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30 March 2020
6:01 am

so yeah, I don't know. I kept falling asleep on the couch last night, so I just went to bed at 10:30p. Woke up about 3:30a and I've just been farting around since then, waiting for the pharmacy to open. What with... everything, of course I ran out of my anti-anxiety med early, so I've been out for three days. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue, but since I've been taking more and more often, it's become a bit of a trial. I've grown irritable over the last couple days, which can happen when you take it too regularly (so can extra anxiety), so here I am in the pre-dawn, counting the hours until I can go pick up a small bottle of tiny pills. If it's been a problem in the past, it wasn't enough of an issue for me to remember it, so I'm going to let myself not feel as though I've done something wrong. It's only a six or so minute drive to the place, but maybe I'll walk just to... y'know.. get out.

I remember now what I realized when I started working at the gas station last year - that even a few days of forced interactions, out of the house, made a huge difference in my social meter. I quit on the 17th. I am very fortunate in this way. I'm already on poor people health insurance, my income wasn't crucial to the household, no future employer is going to blame me for backing out of a job with a high level of customer interaction during a pandemic. I fretted over the choice for a lot of reasons (didn't want to let people down or force them to work more, if I'm there I know things are clean and I can protect our customers, if other people have to suffer so should I) but after working the 13th-15th, I knew my mental health couldn't take it. My health is okay, but I always feel like I'm getting sick so I would have no way of knowing. As a smoker, my lungs aren't great - and of course all attempts at not-smoking have gone entirely in the wrong direction. But moreso I could already feel my interpersonals swelling to an unmanageable level. Concern for people. A barrage of information about people regarding whether they were taking it seriously or not. Paranoid thoughts started to kick in, and not just about getting sick. I don't remember which day, but the moment - sitting on the couch, staring out the window at children on the playground, my face in my hands (impossible not to), and I thought, "Is this even real?" It's a normal enough thought, but for me, I know what that can mean. That moment was a switch. A step into the coping mechanism where life is a movie or a video game. That's not the worst way to go about it, and when I don't have it I sometimes feel like I'm missing something, but I knew that pushing myself to keep working at this time could send me spinning. I wouldn't be doing it for money, I would be doing it out of obligation, and I'm not a social worker or a nurse. It's a gas station.

So, Sunday night, I knew. I'd been thinking about it for awhile already (easy enough since I'd been concerned, and this came on the tail of wanting to quit for awhile for other reasons, and thinking I might have to leave to go to Florida) but decided to think about it through Monday. Dan was leaving it up to me, so on Monday I made my choice. Slept on it just to be sure and went in on Tuesday to chat and drop the hammer. Dory and I talked for about an hour (so strange that our relationship got better after his wife kicked him out because it had been bad enough that I almost walked out on him a couple times) and he kind of knew it was coming. He was disappointed of course, and tried to talk me out of it to a degree, but knew I was doing what I needed to and told me I could come back whenever I "got bored." So, that's not so bad. I said I'd work the rest of the week - and wanted to, for the money, but also to be able to say so long to people - but of course I immediately (like, that night) got sick. It's entirely possible it was psychosomatic, but it still sucked. Of course it was a deep cough, but it started out with a lumpy, very sore throat with no fever. I wasn't (overly) concerned I'd contracted the thing, but I was sick enough that I followed all advice and cancelled the rest of the week. I felt bad about it, but... ah well.

I went in yesterday to pick up my last check and chat about business. While I was there, the boyfriend of one of my scratch-off queens came in and said that she had died. I knew she had been in the hospital but didn't want to ask why... I guess she had stage 4 bladder cancer, they went in to do something with the tumor and it just... killed her. I don't know. That's the second customer death I knew of. There's one other I suspect. His name was Darren, but I had, at home, nicknamed him Vesty. I don't remember the other guy's name, but he reminded me of my dad. He always said "it's a long story, it's a long story," and "what's the damage?" The lady... I don't think I ever knew. She bought cheap bag tobacco, scratch-offs, and one time a Mountain Dew. Back and forth to her car for like an hour. The last time I saw her, she didn't even go out to the car, just stood a few steps away from the counter over by the ice cream cooler. I wonder what she would have done with the money at that point, if she had hit something big. No way to know, now.

