November 17th, 2020

NCC-1701 Nebula 2

Another Way to Pause

Oregon is about to enter what we're calling The Pause, restrictions closer to the restrictions we started in March due to COVID-19. The limited in-person eating at restaurants, for instance, is being stopped, with only pickup and delivery allowed. Some stores will close for a time, except for many grocery stores.

And in my county, that includes the library halting its hold pickups. Multnomah County Library, like many library networks, had been allowing people to come to the entrances of branches — while still masked, and keeping six feet from other patrons — and get physical items they'd placed holds on. I last did that Sunday afternoon, getting a hardcover edition of short stories by Lord Dunsany then going on a long walk before heading home. (Detail: I got caught in a quick, hard rainstorm, including small hail. The book was safe in a tote bag. A thick one.)

I'd been about to get two library items this week: a DVD of the Rian Johnson film Knives Out (copy in transit to my branch) and, if all went well, a physical copy of Frank Herbert's novel Dune Messiah (first in line). I have a bunch of other physical holds, too. Well. Those will wait. Longer. Those will wait longer.

Honestly, I'm a little bummed at the moment by the change.

But I'm more bothered that we're going into a more restricted time because so many people still, still, haven't taken the sort of precautions we've been supposed to be taking, haven't been taking this seriously, haven't tried to ease this crisis. Because the COVID situation has been getting worse, and that's led to it being harder to do what I can do to cope with the lockdown. The library's hold pickups have been a real help. But for now they can't be. Yes, I'm pivoting to borrowing more digital stuff, as I've done since March, and yes, I have physical media at the house if I want to hold an actual book, but once again the relative few pleasures I have are more difficult to get to.

Take this seriously, please. We don't have a vaccine yet, we don't have a cure, we have a disease that's killed a quarter-million Americans and so many other people across the Earth, and I want one of these days not to have to plan how to go out. (You can untangle that grammar on your own, I'm not in the mood to rewrite that.)

Get to the other end of this tunnel, as many of us as possible. Please.