Weird Times

We live in very weird times right now.

Two weeks ago, my wife and I were in Chicago for the C2E2 convention. I did not attend the convention itself due to hearing issues. I tagged along because Chicago is a great city and we were meeting my brother-in-law and mutual friends. At this point, coronavirus was in the news, but it was still an “over there” type of thing.

Coronavirus issues started ramping up in the news last week, but it still seemed off in the distance.

Even at the beginning of the week, things seemed normal. And then, gradually, events escalated. I have received daily updates from my workplace home office. By the end of the week, the home office suspended all business travel until further notice. No one can conduct meetings in the conference rooms. All meetings must be conducted virtually from your desk. Everyone must bring their laptops home with them every night because the situation is fluid and the office could institute a work from home policy over night.

Yesterday (Friday) was my day off. My wife’s workplace instituted a work from home policy, so she was working in the office upstairs. Our usual practice is to do our grocery shopping over the weekend. Usual stops include Target, Busch’s and Trader Joe’s. I suspected that shopping was going to be dire, so I went out first thing in the morning.

My first stop was Target. Even at 8am, the shelves were practically empty. My understanding is that people in my area started panic shopping Wednesday and Thursday night. The Target employees were clearly tired and, unfortunately, their day was just starting. I was able to purchase most of the basics, with the exception of distilled water for my BPAP. The cashier told me that they receive one delivery truck every day and two trucks on Sunday. I’m not out yet, so I’ll try again tomorrow.

After dropping off the Target packages at home, I ventured out to Trader Joe’s. They were busy, but everything was orderly. I was able to purchase meat, freezer food and some snacks.

This morning, my wife and I went to Busch’s to get additional items. Some of the shelves were bare. However, we were able to purchase a lot of staples (i.e. milk, cheese, etc).

I have a few takeaways from our experiences over the last couple of weeks:

  1. Social Distancing – Due to my hearing damage, this is something that I have a lot of experience with. I can’t go to crowded areas because they are way too loud. What we are currently experiencing is my typical routine on a much larger scale. However, even though it is an inconvenience, social distancing is vital right now. We need to take care of each other now more than ever. It will help level out the demand on medical care facilities. Also, it will protect people who already have serious medical conditions (i.e. the elderly, cancer patients, etc.). I plan on calling my boss on Monday morning and informing him that I will be working from home for a little while.
  2. It’s Chaos, Be Kind – This is something that I learned from Patton Oswalt. Even though we are practicing social distance, we can still take care of one another. At Target yesterday, a fellow shopper couldn’t reach the Kleenex boxes on the top shelf and asked for my help because I have “long arms”. I grabbed three boxes for her. It only took a moment and she was able to go about her day. (I remember being severely annoyed in the moment, but that was because my mind was on the fact that toilet paper was almost sold out and what was left over was $24 for a 24 pack.) This morning, a fellow shopper and I struck up a brief conversation about our experiences over the past few days. It is important that we be kind. It only takes a moment and it costs nothing. Take a moment and reach out to your loved ones by text/phone/social media.
  3. Take Breaks – Whenever there is a world crisis, my first instinct is to binge on the news. This is something that I have a lot of trouble with. It is also one of the reasons why I quit social media two years ago. After we returned from C2E2, I rejoined Twitter because I missed some of the cultural conversations. Right after this, coronavirus news ramped up. Ever since then, I have steadily tried to manage my news intake and my anxiety. For example, after I finished shopping, I spent the rest of the day listening to the Tangerine Dream boxed set “In Search of Hades: The Virgin Recordings 1973-1979” while reading “Kill the Dead” by Richard Kadrey. Over the years, my wife and I have built a massive media library. We have plenty of books, movies, music and video games to catch up on. It is important to stay informed. However, it is equally important to give yourself a break. If you are able, go for walks. Read that book that has been on the top of your book pile. Watch a movie. Watch something silly.

This isn’t quite how I expected to jump start the SWI blog.

We live in very weird times right now.

The Starry Wisdom Institute is here for you.

If you are on Twitter, you can follow me @InstituteStarry.

Please take care of yourselves. Stay safe and healthy. Be kind to each other. We have a long way to go, but we can do this.


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