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Don't go anywhere and don't click on anything

While I am a bit laid up with accidental gluten ingestion, feeling sorry for myself but also irritated by feeling sorry for myself, I thought I’d take a moment to write to you and justify the existence of this website.

So here we are, the weekend before Thanksgiving in the US, and no one is going anywhere. In this household, at least. The New York Times has produced yet another steaming pile of self-righteousness in the form of this op-ed.

To save you time and brain cells I’ll summarize: “Dear reader, I’ve traced my COVID-19 bubble and it’s enormous! Here’s my anecdata to show you how much my actions impact others’ lives in the midst of a deadly pandemic. And yet, I’ve got to go with my gut, so I’m traveling to see my parents this year.”

Considering the carnival of callousness that 2020 has been, I did not think it was possible to be further disappointed by the New York Times, by writers who flaunt their cognitive biases in dangerous op-eds, or by people in general. But hey, I clicked the link. (What am I doing still clicking links?)

FunkyPlaid and I have exercised an overabundance of caution since mid-March. Overall, I would not call it a fun year (although I have fun with him anywhere, including “stuck indoors for months at a time”). We have given up things we really wanted to do and people we really wanted to see. Also, because of my job, I’ve been plugged into public health reports since March. In April and May, I was still so hopeful for the summer months. I had this dream of being “back to normal” (ha!) by September.

I don’t want to go back to normal. Normal was horrible and unacceptable for so many people. Let’s go forward to better. And by April 2021, please? Earlier this week at the Portland Book Festival, Margaret Atwood said we would enter the ending penumbra (or some similarly brilliant wording) by April 2021.

Readying myself for that ending penumbra, I’ll share a few lessons I have learned this year:

  1. I am allowed to rage at the US government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. My aunt died from COVID-19. You’ve likely lost someone too, or you know someone who has Long Covid. And many, many more will suffer and die because the people who were elected to keep us safe didn’t. This outcome was not inevitable; this outcome is inexcusable.
  2. People are willing to prioritize their own convenience over others’ lives. (I had already learned this lesson, but this year kept reminding me with such panache.) We can break ourselves of this terrible habit by asking, “Who benefits from this? What is the cost to everyone else?”
  3. Everyone defines “friendship” differently. Find people whose definition matches up with yours, and love them so much.
  4. When you are given the opportunity to improve someone’s life, even in the smallest of ways, take that opportunity. It may seem like nothing to you at the time, but your nothing could be someone else’s everything.

Happy Thanksgiving. Don’t go anywhere and don’t click on anything.

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