Thursday, November 19, 2020

Let Us Give Thanks

Covid surges on here in South Dakota. According to Johns Hopkins, we’re the #2 WORST state in the nation in terms of our Covid cases, ranking behind #1 North Dakota. Our governor Kristi Nope, Nightmare Noem, Plague Princess (I have more names for her I can’t put in here) said in a press conference yesterday that it was never the intention of the State Department of Health to make mitigation decisions for the state based on the rate of infections, deaths, stress on frontline workers, and those other nasty metrics HUMANS think about. No, Sir. Her priority has always been hospital capacity. In other words, as long as hospitals have beds (at least on paper, even if that means NICU bed space, children’s hospitals, etc.), we’ll have our glorious FREEDUMB from those unattractive masks, and we can just keep fillin’ up those beds! Yeehaw!

In slightly less bitter news, I tested negative—YAY!! After waiting a week for results from test #1, I got an email saying my test was “incomplete” and I would need to re-test. No explanation. So I’m guessing it was a bad test kit, or it’s under a pile of mail in an Idaho post office, or a completely exhausted lab tech dropped it and it rolled into a floor drain. Fortunately, my Little Town U stepped up and offered testing, so I re-tested and got results in 3 days. It wasn’t an antibody test, so by then, I could have had asymptomatic (except for the 7-day headache) Covid and recovered. So much for the testing/tracing efficiency of the U.S. pandemic [non]response.

It's the end of our weird semester here in Little Town, so that means the Great Grading Abyss. It’s like Dante’s nine circles of hell, except not as comfy, and it’s where I’m living now. Ray bought me a giant computer monitor, and I replaced my reading glasses with blue-light-blocking computer readers. Still, I squint like a mole, and my eyeballs feel like Saharan stones. My daily wardrobe starts with an Icy Hot patch on the back of my neck. I piled another cushion on my home office chair, and I added two full-spectrum lights to my workspace. Still, I’m pale as buttermilk (which sounds good right now, since I’ve been living on my office stash of biltong and pumpkin seeds). My weekly Zoom “office hours” with students require me—someone who’s never worn makeup—to slather enough concealer on my eyebags to pave a driveway. Even lipstick can only make me look approaching human. No matter what top I’m wearing, it’s always paired with black sweatpants. If you’re teaching remotely and/or on Zoom much, you know what I mean.

You can't even see the Icy Hot patch & sweatpants.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I can’t wait for the grading to let up long enough to roast a turkey. Mom, Ray, and I will dress in our finest (tops, at least), give thanks for a decent Wifi signal, and walk the iPad around the dining room table, so our kids and grandkids can see the spread—just like the Pilgrims did. Then we’ll put the iPad on a tripod, and we’ll all dig in on camera, from our respective quarantines.

In not-bitter-at-all seriousness, we have SO MUCH to be thankful for this holiday season: each other, the health and kindness of family and friends, the dedication and sacrifice of frontline caretakers (healthcare folks, grocery store staff, gas station staff, child care folks, school staff, and so many others), Dr. Fauci, people who wear masks and respect a 6’ social distance, our Covid canaries Otto and Sylvia and their beautiful, magical singing, the election results, toilet paper, tomatoes from our garden still ripening in the basement in November, music, art, and poetry. And coffee. LOTS of coffee. Back to the 5th circle…

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