Notes From a Pandemic: Do You Speak COVID?

Americans may think they are exceptional but it appears the Dutch are really outdoing us on this thing. In this article from CNN, anthropologist Harald Prins points out the effect coronavirus has already had on his native language:

Huidhonger / skin hunger: a longing for human contact while in isolation

Anderhalvemetereconomie / six-feet-economy: an economy constructed to avoid spreading coronavirus

Hoestschaamte / cough-shame: the anxiety one may experience about possibly triggering a panic among the people nearby when making a coughing sound for whatever reason

Coronahufter / coronajerk: shopper at a supermarket or store who violates the six-foot social distance prescription or other safe-keeping protocol.

Druppelcontact / spray-contact: exchange of little droplets when sneezing or coughing, esp. as source of infection

Onthamsteren / dehoarding: processing long-stored shelf-stable food into a meal.

Straatschaamte / street-shame: the embarrassment someone experiences when being out for urgently necessary errands during lockdown

Toogviroloog / blather-virologist: dilettante who spreads false or unsubstantiated information about the virus, its transmission, or its treatment

Here in the US we’re still wrapping our heads around social distancing and ventilators and fighting about whether everyone should wear masks and whether or not you’re a liberal pussy if you do. (sigh)

In Everything Give Thanks* … Manners Do Count

I’m turning into a cranky old person. No, wait, wait—let me start again. 🙂

It’s the twenty-first century, and I’ve been wondering when public discourse got so sloppy and mean. We have online trolls, Bernie bros, and, well, we have trump. And I could put up with that (I’m not polite when I speak about trump, after all) but it seems private business communication is not doing too well either. Is it just me? I do not appreciate rudeness from business associates, particularly those who are significantly younger than me and apparently don’t know how our mutual business (publishing) works, much less how to conduct a professional correspondence.

This is what I mean: “I was off that day or I would have caught that error that you, Jamie, discovered and brought to our attention” is not a thank-you. It is certainly not a thank-you worthy of someone with the title of senior editor.

It is not at all a thank-you after I have spent an hour composing an email in which I bent over backward to let you know this without actually pointing an accusatory finger at whoever it was on your staff who got the dates all wrong, dramatically wrong. And the hour I spent before that in discussion with your author, who is even right now** hyperventilating over a date that is, as I say, dramatically different than the one in her contract. (Because when you send me a manuscript with a specific due date, the first thing I do is drop the author a cheery email letting her know I’m on the job and what the pertinent dates are that we must hit together. It’s just good business. And doing that is what revealed that forty-five–day error.)

“I was off that day or I would have caught it” was not a thank-you, sister. Nor is “I’m sorry BUT …” an apology, related to the same incident.***

It seems my idea of “professional” is apparently outdated. The professional thing to do would have been to say, simply, “Wow—good catch! Thank you for letting us know about this! We’re so appreciative you talked our author off the ledge. I’m sorry you spent any time at all on this project—since in order to make it fit our production schedule we’re going to have to rescind our offer and do it in-house. I’m really sorry that leaves a hole in your production schedule; you’ll be the first editor we call for the next assignment. This was all our fault. Thanks so much for all the good work you’ve done for us.”

And that would have been that. Although a kill fee would have been appropriate too. The best publishers do that, you know. Ha. I worked in a publishing house, remember? I know how these things work.

This is the way the world goes, I guess: people make mistakes. But my mother always said there was no substitute for good manners and no excuse for bad ones. So I was annoyed about this incident. And I stayed annoyed for a couple days and then I moved on. I know my worth, and it’s not determined by someone whose mother didn’t teach her any manners.

* 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV. No exceptions, no excuses.
** This happened some years ago.
*** We saw this phenomenon recently in the news when Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) confronted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the Capitol about her vote, then uttered a remarkably gender specific vulgarity at her. And there were witnesses. The outcry was such that he had to “apologize” the next day on the House floor, where he said sorry but added he couldn’t apologize for his “passion, loving my God, my family, or my country.” Good grief. As someone on Twitter said, “An apology + explanation that defends the offending behavior is not an apology. It’s another insult. Here, Yolo is suggesting AOC doesn’t love God, family or country (because he does and has to make an exception to his apology).” I rest my case.

