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I made my escape as the apes' brutal reprisal against the pigs sent swine squealing into the night and the scent of bacon drifting across campus.

But first, some context.

Jack Kirby moved from Marvel Comics to DC in the early 1970s, and received a free hand to do pretty much anything he wanted. While his New Gods made the most significant and lasting changes to the fictional universe inhabited by Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, his best-selling contribution was Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth. Set in a post-apocalyptic earth inhabited by sentient animals and bestial humans, it drew both on the success of Planet of the Apes (for which Marvel had the comic-book rights) and Kirby's own, "The Last Enemy," a story from a 1957 issue of Alarming Tales.

All of this leads to a dream from early this morning, the first dream I can recall that expressly relates to the current pandemic.

The dream took me to a city much like the one I actually live in, though not quite the same. It clearly was experiencing the pandemic, with fewer people and cars on the streets, and everyone keeping polite distance. But I also inhabited another version of that city, either in the future or an alternate universe. That universe recalled rather strongly Kamandi's. The storyline-- it was one of those dreams-- was, however, the product of my own dreaming brain, with echoes of 12 Monkeys.

A wizard had hired me to act, Bilbo-like, as a thief. I had to locate and take important relics from the past, required for some reason. Fortunately, I had the ability to shift between realities. I could walk to the target location in our reality (maintaining social distance, of course), and then shift into the Kamandi-esque one once I was near the required object. It never occurred to me to ask why a wizard would require me to steal things. Couldn't he get them himself? Of course, they are subtle and quick to anger.

Apparently, an ongoing conflict existed between gorillas and swine. I gathered that, in the recent past, the pigs had committed unimaginable wartime atrocities. I had to enter the porcine command centre, located in an old, partially overgrown dormitory that resembled uncannily the one I inhabited for the first two years of my undergraduate degree.

The apes were shadowy. The pigs were graphically realistic, disturbing creatures, tusked and despite their anthropomorphic posture, based more on feral hogs than the more familiar, neotenous breeds. They were genuinely the stuff of nightmares. The night I entered the building, the apes scaled it to the largely empty upper floors. Anthropomorphic pigs, apparently, do not like to live too high off the grounds. Although they had to battle a few upper-level sentries, they quickly exacted their terrible revenge for whatever atrocities the swine had committed in the past. They poured gas or alcohol, something flammable, at any rate, down the sides and into the pipes and set it on fire before, somehow, getting out of the building. I'm actually not certain how they escaped the conflagration themselves, but dreams are like that.

Presumably, I escaped using the dimensional shift method. I found myself walking down the contemporary, still largely empty campus, carrying my find, which looked rather like an old board-game with wooden pieces. I rather hope, in retrospect, I didn't go through it all just so my employer could have a collectible or sell one on eBay.

I eventually found my way to my next target, apparently just across campus, a place inhabited by anthropomorphic bovines. I recall little of these, beyond catching, in darkness, an upright minotaur with the head of a Texas longhorn.

I have no idea what this means, but feel like it should become a short story or a videogame.

The news upon waking this morning reports that infection by asymptomatic carriers may be playing a greater role in spreading this pandemic than was previously believed, though no source gives conclusive evidence. The province of Ontario plans to release their projections relating to the spread of the novel coronavirus, though these models will obviously be tentative and subject to significant change. For now, the Canadian government has no specific plans to formally release whatever models they might be using.

Johns Hopkins University estimates, as of today, we have more than a million cases of COVID-19 worldwide. The estimated global death toll approaches 60,000.

It's been just over a week since I was last at work. I filed for unemployment, and have reasonable expectations that I will be able to collect it eventually. The other day we received a call from our former employer letting us know that they are there for us. I was skeptical at first, but then accepted it at face value. Despite being off work, or perhaps because of it, I have had (or taken) this time to do things I have been meaning to do for a long time. Rather than have - get in shape - as a nebulous goal, I decided to focus on living a healthier lifestyle. Not long ago I read an article that helped me, Stephen Covey has a recommendation that families create their own mission statement, I've never really done this, but I have a much better idea of what I want my life to look like now than I did back then. Years ago something I read talked about how environment plays a role in how a person lives their life. Simple enough I thought, if healthy food is easy, and less nutritious options are more difficult to get, then people will naturally default to the path of least resistance.

I had set up a small workout area, but I liked the idea of having my yoga mat near my bed. Never mind the fact that I haven't done yoga in who knows how I long. Every morning when my first foot hit the floor, I was stepping on that mat, and I enjoyed that feeling beneath my feet. After I was first divorced I bought all sorts of totally unnecessary things that I thought were going to try and help solve problems that I had. Today I can look back on the person I was with greater empathy and compassion. I had spent so long living in a state of normalized terror that not having someone to withhold approval was a very strange and foreign feeling for me. My relationship with money was very unhealthy, I found myself buying things just to prove that I could bring them home without anyone else looking down upon my actions. I was undisciplined without understanding how to get back on track. I think I have written about the person who recommended eating leftovers, that is not really my point, but it was one of the first tiny motions that set a domino falling chain into motion.

