Featured Entries

Each week, we post a few journal entries that participants have given us permission to share anonymously.

In your journal, you can write whatever you want, however you want. When we feature posts, we want to protect confidentiality. Here's our policy:

  • We won't post any photos that include faces (even with masks!) or names.
  • We won't post audio that includes names or more than one voice.
  • We might edit text entries slightly to remove proper names – but this won't change anything you've written in your journal.
How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

The pandemic has only given a larger platform to the right wing nuts and I can’t fathom Roe v. Wade being obliterated from our country. I’m disgusted with our country.

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

So we are in the fifth wave here in South Africa. But we are no longer being nearly so careful.

I still wear a mask in public indoor spaces, but we went to a dinner party the other day where we spent some time indoors, unmasked, with about 5 other people.

I have been helping my father with a lot of things and going into his house unmasked.

I don't know if this is the right thing to do.

It feels like a waste of time to be careful, as if the cost is not worth the effort. But honestly, I don't think my behaviour is because of a rational reason. It's more because of a kind of peer pressure, because most people around me are behaving like this.

What long term changes do you expect we'll see as a result of the pandemic?

I don't think we'll see any long-term changes. For one, we're too focused on getting back to "normal". We're already acting like the pandemic is over. The pandemic exacerbated so many existing crises, like housing, student loan debt, public health, food insecurity, employment, living wages, UBI, etc. What has changed? Nothing. There may be changes on the micro level, but any systemic change specifically because of the pandemic seems unlikely.

What will be the key sign(s) for you that the pandemic is over?

It's really hard to imagine a post-pandemic world. I think the key sign for me will be when I don't have to have the mental conversation with myself before I meet someone, wondering 'to hug or not to hug', especially if I haven't seen them in a while.

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

I went wedding dress shopping this weekend! It was fun but it was also weird because none of my friends or family could be there. My fiancée and her family were there to support me, and they were lovely, but I feel like the experience highlighted the way the pandemic influenced the start of our relationship, with me not being able to see my friends or family or home at all for almost two years. Definitely caused some rocky times, but I am glad that I am forming a supportive community here.

On another, positive note, I started my new job this week! I left my old one partly due to their bizarre COVID policies and flexibility, and my new position is absolutely wonderful so far. It's almost 100% remote, I definitely, and more than doubled my pay, and the culture is a thousand times better! The Great Resignation worked out great for me!

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

After so many months of this pandemic, could we really be seeing a glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel? New case rates are dropping rapidly in my country and in my state, and all but one of the counties in my area have announced that next week they will be dropping their indoor mask mandates for most situations. Leaving them in place for health care workers and schools, but it does suggest that maybe, just maybe, we are approaching a return to some version of normal. I’m hopeful, but skeptical, hesitant. It will be a long time, I suspect, before I’m comfortable being unmasked in any kind of indoor public setting.

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

I picked these flowers from our yard to make bouquets for myself, two friends and my Mom for Mother’s Day. I keep a shelf next to our fireplace as a memorial to her, my Dad and my partner’s dad, all of whom have passed. This was my first Mother’s Day without Mom because of COVID19 so I missed her. But it was fun to make the bouquets look pretty & professional.

Have you been part of any social gatherings lately? If so, what was that like? What impact did the pandemic have, if any?

We've been visiting friends indoors which is a new experience. Not many people at a time and we keep the doors open. No masks.

I'm not sure how I feel about it. Am I being irresponsible? It's confusing.

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

yes, everyone in my circle has gotten the new strain of the virus. I have a co-worker who got sick, two of my four daughters got covid, my son-in-law got covid.

nothing really changed for me.

I took the vaccine in early April, 4th dose, so I think it must have worked because lots of people around me got sick and I didn't.

My youngest daughter, 23, who lives with us full time did not get covid, but she had a bad cold and missed work for a few days.

Generally, I am feeling restless. My mental health is not that great right now. Still have a very wondering mind, can't seem to focus but hopefully everything will turn out ok.

Wrote a poem for a radio station about "Normalcy" Everyone is focusing on returning to normal but I feel that normal will never really be here.

We don't know what normal is anyway.

