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31 December 2021

Muddling through the Middle-y Mush

Gosh, this has gotten tough.

At least I can rely on starting with a generic statement on just how tough I find this.  Why do I do this again?

This time last year, I wrote of ending 2020 "in the middle" of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a year that went by like mush.  Well, if 2020 was mush, gosh, what even was 2021?  Just as vaccinations rapidly ramped up, plateaued, and even started ramping down… suddenly variants! First Delta and now Omicron; or, I guess, δ and ο.  Good thing I learned the Greek alphabet back in undergrad.


There's definitely been a sense of collective burnout in the air lately.  Maybe my persistence here on this blog is a way to rail against that instinct at this particular moment.

But gosh, this has gotten TOUGH.

Why are we so inept at testing infrastructure compared to other nations?  Sure, the specifics of these variants can't have been predicted but, like, it's not as though we didn't know enough to know that something was likely and that maybe we should prepare for it this time.

On some level, every time the situation changes course, there's an element of "we've done this before, so we can do it again"; but on another, there's "oh no, not again", coupled with the knowledge that different situations are, in fact, different — who knew!? — and so tend to require rethinking and reinvention anew.

And absolutely nothing is ever "done" or "finalized" or "settled" anymore.  Not that that was ever strictly true, but it at least used to be true enough to count on to a reasonable degree of approximation.

So there's definitely a Sisyphean empathy going on right now.  Or something similarly discomfiting like that.  I'm too tired to think of anything better.

The flip side of different situations being different, of course, means that 2021 has allowed us to get some good things in, though.  After a year off, we managed to hold Music Camp in July with surprisingly few material modifications, getting it in just before Delta came onto the scene.  As emergency use authorization for vaccinations had only just been approved down to the age of 12, all sorts of considerations and adaptations were considered, and many adopted, allowing us to provide a meaningful experience while cases were near their summer minimums.  Had camp come a few weeks later, or the variant a few weeks earlier, the situation could have been wildly different — if it would have been able to happen at all.

Just one more way in which everything's been a little harder at every turn.

For all the stresses, work saw a successful semester with predominantly in-person instruction.  We're at the point where I, for one, am certainly trying to regain composure from the sort of emergency footing we've found ourselves on for the last nearly-two years, and get back into dealing with a lot of deferred backburner stuff that, in the interim, has grown a bit bigger.  Such is the nature of emergencies, of course.  The endeavor has thusfar seen mixed results: Such is the nature of ongoing emergencies, I guess.  Here's just hoping, however the coming term goes, we're familiar enough with our responses that we can continue to adopt "adapting" into our vernacular, albeit hopefully requiring a bit less of an all-encompassing effort each time.

Other vague personal developments continue.  Again, it's been tough to find the time, the energy, the motivation.  While I'd hoped this would be a significant year in that realm, many of those things got backburnered for a bit, too.  As we close out the year, I am finding support and at least starting to make progress on some.  More in the coming weeks, and further in the weeks after that, I'm sure.  2021 bleeds into 2022: My tasks and goals really fundamentally remain the same.  When will they be "done" enough to share?  Soon enough, I hope.  Finding words is half the battle.  Maybe I should blog more.  (Ha!)

Most years have some unique quality to them, even if it's a bit fleeting and hard to pin down.  But yeah, this time, I'm really struggling to distinguish 2021 from 2020.  Perhaps as I make my way through 2022, that will become a bit more clear.

Random tangent: David's a bit upset that Carson Daly's out of the New Year's scene at NBC, and they've gone with Pete Davidson and Miley Cyrus, it seems.  We'll probably check out a bit, but may stay with Seacrest.  Also, I heard thunder at 23:38 — not often that happens on New Year's Eve.  


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14 May 2021

The Agitation After

Do sixteen-year-old blogs care about cake for their birthday?

I don't know, but mine does, I guess.  And if not, I do.  Besides, looking out at the world today, it's a time for celebration.  Well, kinda.  It definitely feels like it ought to be, but it also definitely feels like it ought not to be.  Feelings are weird, man.

Vaccination against Covid-19 accelerated so much just over the course of April that late March and early May really have seemed like they were two different worlds.  It's hard to understate just how hopelessly things felt to be plodding along, and then — BAM! — suddenly, there's a lot of hope in this new reality.  So much, so fast that it's difficult to suspend disbelief.  I suppose psychological trauma, in whatever form, will tend to do that.

Each of the last 6 weeks or so has brought rapid change: Just in the last three days, emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccine was extended to children as young as 12, and CDC recommendations were updated to reflect that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks in most situations.

