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#COVIDCatLady, Day 54

There was no announcement, just a hushed conversation with a colleague. We’ve been asked to start working from home again. No more than 50% of the team can be in the office at a time. I felt my stomach tighten and tried to control my face. “Sure, I can stay home whenever. My work is easy to do from home anyway. You guys need access to the server more than I do.” I tell myself this is probably an extra precaution leading up to a three-day weekend. Monday will be Tomb Sweeping Day, a day traditionally reserved for visiting your ancestral graves and paying respects. That means travel for most people in Shanghai. We’ve been advised not to travel, and to update our travel information if we do. I genuinely don’t mind working from home. It won’t be hard, not for a single woman with two cats, a monthly salary, insurance, a nice one-bedroom apartment, and multiple devices. But honestly, hilariously, my first thought when I found out? “Oh no, what will my 27 readers think?! This won’t give them hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel!!!”

I want to fast forward all of this. I want to tell you guys that everything will be OK, soon, by Easter, even.

This is the first time in my life where I’m having a universal experience, and somehow 1.8-month ahead of the world.

The pandemic has highlighted some (outrageous, hilarious, ridiculous) cultural differences, but we’re all experiencing the exact same thing, with some variations. So I’ve been typing up these posts, initially just so everyone would know I’m OK and stop painting a scary picture of life in China, and now... Trying to make sure everyone ELSE is OK and not painting a scary picture of COVVID. But I can’t fix it, not by telling you to bypass the experience. I’ve had the same impulse with friends dealing with grief and loss. I so desperately wanted to say, “but look at me! In 2/3/5 years, it’s going to be fine! Cheer up!” Which isn’t quite how humans operate. We gotta go through the emotions. Emotions don’t diminish us. Emotions are intelligent signals, alerting us to danger, keeping us safe. But they trip us up if we suppress them and let them do all the messy work in the background. I wish I remember off the top of my head who said this, but here’s a quote that’s helped me a lot:

We have no control over our emotions. We have SOME control over our thoughts. And we have (almost) 100% control of our behavior.

I can’t fix anything. I can’t save the world. I can’t stop everyone from suffering. But I can tell you about the path that I had just been on, so you might recognize the sights along the way and know you’re not alone.


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