Love in the Time of Corona Part 2, LA to Dallas, or On the Death of a Computer and of Us All.

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To tell the truth, I’ve always loved a good catastrophe. I know what that says about me (or maybe I don’t) but since childhood I somehow feel my calmest when a storm’s a-brewin’. It only makes sense that I would eventually find my way to war. I grew up in “Tornado Alley” in North-central Alabama. Once a twister hopped over our house, picked up the roof of the garage and slammed it back down making the garage four feet tall, drank half the water from the pool before escaping into the pines. It thrilled me. I never wanted anyone to get hurt but I can now admit I absolutely loved standing the front yard with outstretched arms when the sky turned a weird color as if chartreuse and magenta were combined.  The electricity vibrated the air and passed through my body connecting me with the whirling chaos around me. Finally, the outside reflected how I felt on the inside most of the time. When a big tornado almost wiped out Jasper, Alabama in 1973, we drove through town in the aftermath. I remember passing the stone courthouse. The windows had been blasted out and the white metal blinds were crumpled like foil. Inside, a desk still had a Styrofoam coffee cup and a stack of white paper undisturbed. I marveled at how the storm was so discriminant in what or whom it destroyed. Who made that decision? God? The storm? Or was it cruel and arbitrary as the Universe seemed to be? Whatever it was, it was powerful and I wanted somehow to connect to it.

The next day, aboard Southwest Flight #4873 Burbank to Dallas.

I just watched this man wipe off his tray table with a paper napkin from the airport restaurant and then wipe his nose and mouth. What the possible fuck? When I first saw him wiping the tray table I thought, ‘Now there’s a cat who’s going the extra mile (actually 1,244 miles to Dallas as the jet flies) to keep us all safe!”  Then I noticed it was a dirty napkin. Then I watched him wipe his face with it. The flight attendant comes on the PA, distorted in that familiar way that makes his voice sound like he’s speaking through a bullhorn. He’s performing the latest addition to the cluster of rituals and correlating pre-flight recitations known to anyone who flies with any regularity, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we will presently be coming through the cabin with a plastic garbage bag to collect all those nasty Clorox wipes and towelettes. Please don’t place them in the seatback pocket!” And I’m thinking to myself, ‘that motherfucker wouldn’t have to since he has basically already licked—oh I forgot to tell you that part;

After that announcement, he looked across the aisle and said simply to his wife who is sitting in front of me, “Hand wipes.” Upon which she she handed back their two dirty hand toweletts so that he could place it in that garbage bag that we’d been warned was coming but not before (and you’re not going to believe this part) taking the Wet-Naps that they’d just wiped their face and hands with and wiping down the bottom of the tray table which now had been returned to its full upright and locked position! That means that there was absolutely nothing that he could see or touch that hadn’t been wiped down with a dirty airport restaurant napkin before he mopped himself down with it and nothing that he could see or touch that hadn’t been swabbed with the moist towelettes containing the snot and spit of both him and his wife. We’re doomed. I posted on Facebook a similar rant about the man who sat across from me on the flight to Los Angeles and sucked his fingers the whole way. (A chronic nail-biter, you could tell by his mercilessly gnarled cuticles where fingernails ought to be, holding out against complete annihilation from his relentless incisors! What a metaphor.)  He sucked on his fingers the entire trip with the exception of when he, much like the man sitting diagonally across from me now) touched every single thing he was of a mind too and he even had to undo his seatbelt and stand to reach a couple of them. Again, we’re doomed.
My computer’s battery is at 5%. I stand and rummage through my backpack in the overhead compartment long enough for the people around me to start to get annoyed. I have an external charger but apparently I put it in my checked luggage which is now in the belly of this plain, a lot of good it does me there.  I think of the thousands of hours I’ve spent at home with access to all the computers and electricity and peace-and-quiet I could possibly have needed yet I spent them loaded or procuring (or having) sex. 4%. The first part of this section of the blog, the part that started on the plane, I started on my phone because we had not yet reached 10,000 feet and we’d not yet heard the familiar “dong,” the single-note announcement of the impending (next) homily in this Sacrament of Flight, “Ladies and

3% Why do I ever waste what is abundant when at times it is so precious?

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ve now reached 10,000 feet. You are now free to use your larger electronic devices however we do ask that you make sure that all electronics including your smart phones remain in airplane mode for the duration of the flight.”
I’ll go back to typing on the phone (much harder than this) with my thumbs on my iPhone, my iPhone which I have placed on the seat beside me, the tray table, the counter in the lav, and (although it’s more and more rare) held it up to my face.
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Dear God, may I never again take for granted what is present in abundance at some times but may be scarce in others.

I live in heaven (when I do) because I appreciate the moment and the finer parts of that moment. Even when it is a moment of fear and pain I can take heart by the knowing

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I can take heart by knowing that the river of my joy flows through the chasms carved by my grief.

If you asked any person on the street how they want to feel they’ll likely say, ‘well, I want to feel good!’ And then if you asked them how much of the time they’d like to feel that way, they’ll say, ‘heck, I want to feel that way all the time!’

And so if you were an anthropomorphic god and you could grant these humans this wish–

 

The battery in my computer dies.


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