By this point, I figure anyone left reading my posts is either of like mind regarding COVID, etc. or a diehard fan who takes these in stride as personal thoughts unrelated to my work. Anybody else has likely been chased away.
That sense of changing audience has affected my purpose in writing, away from trying to reason with COVID deniers, to encouraging compatriots to be more vocal and proactive.
But at its heart, everything I post about COVID, about civil rights, predatory capitalism, blind faith, or whatever, is just as much my own struggle to cope.
And frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m sick of trying.
So nothing about this post is an attempt at reason. I’m sick of writing. Sick of being any sort of public figure. Sick of hearing my own “messages.” These words are just graffiti.
Yesterday I accompanied my spouse out into the world of people to do some shopping. She needed the company, and at least some break from driving everywhere herself all week long, to one appointment or another.
On the way out, I had taken on a newish frame of mind, a friendly feeling that mask-less people in this Red state aren’t *all* antagonistic. And that while my mask is a statement, I can still wave at these people the way Nebraskans do when they see each other at gas stations. I had a new hope for Tolerance not as passivity, but as giving people’s motives the benefit of the doubt.
First stop, Shopko Optical in Lincoln. Lincoln with its mask mandate. Shopko Optical with a sign in the window saying masks are required and 6-feet social distance recommended.
Three employees inside. One with her mask at her chin; one with his below his nose; one with no mask anywhere in sight.
I spoke up from the tolerance-doesn’t-mean-silence attitude. (It’s tough to speak up. Tougher to do so calmly.) “I don’t mean to be impolite, but what’s with the masks?”
“Oh! Sorry. No problem. When nobody else is in the store, we sort of relax, and we just forgot to put them back.”
I think she was the manager. Her mask went up. The guy pulled his mask over his nose. The other woman stared at me blandly, then asked to go on break. When she came back, it was mask-less. At her desk, she held a mask one-handed over her face for a couple of minutes, then dropped it.
The rest of the trip was pretty much the same. Step into a store, mental defenses up, no one masked in sight, then notice a few with masks, glance at each other with a sense of embattled camaraderie. Grit my teeth behind the mask-less bitch coughing in the check-out line.
So much for a fucking sense of equanimity.
One of my wife’s step-brothers died of COVID this week. My age. Had been having moments of forgetfulness from what turned out to be mini strokes from blood clots migrating from his lungs. Then the clots killed him. Unvaccinated. Someone she shared her teenage years with in the same house.
A 10-year-old boy nearby, dead of brain lesions. Unvaccinated. Some don’t want to admit it’s COVID related, but he’d just gotten over COVID.
What was I saying? Oh, right. Trying for equanimity.
Earlier last week, I had an annual physical. The MD asked how my head is doing. The usual annual conversation with him:
Me: “I’m a thinker living with bouts of migraine/seizure. An extrovert living in isolation. An educated Liberal in a Red state of uneducated Trump worshippers. A guy with a college science background among people with a chip on their shoulder toward ‘eggheads.’ This COVID denial is a perpetual frustration. When will it end?”
Him: “It’s never going away.”
Me: “I don’t mean COVID.”
Him: “I know. And then they come to me wanting me to fix them.”
Him: “So, are you still writing? Still publishing?”
He asks that as a gauge of my migraine/seizure trouble. Can I still function.
Yes, I still function.
But I’m emotionally worn out even trying to care whether my unvaccinated neighbors die. Every day, I wake up wondering about Trump, “Is that son-of-a-bitch dead yet?”
Every time I hear another news story of an unvaccinated person with COVID, them begging other people to reconsider, I feel grimly thankful that they got it, hoping that their treatment ruins them financially, that their physical suffering is severe enough to shake their COVID-denying family and friends. My only reason for hoping they live is that they’ll spread the message instead of it dying with them.
There’s my equanimity. The thought that with enough suffering and death, the surviving deniers will come around. Maybe it’s Nature’s way of lightening the ship enough for us to turn from *complete* environmental catastrophe, because COVID and climate change are equally environmental.
And with that last, post-comma phrase, I slipped back into message mode. I’ll stop myself right there. My purpose is graffiti. Just spray paint defacing the side of a building to say, “I was here. And I fucking protest.”