Each week, we post a few journal entries that participants have given us permission to share anonymously.
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I feel as though it's very hard to foresee or plan for things as we are all still in that mindset of 'lets just wait for it to be over,' but then what if it never blows over? It's difficult to stay motivated and it's very frustrating not being able to just do things. However, i feel as well that my motivation has been focused now on more close to home things like I am keeping up with exercise at home and doing extra learning for work. I have picked up a few more hobbies as well. It's just mad that it has been this long. I miss being able to do things to see people- I have not seen one of my closest friends in a year.
January 8, 2021
I have looked to different sources of guidance and support for my emotions during this pandemic. Some have been helpful, and some not so much.
My local church changed pastors shortly before this pandemic started. The new pastor is a young man with ties to other places and friends. He participates in activities that take him well beyond the local town. He is on vacation a lot for someone that is supposed to be praying for the sick and taking care to avoid unnecessary travel. I haven’t really had much of chance to get to know him better, and his sermons on the internet are stiff and shallow. Going to church is an expression of my religious faith, but he contributes more to the stress.
I also look to different internet sources for inspiration. Facebook has been a way to connect with friends and fellow church members that I do get inspiration from. We exchange brief messages and memes of hope and look for life to return to normal. I also use the internet to connect to different religious evangelists that are more skilled with the internet. Their messages seem more personal and heartfelt.
I'm on the list to get the vaccine. I found out yesterday that CMU is putting its EMTs on the list of their healthcare workers. We could be receiving our first doses a month from now. It's a lot to think about. I assumed I'd be getting the vaccine as a healthy young adult (at the very end of the priority list). So I haven't been paying the closest attention to the rollout of the vaccine distribution program. Nobody really knows how long it's going to take to get to the general population, but it'll definitely be months at the very least. But now I might be looking at weeks instead of months or even closer to a year like most of my friends.
I don't think my life will change that much after I get the vaccine. COVID safety measures will be in place for months if not indefinitely, and I plan to keep wearing a mask and limiting my exposure to others as much as possible. But it's kind of strange to think that most of my friends won't be getting their vaccines until months after me. I haven't told any of them. Would that seem like bragging? I don't know the etiquette for this. COVID has infiltrated so much of my social life that I sometimes don't know what to talk about other than the pandemic and Zoom and social distancing and the vaccine.
But it is a relief, to know that I'll be getting the vaccine soon. I'm careful. I wash my hands and wear a mask and follow social distancing measures. But there's still a fear. We ordered food from Tarim a few weeks ago, and the rice that is usually very flavorful tasted bland to me. That was scary.Then there was the period I had a coughing fit every night (I think my room was dusty). That worried me, too. Near the end of the semester, my temperature started trending from the 97-98 range to the 99s for a few days, and I wondered if I could be starting to get a fever. It wasn't always like this. I didn't think about these things so much before the pandemic. Even with the vaccine offering an additional level of protection, I think there will always be some anxiety. We all want to think that we're that one-in-a-million, whether it's lottery tickets or COVID-19. I think that sometimes I just need to remind myself that I'm not special. What's probably going to happen is the statistically most likely option, which is that I get both doses of the vaccine, maybe a little bit of soreness or fever, then I develop antibodies and never get COVID. But I worry anyway.
And then there's the part of me that feels like I could be taking a vaccine away from someone who needs it more. If I don't get my vaccines now, and instead wait in line until my turn as a healthy adult comes up (which is almost certainly spring or later), maybe another essential worker or a nursing home resident, or a prison inmate will live. Someone who isn't able to take as many social distancing measures as I am, and who is going to get exposed to the virus in the next few months. I know I can't measure my life in terms of the butterfly effect; otherwise, I could never do anything. I can't guarantee what will happen if I do or don't take the vaccine, and taking it is the best thing I can do to keep myself and the people around me safe.
Since I have a good resistance against viruses and disease, I wasn't affected by the outbreak on a physical health basis. However, I got impacted in many other ways, such as mentally, financially, emotionally, and in my daily activities. For example, I lost access to many of the activities that I used to do before the pandemic, such as going to the gym, eating breakfast at the dining, hanging out with friends, going to the library, visiting museums, and other sorts of entertainment, which lead to a lot of emptiness to my life. Also, I used to be an uber driver, but because of the crisis, most people are now quarantined at home, which caused me to lose my job and be stuck financially. Being at home for almost a year has directly affected my mental wellness and caused me anxiety, and the fact that there is an outbreak makes me uncertain about the future, and, can't stop worrying about it.
