From Act of Faith to Beacon of Hope

From earlier in the week …

9

It’s Monday morning and we’re on a high from a weekend-long collaborative design workshop. Guided by a professional facilitator, our CoHousing Houston community worked with our architects to align on a shared vision for the common amenities in our project. It was a surprisingly exhilarating experience for so many hours spent parked in front of a Zoom screen.

This would be a tall order under any circumstances for any group of people with relatively little shared history, mostly zero experience living in community and still stubbing our toes on working with consensus.

When you layer in 2020 COVID dynamics it might seem like a stretch too far. We haven’t even met our post-COVID new joiners in person. Lively pot-luck social-cum-business gatherings have been downgraded to the flatness and boxiness of Zoom galleries with tightly scripted agendas.

I’m mystified by this uplifted feeling after ten hours of Zooming with 18 people. I was fully expecting to be depleted and cranky at best and thoughts of “I can’t do this any longer” at worst.

So what happened?

Investing significant time and treasure in the early stages of a forming cohousing community is an act of faith. A core group of us have been working on this for over three years now. We had finally reached the point where we had land under contract, the legal structure was in place a date was set for the signing of legal documents plus the first sizable down payments made, and the timetable for face-to-face design workshop weekends was fixed in our calendars.

It was all systems GO, then the COVID lockdown burst in on the scene.

Do we postpone? Do we slow down? The answer was a resounding NO. We will not be deterred. Let’s press ahead. We have great momentum. Carpe diem, and all that — and anyway, this virus thing won’t last forever.

“Onward through the fog”, as they like to say in Austin, Texas.

Four months later, we’re Zoom-weary, we miss the contagious energy of a group gathering, some are technology frazzled and others are suffering financial fears. The idea of even seeing people face-to-face, let alone living in a closer community together is seeming more and more remote and nostalgic. It’s a like a faded painting which we can no longer visualize in its original vibrant colors.

Yet we carry on in faith.

Then this virtual design weekend happened. I’m sure if we were honest about it, nobody was really looking forward to all those hours staring at the tidy framed grid of Zoom screens. Ugh.

Yet we all showed up ready to participate.

We very quickly found ourselves imagineering an oasis of community living.

This was going to be better than expected …

We shared pictures of communal dinning and living. We dreamed of shared drinks on the rooftop terrace overlooking the treetops of the neighborhood at sunset. We placed ourselves in the meditation space, the reading nooks and even hanging out around a pool. We felt the joy of bumping into each other in the mail room, distracting someone cooking in the community kitchen and shooing the noisy youngsters into the kids cave after dinner.  We dreamed of group woodworking and ceramic projects and borrowing bikes from each other.

We spent the whole weekend living in a world we long for and cannot see being lived out anywhere on the planet right now. It’s a world filled with the things we have given up these past few months.

It’s a place where we can channel our dreams for a better future.

So many of our social institutions and structures are being eroded by lack of connections. What will be left standing on the other side of the pandemic? All the places that have knit us together — what can we count on still being there? Even some of the basic foundations of our society like classrooms, churches, concerts, plays — what will they look like?

We can’t predict or control many of these broader outcomes, but this weekend we brought to life a sparkly alternative to an otherwise bleak forecast. We can see this more clearly now, we can see the road map to getting there and we can visualize a vibrant oasis with us in it.

What had felt like an act of faith in a risky social experiment has morphed into a beacon of hope.

It’s called CoHousing Houston. We believe we can make this happen.

If you’re curious, check us out at cohousinghouston.com or under cohousinghouston on Facebook. There’s room for more!

 

How good are you at changing habits?

mask-5My guess is that if we surveyed everyone in Houston today, about how faithful they are to wearing a mask, and social distancing in public, the results might not match our experience. Just like the results of driving surveys that ask drivers whether they are better than the average driver. Apparently 70+% of us believe that we are better than the average driver. That certainly doesn’t line up with my experience on the road in this town.

The same thing is happening out there with masks and social distancing. This should be no surprise to anyone. Not because there is resistance to the concept, or disbelief that this will have any impact — although there is some of that going on, to be sure. No, it’s just a well known fact of life that it’s hard to make changes.

When’s the last time you tried to take on a new habit? What happened? Think of what happens every year in January with diets, gym memberships, etc. And these are habits that would have a tangible, positive impact on us personally. Habits need reminders, repetition, incentives and community support to stick long enough for your brain to rewire itself. Some researchers suggest it takes 15 days to create a new habit, others suggest over 250 days. Do we have that much time?

