Featured Entries

Each week during PJP’s first phase, we posted a few journal entries that participants gave us permission to share anonymously.
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  • To learn more about the Pandemic Journaling Project, visit our Main Site.
How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

Last night some friends and I went to a film presentation at the planetarium

I was planning to wear while in the theater space, more out of courtesy to the others in the audience, who were mostly seniors

As we got out of the car and headed toward the building, I started to rummage around in my bag but I couldn't find any, not even any spares

For the past two years I've kept at least one or two extras in my day pack, and usually had a few regular face masks in rotation, depending on where I'd be going and what level of protection I needed to display

I guess I'd taken them all out for washing or had discarded them after use. I mentally shrugged my shoulders and went inside

Face masks weren't required in the theater; about 10% of the audience was wearing them

The theater was sold out and it did feel odd to be in an enclosed room, without a face mask, breathing the air with 150 strangers

It's going to take some time to feel like I'm not taking a huge risk while around crowds, indoors, without a face mask

What would you say has changed most about the world since the pandemic began?

I don't exactly know how to put my finger on it, but I feel like there is now more of a disconnection between people, an erosion of community, and more individuals who only seem to be looking out only for themselves. That general idea seems to be applicable in almost any area of troubles: worsening climate change; increased numbers of people who are struggling with mental health issues; increased violence, particularly with the number of homicides and increased number of mass shootings across the U.S. I fee like that main theme runs through the problems we're struggling with in our country and around the globe.

Talk about your experience keeping this journal. Has it had any impact on your health (including mental health) and well-being?

- I started this journal in fall of 2020. I thought the pandemic was coming to an end.

... it's been really good for me to do this

... for the future it's going to be really interesting to listen back and get a glimpse of what this experience was like for people

... There may be people out there that listen to this some day and say wow, I didn't realize how hard it was for people to live through that -- not just the pandemic, but everything else that's happening politically, socially, environmentally at the same time

... This is a very critical moment in time, and where we pivot from here will be interesting to see.

Has the pandemic affected your relationship with pets or other animals you take care of?

Covid shrunk my world. Without my dogs, I would’ve been desolate. I spend more time at home on my own than I did before the pandemic. The dogs keep me company, following me from room to room to beg for treats while I cook or sleep at my feet while I read. They get me out of the house and on the sidewalks where I regularly chat with neighbors also walking their dogs.

Would you describe yourself as someone who's healthy at this point? Why or why not? If this has changed during the pandemic, talk about what's changed.

Gardening has helped to keep me sane. I survived quarantine by seeing change in a sweet potato vine that sprouted, despite 3 months of sameness. I remember Hugh Downs on a tv show” Over Easy” asking elderly why they were growing bonsais when bonsai take decades & even century to grow. “ It gives us hope”, was the answer.

Gardening is an act of faith and hope. It can sustain you physically and spiritually-and keeps you out of stores if it is successful.

This is my current project. I purchased this Garden Tower as a Christmas gift for myself and have waited months for the weather to allow me to start plants by seed. I was looking at consolidating my garden and not thinking about composting in it when I purchased it. Now I’m excited to trim my vegetables and add to the compost so my worms have food to make compost tea, which gives my plants nutrients. This has been great so far . I’m eating more vegetables, growing future vegetables as well as herbs and flowers & enjoying watching things leaf out. I bought a 2nd tower and spent time setting it up and transplanting basil and poppies into it today. I planted some seeds, too.

Growing things is exciting. You get to see and be a part of change. In addition to hope it gives agency and is fun.

I can’t wait to make Caprese salad with my own basil and tomatoes. I hope to stay curious and try to make my own ricotta and mozzarella. There is always something new to try.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

Today my mind was more worried about Texas than COVID.

Earlier this week I was more worried about Monkey Pox than COVID.

Last week I was more worried about the potential abortion ban in the US than COVID.

A month and a bit ago I was more worried about Ukraine and Russia than COVID.

I guess COVID is something that we just live with now.

I went to shul this past shabbat and didn't wear a mask for the first time. I also went to the shopping centre and didn't wear one either. I felt like I should, but I didn't want to - so I didn't.

I hope that it is not careless or reckless.

My parents were able to make it to London to meet their new granddaughter. So far they are ok. They seem to have aged quite a bit since I last saw them in October. I hope and pray that COVID doesn't get them -- especially as they both have other health issues. I know that my mom is still on the 'front lines' as she teaches in a school and no one wears a mask anymore.

