Surviving and Thriving in My Pandemic Year
By Merrill Lynn Hansen
Congratulations to The Insider on its one-year anniversary, and thank you, Andrea Sachs, for helping me find a way to channel my more-than-occasional outrage during this past year. (I’m thinking of you, Donald.)
When I wrote my first essay last March, I was recovering from COVID-19, and was grateful that I was one of the lucky ones who didn't need to be hospitalized. It didn't take long, though, before I realized that the virus was going to affect the lives of everyone in our country, especially those who weren't as fortunate as I was, and those of us who took it seriously, and wanted to protect ourselves and others from getting sick.
At last, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel with the three new vaccines. Hopefully, they will protect those of us who want to be protected not only from the virus, but also from the idiots who think it is their constitutional right to make the rest of us sick. Unfortunately, too many of them live in Michigan; just ask Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
On February 26, I was fortunate enough to get my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine. While I know I'm not invincible, I'm feeling pretty damn good (no thanks to the former President and Chief Covid-Denier, who lost a fair and democratic election to President Joe Biden. Yay!)
I definitely know what I'm looking forward to in the post pandemic world, aside from spending time with and hugging my family and friends. I also know what I'm not looking forward to.
I'm eagerly looking forward to new "visual details.” I am addicted to details. I need to take in every bit of minutia in my surroundings. I'm the person who can look at a photo taken 30 years earlier, and remember whose kitchen everyone was in. It’s because I recall whose kitchen window was kitty-corner to their refrigerator, and I remember the pot on their stove.
During the past year, I've only stayed at home, or helped take care of my mother at her house, or gone to my office when the building reopened after being closed for months. There are very few people in these places, and no new interesting details to notice and store in my brain for future reference.
In fact, I was excited to go to Walgreens for both injections, because I hadn't been in a store in the past year. Unfortunately, I was sitting in an area where the most interesting thing to see was the shelf with various pill containers people buy to set up their medications for the week. But I'll store that image somewhere in my brain, because I have a feeling history is being made at that Walgreens each time someone gets vaccinated there.
I'm also hopeful that as the fear of COVID-19 lessens, I will stop having to release my frustration by deliberately watching movies that upset me, and cause me to scream at the fictional characters, as if they've personally offended me. I've screamed at Robert Redford's character in The Way We Were at least twice a week for the last year because I'm certain that if the movie were made today, he'd leave Barbra Streisand because he's embarrassed that she's a strong Jewish woman who passes out masks and calls people morons if they say COVID -19 is a hoax.
But, while I'm thrilled that there might be a future without the threat of COVID-19, there are a few things I don't want to change. After appearing maskless while attending at least 75 Zoom events, and seeing myself on screen, I am convinced I look better wearing a mask, and still plan on wearing one. Forever.
Merrill Lynn Hansen is a legal assistant, living in West Bloomfield, Michigan. She describes herself as a frustrated writer, who wishes she could be Nora Ephron (when she was alive), if only for a day. She is a news-, political- and FB-junkie, a combination that requires a constant reminder that she needs to take deep cleansing breaths when responding to people who don't agree with her.