Right now, all I have to imprint this new habit is a “recommendation” to wear a mask in public. This will offer protection to others in case I have the virus and am asymptomatic. This would be even better if everyone around me would do the same. Sign me up! I’m on board, but I’m going to have a hard time sticking to this. I know already.

My brain is not wired for this yet.

I’m sure I’m going to dash off to the store and forget the mask — I forget my reusable grocery bags all the time. I’m going to go out for a walk with a friend and forget the mask — I sometimes forget my key. I’m most definitely going to show up at church without a mask — I can never remember to bring my name tag. I’m a fan of this program, but I’m a very imperfect human being.

Thankfully, we don’t have a culture of publicly shaming people for not adhering to social norms — but that might help me remember right now. I wouldn’t dare violate a “recommendation” when I lived in Germany. The consequences could be mortifying. I love my German friends, but you know what I’m talking about here!

Thankfully, we err on the side of personal choice rather than government mandates and punishment — but that might also be quite useful to fixing this habit with me right now. I wouldn’t dare break a rule that might result in a police citation when I lived in England. It would just be too embarrassing; I would feel like such a fool.

Thankfully, we don’t plaster our public spaces with public service announcements and constant reminders on loud speakers — and that might also help me get it right now. I wouldn’t dare be that person seen doing the wrong thing when I lived in Singapore. It would make me feel so anti-social and selfish.

I don’t know what resources we have available to us in a more individualistic, wild-west culture that will help us “get with the program”. We have a pretty poor track record when it comes to disciplining ourselves for the benefit of our own person, let alone the greater good.

We need a campaign along the lines of the “Don’t Mess with Texas” slogans that were effective at reducing road litter in the 1980s. The success was attributed to the fact that it appealed to the pick-up driving, gun-toting, tough guy mentality of those who were the worst culprits. It worked. Got any ideas for a “Wear Your Mask” campaign for our state?

In the meantime, I’m trying … we’re all trying at our house to “get with the program”. Feel free to call me out, if you see me maskless (except when I’m exercising)!

may 4th

 

 

Can you ever get credit for averting a disaster?

avoiding disasterYou never get credit for averting a disaster, only for mounting a rescue operation once it’s in motion. At least that’s my experience from decades working in and around software development.

I’ve seen the debate play out time and time again: How much time and effort do you invest upfront in planning, analysis, quality assurance, risk mitigation? How much is enough? How much is too much? What’s the cost of averting a problem versus fixing the problem after implementation? We all know it costs more to fix it after Go Live, but was it worth the cost of avoiding, if the problem never materializes?

This is similar to the debate we are having across the world today. What is the cost of averting a catastrophic surge on our medical resources? How much of our wealth are we willing to give up to save lives? Does it depend on the number of lives? We’re investing up front in “flattening the curve”, but will we believe that the costs were worth it when it’s all over?

If a software Go Live is a success, no alarms are raised, no high impact problem reports are sent up the chain of command, no emergency meetings are called, or ‘business continuity plans’ activated. There’s a celebration cake, some nice words of thanks to the dedicated team, some photos taken and everyone moves on to the next project. It obviously wasn’t that complex or that challenging — there were no outside witnesses to the heroic work that went on behind the scenes.  The impact of the quality checks and testing on the final smooth implementation can get lost in the final assessment. Remember Y2K twenty years ago?

The projected COVID-19 deaths in the US are gradually dropping as we wrap up several weeks of Stay At Home orders across most of the nation. This is fantastic news! We achieved the objectives set forth by #flattenthecurve initiatives. This is the result of bold public officials making tough decisions — these are the unsung heroes.  And, I can already hear rumblings and second-guessings as to whether this was needed, precisely because the projections have dropped. Wait, don’t forget, that was the whole point. Questions are being asked as to whether the cost to the economy was worth it. This is sounding familiar.

If a software Go Live is a disaster, a hotshot SWAT team swoops in to the rescue. These saviors are treated like royalty — their heroic work is on display for all to see. Heroes are born that become legends of department lore. The unheard voices that had asked for more time to check, review, and test get buried or take the blame. Lessons learned are captured, After Action Reviews are conducted, and improvement task forces formed. We don’t want to repeat this ever again … until we do.