The one thing about the COVID-19 restrictions that I am really angry about is not seeing my friends or hugging them. (Yes it's true. I'm a hugger.) Thanks to this stupid pandemic we are all in, I can't hug anyone except my family. That's really messed up. The sooner this pathetic pandemic is over the better.
January 8, 2021
Several things have happened last week to make me take notice of the world around me. They have happened at the personal, local and national level.
On the personal front, I still work in a restaurant. The managers are still cautious with respect to COVID, taking our temperature everyday with an infrared thermometer. They record it all on a chart, and keep the chart filed away for some sort of review. But what makes me take notice is that a coworker was sent home for high fever two weeks ago, and now she is back. She still coughs, talks about aches, and takes medication. She says she has the flu, not COVID, but I am nervous. I keep thinking, “What if it had been COVID?” Not a comfortable idea. I have to trust both my coworkers and the social/medical systems that are in place to give me honest information.
On the local level, the new year has brought changes to the reporting systems for the outbreak. The new county judge was sworn in early to fill a vacancy left when the old judge resigned to take a new job outside of the county. Changes are natural, and the new judge and the county emergency management coordinator have decided that they will no longer post the daily COVID report on Facebook. But I took notice when they announced that COVID figures will now be on the county website. However, the county website does not come up easily on a search engine, and no figures are posted. I guess that I will have to keep checking back on the website, or look for more information elsewhere. Some information is on Apple News and on The Weather Channel, but it does not have the community breakdown that the old report did. I have to trust much more impersonal sources on the internet for accurate information.
On the national level, I certainly noticed the attacks on the US Capitol. I am appalled. No doubt the social conditions created by the lockdowns and constraint imposed to halt the spread of COVID contributed to the unrest. Some see lockdowns as proof that they cannot trust the government to safeguard their civil rights in difficult times. People without outlets for expression have turned to rumors and theories. Troublemakers have found a way to tap this energy for their own purposes. And we all still have to trust that the future will be better.
People in Florida, apparently, can get the vaccine at age 65 instead of age 75. People in Florida with no pre-existing condition are signing up for the vaccine and will probably get it before me, a 74 year old woman with a history of cancer.
This is not fair.
El apoyo que recibimos provino de la iglesia católica. Llegó un punto en el que las fuentes de trabajo desaparecieron y un familiar, quien es sacerdote, nos puso en la lista de familias para recibir una caja de ayuda en alimentos.
La caja nos sirvió bastante, en lo que recibíamos la ayuda que el gobierno entregó a las familias. Entre la caja y la ayuda del gobierno, logramos pasar un tiempo.
Luego de esto, no hemos buscado apoyo, ni orientación. Nos hemos mantenido aislados. La Municipalidad de la ciudad tiene centros de apoyo respiratorio, pero no los hemos usado porque no hemos tenido indicios de tener la enfermedad.
Toda la orientación proviene de los medios de comunicación y de las redes sociales.
The pandemic was the last thing on my mind this week--especially after Wednesday.
Partly personal: I had a job come in (freelance writer) so was having a normal self-isolation with nose to the computer. Then the horrible events in DC were a shock, driving other thoughts and fears out of mind.
One small effect: I made a 4 hour round trip drive to Louisville--and because of covid fears made no stops for water, lunch, bathroom breaks. So...no fun on the road trip.
After the attempted coup at the Capitol yesterday, I feel very anxious and unsettled. It is difficult to work or to concentrate, despite looming deadlines. Watching the interruption of the peaceful transfer of power, a threat to our democracy, was and is distressing. Seeing the confederate flag in the Capitol was especially heart-wrenching.
I am also deeply concerned for the after-effects of this mass gathering for the pandemic. I've seen speculation that this is going to be a spreading event similar to the Sturgis motorcycle rally. While I'm not sure how the attendance numbers line up, the process seems similar.
Another distressing issue as of late is seeing the hospitals in LA filled past capacity and other hospitals in the US rushing to catch up. How long until we are at the point where we should not expect medical care after an accident? Until we should not expect care for those with heart conditions? With diabetes and comorbidities?
