Pandemic Chronicles #1: “Be careful what you wish for…”

Back in November 2018, I wrote here about my “dream vacation” (link here):

My current dream vacation doesn’t involve traveling to popular or exotic tourist sites. In fact, it may sound downright geeky and dull to a lot of folks: A few weeks with a box of selected books, DVDs, and magazines. Television with cable. Favorite music. Some tabletop sports games to play. Several good eateries within walking distance. Maybe a few tourist attractions or get-togethers with friends, but no demanding sightseeing or social calendar. I’d have my computer with an Internet connection to keep up on the news and do some writing, but work-related activities would be kept to a minimum, including e-mails.

. . . Maybe I can make this aspiration a reality. At the very least, I could plan it as an extended staycation. I wouldn’t need a list of sites to see, performances to attend, or beaches to visit. Just a comfortable space to read, binge watch, order pizza delivery, and think big and little thoughts.

As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, because you might get it. To the extent that 2020 delivers a “vacation” of any sort, it will likely resemble what I described in that blog post, only without the occasional restaurant and sightseeing visits that I imagined a couple of years ago.

Of course, this is looking at things from a positive angle. Truth is, this global pandemic has suddenly and deeply reached into our daily lives at the most granular levels. We are still in the early stages of understanding and responding to this coronavirus, which is hard to grasp given that the past few weeks have felt like, well, forever. This time is scary and heavy and unlike anything most of us have ever experienced.

Here in my Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, I’m hunkered down in my modest little condo, grateful to be able to do my academic job from home and to have the ability to order deliveries from my local grocery store and restaurants. I’m taking this public health threat very seriously. Massachusetts has entered a dangerous stage of this pandemic, so I’m mostly staying inside and wiping down package deliveries with disinfectant spray.

In terms of work, like countless other professors, I’m now teaching my classes via distance learning. The mass migration from face-to-face teaching to classes by videoconference has been a major adjustment for instructors and students alike. Still, I’m glad that we have the technology to continue the semester, and we’re making the best of the situation.

Which brings me back to my so-called vacation. It’s not going to happen, at least not in the carefree way I envisioned it. But in looking ahead to the summer, I hope I’ll be able to carve out a few days to dive into my personal library, for the pure pleasure of reading. In my home, I’m surrounded by good books, and perhaps a silver lining of this terrible situation will be an opportunity to spend more quality time with them.

***

I’ll be using this blog as a personal chronicle about this experience. During this time, I hope that I’ll be relatively healthy, physically and mentally, but I also know that difficult times are ahead. Like during the early stages of a war where your side is losing, the news seems relentlessly bad right now. Although I’m confident that effective therapeutic treatments and vaccines will be developed, the time between now and then will be very challenging. I hope that we can find ways to cope with the uncertainties, support one another, and find meaning in activities that bring us satisfaction and healthy distractions.

3 responses

  1. Sharon Driscoll | Reply

    Hi David. Thanks for writing a “Musing of a Gen Jonesers.” Since you labeled this entry, Pandemic Chronicles #1, I look forward to #2. Our generation has never lived through anything like these times but we were greatly influenced by the Great Depression and WWII generation. Presently, I am watching Foyle’s War on BBC. One of the characters, Sam, goes to the store and guess what she cannot find? Toilet paper! Some things never change. Maybe that is why in many European bathrooms you find bidets. Sharon.

    1. Hi Sharon, oh my, toilet paper shortages then, too! I think I need to do a re-watch of the Foyle’s War series. It’s so good.

      1. But isnt that series filmed this decade?? The writers always through their own “quirks” or personal experiences into the storylines. The toilet paper thing, as i see it, is a copy-cat knee jerk reaction that people have developed during this CoVid pademic. Before pandemic, (in the South), seemed like storms of any kind provoked water, milk, & bread shortages. I dont remember hearing bout or experiencing TP shortages. I thot it was just a unique anomaly.

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