"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Pandemic journal...at two months, very personally

Two months ago, I began keeping a  "Pandemic Journal," writing a little every day.
Today I began writing on the 108th page of a largely personal diary that this week became intensely more personal, with a self-imposed quarantine for me and Susan. 
In those 61 days since April 1, when the pandemic was about two weeks old in Oklahoma, I've only missed one day, recording minor occurrences, major events, some thoughts and opinions, records of paintings completed, walks taken,  and so forth. Along the way, I've started recording morning temperatures and weather. Some days take 2-3 pages, others just one. 
 It was probably inspired by reading a little of Samuel Pepys' diary of the London Black Death plague  in 1665 that became a historical document.
But the journal is meant only for me, a time for private reflection and quiet amid the chaos of the pandemic, usually in the quiet of the mornings. Given my terrible handwriting, I doubt many people could read it anyway. My handwriting gets worse depending on which pen I use, and whether or not the cats decide to sit in my lap while I'm trying to write. 
Unlike my Dad long ago, I've never been disciplined enough to keep a diary, even when I start many journals for specific trips of other things. I wasn't sure I'd keep this one up, but the motivation has much to do with mental health, and I guess, my long experience as a "journal-ist."
I've started going back and reading it from the beginning, about 10 pages a day, and its brought back memories and more, whether about the OKC bombing, my Mothers' Day pilgrimage, my granddaughters' graduation, books read or other things. I can see why it is one form of history. 
We've been careful following all precautions when we go buy groceries or run necessary errands., which isn't often.  I wash my hands more than I ever have. We wipe down surfaces, spray disinfectant often, even on incoming mail. We put mail and packages in the garage for two days, even after sprayed or wiped down.
On the first day I started this journal, I wrote that, at my age, being the target audience for this virus, I was not optimistic, that I might make a mistake and get infected.
In spite of a few risks in these 10 weeks, I'd managed not to. But I learned Friday that an employee had tested positive at one location I visited to last week. Even though I was masked and wearing gloves and so were all the employees, with all precautions taken, there was a chance of exposure. 
Odds of infection are slim. No symptoms. But. That gives you pause, and you start seeking and reading all kinds of information. Self quarantine is the only choice for me and Susan to not potentially expose others, until I can be tested about 9-10 days later. In the meantime, it plays with my mind and "what ifs."  I remembered those words from the first day of the journal.
At first I was going to tell only my wife and children, being private, but a couple of other actions had to be explained to others. 
This  gave me more reason to keep writing. I was going to write today about the journal anyway, but now couldn't without writing this. 
FYI, though I'll probably add more later, today's journal entry began:
"7:30. 62 degrees. Self-quarantine! Journal now two months old--April 1 I wrote that...."

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