Nothing is normal anymore.

Some people are feeling intense feelings right now as a result of the pandemic. Is anything making you especially sad right now, or especially angry? If so, what's on your mind?

I'm not personally experiencing any intense feelings at the moment. However, a close friend is having a very hard time. He suffers from anxiety and OCD. The pandemic has made things exponentially worse for him. In the last month or so, he's been having more frequent and longer lasting attacks, and needing more time to recover. He's really struggling with trying to re-integrate into day-to-day life outside his home. Even the thought of going out can set him off.

Based on what I'm hearing from him and from others, folks with mental health issues are going to need extra support on an ongoing basis.

It makes me sad. I feel helpless. I wish there was something I could do.

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

Actually, for this week, nothing special happened. Doing nucleic acid test is now my daily routine. The pandemic in GuangZhou is geting better. Also, I got a language partner this week and we practiced oral English every Saturday evening, which is great. So far so good I guess.

Talk about what brings you happiness these days.

Mother's Day TODAY!Bought a cake for my dear mom today~Wish moms in the world a Happy Mother's Day!

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

I was given an ultimatum as a cast member in a school musical-- either remain covid-free by tech week or cancel the show. We are unofficially in a musical cast bubble/lockdown to avoid this worst-case scenario.

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

My mom and I take care of the bills of the house. And the rent has risen a lot. I know that has taken a toll on my financial problems. My insurance is really expensive. I did have a savings but I’m trying to rebuild that right now. Other then that though I’m pushing forward.

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

My son and husband both tested positive for COVID last week. We were so shocked, and scared, and angry, especially because we've been incredibly diligent for so long. But COVID found us anyway. We are very, very grateful that their symptoms are mild to moderate. It could be so much worse.

Months ago I'd assembled a "Kovid Kit" in a giant baggie, with a thermometer, pulse oximeter, Tylenol, Kleenex, masks, and phone charger. I was glad to be able to just throw the bag across the room. But it never occurred to me that I'd need more than one kit.

I had two years to imagine what this would be like. But I never did. I think I'd assumed that with masks, vaccines, and lockdowns we'd be safe. But here we are, and I'm surprised at how unprepared I am, despite my "kit."

Like, I didn't know that my insurance will pay for 8 home tests, per month, per person. Now I know, but I can't find them anywhere. I was also completely in the dark about anti-virals. We don't have a primary care doctor, and none of the test-and-treat pharmacies here offer tele-health. And it seemed hard to believe that they'd want people infected with COVID to show up in person. It took me two days and $50 to find a "Doctor on Demand" tele-health that would prescribe.

Family visits and social activities have been cancelled, and now we're in a holding pattern. This is a photo of one our "feed bags" - bottled water, apple slices, and cereal bars. We just hang the bag on the bedroom doorknob to send food in and out.

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.

No, I'm not flourishing. I don't personally know anyone who's flourishing. At most, we're managing to keep from being overwhelmed by current events.

Talk about the last time something made you cry.

The last time I cried was on April 30, the anniversary of my brother’s death. He was a musician, talented, smart, funny, gone way too soon, way too young. I turned on my music and listened to his band’s recording of Directly From My Heart To You,” his voice and harmonica playing reaching out across the years to wrap themselves around my heart and bring tears to my eyes. He died 17 years ago, and yes, I miss him and treasure the memories of our times together. I think of those who have lost friends and family to this pandemic. With nearly a million people in this country dead from Covid, every day there are more than 2,500 painful anniversaries for those who lost someone to the virus. And there are many others who will mark the day their loved one died, not of Covid, but alone because of pandemic precautions.

Have you been part of any social gatherings lately? If so, what was that like? What impact did the pandemic have, if any?

Indeed I have!

After two years of limited and tentative get-togethers, it feels like there have hardly been any social opportunities I HAVEN'T taken advantage of

In the past seven days I've:

* Had a leisurely and entirely enjoyable hour and a half lunch with a colleague at a popular and busy restaurant

* Attended a planning meeting for a weekend camping trip that subsequently got cancelled due to wildfires

* Taken the day off from work to run errands, including buying chicken feed at a farm supply store, shopping for clothes at a second-hand store, and getting groceries at a big box store

* Played board games for several hours at my friend's art gallery with two other friends

* Hiked a seven mile trail in the mountains with a party of six

* Watched a movie at the local art house theater

All of these, except the hiking, was not possible at various points in the pandemic

You better believe I appreciate the chance to do all the things now that restrictions have been lifted

Is it risky? Sure!

