The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

Quite some time has passed since the last edition of the COVID Chronicles. Does that mean that we’re almost over it? From where I’m sitting, here in carefree California, it’s almost like we’re ready to emerge from the deep, dark COVID woods.

Some catching up and a little perspective might be in order.

We’ve been doing so well in California that the news media doesn’t report deaths anymore. In California, the deceased are old news. Just a week ago today there were a mere 22 deaths in the Golden State. A small number but still, smaller consolation for the 22 deceased and their families; no consolation at all actually.

On a personal level I’m going through an inner COVID conflict. There’s the optimistic me and then there’s an alter ego; the hold on to your butt me.

Optimistic me wants to believe that the monster has been vanquished. Recently I asked Cora if we should get tickets to a Pink Martini concert on Memorial Day Weekend. The Golden State Warriors are welcoming fans back to Chase Center (I was supposed to go to a Warriors game in March of last year until the coronavirus pooped that party). I say, why not; Steph Curry is having an MVP year!

The other me, call him the pessimist or call him the pragmatist, is afraid that we might not be at the edge of the woods, looking out, but rather at the brink of an unseen precipice.

It’s not unlike those Friday the 13th movies, when it seems like the movie’s about over and Jason, the mask wearing slasher, is dead and the nubile, young women clad only in teeny weeny bras and panties (Because any proper slasher movie that’s worth its weight in box office gold has to have nubile, young women clad only in teeny weeny bras and panties. A little soft core porn to dilute the blood and excite the pre-pubescent boys in the audience.) are giggling nervously. That breeze in the auditorium is the en masse exhale from the audience. And then suddenly, up on the screen a still living Jason, with machete raised is looming behind the nubile, young women clad only in teeny weeny bras and panties. The sharp deadly blade of a surge.

The media hasn’t been particularly helpful.

To hear CNN tell it, we’re at the edge of the mountain lake and a dripping wet Jason is about to rise from the cold depths (again); to hear Fox News tell it, Jason is just Bill Gates in a hockey mask. What passes for the truth is left for us to figure out. But hasn’t that been the case for a year now?

And so here we are with some calling out, “olly olly oxen free,” while others point to Michigan and say, not so fast. It’s not unlike watching dueling weather forecasters; the CBS guy says break out the suntan lotion and the woman on NBC is interviewing some old guy who’s busy building an ark.

Most of the politicians are in the “happy days are here again,” camp. Many states are wide open again, some are cautiously open and others, like California are setting opening dates for the early summer.

I don’t hold much truck with the politicos. I keep feeling this vibe, an itch, telling me that the knaves, red and blue, are trying to save their political lives even if it means risking the lives of their constituents.

Here in California, things aren’t so sunny for Governor Gavin Newsom who’s facing a recall, mostly over his handling of the pandemic but also for a slew of other reasons which probably include his Mr. Slick hairstyle and expensive suits.

With a few exceptions, I think Newsom has done a reasonable job during the course of the pandemic, really a no win situation. Whatever you do to try to placate the two sides, the real doctors and Googly doctors, the cautious and the carefree, the vaxxers and the anti-vaxxers, is akin to trying to answer the classic unanswerable question, “Have you stopped kicking your dog?” There’s simply no right answer.

Meanwhile Newsom has announced June 15th as California’s opening day.

I’m looking at Newsom’s opening day pronouncement with a jaundiced eye. It seems to me to be a political bilge pump trying to save the good ship Gavin from going under. Even if Newsom’s intentions are pure with that June 15th date, he’s essentially painted himself into a corner. If a surge happens to come crashing down on the 10th and Newsom tries to shut it all down again the public is going to tell him to stick his restrictions where the California sun don’t shine.

In a state as blue as the Pacific, the recall will likely fail to unseat Newsom but it will succeed in wasting a few million dollars while providing some political theatre.

Theatre? Maybe that word is a touch too kind. Theatre suggests a certain dignity. Circus? Now that sounds more appropriate; especially since Caitlyn Jenner just threw her hat into the ring. She’s in the “Gavin fucked up the pandemic” and he’s still kicking his dog, camp.

