I’ve been working and working (and working) on an information literacy post. It’s hard going because we do have some fundamental disagreements about facts that continue to float around both news and social media. The struggle of how to write about the politicization of the truth without making a political statement is giving me fits at the moment, and the draft is so meta I don’t think even I can understand where I’m going with it. So, for today, I’m taking a bit of a break from that. Stay tuned, though, because I will figure out how to write the post, I’m just not putting it out there until it’s, you know, actually readable. So, what do I have for you today instead? Loneliness. Yup… even that’s less frustrating than figuring out what is and is not considered factual. Go figure.

So, yesterday evening at the end of the work day I mentioned to a colleague that I hadn’t been physically touched by another human being outside a doctor’s office since March 2020. This statement did not contain information that surprised me. The look of sympathy on the face of the person to whom I said it didn’t entirely surprise me either, but it did generate a feeling or two in me. Physical touch is a human need. A corollary of that is that the absence of touch is not good for a person. It’s lack can have psychological ramifications. We are all quarantining in our own ways. Those who share households are probably not experiencing a lack of human touch. In fact, I have spoken to parents of young children who would enjoy LESS human closeness on occasion. People who live alone who have been able to develop COVID pods are also similarly able to safely touch other humans. Because I have to report to work at the library and because I live alone, I have made the conscious decision to not develop a pod because I don’t consider myself entirely safe. Yes, there are policies at work that help protect us, but when the public and coworkers share a space, there is no way to entirely de-risk-ify ourselves, and I really don’t have anything to recommend me as someone who anyone would want to add to their pod. I have local family who fall into high-risk groups; I’m absolutely staying clear of them so that they can stay safe. So: no touching (if you had an “Arrested Development” moment just now, you are officially my kind of people). Yes, being this physically isolated is weird.

How am I handling it? FACT: sometimes not well. There are, however, coping tools I’ve developed to the point that I’m not necessarily walking around constantly aware of just how weird this is. 

My dog helps. His name is Seymour. He is the best dog ever and he is adorable. Here is photographic proof of his absolutely objective adorabilosity (FACT):

If you have a dog, yours is probably the best ever, too… that’s cool. I’m not fussy about competing superlatives. That’s not messing with the nature of FACTs, that’s just how pets work. So, Seymour, best dog ever ™, helps keep me sane. How is this possible when he is 100% the most self-absorbed creature on the planet (FACT)? He wants what he wants when he wants it. He does not care that life is a little stressful for all the humans right now, he just wants to be fed and petted and walked and floofed and snuggled and booped (all pet people know what those last three verbs mean… FACT). He gets me out of my head and taking care of a creature other than me… and while he isn’t human, there is the physical contact… sometimes a lot of it… Seymour is generous with his affection when he wants to be (FACT). He keeps me (mostly) sane (FACT). If you wish to add a fur-covered family member to your household, a good place to start is here. If you want to learn more about how to choose a pet or how to take care of it once you have it, here is a list of library materials to help you on your quest.

I am aware of and try to take conscious steps to maintain my mental health. There are lots of ways to do this. I have found that having a community of people available virtually who are wired just like me is a BIG help… HUGE. I hang out in a box on Zoom alongside these folks a couple of times a week to keep myself sane. It isn’t the same as when we meet in person with lots of bad coffee (we are an odd, but not a glum, lot). It does help, though. I also know that there are other resources available to maintain my mental health. One tool I learned about recently was a group called Lines for Life that has a lot of different help lines for many different needs. You can visit them here. Their services are free. On the far end of mental health crisis spectrum is suicidal ideation. It can be scary to talk about, but it is important to know what to do when we encounter it (either in ourselves or in a loved one). Because of this, as someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, I always encourage people to have the national suicide hotline number programmed into their phone. This number is 800.273.8255. You can also call the Jackson County Mental Health Crisis Line at 541.774.8201 (more information here).

You may have noticed a lot of very authoritative shouts of “FACT” in this blog post. I’m hoping I can use those to get the media literacy post back off the ground. It’s also possible I won’t be able to make that work, either. You SHOULD see all the drafts around this place *waves hand about airily.*

Until next time, stay safe and take care of yourself.