I Have Concerns …

There are many, many things that concern me about trump. (Or I should say, the people around him, the people who both manipulate and control him—because surely we can all agree that trump himself is unintelligent and possibly mentally unwell. When left to his own devices—millions from daddy, wasted and gone; failed casino, failed airline, failed anything bearing the trump name; bankruptcies and corruption—he’s a loser. Sorry, Jana Baldwin Dotson, local realtor and former Facebook “friend” who told me he’s a great businessman, just look at his numbers, I’ve looked at his numbers, and they suck.)

These are some of his onegoing transgressions that concern me:

  • He is a mobster, a money-launderer, a criminal. I’m judging him by the company he keeps.
  • He has let many of our government agencies die by failing to fill positions. Meanwhile he has packed management positions at the FBI, DOJ, and State Department with loyalists, effectively destroying our nonpartisan civil service.
  • Others he has poisoned by putting a trumpanzee at the top to twist it into something evil (or kill it).
  • He demands loyalty inside (behind closed doors), and obstruction outward-facing, toward Congress, toward the media, toward the American people.
  • There are still children behind bars on our border.
  • He has completely corrupted the GOP. Party of Lincoln, my ass. And so many of them are just dumb. Evil, yes, but dumb. It’s a bad combination.

These concern me a lot:

  • A pandemic run amok, the federal government having completely abdicated its responsibilities to the people.
  • Obstruction of voting from within; manipulation of American voters (the dumb ones) from without. The ongoing campaign against mail-in ballots.
  • Getting rid of all the inspectors general.

But these issues are what concern me most right now:

  • The attempt to take over our court system. They’ve been stacking the courts for the last four years. Five if you take in Mitch McConnell’s refusal to let Obama replace Scalia in an election year. Kavanaugh, of course, is a good example of the unqualified people who have been put forth, but there are worse. The administration has already completely taken over the DC Circuit Court … and they’ve just made a sloppy attempt at SDNY, which has had more than one investigation of potential concern to trump:

>Halkbank, a Turkish bank that evaded US sanctions against Iran; stopping this would please Erdoğan
>Investigation of Rudy Giuliani
>Investigation of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman’s federal campaign finance violations
>Michael Cohen (ongoing)
>Investigating the trump inaugural committee for illegal contributions from foreigners

  • The replacement of VOA (Voice of America) management with a trump loyalist. This now gives trump the media empire he always wanted.*
  • The revelation that Russian intelligence placed a bounty on US soldiers in Afghanistan, and trump knew. He knew. This is treason, pure and simple.

I could go on and on about this.

* Really, the US Agency for Global Media, which includes Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Radio Free Asia; Middle East Broadcasting Networks; Radio y Televisión Martí (Cuba); as well as the VOA.

The Last of Its Kind: The Samsung Story (Short Version)

We’d remodeled most of the kitchen during the three years after we bought this house. Appliances were black. Except … not the fridge. We were still using the one that came with the house. So when Gerry retired and we married and he moved here for good, buying a new fridge was high on the list of things to do.

I’d had a fridge with the freezer on the bottom years before, and loved it, so when we went shopping and found a beautiful black fridge with French doors and the pull-out freezer drawer, we were delighted.

We bought it in November of 2015 and moved the fridge that had come with the house out to the garage. By February 2016 the beautiful black fridge inside had become so noisy we called the warranty hotline about it, and a young man came out and fixed it. Sigh of relief, right?

Well, no. February 2020, it became very noisy and quit cooling. It was out of warranty so we called our preferred vendor and when they came out, they took one look at it, backed away, and said, “You need to call Samsung. They’re being sued in a class-action lawsuit about this problem.”

So we did call them, and while we waited two weeks for them to get around to us, I researched online. Sure enough: the problem we were experiencing with our Samsung refrigerator has been experienced by thousands of Americans. It’s all over social media. Even all over my social media: when I mentioned it on Facebook, I heard plenty of horror stories.

I also heard that fridges don’t last twenty years like they used to in the (ahem) good old days. I heard that if I had a fridge for ten years I was lucky. Well, this Samsung fridge wasn’t even four years old yet.* How do they get away with this? Why are Samsung refigerators even on the market?

I don’t have an answer for that.

Meanwhile, our kitchen fridge was fixed and we relaxed … for exactly thirty days. A month later the thing quit cooling and got very noisy, and after we fumed about it for a couple days and solicited brand recommendations from friends, we went out and bought a new fridge. An LG.