We’ve witnessed COVID-19 disasters in many places across the globe. There were many unheard voices trying to issue warnings and caution. Some were buried and some may be looked to for blame before it’s all over. New heroes have been born. We’re doing military style flyovers to honor our doctors, nurses and medical professionals. Infectious disease experts, scrounging for research funds, mostly hidden in their labs until this point, have found themselves on the international stage. They are getting fan mail … and some hate mail too, I”m sure. I hope they have their grants written so they can strike while the iron’s hot. We want to be better prepared next time … until we forget.

Reading about the 1918 Spanish flu has fascinated me the past few weeks. As with software projects, it would seem that we do repeat mistakes and we do forget. The German philosopher Friedrich Hegel seems to have got it right when he said  “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”

What will the future say about the decisions made and the resulting consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic? I’m sure we’ll already know a lot more in a year from now. However, wouldn’t you love to come back in 100 years to find out what history will write about the year 2020?

 

Meet our Extraterrestrial Neighbor

ET on Drummond

I’d like to introduce you to my new neighborhood friend. Meet the extraterrestrial who moved in a few streets away from us when the lock down started. It’s our very own COVID ET, also nicknamed by us the Mannekin Pis of Braesheights.  The story of our Braesheights Mannekin Pis is not as glamorous as the original and it’s traditions not yet as well established as its Belgian cousin in the center of Brussels. It’s early days, give it a chance to catch up.

It hasn’t saved a king’s castle from fire by putting it out with its urine and hasn’t been the symbol of our neighborhood for hundreds of years, but it is supported by a dedicated team of wardrobe managers, who change its outfit daily — with some humor and forethought. It has been a source of delight and wonder for our nightly promenades through our oak-lined streets, similar to the tourists wandering from the Grand Place in Brussels.

Even if we go on an abbreviated walk after supper, we have to make it at least as far as our friendly COVID ET to see what creative theme and costume it’s donning for the day.  My favorite to-date was the wash-day Monday outfit with clothesline and all.

One evening I spoke with the owners out in the front yard to learn more. Apparently they were clearing out the garage at the beginning of the lock down and found this old mannequin from a long ago Halloween party. Rather than than get rid of it they decided to keep it around a little longer and have some fun with it as a distraction. I hope they don’t get rid of it too quickly. It’s a highlight of our walks after supper.

I ran round this morning to see if COVID ET was also standing down after the “Stay At Home” order expired. I was crushed. The porch was completely empty. ET was gone without a trace. So disappointing. I was tempted to knock on their door and plea for a month’s extension, or at least an encore performance. I restrained myself.

When I reported back home, my husband suspected a prank thief. My daughter was convinced they had just taken ET indoors for a little privacy while changing out costumes. I hoped one of them was right — I’m not ready to give up my new friend just yet.

I waited until after lunch and ran round there again to see if one of their theories held water. And voila! There it was back on the porch with a new outfit ready for another day entertaining its fans. If these people have external cameras, I might start showing up as a stalker! Sorry.

So, what was today’s theme / costume? I’m sharing here below, so you can decide for yourself. Theories at our house are a) Game of Thrones, or b) Voldemort, or c) Puff the Magic Dragon with a vampire frolicking in the autumn mist? None of those options fit quite right.

ET on Drummond- vampire

Please help us solve the mystery! What do you think?

Thanks to our neighbors for bringing a little magic into the same-ness of our lives these days.

Day of the Worker in Texas

INternational Workers Day-1Having enjoyed many May 1st’s outside the US as a day off work or school in honor of the International Worker’s Day, it’s always on my mind, when the calendar flips over to May. The US has designated a different day in September as Labor Day, however the origins of this international holiday come from an event in the US in 1886, in Chicago.

On May 1, 1886 labor unions in the US decided to go on strike demanding an eight-hour workday. Just three days after the strike began, a blast occurred at a peaceful rally at the Haymarket in Chicago leaving several dead and injured. In 1889 the International Socialist Conference declared May 1st as a day to continue the campaign for the eight-hour workday. It became an annual event which has since morphed into a more watered down, generic “day off work” in much of the world (except Communist countries) and at different times of the year in a few countries, like the US.

Coincidentally, today it’s also cause for celebration by many workers here in Texas, who are starting to return to their jobs and sources of income. I know this comes with a sense of relief and also some worry. It’s not as simple as returning from a long vacation. The ground has shifted.

