(Student Submission Spring 2020)
2020: A New Nope (The Quarantine Life of Westview Lane)
Spring Break is over this week but school has been moved online, with no returning classes for the foreseeable future because of the coronavirus. It will be interesting to witness how this develops. Now it seems that my family will just be trapped at home under quarantine with our pets. To be honest it could be much much worse, and hopefully this situation doesn't turn into a post apocalyptic scenario where our neighbors are trying to shoot us over a can of beans. So far all that's really known about Covid-19 is that it originated somewhere in Wuhan Province, China. It’s symptoms are a cough, fever, and a dry cough. The problem with the virus however is the fact that it can take up to two weeks for an infected person to show symptoms, which is more than enough time to spread the virus. This causes the virus to spread rapidly and without others knowing about it. So for it's only really dangerous to those whose immune systems are already compromised, the elderly, and the young.
The first week of quarantine is like a dream come true. So far there are no confirmed cases in Tallahassee, however there have been hundreds cases in the US and abroad. This first week was mostly, for us at least, a chance to take a breather and make significant progress on ourselves and our homes’ upkeep (in the rush of maintaining full time work schedules, childcare, and school; Things like laundry, minor messes, our marriage, and essentially all major outdoor labor had been put on hold while school and work take precedent). My wife and I built a chicken coop and began raising chicks, who will eventually produce eggs for us. We had attempted to build a chicken coop last year, however we did not put enough time or effort into protecting the chicks and ended up losing two out of four chicks to hawks (we wached on a security camera overlooking the cage). This time however we were not going to allow that to happen, and spent several days constructing a fully-enclosed coop and run from some scrap wood and chicken wire. This time we are not losing anyone to those darn dirty hawks. Carter, my son who turns two next month, loves to play with the chicks, however he will get scared and either squeeze them too hard or throw them, so he must be closely supervised.
March 29 - April 4:
The second week of quarantine went by more quickly than first, as days began blurring together in a flurry of activity. Not being able to take our son to daycare again meant that he needs to be constantly supervised, again. Having just started him in daycare a few months ago, having to babysit again is honestly the most annoying thing about quarantine. However, the reward for babysitting again is being able to spend more time with my son, which is always appreciated, given how hilarious he can be. This week he pooped in the bathtub for the first (and hopefully the last) time, which was horrifyingly hilarious. Along with the amusement comes the work however; fingerpaints, markers, dirty diapers, dirty dishes, and crumb-crusted half-eaten food scattered around the house. Our dogs, Link and Bella, used to jump at the chance to eat everything before it touched the floor, now they lie around languidly, full of stolen half-eaten meals and dropped toddler snacks. They might have to go on a diet soon, but not yet, let them be fat and happy for now, why not? You only live once.
So, last week, our family built a home for some chickens we had acquired. This week we built, filled, and planted raised garden plots, one for an herb garden and two for vegetable gardens; As well as cleaning both the front and back yards, trimmed the roses that were pulling down our fence line with our neighbors, and planted some new fruit trees in our yard to enjoy in a few years (unless we move, in which case I hope the new tenants love the new avocado tree as much as I have loved the fig, pomegranate, orange, citron, and grapefruit trees that were already here when we moved in). Along with all of the outdoor accomplishments, there were many internal struggles that were won this week as well. My wife and I grew apart over the last year since I got out of the Marine Corps, (At the beginning of this year we were on the verge of separation) so being able to actually stay home and spend good quality time together without all of the other issues (work, school, child, roommate, groceries, money) getting in the way of us actually communicating. It’s amazing how nice a “staycation” is when you don’t even realize you need one! Of course, some of us adapt better than others and my wife isn’t having the best of times. I can already tell she’s getting antsy. The socialite in her clawing to get out she called all of her family and binge watched the most dramatic and emotional series she could find on both Hulu and Netflix, trying to get her drama/gossip fix.
On the Covid-19 front, the number of infected continues to grow, however it is not proving to be all that deadly (maybe it's just an April fools joke gone wrong?). More people are being found infected in new places and it really does seem like shutdown was the best idea. While not particularly deadly, it doesn’t seem that the Kung-Flu would be much fun to catch, so for now we plan on simply staying home and continuing to work on our self improvement.
