Updated: Jan 15
At year's end I decided to make a list of good things in the bad year, specifically changes and good things that were a direct result of coping with the pandemic/lockdown. This was supposed to be a New Year's post, but for reasons that will become apparent, it's 11 days late.
Cratejoy subscriptions I'd been meaning to get a Tea Runners subscription (which a friend had recommended) but just never got around to it. Lockdown life pushed me to try it & it's just the best. I'll keep it going -- and continue to order from their shop occasionally --- long after the pandemic is over. Also, Succulents Box monthly subscription box, one plant per month. Great plants, great company, great support. Finally successful growing non-cactus succulents! I order pots and soil for succulents from Amazon. Browsing pretty pots and succulents has (mostly) replaced doomscrolling.
Playing more games One truly beautiful video game (Creative mode) and lots of board games. Prior to this it was periodic 5-6 player board games with extended family. Now it's board games that play well with 1-2 players (many 4 player board games play just as well with 2 people). I've gotten a lot of digital board games on Steam which I can play against AI or with friends. Board game subscription (not monthly) from Unboxboardom (which, like Tea Runners and Succulents Box, is also available via Cratejoy).
Good hair At the beginning of lockdown I ordered an assortment of really good hair care products, which was meant to be a 1-time pampering thing, but I love them so much and my hair is so soft, shiny, and healthy that I think I'll continue with them, especially since 10 mths later I'm just now getting low on one bottle and have plenty of the others still. It turned out to be a better deal than I'd thought! Also, because I was already adept at cutting and coloring my hair before lockdown I haven't had wild crazy person hair.
Video calls This has become a shared fun thing with friends and family. I could've been doing this before now, but it just didn't occur to me. Video seemed an unnecessary addition to communication. Like a lot of folks I'd laughed at the idea that it'd ever catch on because people wouldn't want to be seen with bad hair, pajamas, stained tees, sweatpants, or covered in dirt from the garden. But not only has lockdown lowered those inhibitions, but video calls are usually scheduled so if you aren't presentable and want to be, you can clean up before chat time.
Whimsical tea set I finally got some Calamityware for my birthday because I figured that if ever there was a time for the "Things Could Be Worse" tea set, 2020 was the year! I love it so much I'm gradually getting some other "Things Could Be Worse" china in the hope that some day the pandemic will be over and I can have friends over to celebrate.
And speaking of hearth and home...unrelated to the pandemic, we paid off the house this year. In these uncertain and tragic times I'm especially grateful and relieved that we will always have a home. I'm very keenly aware that others aren't so fortunate. The pandemic has destroyed the lives and security of so many people, in addition to the illness itself and the staggering numbers of deaths.
It's Personal I coped better at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown before friends and family died. The burden of grief is a heavy one and the weight just got heavier as the year progressed. As if COVID deaths weren't enough, on Dec 30th my eldest dog --- that's right, my muse-dog --- was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. The vet said he might have two years, max. Which is just one more thing to be depressed about, with more grief on the horizon. Even before that news I was also, like most people, depressed. This is a new thing for me. I know people who live with depression, and I have even greater respect for their ability to cope and function because I'm just slammed and it's both bewildering and crushing.
It's not exactly lockdown that's depressing me: I'm an only child, an overly imaginative and creative, only child, so I've always been able to entertain myself, by myself, at home. I've done a decent job of coming up with ways to do normal fun stuff under lockdown. For Free Comic Book Day (albeit on a different date) my husband and I downloaded some free single issues of comics from Google Play and read them together and discussed them as we always do for FCBD, then bought the digital collections of series we liked, and read them. Same thing as always, only digital. Because the Houston Shakespeare Festival was cancelled, we had our own movie Shakespeare Festival, complete with the picnic quilt on the floor in the living room with picnic food and dogs! I chose movies which were available on various streaming platforms so friends could watch some of the same movies on our Shakespeare weekend. I miss raiding nurseries for plants, so I got a succulent-per-month subscription from Succulents Box and consequently met a bunch of succulents enthusiasts online. I expanded my previously meagre selection of physical board games, with emphasis on games that husband and I like, and which play well with two. Group gaming is online instead of in person. We're about to begin a Gloomhaven campaign with some friends on Steam.
