Today, living in upside-down land, nuclear families spill onto sidewalks exploring "olden-days" outings -- playing catch, roller skating, bike riding, and generally making awkward public appearances, where they were formerly invisible phantoms. I have now seen more than 50 "new" neighbors, who never ever appeared in public previously. Whereas for decades kids were shuttled to "safe" activities in giant SUV's, faces up-lit by glowing devices traveling to Soccer, Hockey, Lacrosse, etc... today, these mysterious elites pour onto their neighborhood sidewalks completely ill-equipped to be "Free-Range".
My childhood was not special; in fact all kids had basically the same loosely disciplined lives. We always roamed the streets without our parents, we always rode miles from home on Big-wheels, Bikes, and Skateboards. Strangely the exodus in upside-down land, forces hundreds of families to pour out onto the side-streets as frustrated families drive each-other nuts. Being bound by four walls is unbearable, like an overcharged battery, we fire it up and hit the pavement. Oddly what is now occurring is both beautiful, and frightening. In my strange new neighborhood, these invisible wealthier families bought up their neighbors homes, tore them down and extended side yards into sprawling sport courts, lawns, gardens etc... These fenced cages were intent to keep the family safe when there was no need to, while ironically boasting an elitist means to self isolate. Private families, with sheltered parochial life-styles are now the ones spilling onto our city streets. Why? Their children are ill-equipped to manage their fledgling free-range habitats. I've seen them playing in the street, riding in the street, and even coloring in the street. Car traffic is reduced this month, true... but it is a city. Novice riders need to take care to remain clear of moving vehicles. Those who never stepped on city pavement are now out and about, playing in traffic. This can't end well, but at least it won't raise the Covid toll.
A typical B.C. (before covid) day in the life went like this:
Dad wakes & shaves and departs the attached garage at 5:15 in a Tesla or M6 to an elite Health-club, before hitting the office until 6 P.M., then to another private club for cocktails with other elites.
Mom wakes early and heads to Orange Theory before the kids are up, returns flushed to make kids breakfast, and they exit arguing in a Massive SUV to drop 2.5 kids at private schools. On the way back, a rendezvous with other Yoga Mommies for a Skinny oat-milk Latte before they hit a mani-pedi appointment. Chip-free nails dry & Mom heads to Pilates, and when properly stretched, she heads home to shower. Clean, and Blown-dry she gets the grocery delivery into the fridge, and noshes some pre-pack store sushi. 2 Hours on the internet to update Facebook, and leer at others, she orders several tops, and leggings online, before leaving to shuttle kids from school to sports. Returning to pick-up dinner and drizzle dressing on a salad, Kids are dropped off for dinner and home-work.
(So it follows that "Social Distancing" should not be a new idea for many).
In upside-down land, the new routine goes like this:
Dad scratches his balls and makes a pot of coffee all by himself. (applause) He hits the Peloton, and a Life-fitness rig which wasn't touched since the house was built. In fact, the room in which all of these torture devices dwell, was just another untouched space in a massive custom home. Dad balances his laptop, dripping sweat, and struggles to stay connected with a laptop, a bottle of G2, and phone, while changing his clothes, before closing the den door in isolation from his waking family.
Mom sips her plastic flavored Keurig, and lowers the seat of the peloton, then completes half a Roku-based Yoga session before a kid screams. Mom breaks up a quarrel, and gets two pajama'd kids to eat sugary cereal, before opening the back door to allow an estranged pure-bred dog into the melee when she scratches the door. Mom dresses the kids, and presses them to "turn off the TV ...and go play in the yard!" With placid faces lit by cartoons, Mom hits her Facebook to lament "her struggle". By the time the clock strikes 10 the kids become unbearably bored, and Mom puts jackets on them to take a bike-ride. In the Garage she fumbles with cob-webbed kid's bikes, and a hand pump. Mommy's iPhone11 Pro face-times a nephew, after failing to find a youtube video on how to air the tires. The teen helps his aunt fill the tires, and she soon gets the kids, some chalk, and their bikes to the alley. After 20 minutes coloring with chalk, and several texts to their father, the whole family collects on the sidewalk to re-adjust the bike seats. Neighbors who have never seen this family nor their kids, walk widely way around the idyllic family at their stoop. Mommy and Daddy now sport solo-cups, while they watch their kids roll down the block.
The polished family awkwardly greet estranged neighbors from afar, as hundreds of passing neighbors remark in chorus,
"Wow, that's who lives there!?, (half question-half statement), "I didn't know anyone lived in that giant house, as I've never seen them before."
It used to be that one in 40 homes in early July would put a few kids on the front walk to pimp sugary lemonade, but now everyone is distantly discovering their neighbor's new fashion, milling about wearing masks. Odd new accessories to the daily Covid bike rides. I've not yet seen the Hermes, or Burberry mask, but it's coming.
New Catchwords include, We, Us, Our, Uncertain, Together, and Troubled (Times). Overnight 'our' lexicon changes. While the clinical term for Kids not catching Covid is "Naive" immune system...Really! This is a fact. Turns out that not having antibodies, helps when something comes about because your body doesn't strain it's resources to attack something new. Cats and kids are just carriers -- Great.
