Monday, February 28, 2022


2021 was supposed to be the year we escaped COVID and returned to some semblance of 2019.

January and February were cold and the winter surge was ravaging the world, but vaccines were on the way. The media was saying that by summer COVID would be a bad memory and in my more optimistic moments I could almost believe the hype. Mostly though, we were all still just stuck at home trying to make it through the day without losing our minds after hours of Google school, Zoom meetings, and dog walking.

March and April was waiting to qualify for vaccines based seemingly random eligibility requirements. Then there was the mad dash to find shots. Refreshing web pages, sitting on hold, watching random Facebook groups for hours a day was a normal addition to the already hectic juggling of work and homeschool monitoring. There was also guilt because I randomly qualified for vaccination before some people who really needed shots; it may have been the only time that having smoked 20 years ago and kidney stones got me more than grief.

April also brought the mixed blessing of in person school. Going back into school was definitely better from a learning and mental health perspective. It was also better from an adult getting work done perspective. However, it added to the underlying stress of wondering when COVID would come knocking on your door. There was also all the new adjustments to schedules, like making time to actually get dressed for and walk up to the school. Added to that was the social stressors of trying to reestablish friendships that had lay dormant for a year or had blossomed online but couldn't survive the pressure of meatspace reality. Learning how to sit still, facing forward, wearing a mask, and barely being able to talk with friends was also new and unpleasant.

Late Spring and Summer were pleasant. There was still a lot of confusion about what was OK and not OK to do; who was comfortable with what; where did deadly COVID risk lurk instead of just acceptable COVID risk? The weather, I think, was the key thing. COVID risk plummeted outside and the weather was warm and sunny most of the time.

We ate at restaurants - with outdoor seating; I kayaked; we vacationed; K did summer camps; we had company - outside; I went on group mt. biking rides. It was almost like a normal summer.

The difference was the mask always hanging off my wrist for venturing inside. The threat of COVID was still omni-present. Entry to summer camp required a PCR test; entry to our campground required proof of vaccination; the news still reported daily case counts and the ongoing struggles of getting people vaccinated and how much to loosen up on the safety protocols. Go out and live like its 2019, but don't forget that there is still a deadly virus out there stalking all the indoor spots.

Lingering over the summer was the knowledge that school would be open season for a barely contained virus being allowed to rip through a caged and unvaccinated population. Sure kids are less likely to get really sick and the benefits of in person schooling out weigh the risks and kids in school frees up parents to be less stressed out slaves to their jobs....

Fortunately, our school year started off uneventfully and with only a "minor trickle" of cases each week. Sure kids and teachers would regularly disappear from school for 10 days now and then. The school nurse was insanely strict about staying home if you had a cough. Facebook was flooded with stories about how unfair it was to keep asymptomatic kids home and how unsafe it was not to have regular testing in place and to not be quarantining close contacts. All in all, it wasn't too bad.

Delta swept in, but was balanced out by vaccines for kids and boosters for adults.

The good vibes from the summer were still lingering.

Malaise was also part of the equation. How long can you live under constant existential threat before becoming numb to it? Also, I had stopped reading the news because it was just too depressing.

Were we going to the movies or eating inside restaurants? Were we doing sleep overs and having a ton of friends in the house? No.

Were we hanging out inside with people we knew well? Yes. We had family over for Thanksgiving.

Work started and stopped and started and stopped with calls to reopen the office. Things seemed to settle into a "we'd love to see you in the office, but understand if you don't feel comfortable" sort of vibe. I cannot say it was a great vibe because it was always pretty clear that the bosses wanted people in the office, but knew pushing to hard would cost them employees they were not willing to lose - I am not one of the employees and operated under the knowledge that if push came to push I'd be back in the open hell pit that is the office along with hundreds of other bitter unhappy drones.

Then came the winter of Omicron and the Big Lie.

Getting excited for Christmas was tough. The strain of fall started showing. Figuring out what to shop for and when to shop for it and how to hide deliveries. There was also some pressure to make Christmas great to make up for all the strain of COVID times.

Then the logistics of getting together with family under the threat of Omicron reared its head. Do we all need PCR tests before getting together? Can we just do gifts and keep our masks on? If we all rapid test can we do dinner? What if someone isn't boosted?

At least Omicron, for as contagious as it is, is not nearly as terrible as it name sounds. Maybe the people calling Omicron COVIDs last gasp before becoming a seasonal flu are right.....

Maybe we will get a moderate, non-megalomaniac septuagenarian President as the face of our fully dysfunctional government.

Or maybe 2022 will be just as confused and angst filled as 2021 with a barely understood virus that is super contagious mutating its way around our vaccines waiting to send us hiding back in our bubbles to listen to rantings of a power mad lunatic.