I’ve always been a pantser.
If you’re a writer, then you know what I’m talking about.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a pantser is a writer who doesn’t do any actual planning for a story, at least that is my definition of the term. When inspiration for a new story hits, we pantsers jot down the story as it plays out in our minds. My approach to writing fits in with my approach to life in general, which is to take on things as they come.
When an idea for a personal essay pops into my head I sit down at whatever desk is available to write the story. I don’t need to be stationed in front of my home computer to write, as most of what I write happens when I’m sitting in front of my work desktop computer. I wrote the entire first draft of a book on teaching elementary students by setting aside thirty minutes of my allotted lunch period to write anywhere from two-hundred to three-hundred words. That’s about two-hundred sixty hours of my life devoted to finishing my book, likely a solid months-worth of writing for other professionals in the game.
And I’m not one of those writers who can produce an entire two thousand word piece in one setting, because I usually don’t have that much of the story in my head before I sit down to write. I write until I get to the point of the story where the chasm separates my present thoughts from my future musings, and then I stop. By the next day, the bridge to connect past and present thoughts has been lowered to reach the other side. I’m proud to proclaim that I’ve finished every story I’ve started since I became a semi-professional fly by the seat of your pants writer of essays two years ago. I’ve produced an income — close to 300 dollars over the course of one year. Of course that is not enough for anyone to live on, but it is income nonetheless.
At the advent of the spring season, my writing ambitions sprouted like tree leaves while my interest in my day job floundered. I wanted to make more money writing by producing more content, so I decided to become a more organized and disciplined writer. I would create a list of story ideas on an excel spreadsheet, design a designated writing space that was free from interruptions, and craft outlines from which I would develop my next stories.
Former Vice President Joe Biden became the de facto democratic nominee for president after Super Tuesday (March 3, 2020), and the man who would face off against Donald Trump for the American presidency in the ensuing months. I was thinking about focusing my writing on the upcoming battle between the two white male septuagenarians, taking myself out of my pieces because I thought I was exhausting my supply of memoir pieces, and becoming more of a topical writer.
All that was before the coronavirus plague began to spread, prompting me to defenestrate my plan to become a more prolific writer, and revert back to writing whatever comes to mind. I’m riding a wave if emotions now, as it has become clear that coronavirus exposure will get worse before it gets better, leading to a ghastly number of deceased human beings. Thinking about what can happen to the world, what could happen to my sixty-seven year old mother if I bring the disease home — I work at a hospital — makes it harder to get out the bed on certain days. The world is on fire, a deadly disease spreads nearly unabated, grocery shelves are empty, and some people are using the pandemic to exact an unfair advantage — two brothers purchased 17,000 jars of hand sanitizer just so they could sell it above market, practicing a wicked brand of capitalism. I’m just so worried about everything now, thinking constantly about what is taking place from day to day. I don’t want to plan for the long term if I am unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel today.
Every day, about two dozen times a day, I pull up the 538.com webpage on my cell phone, scroll down the page that contains Donald Trump’s recent approval ratings, and gasp at what I see. Although still a historically weak president, his approval rating has reached its highest point since I’ve been tracking it. Political reporters have opined that his increased approval rating is a byproduct of the current crisis that we find ourselves in, and that all presidents who serve the country during a crisis experience a bump in approval.
As an addition, Trump’s jump in approval is minuscule when compared to other world leaders, many of whom have seen their approval numbers increase by double digits during the outbreak. Reporters are also quick to point out that President George H.W. Bush’s approval rose to 89% during the first Iraq War. His son, George W. Bush, who was forced to steward a broken country through the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, achieved 90% approval. The coronavirus outbreak, which has already killed more Americans than 9/11 and threatens the lives of many millions Americans, should have had a more galvanizing effect, and led to a more robust “bounce” for president Trump, right?
Well, I’m still aghast. Trump is still treading water and remains in striking distance of Joe Biden. How is it that Trump, who confidently asserted that the coronavirus was a democratic hoax that was no more deadly than the common flu, who perhaps is the main reason for why we are experiencing an explosion of coronavirus cases in this country, who is perhaps the paragon of laziness and stupidity, how is it that such a pathetic man continues to inspire confidence from millions of potential voters?
I’ve been forcing myself to watch those daily coronavirus briefs on cable television recently. When Dr. Fauci, the nation’s foremost infectious disease expert, stands behind the lectern to spit — not literally — facts and tell the unvarnished truth, I listen intently because I want to hear the truth. And science and truth is what this country desperately needs from its leaders right now. When it is time for Trump to take his turn behind the lectern I struggle to keep the bile from escaping from my lips. Trump, flanked by a group of government and health officials as a means to project confidence and competency, spits — literally — lies, shouts down black female reporters who ask him reasonable questions that bring his abysmal failures as a “leader” of a nation to light, and is steadfast in his claims that he has done a great job stewarding the country through this crisis.
