Quarantine means forty. During the Black Death, Venetians isolated travelers for thirty days (trentino), then forty (quarantino). Which is where we find ourselves today. I wonder what this plague will introduce to the language — social distancing? Maybe an enduring fashion for masks, like a permanent, inverse Venetian Carnival.
I write this because the ordinary will become a distant memory and I’d like to remember. I’m not presenting this in any way. This is just a day in quarantine. A day in forty. If we’re lucky.
Our daughter wakes me up. She’s sweet and I love her but I also love sleep. Thankfully she lets me. She just plays with a silver necklace sweetly for half an hour. Just running it through her hands, watching the light and the undulations of the chain. When she finally wakes me I sit up. A mosquito buzzes past me. I sit up straighter and wait, alert. When it passes again I smash it. It’s full of blood. My blood. I feel deep regret that I spent the whole night with this bastard.
I, of course, check my phone. I have whatever screen-time reminders to not check before 10 AM but I reliably hurdle through this every day. I won’t even get into it. I don’t know what phase of American collapse we’re in but it always seems to go deeper. Then there’s the weaponization of this plague against Muslims, the modern Jews I guess. And the poverty. The grinding hunger that I know is isolating outside. There’s always some fresh outrage. Always different and always the same.
I give my daughter my watch to play with while I go to the bathroom. I recorded an ‘appearance’ on the Hey Poopy podcast recently, based on a butt washing article I wrote. They asked me to monitor my poops on the Bristol Scale, which I’ve been doing recently. This one was a five. It’s always a five.
I look in the mirror. I’ve been losing weight and gaining muscle around my arms and shoulders but still have a bit of a paunch. I like to think that there are three phases to losing belly fat. First, you can see your penis, then you can see your balls, then you can see your pubic hair. I can see my balls.
I brush my teeth, all while refreshing my phone. I sit on the couch and refresh some more, until my daughter cajoles me into going downstairs to play. My wife is still asleep in the child’s room. We let her sleep.
Stupid fucking dog
The dog was sleeping in the room last night, until she pissed on the bed. That’s an automatic ejection. I open the door and she’s amped, grabs a teddy bear and sprints out to the garden. I find my slippers and chase her around, throwing mangos and plastic bones until she drops the thing. It’s wet with dew and spit. I put it on the kitchen island until she jumps up and grabs it again, and I have to repeat the process.
I love this dog but, honestly, she’s a shitty dog. I throw the ragged tennis ball with her twenty times to tire her out. Where do I even get a new tennis ball now? What happened to all the shops that sell anything that isn’t essential? Our economy is reduced to an overweening demand for rice, dhal, tinned fish, pharmaceuticals and nothing else. God forbid your phone breaks, or you need a screw or a nail. That stuff just doesn’t exist anymore.
The cook makes an egg. We have a cook. A cook and a maid. Normally we have a cook and three maids, and a laundry person, and pool and garden service, but all the dailies are of course at home. Everyone should be gone home now for the New Year, but there is no movement. I feel like a Pharaoh, locked in a tomb with their staff. It’s much better with staff. For us. It sucks for them.
So I eat the egg. There’s bread but it’s shitty white bread, I wish we had sourdough or something. Apparently they’re hanging sourdough starter on lamp poles in San Francisco. I don’t want to make it, I just want to eat it. I just eat the egg.
Normally my wife takes the kids and I write (or try to write) till 4. I’ve seen in her face that she’s going a bit nuts so I take the kids more. I honestly can’t write anyways, which is why I’m doing this brain dump. But anyways, our youngest son comes back from his grandparents (across the street) and immediately the screaming starts. The daily symphony.
I can’t take it when they scream in the morning, it messes up my whole day. My son is a lot like my internal states and I can’t stand it. I can yell at him and scold him. I realize that this is pointless and I’ve tried to stop.
Yelling “STOP YELLING” is obviously beside the point. It still drives me crazy. He’s just two but it’s hard to not be judgemental, like ‘why are you doing this to me?’ There’s a bit of awareness, like you can bribe him out of it, but he’s still just a baby. We forget because his sister is much more mature. We treat them like they’re the same age but they’re just not.
He is also just a crybaby. He was born screaming and hasn’t stopped.
The place where school would be
And here we are, at the place where school would be. Preschool. It’s shut of course. Our school is full of diplomats kids, basically a hot vector for disease. But everything is shut, everywhere. I used to not quite understand what we were paying so much for, but oh, now I understand. Those few hours were sanity for my wife and sanity for me. And I guess they were learning something. By now the boy at least is going feral, walking around naked most of the time, shitting in the garden (once).
Sometimes my wife asks me when things go back to normal and I tell her never. This is not the right answer so she keeps asking, but I think it’s correct. WTF is normal? There is no normal after this. Our kids will grow up in a completely different world, with different words that just disappear into the furniture, like quarantine.
It’s been 27 days already, for everyone. We’ve been self-isolated for 32. So another week till a full forty. Same as the plague days, except it didn’t work then either. It’s still plague days outside, in this viral pinball game of a world. Every day is the same, but things will never be the same. That’s a morning in quarantine.