Self-Isolation Diaries #23 – Final Entry

If wondering what the hell is going on was an Olympic sport, we’d all be on the podium. And instead of happening every 4 years, it would happen every 40 minutes. And it would be the first ever event that Covid spawned instead of completely obliterated.

The entire world is hungover and tired, but we’re yawning and stretching and seeing the sunlight and knowing that soon we’ll be able to start worrying about the world’s regular, everyday problems like blatant, heart-wrenching racism, and corruption at the highest levels.

We’re far from done though. When will we stop adding “- wear mask” to our calendar events? When will the trust come back?

If we were having a virus exit interview, how would that go? How would we look back on the last 2 months? Were we compassionate? Did we panic? Did we forget ourselves?

If this virus is a test, are we passing?

If this virus is a map, are we lost?

Stay safe. Be kind. Don’t get lost. Don’t forget yourself.

Self-Isolation Diaries – Day 77: Steady now. The ship will right itself.

Self-Isolation Diaries #22

The kid remembers a time she used to go to school. She doesn’t really remember the ancient concept of school, but more of a vague idea of what school was like.
But I remember. I remember what school was like. “freedom 5” I’d said, as I gleefully bought her supplies. Such a clever dude I was, making clever jokes. In the before times.

Do you remember what paying $8 for a beer looks like? I do. God I miss it.

I remember a time when 6 feet was how tall people were, not how far we were from them.

When stores didn’t have dirty taped arrows all over the floor, and I didn’t have to make 3 trips down the world food aisle because I forgot something and couldn’t move backwards.

I remember when game nights were on a table not a computer.

I remember when people wore masks on Halloween not on grocery day.

I remember counting the days until vacation, not until salvation. Checking my phone to read news about a stupid orange president, not a stupid orange safety phase.

I remember gleefully not knowing who the health minister of New brunswick was.

“Don’t worry,” I say to the kid. “You’ll remember what school is soon enough.” And I have that dumb dad smarmyness, but inside I’m worried that she’s going into grade two, and what the hell? Is she like 18 right now? God.

Self-Isolation – Day 62: Cruising Facebook for the angry people cawing ‘too soon’ is my latest isolation hobby.

Self-Isolation Diaries #21

When I was a kid, 5 or younger, which is the pivotal time in which I divide my childhood based on where I lived, and how much school I attended, I had a dream.

I don’t know if the dream spawned from a movie that my irresponsible babysitter (whom I adored) let me watch, or if it was an original manifestation, or if dreams can ever really be an original manifestation. Maybe dreams are only ever mashups forever, making their careers that way, like Girl Talk or Moby.

Anyway in this dream I was driving with my dad in his silver Nissan truck. I was in the front seat, the way 80s kids always were. I loved that truck, and I never really knew why, maybe because he loved it. It would eventually meet its fateful demise when somebody stole it from the drydock parking lot and went on a drunken bender with it. It was found off the road, mangled.

We were driving on this old dirt road in the woods. The road was nice and wide, not too heavily forested, but definitely a remote area. In the dream, the grass on the side of the road was so bright green, and the dirt in the road was a contrasting light brown, and the two colors sang off each other, like old friends, or lovers.

The wheels kicked dirt behind us into oblivion, and we cruised for nothing more than the drive itself.

In the dream there was no music, but to insert another memory into a memory: I remember when my dad went to the McAllister mall and bought the beach boys cassette tape with Kokomo on it, and it immediately became my favorite song until I collided very abruptly with another cassette that starred Alvin and the chipmunks, singing country songs smartly titled “Chipmunks in low places”.

My dad also once told me, around the same time in my life, that his favorite song ever was “American Pie” and then he played it for me in the same silver pickup and I listened to the wordy ballad, only understanding some of it, but loving all of it.

This dream would have had a very strange soundtrack.

The truck rolled, and the sun blazed and the grass sang to the road about whisky and rye and we were alive and happy under a cloudless blue sky.

Then the truck stopped. And we were on the side of the road. We looked into the forest and saw a large cement building. It’s right angles in sharp contrast with nature’s geometry. It was probably 30 feet long, about 10 feet high, and went back inside about 20 feet deep. It had 3 walls. The open side faced the road. A remote, cement, haunted, baseball dugout.

We approached, and I could see the bottom had no bottom at all really, instead, inside was a bunch of floating human skulls. We stood in front of the structure, listening to the wind in the leaves and the buzz of the forest. The cement waterbed of skulls bobbed and clunked like a sort of demented wind chime.

In the back corner, on the wall, was the stone face of an anthropomorphic goat, and from the goat’s mouth poured water, which ran down an algae-stained wall, supplying the pool for the floating skulls below.

I looked up at my dad and he stared quietly for a minute, before wordlessly stepping inside. He started walking on the skulls toward the goat’s head. They held his weight, which seemed impossible. He made some small hand motion, a signal for me to stay, and he continued on the skulls toward the back wall.

