Aaaannd another month’s gone by. Somehow you’d think time would pass more slowly in lockdown, but if anything it almost seems to have sped up. The only difference is now it’s harder to keep track of what the day and date is, not that it was ever one of my stronger skills.
There have been a few changes, anyway. The country turned upside down with protests over police violence and Richmond is down a few statues with more likely on the way out. Like most folks, I’m on board with the peaceful protests, but not with the violence and vandalism that’s too often gone with it. Much of the latter seems to be the work of individuals or groups that have nothing to do with Black Lives Matter or any other legitimate movement; they’re just hooligans and anarchists who’ve latched onto an excuse to wage destruction under the smoke screen of the protests. As far as Richmond’s Confederate-era statues are concerned, I believe they were on the way out, anyway, and I won’t miss them. But removing them this way only prevents any opportunity at closure or resolution in the community, slow as that process was moving. I don’t know how long it would have taken to get us to the point where they could have been removed with something close to community consensus, but done this way, it’ll just be another point of contention for those folks who valued them; they’ll always be something that was “taken away,” something else to resent and hold a grudge about for another generation. La plus ça change.
Last week, I went back to campus to set up for a special event, and had halfway intended to drive past the statues or their former sites to see things for myself, but by the time I was done setting up, I was just ready to go home. Double-masked as I was, in 90 degree heat, it was all I could do to stay vertical after pushing a cart for four blocks. Campus was eerily empty, the office deserted. I saw a few people walking around, about half of them with masks, but even those with masks mostly kept them hanging loosely around their necks and only raised them to their face if they felt they were getting too close to someone. Of course touching a mask all the time is almost as bad as not wearing it at all. In general, Virginia’s done a lousy job of complying with, first, the stay at home orders and now, wearing masks. Our numbers aren’t (supposedly) as bad as some other states, but as there are apparently no rules or consistent standards for how to compile numbers, not much interest in giving tests even to people with symptoms, and all sorts of hanky-panky going on with counting, it’s anyone’s guess exactly what shape we’re in.
Tomorrow, VCU begins reopening in phases, with employees returning in gradually increasing numbers until the start of the Fall semester. The semester itself will start a few days early, barrel along with no fall break and end at Thanksgiving. My team and I will continue on with telework unless we have to come in for video productions, which hopefully we can limit to one-man jobs, and take turns.
Out of an abundance of caution, and to test how feasible it would be if we had to do a real quarantine, I stayed in the garage for four days after my VCU visit. I set up the inflatable mattress for a bed, borrowed Jason’s zero-gravity chair to relax in and hooked up the laptop to work (the garage is right under the wireless router, anyway). I have to say it wasn’t an entirely unpleasant experience. Laura cooked me hot meals and left them on the porch for “contact-less pickup” and I got out of household chores. We bought a shower tent and I set it up in the backyard and used it a couple times. It worked pretty well, and should be useful on camping trips. After spending over 3 months in lockdown with the same 4 people — even if they are my favorite 4 people — it was nice to have some alone time, although going from limited socializing to none at all was a bit daunting. I feel for those folks who live entirely alone in these times.
Anyway, we’ll see what July brings. It’s not very appealing to imagine spending the rest of 2020 on a short leash, but at the moment it’s still hard to imagine traveling any real distance in the next few months, or doing anything once we got there. It’s equally hard to imagine going to a movie theater, or a restaurant, or church. Maybe things will start looking up and we’ll change our minds, but it’s not looking promising at the moment. Too many people seem to be equating “eased restrictions” with “okay to go back to normal,” and the numbers are already showing the folly of that.
Well, this has to count as one my more depressing entries in a while, but I want to get in at least one post per month. I’ll make the next break shorter and try to post something more upbeat next tme.