Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘social distancing

Homebound Ramblings

with 2 comments

Today, I just wanted to write here so you’d know two things about me that are still relevant to the discussion:

1) I’m alive.

2) I’m keeping as busy as I can. I’m writing music. I’m doing some editing. And I have some ideas for stories about Bruno and Sarah, but they need to get out of the gestation stage so I can write ’em down. (Still, I’m thinking and I’m whipping up plots. It’s not all bad.)

Now, the reason for doing this is, of course, Covid-19. It is rampaging its way through Wisconsin, and the numbers we have are far lower than the actual ones because of the difficulty in getting tests.

So, I stay home and do all of the above I mentioned in #2.

What’s strangest of all about my experiences thus far with Wisconsin’s shelter-in-place order (excepting the above reasons) is how dislocated I feel from everything. It’s the end of March. Baseball season would normally be underway, but because of Covid-19, it’s not. When I drive anywhere, the roads are much less crowded than usual, which is both a blessing and a curse; when I go into any place besides the grocery store, the sense of quietude is almost overwhelming.

Of course, I’ve been abiding by the Wisconsin shelter-in-place order as much as I possibly can. I have gone out to shop, to see my mother (I shop for her, too), to go to the doctor, to visit the lake (I see that as an almost spiritual exercise), and I’ve done a little walking here and there, too. I’ve also visited a friend, sitting six feet away from her, and chatted; this has helped me feel a bit better, even though maybe it’s not as strict of a social distancing as some would wish. (I have limited myself to just this, though. Everything else, and I do mean everything, has been done over the phone or the computer.)

All of this feels wrong, though. It sounds wrong, too. It’s like I went to bed one night, and woke up in another universe. It’s one I hardly know, and can barely understand.

And I can’t stand it.

I didn’t expect to feel this way. I am an introvert. (Granted, I’m an introvert who enjoys people and likes to talk to them, one-on-one.) The jobs I do in music and writing and editing are ones you have to be solitary-minded to appreciate. (Or, in the case of playing in a band with others, you have to be able to fit in with how the rest of the group is playing the music or your own music won’t make any sense.) And I’m used to being at home, because I work from home.

Still. I do not like being cooped up in the house. It is very frustrating to not have the opportunities to go out and do things, even though at this particularly stressful time I realize social distancing and flattening the curve means I need to stay home as much as possible.

I realize that if you’re a parent of young children, you’ve got it way worse than I do. (Most especially if they were in a traditional school, but now have to be de facto homeschooled for the rest of the semester with only the teacher’s guiding prompts.) And I have great sympathy for you, as I do for anyone who is frustrated with the Covid-19 pandemic and wonders when, if ever, it will end.

As I’ve said before, I think we all need to do whatever we can to help others. But I also think we need, somehow, to keep our spirits as high as possible. Read books that make us think, or laugh, or better yet, both; watch movies and shows that enlighten us, entertain us, or at least amuse us; listen to music that makes us think, makes us feel, makes us care, and makes us understand that we’re all human and we’ll all get through this.

That said, I wish I could do more. Say more. Be more. Listen more. Help more. And again, do more…because people are hurting right now, and I hate it that I can’t fix what is broken. (Only the epidemiologists, scientists, and other medical personnel can do that right now.)

But I’m here to listen. And if you want to talk, chime in and let me know…the floor is open. (Or at least, the blog’s comment section is.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 30, 2020 at 4:31 am

Staying Healthy in the Age of Covid-19

with 4 comments

Folks, I have been thinking about this all week. How can we stay sane during this onset of the illness known as Covid-19? (Otherwise known as either the “coronavirus” or the “Wuhan flu.”)

This is a serious question, mind you. Even folks who haven’t had Covid-19 have been affected due to aggressive measures of social distancing, quarantine, and stay-at-home measures. These things, I believe, will help to lessen the amount of deaths we’d have otherwise seen…but it’s hard to prove a negative like that. And it’s even harder to alter our lives, day after day, in so many small ways.

