Through the Chaos

Well, this is going to be a jumbled mess of a blog… as I’d technically posted already this week (Pajamas for Everyone – frankly, it’s still funny), I’d planned on skipping my usual Monday night edition. But man, it’s crazy today! So apologies for the jumbled mess… I really do typically write in advance leaving plenty of time for edits. Today, I’m freestyling.

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy.

Oh, whoops, wrong forum.

I’m learning slowly to add cyber distancing to my ‘things I’m distancing myself from’ list. As I told my husband last night, it’s time to move the phone far away from the nightstand and alleviate the burning need to check the pandemic headlines at 4am. I usually read the news before bed – that’s also becoming a problem as I am tending towards staying awake and jumping to really stupid conclusions (what if so many people die that life insurance companies can’t do payouts… and what if one of those dead people is Rich… what then? How much Spam is too much Spam? Can’t we just use rags to wipe our asses?).

The craze in our house is magnified due to the nature of our jobs. Two parents working in technology means nothing’s really changing for us – except we’re supposed to do our now super busy jobs while riding a roller coaster of ‘are we prepared or are we not?’ We think we are (this has been my husband’s shining moment), but what about all of the things we’ve forgotten? We alternate between work hype and rumor hype. Also, are the rumors just hype? Which one’s deserve our attention? Are there carbs in pandemic survival food?

Rich has been swallowed into creating virtual worlds for the State of Virginia and the City of New York (among others) in a mad dash to keep them running on some level. I’m in a mad dash to set up new customers as the line of companies ‘needing us’ grows at a pace impossible to keep up with. This all being done while our ‘regular’ work tasks still need attendance and while our kids try to navigate a life where they school at home beside us. Each of us had to be talked off a ledge of some sort today – Rich, when realizing that manufacturing would never be able to keep up with demand; me, when realizing that we may be facing imminent house arrest; Zoe, when realizing she’d likely lose her job; and Zack, when realizing he couldn’t sub our designated ‘no plugs/no batteries’ hours with ‘but I can do my schoolwork then, yes on a laptop (uh no…screen free time, buddy).

And, by the way, how’d we get here? How’d we become the people reassuring our children? Telling them it is all going to work out, that we’ll all be fine, and not to worry. Saving our own (or my own – remember, Rich is shining) worrying words for when we’re out of teenage earshot. Isn’t this a job for the real adults? Because, the reality is, I have no idea what’s going to happen. I have no idea at what point I should start to worry – other than when we reach the last roll of toilet paper (but even that’s okay…I know a dealer).

When chaos hits, I move into organization mode. I feel in control when I create pretty little spreadsheets or suggested activity lists or line up the soaps and lotions in the most acceptable order. Or shopping. I did insist on a trip to DSW on Friday to get some pandemic shoes. New shoes fix just about anything, I think. Of course, a new bag is even better, but we’ve shot our load on cans of tuna, green beans and Spam… so, loafers it is.

When chaos hits, Rich moves into ‘I’ve been preparing for this my whole life’ mode. He’s generally got three to forty-seven plans pre-built in his mind and starts paring them down to just the right one and then hitting the execute button. In a way, it’s sad – his odd upbringing has fueled his need to ever be the Boy Scout. In another way, it’s awesome. I will not go into too much detail, but I do feel very hunker-down-able. He does not need a new pair of shoes or an organization chart – he just needs to know that he’s already done everything to protect his tribe – and that he did it a month ago. And he is protecting us – while also using a pretty little spreadsheets to track the items in our cabinets and our daily temperatures.

I know there’s a whole ‘oh man, it’s another conspiracy!’ camp. But what if it’s not? What if we (some wing, I can’t remember which one) didn’t develop the virus in a random Wuhan lab? What if we didn’t plant virus carrying people on all those cruise ships? What if we didn’t send the virus pack mules to Spain and Italy and Washington state? What if we never figured out how to make it stay silent for weeks, allowing our target to walk about symptom free – licking doorknobs and steering wheels? What if it’s just a global stroke of snotty, cough-y, feverish bad luck and has nothing to do with agendas or elections or who’s at the border? Then what?

I keep hearing people say ‘oh, we’re not as bad as (insert country name)’ or it’s not as bad as (insert illness name). No, it’s not. Not yet. I think that’s the point of all this, right? I mean, I don’t understand why that’s difficult – if we’re vigilant now, we maybe won’t get as bad as (insert country name). I’ve seen a lot of experts with no degrees or experience in the pandemic industry. I’m fairly shocked that no one’s rung them up yet for their opinion.

I know…I feel the eye rolls. Overreact much, Barlows? I mean, maybe? But isn’t overreaction a better option than realizing (too late) that you’ve under reacted? And who cares if every food pantry in the country is filled to its future gills as a benefit from our overreaction? It’s an outcome I’m willing to face. I’m willing to laugh and laugh at our left overs and how we shut ourselves in our house and how we washed our hands until they were raw.

Tomorrow we join the home school population. It’s likely that week’s end, we’ll also be shut down as a nation – the price for not heeding the call to be distant. Our kids will lose their thirty-five hours of social interaction per week. We will take turns picking movies or board games or closets to clean or trees to read under. I cannot wait for it to be over. That’s the part that I get tripped up on – wondering what life will look like six months from now. As a control freak…well, good grief….maybe six months from now I’ll be the definition of flexibility.

May the odds be ever in your sanitized favor.

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