“Mandatory” Facial Coverings: UNENFORCEABLE

First off: I’ve got nothing against masks. I’m still making masks for friends/family/neighbors/etc. I don’t mind wearing a mask when I go to the doctor’s office, or if I have to be around other people in close quarters (which is SO rare for me) – even though I believe, at this point, that it is more of a courtesy to accommodate their misguided fear than a legitimate protective measure.

But now they’ve rolled out the “mandatory facial coverings” order (I question its legitimacy as an actual “law”) for my entire state beginning tomorrow.

No, I won’t be wearing a mask every time I leave my home. To do so would be patently absurd.

Written into the order is a provision for exemption, for anyone with a condition which contraindicates regular or prolonged mask usage.

There is, as far as I’ve read so far, no provision requiring any individual to disclose the details of their condition to ANYONE for the exemption to apply.

This is as it SHOULD be. Why?

Well, I personally have a small handful of conditions that would certainly qualify.

In terms of easily quantifiable physical effects: I have a genetic condition which causes MANY problems for me, including trouble with body temperature regulation. I’ve spent the last three decades of my life learning how to dress to mitigate this problem while also maintaining my personal and religious standards of modesty. It’s easy when the problem is that I’m too COLD – just put more clothes on, and/or start moving until my body warms up.

It’s not so easy when I’m too HOT. Wearing a mask over my mouth and nose, even while just sitting in a chair in the waiting room at my doctor’s office, causes me to overheat quickly and sweat profusely. No joke – after my last two visits, I left a small puddle of sweat on the exam table and was feeling lightheaded by the time I left. And all I did was sit there. I dressed as lightly as I reasonably could.

Is that the sort of thing I should have to disclose to every random person who demands that I justify my exemption to them?

What about the conditions that are less easy to quantify or prove? What about conditions that require digging into an individual’s intimate history, and digging up past traumas, in order to “prove”?

What about the woman who has a combination of claustrophobia and PTSD from (or exacerbated by??) being held in a closet and then physically assaulted as a child by her mother’s abusive ex-boyfriend?

What about the woman whose narcissistic and abusive ex-husband more or less bartered her body in sexual trade to other men – one of whom pinned her down and held a pillow over her face during the act?

I am both of those women – and you’d better believe that when I start getting too hot, and when I start having a hard time breathing, those events (and more!) are replayed through my neural networks whether I want them to be or not. There’s enough written elsewhere about all of the very real physiological changes that go along with those sorts of flashbacks, I don’t really feel like getting too much into it myself.

And yeah, I’ll talk about all of these things here in my little corner of the internet where I am at least semi-anonymous, where I can talk about it on my own terms, and where my sharing these things might help others gain a better understanding of the nuances of these sorts of “laws” and exemptions.

But should I have to dredge all of that up – to reveal intimate or embarrassing details about my physical condition, or to reveal and re-live past intimate trauma, over and over – in order to justify my exemption to every store clerk and every Karen who is on some kind of personal power trip and thinks they have the ability to personally determine, at a glance, whose exemptions are “legitimate?”

No.

And neither should anyone.

Anonymity

Dear World,

Since I’m waiting for elastic to arrive, I’ve spent the last couple days cutting fabric. I realized I could use more of what I had and make it go a lot farther if I paired a knit fabric for one side with a woven fabric for the other side. The woven layer acts as a stabilizer, which makes it easier to sew AND ensures that the final product holds its shape.

I just did a tally, and I’ve managed to scrounge up enough blanks to make just over 300 masks. I’m sure I’ll run out of good elastic before that, but I think I figured out a way to use some other elastics that I already have in fairly large quantities (foldover and beading elastic).

It occurs to me, as I share these little details about my daily goings-on in “lockdown mode,” that talking about my life in any meaningful way is probably going to effectively “doxx” me to anybody who actually knows me who might stumble across this tiny little corner of the internet.

I decided I don’t really care.

But let me be clear: if you DO know me, and you happen to happen upon this ill-advised little blog of mine and think you’ve got me figured out… just don’t be a dick about it, okay? If I wanted to talk about this stuff with a real person who will talk back to me in real-time, I’d be doing that. If you ask me about my blog, I will never admit to you that it exists, or that I have any idea what you’re talking about.

