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  • Writer's pictureMark Love

And Now We Wait: Keeping Sane In our "Cancel Everything" World (advice from my Seattleite friends)

Prepped and ready. Toilet paper and cans of beans, hand soap and pasta, paper towels and bags of chips. Here we go.

But where are we going? Nowhere, of course.

So last night we were all sitting around talking, wondering what happens next. Everybody out there seems to know how to prevent and how to prepare, but nobody seems to be talking about what to do once the front door is closed. What is life like during total societal shut-down? Nobody knows, because none of us have ever lived it.

"Seattle!" I said. "They know!" America's corona-ground-zero is two hours behind us but two weeks ahead of us apocalypse-wise. I have several friends in Seattle. I messaged them all with the same two questions: What's it like, and What advice do you have for us? They all wrote back. Maybe if you're waiting and wondering like me you'll find their answers helpful:

What's It Like?

Shannon: "It's downright bizarre and after today, very nervous. The service industry is collapsing. Restaurants closing permanently left and right. No traffic. Tourist spots empty. As of today, the fish throwers were still there at Pike Place, entertaining the few brave folks still out and about. Tomorrow is the first day all public schools will be closed and remain so for a minimum of two weeks. The city and State are doing their best to mitigate hardship, but people are really scared about the future. King, Pierce, and Snohomish County Schools are closed until at least April 24. Mass is cancelled. Most church gatherings are cancelled. Shows cancelled. Zoo, Aquarium, etc closed."

Jen: "It’s a little bizarre, for sure. I’ve been on “strongly encouraged” work from home status for a week. All gatherings cancelled. Restaurants are closing (temporarily or permanently) and as of tonight Seattle schools are all closed for minimum of two weeks. The hardships some families are going to experience is unimaginable. Grocery store was mainly normal, except shoppers wearing gloves, and one using a copious number of Clorox wipes. And there truly isn’t toilet paper or Purell. But no traffic, no one out and about anywhere. Triage tent outside the ER in my hometown to check people before they go in. And no end to any of this insight. Just... weird."

Adam: "Things are pretty chaotic. Schools are cancelled for 2 weeks county wide, [wife] Vans was supposed to host a big conference last weekend and it got cancelled, I was practically the only human except for some employees standing around at Home Depot."

Lotte: "Since Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, Facebook declared working from home demands last week, the roads are freakishly quiet and the small businesses and restaurants are suffering GREATLY. And we are only less than a week into this! Huge restaurant companies (think of a chain like the Pappas Group) announcing they are closing for the unforeseen future. It’s scary as hell. Left and right I’m getting emails from this and that restaurant or store saying they will be closing or staying open only a few days a week. [Husband] Dean works for a large restaurant group and he has been put on a hiring freeze and “non-essentials”ordering freeze. He’s down 30% from just last week, with it getting worse day by day. Governor just announced today that Puget Sound area schools will be closed for SIX weeks! My co-workers are understandably freaking out about how they are going to be able to work now. It’s a scary time. It’s ALL anyone is talking about."

What Advice Do You Have For Us?

Shannon: "Buckle up and be sure to have a supply of books/hobby materials whatever. And make peace with the folks you live with. I feel terrible for the homeless and those in bad living situations. We've been reading, playing games, and watching movies."

Jen: "As for prepping... it’s all about food and boredom. Fresh veggies have been hit or miss, so think do creative meals you can use with dried/frozen stuff... that you have space for. So far produce section is mostly ok, but a coworker said hers was decimated the other morning. (I did see things being restocked at my store so until Trump does something else stupid that affects our imports we might be on.) Go for walks. Glad you’ll still be able to work, that will help. Hopefully you still have work to do and the panic hasn’t impacted that. Books, movies. And don’t want read/watch too much news. Enough to stay informed but it is so easy to reach a saturation point and be overwhelmed with anxiety and a feeling of helplessness. I highly recommend avoiding that. And if you have anything in your tank left to give (which you very well may not) keep writing. I love your writing, as do others. And I think it’s therapeutic for you, too. Oh. Stock up on Kleenex. I find myself reach for Kleenex when I really need to scratch my face. Hate the waste, but..."

Adam: "Stay home! I think the best way we can handle all of this is to keep a healthy distance but also not be fearful. We still need to shop and eat...Although we are social people we should refrain from large groups. Since I’m a stay at home Dad to a toddler I am getting a little stir crazy. I still haven’t figured out how I am going to mentally manage the idea of not taking him to our regular play spots for the unforeseeable future."

Lotte: "We have stocked our pantries and bought our toilet paper and hoping and praying for the best. If you see any, buy all the Purell you can get your hands on!!!! It’s a hot commodity around here. One agent wanted to buy my desk pump one for $100 the other day for her open house. I really hope she was kidding. It’s all terrifying right now. I can’t look at my 401K. But the sun is shining and I’m breathing and I have a roof above my head. There’s that. :) <3"

Thanks Seattle friends. Stay inside, stay well, stay hopeful.

We in this house have made a plan together. Rules and goals for each day were stuck at home: Walk the loop (3 1/2 miles around the neighborhood) every morning instead of going to the gym. Be productive or creative at least six hours every day (make something, fix something, work in the garden, write, practice music, study chemistry). Don't eat or drink too much. Clean the house every single day. Respect our need, and each other's need, for alone time. Call/Facetime friends and family often. Limit consumption of news.

We'll see how it goes. This will pass. Until then, let's all make the best of the situation, of our time together, and of ourselves.

Good luck my friends. See you on the other side.

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