posted May 2, 2022

 

THE 2nd WAVE

 

It is very hard to write this down. The initial novelty of a pandemic has vanished, and for me, a lethargy has set in. Same old… I feel a great responsibility to record my experience for history, I will ‘grin and bear it.’

I am from Quebec, Canada. Aside from the political issues, I am not representative of the majority of Canadians in many different ways, as you will see. While my experience of the pandemic is shared by the whole world, my interpretation of events is mine alone. In addition, this is not documenting only the pandemic but my living in it.

 

I believe in honesty and transparency so this will be a naked narrative. There is so much crisis in the world like racism, gender disparity, animal cruelty, climate change… that the pandemic feels like a way to rid the world of the human element – regardless of what you believe or how ‘good’ you are. We might like to think of a ‘just’ remove but frankly, I do not think that the planet or virus cares. I know that these are radical ideas but it is how I feel. I warned you! On September 25, 2020, many provinces in Canada felt that they were in a second wave of the pandemic. It felt like we were on the precipice of so many things. The American election was coming up. This impacted me on so many levels. The science of climate change was disputed by the American administration and many provinces had poor air quality because of wildfires in the States. Supreme court justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg had just died and was about to be replaced by a conservative judge.

 

I’m kind of tired of having to justify my emotional investment in U.S. politics. I have heard that when America sneezes, we catch a cold. Do Canadians have an identity that is distinct from America? Of course we do. Think of America as the background music to our reality.

 

There were race riots in the States because of the Breonna Taylor verdict. As an infuriated and heartbroken white female, I felt hopeless. George Floyd's murder resonated here and that continued to break my heart excessively but I felt then as I do now, we need action, not only sorrow. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota by police. There were protests all over the world. We continued to be united – this time by violence, racism and injustice.

 

On September 28, 2020 it was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jewish celebrants. I watched the service online and had dinner with my parents via Facetime. I am not religious but I like my traditions. Just so you know, I believe in a modified version of God – a sci-fi, quantum physics version.

Obviously, it was incredibly isolating. When I attend synagogue, there is a community. When I have dinner with my family, it’s family. That holiday and many to come, was just me and a caregiver.

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October 1, 2020: Partial lockdown. I woke up early to the sound of construction and thought, ‘well, that’s illegal'. My attendant, Maria, told me that it’s not.

 

Oh yeah, I am disabled from brain surgery in 2003. Physical distance is pretty much impossible for me. My caregivers, who are considered an essential service, have to transfer me to a toilette, bath or bed. This involves very close body contact. They are very precautious but they all live with people whose habits are unknown to me, so I get extremely anxious. If I get the infection and it travels to my brain I’m doomed because I have a working shunt. There is so much we don’t know about this coronavirus. Does it travel in the body? The worry is exhausting.

 

Also, the idea of self-isolation is very different for me. I am never alone. I do rely on coffee shops, restaurants, malls, physiotherapy, etc. being open to get me out of here. I stay home always and write pop-culture reviews so now, in that respect, I have consistency. I do miss going out to movie theatres. The world out there affects me in here.

My physicality usually constrains my movement but this is exacerbated by the pandemic.

Back to the partial lockdown… It turns out that a few businesses are allowed to continue. Almost 40% of Quebec’s construction workforce is halted by the COVID-19 lockdown. Under the red zone label, private gatherings are prohibited and bars, taverns, restaurant dining rooms, cinemas, theatres, and museums are being forced to close for a 28-day period.

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October 2nd: Donald and Melania Trump test positive for the Coronavirus. Whenever there is a mass fatality by a gun shooting in the U.S., many conservative elements say ‘thoughts and prayers.’ No action is taken usually in those cases, as a matter of fact, there is usually resistance to basic gun control. So I will say the same for Donald and Melania Trump now, ‘thoughts and prayers.’

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November 3: U.S. ELECTION! Fingers were crossed. I was so invested in the outcome that I watched the televised results on Canadian and American channels, switching between them.

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November 7: Biden was declared the winner. Trump did not concede and perpetuated a ‘voter-fraud’ narrative. In the days that followed the results, he tried to bring the alleged ‘fix’ to the courts – he did not have a shred of evidence. The world leaders seem to have pulled for Biden by congratulating him while Trump refused to acknowledge Biden’s win.

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November 17: First snow flurries and I spent the night worrying about the impending vaccines. Will they be safe? Didn’t it all happen too fast?

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December 9: Health Canada approves the first vaccine. I worry about allergies. My fear is shared by many but will not prevent me from inoculation. People are hospitalized and die from the virus. This is a fact while my vaccine concerns are simply fears of the unknown. A vaccine is my armour.

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December 10: First night of Hanukah. Earlier that day, I wheeled over to my nearby synagogue with my attendant, Maria, and picked up a bag of holiday treats. It was a mild day, no snow yet, and I wore my favourite sneakers that have decals on them. Tattooed footwear! There were bags outside, on a table – very safe, I must say. Three masked women helped me with my bag by showing me which one to take and one commented that she loved my sneakers! J

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December 25: Lockdown. Merry Christmas. The emphasis placed on this Christian holiday was not surprising but very disappointing. Earlier, the provincial government of Quebec wanted to ease protocols for those celebrating Christmas only. Yup.

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December 31: New Year’s eve. Face-timed with the parental units. Watched the countdown on TV, in bed, champagne in a mug. Like most people, I was looking forward to the end of this frustrating year. Hasta la vista 2020.

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January 6: The Electoral College met in Washington at the U.S. capitol to certify Biden’s win. There was a riot by crazed Trump supporters. I watched it live on Twitter. A reporter kept filming and reporting while in mortal danger. I was in complete disbelief. Right before this happened Trump held a rally and I strongly believe that his lies about winning the election incited the violence that day. Later, he was impeached but not convicted. Sigh.

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March 2: My parents received their first vaccine. The elderly had priority in Quebec. There was a feeling that was ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’. However, the virus was mutating which scared the shit out of me. It was more transmissible in the new variant. Restrictions were easing up which, I felt was a wrong move.

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March 5: I was hearing rumblings about a third wave. Given the emphasis on opening up the economy, I was not surprised. I was sensitive to the hardships small-business owners are encountering but is it worth lives?

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I know that the pandemic will end. I just wonder what we’ll learn from it.

 

Pandemic equals pause. Well, we’ve been given the time to reflect on our intrusion into the natural world or rather, how our presence affects it. You do not need to be a follower of Green politics to see how our retreat from socialization had generated cleaner air and water and the re-emergence of animals into our spaces. It is unbelievable that the virus attacks the lungs, makes breathing problematic and our air had never been more breathable - think about it. I think that we have been given very clear examples. We can choose to learn from them or not.

 

A CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Company] article on basic income for all says, ‘The next time the world is blindsided by a global emergency, the economy will better survive it if everyone is paid what they need to survive it -- before it hits, experts say.’ I don’t think that most people would do nothing. I think that people could pursue what they love to do rather than what they are forced to do to make rent.

 

Imagine giving incentives to students … want to be an engineer? We’ll pay for you to study how to make an electric car. Want to be an architect? We’ll pay for you to study solar panels or wind power for homes. Where do we get the money? Let’s take what’s invested in the military.

 

War? No. Guns? No. Put your rage elsewhere, like in Art. Write a poem or song. Paint or draw. Hunting? Seriously?

 

Universal Healthcare. I am a Canadian and used to this. For me, it is a no-brainer.

 

We can live in what we consider to be a Utopia. We have a choice.