Man I really haven't
Done my job.
This blogging thing doesn't run itself yo.
It's a scattered and yet... what's the word - apathetic? Nah.. hmm how about somnambulant - yep that's it. It's a somnambulant existence I find myself living these days.
Waking while I should be sleeping. Sleeping while awake. Days breezing into other days to the point where not only do you not know the difference between Tuesday or Thursday, but between February or April, between 2020 vs 2030.
Wait what year is it?
Just take me home now
No kidding you too?
The first full week of this down-shutting I came home from an early morning job every day, took off the shoes, maybe put on some music really really low, and just laaaaid down.
And it was good.
I'm torn between writing down all that happened and just saying jeeez it'd be nice it was over soon. Don't get me wrong, I really have found plenty of positives and I imagine you have too.
There was the initial shock of a slower pace, the pressure valve released for many - esp perhaps parents of kids shuttling them everywhere each day, and the shared vibe that was out there. We're gonna get through this. We'll be fine.
We'll rally behind Tom and Rita and we'll make it.
My friend started coughing. And then the headaches. Bad headaches. Then sweating. Always sweating. In the foothills an hour east of Sacramento in the winter.
He lives by himself and he doesn't drive. We've been friends since my dad died. He and his wife welcomed me in and offered me dinner and conversation and hockey games while I was stuck cleaning out my dad's house for nine months. Mostly by myself. They offered normalcy when I was living in a bizarre solo world of 100 year old sewing machines, bear skulls, and female mountain lions growling at 2am. They have a cool son and one of the coolest dogs maybe ever. Loola.
After I left the Grass Valley / Nevada City area things were cool, but by 2014 or so things began changing for my friend and his cool family. Personal details aren't necessary but the change happened in two phases . Phase one was a divorce with him moving just 500 feet down the driveway in a tiny but cool apt. in a large warehouse owned by the same landlord. Phase two was more dramatic, when his wife and kid, by now about 17 or so, headed back home to Ontario CAN, to be close to his wife's mother.
And my friend? In A A.
But toilet paper? Really? That's how we're gonna start this thing?
I don't need to detail the details because you were there. We all were. Some were more affected let's just be honest. If you are middle class and maybe already work from home before this? Meh. A few annoyances but really not anything you couldn't handle. However for millions - and actually now over 28,000,000 - who lost their jobs and have had to live in uncertainty this was turning from a weird blip in our lives to a fearful and potentially long-term flat out disaster.
And that's exactly when [my friend] got sick.
Here's what happened.
The friend, who doesn't watch the news, joked to his landlady that
"maybe I got that $*%& virus thing."
He didn't know how she'd respond.
He knows now.
But?! But?! But the governor yada yada, it's illegal and blah blah blah. Look - I said to all my friends and will say again to anyone reading this now - of course. Of course it's against the law and outright not cool to evict someone who has Covid-19. Or HIV. Or cancer. HOWEVER. If you are a family friend of over 20 years and you live on a country property behind said families' place of residence, do you think, that if somehow they let you stay according to some politicians' temporary rules, that it will be a nice place to be? That you will sleep well? That any mistake you make they won't exploit? That you'll be able to be happy always wondering when the hammer will fall? That they won't make your life a living hell for calling their bs in a small community?
Well that's great if you can't imagine it but if so you may not have lived among many of us humans if that's the case. And bully for you.
"Hell hath no fury like that of a landlady who thinks her tenant has Covid-19"
I didn't wake up one day and decide to be angry at the shelter in place. I'm not on "one side." Hell I don't even watch the news. I haven't had a TV since 2015 and haven't subscribed to cable since 2006.
But here it was.
I'd suspected early based on the data and yes even the deaths, that the media in whatever form you choose - was jumping on the fear bandwagon like flies on a rib roast. Like the DNC on poor Bernie circa 2016. On Palin in 2012.
It was exciting! It was dramatic! It was a WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC!
How many journalists had never even said those words let alone been able to spread them across the twitterverse like a.. well like a..
So I did something
I created a snarky comment survival t-shirt and I didn't know yet if my friend had it or not, was going to die or not. After all at 64 and a heavy smoker he might look like fresh meat to mr. and mrs. corona.
That's what two or three of my friends said. It's just too soon. People are nervous. Scared.
It's just too soon.
So I took my friends' advice and chilled.
Then things got stupider.
Yes the death toll was rising but myself (and many others) began looking at the number of folks who already had the virus - like my friend btw - as well as past numbers of bad flu seasons, apparent infections in California in Jan-Feb, and just began questioning.
The resistance to my questions was my first red flag.
Look I'm no epidemiologist but hey joe citizen neither are you. The fact that you're nervous I'm disagreeing - or just asking for more info - that's a red flag! What's the oldest psychology test to know if someone's hiding something - how they react to your assumption. I once texted a girl the first line of that Lumineers song "Hey, Ho." And yeah - she took it a different way.
