The last One Year Later (OYL) post I put up was July 16. I could see my readers weren’t in the mood for it anymore, and I definitely wasn’t. In fact, I’ve almost abandoned my COVID journal these days, and write once a month or so.
The background is this: The end of March 2020 I began keeping what I call a “COVID journal,” which I titled Noticed. And I wrote all these things I was noticing, that were a result of the pandemic. I fully expected COVID-19 to blow over in two months, and thought it would be fun to look back. But we are uncomfortably close to living in a pandemic for two years, not two months, and it’s not so fascinating anymore. It’s tiresome.
One Year Ago, July 27, 2020. “I keep forgetting to mention things I see now that remind me of our new world, like masks in peoples’ cars. Look at almost any car and you’ll see a mask hanging from a rearview mirror, or on the dashboard. I keep my mask in the cup holder, so maybe even the cars without a visible mask still have one, like mine.”
July 29, 2020. “The conspiracy theories are getting completely out of hand. Dr. Fauci invented the coronavirus? 5G cell phone networks cause coronavirus? Donald Trump is going to save the world from a child pornography cartel? Coronavirus was released by Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton, to dominate Trump in the presidential election? Bill Gates is funding vaccine research so he can put a microchip into the vaccine and then he can control us all? The US military brought the virus to China? Masks not only don’t protect anyone, but they actually cause more health problems? Then there is the very damaging insistence that the coronavirus doesn’t exist at all, and its cousin conspiracy, that COVID-19 is no different from the seasonal flu and that hospitals are lying about deaths in order to scare the American public.”
August 17, 2020: “After five months pandemic life is now more normal than our lives before. It’s hard to point out what catches my attention, because I see it all in a dull haze and nod and accept it. Total cases: 5,340,232. Total deaths: 168,696. Remember back when Trump said it could get up to 60 thousand deaths? Now it’s over 5 million cases and I never even heard someone mention that number. I went on a road trip to Montana and north Idaho. No one in North Idaho wears masks or social distances. My step-dad Jim and I ate in a restaurant and the tables were all jammed together, people’s backs nearly touching. Businesses don’t even have the signs up that say “CDC recommends….” Nothing. It’s like there’s no pandemic going on in Idaho. Jim asked me, “When you were in Montana, did you have to wear a mask?” I explained to him that yes, everywhere I have to wear a mask. “Well you don’t have to wear a mask here,” he said, speaking as though I didn’t know what I was talking about because he had seen for himself there were no masks. “You are in a bubble!” I exclaimed. “Everywhere people have to wear masks and social distance….except here. You guys are an island.” He didn’t have anything to say.”
August 17 continued: “Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) contacted me and asked me to teach again in September, and I am so glad they want me again, but the teaching would be via Zoom. My first thought was “No way! Teaching via computer? That’s crazy and I have no idea how to do that!” Then I imagined that every teacher in the world probably had a similar panic attack, and they had no choice but to figure it out. I told VFW “yes.” If tens of thousands of other teachers are figuring it out, I can figure it out. It is the motivation I needed to buy a better camera for my laptop. So I went shopping, and cameras are SOLD OUT. Oh. Obviously. Everyone in the world is having my same conclusion at the same time. I finally found one, for too much money (prices jacked up to take advantage of demand), and it has arrived! I want to try and get it set up before our next Zoom meeting tomorrow.”
August 22, 2020: “Here’s another thing I’ve noticed. The COVID focus has gone away from fear of the virus being transmitted by touching things that have been potentially contaminated. In the beginning, there were YouTube videos on how to safely unpack your groceries from the grocery store, without touching anything. Recommendations to spray and wipe down absolutely everything you get near to in the world, or that comes into your house. Recommendations not to touch mail without either disinfecting it, or putting it into the garage for three days before it’s safe to touch. People barely talk about this anymore. If there were a bunch of people catching COVID from their mail, or from groceries, I think we would have sensed it by now, and – even without scientific evidence – would have subtly started changing our habits.”
September 16, 2020: “This is unexpected: stores still don’t have fully stocked shelves of cleaning items or paper products. We are six months in, and distribution networks are still not resolved. Another thing I do now that I didn’t used to do: I ask people if they are comfortable with me coming to visit. When I visit, I ask if they want me to wear a mask in their presence.”
I just heard a news story on National Public Radio this week, 2021. The forecast date for resolving supply chain issues is May 2022. Weekly, there are an average of 12 ships loaded with containers sitting off the coast of LA waiting for an opportunity to dock and unload. Pre-COVID the average number of ships waiting was zero.
September 25, 2020: “Profiles on dating websites have photos of people wearing masks. Maybe it helps people feel more anonymous, maybe it’s a demonstration of support for CDC guidelines, or some anti-Trump statements? My friend Laurie (at Life on the Bike…) got married in a lovely lace-and beaded white facemask. Women wear the most amazing masks! They are proud and wear them with flair and with bling, like a fashion accessory. Many men are having a harder time. Men’s masks are overwhelmingly black, and usually solid black. Where I live in the country, men wear things other than masks, like bandanas and gaiters, I assume because of some weird definition of masculinity. I have seen multiple clashes between staff of a place and someone not wearing a mask and prepared to fight about it: most often it is men who are ready to fight the staff of an establishment over whether or not to wear a mask. The men who do proudly wear a mask will often wear a mask with a message, like MAGA or Black Lives Matter. I wonder what all the Portland hipsters with their gigantic mountain man beards are doing? A regular mask won’t fit. I hope that lots of men cut those nasty things off so they could wear masks.” (ha ha! It’s true, I am not a fan of huge mountain-man beards)
October 10, 2020: “I notice being afraid of people. This is an unsettling and terrible development among the human race: we are all afraid of each other.
October 12, 2020. “I’m getting fatter and it’s so discouraging, but I know why. I haven’t been exercising enough at all.”
October 16, 2020. “I was re-reading this journal and saw on March 22 I dreamed I had COVID. That reminds me that I recently dreamed about COVID again. It was a couple days ago, so it’s very dim in my memory. I think I dreamed that I was a scientist and had figured out how to inoculate against the virus, or learned how to make an effective vaccine, or something like that, and there was a lot of pressure on me to start putting this knowledge into action.”
Just last night I had another COVID dream. It was apocalyptic. Maybe because I had just seen the movie Dune before I went to sleep. Anyway, my dream was that COVID had progressed and mostly wiped out the population. There were people left, but not enough to keep things running. No more planes flew anywhere. Most factories had stopped. Most supply chain lines were down; there was little gas to be found, or food. Most stores were closed. In my dream Pedro and I were able to find people to spend time with, and most people were trying to keep a good attitude, find things to do to entertain ourselves, keep a brave face since we all expected to die in months. My cousin Debbie and her mom, my Aunt Bunny, kept a blog in my dream. Bunny posted funny memes and Debbie wrote stories about her horse. It was one of the only consistent things that was showing up on the Internet, so everyone was reading it, and they became famous. They were the new Tiger King. People in my dream said, “Did you see what happened with Debbie’s horse?” and I would say, “She’s my cousin.” ha ha. How many of us are also suffering and we’re so used to it we don’t even realize it anymore…except when we dream about it?
October 26, 2020. “I can’t believe the election is in two weeks. During the time of a quarantine.“