I don’t want to be writing about this. I don’t want to be thinking about it. I don’t want to be making you think about it. But right now, it’s at least every other thought. It goes like this: coronavirus, something else, coronavirus, something else, coronavirus, something else, coronaviruscoronaviruscoronavirus, and then I start humming My Sharona.

I can’t believe that in all my doomsday health and weather anxiety that a global virus outbreak hadn’t crossed my radar before. Well, it’s fucking here now, and I. Am. Freaking. Out.

Every tickle in my throat: coronavirus.

Every time I sneeze: coronavirus.

Every itch in my ear: coronavirus.

Every person I don’t know: coronavirus.

Every person I do know: coronavirus.

Every Google search: coronavirus.

And all I want to do is touch my face. As soon as someone says not to touch my face, all I want to do is touch my fucking face!

So, to help myself calm down, I’ve made a list off the top of my coronavirus-filled head of 10 things to think about instead (in no particular order and not because they’re happier, just because they’re distracting):

  1. The horror show that is the 2020 US election
  2. Climate change and how I want to visit Glacier National Park before it melts away
  3. Poetry, especially Adrienne Rich, Kathryn Stripling Byer, and Marilyn Hacker
  4. All the great TV content ripe for streaming and how best to prioritize my various queues
  5. Tilda Swinton because she’s Tilda fucking SWINTON
  6. JoJo Rabbit because it’s a great little film
  7. Music, especially Dolly Parton and especially “Jolene”
  8. Podcasts, especially the new true crime ones about the Satanic Panic in the 1980s and early ’90s
  9. Popcorn because it’s delicious
  10. Bourbon because it’s also delicious

I hope you’re not really freaking out. I’m not really freaking out either—mildly obsessing, yes; freaking out, no. I mean, freaking out isn’t going to get me anywhere—literally, it’ll have me holed up in my apartment eating popcorn and drinking bourbon.

But if I may be serious for a moment: the fear I and others are feeling right now is real, so please don’t discount it. You don’t know who has family in the hardest hit areas of the world (I work with someone from Wuhan, for example, and it’s been terrifying for her). You don’t know who around you might have some kind of underlying health condition that puts them more at risk (me) or even just makes them feel more at risk (also me). You don’t know who lives with someone who is or feels at higher risk. Be kind. Be understanding. Leave the masks and gloves for the people who really need them. And don’t be racist (seriously, this should go without saying, but don’t be fucking racist).

Coronavirus or no coronavirus, I often find it hard to draw the line between healthy caution and unhealthy, paralyzing panic. That’s where popcorn comes in. And bourbon.

Wash your damn hands,

Jessica the Westchesbian

P.S. Please, please, please make sure you’re getting information from credible sources (i.e., not Facebook) such as:

Jessica lives with her shiksa wife and geriatric cat in picturesque Tarrytown on the Hudson. Although a proud Westchesbian these days, Jessica grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, back when the opening of the Olive Garden and the 24-hour Walmart were big news. During business hours, Jessica’s a communications professional who translates highly technical concepts into clear, concise, colloquial language that media buyers and sellers can understand. Outside of business hours, she’s a poet, cat mom, wife, avid reader, and lover of questionable crime, sci-fi, and supernatural TV shows (preferably all in one), not necessarily in that order. Her poetry has appeared in Tin HouseThe Paris ReviewLIT, and The Huffington Post, among others.

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