Notes on the general state of the neighborhood, the family, and the masses in the time of the virus.
The usual place I pull these numbers from didn’t update, but the synopsis at the top of the page had the new numbers:
Public Health reported 202 new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the official case count in King County to 3688. Fourteen new deaths were reported, bringing the total of COVID-19 deaths in King County to 244.
So…14 more deaths. Every day seems more and more sane and normal, more and more routine, more and more natural. Then you find out 14 more people died in one county in the past 24 hours and you thank God that it isn’t. Isn’t normal, isn’t natural. This is an anomaly, a bump, and it will pass.
My word, in yesterday’s entry I wrote “Robert Louis Stevens.” Must have been too early for those last two letters – coffee hadn’t kicked in.
It’s starting to feel like I’m telling you the same things over and over: Neighbors are good, bridge is closed, kids are studying, weather’s nice. We ran out of any functional amount of flour a while ago and haven’t been able to resupply. There’s none available on Amazon Fresh, and I’m not going to the store if I can help it. They haven’t had it any of the other times I went. So I haven’t made any new bread, and there hasn’t been pancakes for breakfast in a while. We’re good on eggs and sausages, though, and fruit and bread and butter and jelly, and I like those better than pancakes and waffles anyway.
I was reading 100 Years of Solitude for what felt like 100 years, and I can’t bring myself to finish it. My interest has all dried up in the absence of any substantial thread to follow in that frenetic tome. It was entertaining for a while – I like magical realism, and Marquez’s A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings is one of my favorite stories, but Solitude just whiplashes all over the place and only occasionally zeroes in on a feeling, and it gets old. A little while ago I read The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende. It was a great read, but practically the same damn book as 100 Years of Solitude. The mountain of similarities between the two was just one more thing that blunted my interest.
A short time ago, a post at American Digest referenced Moby Dick in some oblique way, maybe even only in the comments, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it (the link will take you to a different post, more directly cetacean, and specifically Melvillian). I have no interest in reading every classic novel ever written, but every now and then I think of one that I should take a run at. And so I bought Moby Dick and started reading it today. The entirety of my experience so far with Melville is Bartleby the Scrivener (peculiar little guy), so I have no preparation or prejudices to carry into this novel. I just want something I can get into, deeply, for a while. At this point I’ve only just met Queequeg, so there’s nothing to report just yet. The seafaring books hold a strange interest for me – Conrad’s Lord Jim is easily a top 5 read of mine, and I’ve been through a few of his short stories as well. The Open Boat by Stephen Crane is another killer. I’ve never been a sailor, haven’t spent much time at all on boats or around the ocean. But maybe it’s like Melville says in the beginning of Moby Dick; maybe there’s just something eternal and immutable and ineffable that draws us all to the sea, whether we know it or not. Life has spit me out here on the shores of the Puget Sound, after all.
I have no interest in owning a boat, in case you wanted to know.
Sometimes you hear something, laying in bed, and you stop breathing for a little more quiet. You look at the back of your wife to see if she’s moving or as asleep as you expect her to be. You lay there and listen through doors and down stairs and around corners, and after a few moments you satisfy yourself that nothing bad’s happening and you can go back to sleep. Other times you hear something, laying in bed, that makes you jump out and grab your pants, phone, and Louisville Slugger all in one motion, and head downstairs.
That happened two nights ago, just after 10:00. It was a short-lived rage, as I had already been starting to remember, on my way down the steps, that we had an Amazon Fresh order scheduled for delivery at some point. I recalled my wife telling me, but had purged any details relating to time. We both went to bed without a thought of it in our heads. There was some alcohol in the delivery, which required ID, so the driver had knocked lightly and shuffled around on the porch, which was what got my half-asleep self to leap out of bed in the first place. Heart rate normalized, shirt on, I placed my ID on the ground between us and stepped back so that she could scan it without touching it, or me.
Of course she had already touched all the grocery bags, albeit with gloves on. I brought them in, washed my hands, emptied the contents, washed my hands, folded up the bags and put them away, washed my hands, went back to bed. My wife greeted me on the way into the room: “That was supposed to be 10:00 in the morning.” She stopped short of either accusing them or admitting her own scheduling mistake, and I didn’t care enough to press the issue. It’s the blame thing again, and I just have so little interest in it.
I’ve been wanting to put some music here. I probably should – keeping a record of what I’m listening to during the plague is as useful and informative as anything else. It’ll certainly be interesting to look back on. I can’t remember what made me think of Buffalo Tom today. I haven’t listened to them in years. It was nice to look them up and see that they haven’t stopped making music after what feels like another hundred years. And not only that, but the album they made in 2018 sounds every bit as good as the one that got me hooked back in 1992. There’s a whole bunch in between there to catch up on. Here’s ’92. I’ll pepper in some newer stuff as we go:
I was in high school back then, hit the Army in ’98, a few years after barely graduating. That song just sounds so much like the 90’s. It’s poppy, but somehow barely better than the mass of drivel that caught on and got popular for a minute – The Spin Doctors, Wallflowers, Jesus Jones, Third Eye Blind, Counting Crows. Throw in some Blues Traveler and you have every high school party I ever made fun of like some reject from a John Hughes movie.
Your “Homeless in Coronafornia” update for today:
I checked in with him throughout the day, but didn’t hear from him until about 1:30 this morning. I was up, because Moby Dick and Tales from the Loop. I asked if that was his shirt, but he didn’t answer. It’s a pretty instructive or iconic picture for the times: a lone shirt in an empty laundromat after hours, safely distanced from everything else, next to a suspiciously open back door. Ready your escape! The Hawaiian pattern is hopefully festive, but missing the mark in color and composition so that it looks more like the camouflage Army uniform of a 2nd world island nation. It’s all just flourish and fancy in the end, and the fight must be dragged out into the sun, because nothing hides like a virus.
— Bone up on your archaic whaling vocabulary, Comrade Citizen!—