Thursday, February 11, 2021

Life in the Time of the Virus: Full Circle

New York Office, Hopper, 1962
 A year ago, at the end of January, I was in New York City. I was recording lines for a game with an Emmy-winning actor, lines which will now never see the light of day. I had pizza in a crowded restaurant off Times Square. I had dinner with my niece and her husband at a nice place in Brooklyn. I walked down to the Strand bookstore. I bought a copy of William Gibson's book, but not from there. I flew back in a crowded plane.

A year ago, in February, I was planning to go to London. We were going to do a live event and meet with the European gaming press. As the reports of the coronavirus spread, the idea of travel to Europe became dicey. Some of the guests had already cancelled. I was in the "High Risk Group" that was already being intubated in overfull hospitals. I cancelled my attendance. The next day, the company cancelled the event.

A year ago, in March, we emptied the office. Everyone went home to work. I brought my laptop home and set myself up in the basement, on an old table from Milt's Wood Shed, in Wisconsin. We learned to handle the vagaries of on-line conferences. Having met most of my co-workers' dogs in the office, I now got to know their cats. In May we launched in the game. In June we pulled it back to Beta. In October we cancelled it outright. I moved onto another project.

It has been a year. I think is the last of these write-ups, because there is little more to be said. The world has changed and we have changed with it. I am comfortable with the fact that it will change further as we move along.

I am not vaccinated yet, nor is the Lovely Bride. By the priorities of our particular state, we are neither old enough, nor essential enough to do so. I'm good with that, but want to make sure that those who are old enough, or essential enough, or from large multi-generational families, are vaccinated. The roll-out has been rough, with anecdotes of insufficient stockpiles, broken freezers, sudden rushes, long lines, fools spoiling the vaccine, and other pains.

My mother, in her retirement community, has had her first-round vaccination, not because of the efforts of the village's managers, but because my younger sister and brother canvassed the area for a place where she could get the shot, and then took her there. She says everything about the procedure itself was well-ordered and efficient and not crowded at all. So there is some solace there.

In the outer world, the Lovely Bride has returned to working in her office every day. She is an Enrolled Agent, a professional tax preparer, and her works with an investment firm. Most of the investment agents are still working from home, and her office has a door. I am left with the cats, who demand attention regularly, usually when I am on a conference call. I leave the house for groceries and a weekly comics run. I play D&D and Call of Cthulhu over Discord with friends who I once sat around a living room with.

I am noticing a change in the news, in that I am suddenly hearing about things in other countries - protests in Russia, a coup in Myanmar, the repercussions of Brexit, a farmer's strike in India, and the United Arab Emirates have sent a spacecraft to Mars (wait, what?). It may because our own government is no longer sucking all the oxygen out of the room with their clownishness (and they could reduce it a bit more), or that we are waking up from a long self-imposed slumber to pay attention to the rest of the world.

Bu as a note to a future self, things are still more than a little tense. We have functional vaccines, but we also have variants and mutations of the disease itself, so the question remains of how long this will go on. But it feels like there is hope that will be an end to it, and though I don't want a return to "normalcy" (a cry of the Coolidge administration in the wake of war and plague), I do want stuff to settle down for a while. Boring. I could go with boring. Boring would be good.

More later,