Of course, broader society remains complicated.  Knowing for sure you're actually in one of those safe situations is impossible, and while it becomes more likely over time, it's nowhere near a guarantee now.  We know that folks need time to adapt well.  Just as March and April 2020 were a sudden shock to the system as we came into this pandemic, it seems that May and likely June 2021 are shaping up to be similar as we come out of it.  So, while the light at the end of the tunnel is ever clearer, true celebration does still seem a bit premature.  For now, anyway.

But I did my part and got my (Pfizer) jabs on 12 April and 03 May.  The first one, I think, was not administered particularly well and my left arm even still has a little stiffness around the injection site today after having been quite sore for the first 10 days, but the second one (in the other arm!) was quick and comparatively painless.  After having helped run two elections in 2020 under pandemic conditions, I am incredibly thankful that I will be just past the 14-day post-vaccination threshold considered "full immunity" before the upcoming municipal primary election on 18 May.

There will be more public excursions to come, of course.  At the present moment, all have me anxious, albeit to varying degrees.  But all in due time.

In the meantime, while we work our way up to getting ready to gather again, have some bloggy cake.  It's just as shocking that this blog is that old.

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01 January 2021


So, like, this is a novel combination of New Year's Day feelings.

For one, as I mentioned yesterday, it genuinely still feels like March 2020.  Given, though, that vaccine distribution, while it will (hopefully) ramp up in due course, will undoubtedly be continuing well into the second and third quarters of the coming year, I suspect the pall of March 2020 won't really feel truly lifted until April 2022 when (again, hopefully) we'll be able to do real "April" things again.  Insofar as anyone can really make "plans" these days: What are those?  (Every past year's me simultaneously shudders at the thought.)

On the other hand, New Year's Day is, fundamentally, just the day after the last, like any other.  Nothing terribly earth-shattering has happened.  Twenty-twenty-one is a continuation of twenty-twenty in so many more senses than usual.  Twenty-twenty, part two.  There's a temptation to affix a roman numeral and call it "2020-II", but that would be too easily confused with the proper name for the following year, when (hoooppefulllllyyyy) far much more of this can be aptly described as "behind us".  In the meantime, perhaps more resonant, if a bit defeatist: twenty-twenty came for us, and twenty-twenty won.

Of course, for most of us, it didn't actually.  We've adapted, as humans have done through the ages.  It's still important to make plans and to set goals.  The key has been to remain supremely flexible in throwing out plans and goals — often repeatedly — and picking something else that ends up suiting the present moment better.  As you can inevitably understand, this is undeniably easier said than done.

And so, a lot of us have been continually deferring things, which has meant that a lot of us have been talking about 2021 as this bright, rosy thing for quite a while now.  And I think it's pretty clear it will have a lot of rosiness throughout, even if the exact timing and nature of those positives isn't yet known.

But let's not be naïve: We're pretty far down in the depths right now.  It will take time to work our way out of that, both individually and collectively, and there will be setbacks along the way.  Remember in March when there seemed to be this conviction that we'd be through this in just two months?  Postponing events just to ultimately have to postpone them again?  That's not likely over.  And that sucks.  It's real rough in both a logistical sense and an emotional sense.

Yet all this clearing of space can still — somehow — offer opportunity.  For my part, in a year when most normal journeys have been curtailed, I've spent the last five months or so embarking on the latest of my series of journeys of self-discovery.  Some of those have been bigger ones, some smaller.  Some I've shared (albeit not here; I'm a terrible blogger) and others I haven't.  I get the sense that this one is on the more significant side of the scale, which has been daunting at times.  But I also feel much better equipped for this trek and I definitely know that I'm far from alone.  So that has been helping a lot.

So when it comes to my goals this year, I honestly — and uncharacteristically — haven't got a clue about the "how" that's ahead of me.  Nevertheless, the usually-nebulous hope and confidence that I have actually feels more concrete and tangible than ever.  In other words, I think I've got some good leads, guys; and ones that I can probably make real progress on despite the current state of the world.  It's quite appropriate, then — though not at all unique — that the name "twenty-twenty" is carried forward as part of twenty-twenty-one, and on through the rest of the decade that lies beyond.

Not to distill it too far, but this year's gonna be less of a datebook and more of a checklist.  "Whenever" is fine.  It is Absolutely Fine.

And while no grand checklist is ever complete, hopefully — can you hear the strain in my voice? — enough boxes will be filled that 2021 will be full of fond and rosy memories.



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