Wednesday, 22 December 2021
A Season of Never-ending Discontent

by Phyllis Chesler

The people in my city and in our world are reeling. In just one day, among my own very small circle of people: A cousin attended a concert for the sake of some “exuberance” in her life, came down with symptoms, and is now waiting for the results of her Covid test. If not, she would have visited with me yesterday. A dear friend attended a Memorial service for her closest friend the other day, was just informed that two other attendees had tested positive—thus, today she hunted everywhere for a Covid test and was finally told to return tomorrow. Yesterday, my rabbi had to cancel a class in order to deal with a Covid issue in his family. My assistant’s partner, a teacher, just had three breakthrough cases for fully vaccinated staff members and now everyone has to be tested. Another close friend’s friend, a man who drove for five hours to spend a week here seeing Broadway plays, found that all the plays had shut down. Some places of worship have closed.

I just cancelled my weekend plan with friends at a restaurant in one of the outer boroughs.

We have been here before. But now we are weary, sullen. The Wuhan virus, whether intentional or accidental, refuses to quit and has marked our lives forever. Too many have died. Some are still enduring the long-term consequences of Covid. People are locked down in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. The children? Too soon to tell. In my city, beloved stores remain boarded up. It is too cold to enjoy the festive, sidewalk restaurants. Sitting indoors, masked, for any kind of a performance, which I just tried to do at the opera proved too difficult, quite unpleasant—at least for me.

Making plans, cancelling plans, refusing to make plans, has unsteadied us all. Thank human inventiveness for our ability to livestream movies in our own homes. But the fearfulness, anxiety, insecurity, isolation, has had some serious mental health consequences. Some of the women in my life are psychologically bouncing off walls: Flying into royal, ranting rages, lying outright, viewing bad actors as victims whom they must defend, crying victim themselves even as they go on the attack. Some claim identities that are not their own and become mortally offended when the proverbial child tells the Empress that she is quite naked.

Is this just happening to me? Or are short tempers and wild accusations rampant? Oh, do tell.

We will all be celebrating this year in smaller groups. I would like to wish us all a Covid-free New Year but I hesitate to do so; clearly, it may not be possible.

Posted on 12/22/2021 12:25 PM by Phyllis Chesler
23 Dec 2021
Thank you for this. I found it poignant and empathy inducing even though not my own experience, which I give as high praise. I belong to the subset of people at the juncture of the venn diagrams- people who were 'essential' in some way to their organization and so at work at least some days in the worst lockdowns, and most days overall since this started; so never not seeing and talking to people unmediated by technology; living in a city in which we were always allowed outdoors; outdoors for a time every day during; able always to get my prescriptions and groceries; able during inter-lockdowns to go to restaurants occasionally, not just in patio season either; and personally not very inclined to travel or really vitally interested in the aforementioned restaurants when they were not available. I am about to see y 81 year old parents for the first time in two years, though I was reluctant to accept their visit from another city several hundred miles away. Unlike my mother, I was not of the temperament to be upset by the potential of a second missed Christmas. I could live this way indefinitely, if with increasing irritation. Most of the things COVID keeps me from doing I would hardly do anyway. I am 51, overweight, diabetic, have hypertension, and might be slightly asthmatic, so I've got vulnerabilities. I am not free of COVID worry. And that works with my native personality to further assist me right now. On the other hand most of my actual health worries are about those issues themselves, or other matters, not COVID at all, just as they were before the pandemic and will be after it. No specific point, really. Just that I felt the power of your article despite having rather a different pandemic experience to date.

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