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Day 536

Notes from the bunker

I’m in chronic funk territory again. Not the the good, George Clinton kind of funk, but the bad, “how can this many people be this reliably disappointing” kind of funk. The Delta variant has been in full bloom for weeks and ICU beds in some areas are reaching capacity again, making June’s steady drumbeat of reopening feel like a naive daydream. Masking indoors in public is back in vogue, not that it was gone for long, and kids returning to school are doing so against a backdrop of parents, educators, and government arguing over who should or should not be inconvenienced in the name of public health. School outbreaks are correlated with hands-off policies and more are undoubtedly imminent. The Pfizer vaccine, authorized for emergency use since late last year, recently got FDA approval. Children under 12 are still ineligible for vaccination, there are adults who can’t be vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons, and there are marginalized communities who have an earned distrust of the medical establishment, even if it’s misguided in this case. Every other unvaccinated person, whom I take to be the majority of holdouts, is part of the problem and can fuck right off to hell.

In some ways—not enough—life has returned to some modicum of normalcy. Offices are partially reopened and we can see our (vaccinated) friends and family in their homes again, which is definitely not nothing, but inertia has kept me from indulging as often as I might. Live music is back. Most venues require masks and many require proof of vaccination. This is as it should be. At some point we decided you’re not allowed to smoke indoors in public because your disregard for your own health shouldn’t be allowed to endanger others, and I don’t see how this situation is any different. Anyway, these sensible restrictions may not be enough, and plenty of artists are canceling their fall tours. I have tickets to a handful of shows in the next couple of months, tentatively purchased during June’s wave of optimism. One has been canceled so far, and even if the others go on as planned, I don’t know if I’ll feel comfortable attending. The COVID era marches on, wearily chanting its mantra: “I don’t know the right thing to do, so I guess I’ll just stay home.” 660,000 Americans are dead, with another 100,000 expected to join them by year’s end.

I need to get better at disengaging. Self care and all that. Working in a newsroom dedicated to bad news doesn’t help, and when Texas puffs out its chest about making it hard to vote and impossible to get an abortion, it’s hard to look away. As I write this, a few blocks away, the Schuylkill River is at its highest level in recorded history after a night of battering from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which literally tore the roof off Louisiana. It’s almost enough to distract from the predictably disastrous end to our Afghanistan quagmire.

I’m keeping busy. Working on my zine and a couple of fun pro bono design projects, and making plans for this year’s Robtober. But it’s not enough. Or it’s too much. Or something.