It's hard to know even how to begin writing about yesterday. The news reports have all the big details, of course: we woke up to Raphael Warnock's win in one of the two GA Senate races and periodically kept checking for updates on the Ossoff/Perdue race. Everyone knew madness was brewing since January 6 was the day for Congress to approve the results of the electoral vote. Someone close to me registered about a year ago for a seat at an on-campus event by a right-wing group -- K-Pop style, to keep the seat empty -- and, since he apparently is still on their mailing list, got an email about buses planned to take local people to DC for the rally -- from here, all the way up the East Coast.Long story short: there was nothing at all surprising about the convergence of radical maniacs and Trumpists in DC to make a scene. Nothing at all. How many agencies should have organized to plan, coordinate, defend -- the building, the entrances, the country's elected officials? Seriously?
We were both working at our desks when I got a text to "Famiglia" (our family group chat) from Mom asking if we knew what was going on. We tried to listen / read / watch and work for a while. But as more of the mob entered the Capitol and more images and livestreaming popped up on Twitter, CNN, NBC (we eventually turned on the TV, which we NEVER do -- certainly not in the middle of the day), I started viscerally feeling the anxiety and tension in my body. WTF was happening? More messages on WhatsApp and in a group work chat from friends and colleagues overseas.
It's been about 36 hours now, and I feel like I still haven't even really begun to process what happened, or what the entire world could see in real time, and then in video clips and photos: MAGA maniacs strolling right into the Capitol, some of them wearing crazy things. The youngish guy with the horns and the red/white/blue painted face. The older guy with the black sweatshirt that said "Camp Auschwitz"(!!!) casually talking on his cellphone, the cord apparently plugged into a reserve battery in a front pocket. Scaling the outer wall of the Capitol. On a window-washing apparatus getting ready to break in. Crashing windows and breaking in. Tussling with police inside the building. Using a barricade with a T@#$ flag on it as a battering ram trying to break through tall wooden doors -- into one of the chambers? Congressmembers and staffers ducking to hide in the gallery, barricading themselves in offices -- all with masks on, of course, and reporting they'd been told to use the gas masks under their seats because of tear gas. Yes, tear gas in the rotunda of the US capitol.
The photo here -- taken by a pro-T$#% journalist, who quickly deleted it because, well, maybe he was tweeting about committing a crime? -- showing an unsecure computer in Nancy Pelosi's office. The guy sitting in an office chair -- Nancy Pelosi's seat? -- with his feet on the desk. Video of the Senate parliamentarian's office ransacked, papers strewn everywhere, lamps askew. People on the Senate floor rifling through desks -- stealing things? planting things? Who even knows.
How they managed to secure the building again in time for the proceedings to continue is beyond me. When we stopped watching -- to try to work a bit, to get the kids -- it was probably a solid 2-2 1/2 hrs after the siege began (was that a siege? I'm looking up words because I don't even know how to describe all this), and we saw on NBC a stream of police cars, sirens going, heading toward Capitol Hill. Before then, for HOURS, apparently, these people had been milling around, destroying things, probably stealing things, terrifying people. It's only now, tonight, that I'm seeing some of the photos and footage from what happened after the National Guard arrived with riot gear.
Jelani Cobb had a solid tweet today (yes, I probably am spending too much time on Twitter these days): "After making two documentaries about police brutality I never thought I would be this disgusted by a show of police restraint."
This is all just skimming the surface of what yesterday was like. Somewhere in there, Ossoff was declared victor in the second Georgia Senate race. In the evening, kiddo #2 and I worked assiduously on a 200 piece train puzzle while I tried to listen to the radio broadcast of the speeches on the Senate floor once they were back in session. (How did they clean up the building in time? How did they know it was secure-- that no one was hiding, that no explosive devices were planted, that secure documents hadn't been stolen from Congressional offices?) Heard Mitch McConnell try to weasel his way out of blame. Watched Kelly Loeffler give a flat-toned speech about how after all that had happened, she was withdrawing her objection to recognizing the electoral college results. Watched clips from DC hotels where people who may well have been in the Capitol violating federal law just hours earlier are sitting around drinking beer, chatting, eating, hanging out calm and maskless with their MAGA hats and rolled up banners.
