Saturday I drove down to Baltimore to visit Loudon Park Cemetery. I hadn’t been since the end of January, it was a nice day, and a cemetery is a place where one can socially distance without much difficulty.
I had no idea if I would be able to get into the cemetery; some cemeteries are closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Congressional Cemetery in Washington, for instance, is closed except by appointment. I had no idea if Loudon would be open, and they have no online presence to speak of that I could check. At worst, I’d get there, find the gates closed, and turn around and do something else; a drive, on a mild spring day isn’t such a bad thing, and driving down to Baltimore I had the windows in the Beetle open all the way for at least part of it. Approaching the gate on Wilkens, I saw cars in the cemetery grounds, and the open gate answered that question.
I didn’t expect to find anyone there. To my surprise, I passed people walking — some teenagers with masks near the old railroad tracks, a couple walking their dog in the old part of the cemetery. The direct crossing into the old part of the cemetery was still blocked off, as it has been for almost two years, and taking the longer route I found that the road into Whatcoat wasn’t blocked off. Was the road, which had collapsed into sinkholes and chaos due to the flooding, repaired? I turned down the narrow stone road betweeen Whatcoat and M, and the road past my great-great-grandmother Susan’s grave wasn’t blocked off! For the first time since the summer of 2018, I could park by her stone! This was exciting!
Getting back out, I discovered, was going to be a little tricky. The road was patched in places, filled in with stones in others, and directly ahead of where I parked there was still a sinkhole. Had I not gone and looked to see how the road was repaired, I might not have noticed. Still, getting out was a problem that could wait.
Cleaning up my “office” at home, I found a selfie stick. “I’ll take this with me when I go down to Baltimore,” I said after I experimented with it in my bedroom to make sure it worked.
I made a number of attempts (greater than twenty) to capture a photograph of myself with my great-great-grandmother Susan Gardner’s stone since I have no such photo and wanted one.
Of these attempts (greater than twenty), I judged this the least bad. This side of the stone faces slightly southwest. It was afternoon and I had the sun mostly in my face, hence a number of photos of me grimacing against the light. I couldn’t see anything on my phone’s screen, so I couldn’t angle the selfie stick and be sure of getting anything, and even as it was I had no idea what I got.
Still, expecting nothing usable, I went through my selfie stick photos (greater than twenty), found two that weren’t the worst, decided between them which one to crop, and deleted the rest.
You can see a little stub of a bolt sticking out from the top of the pillar. I still cannot decide if something (a cross? a decoration?) was affixed to it that has since been lost, if something was intended to be attached and never was, or if that bolt was simply standard for this type of monument in the 1890s.
I didn’t stay as long as I might have; I tired quickly, and my muscles began to hurt. This has been a “thing” for about six weeks. It’s not constant, it doesn’t always happen, but going for walks into Dallastown can wear me out. My muscles all over get fatigued, I get shin splints, I feel winded. And Saturday, my body let me know, in no uncertain terms, that it was done here.
I stopped at my great-grandparents’ site on my way out, then left.
That’s the same stretch of road through the cemetery that comes up when you look up Loudon Park Cemetery in Google.
I had some grocery shopping to do, so I stopped at the Giant. One of my fatigue issues, I think, was that I hadn’t had lunch, so I bought a sandwich from the deli. Had I stopped at Giant on my way into to the cemetery, as I often do, to buy flowers, I might have realized that I needed calories.
I also bought a number of things I didn’t need — Tastycakes, apple turnovers. That’s just how grocery shopping goes, in good times and weird times and everything in between.
Then, in Hunt Valley, I stopped at Shawan Liquors and bought beer curbside.
Peabody Height‘s The Lost Generation. A s’mores-style (chocolate, graham crackers, marshmallow) imperial stout with a 10.5% ABV. That’s going to be — how would Fitzgerald put it? — an expensive orgy to the taste buds. I’ll probably start speaking in em-dashes. I have not tried it yet.
A friend posted this meme on Facebook this morning and, having little better to do with my time, I sat down with it in the spirit of The Rutles’ “Questionnaire.”
1) Still working? Yes, from home.
2) Is it hard? Not really. Working from home is not terribly different from working at the office. Writing is a somewhat solitary activity, and most of the people I would interact with I would interact with over email anyway. I still do the same things, I plan my day and keep track of my tasks with the same bullet journal I’ve kept for two years. I just do it at home. And I still go into the office about once a week, because I occasionally need access to the printers; I don’t have a printer hooked up at home and, even if I did, I wouldn’t waste the ink and reams of paper on Diamond work. No offense, but they don’t pay me enough for me to buy my own office supplies so I can do my job.
3) Bored? No more than usual. The thing about working from home is that, when I run out of work tasks to do, there are things I can do to fill the time. I just sorted through a month’s worth of phones on my cell phone and culled them by sixty percent. I have gobs of music and podcasts I can listen to. I have comics, I have a library, I have hobby projects.
And the nice thing about working at home is that I can go outside, whenever I want. The door is just right there. I don’t have a pressing task? The sun is out? Ten minute mental health break! Walk around the block, take pictures of clouds, sit in the sun. I have lots of pictures of clouds. No one needs as many pictures of clouds as I have.
4) Miss human contact? Yes. People are social creatures, and my grocery store outings aren’t really a substitute. I do see people around my apartment complex, and I have talked with my neighbors, albeit at a distance, several times
5) Think you have it every time you cough? Well…
About two weeks ago, I had a cough. It wasn’t constant, but it was nagging, and I could “feel” the inside of my lungs when I was breathing or laying down in bed. I’d gone into the office on Thursday. I picked up dinner at Chipotle on my way home. On Friday the cough began. By Monday it was gone. I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t worried — I have high blood pressure, and hypertension appears to increase COVID-19 mortality — but, even playing that daily game, I only thought I had one chance in three of having it.
