confined space. I felt like I'd heard about way too many stories of food poisoning outbreaks and other grossness on cruise ships and now we have been presented with a fascinating, terrible example of how that kind of environment can go south real fast.

So what are you doing to stay sane? Are you running to Costco in fits of paranoia? Like Sean did a few nights ago? Ha ha.  He didn't get water or toilet paper but lots of food stuffs we'd eat that we could easily store for a while. Also cleaning supplies.  It's hard to know exactly what to do but as much as I don’t want to live by fear, I also don't want to be the last dummy running around because she didn't prepare sooner if she could have. So how do you feel about it? Anyone want to get together for a Contagion party? What if I call it emergency preparedness?


Craig said...

I'm already bored with this.

Granted, pretty much every other "disaster" I've been involved in hasn't really happened. There was some hurricane we were all ready for that turned out to just be a rain storm with a little wind. It was NOTHING for us.

But I'm someone who is inclined-- especially when everyone else is running around freaking out-- to just assume that everything will be just fine. It's probably super annoying to everyone else, but so far it's served me well.

I am excited to have Craig home with me and the kids for the foreseeable future! Everything I've ever hoped for!

-Alanna (obvs)

)en said...

Man, I used to consider myself not much of an alarmist but I guess in certain situations where I see real changes taken place all around me, it gets to me. And as informed as I want to be and as news-obsessed as I am, I have to take breaks and check out and just forget all of that for a little while.

How's your feeling about it now?