Journal of the Plague Year 2020: Lamb Chorizo and the Miracle of the World

The plague continues.

I’ve manage to arrange my life in ways that are tolerable, even pleasant.

Every morning, I sing along with “Wonderful,” and with Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt.” Every evening I cook and listen to Andrew Cuomo talk about contact tracing and love and duty. I’ve worked half-time in the lab for weeks without dropping dead, so my human and fallible brain has labeled that low risk, along with other dangerous things that haven’t yet killed me, like commuting on the freeway.

I buy groceries twice a week at the coop instead of chasing all over town for random shit.  Today I looked in vain for ground lamb, though they did have lamb chorizo. There were the usual prim, handwritten notes about how the meat was raised humanely and slaughtered locally, presumably by druids who pray over each lamb and kid, administer a reach-around, then butcher the carcass without waste, making a medicinal stock from the hooves and tail.

The coop has run out of toilet paper, alas. That space on the shelf is taken up by a note suggesting I tweet about abundance, and boxes of sustainable facial tissues that boast “the strength of bamboo and the softness of sugarcane.” I’ve got one roll of the good stuff left; after that, I’ll provide a detailed review of tree-free tissue.

I’m walking in my neighborhood morning and night, noting details for the next volume of elvish adventures, Inglorion in the Elysian Fields. It’s oddly intimate to walk here. The streets are narrow, and many of the bungalows have porches so close to the sidewalk that I hear people’s music and idle talk.

Yesterday I saw a young couple holding hands on their porch, admiring the sunset. We exchanged waves, and the guy — a sweet-looking bearded fellow — said self-consciously, “We just decided to pose out here with flowers.” And sure enough, on the coffee table in front of them, there was a lavish bouquet of roses.

I laughed and said, “You made my night. I was just thinking, I wish I could sit that close to someone.”

His wife or girlfriend burst out, “Ohh!” with ready feminine sympathy. We all laughed, and I walked on. I wondered if I really do wish I could touch someone, or if I’m satisfied as I am. Both, probably.

There are a half-dozen such moments every day: A man playing James Brown on a boombox and sweet-talking a neighbor as she poured out kibble for stray cats. A father riding a bike and pulling two little girls behind in a trailer. He grinned at me broadly as I unloaded my groceries. We all waved.

I do wish — desperately, painfully — that I could stop some of the cruelty. The executive order about the slaughterhouses really got to me. It pisses me off when people are so mentally lazy that they can’t be bothered to make logistical changes to save lives. Of course, that’s late capitalism in a nutshell.

I’m shocked by my good fortune — almost ashamed of it. I love my house and my neighborhood. I have a good job in an industry that’s considered essential.

The volume I’m writing now, Inglorion in the Elysian Fields, concerns death and loss. It’s a fictional undoing project, in which Tereus has a chance to correct his errors, and to live as he’s always wished. It’s grim and sad and ambiguous, but also hopeful. I truly do believe that behind everything, there’s the beauty of life — the sheer miracle of the world.

Confirmed Covid-19 cases in Arizona (as of 4/30): 7,962

Recoveries: 1,499

Deaths: 330



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