He walked slowly, with a calculated gait, measuring each step on each white skull. The skulls flexed and bobbed under his feet and as he approached the face on the wall, the water stopped. The forest yawned a silence, as if someone muted the world, and my father fell through the water, splashing as he went out of sight. The face spewed a violent red blood, which flooded the skulls below, sending a red wave through the structure, and I stood motionless, staring in a quiet disbelief.

Self-Isolation – Day 60: The guy (6 feet) behind me at Pita Pit ordered crispy onions on his pita, and I basically haven’t been able to think about anything else since.

Shelf-Misplacement Diaries #20

Operator: 911 Operator, what’s your emergency?

Woman: Yes I’d like to report a *whispers* gathering.

Operator: *slow keyboard typing* A gathering ma’am?

Woman: *panicked, voice trembling* yes. Of… More than 5 people, I think, I can’t be sure, I can’t get a good look.

Operator: *frenzied keyboard typing* ma’am I need you to stay calm and give me some information. What’s your name and address? 

Woman: My name is Karen, and I’m at 12 Brookside way. 

Operator: mmhmm and what are the perps doing now ma’am?

Karen: Talking, laughing, enjoying… *sobs softly* beverages

Operator: Did you say beverages ma’am?

Karen: Yes, please hurry! 

Operator: Police are on their way ma’am, I need you to stay on the line.

Karen: I’m not going anywhere.

Operator: Tell me about it right?

Karen: Excuse me?

Operator: Just a little quarantine humor there ma’am, can you tell me why I hear birds singing Karen, are you outside right now?

Karen: *short pause* I’m… I’m hiding in the bushes on the edge of their property.

Operator: *keyboard stops clicking* You’re.. in the bushes?

Karen: How else do you suggest I spy on my neighbors? Wait! Wait I see a cop car.

Operator: That’s our officers ma’am, just stay calm and they’ll handle the situation. I’m going to direct the officers of your whereabouts. We don’t need you getting caught in the cross-fire.

Karen: I’m sorry, cross-f…

Police Radio: Yeah come in officer 224, please be advised, caller is in the rose bushes across the street, I repeat, caller is in the hedges. She claims there is a group of at least 5 individuals quote having a good time, over.

Police Radio: *static* Possible code 19, copy that.

Police officer (In background of the phone call): LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, would you kindly place your beverages on the ground and take 3 large steps away from each other.

Filthy Outlaw: Hey man, we’re all at a distance here, and most of us are in a family bubb..

Operator: Oh shit Karen, did you hear that back talk? Shit’s about to go down

Karen: Excuse me? Did you say..

Police Officer: *draws weapon* I asked once, nicely, there won’t be another warning. Now MOVE AWAY FROM EACH OTHER.

Karen: Oh my God, he has his gun out. What the hell is he doing?!

Operator: mmmhmm.

Man in group: Whoa. whoa whoa my dude, did somebody do something, what’s going on?

*gunfire, screams, yelling*

Karen: *sobbing, panicked* Oh my god, oh my god, they’re shooting everybody, what the hell! Help us, please!

Operator: Quiet now Karen, I can’t hear the justice being served. This is what you wanted Karen. This is what’s best for everybody.

Karen: They’re getting in their car, they’re leaving. What the hell…

Police Officer: *static* Come in ops, yeah that situation has been handled. Quarantine restored.

Operator: Copy that, over and out.

Karen: *silence*

Operator: *silence*

Karen: H..Hello operator?

Operator: *Keyboard typing* Yes Karen?

Karen: *softly weeping* I … I can’t really make it out, but I think the neighbors on the other side of my house… I think they’re … congregating

Self-Isolation – Day 54: Everything is fine.

Self-Isolation Diaries #19

We’re leaning on the yellow cement pillars in front of the convenience store that keep drunk high school kids from driving through the store and killing everybody.

You’re drinking out of a paper bag and I wonder how long everybody will maintain the paper bag charade. Like, how long will it be in our culture that covering your drink in public is recommended? It feels like we’re on the cusp of change, at least in that regard.

“You know,” you’re saying, “If this mother-trucker just fell off the edge, and humans just started to bite the biscuit, man, just give me a lounge chair with an umbrella strapped to it, ya know?”

I didn’t know, really. I actually had no idea what you were talking about. But I loved you when you drank so I said sure. I said maybe that’s all any of us ever needs. A lawn chair with an umbrella strapped to it. And maybe the umbrella looks like a watermelon.

Across the parking lot, the sun is making a firm but timely exit and paints the sky a hard orange. Pink comes next, then black: the international flag of the evening, of drinking in a convenience store parking lot. A light on a timer clicks on behind us.

“Yeah man. Gimme that umbrella chair. And we can just watch the whole world lose at BINGO, you know?” You take another bag-drink and chase it with a bite of licorice. Fuckin’ B. I. N. G. O.

I think about how maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the brown bag isn’t on its way out, maybe it’s timeless and will exist until the end of humanity. Will visit our grave sites & leave flowers on our gravestones that read: “Died in their umbrella-lounge-chair thing. Died happy & shaded & mostly horizontal.”

