Pandemic Diary: Take me to church, and also gambling, but whatever you do, don’t come over for dinner

Monday, November 23, 2020

i

The masked woman brings me bra after bra. I’m stripped to the waist but masked—damned straight this is weird, damned pandemic! I’m finally buying myself another ridiculously expensive French lace bra. Yes, it’s weaved of gold and the underwire is platinum—I’m not sure how else one can justify the price. I can only afford it, barely, because a dear friend has, for two Christmases in a row, given me gift cards to this lingerie mecca.

A good bra, like a good hair cut, takes ten pounds off—all around the belly too—and shaves a decade off your wrinkled, aging face. True story, and I wish I weren’t that vain, but I am. Also, here I am, surrounded by frilly, beautiful things, and I am relaxed. Really relaxed. Well, except for the mask. That’s still weird, will always be weird—I don’t want it to become normal. I want it to be an anomaly.

Want, want—but what is, is. I wear the mask and remember that things were much, much worse in maskless December 2018, when I received that first gift card—and could not even think about using it for more than a year—and worse in an even worse way in December 2019, when I thought thing were better but found out I was just blind and delusional. I kind of want to dare December 2020 to bring it on, do its worst—what can it do? I’ve been to hell and back—facing your own helplessness to save the life, health of a child is the second worst thing one can experience. (The worst thing is losing that child; I’ve lived both. There are, really, no horrors left.)

Lingerie store. Mask. Bra. December coming, November blues facing, but oh, I’m so afraid of December. It’s never easy. It’s the month of shitty anniversaries, and anniversaries make pain fresh. This year, pandemic. Even with the gift card, I can’t really afford this bra. The woman helping me—her name is Kira—can’t either. How many hours does she have to work at this minimum wage retail job to afford these two triangles of French lace? I do the math—it’s brutal.

Today, she’s working. Tomorrow? Who knows. The Chief Medical Officer says we’re in crisis. There will be further restrictions, recommendations. Kira will likely be unemployed just before Christmas and her employer bankrupt by the first quarter of 2021.

I am afraid of December.

Kira asks me about my plans for the day, as I pay for the bra with a combination of gift cards and credit cards, and make a note to self to not replace my blender, nor buy any meat, until after December 15, when the credit card bill rolls over to the next month.

“I’ve got a couple of friends coming over,” I say, then wish I hadn’t spoken. “I guess for a semi-illegal thing,” I add. Not illegal yet. Just… frowned upon. I want to over-explain, that this is my COVID cohort, we’re all safe and responsible and nobody licks doorknobs and we really see nobody other than each other, not really, I promise we’re not the reason the COVID numbers are climbing—that idiot who wanted to shop mask-free at Costco after testing positive is the reason, don’t paint us with the same tar…

But I don’t. Kira and I exchange looks and she says, “Friends are important.”

I nod.

Especially in December.

“Which one do you think I got?”

ii

My newsfeed is very black and white. Well, mostly black: my friends and social media acquaintances take the pandemic very seriously and, really, overwhelmingly want another full-on lockdown. I don’t have hoaxers and rabid anti-maskers sharing news memes and outrage in my feeds, because, well, social media silos and I mostly associate with smart, thinking people.

But this time around, I am out of synch with my silo. I am, to be honest, ashamed of its lack of empathy and compassion towards people trying to navigate an unprecedented situation in the face of a pronounced lack of political leadership. They are trying to do their best for their children, for their businesses and for their livelihoods—for their mental health.

They don’t need to be called stupid and selfish for struggling and trying to carve out some sense of normalcy, of life amidst the current chaos—especially given the confused messaging from their leaders.

Things are about to get worse. And people are about to start getting shittier to each other. Nastier. More judgemental.

You: “My neighbours have people over! Why are people so stupid and selfish?”

Her: “Sheeple!”

Him: “That woman’s not wearing a mask! Fucking bitch!”

Them: “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you see your rights are being taken away?”

Just what we need for December.

“Take me to church, but don’t come over for coffee.”

iii

The new bra buys me a little bit of happiness and, that night, resting in the presence, arms and love of my two friends gives me more. We’ll get through this because I’ve been actively building our cohort for months, since I started worrying about the second wave and November and December and another lockdown, way back in August. In a more significant way, I’ve been building this cohort for years. We will get through it together—by which I mean our “little” together. The macro “together” of the slogans? I don’t think it exists. You don’t care about me. I don’t care about you. We’re too abstract to each other—academic, unreal. Also, shrill and nasty and who wants to be kind to an asshole?

Not me.

But I really care about my people. And you care about yours, right?

Care about them, for them a lot.

Especially in December.

xoxo

“Jane”

“Brunette in despair”

Thursday, November 26

So Alberta’s new second wave restrictions, while keeping pretty much everything unchanged and opened, took my safe social cohort away from me, and I’m trying really hard not to feel despair.

The sad thing here is that I haven’t yet had a chance to experience the effects of social isolation. I’m just stripped so raw already that its spectre is making me feel physically ill. No friends in my house. But I can go to a casino or a mall. Fuck me hard, my primitive monkey brain refuses to understand the logic of this.

Policy made by sexless introverted psychopaths who hate people isn’t conductive to good mental health, you know?

If you need me, I’ll be in my bath tub with Scotch and chocolate. I know it’s 9 a.m. It’s 2020 and it’s almost December.

Merry Christmas.

“Alt title: fuckity-fuckity-fuck.”