Do I know it could be rescinded at any moment if any variants around the world develop more threatening profiles? Yes!

"You only live once" has never seemed more applicable

¿De que manera el coronavirus le está afectando su vida en este momento? Cuéntenos sus experiencias, sensaciones/emociones, y pensamientos.

La vida se ha vuelto más difícil. Hoy no he tenido un buen día y tengo la mente llena de pensamientos tristes y negativos.

En los dos años de clases virtuales me he retrasado mucho en mis estudios y eso me frustra tremendamente. También me molesta no tener el dinero suficiente para pagar mis gastos, ¿pero cómo podría? No tengo trabajo y mi familia insiste en que eso es lo mejor para mi ahora y que me enfoque en mis estudios y en mis pasiones como escribir. Ellos me dan una cantidad ínfima que apenas me alcanza para mis gastos universitarios, aunque se encargan personalmente de pagar por otras necesidades. Me molesta cómo me controlan:dinero, horarios, clases, etc. Por otro lado, esto probablemente es solo un berrinche aumentado por mis ganas de consumir y por mi desorden hormonal. ¿Qué hago quejándome? Sé que cuando tenía más libertad y dinero en mi poder tomé decisiones desastrosas que me marcaron hasta hoy, así que entiendo que ellos me cuiden y sean aprensivos.

En momentos así, donde mi mente tira con igual fuerza en dos direcciones opuestas, sólo me queda meditar y orar al Padre para encontrar reposo para mi alma.

Espero que la otra semana escriba algo más animado.

Talk about whatever else is on your mind today.

The journal makes me think about what is happening. This includes more than the pandemic. Some of your questions make me think about the world in general and the US in particular. Some of your questions, especially about health care seem redundant to me, being a Canadian. Americans and Canadians are similar in many ways. However, the issues that divide your nation seem foreign to me. Gun rights, abortion, and a fear of universal health care are three I have a difficult time understanding.

At times, I fear that America's divisiveness is creeping across the border. Or recent protests and rallies are supported by numerous Americans. My values, I believe, mirror many Americans and there are Canadians that agree with restrictions that many US states are implementing.

When I go to vote in any election, it is a simple process. Federal Elections are managed by the Federal government. The people making the decisions are not political appointments. Electoral officers do not change with new governments. We vote less than America. Sheriffs, clerks, Judges, and many other officials are appointed based on a thorough process of screening and decisions made by committee from all stakeholders. Popularity and money buy fewer positions in Canada.

We are not perfect. We are divided in many ways. We have our own skeletons in the closet, the main one being our past and current treatment of First Nations people. Our government will and does apologize for our past injustices. We do not ban books based on Critical Race Theory or any other issues. We now require all students to take courses that recognize our past mistakes and injustices

I worry that my neighbour to the south is moving from democracy to anarchy and authoritarianism. I hope that electors can see the path America is heading and make decisions based on fact and information and not opinions lies and fearmongering. I once heard from a guest speaker at a convention I attended his definition of an "expert." - "Someone who travels more than 30 miles and carries a briefcase." America seems to be full of such experts at this time.

The pandemic seems to have quickened the move towards a different United States. Unfortunately I don't see as much of the "United" at this time.

Thanks for listening. We can all do better.

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

I have learned this spring that wearing a mask for the past two springs kept me from being miserable with allergies. Now I'm draining, eyes are puffy, and I'm miserable because I'm not wearing it unless I'm around large groups of people I don't know.

The wind in Texas has been ridiculous for about 3 weeks, and it has blown in every known allergen in the universe, right into my backyard and up my nose.

And allergy medicines just make me spacey. Here's hoping I can make it through the school year before I lose my ability to focus my eyes.

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

I had to travel on an airplane for a family member funeral this week. This is after US airlines have done away with the mask requirement in airports and on board.

