You know, once I was fully vaccinated I felt so enormously protected in terms of spreading COVID-19. I felt as though in the midst of this shiteous pandemic with all these terrible ongoing repercussions I had been given the miraculous opportunity to take myself out of the equation. All the mysterious grim algorithms driving who gets sick and how badly, I could just remove myself from ALL of that fucked-up math because I was fully protected which meant everyone was fully protected from me.

I have been having a really hard time accepting the fact that none of us have the luxury of thinking this way anymore. Of course, if everyone was vaccinated we almost certainly could, but that’s not the case because too many people are terrible and/or terribly foolish/misinformed.

So now we all have to forge onward in this new world of probably you won’t accidentally kill that person you just walked by but WHO EVEN KNOWS ANYTHING AMIRITE which I suppose is technically how we have always lived but it sure feels more goddamned fraught.

Meanwhile, I now sneeze three times. THREE TIMES, that’s how many times I sneeze, consecutively, whenever I sneeze. Three rapid full-bodied sneezes, complete with Michael Jackson crotch-grab if I’m alone (because I’m a slave to the rhythm just kidding my pelvic floor is nearly half a fucking century old), which is not at all a thing I ever used to do. In fact, I’ve always been secretly irritated by multiple sneezers, like one is worthy of a “Bless u” then the second one you kind of politely ignore, but a third?? IN A PANDEMIC??? Who even DOES that, except now I know who: Me. ME! Three sneezes and don’t even try to completely stop the third while you’re in the frozen aisle at Safeway or you will make a horrifically loud fart-squeak out the side of your stupid mask and no one will be protected from you being you, NO ONE.

For the last 15 years or so, my mom, her longtime partner, and my aunt have all shared a house together in Port Angeles. You should see the view from this place, it’s perched on a hill and oriented towards the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A great busy expanse of water topped by mountains can be savored from their windows, with Victoria, B.C. glittering in the distance like a collection of fairy lights.

My mom’s partner John died about a month ago. He was a man of many hobbies and interests and a full-blown packrat, so there has been an enormous amount of stuff to go through. You know: stuff. So much stuff. Papers, miscellaneous electronics, gadgets and equipment and tools, double and tripled-up supplies of various kinds, furniture, and on it goes.

There’s been a lot of work to be done, not just to clear out John’s no-longer-needed things but to go through their collective things as well and make fresh space for an updated living arrangement.

I’m several hours away, they can’t do a bunch of heavy schlepping on their own, and we’re all in the midst of an ongoing pandemic with particularly high numbers where they live — what a mess, right?

Except when I arrived last weekend to help out, the garage had already been largely tackled by a neighbor. While I was there, a friend’s husband came by and hauled away all the electronics, and another friendly neighbor arrived the next morning to take away a full dump run. I’m not even going to get into the whole stranger-than-fiction story of the young car enthusiast couple who bought John’s beloved vintage Thunderbird, developed a lovely relationship with my mom, and are carrying his ashes in the car so part of him can join their driving adventures.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” my mom mused during my visit, and I had this moment of realizing that I have been fully stuck in worst-times mode for weeks now.

THESE times are the WORST of the times, they’re the fucking WORST, I hate EVERYTHING ABOUT THESE WORST-ASS TIMES, is generally how my thought process has been going, and listen, I’m not here to aggressively bright-side what is legitimately a steaming pile of worstness, however:

there are good things happening too, and people who are looking out for one another, and it would probably be helpful to focus on those things sometimes, self.

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