by wjw on May 12, 2021

The horizon has grown wider and brighter since I had my COVID shots, with my life regaining some of its former zest, with meetings and meals with friends, and more opportunities for social interaction that don’t involve Zoom calls and social media.

What surprises me is that it all seems harder than it was. I’ve been unable to entirely get over my COVID-inspired lassitude.

For nearly a year I didn’t do much. I stayed in my house and left only on important errands, like visiting the supermarket and the pharmacy and the karate school. (Kenpo is my Necessary Sanity Thing. It kept me from boiling over. The school was socially distanced and we all wore masks, but still it was riskier than I would have liked.)

When Kathy had to fly East for four months over the winter, I settled into the hermit life. I’d get up in the morning, have my coffee and a piece of fruit, and maybe watch some Netflix. At some point I’d do some form of exercise, often while watching more Netflix. Then I’d write late into the night. I missed no deadlines.

Though I could write, I couldn’t read for some reason. My mind was too scattered to stay on the page. When the opportunity arose to nominate for this year’s awards, I looked through my files and realized I’d read only one book published in 2020, and though my Kindle told me I’d read it, I didn’t remember it at all. And this was by a writer I like!

Cooking and cleaning and necessary repairs got done. Nothing more than that, though.

When Kathy came back, I had to make some adjustments. I was used to spending my mornings with my coffee and my fruit and my video, and here was this whole other person in the house who wanted to talk to me for some reason! It took me a while to get used to the idea that I was supposed to talk back.

And now my horizon has broadened right out, and I’m going out to see people and do stuff, and I’ve got to do yard work and ride my tractor and arrange for more necessary repairs. But it’s more difficult than it was, and takes more effort.

Mind you, once I get there, once I see my friends and have some drinks and share a fine meal, I have a good time, and the good time is effortless and joyful. It’s just making the arrangements and getting there that seems to take more dedication than it used to.

I wish I had a conclusion for this little essay, full of wit and insight, but I seem to lack the energy.

Geoff May 13, 2021 at 10:22 am

Apologies for cluttering your site with replies, but: this essay by Aisha Ahmad in the Chronicle of Higher Education (paywalled; was prophetic last March, and continues to help me 14 months later.

In it, Ahmad says that everything has changed, and we all will need to figure out new ways to work and act and connect. The old ways will not work anymore, and to pretend otherwise is denying reality.

This is a long-charactered way of saying: I feel the same way. I want to do lots of stuff, but the process seems daunting in my head.

John Appel May 13, 2021 at 10:45 pm

I’m a week away from my second shot and three from full effectiveness, and I’m feeling something similar. There are some things I can’t wait to do – like hang out with some of my local friends in person, instead of via screen. But while, for example, I intellectually want to get back to longsword training, I’m more hesitant to do so. I think in part it’s that I’ve found other uses for my Sunday afternoons. But also a factor is that I *know* some of the people in the group are likely to be engaging in risky behaviors, not getting vaccinated, and the like.

Reading was really hard for me for a while, but it’s become easier lately. Avoiding social media (in my case, all I’m really on is Twitter) helps with that a lot.

The spring sunshine has definitely helped me a lot recently, along with the mild weather (for Maryland), at least in finding more energy to engage with both events and people.

I also have friends with children too young to be vaccinated who it seems will have to remain bunkered in for at least several more months, if not longer. They’re having a really rough time lately.

Like you, I have no answer or pithy thing to say about all this. But as has been written elsewhere, we’ve all been traumatized to a degree by this experience, at least those of us with any empathy in our souls. It’s going to take time to recover from that, and where we end up is going to look different from where we were before.

Shash May 27, 2021 at 11:07 pm

After working a less-than-stellar customer service job last summer just to have some form of income, I was laid off and spent the winter sleeping, job hunting and playing with cats. I, too, was to scattered to sit down and actually read a novel, which is highly unlike me.

I began a new and good work project 4 weeks ago, but motivating myself has been like walking through jello. Getting up to the alarm, focusing on each task, even the conversation in meetings was very hard at first. I’m still not where I was in 2018 but I’m much improved from a month ago.

Onward ho.

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