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The Great Flattening

Things aren’t so bad in Minnesota as in other places, for which I’m grateful. I’m home, mostly, unless I’m going to the store or my girlfriend’s apartment, by foot or by bike, playing Frogger all the way trying to dodge other humans. Our respective offices went work-from-home only a week or so before the orders came down in Minnesota that everyone should do that. Feels like we’ve been at this a while now. Maybe we have? Time is hard now. It’s all in service of “flattening the curve”, they say. Happy to help. Flattening, flattening. It feels like The Great Flattening, doesn’t it? Hours all flattened together, days, weeks. Long walks to nowhere. Every meal made or a leftover from a pantry you suddenly know all-too-well. It’s not all bad, of course, but it is indeed very flat.

In addition to the general strangeness of the world it’s a strange time personally. While any given day feels like an echo, two of the biggest aspects of my life — where I live and where I work — are now, or soon to be, different. The pandemic economy made my previous job at a consultancy non-viable right quick. It felt like it just happened but it’s also been a couple of weeks now? My days are a blur of messages received and sent, calls scheduled, great chatting with you, looking forward to hearing more. Meanwhile, I just an hour ago signed into my utility company’s website to schedule billing to stop on this place (of four years) and start at my new place in a few weeks. I’m living in a double-quarantine state of myself being at home and many of my things already packed away in boxes. Flat-packed.

My Instagram ads are all for pants now? I’ve never had less need of them.

There’s a shock and a grief to all this, which flattens, too. I am anxious at times, or angry, or sad, or scared. But not too much, not so noticeably. Mostly, I’m just here. Just being.

It is a miracle of this present moment that I am writing anything at all, as it’s seemed like there’s so little to say when so much is all the same. But the sun was out today, and I drank some coffee on my deck, and I am forcing myself to move these fingers over this keyboard because I am rather very tired of the flatness and I fear it overtaking me.

… and then some time passes, between what I wrote before and what I write next …

I had a therapy appointment a few hours ago. I’m grateful to still be able to afford it, to afford home internet to access it, and to have a therapist who’s technical enough to use a non-Zoom platform for virtual appointments. I usually have to block out my morning or afternoon, or sometimes a whole day, around therapy. I take it seriously, and I try to take some time to chew on the conversation and outcomes. That’s not what happened just now. No one’s fault. But a video call is a video call, and it felt like all the others. Is this therapy or consulting? Catching up with a friend? Job interview? Watching a celebrity on a livestream? It’s me and a screen, disembodied voices, flat, flat, flattening.

She suggested I write it all out, all my projects and worries and concerns and next steps, on a big sheet of paper. And then make a little plan each day about what to do. Which is basically what I recommend to people, too, in a different context. But I don’t have any big paper here, just little notebooks. Or maybe I do, but it’s packed away.

My plants seem to be wilting. Maybe I’m just noticing them more, being here.