Monday, November 23, 2020

Fatigue Is Not Fatal

Lawd, my Mama would have cussed all of these people out over this virus by now...but since she can't, I will speak for her. Have you people lost your effing minds? Okay, my mother didn't use the f-word as freely as I do, but if looks could kill:

Her looks could be as lethal as this virus y'all keep playing around with. WTF is wrong with you people? How hard is it to wear a mask? Seriously? It isn't as if we've never had to wear something uncomfortable before.

As children, we wore those highly flammable death suits every Halloween. You remember the plastic face masks with slits in it for seeing and breathing. They were hot as hell, no matter how cold it actually was on Halloween night, and really, no one could see anything out of those tiny eye holes, so we wore them on top of our heads between houses. We wore those crappy masks until the elastic popped off, along with those full body hazmat suits that were supposed to be the costume. And we wore the same horrible ensemble multiple times: to the school Halloween party, to the community center party/church Harvest Festival, and then trick or treating. Don't tell me that you don't have fond memories of that!

How many of you went to Catholic school? Do you remember those gray flannel slacks, clip-on ties, and v-neck sweater vests that the boys had to wear? How about the jumpers that the girls had to wear with knee socks and saddle shoes? What about Peter Pan shirt collars? Luckily I escaped having to wear any of that, but I did have to wear a seer sucker weskit and a blazer bearing our school's crest. If you need a visual for either, think of the same suit Matlock wore, but for a high school girl. If you came up with Blair Warner from The Facts of Life, you would be right (sans necktie).

Have you ever worked a job with a dress code or a uniform? Do you honestly think flight attendants want to wear high heels while pushing that heavy drink cart down the aisle at 35,000 feet? Do people who wear uniforms ever look happy to be at work? In addition to whatever 'team' gear they must wear, they also need to affix a customer service smile to deal with the public or face the consequences of a Karen demanding to see a manager.

You want to talk about COVID fatigue? Well yeah, we are all TIRED as fuck of COVID. We're tired of hearing about it as the lead story on the news. We are tired of seeing the daily infection figures go up. We are tired of virtual schooling our children. We are tired of Zoom meetings. We are sick of our own cooking. We've forgotten how to wear real shoes and anything other than sweats or yoga pants. Or caftans and turbans.

My child recently wore her Easter dress with white shoes to a family function in November because in April when she was supposed to wear that outfit to church, we were on lockdown. Why bother to adhere to arbitrary etiquette rules when those were the only dress shoes that still fit her feet? It isn't like we're leaving the house to go anywhere formal again until next Easter anyway. She has seen every episode of every kid's show on PBS Kids, Disney, and Nick Jr., so now she has graduated to the cartoons that I watched at her age. She's practicing cursive and reading chapter books. She's five...I expect that by the end of this school year, she will be ready for 6th grade. 

Does COVID bore you? Because if the answer if yes, this is when Audrey Mae's voice comes out of me loud and clear: THEN READ A DAMN BOOK! If you have read all of the books in your room, then go write one! (Yes, she used to say that to me, and here we are). Look, it's NaNoWriMo in case people are still doing that, or you can buy more books to put on that bookshelf in the background of your Zoom calls.

Yes I know, vaccines are almost ready. But I will wait my turn because impatience is going to undermine whatever progress could come because y'all just won't stay inside!

I get it, people are social animals and we want to hang out with friends and family. We want to do stuff, see stuff, buy stuff. I want to wander around Target with a cart full of stuff and then run random non-urgent errands because that was my quiet time. I miss getting glammed up for church. I miss running late for everything. The Kid used to have a packed social calendar full of birthday parties and while I don't miss driving to the ends of the earth to find new bouncy house places, I do miss seeing her refuse to engage with the others for no good reason. It's the little things...

COVID fatigue is real, but it isn't fatal. 

I know people believe that we're at the point of Sharknado hysteria. Much ado about nothing. I've seen the posts and tweets where people argue that they will take their chances because they refuse to live in fear. That's cool, but what is so scary about wearing a mask? You can choose your own style. You can customize it to reflect your personality. You only have to wear it in public. We're not on lockdown again, so I'm trying to understand the resistance. And if you stay your ass in the house, then this is not even an issue for you (then you only have worry about what is in your Zoom background).

Help me understand how your personal liberty and freedom are at stake when you can choose whether to go anywhere. You can choose to go into the specialty pet shop where they sell those organic gluten-free dog biscuits, or you can call ahead and arrange for curbside delivery. That's freedom! You can choose to complain about the state of the world on social media or you can go out and protest it. Those are your rights! Do you realize how privileged we are to complain about voluntary disease mitigation--where we have the option to engage in pre-COVID life and the only request is that we wear a mask and carry hand sanitizer?

It has been formally recommended that people not travel or gather in large groups for Thanksgiving. No one is going to stand outside your house with a counter to limit the number of people who get to go in. You won't get fined and in all likelihood, you may luck out like we did two weekends ago when we visited family. There are precautions you can take in advance to minimize exposure. So I'm not even going to judge you for considering a small family or friend gathering because it has been a long eight months, especially if you live alone. I don't live with my parents, but I will be making sure that they get a decent Thanksgiving meal, so I'm not throwing stones from the porch of my glass house.

But for it's worth, I was still stressed the fuck out about our visit to New York, got a COVID test, and then spent ten days in quarantine. 


Therefore, I am suggesting that there is a difference between acceptable risk and wanton disregard. Everyone has the right to determine what is an acceptable amount of risk. What we should not do is wantonly disregard the lives of others. All of the political rhetoric and posturing aside, this disease hasn't been a respecter of person or position. Anybody can get it and most of the people who have been infected have survived. Yet, too many people have died for it to be taken for granted. Taking precaution is not giving into fear. 

I am urging caution. I am saying that in the face of an ever-changing pandemic, where the rest of the world is also preparing to go back on some form of lockdown, now is not the time to get careless or to tempt fate. Now is not the time to dig in and believe that this is all part of some elaborate hoax. Over the past eight months, I have had friends lose relatives, close down businesses, cancel weddings, have babies that no one can meet in person, and give up jobs that they loved because they could not balance every added responsibility of this 'rona life. And this is the sad part--wait until someone dies and you can't attend their memorial because you were five minutes late (because you had to set your Kid up for her virtual school day), you barely found something decent to wear, and the room had reached capacity anyway with family. 

Yeah, I am tired of COVID. This has been the most emotionally draining period of my life, so I am relieved to scale back expectations this holiday season. It has been enough for me to keep up with virtual school, my parents, my spending (yeah right), my social justice work, and still find time to be the Busy Black Woman. Yet, this pandemic has forced me to finally trust God about His timing. I have been challenged to believe in myself more (because everybody else is too busy re-assessing their own lives). I have been blessed with opportunities to finally see my writing reach more people. I am still finding my voice, but so is everyone else I know.

If you were raised in the church like me, you recall how those old saints used to admonish us to wait on the Lord (Psalm 27). They used to sing that He may not come when you want, but He'll be there right on time. They preached legendary sermons from one verse in Isaiah 40:31. So if we have to wait a little while longer for society to open up safely, then let's do that. It takes faith to believe that is possible, and to trust that God is with us in the midst of this pandemic. 

Once I was sent to my room to find something constructive to do, my Mom would give me about an hour or so before checking in to see if I was still complaining of boredom. I learned early on to always have something to do, and that is applicable now as we enter into this holiday season. In her words, there are 50-11 million other things you can do to keep from being bored and to keep from spreading COVID.

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