Have I had it? I have no idea. I considered not going to Farpoint or seeing Carbon Leaf in February because of COVID-19. Perhaps the “con crud” I had around that time was COVID. Perhaps my weekend of strange lungs was COVID. Perhaps it was allergies. Perhaps it was my blood pressure meds. Like I said, I have no idea. I couldn’t get tested — I have no reason to be tested — and that would only tell me how I am now. I could have had it and recovered. I could be fine now and get infected in six weeks. It’s Schrödinge’rs virus — we both have it and don’t, and we don’t know until we look.
6) Tired of cooking and eating? No. If I don’t cook, I don’t eat. That was true before the pandemic. That’s true now.
7) Tired of TV? I’ve only had it on to watch DVDs. I rewatched some Father Ted recently.
8) Started a new hobby? No.
9) Finished any projects? I wrote a short story. I have another one turning itself over in my head, and I may be ready to commit words soon.
10) Who you miss the most? Too many to count. I’m not alone in that.
11) First place you wanna go when it’s over? COVID-19 isn’t going to be “over” anytime soon. It will be us through summer and well into 2021. We’re likely to have periodic shutdowns and gradual reopenings as the outbreaks wax and wane. And in that time, we’ll develop a kind of normal that isn’t anything like 2019 was. In that “kind of normal,” I’d like to have a Fuddrucker’s cheeseburger and lunch at La Tolteca by the office. I’d like to go to a movie. I’d like to go to Washington, DC for the day and visit Congressional Cemetery; I’ve been jonesing to do this since I found a photograph with my great-great-grandfather’s site on Wikipedia I’d like to go on a road trip.
12) Birthday before during or hopefully after? It’s in June. Who knows?
13) Made a TikTok? I’m forty-six.
14) Checked on a loved one? Pretty much all the time.
15) Who you quarantined with? Imaginary friends.
16) Second place I wanna go? Who knows? I’m taking it day-by-day, and I’d rather be spontaneous.
17) Home schooling? No.
18) Still got toilet paper? Five rolls.
19) Most watched show? Umm, I guess that would be Father Ted, which celebrated 25 years since its debut last week. Yes, Graham Lineham is an awful person, but the show is hilarious.
20) Binge watched? Father Ted, I suppose.
21) First restaurant you will visit? I have no idea. For all I know, it could be some hole-in-the-wall Chinese place because that was what I was in the mood for. This question assumes a level of pre-planning that makes no sense in these circumstances. There are some many known unknowns and unknown unknowns right now that making a decision like that is ludicrous.
22) Who checks on you everyday? No one, honestly.
23) Third place I wanna go? This is absurd.
24) Miss your job or coworkers? I miss interacting with my coworkers in person every day, yes, but I’m still interacting with them online since I’m working from home and I’m connected with several via social media.
25) When do you think it will be over? It depends on what you mean by “over.” If you mean a return to pre-2019 life, the earliest that could happen is late 2021, once there’s a vaccine or an effective treatment. The problem is, there’s never been a coronavirus vaccine before so we have no idea if one is possible for SARS-CoV-2, and while we’re learning a lot about COVID-19 it is revealing itself to be far more than a respiratory illness as was believed six weeks ago and appears to attack pretty much any organ at random and at will. I really wonder at the long-term health implications — five years, ten years, twenty years out, what lasting effect will COVID-19 have?
I expect that, by the end of May, shelter in place orders will largely be allowed to expire and people will go about their lives. They will probably have to wear masks in public. Large crowds probably will still be banned. One baseball league, the American Association, still intends to play this year, and it’s possible we could see Major League Baseball. I expect there will be localized lockdowns as the virus flares up here and there. With its long incubation period, another nationwide outbreak of COVID-19 due to stealth community spread is not out of the question. The CDC has raised the possibility of another wave of COVID-19 coinciding with flu season, and that’s not impossible.
There will be global disruption. In poorer countries, COVID outbreaks could be uncontrollable.
The economic fallout is impossible to predict, but there will be businesses that won’t recover and careers that will be lost. But that damage can be mitigated.
Far more importantly, lives will be lost due to the virus, and that damage to society can never be replaced. Holes will be left in people’s lives. We’re losing artists and knowledge and experience, and that loss will leave humanity poorer.
It may never be over. Life will probably never return to “normal.” Instead, we’ll find a new “normal.” Millions of Americans are learning that their jobs can be done from home, so office life will change. The minimum wage service industry employees that conservatives should “improve” themselves to get more than $7.25 an hour are every day revealing that they, not CEOs, are the essential parts in the engine that makes the economy go. On a global level, this may be the last hurrah for American hegemony due to the public failure of presidential leadership, both domestically and globally.
We’re going to be left with a lot of wreckage when this is “over.” The question will be what we want to do with it. What do we build on the ruins? What kind of society do we want to be? What kind of world do we want? That’s worth thinking about.
Work has been fine. Doing my part to keep the comic book industry going.
Today was brisk and frequently pretty outside.
I got a new monitor today. There’s nothing wrong with the monitor I have, and I’ve no plans to get rid of it, but when using the work VPN and remote desktop some of my applications simply do not fit into my visible space. So I spent 85 dollars on a 1920×1080 LED monitor from Tiger Direct.
Dismantling my old monitor’s stand was difficult, as I couldn’t remember how it went. It’s all packed away now in its styrofoam and box in my closet.