Category Archives: Politics

Pandemic Diary: 20 Aug 2021

And it’s still a pandemic diary. I got so tired of writing about it that I took a couple months off. And just when you think it’s over, it comes back in new clothes. The Delta variant is proving a slippery monster. The CDC is now urging we get a “booster” shot to reduce the chances of another surge. Other experts say we shouldn’t do that because it could create vaccine-resistant variants.

And so many people in the world haven’t even gotten one shot yet, so can we justify giving ourselves a third? I guess if it really will help knock this damn thing out, then if we have the vaccines available here, which we do, we should use them. The U.S. is now donating millions of vaccines to countries in need, so there’s that.

There are still Americans who refuse to be vaccinated, mostly in the hard-right Trumpist areas. Those places are now facing hospitals at capacity and people dying like they did in the early days of the pandemic. It’s impossible for me to look upon the “anti-vaxxers” (and “anti-maskers”, because they’re both) with compassion—I tried to imagine sitting in a circle and praying with them, but I couldn’t even picture doing it. They are sentencing others, if not themselves, to death because they believe wearing a mask and getting vaccinated is somehow an abrogation of their rights. And their personal “freedom” is more important than other people’s lives. I can’t pray for them. God will have to take care of that for me.

Typical street in Le Plateau, our favorite part of Montréal

Canada finally opened their border with the U.S. this month, so we made immediate plans to go to Montreal for the (postponed) jazz festival in September. As of today, we can still go. Hopefully that won’t change in the next 3 weeks.

Pandemic Diary: 2 June 2021

It’s been awhile since my last post because I just couldn’t write about the pandemic anymore—I was feeling pandemic exhaustion, or “languishing” as it’s being called now. I was definitely languishing. But I decided to write in the Pandemic Journaling Project again today, so I’ll post it here, too.

They give two questions to answer, so this will be a little long.

Question 1: How are you feeling this week?

After almost a year and a half of maintaining at least 6 ft of social distance, I have a very hard time when a stranger stands closer to me than that, even though I’m fully vaccinated. Today I was in line at the grocery store and a man came up and stood right behind me, at most 2 feet away. It made me really uncomfortable and anxious. Plus he wasn’t wearing a mask, which also doesn’t really matter now that I’m vaccinated, but it just made it worse for my anxiety level. The same thing happened a few weeks ago. I get really angry and want to turn around and scream, “6 feet, people! 6 feet!” But I don’t say anything because I hate to make a scene. And honestly, I’m afraid the person might be aggressive. So I just keep trying to inch forward to get away from them. Of course it doesn’t work because they just inch forward, too. I by nature have a large personal space, so social distancing has been quite comfortable for me with strangers (not with family or friends, though—I want to be able to be close to them). But I was okay with a couple of feet between me and other people. I don’t know how long it will take me to be able to stand comfortably any closer than 6 feet now.

Question 2: What was the biggest event of last week?

The biggest event started before last week—the COVID situation in India is horrendous. And Thailand is suffering from the biggest surge since the pandemic began. Africa doesn’t have enough vaccines to give out, Europe is still restricted in many places, and the U.S.–Canada border is still closed. With the rate of vaccinations going up in the U.S., it’s easy to feel like the pandemic is ending. But it definitely isn’t. And only 41% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, so we’re not anywhere near “herd immunity” yet even here.

I read an article yesterday about the conflict for vaccinated people who want to feel relieved and happy and optimistic for the future, but so many people are still suffering and dying that we can’t just celebrate. And Americans are still dying, too, so it’s really hard for people who have just lost someone to the disease to see other people going around without masks on, having parties, etc., when a loved one just died from COVID.

We’re entering a very complicated time in this pandemic where some people are coming out the other side of it while others are still buried in it. And some people are vaccinated while others aren’t. The wealth gap is blazing in our faces, both domestically and globally. Why are so many Americans vaccinated when India and Africa can’t get enough to go around? Why is India running out of oxygen for treatments? Why are people in poorer communities here in the U.S. not getting vaccinated as quickly as middle and upper class (and mostly White) folks? I hope this horrible suffering will be redeemed at least a little bit by people seeing the injustices that have been exposed to the light, and doing something to change them. I wish I could be more optimistic about that actually happening.

Pandemic Diary: 5 Mar 2021

I’ve been writing in a global pandemic journaling project, so I haven’t posted anything here in a couple of weeks. Here are a couple of the other journal entries to keep you updated.