And today: calls to invoke the 25th Amendment from some quarters, for impeachment from others. And then those NYT and WaPo lists of ALL the Republicans who voted for objections to confirming the electoral college results. And this afternoon and evening, all the cowards resigning to avoid having to vote on a 25th Amendment question -- Elaine Chao, Betsy DeVos, Mick Mulvaney, etc. Spineless, every one of them.
On one hand it's all so wild, feels so unreal. And yet for anyone who's been paying attention these past 4-odd years, it's no surprise. None of this is a surprise. Not the sedition, not the white supremacy, not the violence, not the complicity on the part of Republicans in office, not the fucking selfie taken by mob people with Capitol Police. As someone said on tv today, maybe Joy Reid (?), it's shocking, but it's no surprise.
Oh yeah, and there's this pandemic going on. How many cases of Covid did these traitors cause yesterday? The US broke a new record today: more than 4,000 people died of COVID. Today.
Woman dies after shooting in U.S. Capitol; D.C. National Guard activated after mob breaches building
Video of Black Capitol Workers Cleaning Up After Mob Mayhem Goes Viral
Trump Administration Officials Who Resigned Over Capitol Violence
I feel my life is going well right now in spite of the pandemic. am 64 years old. My main health problems are obesity, sinusitis/allergies, and hypothyroidism which do not affect my lifestyle. I have a full-time job in a clean and safe environment working with people I like. I live in a rural community where I feel safe and secure. I have a home with all the comforts I need, plenty of food, clean water, and a car that runs well. I have good health insurance and enough money to pay the bills. My husband is in relatively good health and we have pets who are great companions.
The main changes to my life since the pandemic are I do not socialize, go to events and meetings, or shop as frequently as I did before the pandemic. I feel blessed that the important things in my life are still available to me.
Trump must get out of our lives forever. His horrible children, also.
The 25th Amendment, or Impeachment.
There is no other plan.
CNN headline, 1/6/20 -- a day the history books will NOT forget.
Fundamentally, it's the things I took for granted. I love to travel and I'm finally at the time in my life when I have the time and money to do it. I love to have people in my house. I love cooking for them and having them linger at my table, talking and laughing. I miss walking through my old neighborhood, running into a friend and having coffee.
I think the overarching loss is the sense of safety I had in the world. Now, every interaction is fraught with danger and mistrust. When I run necessary errands ( drug store, post office, grocery store) I am suspicious of everyone I interact with. I am not sure that will ever go away completely.
April 5, 2020
1) Photo Sketch Caption: Palm Sunday. Covid Days
2) Photo Sketch Caption: My favorite wool scarf was eaten by moths. Covid 19 Days
I started the week feeling very anxious and depressed, really, the worst of the whole pandemic. I was upset about the slow rollout of the vaccines, the increasing case numbers, the Georgia elections and the certification vote today in congress to declare Biden the next president. I was feeling really homebound and worried and depressed about the future. But I decided to wait until Wednesday to write because I figured whatever I wrote Tuesday when I got my link would be outdated by Wednesday night. I certainly didn't predict how crazy the last 12 hours would be!
It's now the evening of January 6th, a most remarkable day in US history. I think it will take us days to really process this, how easy it was for these people to storm the Capitol. How so many Republicans had to be personally threatened to finally say enough to Trump. Their hypocrisy is disgusting, that they could not stand up to him before they saw the impact of his rhetoric in person, that they are all so self-serving. All of those congress people and senators who were going to vote to not certify the election should be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating these lies.
I live 6 miles from the US Capitol and have been down there many times over the last four years (pre-pandemic) for protests and demonstrations. So many questions are unanswered tonight. but especially this one; how were the US Capitol Police not prepared for the size and aggression of this mob? Or did they just not really care? Did they support the Trump supporters? The double standard for white Trump protesters, vs. BLM and climate change protests is remarkable.
Meanwhile, we got the best gift ever this afternoon: two democratic senators from Georgia and the US Senate!!!. I feel like the nation owes the people of Georgia a great debt--ADIOS to Mitch McConnell as majority leader, and hopefully now we'll have some serious legislative reform to turn "Norms" into rules or laws so that another crazy person like Trump can't bend the law to his will. Who would have ever guessed that the southern segregationist state of Georgia would turn out to save U.S. Democracy? (Note to self: next vacation go spend money in Georgia NOT Florida!)
