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      YMCA      Bay Area Locations Closed Through April 7
      College of Marin   Latest Campus Closure Updates Week of 3/16
      Lazy Suzie Brewing **NEW CAN RELEASE** Lethal Lotus IPA Today!
      College Of Marin English Dept   Invitation to Zoom Department Meeting @ 2:30 pm

Delete the first two emails unread.  Save the brewery one.  Click the link to the Zoom meeting and join it in progress, where a fellow adjunct is expressing gratitude to the full-timers for advocating equal pay in this unstable time.  The tenured heads nod, some with virtual backgrounds of outer space or vacation beaches. 
      Our students are losing their jobs. Many are suddenly going to have to be helping out with childcare, or elders, or both. 
      It’s not a given our students have computers with which to do homework, or internet.
      We need to drastically scale down our workloads and expectations.
      Have any of you considered receiving assignments via snail mail?
      Are you serious?
      Actually, that’s not a bad idea, Barbara. 
      Barry, can you ask Stacey about the policy on compensation?
      For what?  Stamps?
      You click around people’s faces.  Harry is sitting in front of his window and the outside light makes him a silhouette, like he’s in witness protection, on one of those shows about gangs.  He says he’s going to an art exhibit tonight.  Barbara tells him he needs to stay indoors.  People start checking their phones, leaning out of the screen and talking to their kids.  People need to go.

Next you’re peeling out of your driveway toward Lazy Suzie Brewing, wrapping around the bend where that one time during rush hour you stopped traffic to help a mother and her ducklings cross the street.  You watched all the jittery puffballs follow the bigger version of themselves to the other side, and down into the Corte Madera Creek.  Cars headed both directions piled up, dozens of them, stuck at a standstill.  People with places to be who couldn’t see ahead enough to know what the big hold up was all leaned on their old convertible horns.  So many cars stacked up on the road. 
      You get to Lazy Suzie Brewing and someone is locking its doors.  They say all bars in the Bay Area have been ordered to close.  But they’re going to have their online ordering system up and running tomorrow.  For delivery, or pick up.  I’ll see you then, you tell them.

Tomorrow, Zoom into your department again.  You make a point to wear a regular T-shirt, let your beard grow out a bit.  You’re not sure why. 
      I held a synchronous Zoom class.  The students loved it.
      I actually used the Breakout Room feature to do pair-shares
      Who said that, Mitchell?  Can you share your screen and walk us through?
      It’s in settings.
      I’ve also been using the Whiteboard to brainstorm.
      Can someone put a link to that in the chat?
      You figure you’ll just stick to the less-is-more pedagogy of a few days ago, then you smoke a joint, and get on Zoom with your buddies.  One has been FaceTime dating; over self-cooked meals, they revealed their favorite sex scenes in movies from the nineties.
      My 27-year-old coworker lives in an eight-bedroom house in the Marina with a bunch of strangers.  A total Craigslist situation.  Some tenants have been going out still, having game night with friends, not taking this thing seriously, then coming home and using the communal spoons.  They are having to create a sense of order in the housea bunch of dudes who watch porn and eat pop tarts trying to create bylaws.
      What beer you drinking? you ask.  It’s oddly satisfying to watch someone drink a beer.  These circumstances have dramatically simplified what constitutes as “satisfying.”  In some ways, it’s nice.
      This is...your friend checks the label...Icelandic lager.
      I’ve seen that at BevMo, you say.   
      By the way, my wife had an appointment with her client by walking on opposite sides of the street, talking to her on the phone.
      The sun outside slumps.  You see a mother and child out walking.  Suddenly they are sprinting, the mother leading, clumsy and top-heavy.  It looks dire.  Then they slow and they are laughing, bent over their knees; it was a race in the middle of the road.  It occurs to you that any moment, someone is doing something that before only existed in their minds.
Your wife makes your neighbor a birthday card, thanking her for her “infectious laugh.” She rethinks the wording.  She brings it over with muffins.  You all air-hug from six feet away; your neighbor laughs her laugh.
      A friend sends a screenshot of the Bay Bridge with only one car driving across.  It’s going viral.  Depressingly beautiful, he supplements. 
       On Twitter, you see the montage someone put together of Trump saying things about the virus that have since become way false, then the interview with the sun-punched kid saying he’s not letting anything stop him from Miami spring break, then some friend sends the screenshot from his cousin’s husband who works for Homeland Security, stating that the military is being mobilized and that there’s about to be martial law in the Bay Area.
      You bury your phone in your pocket.  You immediately take it out and order cans of Lethal Lotus IPA for pickup.
Wake up and it’s been three more days.  The presence of military feels real for the first time when instead of the wispy sounds of sedans outside in the morning, you hear the wheeze of government vehicles.  They are on street corners now, even in your sleepy town.  They sit there like the simple henchmen of villains. 
      Then you get the Lazy Suzie Brewing email that all beer orders for pickup are cancelled.  You and your wife hit the store for whatever still exists before curfew is enforced and you’re only allowed to leave your house certain days of the week.  The store has an uplifting amount of bread, and so much produce that you’ll be able to freeze some of it.  Irish Spring soap is comically abundant; you had no idea society as a whole had such low faith in it.
      One morning, you wake up feeling open to the idea that you’re an intellectual.  Why? Because whole days have gone by without you turning on your TV.  How many people can say that?  You conveniently ignore other parts about you, like how you’re an English professor and you don’t know the difference between feverish and feverous, and you use them interchangeably with students.  Like how you’ve been getting stoned in your underwear.
      On a jog, the local movie theatre sign reads “Be safe, Care for each other.”  No one is out.  Not even a passing car.  A newspaper blows across the street.  It vaguely reminds you of a Stephen King movie, like Tommyknockers, though you’ve never seen it.  You text the groupchat what should I watch
      The Outsider, that Stephen King show.
      You feel like you should know if that is an example of irony.  But you don’t know.
Hey Dad.
      For the next ten minutes you are saying uh huh.  But you are not annoyed.  Not for one second have you wished to be off the phone.
      Your mother and I have dreamt of being grandparents.  I have had conversations with your children.  And I have gone downstairs into my room and sung songs to them on my guitar.  I love them so much already.  But I hope, wherever you’re at in that process, that you consider putting kids on the backburner for now.
      We have been looking at it differently, Dad.  We are choosing to approach children like the stock market.  When things are down, buy buy buy.  Make a move, set yourself up for the future.
      Your dad hyperventilates, stutters words like “economy,” “healthcare system,” and even “anarchy,” before you tell him you were only kidding, that you love him.  He chuckles and breathes static into the phone, whispers fuck.  You wish you could tell him you love him to his face. 
Because of no baseball, the MLB channel airs a special the 1995 Mariners season. When Edgar Martinez drives it down the leftfield line and Griffey Jr.  slides safe into home, you start to cry. 
      Your wife asks, You good?