[22 Feb ’21] The system for getting a vaccination makes me intensely angry. It’s completely unjust, and a mess. This is a global pandemic, people! If we don’t get people vaccinated, it’s just going to continue to kill people. More than 500,000 people have been killed by COVID in the US alone. That’s half a million. Over 12.5 times the number of people in Pittsfield. Imagine 12 and a half Pittsfields dead. I can’t imagine it. The numbers are beyond reckoning now. Globally, 2.5 million+ people have died. So many unnecessary.

The US accounts for 20% of all COVID deaths, in the whole world. 20%. Something is horribly wrong here. And I lay that at Trump’s feet. He got the vaccines approved quickly, but he did nothing about getting them distributed. What good are vaccines if people can’t get them?

I’m totally disgusted with this mishandled nightmare.

***********

[1 Mar ’21] Had a really bad fibromyalgia episode Sunday night, out of nowhere. I’d been doing well for a couple of weeks, but we had a windstorm that knocked out our power around midnight, which means my CPAP shut off, which woke me up. So I had to go sleep in the guest room so my snoring wouldn’t wake up James. By then, I was fully awake and noticed some FM pain beginning. In a few minutes, it was a total-body throb, with tingling in my joints. I think it’s the worst pain episode I’ve had yet. Gabapentin didn’t help, so I ended up cancelling my morning classes and taking an Ambien to get to sleep. The whole next day I was trembly and in low-grade pain. I cancelled my evening classes, too.

Today it was hard to get up, and then my back seized up while drying my hair, of all things. I managed to hobble to my study and teach my morning lessons, and after sleeping/resting for a couple of hours, the pain is gone. I’m still exhausted, though! My FM has been consistently worse throughout the pandemic than it was before. Stress triggers flare-ups, so the past year has pretty much been one long flare-up!

Obviously not a great couple of weeks. It’s sunny today, so maybe I’ll bundle up (it’s 22ºF and windy, so the “RealFeel” is 6ºF) and go for a walk. That will help in many many ways.

Pandemic Diary: 21 Jan 2021

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in yesterday as our new president and vice-president. They did a great job with a pandemic-limited ceremony, using videos from all across the country and territories as a virtual parade. Then there was an evening celebration with a few singers and speakers live at the Lincoln Memorial, and others on video, along with segments dedicated to ordinary heroes. And the most incredible fireworks display I’ve ever seen! It took place behind the Washington Monument so it was mirrored in the reflecting pool that stretches from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. It was programmed to Katy Perry singing “Firework”. It was way better than the usual round of inaugural balls! And I bet the Bidens and Emhoff-Harrises were a lot happier, too. Dragging around to all those balls must be absolutely exhausting, at the end of an already exhausting day.

It’s more than a relief to have Trump out of office. I feel like I can be proud to be an American again, instead of sick with shame. I’m hopeful for the changes Biden & Harris will be able to make now that the Democrats have a slight majority in the Senate, putting Mitch McConnell out of the power seat there. Plus, Harris is the deciding vote in the event of a tie, so we should be able to get some things passed. Like more COVID relief money for small businesses and individuals to help both them and the economy. And at least a move towards a better health care system and more equitable distribution of wealth. And, thank God, an improvement in foreign relations.

On a sad note, the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. is now over 400,000. And infection rates are climbing rapidly again due to a new coronavirus variant that’s more contagious than the first one. It doesn’t seem to be more deadly, as far as they can tell at this point, but it does mean a higher infection rate and more strain on the healthcare system that’s already well beyond overloaded.

Yesterday was a ray of light in the darkness, though. It was just what I needed right now.

(I’ve always thought of Katy Perry as a lightweight pop star, which she was before. But this performance knocked it out of the park. I’ll have to start giving her more credit now.)

Pandemic Diary 10 Jan 2021

Didn’t think I’d still be writing this in 2021. Looks like I’ll be writing it for most of this year, too.

I couldn’t write anything last week because it was all too awful. We’re setting record highs for COVID deaths at 4,000/day. And on 6 January, Trump incited a mob to storm the Capitol building where a joint session of Congress was completing the final ritual of confirming the Electoral College votes. Trump held a rally outside the building an hour before the session started and told his followers to “fight” for their rights. So they stormed the Capitol, smashing through bullet-proof windows with flagpoles and wood from the barricade they’d crossed. It was a sight I never imagined seeing here in America.

There’s a lot to say about it, but I don’t want to write that much. This song by Nanci Griffith from the late 1980s has been in my head all week.