The trouble with normal…

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This particular prompt from Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop stopped me (as they often say) dead in my tracks….”Is anything back to normal yet?  Write about the state of your state.”

One of the first things that flew, yes flew, into my mind were the lyrics from a Bruce Cockburn song entitled “The Trouble with Normal”.  The words fit New York State like one of the millions of disposable gloves that have become daily wear for residents of The Empire State.

Strikes across the frontier and strikes for higher wage
Planet lurches to the right as ideologies engage
Suddenly it’s repression, moratorium on rights
What did they think the politics of panic would invite?
Person in the street shrugs — “Security comes first”
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Callous men in business costume speak computerese
Play pinball with the Third World trying to keep it on its knees
Their single crop starvation plans put sugar in your tea
And the local Third World’s kept on reservations you don’t see
“It’ll all go back to normal if we put our nation first”
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Fashionable fascism dominates the scene
When ends don’t meet it’s easier to justify the means
Tenants get the dregs and landlords get the cream
As the grinding devolution of the democratic dream
Brings us men in gas masks dancing while the shells burst
The trouble with normal is it always gets worse

What follows is my “normal”…

New York State is under the rule of a governor presently being investigated for his misguided pandemic dictates which were responsible for the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home patients.  Residents of our state struggle to survive, daily, as one step forward becomes several steps in reverse.  Businesses are closing at a painfully rapid pace while those who hang on, by a thread, keep hoping for relief.  Sadly, caught in this undercurrent are millions of people who remain out of work or, for now, work remotely with one eye over their shoulders, praying that their employment won’t come to a crashing halt.  We face one more year where graduating high school seniors will be robbed of all due pomp and circumstance, one more year where kids will sit in front of a computer screen at home, mandated to participate in remote instruction.  And one more year where families won’t be able to celebrate special occasions and friends will be unable to share support during times when everyone should be together.

The COVID vaccination process here is in full swing but the big problem is how erratically that swing is moving through the state.  Shipments of vaccine come and quickly disappear with no clear estimate of future availability.  Many counties in our state are putting forth exhaustive measures on behalf of state residents, demanding answers from the hierarchy in the state capital.  For many, it has become a “who you know” in the vaccine pipeline which might enable them to get the inoculations.  While people are living in fear of getting the virus, many others are beyond cautious regarding the insufficient data surrounding both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and have chosen to opt-out until the one-shot Johnson & Johnson preparation is released.  The big gray area with all the vaccines is effectiveness and long-term side effects.

I imagine that people living in New York are pretty much like those living elsewhere and coping with a Coronavirus-lifestyle for well over a year now.  Yes, there are plenty who aren’t taking the pandemic restrictions and guidelines seriously and, at this point, can any one of us point that proverbial finger?  People have moved from paranoia to exhaustion right into downright anger from having their very souls stolen from all that surrounds COVID-19.

Spare me, if you will, the patronizing “things will get better”, “everything will return to normal” and take a good, long, look around…and ahead. The road to pandemic recovery remains enveloped in a fog of virus uncertainty.

Just remember to keep those masks on.

 

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Routine reflections…

 

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Almost nine months ago, who would have thought that our daily way of life would become impacted by a “bug” calling itself COVID-19?  Here we are now, all these days and weeks later, having made our way through this pandemic with our mental health mostly intact.  Mostly, and, in itself, a bit of an achievement.

I’ve personally done my share of bitching and moaning over wearing a mask and being able to function without anxiety.  And, there are the little things, like spur-of-the-moment gatherings, being able to spend time with distant family and close friends, a summer without week-end barbecues and going into local markets without fear of the virus jumping out at me from a shopping cart or items on any given aisle in the joint.

Lock-downs recently began lifting and there was a cautious excitement as local towns and cities started to reopen.  People began feeling a sense of hope that life would return to some element of “normal”.  Sadly, a false sense of security as this damn virus has caught its second wind and infection numbers are rising once again.

Underneath it all, this pandemic has changed all of us.  We’ve learned, through bouts of quarantine, that some things worth keeping, like the opportunity to reflect on our lives and make changes.  And, maybe, there are things, pre-pandemic, that some of us don’t wish to resume.  Old habits and consuming lifestyles that this virus has forced us to modify or stop completely. 

The options, for many, don’t exist.  The loss of loved ones, of jobs that may never again be available.  So many stay at home now and wonder just what all their work productivity was for and if many of us wish to return to the proverbial rat-race.  Any given success came with a hefty price tag that affected both mental and physical well-being.

My routine has brought a lot less focus on consumerism.  Shopping just for basic needs has brought a new level of instant gratification.  I’ve learned that these new habits are keepers, even when this virus releases its choke hold on our world.

And, with the isolation that COVID-19 has mandated for so many, we’ve learned to tell people, family and friends, how we feel about them.  We’ve taken time to make sure we let those we care about know how we love and appreciate them, especially since we have more time to keep the lines of communication open.

We will all come out of this, and our new routines will focus on small acts of support and kindness, an appreciation for small businesses and, overall, concerted efforts in sharing more compassion and empathy.

 

workshop-button-1From Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop…Write about how your routine has changed since Covid.

 

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Where we go next…

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The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.     John Dalberg-Acton

Often, I will rise to some occasion on current events and opine away, not giving a rat’s ass if anyone agrees, disagrees, or even bothers to read my post.  It’s cathartic, sort of.   My website, my space, my right to spout-out my feelings on a given subject.  Don’t like it?  Just move along!

Obviously, if you’re reading this, you know where I’m headed.  The endless memes fly by on social media and my favorite one involves this past week feeling like an entire year.  In fact, it’s felt like so much more than that, even somewhat surreal, much like a Twilight Zone episode.  In fact, I doubt if even Rod Serling could have made up any of the 2020 Election drama.

Up until a few years ago, make that more like 11, I was a staunch Democrat and, for what I felt were valid reasons, I changed my party affiliation.  Sue me.  Things change and it’s important not to follow any political ideology just because you are categorized on some election board or your family has “always” followed that party.  For me it was that uncomfortable gut feeling resonating from candidates who left more unsaid than what they professed they would do, just to garner votes.  For me…a big red flag in any election, local or national.

But here we all are.  Opposing sides, glaring at each other with one side already guilty of demonstrating months of chaos in our country and now likely guilty of major election fraud.  Why?  Know what the saddest part of this drama is?  There is no clear winner and, frankly, there may not have been a clear candidate choice for either side of the voting public whose votes were orchestrated more by emotion, not by pragmatic decisions.  Now, the twisted dynamics of the management policies which will come into play for our country will undoubtedly bring four years of unrest and turmoil for millions of citizens.  Here, in a year we welcomed months ago with hopeful anticipation, we’ve ended up becoming hostages of a virus pandemic and political unrest.

It is, however, what it is.  I share the following from my Facebook page.  My thoughts, my feelings… will not waver.

The darkness in our days started with the turning back of clocks.  That will change in a few months.

Sadly, the darkness that will overtake our lives for the next four years, will not change.

I weep not for myself, as my time on earth is limited. I weep for the future of my children and my grandchildren.  I weep for the unborn.   I weep for the misguided, the uninformed and those so very blind and unable to see the devastation that a radical, even socialist, agenda will bring to our country.

Certainly, your right to choose was a choice you felt necessary, as was mine, despite who was the proverbial lesser…of two evils.

And so it goes.

 

workshop-button-1From Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop…Write about a time you felt like you were in the Twilight Zone.

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