Consider this: Before Covid-19, you didn’t worry about going to get gas. That there might be germs on the pump that could kill you. (I know this sounds alarmist, but I’m talking “worst-case scenario” here. Yes, you can wash your hands often, and you should.) You didn’t worry about going to the grocery store, either. Nor were there YouTube videos out there showing clueless teens and others touching or licking food in the store, as if Covid-19 isn’t a serious issue. (Those who do this need to be stopped and punished. If they’re under a certain age — say, twelve — their parents need to take care of it, and if the parents can’t, then it may be up to the courts.) And you didn’t worry that anyone you might come into contact with could get infected by you, even if you show no symptoms…because in the U.S., there’s a shortage of tests, and only the highest-priority (or, perhaps, the very wealthy who can jump the line) are able to get tested.

All of this promotes a heightened state of anxiety. It can’t help but do this. And nearly everyone feels it, whether they say so or not; if they aren’t sick, that’s great, but they’re still cooped up in the house, unable to perform any part of their normal routine, and that in and of itself is wearying. (Not to say anything about those who are in unsafe, unstable situations who are now sheltering-in-place with abusers. Which is scary as Hell, too. The shelters are still open and can still help you, if you are in such a situation, but how many people are going to be able to think past their fears to go when it’s hard to leave an abusive situation in the first place?)

I have pondered what my characters Bruno, Sarah, and Lady Keisha (from the Elfy series) would do in such a time. Lady Keisha is a healer/priest, so she’d certainly be ministering to the sick. Maybe she’d be much less at risk because of her magic; maybe not. But she’d be out ministering anyway. And Sarah, who’s more or less a de facto apprentice healer due to her strong skills of empathy even at an early age, would be right there with her.

But what about Bruno, you ask? I’m not sure what Bruno would do. He’d probably make masks, as there’s a shortage of them. (With his magic, and being able to make something out of nothing, he’d be able to make them a lot faster than the rest of us.) He’d probably go and sterilize equipment as fast as he could. He’d probably ready all the available mages in the area, and get them into positions to do the same things at whatever levels they could…in other words, I can’t see him being silent, or sitting on the sidelines, or accepting this passively.

As for Allen and Elaine of Changing Faces, who have no magic? I think they’d be making YouTube videos of their music to comfort people. Maybe playing duets, as they liked to do that anyway…they’d be sheltering-in-place at home, and they’d be telling people in every situation to enjoy life as much as possible, because time and health are not expendable.

I think we need to be like Allen, Elaine, and Bruno, even if we can’t be like Lady Keisha and Sarah at this time because we don’t have the proper training.

What that means is, we have to do what we can, even if it’s small. If we can make masks, we should. If we can’t, we should try to find a way to donate materials to those who can. We should lobby our legislators to get more ventilators for the hospitals and clinics that need them. We should do everything in our power to keep states from having to bid against each other, much less against FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), and get a national clearinghouse to get and send out the ventilators to the critically affected areas first and everyone else after — an effective national clearinghouse — in place, stat, so this never happens again.

But most of all, we need to be kind to each other. Be especially kind to those who are still out there working, like the grocery store clerks, and the pharmacists, and the medical personnel. Thank them for what they do as often as you can. Try not to be short with them no matter what your stress level.

Why? They’re the ones who are going to get us through this. And we need to help them as much as we can in any way we can, even if it’s just by appreciating what they do at this especially difficult time. (Appreciation and kindness matter. Especially now.)

Finally, if you’re in an area that as yet is unaffected by Covid-19 in a major way, don’t think you’re immune to this. It’s just slower to get to you, that’s all.

Don’t be tempted to do what the stupid kids did in Florida by going to the beach for Spring Break as usual; many of them got sick, and not all from Covid-19 either, because of their stupidity. (All of ’em should be up for Darwin Awards for that, in my not-so-humble opinion.)

Don’t be tempted to resume your normal routine too soon, either.

Those of you in small communities in mountainous areas are probably safer than many at this time, because fewer people congregate around you in the first place. But all it takes is one person who doesn’t know they are infected to bring it to your community. And this was out in the United States for a good two to three weeks before we took any notice of it; that’s just the facts.

We have no immunity to this. It’s worse than the flu. The death rates are higher than the flu. And we as yet have no vaccine for it, and likely won’t for at least eighteen months no matter how fast the medical researchers work (and I’m sure they’re working feverishly).

So please. Be kind. Be cautious. Be safe. Wash your hands, and often.

Live through this. (Please?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 27, 2020 at 4:51 pm