Thought 1: Nutria
Our house sits at an intersection, and our yard is full of wide open spaces. If I spend time outdoors on these beautiful spring days I feel very looked at. So I’ve taken to hanging out down by the creek, where bushy trees screen me from the rest of the world, although I can still hear the trucks roaring by.
Apparently a nutria has moved into our old swimming hole. I’ve seen it several times. It swims up, looks at me with its ugly face, and then swims away again or dives under the water.
It’s weird to me that we’ve always acted like nutria are normal. As we swam in the creek as children, nutria poop would float by, and we could see the nutria burrows along the banks, but we rarely saw actual nutria. Still, it never occurred to us to be scared of them, or worried that they’d interrupt our play.
Why not? Isn’t a raccoon-sized rat inherently frightening?
Thought 2: Masks
Remember in 2011 when that gigantic earthquake hit Japan? Weirdly what stands out in my memory is the way that in the news photos, everyone was wearing face masks. And it just seemed so bizarre to me.
I did wear a mask in public once, in 2014. I was extremely sick but I had to go to school anyway because in one of my classes, pretty much my entire grade was based on attendance. And you couldn’t get an excused absence unless you had a doctor’s note. And I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. Welcome to America. I wore a face mask even though I knew I looked ridiculous. I was too miserable to care.
It’s so odd to see so many Americans, now, in face masks. Today as I waited to cross the road in front of my house to go down by the creek, a lady drove by, all alone in her car, wearing a face mask. It almost doesn’t seem like real life anymore.
Some say that the virus will create a new normal. I hope that the new normal will be to wear face masks when you’re sick, without people thinking you’re weird (or dangerous). Although wearing one while you drive alone is a bit much, IMHO.
I also can’t help but ponder of the stupidity of that class where I couldn’t be absent without a doctor’s note. It was a stadium classroom with like, 300 other students crammed in there with me. Dumb dumb dumb. How have we all not perished long ago? I hope we re-think situations like that in the future as well.
Thought 3: In-Between Times
I’ve seen a lot of people talk about what they’re going to do when this is all over. The trips they’re going to go on. The people they’re going to hug. The concerts they’re going to attend.
To be honest, it’s really hard for me to imagine normal life at this point. It seems a hazy thing in the future, maybe a year or more from now, when there’s a proper vaccine. Looking that far ahead seems mystifyingly uncertain.
I have, however, grown intrigued with the idea of what the in-between could look like. And what innovations it could bring. What if we could meet in groups of 25 again? Could we do small in-home church services? What if outdoor activities were permitted again, provided that fewer than 100 people attended them? Could restaurants set up tables in their parking lots, or on the lawn? Could we use the outdoor seating at Starbucks? What if little outdoor concerts in every park became a thing?
Right now I want to be able to go to coffee shops again, when I get tired of working at home.
And I want to take road trips again. Long drives though Utah, along endless stretches of highway, sipping McDonald’s half-sweet iced tea and praying the air conditioner doesn’t quit working.
But right now I have no desire to enter any sort of stadium, or even get on an airplane. Maybe in the hazy future I’ll fully enjoy those things again. But currently, just thinking about it makes me feel anxious.
For more quarantine thoughts, here are the latest two episodes of my podcast with Jenny. Last week we recorded Episode 7, and yesterday we recorded Episode 8.
Episode 7: A Question-less Episode
April 16, 2020
In this episode, Jenny and Emily talk about surreal moments, the books they’re reading, and the stresses that moving everything online can bring. They also give updates on the snails, the kittens, their upload schedule, and Emily’s YouTube channel.
Episode 8: The Personal Growth Podcast Episode
April 23, 2020
In this episode, Jenny and Emily cover their brother’s research, what superpowers they would like to have, and mostly, their personal growth goals and how to achieve personal growth.