Interesting Times


A curse, falsely attributed to a Chinese imprecation, goes like this: “May you live in interesting times.” After the last two years, I feel I understand why this is a curse. I don’t recommend living through interesting times.

Just now, I was scanning the online edition of The Irish Times, a paper I had never read before. I was curious about a story they had about the bungalows built all over Ireland in the 1970s, as I’m reading a book that mentioned the phenomenon. A headline grabbed my attention. Apparently, COVID hospitalizations are up in Ireland. I immediately checked the Boston COVID wastewater website to see if we had a spike in MA, and apparently, we don’t. Yet. It’s that “yet.” I’m so tired of the pandemic at this stage. I want it to end. I am tired of wearing masks, but I’m afraid not to. I’m appalled by the people who refused, even at the height of the pandemic. This attitude showed up even in my own family, and I am now permanently estranged from the person who exhibited it.

That’s another issue with this pandemic. What it’s doing to our relationships as people’s true lack of empathy and caring is revealed in all its ugliness. I noticed it in the run-up to the former President’s election. I couldn’t believe he won, and frankly, he didn’t really. We just have this antiquated system known as the Electoral College that has stolen elections from Democratic candidates who won the popular vote. Meanwhile, gerrymandering and voting restrictions have consequences. Across the country, there is a movement to silence and marginalize teachers. We will have a crisis in education as we cannot fill empty teaching positions. I have never been this worried about public education in this country. Who knows how things might have turned out if not for the continued existence of the Electoral College? Would as many people have died? I always thought voting mattered, but the last seven years have taught me exactly how much.

My first reaction to thinking of another COVID surge was despair. Realistically, I understand that pandemics must have a shelf-life. It’s not in a virus’s interest to kill the hosts. It’s much better for a virus’s longevity to create a mild illness that is easy to pass along. I know that the worst pandemics and epidemics in history eventually reached some sort of endemic equilibrium. I just want this whole thing to be over. I wanted to travel. I still want to travel. I am trying to hold out hope that things will improve, but it is harder and harder to stay optimistic.