Covid didn’t care that we were careful

We’ve been so cautious for two full years.

I was sewing face masks before anyone was wearing masks — before you could even buy masks. There were days during the Omicron wave where I made our daughter wear two child-sized surgical masks, layered, because Covid was sweeping through her classroom. (And she did it, without complaint.)

We went months on end without seeing even close family. We missed two Christmases with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins — all because the gathering limits changed and we wanted to respect the rules. We once wore masks to a family gathering because someone was unvaccinated.

And, oh, the vaccines! Was there anyone more committed to tracking news on vaccines and obsessively stalking the site in order to book first doses, second doses, booster doses, and the kids’ two doses? I helped dozens of other people secure their own doses, too — calling, texting, DMing to let them know about availability. It was my own little public service. My desperate attempt to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

In our family, all four of us had our doses on the first day it was humanly possible for us to receive them. With each new dose, it felt like we’d crossed another hurdle. ‘Well, at least we’ve got one dose. That’s something.’ ‘Okay, we’ve made it to fully vaccinated. Now, if we were to catch it, we’d be better off.’ If the government were to have announced a fourth dose, a fifth, a tenth, I would have happily rolled up my sleeve.

There were many times we said no to playdates and sleepovers because “Covid is too bad right now.” Even when the kids argued that it wasn’t fair because their friends were doing X or Y, I put my foot down. They begged to go to the arcade and the indoor trampoline park, but I said no. Those places would be too germy, I told them. It’s not safe yet.

For a long time, it felt like our hyper-vigilance was working. We weren’t catching Covid. We were winning.

So when I crossed the kitchen floor, glanced down at the test, and saw those two lines, I couldn’t have been more shocked.

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After two years of “in,” it’s hard to go “out”

I heard myself saying the word “Covid” too many times during the appointment, during what was supposed to be light small talk.

“… Oh, well, I haven’t since before Covid.”

“Well, with Covid, I haven’t …”

“… but not really since Covid.”

I don’t get out much. It’s true.

But it was actually a bit shocking to hear myself babble on about how many things I can’t do, won’t do, refuse to do, no longer do, would prefer not to do, once did but don’t do anymore. I couldn’t stop.

Sometimes I think my life hasn’t changed that much over the last two years, from a logistical point.

  • I have worked solely from home since 2010
  • I have always enjoyed indoor hobbies — writing, reading, sewing, painting, crafts, etc.
  • I have never really like being outside in the sun/wind/snow/rain
  • I have always disliked crowds and had a titch of agoraphobia
  • I have continued to do Zumba a few times a week (at home, or in person, or both)
  • I have always been happiest at home

But I used to do more. I know I did.

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The moment I questioned everything

It wasn’t meant to be an existential crisis, but there I was … staring into space, still clutching a cup of lukewarm tea.

Before jumping into my usual #5amWritersClub work this morning on my latest novel (68,290 words and counting), I opened an interesting-looking newsletter (about writing) and decided to read through it while I sipped my tea.

I feel less urgency to dive straight into writing on the weekend mornings, when I know I have hours to mess around. So reading about writing counts as professional development. So does Wordle. 😉

Anyway, so clicking through and reading the newsletter led me to reading other posts on this particular site, and then I came across a startling piece about the BLEAK publishing industry, how hard it is to get published traditionally (believe me, I know this intimately), how little money authors make (an average of … get this … nine thousand dollars a year?!) and so on.

Um.

Oh my god.

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