So How Are Things?

Having written an entry about how the cats are doing, it feels like I should write one about how I’m doing.

I’m okay. I’m not great.

After a year and a half of working from home I am so done with it. I’ve always felt like I’m an introvert at my core, but I hate not having people and activity around while I’m working. (I’ve always positioned my desk at work so I can look out the door to see people going by in the hallway.) I miss the random conversations we’d have in the office. And I really hate the mixing of my home and work lives, which I’ve always worked to keep sharply separate. Going up to our study and having my work machines there is disspiriting.

I also have bought lunch at the cafeteria at work almost every day since I started at Apple, which I realize is a really privileged thing to do, but figuring out lunch every day is a drag.

Once the vaccines started rolling out we got vaxxed pretty quickly, and I was hopeful that things would return to normal. Apple had tentatively planned a return to the office in early September. Well, it’s now early September and the return has been pushed back to 2022, and that’s not Apple’s fault, it’s a combination of the Delta variant of COVID, and the amazing number of stupid people who are refusing to get vaccinated. And also the slow roll-out of vaccines to the rest of the world (last I read about 25% of the world is fully vaxxed), which will prolong this until we can massively up that number, as unless we develop an even better vaccine, we probably need 90% or more worldwide vaccination to beat this thing. (I think the worldwide vax rate is a greater long-term thread than the antivax shenanigans in the United States, because the opportunities for the virus to mutate are so much greater outside the U.S. That may change, but we’re not nearly there yet.)

Anyway, some things have improved for me. I scheduled a weekly coffee meeting with some of my cow-orkers at the Philz near work – outside, and yes, unmasked. The eight or so of us who have made it (not all at the same time) are fully vaxxed, and I think only one has children who aren’t vaxxed. I’ve been letting parents decide their level of risk tolerance for getting together with others, and by ‘letting’ I mean trying not to put any pressure on them, because they have enough to deal with.

Debbi has been way more cautious than me during the pandemic, so we haven’t been going out to eat, and I’ve done the grocery shopping – usually during the week when it’s quieter – and picking up take-out. Now that we’re vaccinated she’s been doing a few more things: We’ve switched grocery shopping to Sunday after the farmer’s market, and we’ve gone out to eat several times, though only once inside. We’ve also gotten together with friends, both at their house, and having people over for barbecues at ours. We’re masked during our errands, other than eating, of course. We’re not yet ready to fly, and I don’t know when that will happen, the way things are going. I don’t especially relish wearing a mask for 6+ hours to fly to visit family or go to Hawaii anyway.

So it’s been a long road, and it’s been gradually wearing me down. It feels like everything just gets a little bit harder as the pandemic slogs on. Even though I take the occasional time off, I never get away from it all because I can’t actually go away.

Where do we go from here? It seems clear that successful vaccination is the only path out of this, but the vaccination failures means that even if our vaccinations remain effective and there aren’t new variants that get past them, we’re going to be in this situation for quite a while.

I know a few people who are living lives of hermits (or so it seems), and maybe that’s the smart thing to do. But it’s also very, very hard. Probably harder for many people than it is for me, but it’s hard for me too. I understand people flying on vacation, flying to visit family, trying to return their lives to normal. I really want that too, but not enough to loosen my own level of caution more than I have so far.

I try not to think about how much longer this might go on, though. I just hope everyone will get vaccinated so we can shorten that time as much as possible.

3 thoughts on “So How Are Things?”

  1. When you’ve done everything the experts have said you should, and then some, but still find yourself in the same situation as you were a year ago, it is definitely dispiriting. Especially when you know that if others had done the same, we’d be on the other side of this by now. In the last few weeks, I’ve realized that I’ve lost all sense of marketing time. Facebook reminded us that we went to San Diego this week last year. It feels like that was 10 years ago. Other things, like the last time I purged the pantry cabinet, feel like I *just* did it a couple of months ago. Yet I see from the expiration dates it has obviously been at least 18 months since I did that last.

    We’ve been through so many waves of thinking we had broken through to this other side of the pandemic, only to be sucked back. It reminds me of the first few months after getting transition lenses in my glasses because I was tired of having to take my glasses off to read. Every time I had to get on an escalator or walk down a flight of stairs, I felt like I didn’t know where my feet were going to land with each step. That’s what navigating this pandemic feels like now – disorienting.

  2. I too was really hoping we’d be closer to normal too. Now that at least one vaccine has received full approval, and more places can and are requiring it, hopefully that will break down some of the resistance in the US.

    The rest of the world definitely has its own challenges with availability and distribution, as well as their own share of fools fishing in troubled waters; sadly, India is a fitting example.

    On the other hand, we have the vaccines, and they are of unprecedented effectiveness. The proof of that technological advance will be felt in many areas over the next few years.

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