When I last posted in late February, the one-year anniversary of lockdown was just a few weeks away, and vaccination seemed more than a few months away. And since Covid-19 variants were popping up here and there, our household went into a super duper lockdown. It felt like we were too close to the finish line. We didn’t want to be the last soldiers to be killed. So we dug in even deeper. A trip to the pharmacy about once a month was the only place we ventured outside taking Lucy for her walks.
It was during this period that I started posting those Pandemic Book Browsing posts. We were searching out any videos that could give us a life outside our house. Then we became obsessed with trying to get vaccination appointments. I think we became eligible in early March. After two really frustrating attempts to get appointments on two successive Thursdays, when tens of thousands of other DC residents also were trying, things seemed dire. Then DC got its act together and created a registry so that once you were signed up you just had to wait until they notified you. After three more tranches of appointments came out over three successive weeks and both of us were passed over, the situation started to feel even more dire.
In truth, I was being kind of silly. We have been very, very lucky in having a very easy lockdown. Both still fully employed, with no need to put ourselves in harm’s way. And I had never thought I would be vaccinated before June, so I shouldn’t have been freaking out in March. I think it was seeing others getting appointments in other states, and no one I knew getting an appointment in DC that started to make us feel envy and desperation. People in other places were complaining about the frustration of trying to find appointments with various providers, but the centralized appointment system in DC seemed even worse, because of one’s forced passivity related to the process. I wanted to do something.
And then, in week six, the floodgates opened. On that Tuesday I got an invite from a local hospital to get an appointment. My joy turned to disappointment when I realized that John didn’t get an invite. Then a few days later John got an invite from another hospital system, and then another, and then from DC’s centralized system. And so now, about a month later we have both had two doses of Pfizer and are only about a week away from the two-week waiting period.
Between the frustration of waiting for an appointment and then the relief of getting one, attitudes about certain things changed on a dime. During the frustration phase, some things lost their appeal: cozy videos, reading, blogging, etc. None of the things that helped sustain a year of lockdown worked anymore. Instead we turned to truly bad TV. And I mean bad. Have you heard of the “The Only Way Is Essex”? It’s so bad, it’s embarrassing. But there are about 1,000 episodes on Hulu and it worked like anesthesia. Then, almost immediately after getting appointments, we became entirely uninterested. And thank God for that. One can say a lot of bad things about reality TV, but TOWIE is so inane, it makes the Real Housewives look like Shakespeare.
As we approach freedom in the next week or so, it’s hard to know what will appeal to me. Getting out and about is high on my list. Going to a used bookstore. Getting a haircut–the first one for over a year. Going to five (yes five) different doctor appointments. During lockdown we made admissions to each other that our lives had to change post-lockdown. We needed to be less cozy at home and get out and mix it up in something. Classes, groups, social gatherings, events. But how long will that last for someone who was a homebody in the Before Times? Already, at times, I get little twinges of recognition of the downside of “normal”. But maybe we can make a new normal.
But, who the hell knows? I don’t.
I feel the same way, it’s been nearly a week since my second jab and it’s amazing how the weight has lifted off my shoulders! I haven’t been quite as strict as you as I have had ONE haircut and I have been to a bookstore. But I’ve already bought season tickets to the Kennedy Center, plays start in October and I am so excited about it. And the Smithsonian Museums and National Gallery is rolling out opening dates in the next few weeks so that’s something else to look forward to!
I am finally scheduled to get a jab today but have a cold so they might not do it. I think a lot of people feel as you and John do at the moment. Some days I feel like I live in a snow globe that regularly gets shaken😃🎈🌷🐧
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Things are slowly returning to kind of normal (at least, the normal that includes mask-wearing) around here (Massachusetts) and we’re starting to do more, too. Numbers may be leveling off here, but it was definitely weird to hear about relaxation of restrictions while at the same time numbers were still going up. I thought I was OK about waiting my turn for the vaccine (even though I’m working in a public library and wasn’t included in any of the early groups like retail and food service workers were) until I started hearing about people who were lying about their underlying conditions to jump the line. Books and blogging went up and down with my mood all through the pandemic, but I’m very bad at binge-watching because I hate watching during the day and can’t get through even two episodes at night without falling asleep!
It’s funny how it’s taken us all, isn’t it? We’ve had our first vaccinations at the end of March, when everyone over 50 was being done (we’re 49) but our GP opened up 45-49 year olds – then the govt told them to cancel them so an anxious few days! But we don’t get our second until June some time so we’re still being careful, also not wanting to fall at the last hurdle. I don’t want to go anywhere apart from book shopping though I do desperately want to see my best friend!
My vaccinations got all messed up due to my second shingles shot. They asked me if I would be getting the COVID vaccine soon because if so, to hold off as they interact in a bad way. I laughed. It would be AGES before my turn came. Then, two days later, my campus coordinated a vaccine event and I was unable to participate because of the damn shingles shot. I had to wait SIX weeks and then my health insurance got me an appt. My #2 is May 4th. All delayed.
But, what you were saying about how what worked before to keep us out of the doldrums of pandemic ennui doesn’t work anymore. I agree. I saw this post that talks about languishing. I called it mere “existing” but this article really hits it on the head.
I am retired. We got our second jabs a month ago. And I still cannot will myself to go out or to deal with people.
My languishing pandemic mind has morphed into a kind of agoraphobia. I don’t trust people to behave well. I’ve kept up reading and listening to music. I have tried about 100 tv shows and was impressed with only 2 or 3. My one positive experience is that I’ve discovered how well haiku can work to heal the bruised brain. I read one and think about it. The best are gripping and perhaps the equivalent of a session with a therapist. I set up competitions with myself: how long can I wear the same nightgown? How long can I go between showers? I get everything delivered: groceries and medications. I tip as handsomely as I can.
I hope that you can get out and do something. Please do not succumb the way I have.
Cannot overstate how relieved I am to be vaccinated. My husband is employed at a local college and couldn’t always work from home. So it’s been nerve-wracking, for months. We’ve been so careful. We’re going to continue being careful, but yesterday was the first time in a long time I stood outside with friends (we have all been vaccinated twice now). We had masks on when we were close to each other, but then decided to stand far apart, maskless, and talk a while. I’m usually very happy in solitude. I have a solitary profession I love, but it was a delight to be near a few people, especially people I care about. I’m not ready to go into a bookstore again, but hopefully soon. Take care, Thomas and John and Lucy! Best wishes from Maine.
Thank you for this thoughtful description of your experiences. I haven’t been able to be as clear about it all for myself and really appreciate reading this. I am past my two weeks out from second shot… so I am about to venture out….