Even while we were loitering in Lowe’s to make our purchase, a woman struck up a conversation with us and we learned she’d had trouble with Samsung too.

So this is what I want to leave you with: Do not buy Samsung appliances.

* Worse, in 2019 the old garage fridge crapped out—we estimate its age at minimum sixteen years—so we bought a new one. What kind? [sigh] You guessed it, another Samsung. So we are nurturing a viper in our bosom.

We Give Up: The Trump Cult Will Never Change

We’re talking about it again. It being the utter incomprehensibility of any human with a functioning brain being able to continue to support and defend Donald Trump after all we’ve seen over the last four-plus years. What’s interesting to me is the number of people I know who have very recently remarked that they are just now fed up enough to unfriendtrumpers. It’s happened to me, a friend mentioned doing it this morning in an email, I see it in Facebook comments, Twitter, texts. It’s like we kept waiting for them to come to their senses. But no.

And seriously: no. They will never change. They have been propagandized / brainwashed into the cult of Trump. They can’t see or understand past their worship of him. I mean that word literally, too: worship. He is their god.

When I first met Gerry we talked a lot about Ireland during the Troubles. This was a topic that had fascinated me in its moment, when I was a tween and teenager and young adult. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the whole Protestant/Catholic thing (I was young, y’all). I read lots of books, though, trying to.

By the time I met Gerry in my forty-ninth year, I understood the history, but not why, three hundred–plus years later, it still exists. For example, why, why, why do Orangemen (Protestants in Northern Ireland) throw themselves a big parade every year and pointedly march through Catholic neighborhoods? To me the parade is one thing (in theory it celebrates a military victory of a Protestant king over a Catholic king that happened a long time ago) but to do it through the Catholic neighborhoods, that’s just assholery. If you know the history, you realize it was not actually a religious conflict; in fact, it was a nationalism issue with a dollop of ethnicity, plus some good old-fashioned resentment/jealousy dating back all the way to Saint Patrick.

If you think this sounds a little bit like Trump supporters, you’re right. I’ve read the Hochschild. I’ve read the Isenberg, the J. D. Vance.** (I read them in my empathy stage.) If you don’t have the stomach for three full-lenth books right now (or, like me, are fresh out of empathy) try this 2017 New York Times essay from political journalist Thomas B. Edsall. About Trump voters, he says,

These are men and women who are, in the main, still working, still attending church, still members of functioning families, but who often live in communities where neighbors, relatives, friends and children have been caught up in disordered lives. The worry that this disorder has become contagious — that decent working or middle class lives can unravel quickly — stalks many voters, particularly in communities where jobs, industries and a whole way of life have slowly receded, the culminating effect of which can feel like a sudden blow.

Edsall goes on to explain these voters/supporters saw their way of life changing and believed Trump would prevent it, prevent the further erosion of their good lives. That whole make-America-great-again thing. I read this article and wondered (with no disrespect for Professor Edsall intended): Who told these guys they should only expect to get better off? Who told them nothing untoward would happen in the expanse of their entire lives? Reversals happen. (Think Wall Street 1929.) I had a big reversal when I got divorced at age thirty-seven. And what with a pandemic upon us and an imminent climate crisis, there are more reversals in store unless we do something about it.***

Everyone has his or her Troubles. Though perhaps without the cars set afire. And I understand being change averse, I do. But when someone shows me who he is—as Trump has done—I do believe him. (Apologies to Maya Angelou.) He’s been living his racism and lies (to name two of his openly apparent faults) for decades.

“Why?” I asked Gerry, when we were talking about that seemingly never-ending Irish argument. “And how will it ever end?” And he said: “Those old assholes have to die. And then their children who became like them [not all do] have to die. And eventually it will die out.” Get that? The older generation has to go, and the younger generation has to change, has to realize that peace is better than constant strife and violence. Has to decipher the lies they’ve been told. Has to let go of the hate.

And it may take some time.

Early on in this debacle, I had hopes that good journalism would expose trump for the blowhard, lying con man that he is. And it has. But the minds of the true believers are already closed—I and every progressive I have regular contact with has tried to reach the Trump supporter(s) we know best and come to the same conclusion. Whether it’s anger or ignorance or racism or something else entirely, we have realized, one by one, that there is no reaching the people we once called friends (or Uncle Buster).

