The second vaccine hit my arm mid-April. I knew the vaccine was coming, and with it, a rather solid immunity to COVID-19. I won’t get hospitalized with a serious case, and the disease won’t kill me. It won’t kill Dean either, since he’s been fully vaccinated since February.
Our little household is okay, and cleared for moving forward.
The adults at our business have also received their vaccines. They’re waiting for the all-clear to get their kids vaccinated.
I know some of you are unwilling to get the vaccine. I understand that some of you are afraid of needles or are hoping (still!) that this will go away on its own. Some of you are filled with misinformation from the online and TV news that you consume.
Those of you who call the vaccine too dangerous to use really should compare the statistics of all of us who have taken the vaccines worldwide—millions of us—versus the COVID statistics. And since most of you won’t, let me remind you.
One in five people who catch COVID-19—the original version—end up in the hospital. One in six people who catch COVID—the original version—have long-term symptoms. We’re only just beginning to understand Long COVID, and it scares the medical professionals. They’re predicting that we are going to have an entire population of chronically ill people who will need help and support over (possibly) years.
As a person who has a chronic illness, Long COVID scared and scares me a lot more than dying of the disease. And Long COVID hits younger people more than older people. Younger people don’t die of the disease as much; they just get sick for months, maybe years.
You really want to mess with that? The infection rate for the COVID variants is much higher than the original highly contagious version of the disease. If you’re unvaccinated, you will eventually catch this thing—and then, inadvertently, you will share it with others.
So mask up. And get your damn vaccine. I don’t care how much you hate needles. Look at the actual science, not the crap you’re getting from your uncles or your friends on Facebook. Talk to your doctor instead. Read medical journals, and look around. The information isn’t hard to find once you get off your usual news sites.
That said…we’re hitting an in-between phase of the pandemic. Some of us have a lot of protection and we’re trying to return to some semblance of normal. Some of us have pretended things were normal all along and have ignored the friends and family falling ill around us. Some of us are determined to live in pandemic-land forever.
From here forward, this post is for the folks who have their vaccines or, at least, have their vaccine appointments. People who are actually trying to end this pandemic, rather than the people who are getting in the way.
After I got the first vaccine, I was weak with relief for days. I knew that I wouldn’t get Long COVID and if I am going to die this year, it won’t be from COVID itself. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I made tentative plans.
Then I got the second vaccine. That same day, I registered for next fall’s Spanish class—a conversation class, in person—and made some other in-person plans.
I also got notification from the Smith Center, where I have season tickets for the Broadway touring shows, that there will be performances in the fall. I haven’t gotten concert tickets yet for the fall residencies, but I will. And I will speak at 20BooksTo50K. In person, in front of real humans.
These are all markers of the future. I’ve been excited as I added each and every one of them.
But after I got the second dose, I realized I still felt unsettled. Yes, some of that is the two-week wait for the vaccine to be fully activated, but most of it was something in my head.
I realized a few things this year. First, the political landscape of the Trump years really took up a lot of my headspace. I have always been politically active, but that activism took a fierce urgency in those years. The bigotry and hatred needed to be countered. Some of it on the local level, but some of it could only be achieved by ensuring that Trump was a one-term president.
Which happened. And despite the horrid events of 1/6, we managed to install a new president on 1/20. That’s not a panacea. A lot needs to be done.
But I no longer woke up every morning wondering what fresh hell occurred during the night. I gradually stopped consuming news every moment I was awake, and stopped jumping whenever my phone beeped with a notification.
I have more time to think about other things now.
The same goes for COVID numbers. Test positivity is low in my state. After we got out of the winter surges, we’re in a safer place now. With nearly half of the eligible people in the state vaccinated, I have finally accepted that we are moving out of this pandemic. It might not be this year, but it will happen.
Yes, COVID will be with us, but it will be endemic, like the flu, rather than a pandemic. I’ve lived with the flu as a threat my whole life. I can live with another endemic disease, even if I don’t want to.
Living with the pandemic took a different portion of my brain. Some of it was practical—am I wearing a good-fitting mask? Do I have to go to that business today?—but much of it was a simple trudge.
I had to get through the days until I got my vaccine. I’ve trudged before. When I was sick in Lincoln City, I never knew what kind of day or week I faced. I couldn’t really plan for a future. I just had to make it through the hours and months.
It was easy to slip back into that. But it had a weird effect on my writing: I could handle deadlines. In fact, I was great with deadlines. They fit into a trudge. Finish Project A, then move to Project B.
But doing anything long term was hard. So was anything that took me out of the now. A lot of people escaped into fiction during the worst of the pandemic. Because of who I am, I consumed more and more reality. I had to, to know what kind of dangers we faced, so we could protect from them.
I’ve been weaning my way off that, and as I have, I realized that to monitor every event, I had to shut down a part of my brain that created future projects. I really didn’t want to look at licensing because I wasn’t sure when it would return. I didn’t want to take on a project filled with unknowns because life had too many unknowns.
I’m slowly working my way out of that, as I’m recovering more and more brain space. It’s a weird place to be in, because part of my writing shut down. Not the part that works on existing projects, but the part that comes up with new ideas, new projects, and fun things to do.
This afternoon, I said to Dean that fun had been canceled in 2020, and that was true. Fun had also been canceled in my brain. Anything that made me laugh got set aside for serious things. I really didn’t want to look at the side of life I couldn’t enjoy at the time.
Now, that’s returning. Sports are back. Theater is coming back. Dinners with friends are returning.
I feel a bit a prisoner who had been kept in a dark hole and is finally emerging into the sunlight.
I’m not quite sure how to recapture the parts of the writing that got set aside. I think acknowledging that they got suppressed will help. Is already helping, really.
I got my first random story idea on a run just this week. I have returned to my Fremont Street runs, which I did not do in the height of the pandemic, because a joyful place had turned nasty and ugly. People were screaming at each other about masks and about the fact that “even Vegas isn’t fun.” Now, that attitude is gone, and the joy is starting to return.
With it, random story ideas. Thank heavens.
I need to revamp my schedule. I have to add driving time to my days again, which I don’t mind. I will need to get up earlier, because I still want to run outside, even during the hot months, which means running just after dawn.
I need to figure out how to tap all of what I suspect is a creative flood just waiting to be released. It’ll take time, I know. I’ve only just realized how much of myself I held in check so I could trudge forward, head down. Now I can lift my head and walk easily again.
I’ve missed being able to look toward the future. I’m glad that part of my life has returned.
I know there’s some damage. Some mourning still to be done for family and friends and the lost way of life. Some realizations still to be had from that strange COVID year.
But I’ll work through it.
I hope you will too.
And for godsake. Get your vaccine.
Let’s end this COVID nightmare once and for all.
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“Business Musings: Focus on the Future (A Process Blog) copyright © 2021 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Image at the top of the blog copyright © Can Stock Photo / abluecup.