HI! This post is dark and sad and angry, okay? So if that would upset you (looks at family) maybe you should come back in a few days when I post pictures of my little seedlings, okay? If you’re here for the Friday Five, scroll down.
A year ago was my last Friday in the office. We were supposed to only be out for the remainder of March. The plan was to flatten the curve of people getting sick to a level that hospitals can manage. We failed. Today, more people are sick than there were back when the world shut down and states are opening back up like no big deal.
I never imagined that a full year would pass and WM and I would still be home. Me, until July or possibly September. He, possibly until May but likely until September. A full year stolen away – the friends we didn’t see, the adventures left untaken, the sharp pain I feel at missing Nephew’s A short time without 2 his front teeth. I had no idea how hard I would fall into depression and despair. I had no idea that I would cry daily. I have never been as depressed as I was the last 12 months. I’m much better now, but what changed isn’t that I healed, it’s that I finally broke.
I’ve lost faith in my fellow Americans. For every one amazing and caring person who is helping seniors navigate confusing vaccine websites, there seem to be 1000 who are burning masks in protest, riding motorcycles to Daytona Beach, having COVID parties, or spreading falsehoods about the vaccine on Facebook. I remember the people who mocked those of us who stocked up on pantry supplies and then moaned 3 weeks later as the stores ran out of everything. I remember the celebrities who were “in it together” with us in March and April until they were bored and jetted off on vacation. I see peoples’ vaccine photos and remember when they shared pandemic conspiracy videos. And I remember every person who told me I was worried over nothing and it would die out in spring – the ones who smirked at me like I was a child talking about the bogeyman. That was before 545,000 people in the US died.
That’s more than the population of Fresno, by the way. Gone. But sure, I was overreacting.
It is immeasurably sad even as hope bubbles on horizon. But I can’t muster the energy to grieve anymore. Maybe this is what it feels to be them. The jokesters, the nihilists. If I sound angry, it’s because I am. And it’s going to be a long time before I’m back to being the hopeful, pollyannaish person I was in 2019.
- In what ways has pandemic life been positive for you?
I saved money from not commuting every day, and was able to donate more to charities. I also started blogging regularly again, because I wanted to record this time for posterity (or as long as I own this domain). Now that the blogging habit has been established, I’m having a good time documenting life again.
- Where (and how often) did you get your pandemic news this past year?
At first I was overloading myself with news via Twitter, and that’s the beginning of where my mental health took a bump. I was reading the wrong people. I was reading viral Tweets from creative writers and journalists. And while they are talented, writers and journalists know how to pick just the right words to create urgency so that you’ll click through and read every tweet in their 32-tweet thread.
If I could go back in time, I would ignore COVID-related tweets/posts from: journalists, writers, sociologists, chiropractors and naturopaths, essential oil reps, PhDs in any field other than epidemiology/public health, and medical professionals who start their tweets with capital letters and siren emoji.
I started feeling less apocalyptic when I started following Laurel Bristow and Jessica Malaty Rivera on Instagram, and getting my stats right from The COVID Tracking Project and Worldometers. And then I would search “COVID vaccine news” and not click on the New York Times stories. And I capped my COVID news intake at 15 minutes a day.
- Where did you find unexpected comfort in these crazy twelve months?
Cool Ranch Doritos. My Twitter (post-cull) and Instagram feeds. Creating a strict daily routine for myself. The game Stardew Valley. Friday night movie nights.
- What are some little things you miss most about what used to be normal life?
Eating in a restaurant. Walking from the office to the train on a warm afternoon and taking off my shoes to walk through the fountain at Dillworth Park. Hugs. Business travel. The smell of books in a library. Faith in others to do the hard thing for common good.
- What do you think life will be like twelve months from now?
I think we’ll mostly be back to normal with a healthy dose of “sanitation theater” to make us think businesses care about health and safety. I hope that mask mandates will be gone but I also think we’ll be dealing with boosters and mutations for the rest of our lives.
If I haven’t depressed the hell out of you, consider signing up for a Friday email with links to my blog posts from that week! Click here to sign up! I promise I’m not always like this!