What does this new way expand out to? Do we bar blocks, and set-up a neighborhood watch, to keep traffic down. Do we close neighborhoods, cities, and state borders? I don't know.
Probably not -- But weeks ago my friend and I were projecting how this exclusionism all goes down. States sealing borders, people wearing visible ID Bracelets, races excluded... all becoming a dialog. When I was a kid and my teacher caught us loading the tips of paper-airplanes with pins, and tossing them to stick into the acoustic ceiling, I didn't really understand why I was being singled out for detention. Detention? Nobody likes detention, but it was always suspicious that kids who never ended up in the clink after school, always feared and observed those who did, as socially mal-adjusted, or even evil. Truth was the fear of Detention was a fear of some unknown isolation, about which nobody ever spoke, And on the inside -- you weren't allowed to speak or sleep. So what of Detention? There was no productive outlet, although sometimes an essay of confession, or writing sentences was the constructive forced labor. When a kid got home and their parents found out that so-and-so at school got "Detention"..., Parents always forbid their kids from seeing "that kid" any longer. This was harsh. No Jury, no due process, just excommunicated. Bam! This week we are discussing emptying jails and prisons. That should inspire some people to stay home.
In this odd childhood process, called detention -- when one was voted off the island, things seldom improved. An untouchable kid may be ridiculed, or taunted, or become legend as other kids fostered a brooding fear of what they may be capable of... Spinning yarns of every manner of menacing backstory. Truth was, that Detention was shits-ville, only because other kids actively or passively seemed to gloat at what a nice day they had on "the outside" playing guns, or roof-jumping, or smashing shit, while Those in detention suffered with repetitive sentence structure. Detention was a primer for prison.
What is it then, when we are all in Detention? Truthfully, I don't fucking know.
"By the way, Is there any way that Texas can secede and leave Austin Alone?, Sovereign? he asked... "No problem", he replied "Don't let the door hit your Ass on your way out". Can a State cleanly leave our Republic?
What then, if a (United) State says, "You unclean, people can't come in, because we here, in Texas think you may get us sick", What protocols are applied? School-yard politics are never fair, and so it seems to me that like any squabble, the rules of engagement, (never clearly delineated) seem to force involved parties to make up some dumb shit rules, and then argue about them. I am convinced that public spraying of aerosols fogging streets, and soaking the "un-clean", is perhaps the most dystopian hail-mary reaction to being completely, politically, and socially bankrupt. State's-rights are valid, right?, until they are so extreme that they violate what we all come to understand as acceptable. You know it's true that nobody listens to zealots any more, and who the fuck cares what Richard Branson, and Evangeline Lily do or say in their secluded castles? Who the fuck gives a shit about the stupid celebrity cavalcade of "social wisdom"? Nobody!
What is acceptable, is behavior which preserves people's rights for liberty, while doing the most good. Where would this new idiocy scale out to, without anyone actually being in charge. Because the kids seem to be running the Detention Classroom, if we (the public) allow idiocy to pile upon itself like fake meat in a charcuterie tray, we are once more preparing something useless which will be scraped into the trash like crusty hummus when the party ends. Nobody wants to eat a shit sandwich; So States have begun to take back their sovereignty from the Fed. States close their borders?, as they asphyxiate their public, and poison the populace to stave off illness. What are the rules of engagement, when Missouri decides that an out of work barista riding their bike to stave off insanity, gets stopped in mid-sojourn at a "Border crossing"? Fact is that if it weren't for some shitty Rotary or Kiwanis sign overgrown with weeds, and sunflowers, nobody would know as they entered the back door of a state, that they had actually crossed a street, let alone a border. Strange times.
Meanwhile Nobody knows, and that's where the madness sets in.
So this one kid at school has mono, and comes to school, what if they don't know it? Is there a test? Is the Test accurate? do they have an "All Clear" wristband? Really, the times they are a changing... When I was a kid, we owned a thermometer, and when we knew our health was not right, we took the temp, and stayed home -- But only about 60% of the time, was diagnosis accurate... The rest of the time we soldiered on. So what of The nightmare scenario which expands as an exponent from a few ill people. From these simple, untested ideas comes a brutal outcome. The anointed few, excluding the unclean... A caste system, with some unacknowledged "expert" who interns people in camps until "they" like their health prospects; whilst The rest remain restrainedly free. Refugees imprisoned -- A populace free to choose their precautious behavior.
This cannot work, Can it? Detention!
Ask Not what you can do for your sanity, but what your sanity can do for you. Perhaps you can make a paper airplane, or a broach, or a tetradactyl. People have discussed the complexity of being isolated and avoiding what makes them healthy and sane. A campground, a pond or stream for fishing, and a trailhead for biking or snowbound descents... But what of the wisdom to remain home? Don't be glib, just discuss what bad comes from a bike ride, or a jog? Why do some get shamed for a walk through the neighborhood, if they don't have a dog on the leash? Is there nothing wrong with the caution to remain home? Can we balance social isolation with outdoor time? The argument we hear is the ER Nurse, or Epidemiology Intern called to serve, who chastises you to "just stay home"!. The reasoning is that Blood supplies and resources are tapped thin, and YOU should not add to the problem. But I know more than one healthy young person who's fallen down the staircase. I know several people who have broken a limb, or hip in a bathroom or a threshold.
