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  • Writer's pictureCristina Waldner

Coronavirus World Pt. 1: Let the Panic Begin

[ID: Coronavirus meme with dark grey background and white font. Text reads: Coronacoaster noun: (kuh.row.nuh.kow.ster)  The ups and downs of a pandemic. One day you’re loving your bubble, organizing your junk drawer, and going for long walks and the next you’re crying, watching Netflix all day and missing people you don’t even like.  See also panic, confusion, emotional distress]

Who’s with me? Anybody? Seriously, where is the exit sign for this ride? I want to get off the Coronacoaster!!

Like being on an amusement (horror?) park roller coaster, my feelings about Covid are all over the place. Up, down, backwards, and going in circles.

This has been a difficult time and it’s safe to say I’m not alone. It’s so hard to even know where to begin. Like going through a complicated maze, every time I write I get disoriented… and panic-stricken.

Is this even the entrance in? What do I focus on? Why can’t I focus? What do I say? Why is it so difficult to write?

These were literally the only words I wrote during the first few months of Covid. Only questions. No answers.

In order to untangle this convoluted nightmare, I am starting a five-part series on the pandemic. Consider this post your introduction to Coronavirus World, the frightening-est place on Earth. Imagine we are standing in line waiting to enter. However, the excitement you normally feel going to an amusement park is now replaced with unease… anxiety… fear. I can hear the theme song playing at the gate:

It’s a scary world after all

It’s a scary world after all

It’s a scary world after all

It’s a scary, scary world

Once we’re in, our first stop is a voyage ride journeying to the start of the pandemic. Passengers will now board the ferry and travel back in time to March 11, 2020–the day my life flipped upside down, shot up in flames, and descended into a pit of pit-in-the-stomach anxiety.

Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts and dread the ride.


December 2019. I’m hearing rumblings of a new flu-like disease and my family even discuss it at Christmas, but it feels like something happening “somewhere over there.” I am safe.

January 2020. As a person who never watches the news (unless you count the occasional Access Hollywood), I am surprised so many news ticker items are about the Coronavirus during the coverage of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death. The headlines of death tolls and growing global panic scream as words silently, relentlessly scroll across the bottom of the screen.

February 2020. My sister leaves for Southeast Asia. She says the plane to Taipei is quite empty and it is nice to stretch out.

I guess she decided to make lemonade out of Lysol disinfectant spray.

Early March 2020. I find it naive when an acquaintance says the worst case scenario is that one might just have to quarantine for two weeks and proceeds to make an offhanded comment about toilet paper. Ok, I admit the toilet paper craze is completely ludicrous. But seeing video footage of Italy on military lockdown with a serious food shortage and panic on people’s faces, it doesn’t take a lot to imagine it happening in Canada.

March 11, 2020. The last day my life has any semblance of normalcy. It is a Wednesday. I am having a hard week so to de-stress, my mom, sister, niece and I spend a dreamy morning at Shelmerdine Garden Center. On the drive, we only talk about Covid. What we would do if…? How we would feel when…? Why we would do this…?

The sense of impending doom is palpable, thus making our morning of freedom that much sweeter. Escapism. Fantasy. Illusion. Delusion.

When we arrive the greenhouse is deliciously warm, with the tropical sunshine streaming through the glass ceilings. Shelmerdine is a living, breathing testament to the power of plant therapy. Further in, we are greeted by displays of Bollywood-inspired parasols and an immense flower installation on the ceiling. The ambiance is so luscious I almost expect to see one or two macaws perching on the overhead sprinklers. It is truly a magical place in the midst of imminent mayhem.*

That evening as I am resting in front of a Jets game, I watch a bizarre scene unfold: two NBA teams walk off the court and it is soon revealed that one of the Utah Jazz players has tested positive for Covid-19. It is surreal. It is scary. It just got real.

Dates unknown. In the weeks that follow (or is it years?), everything changes. And I mean everything. I don’t see family, I stop leaving the house and enter total self-isolation, people I know lose jobs, I wish I could clean every surface multiple times a day, and on and on. I am in a fog and honestly don’t even know what I do April, May, and June. Time stands still and marches on at the same time. I am surviving but not living.


Yet, somehow I begin to wake up. Growth can sometimes be so incremental you don’t even realize you are changing. Transforming. Reorienting. Inching forward to a new reality. I now know the only way out of the chaos is through.

Stay safe and see you on the next ride,

- Crissi

*Top middle pic courtesy of Shelmerdine Garden Center


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