20 March 2020

Some weeks into the COVID19 outbreak. I was gonna say “in the middle of the COVID19 outbreak”, but then I realized there’s no way of knowing that. We could be barely starting.

I am not bothered. I left my job back in the middle of February, experienced a week of severe depression, and then ate a lot of pancakes at my church on Shrove Tuesday, at which point I realized that I was wallowing in despair and self-recrimination because I had taken on a burden that I didn’t need. God is in charge, as I’ve stated and known and forgotten and figured out again and again. So I gave up for Lent. I didn’t give up chocolate or cocaine or any o’ that – I just gave up. Since then, I’ve been contentedly letting God do His job. And I’ve been thinking, reflecting, making art, reading – some fun books on fonts, how the sudden appearance of eyes in the Cambrian era blew up evolution, Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God, and the Bible, of course. It’s been a very beneficial time – I’ve learned a lot about myself – I’ve analyzed my actions and attitudes and had some major insights about how I contributed to the toxicity at my last job, as well as how handicapped I was by other people’s prejudices and fixed ideas. We all co-created a reality that, ultimately, none of us liked. It might’ve been fixable, but I was the only one who was willing to try, so that was that. I’m glad to be out and hope to never see the inside of a restaurant kitchen again. I had a pile of money in internal accounts, which I got when I left the business, so I’m not strapped for funds. Yet.

Church is canceled, of course. Makes sense – congregations tend to be mostly older people, who are more vulnerable to diseases. There’s no need to potentially expose someone else to a virus that might harm them – I take it as given that I’ll be fine. I’ve never had the slightest doubt that I’d survive any form of mass death – disease, alien invasion, red comet, zombies… I ain’t skeered.

The other group activities I take part in, which are necessary for me to maintain my sanity and good morale, and to stay clean and sober, have been happening as usual – though peple have been keeping their distance.

My truck took a dive. A friend and I diagnosed the starter and tried to replace it, but we couldn’t bust the nuts, so we rolled it – literally across the road – to a shop, hoping they would put it on the lift and get those nuts off, which they did. Then it seemed like they might as well just put in the new starter and then we all figured out that the distributor was fuct and that had to be replaced too.

The guys at the shop were some classic cranky old rednecks. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed hearing them cuss and gripe about everything. The job I just left, after six years, had me surrounded by touchy-feely, politically-correct-but-emotionally-ignorant, knee-jerk liberals, who were apparently incapable of making a direct statement and who were wildly prejudiced against anyone who wasn’t just like them. So interacting with people who just said what they meant was incredibly refreshing. Yeah, they kinda sucked in another way and they’d’ve been happy to run me outta town on a rail if they knew much about me, but they didn’t. I grew up around cranky old rednecks and I know how to speak the language. I can pass. To wit:

One cranky old redneck held up a piece of machinery and said to me “You know yer way around cars” – I took this as confirmation that I had successfully presented myself as one of “us” – “whaddaya think this is?”

I allowed as how I didn’t know what that was.

“Would you believe this is a waterpump?”

I allowed as how that didn’t look like any waterpump I’d ever seen. Cranky old redneck then went on a rant about how cars used to be simple, but in recent decades they’d gotten all fucked up and stupid and what kinda dumbass would make a waterpump like that? I was able to knowledgeably agree – I’ve noticed the same development – but really all that was wonted was validation. What he wanted was someone to hear what he was saying and say so. When I did that, he looked at me a moment and then said, “Well, I guess I’m done complainin’. I’ll get to workin’ on yer truck.”

The hippies at my old job wouldn’t’ve been able to do that. That’s why I say they were emotionally ignorant. It’s really basic – people want to be heard.

In the end, I drove away in my truck, which is purring like a kitten. Not like that annoying little orange kitten that wakes me up at 4am everyday – like a ‘92 Sonoma kitten. A red one.

Nobody’s hiring, of course. The non-profits where I wanna work are in skeleton crew crisis mode. I kinda wish I’d been able to get hired at one before all this so I could pitch in, but I also know that I’ve gained a lot from this down time. It’s a shame that nobody on NPR is talking about the benefits of sitting quietly in a room. I guess the culture doesn’t really include that.

I been checking in via text with a friend – 32, female, Catholic, about as crazy as me. She’s bugged. She said that this was God firing “a warning shot”. I replied that it could certainly be taken as a wake-up call, then shifted it away from the End Of The World vibe she had going and toward our own responsibility to be God’s people on earth. The end of the world can be a trouble spot for people with mental health issues – and it’ll be a happy thing for she and me when it does happen.

God is no more and no less God today than any other day and He’s got the whole world in His hands. That ain’t gonna change.

I’ma drive up the county in a bit to hang out with some friends. They invited me come up and futz around in the garden. I am gonna do my best to convince them we should go to the woods and jump in a river, because I am always inclined to play the part of the grasshopper – who James Joyce called the “grace hoper” – and play today. They might be more like ants, but either way is really okay.

Hmm… maybe I should get Finngans Wake off the shelf. That could be fun.


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