Self -Isolation – Day 39: Finish 3 poems about love, do your taxes, fucking etc.

Self-Isolation Diaries #18

I’m standing in the kitchen, drunk,
eating packs of banana bread bear paws.

You enter, stage left, disgusted.
“What the fuck are you doing?” your face-mouth is saying.

“Whassa matter?” I say, spitting brown crumbs,
“Are we saving these for the KID’S SCHOOL LUNCHES!?”

“Get a hold of yourself,” you’re saying.

God you’re beautiful when you’re mad at me about eating bear paws.

Later, in the upstairs place of the house,
I lay exactly face-down on the floor beside the bed.

I want to know what it feels like to BE a bed.

I can hear your impatient sigh from above.
“You know, just because there’s a pandemic going on,
doesn’t give you free reign to act like a complete tard.”

“Hey man, you can’t say tard,” I say, my voice muffled.

You don’t reply, and we lay like that, in the quiet room.

The window is open slightly,
letting the evening’s birdsong fill the space where the talking use to.

These are the golden days.

Self-Isolation – Day 36: In which the entire country learns the joys of driveway drinking.

Self-Isolation Diaries #17

Trevor was stealing colt 45’s when he found out his dad had cancer.
His sister from Ottawa called, and blurted it through tears before hanging up.
A colt 45 dropped from waist height will break exactly 84% of the time.
The beer ran under the small convenience store shelving and emerged in the next aisle.

***

Uri ran the convenience store full time,
and got robbed at gun point part-time, on the side.
He unboxed penny candy and telephone minute cards,
and thought about the rent, and about his old job back home, as a brain surgeon.
(where he would get his secretary, part-time, on the side.)
He wondered how many of these cards would get stolen (exactly 18%)

***

Jessica ran out of minutes on her phone mid-proposal,
devastating both parties involved. He thought she hung up on him.
She swore loudly, and threw her phone at the sidewalk (72% chance of breaking).
The phone exploded, offering pieces of personal information in every direction.
She collapsed on the sidewalk sobbing.
She might have even said yes.

***

Glenn was a street sweeper with a winning lottery ticket,
that wouldn’t be drawn for three more days.
His father named him Glenn so that we would have the perfect name for street sweeping,
and when applying for the job, he had added under skills & assets “my name is Glenn.”
He wasn’t married, and had never kissed a girl,
though he thought the one crying on the sidewalk was awfully pretty.
(4% chance of a first date, 87% chance, three days from now.)

Self-Isolation – Day 33: Breathe dudes.

Self-Isolation Diaries #16

Outside everyday now,
dodging fines for waving.

We count the days by the dishwasher load,
by the craft, by the amount of times I sweep the kitchen.
We use hobbies to survive,
Making beer becomes a family event,
Writing something becomes an afternoon.
‘Baking’ is just a whole day in the calendar now.
Days measured by events rather than their numbers.
We bake cookies, we eat the cookies.

Adding: “Don’t get day-drunk” to the todo list,
Then pushing it back a day.

It’s harder to tell with the kids,
to see what’s happening in their heads.
How the wheels are turning,
and if this foolishness is jamming the gears at all.
They climb the trees, and start clubs
(I joined the ‘trik club’ which had a sign-up sheet,
and had me watch a kid swing on a branch for 10 minutes.)

Everybody dreams all the time.
As if our minds are searching for a parking space that never opens up.
As if our minds can’t rest until we’re free to go to the beach.
I don’t want to go to the beach, I hate the fucking beach.
I want to be able to say no to going to the beach.
This is the normal we seek.

Self-Isolation – Day 31: Youtube videos about old Nintendo games.

Self-Isolation Diaries #15

You’d always tell me how many chimneys the building we were in had.
Like some sort of chimney rain man.
I never knew how to respond, or what exactly to do with the information.
I’d nod and say, “OK, thank you.”

The day we robbed the bank together
We felt the rush of a very bad idea being played out.
Our lack of preparation never slowed us down,
and we made off with our satchel filled with money.
Two blocks down the road it exploded
and we were left standing on the sidewalk, covered in blue ink
While the sirens came closer.

In jail we’d scheme about ways to escape.
About digging, or climbing, or bribing, or sneaking.
I would tell you all the time how quiet we would have to be.
How we would buy a boat and float to Mexico, or the Caribbean.
You’d think for a while, before telling me the jail had 8 chimneys.

Self-Isolation – Day One Million – The good isn’t actually that hard to find.

Self-Isolation Diaries #14

You’re the type of person who has a strong opinion on soups.
That’s opinion not onion.
Which is not to say you don’t have a strong opinion of onion soup.

You’d embrace late-season snow storms
Saying they were there to keep our entitlement in check.
I’d say nothing, slipping my boots on and silently refusing to clear the driveway.

And so we go back and forth like that
Having half-hearted opinions on things that don’t matter.
Me, clearing the snow off your car, and you making me soup.

Self-Isolation – Day 26: Finding it harder to find the good.