So we let them go.

* In every sense of the word. On Facebook, yes, but also in every conceivable way, such as not associating with them.
** Arlie Russell Hochschild–Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right; Nancy Isenberg–White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America; J. D. Vance–Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. (Jared Yates Sexton has some interesting books too.) That I’ve read the J. D. Vance is not, necessarily, a recommendation of it. But I do make a point of reading many points of view so that I am well-informed. Unlike Trump supporters.
*** Though I don’t talk much about my brother these days, he weathered a big reversal too. He had a good living as a truck driver moving the US mail from Nashville to St. Louis and back. Then in 1991 he was diagnosed with MS. He reported it, of course, on his DOT annual and continued to drive for another two or three years, always passing the DOT physical, until the insurer of the company he worked for declined to insure him. That put him out of a job and made him unemployable in his field. So … he started mowing. He mowed fields and yards all over Bedford County. Then he built greenhouses (he’d taken all those building trades classes in high school … oh, and had grown up with a dad who built furniture and extra rooms on houses) on his multi-acre property and started growing plants that he both wholesaled and sold at farmers markets for years and years. All of this while dealing with the effects of a chronic illness. This, friends, is what it means to come back from a reversal. You do what you have to do.

Teach Your Children Well*

My parents, as I’ve noted before, were verbal people who liked to talk, liked to (ahem) exercise the language. As a career pilot in the air force, my father exercised a very different language—often acronymical (I made that up) in nature, much of it profane, all of it evocative and sometimes humorous.

Thus we had ASAP (which meant immediately in our military family), and when Daddy went TDY (on a temporary duty assignment) he stayed in the BOQ (bachelor officers’ quarters), even though we kids knew that bachelors were unmarried men. When things were messed up they were FUBAR (an adjective) or we’d created a SNAFU (noun); we were much older before we knew all the words in those. Something that occurred a long time ago happened “when Christ was a cadet”; one of my most special birthday parties was at the “officer’s club” (back, you know, when Christ as a cadet). Military families either lived “on base” or “off base” (we always lived off). If we went shopping we went to the commissary (for groceries) or the BX (for everything else). Daddy was in SAC (the Strategic Air Command) and was “on alert” (“7 on 7 off”). He did two tours of duty in Vietnam. We kids were, of course, air force brats.**

There was pilot talk—like stalls (you really don’t want to know), chopper, touch and go (practice landing), flight suit—and we knew the phonetic alphabet too: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu. Gosh, just typing those brings my dad’s voice to my ears. 🙂

That was my family’s personal lexicon—words we used every day. But the military life is a wondrous source of slang, and though much of it is lost (What phrases did soldiers use at Concord? I wonder), we do know that men in the trenches of World War 1 spawned fed up, trench coat, and pushing up daisies, among many others. Because troops from different countries fought side by side, the French word souvenir came to replace memento, and Canadian troops introduced swipe to describe acquiring something by unofficial means. This Daily Mail article says historians Peter Doyle and Julian Walker analyzed thousands of documents—letters from the front, newspapers, diaries—from the period to trace language development:

Mr Walker, who works at the British Library, said: ‘The war was a melting pot of classes and nationalities, with people thrown together under conditions of stress.

‘It was a very creative time for language. Soldiers have always had a genius for slang and coming up with terms.

‘This was a citizen army—and also the first really literate army—and at the end of the war, those that survived took their new terms back to the general population.’

This example is a case of many wartime armies serving together and influencing each other, but soldiers who served far from home—British troops in India, say—picked up local words (pyjamas, bangles, shampoo, veranda, calico, for example).

World War 2 troops introduced big wheel, gremlins, and for the birds—as well as the aforementioned SNAFU and all variants of FUBAR. Vietnam gave us Charlie (Viet Cong = VC = Victor Charlie), in country (on the ground in South Vietnam), klick (for kilometer), friendly fire, and on and on. You’ve heard them in movies, I’m sure.