Will their companies be able to bounce back? Will their jobs be secure if there’s a recession? What will the impact of the oil price double-whammy be to their jobs in the Texas economy? Will they stay healthy? Do they have health insurance to cover what comes next? What if there’s another surge in cases followed by another lock down?  Can they survive a second wave? Financially? Health-wise? Emotionally?

Only time will tell. The train has left the station. Let’s see what happens.

Today’s daily reflection in a booklet I refer to every morning had this to share for May 1st.

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life” Luke: 12:25

Isn’t it magnificent how the right words can show up at just the right time.

The Space Between Not Yet and No More

Space between not yet no moreInspired by the lists of “What I Won’t Miss” and “What I Will Miss” in Nora Ephron’s final book (before she died), “I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections,”, the leader of one of my writing groups suggested we write these lists for our homework this week.

My first reaction is that I might be sick next week. I’m not sure this is the best project for my extroverted self’s struggle to stay cheerful, in an introvert’s paradise. I don’t need to be exploring any more dark corners in my mind right now.

Lists are very appealing however. They’re simple, short, snappy. I hate to let a good list opportunity go to waste. I’ve been mulling over lots of lists these days, so am going to run with a variation on the theme.

There’s a list of things I’ve been missing under Stay At Home orders AND a list of things I’m going to miss when we all exit isolation. I can’t have them both at the same time, but I can list them here together and pretend that there might be a perfect world where I could have it all.

It’s a way to “Honor the space between no longer and not yet” as we start contemplating a transition back to our former lives. The Stay At Home order expires tomorrow in Texas.

~~ – ~~

“Things I miss in isolation”

‘Un-muted’ group laughter

Getting dressed up in real clothes to go anywhere but the grocery store

Loud music in body combat class

Family celebrations with champagne toasts

Seeing people outside of a Zoom pigeon hole

Movie trailers and the smell of popcorn at the cinema

Arrival excitement with hugs and hellos

Easter brunch and Mother’s Day at a fancy restaurant

Looking people in the eye

Crowded, noisy gatherings around our dining room table

~~-~~

“Things I will miss after isolation”

Neighbors walking & sitting on porches

Eerie quiet weekday mornings

Every night family dinners

YouTube Sunday church on the patio with tea

Fewer cars to worry about when biking

A sense of we’re in this together

No time wasted in traffic jams

The COVID excuse for anything I do wrong or forget

Smaller credit card bills

Easier pace

No wondering what you’re missing out on

~~-~~

What about you? What’s on your lists? Are you ready to give up one set to embrace the other?

 

 

Anyone need a COVID Vacay?

Weekend getawayMy most intense brush with disasters was the 2017 Harvey flood. Water filled our house and rocked our world. We were stuck in the upstairs of our house for a couple of days and part of that was without power, but we felt bizarrely upbeat about things. In retrospect, I’m sure we were just in shock.

For the next four months, we turned all our energies and attention to the task of fixing the problem. It was obvious what the problem was. A peek in the downstairs of our house served as a ready reminder in case we lost sight of what we were doing! Even though it was our first time down this road, there was ample experience and expertise out there to guide us.

At the end of the day, it was just another project. Plan the plan, then work the plan and you’ll get there.

When we couldn’t stand the inconveniences of the camping-style living upstairs any longer, or the daily grind of decision-making, or the chaotic multi-contractor scheduling, we could escape. We could take a break from it.

We could go out for dinner and eat with real cutlery and real plates on real dining tables at noisy restaurants and pretend life was normal. We could go visit friends and talk about their non-flooded lives, as if we belonged to that group too. We could spend Thanksgiving and Christmas in the homes of our extended families, decorated for the holidays, where we could lose ourselves in a world that wasn’t interrupted by a flood.

The escape to an alternate reality made it bearable. It offered a relief valve. A few hours of pretending things were different was food for the soul.

Today, I’m in need of some COVID-19 relief. I’d love a brief getaway, an escape.

Not in another “check-in” Zoom call. Not in another Netflix show. Not on another walk. Not in another Facebook Live exercise class. Not in another meditation session. Not on another phone call with a dear friend. Not at another pseudo happy hour online. And certainly not in another furtive trip to the Blue Bell container in the freezer. 

It’s a dissatisfaction that feels like an unscratchable itch. Like when you were bored as a kid and all the suggestions your mom made sounded terrible.

Some days I’m up for living in this time warp. And other days, I just want a weekend getaway to a place where nobody has heard about, or cares about COVID-19. Also … where any thoughts of pandemics are erased from our brains … the thoughts are wiped out instantaneously with the first sip of an exquisite top-shelf G&T!