Anyway, tomorrow will be two weeks since I've quit. Our official state quarantine started on Friday, so only three days ago, but I've been more or less sheltered since I quit, aside from a couple store trips and a visit to Dan's mom. At first, I didn't feel impacted. Dan already works from home, his job is safe. It wasn't a big deal for me to be out of work, or a big deal to quit. My social life has been quiet in the last year and since it's been winter, I've already been insulated for months. I knew I'd still start to have a tough time with it eventually, but it wouldn't be difficult to continue. I can understand, but not totally relate to the strain on people who have had to make major lifestyle changes.

But with Dan and I being in this house 24/7 and there being nowhere to go (outside or in), I can see that I underestimated somewhat the value of even 24 weekly hours. Even though those hours were spent on the annoying obligation of work and I had gotten over the novelty of a parade of strangers, it forced me out of the house for awhile. And now... here we are. I'm trying to not let it get to me and I know there are ways to work with it, but there remains a concern that it is already starting to get to me. This isn't two weeks anymore. It's not going to be a month. This is our year now. Many of us will do what we need to. Temperatures will continue to rise, restrictions will probably ease as spring turns into summer, and restless, pent-up humans will run free, hug and kiss, streak and throw things, and lick every available surface. Fall will come and we'll all be properly fucked if we aren't already. I hope that's not how it turns out, but that's what I'm planning for. I'm doing my best to not worry about the availability of toilet paper when I still have at least 8 rolls (plus a backup 4 pk of Absolutely Terrible Toilet Paper), but you can't stop me from buying too much coffee. You can't!

Oh, what's that about unchecked anxiety? You goofus.

John was supposed to move back. He was supposed to get back here, away from New York, under the wire. But the plan was that a friend would have flown to him on Saturday, and drive John and the truck back. John cancelled the flight over the friend's reasonable airport concerns. The friend can't drive out there, and both Amtrak and Greyhound are shutdown, so he's stuck. I found that out on Friday and finally felt a strong impact. I cried a lot. Because I miss him, because it feels safer here than there, because he's supposed to be here. Because this is all so surreal and fucked up and pandemics are annoying.

So, I don't know. In my irritability, I got bored, but there's stuff to do. Projects and activities. As far as the video game... I was browsing Steam for cheap entertainment and found a deeply discounted program that makes it simple to program a SNES-style RPG, like my precious Earthbound. After a week or so with the tutorial, I saw how easy it was to do, and I felt like at that point I'd learned enough to create something like that. Obviously it's not that simple to create an actual game, and it's not a fast process, but the programming basics are there. So I started making a goofy game about chickens just to practice and play with the things I'd learned in the tutorial. I'm about 3/4 of the way through the tutorial and still working on applications for the stuff I learned so I haven't gone any further yet. And now that I'm trying to make the chickens into an actual game, I've hit a snag because I'm thinking too much about it instead of writing goofy garbage that turns into something better when I connect it together. I have a storyboard/flow chart thing, for crying out loud! Which is fine and fun and all, but now I'm bottlenecked trying to come up with ideas and a reason to use an application rather than just playing around with it, which is how I found enjoyable success to begin with.

What else. There are plenty of deep cleaning and nesting things to do. House projects we've talked about forever (murphying the guestroom bed, starting a garden, the basement), plenty of my own items - lord knows I need to deal with my Clothes Explosion. There are books I could read, instruments I could play, so many video games... I started a project with a few of my friends (one at a time) where we write a story or something 100 words at a time, alternating back and forth. So far only one of them has actual words. Two I have to start, and I'm waiting for another friend to start. It's a remote connection fun thing.

Maybe that's what I'll work on now. 7:50 and still an hour until the pharmacy opens. Dan will be up soon. Day has arrived.