May 6, 2020
Murder hornets. MURDER. HORNETS. That’s 2020’s newest nightmare, and the thing I can’t get over is that someone named them “murder hornets” and the name “murder hornets” stuck. I know I should be concerned about the murder hornets, but I think maybe I’ve reached my concern threshold for the year because every time I read the words “murder hornet” I find myself choking back incredulous laughter instead. I mean yes, they’re horrifying monsters who decapitate bees, kill humans, and can single-handedly take down a full-grown mouse (viewer beware: that video is super gross), but come on — murder hornets?? Really? Could 2020 get any more absurd? #famouslastwords
I was already feeling a little disgruntled towards the insect world, even before this news broke. As the weather warms in Arizona, all of hell’s minions come out to play, and we killed two black widows just last week. One was on our mailbox, guarding the mail. It’s like she was there to judge us for going outside. Don’t you know there’s a pandemic? she hissed at us through a teeny tiny face mask, and then we smashed her. The other one was just hanging out over our front door, probably for the same reason. You should have stayed home! she was ready to snarl as she pounced on anyone who dared to drop by, but I killed her before she had the chance.
It wasn’t a very graceful killing. I stood on a stool and tried to squash her with a shoe (held in my hand, not worn on my foot), but I only half succeeded. Crippled, she began a quick descent on her thread. No problem, I thought, and I attempted to smash her between two shoes. (I must reiterate that I was holding the shoes in my hands, not wearing them on my feet…the mental picture of me leaping off a stool to kill a bug between my feet is striking me as particularly hilarious). Somehow I failed, and she sprinted, enraged, across the surface of the shoe I WAS HOLDING IN MY HAND, so I screamed and dropped the shoe and then finally succeeded in smooshing her as she tried to hobble away. Her funeral dirge consisted of me passionately whispering “I hate you” as I wiped her off the bottom of my shoe.
A couple evenings later, while we were watching a movie, Cooper (12) suddenly spazzed out. “What in the world?” we demanded, and he told us something had crawled across his foot. The room was dark, so we turned on a phone-light to search around, and it took us a moment to find the thing. “Oh! It’s a scorpion!” observed Kiefer (15), who’s had his fair share of stings. We smashed that fella with a shoe as well (the scorpion, not Kiefer), and the evening ended with me shaking my fist and cursing all arachnids. (Cooper’s fine, by the way. He was stung very mildly.)
And then. THEN the news of the murder hornets came, and I just can’t even. We’re remodeling our house right now (more on that soon), and we keep joking that we’re gussying up our house for the end of the world. When the project is done we’ll move back in, out of the teeny space we’re living in now, we’ll pop a bottle of champagne and admire the aesthetic charm of our newly beautified home, and meanwhile there will be black widows and scorpions and murder hornets and little knobby coronaviruses and overzealous government officials aggressively knocking on all of our freshly-painted doors.
Timing is funny (*newsflash*). We didn’t choose the timing of our house project to coincide with the timing of a global pandemic and an economic shutdown. We dreamed about remodeling and talked and planned and prepared and set money aside, and the waiting felt long because we were so excited, and once it started it suddenly felt like everything was moving so fast. I’m guessing there will be plenty of moments when time feels quite long and quite slow again, as this thing goes on. I just hope we’re able to enjoy the end results before the murder hornets get us.
It’s funny that 2020 is such a weird and terrible year. Coming into it, everyone seemed so optimistic. Even the name of the year is exciting, and folks everywhere were like “This is my year! The year of clarity! 2020, baby! Perfect vision! Perfect understanding! Perfect me!” and now nothing is clear and none of us really understand anything. Take that, New Year’s resolutions. Bet your 2020 vision didn’t include plagues and pestilence, did it? Mine didn’t, either.
Back when we used to go to church in person, our services lasted 75 minutes, pretty much on the nose. Our online services now are roughly 37 minutes — half as long, exactly. This past Sunday, Foss (7) told us that the online services are longer than the in-person ones.
“No,” we said, “that’s incorrect.”
“I don’t think so,” he said.
“They’re only 37 minutes,” we said. “That’s actually much shorter.”
He shrugged. “Well, I say they’re longer.”
“Then you’re wrong,” we said, and he shrugged again.
Must be nice, living confidently in a reality of your own making, eh Foss? Is it comfy over there, in a world where 37 minutes on a couch is longer than 75 minutes in a classroom? Probably about as comfortable as the place where adults declare 2020 to be the year of all years, before we’ve lived more than a few minutes of it.
37 minutes feels long to Foss. The demolition of our kitchen felt short to Todd and me. 2020 has felt endlessly long, and yet I’m also shocked (and slightly horrified) to discover that we’re already a third of the way through it. Time marches on, second by second and day by day, and we don’t get to dictate what that time will look like. As Gandalf wisely observed, “all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
I don’t know what the world will look like in a year. Maybe murder hornets will have ripped the heads off of all America’s honeybees, or maybe clever scientists will have found a way to outsmart the monsters. Maybe we’ll have experienced multiple waves of COVID-19 and a total economic depression, or maybe people will rally and get physically healthy, mentally resilient, and financially strong. Maybe we’ll still be social distancing, or maybe we’ll be having coffee dates and going to the movies like we used to do. The fact is, we never know what the world will look like a year from now. That’s not a 2020 issue, it’s an always issue. The future is uncertain at best (and filled with murder hornets at worst), so we live today as best we can, making plans but holding them loosely, loving our people and being thankful for them even when the close quarters of quarantine (and home remodels) threaten to drive us crazy, and using our time as wisely and joyfully as we can.
We keep living. This was Quarantine Week 7, and the murder hornets are here.