In other good news, my daughter, who is a nursing student and going to do her final practicum this spring, got a call today that she is eligible for the vaccine. I'm so happy for her and every other medical worker that they are first in line, and that the roll-out, although slow, is more or less going okay here in my state. My husband, who works in a public school, will also be eligible soon. When people you know are getting the vaccine, it makes the end of all of this much more concrete.
I've been binge watching a show about the US government getting blown up in the Capitol. Very weird to watch a government falling apart on TV, and then in real life too. Hopefully both will have a better ending than beginning.
The days go on forever, but the weeks slip by so quickly.
I lost a lot of time on my dissertation this year, and it absolutely set me back in my progress. It terrifies me. I think I can still finish "on time," (i.e., before too much time has passed for me to finish). I know that if I were in danger of not finishing in that window, my advisor would warn me, and I'm reasonably confident that if I were in danger of not finishing on time, the university would take the pandemic into consideration, but it still terrifies me. I just couldn't bring myself to write during the pandemic because it felt so monumental and I really didn't know how long it was going to go on. I managed to complete one chapter draft during the pandemic; I really should have completed two. I was barely still managing to meet my obligations with my remote job.
And at one point, the power company was doing some work and caused such an enormous power surge that it fried my desktop's hard drive, even plugged into a surge protector (several other less important appliances never worked again after that, too). Nothing from the power company, no acknowledgement of what happened, let alone an apology or some sort of compensation. So, while I couldn't set foot on campus to use a real computer due to the pandemic, I was trying to do my job and write my dissertation on the crappiest, tiniest old laptop that I'd been meaning to discard. I was just extremely lucky that none of my writing or archival research was only saved to that computer.
I was supposed to teach a summer course last semester, which was cancelled. I was supposed to present my research at a conference, which was postponed and then cancelled.
I'm an Irish dancer, a hobby I keep up because I enjoy it and it keeps me in shape. We abruptly lost St. Patrick's Day 2020. We had one performance, on March 8th, and everything after that was cancelled. I never in a million years would have guessed that we wouldn't have St. Patrick's Day 2021, either.
It feels horrible to be upset about any of this when I have not lost my income and no one I am close to has been sick. And unlike most PhD students, I wasn't teaching or taking courses, so I never once had to deal with Zoom classes (except dance classes). I am lonely being single and living alone, but at least I am not responsible for a child's needs (especially educational) during this pandemic.
I'm simultaneously totally broken from being all alone for nine months and feel like the biggest piece of shit for not having anything really bad happen to me or anyone I love.
I'm really not doing much for fun right now, except for going on the internet and maybe playing music. I went to visit a friend for her birthday the other day which was nice, but I had an anxiety attack afterwards which I think was a sign. Before the pandemic, I would go out at least one a week to see friends, or just hang out with people. It was always really nice, and I never though much about it until the pandemic, when I didn't do it anymore.
After my anxiety attack this week, where I was really just sad about not being able to talk to people and feeling lonely, I think I need to consciously find ways to have fun, laugh and most importantly, spend time with my friends. These past few months I've been going out to see one of my best friends at her apartment more, and every time I go I have a great time, even if all we're doing is eating dinner, watching a movie, or going on a walk.
I realize now just how much in-person human connection is vital, especially with those you're closest to who truly understand you.
iI definitely get support from music. I've paid to watch/listen to several concerts and a play. Heh, musicians and actors need to make a living.
Some houses of worship are doing a good job of continuing to meet the needs of their congregants. Others have done so less well. Some synagogues drop off treats for their congregants for the Sabbath. Ours don't. I have enjoyed a lot of walks with friends and these have often given me solace. I went for a walk in a town park with a friend (with masks on). We climbed and slid on the playground. The exercise felt good. I kind of doubt that we would have found the time to do that in the absence of COVID.
I have asked both a rabbi and Jewish Family Service if they could create discussion groups for people feeling lonely (but not specifically having a mental illness) but they have not done so.