As of today, the coronavirus has sickened over 350,000 American people and is causing the morgues of America to overflow with bodies, the economy hemorrhaged seven-hundred thousand jobs during the month of March, stock portfolios are being depleted, and many economists are predicting that the worst is yet to come for the everyday worker. America might be hurtling towards the second Great Depression.
Smart people know that the ensuing damage of this outbreak could have been mitigated if our federal government had been more forceful with the initial response. If we’d been told the truth from the beginning and were afforded a competent commander-in-chief to lead the response to this pandemic, we’d have endured less death and devastation. If Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton were in charge, I guarantee that our country would have been much further along in fighting a disease that is killing people indiscriminately. I know this, as do millions of other Americans. And yet, Donald Trump keeps on skating by when he should be thrashing and sinking in the quagmire that we now find ourselves in.
Nearly forty-six percent of the Americans believe that Donald Trump is doing at least an adequate job as president of these United States. When breaking down Trump’s job approval across party affiliation, you’ll see that he is being kept afloat by his base of support, or republican Americans, nine of ten of whom believe that he is performing well in his job.
Are we Trump skeptics missing something?
Are we stupid? Or perhaps we are crazy?
I really, really want to know what nearly half of the country continues to see in this man, a base defiler of the office that he holds. I’d even be willing to interview supporters of Trump to get their opinion, look the delusional people in the eye as they list their reasons for why they insist on falling in line behind a man who continues to fail. Because right now, I believe that the foundation upon which their support stands is hatred for people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and professional women.
Is there a Trump voter who can convince me otherwise?
I don’t think so.
They’re ramping up testing for the coronavirus at my hospital. So, I’ve had to put in some extra time at the office.
I’ve been a client services professional at the hospital for more than six years. One of the main reasons for why I’ve remained at this job for so long is a work-life balance that was tilted heavily toward me spending the majority of my weekdays inside of my house. After arriving home from work at about six in the evening, I’d run to my room to change clothes, scurry down the stairs to help my mother prepare the evening dinner, watch some Netflix shows on my smart television as I ate my food, and then head upstairs again to read a book before it was time for sleep at 10:00. I was content.
This past Friday, I left my house at 7:15 a.m. to arrive at work at 7:45 a.m. I worked nonstop throughout the morning, apportioned half of my usual break time to wolf down as much of my lunch as I could, and then returned to my desk to work the next seven hours without a break. My day ended hours after the sun had dipped below the horizon. I would not taste victory, as too much work had been left unfinished. Multiple piles of paperwork would be awaiting my attention when I returned to the office on Monday morning. After I put on my coat and skullcap, I took my third peek at my desktop’s digital clock. It was 8:40 pm.
“Jesus Christ,” I said. I’d just completed a thirteen hour workday, one of the longest of my entire life.
I was in need of a sympathetic ear, one that was not attached to the head of a family member. Sandra and I have become so much closer as the coronavirus spreads further and deeper into the fabric of the country. I wanted to officially end the work day by marveling at her gorgeous face, so I called to let her know that I was finally ready to go home.
My heart skipped when Sandra’s face appeared on my screen. She was wearing those glasses that matched her auburn colored hair.
“Oh, my god,” Sandra said. You still haven’t left there yet?”
“Ah, nope. Not yet. I’m on way out now.”
“Oh, Eze. You poor thing!”
Are you all right?” she said.
“Yeah,” I signed. “I’m all right. Real tired though. But I’ll be fine as long as they pay me for my overtime. How was your day Sandra?”
“It was okay. I’m still trying to get a handle on this virtual learning thing. God, I really hate virtual learning. I hope that this virus goes away so that I can get back to teaching in the classroom.”
“But you’re getting it done though, right? I remember you wondering if you could do it a few weeks ago. Look at you now. You’re actually conducting entire classes through your personal computer. You’re fighting back against the coronavirus by giving the kids an education.”
She smiled and said, “I guess so. I’m more worried about you though. You’re a hospital worker. You’re at the front line for dealing with all of this.”
“Thank you Sandra. Thank you for choosing to remain in my life. Thank you for just being alive and well. You’re one of the reasons why I’m able to make it through times like these.”
“I feel the same way about you.”
I love you.
“You be safe now,” I said.
I pulled into my spot in the garage at 9:30 pm. As I exited my car, I felt myself tilt to the right. My work-life balance had shifted. I hope that it does not become permanent.