A Public Diary During the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic ~ Day 22

1, 2, 3. It’s 1:23pm here in Portland. I just got back from a grocery run which was slightly less anxiety inducing than the last time I was there. It wasn’t really that much less of a bizarre scenario though, the mind is impressive in normalizing a situation. All those orange “bubbles” on the ground just became a part of the grocery reality. Most people were wearing masks or bandanas over their faces this time around. And gloves. I waited in line for 15–20 minutes to get into the store, maintaining that 6 feet of space between us all queued up in a line that wrapped around the building outside. Strange times.

Before heading to the store, I drove down to southeast Portland to exchange a book with a friend, I traded him Dune for The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar. Looking forward to reading that. Just finished Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates a couple nights ago, that was at least the third time I’d read that, maybe even the fourth. I think it is safe to say I’ve read every one of Tom Robbins books a minimum of two times. I’m currently reading Half Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls, which is so far a phenomenal book. I don’t see it lasting more than a few days before it is devoured. And then I’ll dive into The Map of Salt and Stars. I love reading books so much.

I have to say, it was really nice to visit, from a socially acceptable distance, with an old friend. I haven’t seen him in person in quite a long while. We also briefly spoke about starting a mens group online which I’m, stoked about. Interestingly, just a few days pre-pandemic I was working on getting one of these going with another friend. It’ll be interesting to see what we come up with starting things out in the virtual realm but I’m really looking forward to it. We can connect and work to dissolve and melt away the programming and societal nurturing of toxic masculinity and all that shit and get vulnerable in a space that will be, ideally, wholesome for each of us.

Back to the socially acceptable distance aspect of visiting with others, I nearly started crying when visiting with my friend as I shared about not being with my daughter at this time even though she is in town. I want to go visit her, and if I did so, we would engage practicing this distance between us, and I think that would destroy me. I would lose it. Not being able to give her a hug, to just share space with her. Oh, that hurts my heart. So far, she and everyone at her mom’s house has been healthy, to my knowledge at least, but I know we are still in the thick of this thing and it isn’t probably good to risk cross exposure, either way. And who knows, I just went to the grocery store, I was as safe as I could be, I used hand sanitizer, wore a mask, did not touch my face, and did everything I could to not “catch” the virus.

But who knows, right? After all I’ve read, it seems that the measures I took should be sufficient and I should be fine, but fuck, just wondering if that COVID-19 was swirling about in the air, on random surfaces I was near, or even touching, that is a wee bit unsettling. How many times have I come in contact with this virus? Ever? Maybe not. But maybe so. Maybe even today…

On the drive back up to the store, I passed by several striking sights, one was this sign on the 84 that just said “STAY HOME SAVE LIVES”. Yeah, that is a sensible sign I suppose for these here times we find ourselves in. Another odd site was this guy, maybe in his late 50’s, a plume of smoke drifting out of his mouth, walking down the street, in one hand a leash attached to a dog, in the other, a lit cigarette. That alone isn’t that odd but what made it so was that next to him was a young lad of about 6 or 7, who was walking with the man and his dog, with a face mask on. Something about that scene felt so weird to me. A few minutes earlier I also saw a homeless man, pushing a grocery cart with what I assume was all his worldly possessions, beneath an overflowing paper grocery bag of aluminum cans, he was also wearing a face mask. Having stayed mostly in doors these past few weeks, save for a few trips to the store and a couple bike rides, seeing some of the city in this new pandemic and isolation situation was a literal, and figurative, trip.

Today is day 22 of these writings. I wonder how many days this will last? Is there really twice as many or more in front of me and us? Could this really be our reality for some time to come? It seems so but who the fuck knows? There is, what kinda feels like this false sense of security I’m gathering, that is going on around here in Oregon. I even had this odd thought just a bit ago wondering if they could maybe still open schools this year. Is that ridiculous? Maybe. Probably. I also was on a Zoom chat with Schumacher College discussing the probability of attending the program I’m signed on to that starts June 8th over in the UK. They have not postponed or cancelled it, but they are not optimistic it will be in person if it does happen. On a different note, I did discuss with them a Masters program that starts in January called Engaged Ecology that is looking right up my alley. I’ve started a conversation with the instructor of that program and might just be applying for it in the coming days.

