José Clemente Orozco: The Epic of American Civilization, 1932–34
I want to preface this, not that my opinion matters, by saying that what happened in Atlanta this week is horrifying and sad. Hordes of deeply stupid and mentally unwell white men litter this country with their unchecked hate and desire to commit violence against others, and the spike in targeted physical attacks against Asian people is a direct result of the racist, xenophobic rhetoric spewed by you-know-who while he was President and to pretend it isn’t would be like pretending the United States of America doesn’t have a 160 year track record of instutionalized racism, war and death against Asian people or a long history of sterotyping and denigrating sex workers or like pretending that it’s easier to vote than it is to buy a gun in this stupid, backwards country. The 70 million people (Jesus fucking Christ) who voted for him are complicit, and yeah, that includes your family members. Sorry! I know it’s sort of a running online joke that millennials (and maybe zoomers too) are overly anxious and afraid of confrontation—we can’t even talk on the phone half the time—but it’s far past time to do whatever you have to do to overcome that fear, if you can. Just because he lost doesn’t mean we can all go to brunch now. Anyway, donate to a mutual aid organization near and dear to this if you can spare it. I know a lot of folks have been working through this pandemic and maybe if that’s you, you can spare a little bit of your stimulus. I donated to Red Canary Song but if there’s a fund set up for the victims’ families, please send it my way and I’ll promote it on my social media.
This week marks the anniversary of my unemployment and the moment when COVID-19 very suddenly became real and scary in a way nothing in my lifetime ever has. I wrote about it back then and I thought maybe it’d be a good exercise to see where I’m at a year later, emotionally anyway. Physically I am still largely inside of my house. There have been some ups and some downs, but for the most part I’ve lived in this sort of middle between the two, which I guess can become the default when for the most part every single day is exactly the same. I went through that shock-informed fear initially, when I thought I would immediately catch COVID if I stepped outside for even a second. I was told to sanitize my groceries. I policed the behavior of strangers instead of directing my vitriol where it belonged, which was toward the government. I guess a lot of us behaved oddly in 2020 because there was no precedent for what we were all going through and all we knew how to do was to project that anger and fear onto others. Perceiving that a stranger is doing the wrong thing doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily doing the right thing. The world isn’t black and white. Not to mention it’s just exhausting to read and hear, nor is it remotely a good reason to drive yourself crazy.
I see that same policing happening now to a degree with the vaccine rollout. Despite the way I look and my relative youth, I’m high-risk and cycle between having bad health insurance or no health insurance, so there is a better-than-average chance it’d be pretty bad if I got COVID. Sorry if this is TMI but I’ve had recurring GI issues for a few years now that have weakened my immune system. Maybe I would know more if I could go to a doctor, but for now I’ve done my best to manage it on my own and for the most part it doesn’t affect my quality of life. I didn’t chase the vaccine or anything and would’ve been happy to sit in my living room and wait my turn, even if the government’s idea of my timeline for that is way different from mine. But I was able to get in and get my first shot earlier this month. I’m getting my booster on March 27, which means I’ll be fully vaccinated, whatever that means, on April 10 or so. It will be a relief but in the short term I doubt my life will change that much. I would like to hug my mom. I would like to have a drink with friends on a patio on a warm spring day. I would like to return to the gym. I will still wear a mask and socially distance and do all those very easy things that we’re all supposed to be doing, but the extra layer of protection for myself and those around me will be nice. I’m in absolutely no rush to get back to work and interact with hundreds of strangers every day. I’m fortunate that I can afford to wait for something resembling herd immunity before doing that. So I’m allowing myself a few crumbs of optimism for 2021. I’m going to bikepack a lot. I’m going to podcast with my best friend a lot. Maybe I’ll get a tattoo. I doubt I’ll see any live music this year, but like, maybe I will? I’m going to do my best to enjoy this year before I have to return to work, because I fucking know I’ll never be able to retire so I might as well do some of those things now, you know? Consider it a sabbatical. If you’re in a similar boat I hope you can do that too, and if you’re not, do your best to keep your home life and your work life separate and give yourself little treats every day or plan things you can look forward to. Allow yourself grace. Such as when you forget to write a newsletter for a month. It’s fine.