Mask Off, Mask Back On

I still don’t wear a mask walking through the hallways and staircases of my apartment building to do laundry or check the mail, but I am once again donning a mask when entering supermarkets, retail stores, and other indoor businesses.

My reasoning is simple:

The people who live in my building are analogous to cohabitants in a bubble. We let each other pass with distance when applicable; but, usually, I’m alone when walking to and from. Also, many of my neighbors are older or live with young kids and, while that doesn’t mean anything, I take comfort that they presumably practice safe behavior.

In other places, though, such as grocery stores and healthcare offices, I don’t know the lifestyles of those strangers. I don’t know if they’re unmasked because of vaccination or because they want to be perceived as vaccinated. I’m also cognizant of virus variants.

While I embraced the freedom of shopping while unmasked for the past few weeks, I am masked again. Echoing the dogma of 2020, the three-layer mask protects me and, in the chance I’m asymptomatic, I’m also protecting someone else.


Mask On, Mask Off

I used to wear a mask while walking through hallways and up and down staircases to get to the communal laundry room of my apartment building. I carried disposable gloves for touching anything that could be touched by someone else. I frequently brought disinfectant wipes for cleaning machine lids, coin push trays, and folding surfaces.

Thinking back, I smile about the days of 2020 when nobody knew what to do.

That was then. That was before I was vaccinated and adjusted my vigilant behaviors.

It’s now July 2021 and I did laundry this week. I didn’t wear a mask. I didn’t bring gloves. I didn’t disinfect anything. Instead, between washing machine and dryer trips, I reentered my apartment and washed my hands.


I am Vaccinated

With these three words, I join a growing echelon of the world’s population who are willing to be injected with bioengineered technology in humanity’s fight against SARS-CoV-2.

I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, comprised of a modified adenovirus and other genetic code to tell my body to stimulate an immune response if I get infected with the virus. The behind-the-scenes science is amazing.

Clinical trials indicate that two weeks after J&J vaccination, I am protected against moderate to severe disease; and four weeks provide 100% protection against hospitalization and death. In other words, I’ll be relatively okay if I get infected.

Vaccine side effects are more common in people ages 18 to 59. That’s my group. The first 24 hours included a series of restlessness, body chills, low-grade fever, and severe headaches. The next 48 hours brought on muscular aches and mild pain at the injection site. After 72 hours, I was fine.

Here’s a picture of my first post-vaccine selfie.


Looking Forward

One year ago, on March 17, 2020, I resurrected my blog with a focus on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Fast forward and the world is different. There is hope for a renewed future. For the first time in a long time, the world unites to fight the virus — in the form of vaccines.

As of today, over 381 million residents in 72 countries received vaccines manufactured by one of 10 companies. This represents almost 5% of the world’s population. Most vaccines require two doses. I received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The latest global data indicates 21% of U.S. residents are partially vaccinated and 12% (including me) are fully vaccinated. Israel has the largest share of vaccinated residents, with 59% partially and 48% fully. Its neighbor, Egypt, has the smallest share with less than 0.1% partially.

In time, as more vaccine manufacturers are approved for distribution and as more countries (and states and locations) receive supply, more people will hopefully sign up to receive doses.

Controversy always gets critics and naysayers. Vaccines are never universally accepted. However, I hope that a sufficient number of people around the world will choose vaccination as a first step to end the pandemic and eradicate the virus.

Coronavirus Musings

Hello 2021!

My last blog post was six months ago today — when I wrote about normality.

I was offered a job that day, and I’ve been working since as an English teacher at a private elementary school for gifted and talented students. I teach second and third grade. Here’s a link to the impressive faculty.

The pandemic is still with us. Will it ever end?

Vaccines are new. The first U.S. vaccine was given in December 2020. After three months, it seems that most Americans are either fully vaccinated, signing up for an appointment, waiting to get an appointment, or waiting to be eligible.

A February 2021 poll by the Associated Press indicates that 15% of Americans don’t want the vaccine and another 17% probably won’t get it. The jury’s out if herd immunity can exist without them.

Outside of school…

I’ve been keeping busy watching assorted TV shows and movies on Netflix and other Roku channels. I’m enjoying the mindless entertainment of NCIS. I started watching it a few years ago. I’m currently in season 9 (out of 18 and counting).

I subscribe to digital editions of The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The New York Times; and I enjoy reading the different apps for various styles of reporting and storytelling.

Across social media, I use Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook Groups the most. For instance, I follow a lot of travel photographers, indoor gardeners, and celebrity animals on Instagram and I constantly get inspired. Tucker the dog and Chunk the groundhog get me to laugh all the time.

I recently watched the first two parts of a YouTube video series featuring dialect coach Erik Singer. He “travels” around the country and explains how accents are born, die, and are connected to each other. Among other things, the first video taught me about monophthongization and the second video taught me about the Northern Cities Vowel Shift. I love learning about language!


Normal Life

The last time I wrote about “the new normal” was when I redefined the term in June 2020.

In that blog post, I explained that I began using the term because others used it. Recognizing that the pandemic wasn’t going away in the near future, I suggested that we describe our lives under the universal header of life.

Fast forward to Seth Godin who also shrugged off the term.

Using plain language, Seth explained why we live in a normal of now and why history will look back on our current lives as footnotes in a larger narrative. He suggested that it’s silly to say we live in a new normal when we will always live in new normals.

That’s life.