And I will continue to pursue these things that I am interested and passionate about. I feel it is more important than ever to walk towards this alternative path of living and learning that is needed right now. Swing our way onto a better storyline. Schumacher is a part of that storyline and is precisely the kind of place that suits me. In the meantime, I will maintain my path towards the things I can accomplish that are in alignment with all of this. Those being the podcast and the volunteering I’m doing with GPSEN and COMMEET. In addition to this, something that I’ve just started to dabble in which is entirely related to this alternative path and paradigm, is I’ve engaged in talks with the Cascadia CoCeators Network and offering to be of service during the Envision Cascadia: Online Organizers Summit which is taking place in a couple weeks. It is part of the Cascadia Department of Bioregion. An organization that I had dabbled in back in 2010 and have not really engaged in much since then. I decided recenlty to get reacquainted with this network. Their whole jam is about looking at bioregions as functional and logical areas to work together, in a way that is in more harmony with the land itself. This makes some sense to me and I’m curious to see how far things have come in the decade I’ve mostly been away from their work.

That’s a bit of where my thoughts are at the moment, I’m going to work on some content for GPSEN this afternoon. We’re putting together a call out to folks in this region to share what they have been doing during this isolation situation that is dedicated to actions tied to sustainability. Students, and anyone interested can make a short video to share (15 seconds -1 minute or so) saying what they are up to. I’ll be helping to put together a compilation of these individual and collective actions to broadcast out during the online Symposium that is still slated to happen April 17th. So that is a fun project I’ll be a part of in the coming days and weeks. Oh, and I’m still aiming to get at least one podcast episode out by that time as well so I have a reasonably fulfilling bit of productivity on my plate. That is good. I like how things are taking shape with my current trajectory.

In other news, my wife and son are having a tea party over FaceTime with some of his school friends and their moms, he’s back in his birthday suit and my darling wife is in a schnazzy outfit she made the other day that I’m super jealous of.

The weather is swinging between blue skies and grey. The forecast says it’ll be in the 70’s and sunny on Wednesday. That’s pretty sweet. That is also passover which, we will be celebrating here in this house. My wife is jewish which means our son is as well. I am the full time shabbos goy… I jest, sorta. Sincerely though, if you are not familiar with passover and the story behind it, it’s pretty incredible considering the parallels we’ve got going on today with the plague, locusts, and similar oppressions taking place in pockets of the world. I do appreciate this annual ceremony that I’ve celebrated now these past 7 years. It is important to come together seasonally and cyclically in ways that break from the regular flow of our lives, where we can pause, and take stock in all that we have to be grateful and thankful for.

These aspects of religious practices are some of the parts I dig. And as noted yesterday, I have incorporated many elements of various religions and spiritual practices and incorporated them into my life. Our wedding ceremony had a cornucopia of ceremonial components and it was beautiful. Many of which were elements brought by our friends different backgrounds and upbringings. I really dug that. I’m not too keen on the problematic aspects of appropriation when it comes to spiritual practices and I do realize there can be a fine line when this mindfulness is brought into it all, but really, what we’ve developed in our lives feels respectful and filled with care. While learning about appropriation and the problems that colonizer’s can bring, often naively, I do acknowledge that I’m doing the best I can to be respectful while likely failing on occasion. This can be a tricky dance. Good intentions don’t mean shit to those who have been marginalized and oppressed and who have watched their cultures and sacred practices bastardized and used in disrespectful ways by the very groups that marginalized and oppressed them.

That slightly random seeming tangent is not that random and certainly is something I believe is important to be addressing in our current version of civilization. I cannot help but realize that so much of the privileges I have came at the deprivation of privileges for so many others. And while I know I didn’t create this current version of what we call civil society (which is anything but for so many), I do know that without brining awareness to these issues and making accountability for my place in the problems that still exist, I am helping to perpetuate the systemic issues of oppression.

Alright, we just passed 2:22pm and as noted, this is post 22 of this pandemic public diary. I am going to wrap this up and get to some other productive activities. I am grateful to be home once again, back from the weird world we’re living in, thankful to have been able to go to a store that was filled with foods from all over the country and world, still humming along, functioning because of the farmers of the world, and the folks delivering the foods, and of course, a whole shit load of fossil fuels. I cannot help but see the paradoxical predicament I, and many face as we work towards a more environmentally sustainable and just world. But here we are and here I am…

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