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Geeking Out, or Freaking Out, in the Times of Coronavirus

Welcome to the coronavirus shutdown!

Well, “welcome” is too strong a word. I went into work-from-home, or WFH as we’re saying now in the quarantine lexicon, on March 12.

I’m not even going to count how many days it has been so far. One, it won’t be accurate when this column is posted. Two, that may be too depressing for y’all to read. Three, the only way to handle all this time inside is like prison: one day at a time is another day alive.

The world feels like it’s ending because it’s on hold. Nothing in this rock is built to just stop, and here we are, with many of us doing a lot of stopping. If we can afford to, that is.

I’m sure a bunch of your geeks, who have drunk down many kinds of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, have thought, “Which character am I in this pandemic moment?”

As for me, it depends on the day, I guess?

Heading out of my home to buy groceries and supplies, a lot feels like the sci-fi show Counterpart, in which a parallel Earth suffered a virus that killed hundreds of millions. The widespread mask use, the hand sanitizer stations in all public spaces, and the overall lack of hustle and bustle in the Berlin streets.

My spouse has taken to calling me a homesteader, which feels old-timey. (We live in a farmhouse that sits on three-quarters of an acre, so my sci-fi chic ergonomic sky chalet from Oblivion is clearly out.) With no landscaper to come by the place, I took it upon myself to rake out the dead leaves, pull some weeds, put down new grass seed and straw, and buy axes to chop firewood for the outdoor pit. I build the fires and have an American Gothic-level pitchfork.

May as well call me Charles Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie. If only I had Michael Landon’s lustrous head of hair!

image via NBC/Universal

The yardwork has filled a big hole in my fitness routine, which has been all blown up. I’m carrying on with some of my trainers through Zoom and other online platforms. However, it’s mostly impossible for me to go all-out in my house the way I can in a fitness center’s open space, without household knickknacks and furniture, on flooring built for jumping and sit-ups. I took up jogging alongside the weightlifting and ax swinging.

What if all this working out now is training? Do I go full Walking Dead survivalist, or the Mad Max breed of hard-nosed marauder captain? I have my trusty dog, just like Max Rockatansky had in The Road Warrior.

image via Warner Bros.

The upstairs neighbor wants to set up an archery range. We can buy throwing axes then, too. So maybe we’ll become a well-armed warrior collective? I’ll have my array of axes: an Ash Williams chopper, a full-size splitting maul like the Great Humongous, some Gimli orc-slicing hatchets. Plus I have my sharp-for-real scimitar from my Captain Nemo cosplay.

By the end of the quarantine, I may have become Kratos from God of War.

Not to mention that I keep waiting to startle awake from a horrific nightmare of our world in ruins and fallen to an authoritarian evil, because The Flash shouted a warning at me through a rip in spacetime like he did to Batman in                       .

I’m still waiting, Barry, so I can go fix this instead of smashing everything in the Batcave and screaming into the unforgiving abyss. Batman did that one time on when Commissioner Gordon got shot on. For me, that’s every night, if I let it everything that’s happening hit me.

So, I don’t. Gotta keep going. And then rest. And then go again. Keep helping.

I know that, and one other thing: I need to order some extra pairs of eyeglasses, because I ain’t gonna wind up like Burgess Meredith in that Twilight Zone episode. “There’s time now … all the time I need …”

Image via CBS

That time, it turns out, is being spent more and more on fostering more human connections. Almost like the way the internet used to be, 20-plus years ago.

For instance, a friend invited me to a Facebook group that’s all about mixtapes. I now wake up each day to a bunch of playlists based on different concepts, such as sleazy 1970s European capers, a grimdark update on Harriet the Spy all grown up, and Romanian classic rock radio.

We’re Tank Girl and her friends, trading and remixing pop culture to each other in the wasteland.

And now I’ve come in from my day of scavenging among the dunes to hang out underground with you all, back at the Forces of Geek compound.

Home, where we belong.

But, to steal a line from Arrested Development: No touching!



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