Unless I do.

XOXO

Kitty

Muscle Memory Musings

It amazes me how the body can remember things. I haven’t done assembly line sewing in ages, but now that I have my pattern figured out, I can almost turn my mind off while I work – or let it wander.

I bought some fabric several weeks ago to make some curtains for my kids’ loft beds, and now I’m using a little piece to make each of them a face mask. What a thing to be doing.

I’ve given a few prototypes away to people I know, and I’ve got a few leads from a neighbor for at least a couple other local ladies who want to help make masks, too – so I guess I’ll have to put a simple pattern together and send it around.

I just ordered more elastic. It’s getting hard to find!

I worry more and more about the economic and political fallout of this pandemic as I settle further into comfortable isolation. I don’t really care about having to stay home – but I’m a little spooked by the shelter in place order. I remember watching videos of what was going on in Wuhan a few weeks ago and thinking that it looked an awful lot like the leadership over there fully exploited the opportunity to flex their power.

I’m not totally confident our own government won’t do the same. Isn’t already doing the same.

Now, I hate politics. I find it entirely distasteful. And yet I always find myself dragged into it.

I’m not going to offer much in the way of political commentary here, because I think that’s best left to those who are not me – but I do keep an “eye to the stars and a finger to the winds,” so to speak, and this situation has my hackles raised.

Lots of people are worried about rent and bills right now, and I suppose I am in the now-fortunate position of having more or less CHOSEN poverty several years back. As soon as housing started to get really expensive where I live, I rounded up my brother and a couple of delightful coworkers and conscripted them as housemates. My rent burden is blessedly small. And they have been good housemates. My husband moved in with me when we got engaged – and we’ve been here since. Every time he’s suggested looking for a place of our own, I’ve hemmed and hawed over committing to a substantial increase in our housing costs. “WHAT IF SOMETHING CRAZY HAPPENS?” I said.

I’m still waiting to see how things actually shake down in terms of help for people who have lost income. We’ve certainly lost a bit – but even if we don’t qualify for any of those checks folks are hoping for, I think we’ll be OK.

It’s a funny thing (also sad) to think that for a lot of people, it would be catastrophic for them to be reduced to living within MY means – while I could comfortably tighten up my budgets quite a bit yet.

Cheers to being poor, I guess.

It builds character.

Quarantine Begins in Earnest

Dear World,

Up until today, I felt peachy.

I’ve had a little bit of a runny/sneezy nose for a few days, but that’s been normal for me my whole life.

About an hour ago I started feeling slightly weak and a little warm. I took my temperature, which registered 99.5. I usually run cool (96 degrees and change, since I was a kid) so definitely running a bit hot right now. My heart rate is spiking during normal activity, too. Sitting in my chair typing this on my tablet, it hasn’t dropped below 80. Usually it would be more like 60.

Of course I have no way of knowing WHAT I have, but it’s obviously not nothing, so I will be staying home for the foreseeable future.

I’m still going to make masks (they can be bleached); I guess now I get to wear one, too.

I’ve been really careful about what I touch and where I breathe regardless – but man, I’d hate to accidentally bump off someone’s grandma.

 

PPE Shortage Hits Home

Never before in my life have I prayed to God for my labors to be in vain.

That’s what I’m praying for now.

I keep hearing, from people who are plugged into the mainstream media, that more PPE for healthcare workers is on the way – but I’ve been hearing that for days now.

More credibly, I’ve begun hearing through the grapevine from healthcare workers in my community that PPE is running out and being rationed. Boots on the ground are telling me it’s time to start sewing fabric face masks.

I happen to have all of the necessary materials on-hand, so I’m all over it.

I’m praying really hard that I will sew up a big stack of these only to be told “Oh! Sorry! A whole truckload of N95s just rolled up. You did this for nothing.”

None of these people WANT reusable fabric masks. In theory they can work as well in most cases (likely even this one) – but let’s face it; crises do not lend to best practices. I’m not a huge proponent of consumer disposables, but the medical field is EXACTLY where single-use plastics belong.

But I’m going to make fabric masks anyway. Because they’re better than nothing at all – and nothing at all is apparently exactly what some of our men and women on the front lines of this battle have to protect themselves.

May God protect them where we fail.