So maybe this is how it is in the 'after'? Or perhaps we are just 'done' with COVID, trying to go 'back' (not that i really think we can), and just hoping another wave comes. Or perhaps we are used to COVID and now there are all these other 'worse' things happening, so that is our new focus.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

I saw this sign yesterday. To me, this faded sign represents the perfect image for how most people feel about the pandemic: fading from everyone’s collective minds, part of the past and something that’s been forgotten to take down. However, the sad truth is that’s it’s still very much with us and will be for a long time. We’ve just collectively decided that we don’t care. Just yesterday I learned that my sister’s law firm partner has long COVID and she is barely able to work. People dismiss COVID as mild but the reality is that we will see a lot of unnecessary suffering, be it long COVID or deaths, because of our collective choices and our refusal to implement long term measures (like ventilation, etc). Some days I’m just so discouraged at the state of the world. It feels like we can’t do anything right. The feeling is obviously exacerbated by all the other events happening around the world (Ukraine, school shootings, climate change, etc.). It’s depressing to see that we are incapable to do anything long term if it’s too inconvenient. Even medium term is unbearable to us as a society. We are so privileged and allergic to change, we’d rather be in a bad status quo than do anything about it.

Talk about whatever else is on your mind today.

Brain fog and increased depression and anxiety are really affecting my ability to work as an accountant. Trouble breathing has affected me when I walk a lot, use stairs, and sing. It is so frustrating because I had Covid back in January and it was mild. I didn’t realize at first that it was long Covid but I think it is. I’m doing everything possible for my mental health and fatigue but nothing seems to have a significant impact. It’s frustrating to know I should be able to do a difficult, complex project but right now I struggle to access that part of my brain. I’m just so exhausted all of the time.

Talk about what brings you happiness these days.

These days being able to spend time with friends and family outside the house makes me extremely happy. For about a year and a half I spent my life inside my house, not being able to see friends or family in person. I spent my senior year of high school locked in the house completing assignments. I graduated via a YouTube video and not being able to see the people I love made me depressed. So know I appreciate the moments I get to have with my loved ones.

Additional Material

Love this mural I saw in Somerville, MA. Not sure exactly when it was painted, but this image, and the power and energy it conveys, are something beautiful to have come out these pandemic times, right?

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

Clearly we bought too many clorox wipes in March 2020. There are still three containers left in my garage. There was so much unknown in those days, we wiped down everything that came in our house because we were afraid of surface transmission.

I’m still anxious but now it’s about a whole different set of unknowns. It seems like many people we know are getting Covid, and I keep hearing similar stories. Someone comes down with symptoms and tests negative on a rapid test for a couple of days before a test shows up positive. I’ve also heard several people say, “It’s just a cold. I took a test yesterday” with no awareness that the test is just a moment in time, with no idea they could be walking around with active and contagious Covid. With a couple of friends I’ve suggested a second test, even dropped off an extra test for one friend. In another case, a friend’s child is planning to fly home tomorrow even though he has Covid and he hasn’t waited 10 days as recommended by the CDC. Society’s Covid choose-your-own-adventure seems almost as silly as wiping down all the groceries. So many people just don’t care, and it makes the world a scarier place for those of us who do.

Do you feel more healthy than you did at this time a year ago? Less healthy? About the same?

My mental health has definitely suffered due to Covid. Time, however seems more fluid, I don't remember what I was doing or how I felt on this day last year. I just remember pre-Covid and post -Covid (or at least post-Covid restrictions). I feel like everything that involves being around strangers, especially indoors, is just too hard.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

My father in law might have Covid. If not Covid then a nasty cold. He has a bad cough and is worn out. Hopefully he will get his PCR result this morning and they’ll put him on paxlovid right away if he is positive. My mother in law had a mild but still nasty case of Covid earlier this spring and he avoided getting it then. I hope this is just a nasty cold—I am worried about his lack of concern for taking better care of his health catching up with him otherwise. Feeling oddly calm despite there worry. I guess a combination of knowing there are drug therapies available now and the acceptance that there’s nothing I can do but cross my fingers.

Talk about about something that has changed in your life in the last few months.

Not much has changed except that people are getting back to normal life. Mask mandate has ended here. More people are going out and having gatherings including weddings, funerals, parties and other celebrations. The overall fear of COVId has decreased. Travel has increased.

One difference is that we are finally testing all of our patients for COVId on admission. But not their partners. And not the staff. So we still have to wear masks at work.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

I’m a senior and have always been cautious about where I go alone. But when Covid started in 2020 I had to learn to stay home alone, and only go out when absolutely necessary. Wave after wave of thinking Covid was going away, now there were vaccines, people could safely meet outside. But then the next Covid variant that was more dangerous than before and back to staying home alone again.

After two years I’ve become agoraphobic, not going out even for everyday familiar things. I’ve worked with a professional to try to be brave and go outside for only 5 minutes, but I’ve hardly managed to do that regularly. I’ve been fortunate and haven’t caught Covid at all.I look outside from my balcony and see others walking their dog, meeting friends outside. I want to go outside to enjoy beautiful weather but it’s so hard to do. I’m very frustrated and worried.

