CVIndependent

Sat09192020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

It’s hard to believe that about two weeks ago, I was at a Joshua Tree art opening, socializing and having a good time. Today, that night feels like it was months ago.

Like many of you, I have been isolating at home—here in Morongo Valley, in my case—and I have only ventured out to the mailbox and grocery store as of late. I’m seeking respite and human connection online via Facebook and through phone calls with family and friends.

Among my local acquaintances, I’ve noticed a lot of crankiness about out-of-towners in AirBnBs who are staying here to ride out the pandemic. There’s a real “don’t come here; go home” vibe, and a locals-only feeling within the high desert communities right now. While Joshua Tree National Park closed all roads to vehicles, bicyclists and hikers can still go in—yet I’ve seen online "reminders" to tourists that Joshua Tree park is CLOSED, so please stay away.

Otherwise, things up here seem similar to things in the Coachella Valley, based on what my friends and co-workers down there tell me. Last week, my husband, Shawn, went to Stater Bros., and while it wasn’t too crowded, the store was lacking in paper products, bread, cleaning supplies like bleach, and big bottles of ibuprofen. (He did score a small bottle—just in case.) Posted signs indicated a one-per-person allowance of rice, milk, what bread was left, tortillas and a few other things. A handful of shoppers wore masks, with one person carefully covered from head to toe—in sunglasses, a mask, gloves and long sleeves. All store employees were wearing gloves. Shawn carefully wiped down all our groceries when he got home.

Non-essential businesses are not open, of course—but auto-parts stores are deemed essential, and their busy parking lots reflect that folks are happy about this. Fast food drive throughs remain open, and there are lots of them along Highway 62. You can order a pizza to-go at Domino’s—but you don’t go inside; they slide it out the door to you.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has cancelled all shows through late April—but the legendary spot is offering takeout food four days a week. Tourist-trap eateries like the Joshua Tree Saloon are also offering takeout, as well as beer or wine to go. Joshua Tree’s popular Crossroads Café went further than most, offering free essential food packages on March 22 and 23 as a “way to give back to our loyal community.”

Meanwhile, I’ve been catching up on TV via our DVR. I tuned into an episode of Ancient Aliens on the History Channel from a couple of weeks ago. To my surprise, the show featured Landers’ giant rock and George Van Tassel’s Integratron, with some commentary from our own Ken Layne of Desert Oracle fame. Pretty cool.

Less cool: I also watched MSNBC’s On Assignment With Richard Engel: The Outbreak, which originally aired on March 8. It was a thorough, inside look on how the coronavirus started in China, covering what happened there before COVID-19 spread to other countries like Hong Kong and Singapore—and how their governments all fought to contain it. It was eye-opening and scary. I was glad I watched it, but I went to sleep disturbed and cranky.

The next morning, I woke up and dragged myself out of bed—it’s been like that a lot lately—to do my usual a.m. exercise-bike routine. As I climbed on my stationary bike and readied myself for a sweat, I looked outside—and saw a beautiful rainbow creeping up out of some dark storm clouds. During my workout, the rainbow slowly grew until it was full, and then stayed—in a brilliant blue sky—for more than half an hour. It helped remind me: It’s best to focus on the little things, breathe and stay in the present moment. It’s all we can really do right now.

Later that day, as I walked my dog to my mailbox, I ran into a new neighbor, out on our unpaved road. He had his truck and a shovel and was digging up and moving rock obstacles—to make driving easier for all of us.

That’s another comforting thing to remember: We are all in this together.

Oh, and to the dude out on the street in Yucca Valley selling “I SURVIVED CORONAVIRUS 2020” T-shirts … here’s to hoping we do, my friend.

Published in Features

Before I get to the news of the day—and, boy howdy, it’s been a big news day—I wanted to say something to those of you out there who, like me, suffer from depression, anxiety or other forms of what’s looped into the category of mental illness.

Hang in there. Please.

Speaking (or, well, typing) to everyone now: All the shit that’s going on now is trying and traumatic to all of us, not just people who battle mental illness. A whole lot of people lost jobs today, at least for the time being. We can’t go to many of our favorite places right now. And people who are 65 and older were advised to not go anywhere, period.

My particular forms of mental illness are, fortunately, fairly minor: I am not even currently on medication for my anxiety and depression. I’ve been off of them for several years now, as I’ve successfully found a way to use hobbies and interests to get myself into a calmer place. For example, I am a huge baseball fan—go Dodgers!—and I play softball (poorly, yes, but dammit, I play).

Of course, baseball and softball are both cancelled for the foreseeable future. Gulp.

So … yeah. I’ve been an anxious mess today. After watching the announcement from Gov. Newsom (more on that in a minute), I crawled into bed with the hubby and the cat to calm my ass down. I relaxed, did some breathing exercises, and even nodded off for 15 minutes before getting up to send out this Daily Digest. And after I am done with this, I am going to unplug from social media, order some food from a local restaurant that needs the business, pour myself a bourbon, and watch some distracting, fun TV with my family. This means some really fantastic stories that are in my inbox will have to wait until tomorrow. Sorry about that. But taking care of myself today will mean I am in a much better place tomorrow—and trust me, we’re going to be posting some great stories at CVIndependent.com tomorrow.

The bad shit happening now means we’re doing what we can to get through COVID-19 as painlessly as we possibly can, as this graphics piece from The Washington Post brilliantly illustrates. (But, yeah, there’s still gonna be a lot of pain.) And to those of you with mental illness … do everything you can to take care of yourselves, like I am. We’re gonna get through this. Really.

Hang in there. Please.

Now … here’s today’s news. I am going to get the bad-but-important things out of the way first, and then list some good, uplifting or funny things, because, jeez, we all need good, uplifting and funny right now.

• If you haven’t already heard … earlier this afternoon, Gov. Gavin Newsom directed all Californians 65 and older to stay home. And he directed all bars to close down. And he—just as the city of Palm Springs did last night—directed all restaurants to cut occupancy in half in a social-distancing effort.

Most grocery stores are limiting their hours, so they can clean and restock. For example, Ralph’s is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Stater Bros. is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aldi ran out of stuff, basically, and closed early today. Yeesh.

Augustine Casino is temporarily closing its doors. 

OK. That’s enough depressing stuff for now. Let’s get on with the good, uplifting and funny:

• Good: You know how people are panicking and hoarding stuff right now? Well, our supply chain is in good shape, so we’re gonna be OK. Really.

• Also good: Spectrum is offering free internet and WiFi to households with kids or college students who need it.

• Uplifting: A shout-out to Jeannie Kays, the Palm Springs Library director, for posting this fantastic learn-from-home website Scholastic is offering, so kids who are stuck at home can keep on learnin’. www.scholastic.com/learnathome

• Funny (if also a little sad): As someone put on Twitter (paraphrasing): Who had “monkey gang wars” on your COVID-19 consequences bingo card?

• Funny, but “political,” so if you’re someone who is triggered by humor with a political bent, for the love of god, please don’t click, but if you actually do have a sense of humor, please do click: Randy Rainbow has finally weighed in on the pandemic.

Support local businesses, including your favorite independent local newspaper. Wash your freaking hands. Find happy things. Hang in there. Please.

Published in Daily Digest