Days have begun to flash by, nothing unusual when everyday is almost exactly the same. It seems that Covid-19 isn’t spreading as much, but more people are sick, the death toll is surprisingly low for how everyone talks about the disease, with most of the infected getting better. That may be because the governments are hiding the truth to prevent a panic however. Isolation can cause paranoia to become a serious problem, so the thought of Covid-19 being something made up by world governments to achieve a goal has certainly crossed my mind several times, each time it becomes further defined. What the goal is or would be I’m not sure yet but there is always the possibility that it could be to orient our society into a more sedentary, home-bound lifestyle. How else would you keep people from traveling and change lifestyles dedicated to leaving home to find gainful employment with which they can thrive on? By telling them if they go outside they die. Seems plausible to me.
The memes on social media such as facebook, reddit, and imgur, almost make up for not being able to leave the house. Humans are strange creatures. We find the strangest things fascinating, like the trainwreck that is the story netflix docuseries The Tiger King, which for some unknown reason has taken over social media in the wake of Covid-19. The series begins by focusing on the illegal trade of exotic animals, namely big cats, in the US, but ends up telling the story of the feud between Joe Exotic, former owner of the “GW Zoo” in Texas; and Carole Baskins, a member of PETA and owner of the “Big Cat Rescue” in Florida. The show really changes when they dig into the cold case of what happened to Carol Baskins first husband, and how Joe and Carol harassed each other over the course of several years. The series finally ends with Joe going prison for attempting to hire a hit on Carol. The craziest thing about the series is not what happens in it, but the fascination with which people have latched onto it.
Well it seems that things are beginning to start back up, stores are opening again, if somewhat limited in stock and the mandatory curfew has been lifted, so we are now somewhat free to move about the area. However it’s obvious that things are not the same, going grocery shopping now pretty requires a mask and gloves, sanitizer is everywhere, and now there is a “social distance” rule (roughly 6 feet) that is recommended be maintained. Tallahassee is now so quiet. With the schools closed and students sent home, the roads are near empty of vehicles which I feel is great. One of the most popular jokes on facebook right now is the joke “Because of Covid-19 the sky is so clear that you can see the Universal Studios logo as it circles the earth.” which I think is beautifully hilarious.
Speaking of hilarious, if you had suggested the world was going to take the entire month of 4/20 off, AND the government was going to pay us, you would have been laughed out of the room; Yet here we are, on the cusp of greatness. The US government has announced stimulus checks to those of us affected by Covid-19, my wife and I both lost our jobs and so only have enough money to float for the rest of the month or so, then at that point we would need to find gainful employment once everything has cleared up.
Social media chatter has become our entertainment of choice here at home. After everything has been watched on our Netflix and Hulu, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and Imgur fill the void of outside human connection. It is my personal belief that social media can sometimes be more informative than traditional channels, although the truth must be sifted from the incessant trolling that pervades all online social interactions.
Easter was fun, we stayed at home and planted easter eggs all around our yard for our son to find. I kind of feel bad for rehinding eggs as he found them (especially once I could tell he was getting suspicious) but it did provide an extra hour of fun which I feel is worth the little white lie. Maybe there is some symbolism for this quarantine to be happening on Easter/Lent holiday. I have never been super religious, but maybe there is some meaning to it.
Another week passes by. Covid-19 is doing a really bad job of ending the world. I mean come on, where are the zombies? There is no anarchy in the streets, or gangs, or riots. Nothing. Birds are still chirping, and everything seems to have returned to normal. Still unsure about what's going on with employment, stimulus checks should be arriving any day now, and my wife has returned to her job in a work-from-home state, which honestly I think is how every job should be now. All the time and effort being wasted commuting to work and school could be put to better use pursuing our passions. Humans are naturally creative creatures who, sometimes, thrive on independence (most require guidance however).
As the end of the month arrives and lockdowns are being lifted, I wonder what will have changed about how our society operates. Still not that many deaths from the disease, there have been claims that most Covid-related deaths are just people who have Covid, but die of other causes. There are also claims that the reported numbers are significantly lower than what it should be because some countries/areas are not testing for the sickness. But it still doesn’t seem to be a cataclysmic event, to be honest it’s really been a nice little rest. 2020 has been a rough year so far on both a global scale (Australia started the year literally on fire, Kobe died in a helicopter crash with his daughter, and World War 3 has been looming over everyone's heads since LAST year) and on a personal scale (marital issues, employment issues, and personal mental issues). So all in all Covid turned out as a win for my family and I.