If you google an animal’s name on your smartphone, say, lion, then scroll down and select View in 3D, the animal appears in your camera’s viewfinder as though it were suddenly in your home. The giant lion takes up my whole bedroom, startling me; a panda sits on our bannister, eating a piece of bamboo. In my household, I am the only one impressed. My daughter shrugs, used to the things that phones can do. My husband is busy with his virtual world of dragons. I watch an octopus waft through the kitchen. The cat, our real one, vomits. The octopus is unconcerned.
I wipe up the vomit and wash my hands. Although my Calm app tells me I have experienced over 28 hours of mindfulness, I can’t remember to wash my hands for 20 seconds. I forget, go too fast, and have to wash them twice, hoping that will suffice. The octopus disappears, leaving me alone with the newsfeed, where New York City paramedics must make quick choices about who to transport to hospitals: the 23-year-old with a cough and fever, the 72-year-old with a cough and fever, the woman who drank an entire bottle of vodka in despair because her cancer treatments had been delayed?
Three weeks ago, I was in urgent care with a cough and fever. No coronavirus tests were available. If you’re not better in 7 days–give it 7 days–go to the ER, the masked nurse practitioner told me. Masked myself, I nodded. In New York City a paramedic sews her own masks with bandanas and coffee filters. How is this going to end?