Coronavirus Diary, Entry the First

All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.

Earlier today, I was thinking to myself:

“Self,” I thought, “you should start keeping your journal again.”

“That’s a great idea,” Self replied. “Think you’ll stick with it?”

“Doubt it. But it’s worth a shot, hey?”

So, here I am, giving it a shot.

I’ve got nothing to sell or promote right now; no books, no stories, no nuthin’. But, inspired by the lovely Seth Fischer, whom I met during the Lambda Literary Fellowship in 2014, I’ve decided to keep a plague diary. I started a blog back around—gosh, was it 1998? It was on Geocities, if that gives you any idea how long ago it was, and I coded everything by hand. It was a way to teach myself HTML, and that wound up helping me get a job. More than that, it also helped me connect with people who are still friends today. So, I’m going a little old school and just writing down quotidian things and average thoughts. Whether anyone reads it doesn’t matter all that much. I’ll write them down anyway, and maybe someone will relate.

Maintaining connections in isolation is going to be important, I think.

Waving my geek flag a little: That line at the top is from Battlestar Galactica, from a religious text that stated a belief in the Cycle of Time, “that we are all playing our part in a story that is told again and again and again throughout eternity.” Basically, I’m saying all of this feels familiar.

Growing up queer in the 1980s, I thought I was doomed in one of two ways: either I’d die in a nuclear war, or I’d die of AIDS. I watched and read how the government failed us, mocked us, and basically wished we would die quietly and quickly. AIDS was “killing all the right people,” as a character on Designing Women said. (Right before Julia Sugarbaker told her, “I’m terribly sorry, Imogene, but I’m going to have to ask you to move your car.” “Why?” “Because you’re leaving!”)

Now I’m watching another Republican administration bumble and fail its way through another health crisis. It makes me want to say to all those people who are shocked and disappointed, “Shoulda paid attention to us fags all that time ago, huh, motherfucker?”

Oh, content warning: a lot of cussing. Sorry.

I don’t remember the context, but recently I said, “Lasting change only comes through great pain.” I can’t imagine how things will change as a result of this crisis, but I can’t imagine that they won’t, either. Whether that change is for better or worse remains to be seen. I found this article at Politico an interesting one on that topic.

Yesterday, finally tired of being cooped up in the house, I went for a run in Tower Grove Park. It’s a lovely Victorian-era walking park in South St. Louis. There were lots of people walking their dogs, out for a run themselves, or just soaking in the sunshine that’s been rare lately. Everyone kept their distance—I veered off the path and ran through the grass in several places, and the ground is still soaked and squelching from all the rain we’ve had. But, we were all together, in a way. And that felt good.

Tomorrow, St. Louis starts mandatory stay-at-home orders. That means going out only for groceries or food, medical needs, or to walk dogs or exercise in a park. I live within sight of Interstate 44, which more or less follows the path of the old Route 66 through St. Louis. If I look out the window, mostly what I see now are tractor trailers. Granted, today’s Sunday, so traffic is usually light, anyway. I wonder if this global pause will be helpful for the environment. Maybe it will shake people into realizing we can make changes for the better.

I hope so. I prefer hope over fear, don’t you?