🎶 Happy Birthday to Me, A Viral Apocalypse, Maybe? 🎶

Even at the beginning of this year, I did not think I would find myself celebrating the weirdest birthday of my life so far. As you all may know by now, the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus (a type of virus that was also responsible for the SARS virus in the early 2000s) has been labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization. This has sent life all over the world into a frenzy. All of Italy is under quarantine, and many businesses and entities here in the United States have basically had to shut down, even including pushing Opening Day of the 2020 Major League Baseball season to mid-May at the earliest. (As a huge baseball fan, this makes me a little sad.) I ended up deciding not to vote in the Florida primary last week out of an abundance of caution, since both of my parents are over age 60 and my mother is bedridden and at higher risk of developing complications if she caught it. My party seems to have a presumptive front runner for its presidential nominee anyway, and I have decided that I will support its nominee in November, no matter who it is. (I’m hoping the virus threat won’t be as high by then.) I will still do grocery shopping, but at a smaller store that is usually less crowded than the larger one I usually shop at…although this has seemed to bring out the worst in people when it comes to panic buying. And I’m from Florida, the Panic Shopping Capital of the World (thanks, hurricanes)!

My dad’s workplace (a major theme park in Orlando) is closed through at least the end of the month, with most of its employees being told to stay home. However, my dad’s job takes place during the night shift and he is not in regular contact with park guests. He’s the lead technician on a crew that performs maintenance and repairs on one of the park’s attractions. Being that all hourly employees at the park (including technicians) will be paid for any time they are forced to miss during the closure (it’s owned by a large corporation, so they can afford to do this), coming in for the technicians is optional (but the attractions still require maintenance in order to meet mechanical and safety standards, no matter what). So, he’s been going in to work, but depending on how many people show up, the situation each night dictates whether or not he needs to stay. Being that whenever he does get sick, he usually gets it from someone at work, it’s probably a good thing at times (especially if any of his coworkers get sick, it’s definitely a good idea to stay home rather than try and tough it out). He’s only been staying at work for as long as the job requires and has come home early some mornings.

I know this whole pandemic situation has got everybody on edge, and me being a highly sensitive person, I tend to have the urge to want to deal with something this distressing by letting it get to my head and I end up feeling incredibly anxious. I’ve been actively trying to avoid panicking, though. So…how have I been coping?

  • I haven’t been watching the news on a regular basis. I’ve been watching some local news, but I’ve primarily been following the news through online aggregate sources like Google News and Apple News. If I need to get away from the buzz for a bit, I close the tab or the app!
  • When my dad has been sleeping to prepare for a work night, I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which is set in Ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian Wars (which took place in the fifth century BCE and was the time when a lot of Ancient Greek notables such as Socrates, Pericles, Aristophanes, Euripides, Herodotus, and Leonidas flourished). In the game, you can play as either Alexios (a male character) or Kassandra (a female character), and the character you play as is a misthios (basically a mercenary). The story to start the game is kinda long and complex, but it involves a prophecy, an oracle controlled by an organization called the “Cult of Kosmos” (a forerunner to the Templars of the series’ universe), a cliff, and a boat that eventually ends up on the Greek island of Kephallonia, where our hero (the Misthios) starts their journey.
  • We’ve been watching a lot of movies when my dad is home and awake. And we finally watched Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker a couple of weekends ago. It wasn’t too bad. Not quite as glorious as the original trilogy, but it did play upon the same themes of love and redemption. In order to bring balance to the Force, a character we thought of as good had to confront their Dark Side, while a character we thought of as evil had to confront their Light Side. I thought that was an interesting twist. It’s a little sad to see the Skywalker saga come to an end, but I’d love to see some more adventures with the newer characters. And just today he was watching A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, but he went to bed before he could get to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
  • I’ve got a couple of projects on the needles right now: the ever-active Neapolitan, which is currently in its second round of brown rectangles, and a new project called Don’t Huffle the Puff, a heart-shaped garter stitch shawl in the house colors of the Hogwarts House Hufflepuff, which is the House I was sorted into when I took the Sorting quiz at the Wizarding World website (formerly known as Pottermore). I’m using Walmart’s Mainstays Basic yarn in Gold (three skeins worth, which was lovingly gifted to me by The Lady Bryan and her mom for Christmas) and Black (I bought one skein of it with the intention of adding random black stripes to the mostly gold-colored shawl). I used the project as an excuse to finally add size 10 circular needles to my knitting arsenal.
  • I’m still reading. The last time I made a regular blog post (middle of last month), I was reading Beloved by Toni Morrison (a revisit of a novel we studied in AP English my junior year of high school) and Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. I’m still reading the latter in my e-reader, but I’ve not only finished Beloved, but I also read The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale) in a span of 18 days. It was a pretty good book! I’m currently reading The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys, which is set in 1950s Madrid during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. And although this pandemic is seeing a lot of isolation and “social distancing”, it hasn’t stopped me from stepping outside every so often and sitting in the sun, reading while Roxy either runs around chasing lizards or sitting in the sun herself. I can usually get a couple chapters in this way. But it is starting to get warmer out there. 🥵
  • I’ve been trying to resume my binge watching of The Tribe, whose very premise is about kids and teenagers trying to rebuild their lives and the world around them after surviving a viral apocalypse that has killed off everyone over the age of 18. I’m about halfway through series 4 right now (of five). I also have all three sequel novels in my e-reader, ready to read once I finish watching the series. One of the show’s stars, Meryl Cassie (who played Ebony, a character who I like to think of as this show’s version of Professor Snape), has been getting a lot of shoutouts from fans on Instagram lately due to the pandemic, and she’s been incredibly gracious about it. Her Stories are always interesting to follow along with.
  • And most importantly, I’ve been trying to face this with a sense of humor, however dark it may be. Perhaps we could all use some laughter in these trying times…otherwise, the whole world will be miserable.

I don’t know what my birthday will hold in store for me, but I hope to come out of this whole situation in one piece. I leave you with a song that is strangely appropriate for my birthday today, given the circumstances: “Happy Birthday” by Weird Al Yankovic.