Covid Days: The Hardware Store

I just needed a couple of keys cut, but these guys needed everything. I couldn’t tell if they were drunk, on heavy meds or just done with the whole Covid Thing. They had masks on, although the older guy’s mask barely hung over his disheveled beard while his younger companion pulled his mask down every time he talked. That’s a weird pattern of many people during these trying times. Makes you think they don’t understand what the purpose of the mask is in the first place.

Anyway, drunk, drugged or just weirded out by the Covid days, neither of these guys used an inside voice nor seemed to care about the others in the store.

“I need a chair!” The older guy half yelled, almost like he was in pain. “I got to sit down.”

His companion, maybe in his early 30’s, pulled his mask down and went up to cashier. “I need a chair.”

She frowned. “You need what?”

“You know, one of those folding chairs, for camping. A chair.”

The older guy sat down heavily on the stairs. “I don’t need to buy a chair! I just need to sit!”

“Oh, okay.” The companion wheeled back and forth. “We don’t need a chair then.”

“I need a lock!” The older guy slumped forward, his hoodie cloaking much of his face, an exhausted Obi Wan Kenobi. “Come on!”

“What kind of a lock?”

“You know! A lock!”

“Okay.” He turned back to the cashier. “We need a lock.”

“What kind of lock?” She asked nervously.

“What kind of a lock do you need?” The companion asked the older guy.

“When I get home, I need to lock my stuff up so no one can get in, right?”

“He needs a lock.”

“Do you mean the cylinder?” The woman asked.

The companion looked back. “Do you mean the cylinder?”

“I need the damn lock, man! Get me the best one!”

“The best one you have, all right?” He repeated to the cashier.

The cashier wandered off, unsure of what to do, while another cashier came available for me. I gave him my keys. “Three copies of each, please.”

The other cashier returned. “What kind of lock do you need?”

“I need a damn lock to keep people from taking my stuff, man!” The old man was really yelling now. “Like you have when you come home? I need that!”

“We don’t have that. I’m sorry.”

The younger guy didn’t seem to care about any of it, like it was all a long and winding game. “They don’t have it.”

“What about a pressure cooker? They got that?”

He turned to the cashier. “Do you have a pressure cooker?”

“They don’t have it.”

“Pots and pans. I need pots and pans!”

“Okay.” The young guy was smiling crazily, like he unsure of where he was and what this was all about. “Do you have any pots and pans?”

“I’m sorry.”

My keys were cut. “Thank you.”

“Soups! You got any kind of soups? Jiffy Pop! I need that.” It didn’t look like they were going anywhere soon.

Pandemic Accomplishments: Six Months and Counting

Half a year of pseudo-quarantining into the Covid-19 Pandemic, 921,000 people dead worldwide, another surge predicted, and I’m still hanging on in my insular world. Lots of reading, writing and weird sports viewing mark the time of most days along with an occasional trip to my new venue, The Full Shilling, with outdoor seating!

My latest accomplishments include:

  1. Finally left the city, once to see the drive-in premiere of Andrea Mastrovito’s I Am Not Legend, and then, on a week-long trip to Maine for lobster and more lobster.

2. Began workouts on the elliptical and stationary bike, as well as having proper walks again, including Lower Manhattan circumnavigations.

3. Returned to writing in earnest, beginning the first draft of my autobiography, Fuck Pedagogy and returning to the fifth draft of Anori (Book One of Cx Trilogy).

4. Discovered the measured combination of Budweiser, Camel Crush, Nomad and Stoney Patch almost on par with Oxycodone.

5. Put back the 15 pounds I lost after surgery.

6. Won a shit load of acorns on Level 1552 of Fishdom.

The Art of Dialogue: “You Talking to Me?”

The best thing about my writing is the dialogue. It flows.

“Who says that?”

I watch how people interact. I listen to how they speak.

“And?”

And so I replicate that interaction. I make it sound real.

“You know something I realized?”

Should I identify you as a voice?

“Covid’s always been here.” The disembodied voice was both gruff and shrill. “It’s not a new thing.”

Cross-talking. That’s one of my things.

“We just found out about it now. That’s all. That’s it. But it’s always been here.”

That’s when one person is talking about one thing, and the other one talks about another, and they barely listen to each other, if at all.

“I had Covid.” The voice was irritated now, probably because it wasn’t being listened to like it wanted. “I was one of the first. I went to a bar in Rhode Island. The whole state had it two weeks after that.”

My editor said that it doesn’t work.

“What doesn’t work? I’m telling you I was Case Fucking A in Rhode Island.”

Cross-talk. He says that the reader doesn’t like it because they have to do too much work to figure it out.

“I don’t know who the hell your editor is, but I agree with him.”

I had a feeling you would say something like that.

“If you listened for half of a second, you might maybe understand half of one thing. Covid is a thing, all right. But it’s just one thing. I mean, they say it’s 19, but I bet you there’s been 2,000 of them already.”

2,000 what? 2,000 people you infected?

“Covids, man! Strands, all strands of the same thing!”

What is that based on? You know anything about biology?

“It’s not just humans and plants. It’s everything, the water, the air, the fucking cosmos.”

You lost me.

“You know how I know you’re full of shit?” The voice paced back and forth behind me, always on the side I couldn’t see. “You got nothing published. Zilch, zero, nida.”