Slang and jargon serve to draw a people group together; military slang often develops in stressful situations and is used to diffuse or buffer fear. Interestingly, while the military situation is similar from generation to generation, the words to describe it change. For example, the condition we now call post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been variously called nostalgia (American Civil War), combat hysteria, war neurosis (Russo-Japanese war), shell-shock (World War 1), combat fatigue, battle fatigue, combat exhaustion (all World War 2 and Korean War); finally Vietnam gave us post-Vietnam syndrome, which has since become defined as PTSD, though that wasn’t coined until 1980. (Here’s an interesting article about that.) What we now call Gulf War syndrome—a physical reaction rather than the psychological reaction called PTSD—has an equally interesting lexicon: from DaCosta’s syndrome (Civil War) to soldier’s heart (WW1), effort syndrome (WW2), and in-country effect (Vietnam).

I bring all this up not just because I am fascinated by words and language (and particularly slang), but also because today is [not, in this second iteration] Memorial Day here in the United States—the day during which we honor the servicemen and -women who have died in the service of our country. We will not forget you.

* This article first appeared on my other blog on 25 May 2015.
** Interestingly, this phrase hails from Great Britain, and was originally an acronym. Wikipedia tells us, “When a member of the British Army was assigned abroad and could take his family, the soldier was listed as BRAT status, which stood for: British Regiment Attached Traveler.”

Gardening Moments

I did some more work in the secret garden this morning. I walked across the deck and when I got close, I startled a bird up to the top of the fence. It was a young dove, and I stopped immediately and spoke quietly to it. Then its mother flew up to the top of the fence, too, and we all stood there quietly, having a moment. Then mom flew off, and her teenager followed. And I carried the shovel down into the garden and got to work. #secretgarden #gardeningmoments

Are You Biased?

Remember, conservatives: just because a source (say, NPR) provides information you don’t like doesn’t mean it is a biased source. Actually, that conclusion means you are. (I knew this about you already, but I don’t like to argue. Now I’m just tired of your gaslighting. Your tribalism.)

Don’t shrug at me and say “It’s hard to know who to trust.” No, it’s not hard at all. Trust the institutions you grew up with (newspapers, magazines, television news). Fact-check them. Read their fact-checks. There are good sources for judging bias. Check them too. Then check the facts again.


The Wages of Coronavirus: Canceled Travel

I’d heard several stories of friends who, like us, had to cancel long-planned, long-anticipated travel plans. On May first, I asked a question on Facebook: Have you canceled a trip already?

The answer was a resounding yes, and this just from the fifty or so people who happened to see my post. From short weekend trips to destination weddings, lots of travel is not happening, which is a microcosm of the economy in collapse. Because it’s not just flights—it’s hotels and restaurants and tourist shops and museums and other destinations. It’s profoundly affected the life of a friend of mine who has fallen on hard times, but who avoids homelessness by housesitting for people who prefer not to board their pets when they travel. Up to last month, she has stayed booked up. But people aren’t leaving home now. My friend wrote: “My trip up north to sit with my friends Alice (a golden retriever) and Flinder (a black cat at the end of her life) was canceled.” This breaks my heart on so many levels.

Friends whose son is a rising-star singer-songwriter in Nashville were planning to go to London to see him perform this month, but now they’re not. He’s not going either—the show’s been canceled. Other friends have canceled trips to Italy (Milan, Bellagio, Florence and Lerici), to London/Edinburgh (this friend thinks a trip to Greece in October will be canceled too), Sweden (to see grandchildren; maybe at Christmas, she hopes now), a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Portugal (with sisters), and others to Germany, England/Wales, and Paris with a teenaged daughter who is mightily disappointed. I feel her pain. Oh, Paris …

Another has pushed the date of a trip from Rome to Lisbon, Portugal, from this October to next year; still another was planning to go to Rouen, France, in November, but assumes it is out of the question. A friend of mine who lives in the English countryside was expecting friends from Australia—and now isn’t. A British friend who lives here in Tennessee was planning to go home for a visit, but that’s not happening either. Another friend wrote he is still hoping his vacation to St Maarten in June is still a go, while another assumes her trip to Newfoundland this summer is not. Our friends who live in Germany travel to various spots in Europe at least once a month, but all that’s off for now; they’ve canceled trips to Athens, Berlin, England, and Italy’s Amalfi Coast—and that’s just through May, they say.

