This weekend was rough. On Friday my friend D spent the night and in the morning we learned his live-in partner had gotten sick. My roommate had left the city with an exhortation to download Citizen, which I’d declined to do before because I don’t need more racist scaremongering in my life. He then gave me his baseball bat and told me to stay safe.
So between being scared to go outside, being totally alone, and being unable to see D or any of my other friends for fear of getting them sick for who knows how long I was in a bad place.
That same day my friend who I went to see in Colombia asked me to talk him through whether he should come home (but not to see me).
In therapy this week we talked about self-regard as a scaffolding that we’re constantly either reinforcing or tearing apart. When we criticize ourselves we remove a support beam. And when we congratulate ourselves we add one. So my homework this week is to tell myself I’m proud of myself when I do the right thing. Also, if I need it, to set aside a place in my apartment that’s for serenity. No stress or worrying allowed there. And to give myself a time each day for worrying. I’ve decided it’s between 3-3:30.
It’s tough for me to feel like I’m meeting my own standards. I don’t know when I can say I’m doing my best. I’m trying to stop “shoulding” on myself as much. Instead of saying, “I should lift weights,” I’m trying to say, “I’ll be proud of myself and feel better physically if I lift weights.”
All told, it’s a great time to be a workaholic introvert. Goldman Sachs estimated that 2.25 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims this week, the highest number on record.
My heart absolutely breaks for people who are out of work right now. Work is absolutely saving me. I love working, and I’ve been able to work even more, which has been great. I can’t imagine being home, alone, bored, and worried about money right now.
Mike Tanner brought up another interesting question, which is how do you balance preventing COVID-19 deaths and the economy? It’s not just money. Economic collapse also costs lives, in terms of deaths of despair, lack of access to healthcare, and other factors. Loneliness itself is worse for your health than smoking. Recessions disproportionately harm younger workers. By sheltering in place, are we sacrificing the lives and economic futures of young Americans to protect the lives of elderly Americans? Millennials still haven’t recovered economically from the Boomer-caused Great Recession. Boomers have more assets, less debt, and are more likely to own their home compared with Millennials and Gen Z. Starting with Gen X, America’s young people can no longer expect to have a higher standard of living than their parents. In addition, America’s tax system redistributes wealth from America’s younger and relatively poorer to our older and relatively more wealthy citizens via the payroll tax, Mortgage Income Tax Deduction, and more. To what extent is any of this moral or advisable? To what extent is the COVID-19 response more of the same?
It seems clear to me that we need to work on getting the economy back up and running as quickly as possible, and for that to happen we need widespread testing. I’m still not sure where the motherfuckin tests are and I’m still mad as hell about that. Especially now that my friends are getting sick.
I don’t have any answers but I think these are questions worth wrestling with.
In the meantime, stay safe my babies.