Last week here, I headlined one story, Is There Anything Else to Talk About?. And so it is every day now in every news outlet: all about the virus.
It took up the major part of an hour-long telephone conversation on Sunday with a friend in New Jersey. It takes up the most space in email with others. When I'm reading online news, I always gravitate to virus headlines - anything else feels irrelevant to life today.
When I'm not talking, listening or reading about the virus, I'm thinking about it. It intrudes everywhere. When the sun came out yesterday, I developed a serious jones for ice cream. I don't eat it much in winter and this was the first time this year it had come to mind.
I actually picked up a pen to make a list of what else I might pick up at the grocery when I went for the ice cream. Then I remembered. Uh-oh. Lockdown. Plenty of food in the house, except for ice cream.
So I stayed home.
(Please do not send ice cream. The freezer is full to the top with food.)
From the beginning of the virus, I believed in face masks but then I got confused when a variety of so-called experts said they don't work. Now that they have changed their mind, I have made several no-sew masks for myself from old bandanas and wondered if I need one to go to the trash or mailbox.
It is rare that I see anyone when I make one of those runs, but I decided to err on the side caution anyway. The cotton masks are hard for me to breathe through and I was winded when I got home so I have redesigned the no-sew masks with fewer layers for me to breath a little easier.
Reading the virus news online or watching it on television is fraught in its own way. I try to avoid the president altogether, and I am awed again and again by the amazing bravery of the medical professionals who, undoubtedly exhausted, go into the firestorm of potential infection and possible death every single day.
I know the fear I felt last week going to the grocery store. The intensity of it must be so much more for medical professionals. What is that moment like for them, the one when you wake up, maybe a little fuzzy in the head still from sleep, first thinking about getting up and BAM! - you remember what your job is like now. Is today the one when you will catch the virus?
How do they do that, I wonder, keep going to work day after day? I feel so helpless, that there is nothing I can contribute and then I weep for all of us but especially for those on the front lines.
I experienced a small, happy respite from all the mixed-up sad, hopeful and hopeless, fearful, worried feelings on Friday when I made my first pandemic meal delivery order.
Like everything else, it involves thinking about the virus. I arranged online for the delivery person to leave the order on the table on my front porch and knock on the door.
But what about a tip? I fished an envelope out of the desk, wrote “Delivery Person” on the outside and then found I had only $20 bills in my wallet. Recalling the medical professionals, first responders, grocery clerks and all the others who risk their lives for the rest of us, I couldn't see that delivery to people's homes is much different. So $20 it was.
Not long after my lunch arrived, I received a text message from the delivery guy telling me it was his first day on the job, I was his first delivery and that I had helped him start his new job in the best possible way.
That text message was the bright spot in my day too. In this tiny way, it was the first time I have felt useful and actually did something good for someone who is, unlike me, risking his life at his job every day.
It feels self-indulgent to be ruminating on these little incidents in my home-confined life. After all, we're all doing the same thing and I hardly have a unique perspective. But even when I try to read a book or watch a movie, my mind wanders to the world's predicament.
It's not just the virus itself. What is equally fraught is the lack of executive and managerial expertise at the top of the U.S. federal government. Many state governors have stepped into the void as much as they can but by statute, they lack the power of a president who, in this case, has abdicated his sworn duty to the country.
Your turn now, in the comments below.