She’s something of an oddity but not because she’s trans; I’ve no problem with that. She’s an oddity because she’s a trans woman who supports Trump and is running as a Republican; a party that would like to see her banished to North Korea at best and croaked at worst. She is that clueless, and to add some whipped cream and sprinkles to the sundae, she has no platform, no political experience, has frequently skipped going to the polls to vote, and she comes from a dysfunctional, whack job family.

Whoa, wait just one damn minute. Didn’t we just see this movie?

Yet despite the political sideshow, here in California, the sun is definitely shining.

The grandchildren are back in the schoolhouse, although on a part time basis, and the local parks and rec boys have reinstalled the basketball hoops and the young adults are out there ballin’.

In San Francisco, Salesforce has opened its office doors to those who want to return and restaurants throughout most of the area are welcoming limited numbers of diners indoors.

And while carefree me toyed with the notion of going to that Pink Martini concert, cautious me responded, “Are you out of your f’ing mind?”

Cautious me decided to wait on the Warriors till next season, convincing happy-go-lucky me with the argument that by waiting I can save more money to buy better seats. And besides, next year Klay Thompson will be back in the lineup with Steph Curry.

And I’m still not down with indoor dining.

That said I’ve been proceeding merrily along with a perception that the whole world is basking in the same California sunshine.

That was until a week ago when I discovered just how much of a prevaricator that my perception has been. I’ve been carrying on as if everyone, and I mean everyone, is seeing the same shining light at the end of the tunnel. And then I found that for some it’s still just a barely discernible spark – if that.

I’ve been conversing via email with a friend in Toronto and one of our main topics has been the pandemic. I’ve been rejoicing, puffing to her about rising vaccination numbers and dropping COVID numbers and our current and imminent openings and she’s seemed in and out of the pandemic doldrums; the same doldrums that I was feeling around Christmastime.

Why the long face? C’mon, be of good cheer.

That was until my friend in Toronto sent me an email that delivered a slap of reality.

“I’m happy to hear your good news, as there’s not much of it here right now,” she wrote.

“We’re in our 3rd wave, with the UK variant hitting us on the east coast (Quebec and Ontario)..”

“In Ontario, our emergency stay at home order just got extended to May 20th- which basically says: don’t go out unless you have to. It’s our 3rd order since Covid started. This time, it’s for 6 weeks, and who knows if it will go longer after that? Not that there’s anywhere to go really, restaurants closed, limited capacity for shops (food stores), and most other places only have curbside pickup.
The government has run out of tricks and the ICUs are at capacity. Its only option is to lock down, which is something that should have been done 4 months ago, but you know … xmas, new year’s, just bad decisioning at every juncture.”

“…no domestic production of vaccines is a huge problem.”

“So, here we sit, twiddling our thumbs watching our neighbours get fully vaccinated while many still await #1 shot. The government can’t seem to get their priorities right – who to vaccinate, should we use an age model, should we use postal codes for the high risk areas? They’ve so over-complicated the process that regular citizens banded together and created a twitter site called @VaxHuntersCan to help people find vaccines.”

Reading her email, I felt chastened, ashamed; the guy who asks his friend’s advice on what to wear to the long anticipated party that the friend wasn’t invited to. I know that she’s going to come back at me and say that she didn’t mean to come off in a castigating manner, and I know that she didn’t; that’s not her.

She’ll say something like, “I really am happy for you and it give us hope here in Canada.” A she’ll mean it.

That said, I rightly felt admonished. I needed to be set straight; made to realize that while perception might be reality, it isn’t necessarily a universal reality.

And then there’s India, which is at the doorstep of hell right now.

This is after all a pandemic.

And my story isn’t the whole story.

People are still dying.

People are still suffering.

Stay safe and mask up.