Just the thought of this is perking me up again 🙂

 

 

 

Mask Coming Out Day

Masks - 4Today was my official coming out day. It’s the day I’m marking in the calendar as “Started wearing mask in public“. I finally finished my hand-crafted creations. They do have a pouch for a filter, but are otherwise quite unremarkable. My housemates have been mostly polite about them, excepting a few comments about being uneven, or baggy, or weird smelling. I know these are not in their longer-term wardrobe plans — I’ve seen their orders for more colorful alternatives in our Amazon account.

Much about the future is unclear, but one thing I’m pretty sure of, is that masks are here to stay for a while. Regardless of the recommendations, requirements or regulations where you live, or what your personal stance is on these, they have arrived.

Fashion, culture and profit is going to make sure we buy more than we need and perhaps even keep wearing them longer. As we start venturing out into public and shedding our sweat-pant-pajama-workout-shorts rotation we might want a sporty one for outdoorsy gatherings, a more chic model for dinner and the theater, more formal for church, more business-like for interviewing, and so on. Will they need to match shoes and purse, or belt, or earrings, or what about glasses frames. And of course, we’ll need some new organizer gizmo for the collection in our drawers. I see a new complexity to getting dressed penetrating a world I’m constantly trying to simplify! The materials, the colors, the designs could become the next frontier for designers. They might even add tassels, lace, sequence, or who knows what?

But before we leap to all this, I have some basic questions, like how the heck do you really breath in these things if you have a filter in them? I felt like I was recycling carbon dioxide in the grocery store this morning to the point where I might slump over in a faint on the egg cartons.

Then there’s the fogging up of the glasses challenge. It would seem that if you put a decent filter layer in the pouch (that took all that extra effort to make), the best way for air to enter and exit is through the top, passing by your glasses. They then fog up.

How on earth do I train myself to not touch my glasses that keep slipping down on top of the material now covering my nose; to not touch the itch from the elastic on my ear; to not touch the mask over my nose that seems to be covering the one nostril completely; how to not touch anything above my neck that is all itchy and uncomfortable? How?

I learned how to walk in high heels, wear pantyhose in the Houston heat and painfully heavy earrings when that was in fashion, so I’m sure I can master this mask. But I might need to upgrade my home-grown pioneer version for a Nieman Marcus deluxe model at some point, if Nieman’s doesn’t go out of business.

And then, practically speaking, how can I safely take it off and put it somewhere that isn’t going to contaminate some other surface? How frequently do we wash them, or reinsert a new filter? There appear to be varying opinions and there’s no definitive right or wrong answer. As somebody, who likes to know how to do it right, this is very frustrating.

For the time being, I’m going to have to live with answers like ‘You’ll get used to it’, ‘Just do the best you can.’ and ‘Some protection is better than none.’  I’m washing them in Zum patchouli laundry detergent this afternoon, so that should help a little.

See you out there with your mask on 🙂 Wave in case I don’t recognize you.

Were you afraid of getting sick?

Spanish Flu Epidemic 1918-1919 in America. TO PREVENT INFLUENZA, a Red Cross nurse is pictured withAll four of my grandparents lived through the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic in Minnesota and Michigan, but I never heard a peep about any of this until many years after they had passed. It never came up. I never asked any question that would have lead there. What kid asks a question like “Grandma, have you ever lived through a pandemic?” I’m sure I thought pandemics were a thing that died out with the bubonic plague in the middle ages, if I was even that aware.

My grandparents would have been in their early twenties / late teens during the time of the Spanish Flu, so surely would have been very aware. I read that in 1918, 125,000 cases of the flu were reported in Minnesota, causing 7,260 deaths. With a population of 2,291,000 in Minnesota in 1918, this would have been bigger news than COVID-19 today. A simple Google search turns up notices of closures and mask recommendations that look very similar to what we see today. Even with no internet or 24-hour news cycle, 5% of the population in Minnesota reporting a case of the flu would mean everyone most likely knew someone who got sick — and probably someone who died.

I could speculate that many significant and more dramatic events stacked up between their 1918 Spanish Flu experience and fifty years later when I was sitting around on a quiet summer vacation evening visiting with them on the farm. The financial crash in the 20’s that lead to the Great Depression in the 30s, followed by WWII in the 40s, then the Korean War, the Cold War and the polio outbreak in the 50s. All these would have pushed a pandemic they survived decades earlier to the bottom of the pile of memories.