Has the pandemic affected your relationship with pets or other animals you take care of?

I worked from home for a year and a half, from March 2020 to July 2021

I spent a lot more time with the chickens and the cat

It may have made me a better pet owner because I felt more attuned to their needs

This spring my friend gave me 6 new pullets to add to my existing flock of 4 hens

I've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of watching them grow and interact

Definitely pets helped me get through the pandemic

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

We were able to watch an all female airshow safely outside, with lots of people flanking us but socially distanced. It was nice to attend a big event even if it was at a distance!

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

My son got married last weekend - a momentous event in his life and ours. On the Save the Date card sent out several months ago, they requested that people attending be vaccinated. As far as I know, only one person declined - his cousin. The threat of Covid was definitely in the air, but in most ways the wedding proceeded as weddings pre-Covid had.

There was some worry that it could be a “super spreader” event, but fortunately it wasn’t. 2 people tested positive the day after the wedding, but no one else did.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but in many ways the wedding wasn’t like pre-Covid weddings. For me, there was the awareness that we could all make each other sick. I have never worried about that before Covid. If someone was getting a cold or flu, others might get it, but probably be would be okay. Now there feels like more responsibility in gathering together and protecting others, especially the elderly and other higher risk people.

In spite of this, it was a magical day !

What would you say has changed most about the world since the pandemic began?

So much has changed! Many people are no longer here. It feels like an awareness about how easily diseases can be spread is definitely present. In the US, and perhaps elsewhere, the country feels so divided on many issues, and Covid definitely contributed to that. There are shortages of gas, and some very unusual things that I have run into - pasta, certain brands of pet food, etc. The pandemic laid bare the differences that people experience in their lives based on race, geography, income, education, etc. Also, our interdependence upon each other at a global and an interpersonal level has really struck me.

On a personal note, I had to have an MRI done after injured my hand during a fall. I was struck by how long it took to schedule the MRI and then the wait to actually get the MRI. When I was at the MRI facility, I was struck by how short staffed they were. I wonder if the medical community, as well as many other types of jobs, will recover after all of this.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

Ten days after the slaughter targeting Black people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York came the slaughter of schoolchildren and their teachers in Uvalde, Texas. The Onion, a satirical news publisher, has a particular scathing joke they bring out for these occasions, a headline that reads "'No Way To Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens."

I haven't thought much about the pandemic this past week, I've just continued staying home as much as possible, and masking when I must go out.

Thank you again for this project. Be safe out there.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

I can’t think about Covid. I can only think about the school shooting in Texas. My little inconveniences mean nothing in comparison.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

My husband had COVID a couple of weeks ago, and even when he was feeling well enough to eat downstairs, he isolated at the far end of the dining room table. It felt like the King's Court, and although we found comedy in it, it grew old after a while.

As much as i want all of this to be over, it just isn't. Today my car repair shop cancelled my appointment and has closed indefinitely, due to COVID cases among the staff. Is this just how it's going to be from now on?

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

My grandson who lives on the west coast graduates from high school tomorrow. I will not be attending the ceremony which I had so looked forward to. Travel to the west coast by any means is a sure fire way for me to become infected with the newest variant of Covid. As a 75 year old with chronic health issues I must be extra vigilant but I am devastated to miss this important event in my grandson’s life.

He will be one of two class valedictorians and will receive an award which will be presented to him this evening in an awards ceremony. My heart and soul will be there but my body will remain on the east coast defeated by age, health and the fear that comes with the coronavirus. I am only one of a multitude of grandparents who will miss important events like this and it saddens me that so many of us are affected by complex consequences.

To my own grandson and all grandchildren who graduate from high school this year, I say aim high, be brave, have strength, follow your dreams and help to make our world a better place. God bless you all.

Covid not only restricts travel…long held expectations which I and others had, never comes to fruition.

We learn to live with Disappointment and vanquished dreams because they are the constant in our lives during the time of Corona. May God bless us all.

Would you describe yourself as someone who’s flourishing at this point in your life? Why or why not? If this has changed during the pandemic, talk about what’s changed.

I would describe myself as someone who is flourishing at this point in my life. There are many factors: a stable and supportive family, kids who are doing well, a stable job with reliable income, a good social network. I also realize that I am very fortunate and that some or many of these factors are lacking for large parts of the population and that there is lot of suffering.

This picture is a family portrait with button faces my six-year-old son made it. If I think of flourishing, this is what I think of.

Talk about how the events of recent months have affected your financial situation.

I'm tired of being broke and not being able to pay my bills and jumping from job to job. Working from home has become more of an inconvenience in my life than not having a job. I hate all of it