Nada.

“A great big fucking goose egg, am I right?”

Published books?

“You got something out there I can read? Something I can actually hold in my hands?”

You can’t actually hold words in your hands.

“Actually? You really going to use that word twice?”

Uh, well, you said it, and then I–

“Yes?” It was breathing down my neck. “Or no?”

I thought about saying nothing but I knew that wouldn’t work. No. I said that.

“Ah-ha!” It had gone to the far edge of the room, almost out the apartment. I expected to hear the door close. But it didn’t.

It’s not like I’m not aware of that.

“My point is that–“

I know, I know. Covid’s always been here.

“If you’ve never been published, how can you have an editor? That’s my point, Einstein.”

I hired him. I paid him to read my book.

“Why the fuck…?” It chuckled or scoffed, something derisive. “You paid him to tell you that you can’t write? That is so fucked up.”

Don’t you read my blog? I wrote about all of this two weeks ago.

“You writing about Covid?”

Covid? Why would I write about Covid?

“And why would I read your blog?”

Well, I write about what I’ve done during the pandemic, things I’ve read, how Covid has affected me.

“Trump’s fucked. I tell you that.”

What?

“That fucker, Trump.” The voice almost came into view. “He’s done.”

Well, at least we can agree on that.

“You should get him to sell your book. What about that? You could work out some kind of weird deal with him or something.” The voice faded.

Signed in blood. Is that what you mean?

There was no response.

Pandemic Accomplishments: Five Months Complete

I have these moments where I think incredible things might happen in my day, that I might realize something completely true about who I am. It is utterly vivid, so much that I believe it entirely. And then I try to pin it down to something tangible and it drifts away.

Elizabeth Warren, Ruth Ginsberg & Mike Palamateer look out over all

Anyway, this is what I have accomplished in the last few pandemic weeks:

  1. Overcame a mild pain killer addiction
  2. Read a Nietzsche biography
  3. Interviewed for a job
  4. Started to drink again (see 1)
  5. Began to finally lose interest in Fishdom (at Level 1375)
  6. Went out for dinner (first time in five months)
  7. Focused my search for my first ever published work – a letter to Marvel Team Up Comic.

Pandemic Accomplishments: Week 18

I can now walk on my two new knees. There’s a long way to go, but rehab is in full swing and I’ve been able to get up the two flights of stairs to the roof.

I read John Elder Robinson’s Look Me in the Eye, an autobiography of someone living with Asperger’s Syndrome when there was such diagnosis. I knew I was some kind of misfit, but it was becoming apparent that some of the grown-ups who smiled sweetly and told me how terrible and fucked up I was were complete fuck-ups themselves.

I gained momentum on the writing front, mostly with these blogs, and plan to re-work Baller and Wave That Flag next week. Part three of The Cx Trilogy, Mina, awaits.

I reached Level 1208 of Fishdom, which means that I got through Level 1193, a level where bonus bombs, lightning and dynamite basically offer no help at all. 30+ attempts and I was finally moving on.

Haunted by Her Pandemic Laugh

One thing that will haunt me from the pandemic is the sound of my therapist’s laugh on-line. It is the most awkward thing, blurting, loud and constant.

It was odd because I had hardly noticed it when we met in person. And yet it was a monstrosity over the computer, so much so that I eventually stopped showing up for my sessions. I paid her, but I just couldn’t listen to that fucking laugh any more.

Pandemic Rant: The Aquarist Club

Listen, I understood from the beginning that the pandemic was going to be a tough thing. I knew that I would have to stay indoors, wear a mask and carry on the good fight against depression and gloom.

What I didn’t know was that the rewards for The Aquarist Club (Level 793 of Fishdom) would be basically nothing.

Pandemic Rant: The Aquarist Club

Truth be told, I expected that I would have to grapple with the horrifying statistics of so many deaths, to talk with friends and colleagues suffering through their grief and, indeed, only be able to attend my mother’s funeral on-line.

But if The Aquarist Club is going to take 35 levels to achieve, including four timed rounds, five Hard Levels and three Super Hard, there would have to be more than a Bonus Hammer and Bonus Hand. Right? At least three times that, ten times!

Pandemic Rant: The Aquarist Club

And even if my knee replacements have been delayed another week and I have to do the Covid test again and a Cat Scan to find there is bullshit in my lungs, and then have to self-inject blood thinners into my gut twice a day, I can do that. I can.

But…but if you have to decorate an entire Aquarist Club with rugs and chairs and pictures and everything else, there absolutely has to be more than an fucking sailboat as the premium reward.

Pandemic Rant: The Aquarist Club

The ongoing racism of this conflicted country was inevitable too, as was the social upheaval, the protests and anger at least a hundred years overdue. I wasn’t even surprised that I lost my job, like so many other people did, even if the Values & Beliefs Chair went too far and called me discriminatory – not in the good way. And I can cope with all of this. I really can.

But, holy good god, there’s got to be more than 78 lousy gold coins for finishing the Aquarist Club. What does 78 gold coins even buy? A third of the cheapest decoration, if that. And that is simply too much. Too damn much.

Pandemic Rant: The Aquarist Club

I mean, everyone has their breaking point.