 

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17 thoughts on “The COVID Chronicles: Point of View

  1. IV WORDS says:

    I’m with pragmatist Paulie. Too soon to let the guard down, even when we want to see one of the best guards knock ’em down. You’d never know it here in the long-running Covidiotacracy that is North Dakota, though. The rednecks are on the prowl and they’d be damned if they’re gonna get a shot for a hoax pandemic. Wish I was out there with you – at least there’d be sunshine.

    1. Paulie says:

      Hello Martin,
      Ha! No sunshine today. It’s raining but no snow.

      I worry when I see reports of vaccination stations that have plenty of vaccine and nobody in line to get a shot. My sense is that some of those reports are a mixture of truth and ratings hunting.

      If those reports are true then we are in for a long, long slog because if vaccines are going beggin in Cali I can only imagine what’s going on south of the Mason Dixon line.

      I do have to say that a Warriors game was very tempting. You need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test (and the team sends a test kit to your home). On the flip side I heard on the radio that a UFC bout was held before a full house last night. Ugh.

      Stay safe Martin.
      Paul

      1. IV WORDS says:

        You too, Paulie.

  2. Arati says:

    I enjoyed reading this and the reality check about Covid from your friend. Having the ease of access to vaccines that I have here in California as a white 71 year old woman is an example of privilege. As I understand it the united states is hoarding the vaccines, partly due to agreements that trump made with the pharmaceutical companies when he set up the whole “warp speed” thing which does not allow the “us” to donate, export, sell, etc…. the vaccine to other countries. Then there is the issue that american pharmaceuticals are not releasing the “patent” on the vaccines which would allow companies in other countries to produce these vaccines (we’re talking profiting from a pandemic) and add to this the “us” taking a huge percentage of the raw materials that go into making the vaccines leaving little for other countries. I just see this as another manifestation of imperialism run amok!

    1. Paulie says:

      It’s really easy to fall into complacency here in the Bay Area isn’t it. I do see fewer masks than I did back in December.

      Biden is under big pressure to start shipping vaccine to other countries, particularly India.

      I thought I’d seen a report of the AG vaccine being shipped to Canada.

      My wife is from the Philippines and what she hears is that they are hurting for vaccine as well. Their supply is coming from China.

      I read an interesting article in Vanity Fair about the contracts that are keeping the pharma companies from shipping to other countries.
      https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/04/why-the-us-still-cant-donate-covid-19-vaccines-to-countries-in-need

      Thank you for visiting and for commenting.

      Paul

  3. annecreates says:

    I’ve had friends who recently boasted on social media that they aren’t at risk for Covid because of their amazing immune systems, then contract the virus, and finally admit they were wrong. Sigh. Meanwhile, in the hospitals in Virginia, cases were finally down, but are starting to creep up again. One of my patients last week had been fully vaccinated. They assume she picked up one of the variants. Yesterday in rehab, I worked with a patient who has been with us for a few months, a young man in is 30’s, who finally stood up for the first time since contracting Covid. I’m so happy to be vaccinated, but now seeing patients with Covid who were vaccinated has me worried.
    As always, I enjoy your writing! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Paulie says:

      Hello Anne,
      I have to say it’s a little depressing to hear that you’re seeing COVID patients who have been fully vaccinated.

      Having been vaccinated I don’t by any means feel bulletproof. I still follow the same protocols that I’ve been following for months; avoid crowds, dine outdoors or get takeout, sanitize and always wear a mask in public.

      We can only hope that the vaccinated COVID patients are outliers.

      Thank you for reading and for commenting.

      Paul

  4. David says:

    My wife and I and our adult children have been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine with a 95% efficacy, but that’s still not 100%. In the past two years we’ve made three out of state trips but we are very, very careful. We stay away from crowds and small spaces and avoid maskless idiots like the plague. I won’t feel comfortable until we’ve reached a 70% vaccination rate which is what is required for herd immunity.

    1. Paulie says:

      Hi David,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. My wife and I have been vaccinated; me Moderna and she Pfizer, so I guess we carry different microchips 🙄.