LS doing secret crowlers, pickup at back entrance from 12-2 am, Venmo @LazySuzieBrew
      Your beer friend always knows these little factoids, like the head brewers’ names, what food trucks are at which brewery, and in the event of pandemics, he texts you info on which spots are breaking the law on the low to sell hazy IPA.  
      Your wife tells you please don’t go; is it really worth risking a night in jail, or worse?  Every street corner is being monitored.  But you’re seeing everything in a weird sepia tone and you’re not eating and you can’t remember the latest infection count or which celebrities died of it.  So you set out on the path along the creek at 10 pm.  You appreciate the trickle of water under moonlight.  It was worth the risk of leaving the house just for that sound.  There is a gentle slosh nearby, followed by a yack yack yack. Must be real nice to be a duck right now: empty roads, clean air.  Maybe those ones over there are the ones you saved. 
      Up ahead is the little bridge with calm streetlights hovering above, a very noir look.  There is a small circus tent set up.  Probably some renegade clown troop refusing to have their art and expression repressed.  God, people are behaving weird. 
      You creep all tip-toey, and realize it’s not a circus tent but a military vehicle, one of the big ones with the beige shell.  What in the hell could they possibly need something that size for?  You lower to a crouch, feel as close to danger as you’ve ever felt.
      There is a sudden beam of light.  It’s another civilian up ahead, possibly also sneaking to Lazy Suzie, but like an idiot he just checked his cell phone.  The military beams its flashlight on him.  He is swarmed and brought over to the vehicle.  You learn from this, and resolve to not be cavalier, like him.  You veer off the walking path and descend into the creek’s muddy bank, where it is darker.  You are ankle deep in silky earth.  Close to you there is another man, fully submerged.  You can only see the back of his jacket.  He is not a corpse, you determine.  He is slowly wading forward.  He pauses and aims his face up at you.  It looks charred, making his eyes lightning white.  With hand motions, he demonstrates scooping muck and smearing it on his face.  He nods, as in do it
      You ease yourself down into the cold shallows and breathe out.  It’s like when you swam with the manatees that one time, those blobs whose innocence was proof that life is precious and sad.  You dig your hands into the silt and press your face in it, make finger art with it in circles like the child you once were, the children you do not have, and now, may not ever have.  With darkness enveloping, you ask the stranger beside you, have you ever felt more alive?

You take a scalding shower to stop your shaking, which you’re sure is from the cold wet clothes and adrenalin.  Your wife says she made the mistake of looking at the news while you were gone and couldn’t fall asleep, so now she’s making tea.  You check your phone for anything you missed, and your Zoom department meeting tomorrow is cancelled; the department chair has come down with something.  In the kitchen, the kettle starts singing and you have an anxiety attack so bad you need to punch a wall or your face.
      You crack a Flying Lotus, though you’d wanted to hold off till tomorrow.  The beer looks like beautiful candlelight in the frosted mug.  Your wife busts out laughing as she opens the day’s mail, wearing gloves. You down half a pint and your shoulders slacken for the first time today.  She holds up a torn envelope, pulls out a document and tries to speak, but can’t.  She’s got the giggles bad.  Her laugh nurtures you, like sun on succulents.
      “It’s the census,” she says.  “America is doing the census.” 

© 2020 Emil DeAndreis

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