Maybe it was "Ho, hey." Either way we didn't go out much after that.
Make no mistake, the virus is awful. I don't want it and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. However the protect yourself vibe soon turned into borderline martial law when I was ordered off of a sunny patio with no one near me outside my coffee shop. When I witnessed an almost-brawl between a grandmother and a 20 year old for coming one foot too close to her in line at the post office. When my friend and her children were ordered by the police (the POLICE vs children!) via a megaphone to vacate their neighborhood park - again in the bright daylight where the virus does not live nor spread no attach itself to an air particle.
All this by people who claim to want more science-based leadership.
But I'm not totally clueless. So I went to the source. I asked my friend what he thought of the shirt. After all if I'm gonna be sensitive I should be sensitive most to the only person I know who has it right? First he laughed. Then he coughed. Then he laughed again and said I might get in trouble. But he also thought it was a punk move. And he's a punk.
So I double downed.
I was sick of this hysteria, sick of the panic buying, sick of the fear mongering, sick of the salivating by the media of this control they suddenly had over America and the world. After all I hadn't seen people glued to daily updates like this since that summer when McGuire and Sosa were blasting home runs every other minute. Steroids? Who cares!
And that's when the sh** really hit the fan.
It came back negative. What a great Thursday that was! He got the long swab to the back of the sinus cavity from his primary care phys. so no one could question the validity and it was negative.
I didn't care anymore about my upset friends, my own feelings having been hurt, friends of 30 years that had turned on me. I didn't care if I endured some online shaming or harsh words. And believe me they were harsh.
Here's my favorites from posting the t-shirt for sale on my facebook biz page:
Indroneal Banerjee Go F*ck yourselves.
Sekou Young Stupid...No wonder other countries wanna bomb this place.
Graham Kelly F*ck Ya'll
But the big winner goes to this dude from twitter: @cmcmurray3
Am I bad person for thinking that's awesome?
And am I the only one who is concerned about the hysteria? No.
Not by a long shot.
Look I don't claim to be Banksy or Shepard Fairy, I don't have a million followers or a daily vlog (maybe it's high time I do btw) but if any artist or person believes strongly enough to risk backlash it's my experience that usually there's a good reason for it. A reason you the viewer may not know.
My friend is still getting evicted. And he can't look for a new place because no one's showing places right now - talk about a perfect storm!
People are still sick with this virus. Other people desperately need to go back to work. They're not anti-vaxxers or white supremacists, they're people that need to work to eat. To pay the rent. To feed their children. They are everybody.
Two days ago during a long conversation with a friend about the t shirt and the backlash and my reasons and all the rest they said this whole thing is just a lose lose, it's bad for everyone. Nobody wins.
I gotta disagree.
After all what are we here for - To be comfortable? To be inside and safe or outside and risking hurt and death?
Many will say yeah Alden that's poetic and whatever but people are dying.
Yep. People are dying. It's sad. It's real. But people are living too. People are getting married even during this virus. People are having babies even during this virus. People are remembering to talk to their neighbors during this virus. People are remembering the joy of walking to the store during this virus.
And here's the thing that I'm not sure why some don't want to admit.
PEOPLE ARE BEATING THE VIRUS
Which numbers do you focus on? The total recovered or the total deaths?
I focus on the bigger number. 7.7 Billion. The number of people living right now, today, next to me and all around me that are not dying from a virus. They're living with a sickness. The sickness of hopelessness. And believe me I'm no guru, I'm no Tony Robbins. But I am one of them. I struggle. I succeed. I fail. I get back up.
I am a survivor. I am a creator. I am an imperfect jar of clay on this spinning globe.
And if I can make someone's day with a mask made from my corona stimulus check or an edgy t-shirt calling to question the spreading of mass hysteria and have to take some shots over it?
Count me in.
This is my car.
It's still alive - bones only - in a junkyard an hour north of San Francisco. Is this a depressing picture? Remembering the hood that flew up and shattered the windshield? Remembering the side collision that caused me to remove the door before I'd found a replacement door - driving for two months without? The headliner that is still absent from when my friend ripped it open on the way to a concert?
I also had my first kiss a few feet away from this car. I also started to turn my life around when I saw how I'd let this car suffer. It was a picture of what was happening to my life at the time. That it's still here, in a dusty field next to the river, past horses and ranches and hundreds of cars in similar states, is not a tragedy to me, it's a reminder.
Its a reminder that I was here. I lived. I drove it hard. I met my first girlfriend Natalie. I went to my first Tom Petty concert during the Wildflowers tour and went to eight more before Tom died. I got busted by the cops for driving with no insurance. No taillights. No license. No windshield.
I learned to grow up. I learned to take responsibility for not just others, but for myself.
Some see a junked out dusty car in a field.
I think it's beautiful.
Numbers dead or numbers recovered?