MISERY IS THE NEW NORMAL
I very seldom quote myself. Though, many may think I have a big ego, when it comes to my own work, I seldom revisit it. I don’t listen to my old podcasts or radio interviews, read old press or watch myself on TV shows I appeared on or movies I wrote. I move on.
Even here in COVID hell I have not resorted to experiencing my old life through yesterday’s events.
I wrote a blog on March 20, 2020 that I can’t get out of my brain.
It was called LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA. And it started off like this.
The night before last after I finally grew tired of Brian Williams and the 11th Hour, which was an accurate accounting of how long I had been watching the news; I put in my earbuds to listen to Insight Timer’s “Cloud Dreamer” go to sleep mediation when Glenn shook me and said,
‘It’s great, only three more days!
“Only three more days to what?”
“Three more days to getting out of here and going back to our life.”
I removed my earbuds and shut off the tinkling bells, clearly, Cloud Dreamer needed to be put on hold.
“What planet are you on? Haven’t you been listening to the news for the last nine hours?”
“In two days, we will have been in a week and after a week we will know if we’ve been exposed or not and then we can go back out.”
The blog goes on and at a certain point I tell him, we had better count on six to eight weeks at least.
One has to remember when I wrote the above, we had only been in for five days.
If you look at the calendar Lucy came home from college on the 12th. She was coming home for one week. The 13th we had our Spring Break vacation booked – a week in Colombia. We cancelled the day before we were supposed to leave.
I had my last lunch date out with my friend Lisa on Saturday the 14th. The 15th, Glenn, Lucy and I went to our favorite coffee shop Three Guys, and that, my friends, was the last time I ate indoors at a restaurant.
We battened down the hatches that Sunday night and by Thursday Glenn was chomping at the bit to get out.
Little did we know that ten months later we would not only still be inside, but the situation would be exponentially worse in every way.
We did manage to get ourselves out of New York and out to California June 12th. That gave me close to two months before my mother died and three before my father.
When we got to California things were slightly better than New York. Newsom seemed to be doing OK. And the disease load here was smaller. We had some personal freedoms.
Not many. We went to the market every week. Being a New York kid Lucy loves the wide aisles. We went to the nursery. Greenery. We were parched for greenery.
We went to a few shops and I did my big errands in Montecito, as I felt safe there up until about three weeks ago.
In terms of LA I have stayed pretty much in the house. We have not eaten at one restaurant inside or out since we arrived here.
I’ve been to one party, if you can call it that; my father’s post funeral lunch. We were outside, eleven of us in total.
In November, four of us ate dinner outside on what would have been mom’s 92nd birthday.
In other words, my social events have for the most part been death related.
Now we are back to living just like we were in March, April and May. Inside. No contact with people. Food delivered. Total lockdown.
Like for many, the ten months of no social contact, of not going out, of not having anything that resembles my old life is getting to me. And I know it’s getting to others. They tell me so. Sadly misery is just the new normal.
It’s so far beyond the realm of acceptable. It’s so far beyond a place of reckoning with.
I don’t know what this is doing to our mental health. But the fallout is going to be much worse than people are aware.
I have read reports on what it does to little kids. I have seen what it does to older people. It is literally killing them.
For me, right now, I am feeling this deep stress about what happens if I get sick?
I am living in a city where I have no doctor. Well, one. My gynecologist. So, what happens if one of us gets really sick?
If I were to get COVID, I can’t call one my hot shot NY doctors who could get me into a hospital and get me the super drugs. I would be lying in some parking lot in Gardena.
If you don’t live in California, the Gardena reference will mean nothing. But trust me it’s not good.
I have had a frozen shoulder for going on eight weeks. That is not a long time, the one doctor I ventured to, told me it could last as long as eighteen months. He then refused to give me a cortisone shot.
I drove to Van Nuys (on par with Gardena) to what I thought was going to be a small office. But turned out to be near a hospital, connected to a hospital actually. I felt the safety protocols were really inferior. I almost bolted four times. Then the doctor did nothing for me. I was so traumatized by the experience I got to my car and had a total meltdown.
I now refuse to go near a doctor. I am seven months past my mammogram due date. My New York dermatologist was kind enough to refill a prescription today, even though I missed my June mole check appointment.
Why am I over sharing my medical issues?
Because I always know if I am experiencing something, so are other people.
OK, I can’t eat out. I have gotten used to it. I can’t see my friends. I haven’t gotten used to it, but I will live.
Not being able to get medical help for anything other than COVID is a very scary situation to be in.
Not only have we lost all the quotidian habits and rituals that gave structure and meaning to our daily lives, we also cannot really take care of ourselves. I fear this is going to have a terrible affect on our mental and physical health.
And the fact the country is such a mess the vaccines are not getting administered. That we are still behind Third World countries in terms of tracing, testing and vaccinating. (Listen to The Daily podcast from yesterday – terrifying)
So, we sit here, unable to do anything but watch the Capital get desecrated and Trump and his cronies get away with more illegalities.
There seemed to be a moment, maybe a nano second when the world looked brighter with Biden’s victory. But the daily death toll erased that high in no time.
And then, last week we had the Trumpian Despotic Tantrum that resulted in five deaths. How much can we sit and watch before we totally lose it?
And then the little things: My desk lamp is broken. I can’t get it fixed. I need to take care of selling my mother’s car. Can’t do that. I need to go to the bank. Won’t. Not here. Not now.
There are about fifty other things that need doing, but everything is on hold.
The truth about life – it can’t all be lived from home.
I know I am luckier than most. Though I am sick of justifying my angst and unhappiness. I allow myself to sink into a hole as long as I keep giving money to food banks and the homeless.
I know that is white privilege. Let me bitch – I will pay for the right. I will pay for the right to cry that I miss my life, I miss my activites, I miss not worrying that if my appendix breaks, I will not get an operation because the hospital parking lots are filled with COVID patients waiting for a ventilator and any health issue other than that goes to the back of the line.
Let me bitch that I have spent my entire life in what was supposed to be the greatest country on the planet and we’re racing to 400,000 deaths, with a new variant that is worse and vaccines for most of us are not coming for up to six months in most cases.
We just want a version of our lives back. But it feels so far away and almost forgotten.
The stress levels are too high for levity. I try; And I have given up. Misery really does feel like the new normal.
Every day is the same. Everyone I know is depressed.
I’m sorry, man cannot live by Netflix alone.
“And do you realize we won’t eat out. Go out. Have our clothes dry cleaned, see anyone we know for – I don’t know maybe three months. We are stuck here for maybe three months and Trump said it could be June and that makes it four. And my birthday is in May. What happens to my birthday? You know how much my birthday means to me. And then there is Taylor’s birthday.”
“I think you’re overreacting.”
“I’m overreacting – you started the whole thing with your ridiculous we are going to be out of here by Saturday remark.”
“OK, I was wrong. Do you want to have sex?”
Looking back – if it were only that easy.
Now we find ourselves perhaps on the verge of civil war, a pandemic mutating, growing stronger and more deadly each day. And who knew dry cleaning would become a relic of the past?
P.S. The Hilary Mantel event at the 92nd St Y was cancelled.
The Joe Biden evening went from a cocktail party in someone’s apartment to a ZOOM event or I would have had a photo with the new President.
All my Workouts went online.
And that was the end of what you would call my traditional daily life.