Reading this post, you're probably thinking that I'm having a blast during the 10 month (and counting) lockdown because, like all online posts of oneself, this list is focused and curated for "good" and "fun". Some days I'm too depressed to play games, knit, read, write, or garden. If it weren't for my husband I wouldn't eat at least half the time. Instead of bounding out of bed like a jackrabbit (because I really am a morning person) I lie in bed for one to two hours after waking up trying to talk myself into getting up. If it weren't for the need to take medications for various things (though not for depression because it's new and I don't have a doctor for it) I probably would be spending most days in bed. I'm not so bad off that I go back to bed, though shower, clothes, and the minimal food necessary for medication are often all I can manage aside from screen scrolling and wandering around the Euclid galaxy.
I've given a lot of thought to why I'm depressed if it isn't actually lockdown that I'm having a hard time coping with. Lockdown is inconvenient and it's narrowed my life in many ways, but it's okay. What's depressing me is the pandemic and people's reaction to it. I'm depressed because people are dying, some of them have been people I know, so there's grief, too, and the weight of all those deaths --- which are not just Very Big Numbers, but who were real live human beings with family and friends, lives and potential. Also depressing me are all the people --- most especially including my friends --- who still aren't taking the pandemic seriously enough to take even basic precautions. They're going on with their normal lives, posting pics on social media of socializing with a wide assortment of people, indoors, in public places, without masks. Some of them hypocritically give lip service to pandemic precautions with their Facebook posts, as if advocating it is the limit of their civic responsibility. The pandemic is spreading like wildfire, hospitals are overwhelmed, and they're desperately? blithely? ignoring it, except to whinge about the restrictions and limitations. People are dying by the thousands every day --- and that's not counting those whose health will be permanently compromised by the damage of COVID if they survive --- and it's because of people who won't follow the guidelines.
I have medical appointments regularly and often, and only now, ten months after lockdown began, have I finally not had to share a waiting room with one or more people who were not wearing masks, even though all medical practices require people to wear masks. They put them on to check in, then take them off. And nobody calls them on it, even though they are potentially endangering the lives of everyone around them. A couple of years ago, everyone from children on up knew about germs and how disease spread. They knew about asymptomatic carriers like Typhoid Mary. Then a deadly disease began killing people all over the world and suddenly people "forgot" everything they've known all their life about contagious disease. The spread of the disease could've been controlled and thousands of people could be alive and well today (including friends and neighbors of mine) if people didn't throw a hissy fit and used common sense as well. I'm depressed because human beings have failed so spectacularly and willfully. It's one thing to try and fail (and people who do everything right, still do sometimes get the disease), but it's quite something else to deliberately fail, especially when your failure as a human being means that people die. This was humanity's --- and America's --- big moment and collectively we did not rise to the occasion. Greatness in the face of onrushing devastation was just too inconvenient and the alternative, condemning thousands of people a day to an agonizing death, was really the easy alternative. (At least until the pandemic deniers themselves are gasping out their last breath.)
It's not lockdown that's depressing me: it's watching the world die. I can cope with lockdown, but the massive wave of death and grief that crashes down on me every day is much harder to deal with. I'm trying to keep my head above water here, but the various good things I enumerated for 2020 aren't much more than just coming up for air periodically. It helps. Sometimes. But the vaccine is the real light at the end of the tunnel. I'll get it as soon as I can, but right now supplies are still too scarce, appointments impossible to get. I'm doing my absolute best to stay alive until I can get vaccinated. You should, too. Humankind needs you to follow all the protocols, all the time. As the number of deaths break records every day, now more than ever your family and community need you to be diligent about following the CDC's recommendations to stop the spread of the disease. Otherwise the vaccine distribution will come too late for some people, maybe people you know. And...
If you have ever wanted to save the world, now is your chance: get vaccinated.