Living in the Age of Disease • Part 2

This is day #38 of Quarantine.

I escaped yesterday into a semblance of my previous life. I drove the car across the big bridge (something I haven’t done in about 10 days), and over to San Diego’s Sports Arena area, which is named after a big, antiquated facility more famous for the swap meet that sits in its parking lot each weekend than any given sporting event or team. Neither the swap meet or sports are active right now. I went out to get gas, because, let’s face it, gas is cheap right now, $2.55/gallon, which is alternate universe pricing here in Southern California.

And I went to Target. Ah, Target—my regular Friday date night—how I’ve missed you. This particular one had no lines to get in, relatively few customers (I had to dodge and weave a little, along with muttering “wear a fucking mask, you morons” quite a bit), but I found pretty much everything I wanted, even the much-coveted toilet paper, in my favorite brand. I have never been the type to buy anything in bulk. A) I like shopping, for the most part—it gets me out of the house when such behavior is allow, and B) I just don’t have the space in a one-bedroom apartment to store 12 rolls of paper towels without repurposing them as furniture.

Even though it’s my Target of choice, I hadn’t been to this store much lately. it was undergoing one of those extensive remodels, which make it different every time you visit. And while it may seem strange to hear me rave about Target for a few paragraphs, let’s face it: A trip to Target is, in essence, a return to some kind of normalcy. I also threw in a pop-in to Ralphs, a large grocery store a few doors down in this particular strip mall, and take-out lunch at Habit, a SoCal burger joint chain that has good, cheap, burgers and fries. It was as close to a “normal” Friday as I could come, even though it was Saturday.

As local and state government officials weigh the possibilities of “reopening” life as we know it, I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt to do something normal. Five-plus weeks into quarantine, with only a few walks and trips to local stores and restaurants for supplies and take-out food have been more than enough for even an introvert like me. (Actually, I prefer the term “bitter recluse,” but that’s just me, I guess.) We had a couple of days last week that seemed like summer: mid-70s, clear, blue skies, gentle breezes … enough to make me clean off my balcony and get back to sitting outside. But now it’s cloudy and cool again, so the promise of an imminent summer has diminished a bit.

I continue with my daily routines, as we all do. Today, it’s my normal Sunday laundry and cleaning, followed by a movie (I’m considering watching all of the James Bond movies again, at least all of those I can stomach … I’m not a fan of the Roger Moore ones, to be honest, even though I find him to be a very likeable actor. But, who knows? I recently watched Diamonds Are Forever again, the last Sean Connery Bond, and it wasn’t as horribly bad as I remember. Bad? Yes, but not horribly.) I work Monday through Friday, and have a major work-related project coming up, even though we are essentially shut down from presenting our normal “product” this year. I’m grateful to have season six of Bosch to watch, even though I only have two episodes left. And there’s always something to read … I’m currently on a non-fiction kick, having read Erik Larson’s excellent The Splendid and the Vile, about Churchill’s first year as prime minister during the beginning of World War II. I’m reading two great pop culture oral histories, Nobody Does It Better: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized History of James Bond, by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross, and The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s by Andy Greene.  Both are fascinating looks at these two pop culture touchstones. I love the oral history format, where interviews tell the behind-the-scenes stories of all the 007 films or The Office season-by-season. But next, I want to get back into a mystery/thriller. Two of my favorite writers right now are British: William Shaw, who writes two different series, one set in present-day England, the other in late 1960s London, with both series having a very interesting … well, let’s call it cross-pollination. The other author is Lisa Jewell who writes standalone novels that I categorize as “urban paranoia,” which may diminish them slightly. I’ve read four novels by Jewell in the past year, and I’m anxious to start her latest, The Family Upstairs. Shaw’s latest features his character DS Alexandra Cupidi and is called Deadland. His 1960s series features Breen and Tozer, a pair of mismatched coppers. The American editions of the Breen and Tozer books have music-influenced titles, such as Play With Fire, She’s Leaving Home, and A Song for the Brokenhearted.

Life, such as it is, beckons. There is laundry to fold, lunch to be eaten, a movie to be watched and a nap to be taken. And let’s face it … those last two episodes of Bosch aren’t going to watch themselves. I hope wherever you are, you’re safe, well-stocked with the essentials (food, books, toilet paper, books, binge-able shows, and of course, books). And I hope life somehow, someway, someday returns to some sense of normal for all of us.

More later (maybe).


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