      We’ve been on two short road trips and, like you, avoided crowds.

      I am planning a longer road trip through a number of states, but we’re going to avoid cities and crowds, stay in places with kitchens when possible. It’s going to be mostly a “see the scenery of the U.S. trip.

      We’re bringing the dog which by default will keep us from being tempted to venture into museums.

      I suppose that in many places we’ll get those strange smirks because we’ll be masked up.

      Paul

  5. nesfelicio says:

    Well said. You’re ahead of the curve in California, but yes, there’s reality check from other parts.
    Just like the Jason movie (and sequels), it may not be over yet…
    Keep safe and keep sharing your thoughts!

    1. Paulie says:

      The prevailing saying, motto if you will, here in America during the past year has been, “We’re all in this together.” I hope that our leadership realizes that “all” includes the entire world. A pandemic won’t go away until it’s been vanquished worldwide.
      Thank you for reading and commenting.

  6. Thanks go to you and previous commenters for an international perspective. The operative word in your post is “pandemic”. The SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants exist worldwide. It’s sort of like an Earth Day slap back at the human residents of this planet who mistreat our mother (and her non-human residents) with oblivion. This is not the first virus of zoonotic origin and likely will not be the last–it just happened to be one more adept at human contagion and causing a higher morbidity.
    The maskless-antivaxer-Covid denying population are pandemic spreaders who have no respect or caring for the medical community who take care of them during their illness and grieve for them if they die. As we have experienced, viruses do mutate and that mutation might be vaccine resistant next time when herd immunity may not protect the population.
    This vaccinated senior will, for a second year, confine camping and traveling adventures to more local weekday road trips and continue to practice recommended precautions. Call me realist rather than optimist or pessimist.
    Stewart

    1. Paulie says:

      Hello Stewart,
      It’s been a mixture of good and bad in our nation. The vaccine rollout has exceeded expectations and apparently there is plenty available.

      The bad news is that we’re soon going to be left with the stragglers; the ones who refuse to be vaccinated either because they are generally anti-vax or have been convinced that COVID is a Gates inspired conspiracy or a Democratic ploy to unseat the previous president. If a fair number of those folks don’t get with the program we’re going to be in for a long slog.

      We are likely going to take a road trip, stay mostly in small towns, do VRBO and cook for ourselves, do takeout and follow protocols. We’re going to be going through red states so I imagine we’ll get a lot of stank eyed looks for wearing masks.

      We’ll see.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.
      Be well
      Paul

  7. eden baylee says:

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you for a great post with a heavy dose of pragmatism for a pandemic. I don’t blame anyone for being happy about getting back to some kind of normalcy.

    I have the same hope we’ll return to less restrictive measures; we’re just not there yet. There are so many moving parts, and we’re not all moving at the same rate.

    Why does one country (or part thereof) fare better than another? I’m sure leadership, access to vaccines, compliance by its citizenry play into it, as does geography, population density, cultural differences and so on.

    A country like New Zealand got it right from the get-go. They had an outdoor concert with 50,000 people in attendance two days ago. TWO DAYS AGO. It shocked me but also made me smile with admiration for Jacinda and the people of NZ. She locked down that country from the start despite initial outcry. She held the lives of her people as a priority. They complied with the rules and now they can reap the rewards, and they deserve it. It’s what we should’ve all done, but like I said, there are many moving parts.

    As a news junkie, my outlook naturally errs on the side of caution, especially since I’m living with a lockdown and know we are not in a good way as yet, but … I also have family in NY an hour away who can go out to a restaurant, and where they are slowly reopening schools, museums, and gyms. I also know many people in the US who’ve been fully vaccinated. I also know you on the other coast of where I am, and your outlook is good. And it should be. It’s been a fucking, long haul, and everyday we make it through should be cause for some small celebration – jelly beans for you!