It. Was. Frightening.

Almost no one on board with a mask but me (double-masked). Seat neighbor coughing. Lots of people coughing. Big busy airport with few in masks. Everyone talking loudly on phones, eating, sneezing, children crying. It was surrealistic. It's like everyone has decided there is no risk. They seem so excited to be in a crowd and breathe in everyone else air. It just seems so weird to me. In scenes like this, I have to think, is it just me? Am I being ridiculous? Am I clinging to masking for no good reason? Why are there so few of us with masks? But every day I hear about cases rising again and news about people getting sick, pockets of new waves of covid, rising hospital rates, the waning effectivity of our original vaccines and boosters, and no real news about new ones. Yes, less deaths, hooray, but until a varient comes along that does not cause long covid, I'm staying masked. Long covid sounds hard. Masking is easy.

Go ahead, stare at me like I'm the weirdo...

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

The pandemic is almost nonexistent where I live. I have gone to craft classes, attended a rodeo, drank beer at a local craft brewery, ate in restaurants, went to an employee appreciation luncheon, attended a night of readings at a writers’ retreat, and gone places with others in a personal vehicle in the last couple of months. It feels wonderful to get back acting normal.

The photo is of an acrylic poured painting I did at my friend’s house. Everything we went through with the pandemic still seems surreal and mixed up, like the painting.

Think back to the beginning of the pandemic. Is there anything you wish you'd done differently? If so, what, and why?

I wish I had taken pictures of the roadways, grocery store parking lots, and any other quiet empty place. I wish I had written in a physical journal every day a few sentences about what I was doing, how others were doing around me, what I was afraid of, and how we felt about it. Because no one I loved or knew well died from covid my heart was not broken much during the pandemic, and I'm able to look back on it as a time of peace and learning where the hubbub of the world calmed down for a bit.

Now it has come back worse than ever. I'm almost nostalgic about the early days, although it was painfully, unbearably sad and I cried many times. I was so worried about my children and so anxious to do something to help, and so impotent in my ability to affect anything. Countless times I saw a pipetting going on on television in news reports and I know how to extract RNA, double stranded RNA, and DNA, and enzymes, and I could have been one of the people helping them that way but I had no venue for that before me because I retired from my laboratory job in 2017. I was itching to help and wished I could have been able to. I took up being a so-called vaccine buddy for the agency on aging to help people who couldn't use computers to a vaccination when they finally at long last, so much awaited, became possible. Now here we are in the late days and people are fighting it with all they can not to get vaccinated.

Human beings are very hard to understand.

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

Looking back at my previous journals, it seems that I often wrote about how uncertain COVID-19 has made the future. Shifting regulations, new variants, and the possibility of lockdowns constantly loom at the back of my mind. Accordingly, this past week reminded me of how variable things are. Because [our college] community has been experiencing a spike in cases, all of campus has had to go back to masking indoors with protective KN95s through the end of classes. We almost made it to four mask-free weeks, but the inevitability that cases would keep increasing made that impossible. While reactions around campus are mixed, I do not have strong feelings one way or another. Honestly, I knew indoor masking could be a possibility again, and while I am a bit annoyed at having to readjust to breathing through a mask, I can handle a couple weeks of mask wearing if it means other campus activities, like outdoor festivals, remain open.

One thing different this time around is the weather. Spring is here, which means days have been sunnier and temperatures have been warmer. Last week, I spent a lot of my time searching for new outdoor study spots and soaking up some sun for the first time since October. I even had a couple classes outside (hint: the anthropology class I am writing this journal for) and felt so much more mentally refreshed than I usually do after spending my time sitting indoors. Being able to spend more time outdoors, I also think it will be easier to adjust to mask wearing. During the winter, I felt like we all curled up into our own little bubbles and hid behind our hats, coats, and masks, so hopefully now we can use the warmer weather as an opportunity to maintain connections with others despite having to mask. I am eager to see how we all practice mask wearing in a new seasonal context, especially having already experienced waves of regulations in the past.

Below is a picture I took last week while sitting under a tree and writing an essay for class; this was a day before the new mask regulations were announced.