If I could go back in time and ask them questions about 1918, I’d want to know if they were afraid of getting sick? Did they change their behaviors in any way? Were public gathering places closed in their town too? Did it fill the conversation with their friends, or did they have to stop seeing friends for a while? What was that like for them? Did they assume it would all be over soon?

If my grandchildren ask me if I was afraid during COVID-19, what will I say?

Am I afraid of getting sick? I think I would tell them that I’m afraid enough. Enough that I’m willing to withdraw significantly from human contact to create a safety shield around our household. I’m willing to comply with any recommendations that medical experts put forth to help protect me from others and others, in turn, from me, in case I’m infected and asymptomatic. Maybe it’s not fear as much as it is a commitment to doing what I can to stay well, and stay out of hospital. I’m willing to reign in some of my personal freedoms to buy some additional safety insurance. Just like I try to do with exercise and diet. There are no guarantees, but I’m not taking many chances.

I would tell them, that I’m actually more afraid of other things. I’m more fearful of the overall effect this is having on our social and economic structures. I’m fearful that we’re in for a longer roller coaster ride than most expect. And I worry that our impatience for instant results may hamper our ability to make steady progress. And that when we do arrive on the other side of this with a long-awaited vaccine, who will get access to that new vaccine – will I? How much will have changed by then, that will define a new world quite different from today — or should I say, from what we knew a couple of months ago. 

I don’t believe we will ever return to where we were before this virus. What will the new normal look like? Will I feel comfortable there? Can I thrive there? I heard Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel prize winning psychologist and economist, say in an interview recently that he expected the rest of his years to be confined to a life of “incarceration” because of the threat of this virus to his health. 

I’m more afraid of these uncertainties, than I am of getting sick. Whether I contract the virus or not appears to be more within my control than defining what our world will look like as we move beyond the immediate threat of this pandemic.

Today is the beginning of Week 7 of social isolation at our house. Some restrictions are being loosened in our city (e.g., opening of restaurants, movies, malls, churches) as others are being implemented to mitigate that risk (e.g., mask requirements, % occupancy restrictions, etc.).

Everyone is hoping for the best. Everyone is still hoping we’re getting back to ‘normal’. There is an eagerness to get on with it. I haven’t made any restaurant reservations, or bought any movie tickets yet. Still waiting to see what happens.

Frozen in Time

cobwebbed flowerI went to enter something on the May family calendar in the pantry and realized that I had not yet turned the page to April. This is a litmus test of activity in our house. The master household calendar, the director of traffic in our lives, the synchronizer of all family comings and goings has not been needed. I haven’t referred to, or written in it since March, which ended 26 days ago.

We’ve come to a standstill. Parts of our lives are like a deserted house in a Scooby-Doo cartoon, where rooms are laced with cobwebs, furnishings covered in dust, and items scattered on a banquet table as if the revelers vanished mid-dinning.

Much of the city is like that. Frozen in time. People left spaces expecting to return in a couple of weeks, and didn’t.

White erase boards in meeting rooms and classrooms still marked up with work in-progress. Desks and lockers containing items that wouldn’t have been left behind if the duration had been known. Theater stage sets ready for the next performance.

Display windows in a boutique nearby remain static – they didn’t win the “essential” designation. School electronic signs blink with outdated information. Cars sitting in driveways gather a thicker coat of pollen. The neighborhood library is closed again — after finally reopening following a long post-Hurricane Harvey restoration. Are returned books piling up in the return box, or not being returned at all?

Playgrounds are taped up like crime scenes. The school zone blinking lights still flash at the appointed hours of day for those out exercising and the occasional car passing by. The Spring fashion season has been skipped – glad I hadn’t bought anything.  Billboards once vibrant with concerts, sports events, and festival posters have nothing enticing to say.

I wonder what’s going on inside empty churches, movie theaters, sports stadiums, schools, offices, museums, gyms and theme parks? Is dust slowly covering over the inside surfaces. Have the cockroaches and mice moved in, or isn’t there enough for them to scrounge on, now that the humans have fled. What is happening in these dark, quiet caverns left untended? I’ve heard reports of frantic rodents in shut-down restaurant districts. Read this NBC News report, if you want the details. I’m not offering more here, as I personally wish I didn’t have that image in my head.

As we start cracking open some of these spaces, what will we find?