Catastrophes, Real and Imagined

I just got a new laptop after procrastinating for over a year.  My old one was 11 years old.  They say that’s like driving a 1958 Buick.  I would have kept the old device forever except that my internet goes down about once a week and when it came back on, the old laptop couldn’t reconnect to wifi unless the router was rebooted.  The router in the apartment above me.  It’s kind of embarrassing, having to text my neighbors and ask them to reboot the router.  I felt like a loser.

Technical stuff does not come naturally to me.  I spent hours researching which laptop I should buy, then just asked one of the tech guys at one of my client organizations for a recommendation, then just bought it.  It is not the cheapest but it’s far from a high-end model.

I kept expecting something to go terribly wrong as I set it up.  How would I ever get support?  I bought it on Amazon and it was shipped by Sunflower Tech Store, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

But nothing has gone wrong.  I gave myself two weeks to make the transition, but my old laptop lost the wifi signal again today so I plunged in and dealt with everything—buying Office, transferring files and bookmarks, re-entering user names and passwords into every single website  I use regularly, etc.  Much of it looks slightly different.  The keyboard has a number pad so I have to get used to not typing on the right.  And I have.

So after almost a year of angst-ing and procrastinating, I’m basically good to go after a couple hours.

But I still expect something to go terribly wrong.

Here’s something I’ve noticed about my thinking since the pandemic began and was then layered over with civil unrest, financial uncertainty, and living in a crime-ridden neighborhood where sirens and gun shots and fireworks and hot rods and loud music are blasting day and night.

I have always been good at imagining worst-case scenarios, but now the tendency is magnified.

I have a portable fire pit that I never use so I’m going to give it to my brother.  Every time I think about it, I immediately see my six-year-old nephew tripping into a bonfire and being burned over 85% of his body.  I try to think happy thoughts, like about taking my granddaughters to northern Wisconsin in September for a cabin weekend.  Immediately, my mind goes to  a vision of the nine-year-old being abducted by some  creep-o who lives in a shack in the woods. I imagine head-on collisions when I’m driving, coming home to find my house burglarized and ransacked, or falling down the basement stairs when I’m doing laundry and having to lie there with a broken hip for days.

There must be a psychological explanation for this catastrophizing.  Is it an (irrational) way of feeling in control, of “knowing” what is going to happen in such uncertain times?

There have been coronavirus spikes around the US lately, so far not in Minnesota.  The Wall Street Journal editorialized that headlines trumpeting a resurgence “are overblown.”  Many new infections are connected to prisons and meat packing plants, and hospitals are not overwhelmed, they say.  I want to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I want to believe they are not saying it’s okay to sacrifice prisoners and slaughterhouse employees to keep the economy going.

I have always perused the obituaries on Sundays.  The “Irishman’s sports page,” they are sometimes called.  These are a few I caught that were Covid-19 related deaths.

This one was particularly poignant.

Some have said it’s “just old people” dying; they were going to die anyway.  Some have “joked” about how much money we’ll save on Social Security if all our seniors die.

But I wouldn’t wish a Covid-19 death on anyone—alone, in a medical coma, with a tube down your throat, catheterized, on IVs, flipped head down. Tended by people who look like aliens in their masks.

I know, I should look away.  No wonder my brain is generating intrusive disaster scenarios.  I will research the phenomenon this week and let you know what I learn.

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