Always reign in those emotions
When the folks don’t get it
When your pain is painted over
When the memories seem like far off dreams
Nightmares of violence that you know are real
But always conceal because no one wants to know
No one wants to know the real truth
Of what actually happens
After the shots are fired
After the beatings are done
After the violence walks away
After the government reaps rules
Regulating rulers reaching rising
Up even higher at the expense of the poor
I just wish that for once someone can just be there
To believe that shadows have feelings too
Despite their dark nature
Always by your side and yet never given
A chance to confide that so many things have
Happened I don’t even know what’s real anymore
The memory’s dream or the nightmare
Containing partial truths of a half twisted lie
By societies design I always have to bite my tongue
And I bite it hard to be able to not push people away
With these raw uncooked emotions
How they have not been steamed or fried yet
But people wait for those moments when the water
Manipulates the environment and substance of you
Yourself to really see what you have to say
I just want to keep everything at bay
Simmering down but alas I always feel that the
Flame runs so hot we get burnt too fast
Making it our last chance to reach folks instead
Of taking time to turn off the burner, lower the heat
And breathe in knowing that the heat can’t always be hot
We need that time to cool down and accept some cold
Until we are ready again
But alas here we are all burnt up inside again
Wanting to just figure it out and start over
Knowing that there’s always so much more of everything;
I always have to keep reminding myself to not fan my own
Flames firing first, fear fiercely flying for falling aforementioned
Sometimes the best thing to do is place it on the back burner
For later when the heat dies down
And the moisture leaves the air
Creating the calm stillness to start a fresh project
It’s okay to not be okay
And understand how life is hard
But you don’t have to be as hard as the
Surroundings that mold you.
Okay, so for this week's journal entry I was going to write about how the pandemic forced me to become closer to my family, or how I finally released the music I worked on during the pandemic, but... What. The heck. Is happening?!?!?
WHY are the Trumpies STORMING THE CAPITOL?! This is absolutely CRAZY. There have to be hundreds of them. I still can't believe they actually are currently on the senate floor!! This is still happening as I write this entry, and the payor of DC has just issued a stay at home order or something as a result. This is crazy!!! I knew that the Trump supporters and the proud boys would be protesting in the capitol today, but storming the capitol and occupying the senate? What the actual fuck.
From the footage I saw, it seemed like once they actually got to the senate floor they were just milling around, looking at the floor while holding their signs and not really doing anything, with the exception of going through some of the senators' desks. I was honestly surprised that no one stood in the center of the room or made a speech or anything, and it honestly seemed like they didn't expect to actually get to the senate floor, like they didn't really have a plan once they got there.
I was talking with my brother about how the president would respond, since he probably didn't expect them to actually go inside the capitol building. After we were wondering about what he would say, a pre-recorded message from Trump played on the TV, and it was really weird. He started off by STILL saying that the election was a 'steal' and that he won, which is exactly the opposite of what he should have said. The people are in the capitol for that exact reason, so that would rile them up even more. He continued to say that the people should go home, and weirdly enough, he said "I love you," which struck me as really odd. Why would he say that? It just seemed weird and didn't sit right with me, especially for a pre-recorded message. I can't believe this is what our country has come to, and I'm glad that President-Elect Biden had some reassuring words to say to the American people about the situation. The fact that he responded to the American public before Trump and publicly denounced the protestors as insurrectionists while reassuring the American people speaks volumes.
The pandemic is hitting records in Israel, but the vaccination rates too. Not far from our apartment, in Rabin square, there is a huge vaccination tent, one of many vaccination centers across Tel Aviv. All of our relatives and friends that are over 60, including all of our 6 (yes!) grandparents, received the vaccine shots, as well as some of our younger friends (doctors, social workers, teachers). But the vaccination festival will slow down in the next few weeks, since new supply is delaying. Actually the big tent in the square is no longer operating (the picture was taken yesterday) since they ran out of vaccines. As long as the vaccination operation went on, we were hoping to race our way out of this nightmare with an amok run. Now we are back to the gloomy days of the long passive wait: schools will close as of Friday, and younger people (younger than 60) will be vaccinated only in February. The passivity of the lockdown is in my eyes one of its most difficult aspects, the fact that the best fight is to avoid doing. To pause. The vaccines were such a success in Israel not only because it was what it was, but also because people could finally DO SOMETHING in order to get themselves and others out of it.
One thing that is making me sad is people dying. One thing that’s making me angry is people not wearing masks.