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Day 3: A Visit from the Authorities

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog
Chow chow. Photo by Moujib Aghrout on Unsplash
Chow chow. Photo by Moujib Aghrout on Unsplash

This is the third installment of a “diary of the future” I wrote a decade ago, exploring what the world might be like in 2019. My story takes place in a scenario created by the Institute for the Future for their Superstruct forecasting game. One of the challenges Superstruct introduced was a global pandemic called ReDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome), and the game challenged participants to envision how such an epidemic would disrupt their lives. In this episode I imagined ICE coming in search of my guests–researchers from South America who are working at the Smithsonian–to make sure they are ReDS-free. Hmmm. Fears of immigrants carrying disease—sound familiar?

Superstruct described a future of scarcity–energy and food are constrained, people struggle to cope with global displacement and disease. Imagining myself in this future prompted me to reflect on the privileges I enjoy in the present, such as having a whole house for my two person family. Thoughts like that wove their way into my diary as I envisioned the life of my future self.

I hope this exercise prompts you to start your own diary of the future. You could use one of the four scenarios of 2040 that appear in TrendsWatch: The Scenario Edition as the setting. In fact, if you do write your diary of 2040, send me an entry–I’d be happy to publish it on the blog!
–Elizabeth Merritt, VP Strategic Foresight and Founding Director, Center for the Future of Museums

Damn, what a day. The border hounds came for an unannounced spot check of the Cabezas. Thank god they weren’t from child welfare—that inspection we might have flunked. Chevre was puking all morning (thus showing her affinity to the cats, who do the same with no compunction. In fact, Em-dash hovered in interested sympathy whenever Chevre started to heave.) Dolores, convinced that this was due to the bizarre food I had fed them for breakfast (biscuits and gravy) was torn between her politeness as a guest and her wrath as a mother. Flaco was yelling at Juan Pablo for letting the rabbits out. Cliff, overwhelmed, had retreated to the bedroom, and I fled to the porch to practice point control. So the inspectors walked up the path to see me taking my frustration out with a sword on the target hung by the front door. Not, perhaps, the best impression to make with people carrying side arms. I put my foil down in a hurry.

This visit turned out to be not just another verification of paperwork, but a whole new round of blood tests as well. Evidently the original clean, negative samples for the Cabezas were misplaced, and they needed new samples on file. Chevre and Juan Carlos were compliant, having had to deal with ReDS their whole short lives. Evita pitched an absolute fit, howling and crying, rolling about on the floor. I thought Barsook was going to go after the agents on her behalf—not a good thing, given their armament. In the end, Evita consented to having her blood drawn while hugging the chow and burying her head in his considerable fur. Barsook, in turn, fixed the female agent taking the blood sample with an inimitable chow stare, making it quite clear that Evita was Under His Protection. By the time the Feds left, I had a migraine and retreated to the laundry room for a little quiet. Barsook escorted them out and peed on the gate.

The laundry room is about the only peaceful place left in the house. I am appalled, in retrospect, to realize how much space Cliff and I had to ourselves. We have fit a whole extra family into the house, three children and all, and are merely full, not crowded. Cliff and I still have the master bedroom and bath to ourselves. Flaco and Dolores have the guest room, and share the second bath with the littlest ones, who sleep together in what was Cliff’s study. Evita has my meditation room on the third floor. Cliff insisted the big space up there remain the exercise room, but it is rapidly filling with children’s toys, mixing plush animals and toy soldiers with the free weights and yoga props. As long as Cliff has a clear path to his rowing machine, he is happy, but the clutter is driving me nuts.

So, the plane flight tomorrow will seem peaceful by comparison, I hope. Much as I hate, hate, hate airport security and health screening these days, at least I can retreat to a corner with my laptop and iPod and get a little writing done. It is a night flight to Pisa, so I plan to sleep on the plane. Speaking of sleep, I had better get some now. A good fencing practice tonight, but tiring. As I get older, my opponents seem to get younger and younger. Makes it all the more fun to beat them! And so, Ibuprofen and good night.

Oh, and my word for the day, courtesy of Evita, is “pendajo.” I think I am glad that the agents did not speak Spanish…

Catch up with previous diary entries:

My Story, Part 1 (October 7, 2019)

Day 2: Settling In

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