We all know people who've hacked their palm slicing an avocado. Today however we are to remain in our padded box. How do we distill the wisdom from the mash-up? It all reminds me vaguely of being a kid in elementary school being narked on by another student for nothing more than having more fun than them. We are all supposed to be sullen, somber, reflective right? Wrong!
What is the real issue? Envy? If you have no knack, and lack the dexterity to take a walk, run, or ride as naturally as bathing, then by all means, stay out of the bath. For the capable public, the stats prove that getting in your car to drive to the store holds more risk than a stroll, and likely the same holds true for a bike ride, or a jog. The issue is not one of flippant disregard for another's reverence to the world ending. The issue is not a caution to conserve resources, it is just people giving a social-media tongue-lashing to strangers. Can we please try to understand each other this year? Nobody spreads disease when they ride their bikes as a family. Nobody spreads a disease while jogging alone, staying clear of others. Everyone needs to enjoy some outdoor time. Or the insanity and suicide epidemic may outweigh and outlive the plague.
I suggest you ride your bike, Jog someplace, swim alone, if your beach is open, and enjoy what you can, because it's possible that the shit hasn't yet hit the fan. When you are left without any civil rights, you will reflect on that last time you did "this thing" quite fondly. Perhaps that will be the recollection which motivates you later. It's also possible you will die in a week, so live responsibly, meaningfully, and do try to enjoy yourself. Safe or Sane is a terrible conundrum.
Many bodies piling up will be illustrative to curb bad practices. Citizens will make mistakes, of course, but they will also help each other, and make mostly good choices, driven by fear. Social scales look a bit like this... We have bodies on one plinth, and free-will on the other, and You can guess which one weighs more. By the time the public sees the damage, the damage will have been done. Being a citizen during the Pandemic Era, means that your neighbors and friends can't understand why naïve people are incapable of projecting beyond their privileged circumstance. Clarity is elusive in Detention.
Malaise makes us wholly incapable of clarity, so it's critical to maintain mindfulness. So how do we balance deadly freedom with being in detention? Civil rights & Civic responsibility are challenging contemplation. Being subject to random stop and frisk; Whether by strangers, on anti-social media, or by local police is madness. The madness does not stem from a nervous passion to promote public health, because it cannot. It is simply a nervous incantation like spraying aerosols, that can't stop the wave of coughs.
When a Gig-Worker who delivers groceries, can't afford to stay home, and hands you tainted groceries -- How long can the bags sit outside your bubble before they rot, or until the virus wears off?
Another Detention essay begins like this:
An interstate truck driver, whether it is Amazon, UPS, JB Hunt, or a far smaller LTL, has one job, and they need the paycheck, because their partner was just liberated from the other half of their combined income. Do we really believe that this desperate driver with a mortgage to pay, will stop driving when they develop a dry cough and a mild fever or night sweats? Nope! IT WONT HAPPEN. They will drive all over their trans-continental route until they succumb to being desperately ill, pulling extra shifts, or, they will recover without knowing why they felt ill. This single vector is possibly far worse than an exec or an out of work teacher visiting their parents back home. The driver will stop every few hours as required, and buy the occasional hot dog, steak, or slurpee and hither and yon, they will pee, and flush, and wipe, and pass cash for all fare of social engagement before and after pumping diesel. They will become the anonymous outlaw vector. But alas they are mission critical, so that your cat-food, and Bud-seltzer can arrive on-time. Whilst you observe your state's health protocols, sneaking in bike rides with your masked children, You should not feel ashamed. But, thousands of locals may be affected by one outlier?, Yep., that's your delivery driver.
When strange fictions become the new normal, it's sometimes actually valid to review the cannon of sci-fi to explore contextual scenarios, and potential outcomes. I've seen and read some dystopian Sci-fi, and they can be telling. After all, the Phone in your pocket came from them, as did the walkie-talkie, and the laser, but I can't shake the images of "A Clockwork Orange" as one outcome, or ...perhaps it's already happened.
Has nobody watched a single shit-ass sci-fi thriller? For crap-sake, the idea that a selective quarantine will work is laughable. But Medicare for all is sounding good to a lot of people right about now. We are all socialists now.
Now that we are all bike riding Socialists, (like it or not, it's happened) -- we are all floundering in a giant social welfare net. We are naive children in a gigantic moon-bounce bumping, touching, and licking the same balls. We are all going to get this. We are all going to have to pay for it, and most importantly We all have to remember this moment, so as to not let it ever happen again.
Let's roll up our sleeves, and get to it. Let's calculate real projections, Create real solutions, and then make positive changes which don't exclude anyone or anyone's rights. Be ready for the secessionist back-chatter.
Be smart, be vigilant, create normalcy, or sit on your hands and wait for your fucking Prom.
The world needs bright torches right now, ...so stay lit.
If you listen