Grandparents are canceling visits to see their grandchildren. A friend in Seattle says his daughter didn’t bring her son up from California in March, even though the flight wasn’t canceled: “We all thought it was too risky flying into Seattle,” he said. A friend in Colorado routinely hops down to Arizona to see her grandchildren, but not now. An Italian married to an Irishman living in the London area was expecting her mum to fly over from Rome to spend three weeks during the Easter season, but that didn’t happen. And I’ve just canceled our trip to Rhode Island for Sybil’s birthday (and mine!) at the end of May. For one thing, the state requires a fourteen-day quarantine for outsiders—and, well, that’s no fun.

Canceled excursions stateside included a Jersey Shore vacation in September; Montana in August; Boston, New York City (twice!), Tucson, Sarasota, Indianapolis; Napa Valley. A scuba-diving friend was going to Treasure Island (Florida). Another family was planning on Florida during spring break; Easter weekend backpacking in New Mexico went bye-bye for another, as well as a mid-March trip to see the sandhill crane migration in Salida, Colorado. These friends also had a Memorial Day trip to Paonia, Colorado, for a music festival and hiking … gone with the wind now.

Another friend canceled a June trip to Michigan to visit her sick grandma. Someone else skipped a family/baby shower in LA in March. Another friend reports her sister, who’d planned a three-week trip to Hawaii, has to take the vacation at home, due to stringent work scheduling. Bummer. One California-based friend was in Seattle when the state shut down, and has been there for a couple months now. Lucky he’s retired.

A Nashville-area friend tells me she and her husband had tickets to four concerts, now all canceled. My London-based friend says she had tickets for a music festival in Stockholm to see her fave band (the National) due to play there the 31st May—but a couple weeks ago the airlines canceled their flights. The festival seems to be still on—but now they can’t get there. Another friend tells me he and his wife were due to go from their home in Texas to Massachussetts to see Rage Against the Machine’s reunion concert in Boston. Someone else—a Louisiana native living far from home—is missing JazzFest in New Orleans this year.

Speaking of annual events, a good friend of mine goes home to Louisville (Kentucky) every year on “the first Saturday in May” to celebrate her birthday at the Kentucky Derby—but the race has been postponed to September (for now).

Author friends have canceled trips to writer’s conferences in California, Arizona, and elsewhere. One canceled a research trip to Canada this summer, which was just as well, as anyone entering Canada has to quarantine for fourteen days. Others mentioned foregoing professional conferences or trade shows in San Diego, Chicago, Nashville, and Georgia.

Weddings, of course, are being canceled right and left. Friends say they had a wedding in June postponed, and another wedding in Denver in August they will not attend. Another is disappointed that a September wedding on Vancouver Island has been postponed. A St. Louis wedding in June is still happening, but without guests; the couple have pushed the celebration to their first wedding anniversary next year. (I bet that will be a blast!) A friend’s grandson called off a May wedding in Nashville, another’s son was supposed to wed in Roatan, Honduras, this very weekend. There was a Fourth of July Florida beach destination wedding for a nephew’s wedding, and another had a wedding postponed from late June this year to the same weekend in 2021. Most dramatically, a friend from my California youth had a son set to marry a German woman on the beach at Anna Maria Island, Florida, last month. Thirty of the bride’s family and friends were flying in from Germany, as well as the brother of the groom, who resides in Madrid, Spain. That’s a lot of travel plans canceled there, folks. (They’re doing it next year, now.)

We are all a bit shocked at how quickly this happened to us. A friend who routinely combines business travel with visits to family and friends remarked: “I had been surprised at how empty my travel plans were for 2020; now it seems prescient.” Another notes, “It’s just going to be a stay-home kind of year. We’re trying to decide if we feel safe to do short-range trips to sightsee, hike, and camp, no more than a couple hours from home.” But this said it all for me: “We had a big cruise with Viking for twenty-two days in August. Gone.”

And there’s more—the once-in-a-lifetime events, some of which cannot be re-created. For example, on the day I posted my question, an author friend replied that she was supposed to fly to London that very night to accept a prize for her first published novel. One family has a daughter graduating from med school this month and going straight to the COVID fight; they are proud and worried—and disappointed that there will not be a graduation ceremony. Another proud papa I know was on his way to Chicago for his daughter’s college graduation; it won’t be redone, it’s just … past. And finally, the extended family—children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren—of an adored matriarch who died last year rented “the perfect house in Maine” during their beloved’s birthday week, to remember and celebrate her life. My friend says, “I know there are much worse things in life but we are hugely disappointed.” Of course they are, and my heart aches for them.