You need a good coping mechanism these days, when you take your kid for his annual check-up and the pediatrician’s office has 11 people sitting in the waiting room, and six of them, mostly parents, aren’t wearing masks. Like, if you don’t believe in medical cause & effect, why bring your kid to the doctor in the first place? Just bleed him with leeches, or leave him out in the sun for a few days, whatever bullshit they’re peddling on Fox News/OAN/QAnon these days.
You need a good coping mechanism when your local school is due to start back up in 27 days (as safely as possible, which isn’t 100% safe), and you have to weigh the pros (socialization, mental health, some semblance of normalcy) and cons (Covid, sickness, death) for your kid versus the community (some people need to go back to work because the government isn’t going to help anyone except for, checks notes, The Ayn Rand Institute, and they don’t have anyone to watch their kids).
You need a good coping mechanism when you’ve been doing the same bullshit every day for four months now. You’ve made all the sensible, rational choices. You’ve been pro-active in fighting depression & stasis & despair. Time to make breakfast. Time to make lunch. Our son has eaten a grilled cheese sandwich as part of his lunch for over 100 days now, and each new day he says he wants another. Getting him out of his pajamas and into regular clothes each day has become one more uphill struggle in an everyday routine of uphill struggles.
You need a good coping mechanism if you and your romantic love partner are going to spend every evening, after all the daily exhaustions, doing a final line-edit on the book that’s supposed to be published next year on a big university press. Have I mentioned I was a week away from getting the photo release forms signed before the virus started shutting everything down, and I still need to, uh, do that? I was waiting for a good time. There is never going to be a good time. There will only be a bad time.
You need a good coping mechanism if you wake up every morning feeling sleep deprived, and knowing that 16 hours of obligations lie ahead of you, responsibilities you have to fulfill. And you’ve been more responsible in the past four months than you’ve ever been in your life, with no respite, not even a hint of a break. And every morning you wake up, and you make the potatoes, and the eggs. What variety of meat should I make this morning? What shape of pig do you prefer? Or do you prefer a soy-based pseudo-pig meat substitute instead? Shall we do it? Shall we live this spontaneously?
Luckily for me, and for you if you’re still reading, I finally found a coping mechanism. It only works in the mornings, but for the past week it hasn’t failed to put a smile on face.
A month ago we subscribed to Sirius XM. They had a ‘first four months free’ offer that was too good to pass up. And one morning I was scrolling through the stations looking for something to play while I made yet another breakfast. And instead of trying to find something I liked, I decided to try and find something I hated. I imagined my situation: three people quarantined in a house during a pandemic, one of them six years old, the other two working adults with responsibilities. I imagined it as a play I might write, or a TV series, and started scrolling through the Sirius channel lineup to find an appropriate soundtrack.
Sirius has these decades stations: channel 5 is 50s, channel 6 is 60, &tc. And I, I chose the 90s station, and it has made all the difference. Now, as we listen to Celine Dion, Dave Matthews, New Radicals, Ace of Base, Collective Soul, Naughty By Nature, ad nauseum, add nausea, it makes me laugh. It sounds perfect. This is exactly what we should be listening to. The music of the moment isn’t Run The Jewels 4. It’s just Jewel. And also some inane DJ patter. Today is National Car Wash Day! Today is National Boston Creme Donut Day! Did our son love hearing U Can’t Touch This? You bet he did. Did I wonder when it was ever going to end? You bet I did! The single U Can’t Touch This turns out to be 4:16. Did I learn to play You Gotta Be by Des’ree on guitar? I sure did! And then transpose it to piano? Hell yeah!
You have to embrace the hellscape all around you. Welcome it with open arms. Don’t try to fight it with “good” music, and “good” art. That’s just trying to fight against the rip tide, and everyone knows what you have to do is surrender. Don’t tire yourself out by fighting it. Just go with the fucking flow. Go with the fucking even flow.
Oh, but it is a TV studio, Edward. Oh yes it is. Everything is a TV studio, as we play walk-on supporting roles in this show about a hubristic country run by corrupt incompetents. And for this particular show, the “90s on 9,” playing music from the decade when the USA decided that sacrificing poor people for the sake of the stock market was something to feel good about, is the soundtrack we deserve.