Well, it's official. I have been double-stabbinated and fully vaccinated. If all goes well, by this time next week, I will be 100% impervious to all disease and an immortal superhero with direct 5G access to Bill Gates and the Illuminati.
Or, just maybe, I'll be a normal human being who can interact with other human beings without a mask, Plexiglass, or six precious feet between us.
It's been a rough year. A microscopic (and, let's be honest, silly-looking) virus has taken the lives of an estimated 2.87 million people across the globe. The amount of tragedy, loss, and suffering caused by COVID-19 is horrific and incomprehensible, and that is the ONLY reason why I'm not spending the rest of this column whining about HOW MUCH MY ARM HURTS RIGHT NOW. Ow.
Honestly, though, I didn't experience any of the occasionally reported side effects from the vaccine. No nausea, brain fog, chills, or fever, and that's awesome. But I can't pretend my arm isn't sore right now. I'm literally typing this one-handed. But if a sore arm is the required price for concerts to happen again, I'm glad to pay the piper. For the love of rock & roll, go get stabbed.
Where's the one place you'd want to be right now if you could travel anywhere? Most of you would probably want to be on a tropical beach or a majestic mountainside. Me? I wanna be at Codfish Hollow, the barn concert venue tucked into a little hidden valley just outside Maquoketa. If you haven't been, you're missing the greatest secret in the Midwest. Thanks to COVID, we've all been missing it for over a year now -- but word on the street is they're hoping to re-open later this summer, so fingers crossed and masks up, people.)
At this point, I'd go see ANYONE in concert. I'd pay money to watch Nickelback open for Milli Vanilli. I would sit through a polka band doing a 20 minute version of the Chicken Dance. I just want music and life and people and smiles. It's coming. I can feel it.
We need to be patient, though. Just because some of us are now fully vaccinated doesn't mean we're free to roam around mask-less, licking doorknobs with carefree abandon. Vaccinated people might not feel the effects of COVID-19, but it's still unclear if we can still spread it to folks who are vulnerable, and that's no good. Herd immunity's on the horizon. For now, though, us vaccinated folk can get together in small groups and hug each other until it gets SUPER awkward, and that's a good start.
Finally, I might be able to think realistically about post-pandemic life. COVID's changed the way we all live, though -- and for me, some of that will NOT be changing.
WHAT I'LL STOP DOING IN A WEEK: Disinfecting my groceries as they enter my house. The CDC already said it's probably overkill, but I got in the habit early on and have yet to stop. When I was at the store to get my second vaccine, I saw a little kid with his grubby little kid hands feeling up every can and box as he skipped maskless down an aisle, so I'm good with over-caution. Still, there are no seconds in a day longer than the ones where I'm wiping down groceries, especially the ridiculous times I've caught myself disinfecting cans of disinfectant. When you're wiping down Lysol bottles with Lysol, you may have a problem.
WHAT I WON'T STOP DOING IN A WEEK: Using a delivery service for groceries. I've grown to love it, pandemic or no. Sure, it's spending needless money on delivery fees, but I've done the math and I'm honestly SAVING money using a home delivery service. When someone else is hitting the grocery store on your behalf, you can't impulse shop. I'm spending less at the store because I'm not foolishly grabbing anything that looks tasty on a whim.
WHAT I'LL STOP DOING IN A WEEK: Avoiding uncooked food. I realized the other day that I've spent the past year shying away from things like salads and sub sandwiches, and it's probably out of a subconscious fear that someone's coughed on them. I'm well aware how ridiculous this is. The odds of catching a virus from a ham sandwich are slim to none, but cooked food just seems safer and more comforting. That said, when I choose which restaurant I'll walk into next week for the first time in over a year, odds are pretty high it's going to rhyme with Bungry Bobo.
WHAT I WON'T STOP DOING IN A WEEK: Cooking more at home. If nothing else, the pandemic's forced me to get pretty good at kitchen-y stuff, especially if it involves the Instant Pot, God's gift to single people who never learned how to cook. I got into a debate online last week with someone about caraway seeds. Never in my life did I expect to one day care about caraway seeds. A year ago, I didn't even know what a caraway seed was. But now, I'm SO insistent they're vital to Hungarian goulash that I picked a fight about with a stranger on the internet. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME?
WHAT I'LL STOP DOING IN A WEEK: Being judgey towards people. You should never read a book by its cover, but on those rare occasions when I get out and about, I'm still catching myself looking at people and thinking, "Well, THAT dude looks super COVID-y." If you see me strutting by you briskly, I'm likely worried that you're toxic. There's even a chance that behind my mask, I'm holding my breath. Don't take it personally. I'm an idiot.
But soon, I'll be an idiot who doesn't have to live in a constant state of caution and paranoia. No longer will I have to spend my days sitting around alone wishing there was something to do, and I can finally get back to my normal hobby of CHOOSING to sit around alone wishing there was something to do. There's light at the end of the tunnel. With any luck, I'll be able to move my right arm by the time I reach it.