2021-The Year That Almost Was, Book Review, Recap-Christmas in NYC 2016

2021: The Year That Almost Was

Back in early January 2020, I’m watching the world news, and I became totally convinced that the epidemic that started in China was extremely serious.  I was certain that with the wildfire manner in which it was spreading, that it had to already be in the United States.  I whole-heartedly believed at that early time that this disease was devastating and was going to be global – this was not the same way I had felt about swine-flu, bird-flu, zika. Those diseases never really registered in my consciousness.  My response to my concern was three-pronged: 

1) I kept my view to myself.  No way I was voicing my worry out loud  because people would think I was irrational to get so worked up about “something in China.”  I was half-sure that I was being ridiculous, and I certainly didn’t want anyone else to know about my foolishness.

2) I placed huge orders with Walmart.com  and Costco for cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, toiletries, toilet paper, paper towels, dog food and nuts (I had a huge nut habit at the time – I’m now in recovery).  Yes. I may have single-handedly started the hoarding problem in the U.S.  If it makes any difference to your annoyance with me, I screwed up and unwittingly bought some of those giant toilet paper WHEELS meant for public facilities.  

3) I pretty much locked myself down.  I went to work ‘cause I had to, avoiding everyone I could, but that was about it.  I started ordering grocery delivery during February after freaking out during a super-crowded trip to ShopRite. I put disinfectant wipes in my car for when I had to go out. 

I say all this not to say I called the pandemic early on, but to explain that worry and lockdown started for me a couple months earlier than the official mid-March 2020 start date.  (And, to confess my early hoarding behavior.) So, toward the end of 2020, when vaccines were starting to become available, my little heart was aflutter with excitement that the nightmare was about to end.  I was sure that 2021 was going to be, not completely “normal,” but most of the way there.

Of course, I couldn’t get jabbed until the latter half of March 2021, and then only because a friend heard that the feds were taking walk-ups at a specific site.  I dropped everything and went over there to stand in line in the cold.  When I finally made it up to the door, I was told they couldn’t take any more walk-ups.  I nearly cried, and the woman next to me went ballistic.  Luckily, the FEMA employee thought I was with her, and he told us both he’d put us down for 2:00 p.m. appointments.   I left, came back, stood in line again, and, that time actually got in to get the shot. 

I was so excited, that as I sat the mandatory 15 minute waiting period to make sure I didn’t sprout immediate mutations, I was grinning behind my mask and  could barely sit still.  I called people to tell them how excited I was.  I was even more excited when I got the second dose two weeks later.  I thought, “Two more weeks, and I’m free!”

The day my second dose “turned 2” I was out with friends that night.  I was giddy.  I put my masks away.  I went to  Home Depot and the grocery store.

Then the numbers started climbing.  The “authorities” said that it was the unvaccinated, and that vaccinated people could follow different rules – that vaccinated people couldn’t, in most situations, pass the virus to others.  That made no sense to me.  Vaccines don’t work like bug zappers, electrocuting any virus flying near the vaccinated.  They help my body fight off infection – they don’t eradicate the virus instantly.  Since I was sure the “vaccinated can’t pass infection” line was bullshit, I was fairly certain that they had no idea about the rate at which vaccinated people could get sick with the new Delta variant that was wreaking havoc.  My masks came back out, and I chose my social events more carefully.

Restaurants opened, sporting events and concerts restarted, Stephen Colbert went back in the studio with a live audience, people could get their hair cut, and  I returned to the office on a part-time basis. 

But it wasn’t “normal.”  Mask wearers are still wearing masks.   People are taking rapid tests before they see their at-risk loved ones.   The economy was perhaps forever changed, as somewhere in the middle of all this, restaurant workers, retail workers, medical assistants, and truckers disappeared.  I haven’t celebrated Pi Day for two years in a row, and i didn’t hold the traditional Christmastime Craft Extravaganza at work, either.  (I do not want to be responsible for a super spreader event.)  People are acting like asshats on airplanes at a frightening frequency.  People without Covid are having trouble being seen at emergency rooms because the hospitals are again overwhelmed.  Some schools are struggling to keep classes in-person because of the number of staff who have Covid at any given time.  Nursing homes still have restrictive visitation policies in order to keep their residents safe. 

We are even more pandemic weary.

So, no, 2021 didn’t live up to its promise.   But, it moved in the right direction.   Accordingly, my hope for 2022 is much more tempered:  May 2022 keep moving in the right direction.

Book Review:  Sweet Silius Island Honey

I saw the following description of Sweet Silius Island Honey by Alex Scott and had to know the story: “A teenage street urchin and a magic-wielding single mother set sail for a perilous island where they meet a society of bee people.”

Reading the book from an adult perspective, it’s a highly imaginative, light read, that could use much greater detail and tighter editing. For my fantasy taste, which runs more to tales such as Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, it was a too light a read.

However, one of the measures by which I judge a book is whether the characters and/or worlds the book introduces linger with me and make me wonder about them. The whole idea of a bee people society with its careful ties to honeybee behavior is thoroughly engrossing! Like the character Owen, I want to spend more time with the bee people! Additionally, the concept of magic wellsprings, such as the Golden Apple Tree, has the potential for all sorts of adventures!

So, if I look at the book from the perspective of younger readers, it holds up. I heartily recommend Sweet Silius Island Honey for child and young adult readers.

Recap:  Christmas Eve 2016 on the NYC Subway

Crazy lady on the subway train: BWaaaaaa –haaaa, oh and I told her, girl, and she just, she just. . .I’ve gotta do it. . .okay, umhmm, umhmmm. . . Bwaaaaaa-haaaaa.

Caleb: Who’s she talking to?

 Tom: The other crazy people in her head.

Crazy lady: Bwaaa-haaaa. Oh, my yes. I’m saying, you know I’m saying. . .<something unintelligible>.

Me: Is that beer she’s drinking?

Tom: Oh, yeah, that’s a big ol’ 40.

Caleb: I’m trying not to laugh at her, but I can’t stop!

Tom: Go ahead and laugh, it’s funny, and she’s not even going to notice.

Me: She looked right at me! Shhhhh!

Crazy lady: Uh-huh, uh-huh! Yeah! Bwaaaaa-haaaa! And then she…oh yeah, she. . .

Kate and Renee <as the big ol’ 40 rolls around the car spewing out what was left of the beer>: Mag, watch your feet!

Me (to myself): Okay, beer and crazy talk – I can handle that. Just another night at Bull’s Eye. . .As long as it doesn’t get any worse. . .

Me <sneaking a peak at the crazy lady, who has pulled down her pants and is squatting down>: Oh, no, she’s not going to. . .Oh for the love of God, she IS. . .

Kate: <running away>: Nooooooooooo!

Renee: What? Noooooooooooo!

Crazy lady: Ooooooooooh! Yea-uh! She’s gonna, and I’m saying. . .Bwaaaaaa-haaaaaaaa!

Tom: Everybody move on down!

They all left me sitting there as the crazy lady finished her business, pulled up her pants and took her seat again.

Tom: Why did you just sit there with your feet up?

Me: ‘Cause I’m not steady on my feet on this train, and the only thing worse than watching a crazy lady pee on a train is me falling down and rolling around in her beer and piss!

Everybody as the train pulled into the last stop: Get off! Hurry up! Get out of here!

In her defense, in all the signs on the train about how to behave on the train, not one said, “Don’t throw your beer bottle down the aisle,” or “Do not pull down your pants and pee on the floor.” Perhaps there will be some additional signs put up, now.

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