I don't really remember how long ago I had last heard from a person who recently reached out, it's been years, I know that, so I was surprised to see a short message. Whenever I get one of these, I wonder what prompted it, what the other person needs, or wants, and what my role in their life might be. I replied that I was well, and inquired about his life. I don't know exactly what is going on, but it's not great. He says he will be fine, and I've heard that before. I'm sure he will be fine, or okay, or whatever, but I know now that he is hurting, and I think at a deep level. It's kind of funny because he has a lot of the things I want, stable job, good income, etc..., but I'm the one who seems to be much happier with the way that things are going. The other day I had a really good conversation with my mom. In the past I've said things and she's been critical. This time she didn't really ask how the job search was going although I did ask for her to email copy of my resume I had done on her computer.

Most of what she said was positive, and made me feel better about these fledgling attempts to do new things, or go back to habits that I had before that are somewhat familiar, but also harder in some ways now that I am older. The main thread here is having people who believe(d) in me, and their supportive encouragement. I do a lot, and feel as if I am seldom praised, recognized, or rewarded for it. Now I know that it has to come from within, but it helps me to hear it from others. That I am doing a good job, that even if I still have a ways to go, there is new awareness, or simply that we are all human, none of us is perfect, and each of us has various areas in which we struggle, and it is really no better to have money in the bank and loathe your job than it is to be impoverished, yet happier, and in a better place mentally. I have gotten rid of a lot of things that I really do not miss. I still want to buy things; but I have new strategies to help myself. I don't say no, I tell myself that I can have it, and do I really want to spend my money that way at this point in time?

It's become a game to me. I haven't bought groceries since March 11, and I did buy more than I normally would, but living like this has really shown me how much uneaten food I did have at my place. For me minimalism, simplicity, Swedish Death Cleaning; whatever label it has, helps me. I am so easily overwhelmed it's kind of funny. One glass on the counter becomes two, becomes a larger number, and then I am freaking out because my place is a mess, and it feels as if I won't be able to restore any sense of order to anything. Catastrophic thinking that does me no good is another habit I have, and sometimes I allow myself to envision worse case scenarios since they can be helpful. If I am evicted, and I need to move in with a relative, I won't be able to take all these things with me, so what do I really need? I still love the idea of zones, and have rearranged my space to create better defined areas where I perform certain tasks, or where specific things belong. This is an ever evolving process, but I've noticed how much easier my life is when I contain things, so I keep going.

My main living area is L shaped, I put my table and chairs in the short part of the L, across from that I have my mini-trampoline, and then a small desk. I have a couple of lime green barstools that someone else was tossing, brought those home, cleaned them up, and use them to store small things. Vertical space quickly becomes cluttered, I like to see what I have, but I also want order and the things I use to be easily accessible. I put a second desk to the north of the first one, I have things like my checkbook and paints inside of my first desk, the second is literally a flat surface with legs, I'm using that as a writing area because if writing is important to me, and I want to do more of it, then I need an area that makes writing easy for me. Since I am so easily distracted I find that the fewer things I have laying around, the more focused I can be on any given task. I had too much stuff that was poorly organized because it was just too much for this small space that lacks storage. I'm confident that I can keep whittling until I have more, or less, what I want, and I also realize that there can be an element of compulsion here. Sometimes, it is good enough.

With that being said, I am off for a while. I never dreamed that I would be where I am at today; enjoying greater inner peace, and a connection between who I want to be on the outside, and who I am internally. It feels good, and I am grateful for all who contributed in their own way, even when they were unaware that what they were saying was having the impact that it did on me. Wise, smart, kind, caring, loving people are all around. One thing I do is lie down and try to picture my heart as open to love; I am a very loving and forgiving person, I like to keep lines of communication open, and I am finally better understanding the idea of putting on your own oxygen mask first, as well as the idea that to receive love, I must first love, forgive, and accept myself. Not for my potential, or the better qualities I possess, but for the times I have failed, been small, broken, torn, foolish, etc..., these are all in the past, but none of us are free from future mistakes. This is a part of who we are, I'm just happier that I'm making more of the new ones, and fewer of the old ones. That feels like real progress to me.

Be well,

J

P.S. It feels strange not to be going to the stores anymore, it was a layer of stress I didn't realize robbed me of so much. I miss painting and art supplies, but this too is within my control, and I'm thankful I realize that.

All my best,

j

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