    Seriously, without sacrificing more precious time and feeling mentally drained from worry, staying vigilant is a sensible way to go. You can’t absorb the ills of the world. I’m heartbroken about what’s going on in India right now, but all I can do is send loving thoughts and hope it comforts those who are suffering.

    For whatever reason, your state is in a good place. You’re fully vaccinated and you should enjoy your life as much as you can, as much as you feel comfortable to do so.

    Eventually, the good news for the rest of us will outweigh the bad. If I didn’t think this, I might as well call it quits right now.

    I fully expect to travel vicariously through your words and pictures, so please do something amazing. 😁

    eden
    xo

    1. Paulie says:

      Hi Eden,
      First things first. Can I pass on the jelly beans 🤮? We’ve gone over the candy thing.

      >>>Why does one country (or part thereof) fare better than another? I’m sure leadership, access to vaccines, compliance by its citizenry play into it, as does geography, population density, cultural differences and so on.<<< In some instances it’s been a little of all of those and in others a lot of a few. New Zealand didn’t even need the vaccine. Well, goes the counter argument, look at the population density, only 18 people per KM. Taiwan didn’t need the vaccine. Taiwan’s population density is 673 per KM. In both of the above there were strict measures put in place followed by compliance. We’ve seen what’s happened in the U.S. where we went from one of the worst to one of the best. It’s been mostly due to leadership and vaccines and yet we still might fail because we can’t get compliance. A year into this thing and the lunatics are still running the asylum and they are going to be the reason that the U.S. will fail to achieve herd immunity. . Tucker Carlson went on the air and said that forcing children to wear masks is child abuse. The head of a private high school in Florida, has discouraged its teachers from getting vaccinated and is not allowing vaccinated teachers to teach. She’s floating some debunked bullshit that non-vaccinated people are being "negatively impacted" by contact with vaccinated people. A councilmember in Southern California who refuses to wear a mask is comparing her being compelled to wear a mask with Rosa Parks being forced to the back of the bus. We now have walk up vaccination centers where anybody, from anywhere, can get a vaccination and some of those are going begging. 41% of Republicans won’t get vaccinated. I can’t imagine the head shaking and rage that people around the world must feel when they look at America floating on an ocean of vaccine and a citizenry that refuses to get vaccinated. When I was a child, President Kennedy extolled science and lionized scientists. America prided itself on being a leader in science, medicine and exploration. When did we become Earth’s funny farm? I’m retiring to bedlam. But first I’ve got to find some candy. P.

  8. eden baylee says:

    Hi Paul,

    Wow … I heard about Carlson, but not the other characters. How disheartening, especially from supposedly educated people.
    I read that Biden is shipping vaccines out to countries that want/need them. Here in Canada, we’d welcome them with open arms and rolled-up sleeves.

    Seriously, if the news doesn’t improve, I’ll join you for candy. I don’t even like candy, but perhaps I need something sweet to quell my outrage and disgust.

    I hope you’re planning some fun stuff for your trip. 🧳
    Where are WE going? 😂

    e

    1. Paulie says:

      Hello Eden,
      Let’s be clear about one thing. The other two characters that I mentioned are living proof that an education is not an indicator of common sense.
      The head mistress of the private school is a conspiracy theorist and an anti-vaxxer.
      The woman that compared having to wear a mask to Rosa Parks being sent to the back of the bus is tone deaf, and got roundly criticized for her remarks.

      More news from asylum America:
      It looks like Randy Quaid is going to run for governor of California.
      Don’t know if you saw Biden’s speech last night. Ted Cruz wearing a mask with the silhouette of an AR 15 and the caption, “Come and take it.”

      Where are WE going? Arizona > New Mexico > Texas > Oklahoma > Arkansas > Missouri > Iowa > Nebraska > South Dakota > Wyoming > Montana > Idaho > Washington > Oregon > Home.
      There’s a lot of red there.
      I’ve got reservations made for two weeks of it. Need to get Memorial Day weekend reserved and a cabin in Red Lodge, Montana in June. Other than that we’re pretty much going to wing it.
      P.

Would love to hear from you

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