I wrote the following this morning, in my journal. I thought (perhaps wrongly) that it might resonate with — or even help — others. So, I am sharing it here.
Welcome to pandemic day 250. If your pandemic life started on March 14th (as mine did), today is day 250. Many months ago, I decided that day 250 would be the halfway point: 250 days of plague down, 250 to go!
I have no idea when the plague will end, nor what an “end” might look like. But 250 days is halfway to 500 days — which, if my calculations are correct, is July 26, 2021.
Having made it to day 250 feels like an accomplishment. Having made it to day 250 without catching or perishing from coronavirus feels like an accomplishment. I know it isn’t an accomplishment. I cannot attribute my health solely to the fact that I social-distance, wear a mask, wash my hands, etc. I am in a low-risk profession, and so is Karin. There are but two of us in the household. Our town has a mask mandate that most people follow at least some of the time. I did not achieve these or the many other factors that lower my risk.
But arriving at day 250 still feels like I have achieved something.
I suppose I have endured 250 days of a global pandemic. And I’ve endured it while living under a murderous, autocratic regime that is helping the virus kill as many people as possible. As it works to take away health care, the regime also ignores science, hosts superspreader events, infects the body politic with misinformation, and now — by blocking the transition — impedes its successor from managing the plague.
It might not be an achievement, but enduring the past 250 days is worth celebrating — or at least noting.
Counting the days maps plague time, and helps me locate myself in that time. As many have (correctly!) observed, time feels different during the pandemic. Keeping count of the days is one way of noting that difference.
True, like all clocks and calendars, my plague-day-count is just another way of imagining that illusory phenomenon we call “time.” It’s not even a very creative tool of measurement: I use days, and thus rely upon the conventional calendar. The primary difference is that my calendar begins March 14, 2020, and it ends when the plague ends — which is unlikely to be July 26, 2021.
Because that end-date is too optimistic.
But counting towards it (and beyond it) does help me imagine a post-plague future. What’s more, it helps me imagine myself and others inhabiting that post-plague future.
I can’t know if we will. But I don’t need to know.
Imagining will suffice for now.
I know that death and hunger yet stalk the land, while the gullible seek nourishment in conspiracy theories promoted by powerful hypocrites. I am aware that the next few months will be volatile and perilous. And, as ever, those dangers will be borne more by the marginalized and minoritized.
But we are here. We have come this far.
And if we can imagine a better future, then we can build it.
So, I will keep counting the days of the pandemic, and the days (63!) until the new administration takes office.
I will keep looking forward.
Photo #1: selfie, wearing a Magritte Son of Man mask (made by CoverMyMouth), 14 Nov. 2020. Photo #2: Sunset Cemetery at sunset, Manhattan, Kansas, 17 Nov. 2020.
- What Is Your COVID-19 Routine?
- Resist the Regime
- “Fight Fascism. Vote Clinton.” (Dedicate Your No-Trump Vote, 30 Sept. 2016)
- Surviving Trumpism. Restoring Democracy. (12 Nov. 2016). I wrote this less than a week after the 2016 election.
- The Public University in an Age of Alt-Facts: Remarks on Receiving a Higuchi Award (13 Dec. 2016)
- “Resolutions for a New Academic Year: A survival guide for higher education in perilous times” (Chronicle of Higher Education, 5 Sept. 2017)
- RESIST! Year #2 begins NOW. (7 Nov. 2017)
- Why Trump Jails Crying Children. How We Resist. (A Twitter Essay) (21 June 2018)
- RESIST! A mix for 2019 (30 Jan. 2019)
- Kansas’ Distinguished Professors call for end to International Student Ban (11 July 2020)
- A Democracy, If We Can Keep It (29 Aug. 2020)
- This Mix Kills Fascists (30 Sept. 2020). My RESIST! mix for 2020.
- Children’s Literature vs. the Regime
- Refugee Stories for Young Readers (Public Books, 23 Mar. 2017). Francesca Sanna’s The Journey and other contemporary refugee tales for children.
- Donald and the Golden Crayon (20 Oct. 2018). The first book to adapt Crockett Johnson’s children’s books for political satire.
- Migration, Refugees, and Diaspora in Children’s Literature (ChLAQ) (11 Dec. 2018). Blog post announcing special issue of the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly on this subject, including excerpts from my introduction.
- Harold vs. Donald, round 2 (9 Sept. 2019)
- “Trump is a liar. Tell children the truth” (Public Books, 15 Oct. 2019). See also the related blog post on the essay.
- “A Manifesto for Radical Children’s Literature (and an Argument Against Radical Aesthetics)” (Barnboken: tidskrift för barnlitteraturforskning/Journal of Children’s Literature Research no. 42, Dec. 2019)