All the Shit, All the Fans

I went "just-in-case" grocery shopping again tonight, for what feels like umpteenth time this year.  What's the impending disaster du jour? Civil unrest as the United States Presidential election begins to unfold in less than 24 hours. Now, I fully recognize the alarmist nature of the last sentence, and I will be the first to tell you that tinfoil hats chafe too much to wear all the time...but I can't seem to turn off the urge to prepare, to brace, and to hunker down. It feels almost like nesting before the arrival of a new baby, only instead of a baby, you're expecting a shit storm. I don't know if it's the pandemic that rages around us or the social turmoil in nearly every US city for months now, but I just felt compelled to grab more than a few essentials and hurry home to wait out whatever nastiness erupts from the political volcano that's been spewing vitriol for a year. 

As I donned my mask, wiped down my cart, and proceeded to navigate store isles with now ever-present bare shelves, I could feel my heart rate start to tick up. I never used to get nervous at the grocery store, only now that we're living in a dystopian hellscape where other humans are nothing more than viral hosts and every surface feels contaminated. Tonight's trip felt even more like a descent into madness as I saw other folks grabbing non-perishables with a zealousness that belied their blank stares at one another from 6 feet apart. I could tell from the contents of their carts that they, too, were getting ready for some potential threat, whether real or imagined. 

All these threats have had a cumulative effect and as a society, we seem to be stuck in a perpetual state of fight or flight. We're all swimming through an adrenaline sea that's fed by 24-hour news cycles and BREAKING NEWS ALERTS. Some of these problems are not new (social injustices like racism, poverty, healthcare disparities, etc) but they've been magnified by the COVID-19 crisis. 2020 feels like standing downwind while all the shit hits all the proverbial fans. 

It's getting harder to drum up nuggets of optimism these days, but I still try. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised and the election will go off without a hitch. Maybe the National Guard won't be deployed to keep the peace after ballots are cast. Maybe I'm just stuck in a doomsday mode because this year has been, well, full of doom. Maybe I'm just trying to exert some feeble control over my own microcosm as the world spins violently off kilter. Maybe we all are. Maybe that's why I can't find half of the groceries I set out for. 


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