Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Social Distancing Life Lately: Eleven Months

via Unsplash

Is everyone else here in the US - or in any other country that has failed to get COVID remotely under control - also at an emotional low point recently about the pandemic? Because I'm definitely feeling quite poorly about everything, noticeably worse than at any other point since last March. (Though what I mean when I say this is mostly that it's all relative. Somehow, I generally managed to stay in surprisingly good spirits throughout most of 2020 and am only really starting to feel the emotional difficulties of social distancing now, almost a year in.) And I can also see something similar in most of my friends and even infer it about some of my work colleagues. 

I definitely don't mean to fuss too much because I've been so incredibly fortunate - there really isn't any actual reason anyone should worry about me, I'm healthy, employed, and remain able to fully work from home - but darn, I really wish I could safely see my mom, my sister, or my friends in person. I even really wish to be able to safely go back to the office and go to court or do in-person depositions! 

Essentially, I'm really feeling this viral tweet about being "pandemic fine," and I'm sure I'm far from the only one:

Indoor dining will apparently reopen in NYC on February 12. I'm not sure that's a good idea, given current COVID numbers here. Regardless, K and I will absolutely not be partaking in any restaurant dining - whether indoors or outdoors - until the vaccine is readily available to younger, non-essential worker adults with no high-risk health conditions like us, and until we've been fully vaccinated. Recently, I do not have much faith in New York's state leadership, both as to vaccine distribution and as to COVID-related restrictions. Last I heard, we should not expect the COVID vaccine to become available to the general public - including K and I - until May or June. 

Because K's parents and my mom are all just under 65, do not work in front-line essential jobs, and do not have the types of preexisting conditions that would place them in a higher-priority category, they are also not yet eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. It's nerve-wracking to wait for the vaccine to become available to them, especially because my mom isn't able to work from home. At least she works in a very small office with no direct contact with customers or members of the general public. (But they still had a COVID exposure scare from one of her colleagues a few weeks ago, though thankfully everyone else - including my mom - has since tested negative.)  

Beginning in December, as COVID case numbers started spiking throughout the US, K and I started "double masking" whenever we leave our apartment, even if we're just going to the lobby to pick up packages from the doorman. At first, we wore basic surgical masks under our fabric Happy Masks (a brand we've been using since September). More recently, we switched to wearing KN95s under our Happy Masks, and I found that combination significantly more comfortable. Like the Happy Masks, KN95s have a more 3D cone shape, so only the edges of the mask sit on your face and the material isn't directly in contact with your mouth and nostrils. The Happy Mask shape fits nicely over the KN95 without squishing it noticeably or otherwise interfering with how securely the KN95 fits.  

We bought Powecom KN95s from Office Depot after I noticed Amanda Mull from The Atlantic had commented approvingly about them on Twitter. Stacey De-Lin - one of the doctors I follow on Instagram for COVID-related information - has recommended N95 Mask Co as a reliable source for KN95s and N95s, though N95s in particular are quite expensive. 

I'm truly hitting the wall when it comes to the ability to focus on work recently. Needing to do everything remotely for safety reasons - or wanting to, not every attorney is so lucky, particularly in certain courts or other parts of the country - takes away many of the best parts of the job. Going to court or attending depositions in-person could be incredibly stressful, but was also exciting and educational in all its challenges, and the experience is not at all the same when things are done remotely over video conference. I'm eager to go back to in-person proceedings once the general public is able to get fully vaccinated.

On a personal level, this year of social distancing - with no real end in sight, given that K and I might not even be able to start trying to schedule our vaccine appointments until May or June - has really disrupted many things we would otherwise have wanted to do. Obviously, any plans to bring together any number of our friends and family for a wedding remain indefinitely on hold. (Neither of us are the personality type to start thinking about a date or do any other event-planning work before things are more settled with regards to vaccine accessibility in the US.) Before the COVID shutdowns hit, both K and I had been thinking about the next steps in our career - with some potential for relocating outside of NYC - and those plans are almost completely on pause as well. (In my case, one big factor is that my ideal next job probably can't be fully remote, I'd likely need to go in an office and work around other people significantly more often than I do now.) 

I really hate feeling "stuck" in place like this when it comes to our personal lives and long-term career plans. And then I feel sheepish about getting upset, feel like I'm being bratty and self-absorbed, because K and I really are so incredibly privileged to be able to stay home all this time and not suffer any COVID-driven income disruptions. We don't yet have children whose care, education, and mental health we need to worry about, or would need to juggle with our work. Our immediate and extended families have also been healthy and mostly able to stay safe, what more could we reasonably ask for? 

So that's my somewhat self-absorbed and dour update about how things are going for me as the US approaches the first full year of COVID-era life. I really wish things could be different, but unfortunately the pandemic is not remotely under control here. How are you and your loved ones doing? 

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