Maybe the difference between last January and this one is that last year we thought we had the end in sight. We would be getting the vaccine (remember that AWFUL struggle of scoring a shot at 3AM at some distant drive-thru pod) and then our lives would be “back.” It all seemed so easy. We had real hope. It was even exciting. Vaccine sites became rock concerts. We were dancing to the Bee Gee’s “Staying Alive” to our comeback.
This week I had friends tell me how sick and fed up they all were. They were “booster bored.” Most of us are doing our own version of lockdown — even our brains feel stuck. We are all at a loss for words and feel a sense of early dementia (or “pandementia”) setting in. No one asks, “how were your holidays?” What holidays? We are apprehensive about a real new year. Our lives have become a Covid blur.
It’s not about loneliness or isolation anymore – now it’s just deep disappointment. Shouldn’t we be past all this? Some of us followed the “instructions,” the data, the science, the blah blah blah … and we are now back to the beginning.
Even people who kept traveling to Dubai and the Caribbean last year in a frenzy of denial and diversion are now grounded (but still holding out for that African Safari in late February). Then again, a lot of them went everywhere and now there is no place left to go. Remember, “you can run but you can’t hide” — and there is a “case count” everywhere (except for American Samoa which was somehow never infected).
I even know some people who are actually on their second round of Covid. They got it before the vax and now they proudly exclaim they are a “breakthrough” case. Who isn’t in breakthrough? Living in a deluxe “bubble” of vaccinated/immune friends and family can work for a while. It’s nice to escape on private jets to Montana and Palm Beach and feel “protected.”
But bubbles are made to burst. Any many have. Personally, I am sick of hearing about Florida — on any level. We get it — it’s the new paradise … till it isn’t.
There are a lot of us who don’t want to get this weaker variant. I don’t want to deal with “the long haul.” I already feel tired and have enough brain fog. But there are a lot of people who just assume “get it and get it over with.” But then what? Herd immunity is still not assured and so we wait for the next surge.
For the last two years, friends and even TV commentators were actually using the word “shitshow” as a description of our world. Last week I noticed the NYT’s USA Covid color map went from a festive sprinkling of light yellow, orange, and occasional red, to deep dark brown — almost black — across the country. Now it is real … our nation is officially a coast-to-coast burnt sienna infected SHITSHOW!
And the word “breaking” keeps surfacing. Not only in breakthrough infections – but we have a “breaking medical system.” Hospitals aren’t short on ventilators; they need healthy doctors and nurses who are available round the clock. We need medical assistants who aren’t contagious and overworked.
Of course, we have our “record-breaking” winter freezes in the mid- and northwest. But extreme high and low temps have been around for the last 5 years.
Then we have the United States Senate which seems broken in obscure rules and regulations and filibusters and all of democracy seems to be at a breaking point. In the last week, Hilary Clinton has been rumored to run for President to save the Democratic party. This weekend Trump begins his “campaign” rallies. Is this the ultimate answer to “Bring Back Better” or are we just back to square one with the “Oh, not you again” 2024 Presidential run. I get “break and run” but “break and burn it all down” seems drastic.
I do have to admit, Covid has ended a lot of needless events. I have enjoyed a season with no award shows. Maybe that era is thankfully over. Just announce “the winners” in the news and we can forget the red carpets, the network weeklong hype, the bad hosts, the lousy ratings. The public really likes having their own big screen theatres in their own living rooms. And now they are their own movie critics. Nobody cares about trophies for best performance and all those boring self-involved speeches. We are all streaming through tons of movies a day and we get to choose what’s hot and what’s not.
Nobody liked Nicole Kidman as Luci Arnaz in Being the Ricardo’s, but she won this year’s Golden Globe for best actress. The good news is, nobody heard or saw the Globes ceremony (it wasn’t televised or streamed) or even the Music Awards or the Met Gala. That world is gone, and we are too busy moving through the changing landscape of our lives.
A year ago, designer masks were all the rage. Now it’s just boxes of KN95 or N95’s. No more “face bling” — masks are not accessories; they are now necessities. They are not fun “Birkin Bags.” They are a fact of life.
Testing is all anyone does anymore. Some feel you have to do it daily, others only before and after a social gathering, and others wait for a “five-day incubation” period of symptoms. It is all confusing and as maddening as all the CDC lousy messaging has been. But getting a basic five kits for your home is still as tough as scoring meth was 10 years ago. I got some from my neighbor! I never used to speak to her, but now she is my major dealer with connections.
No one is watching cable news anymore because there is no “breaking news” anymore that isn’t depressing. No one wants to sit in a toxic viral loaded nail salon or hairdresser anymore. We aren’t talking that much on the phone; we are just texting, walking outside a lot, and checking test kit shelves. People are in “brownout” — bored and angry, not so much lost and confused. Welcome to winter 2022.
But there is hope. The “Cron” is supposed to flatten by Valentine’s Day. We are entering the Chinese New Year on February 1st. It will be “the end of winter.” 2022 is the year of the Tiger. Apparently 2020 was the year of the Rat and 2021 was the year of the Ox; both were about “anchoring into a new reality.”
According to writer Jaime Wright, “Tigers do things their own way and hate being told what to do. Expect things to rapidly change this year. Sudden disruptions in career, romance and home life should be expected. Some of us will thrive through taking great leaps, while others might crash and burn. So while it’s important to follow our intuition and run with our wildest dreams, that means we also have to keep our egos in check. The Tiger year’s mantra is YOLO – You Only Live Once!”
It’s about time — I’ll take it.