Pandemic and the after times

Hopefully, this week tips the balance between the number of people Sam and I know who got sick with COVID-19 (a lot) and the number who’ve been immunized (only a handful). Texas has lagged the rest of the country in delivering vaccine, and our county has lagged even further, at least until they organized this week’s 10K-per-day, multi-day, drive-through shot clinic at the speedway.

Photo by Dallas Morning News

The pandemic forced Sam and me to reshape our lives quite a bit over the past year, and the routine that evolved likely helped our mental health. We took a few days at Christmas to visit Michael and Holly in Austin (combining our bubbles proved just fine) and found that, in coming back home, re-establishing the daily rhythm took a little effort. We thought our routine was a gentle one, but it was a routine nonetheless.

Now, we can see that the routine will change again as the pandemic recedes. Sam says he finds it hard to imagine that things will go back to the way they were, even though he would like to go dancing again and some horseback riding competitions could return. Those leisure activities mean taking time off work, something he’s done very little of in the past year.

In addition, we like much of what we’ve folded into our lives since the pandemic shut us in. We found time to learn calculus, which has become a small, joyful part of nearly every day now. We also look forward to bike riding on the weekend. (We signed up for a virtual challenge because, first, his sister suggested it, and second, because it seemed like a peak pandemic-y thing to do.) And Saturday night has become movie night for us in a way that Alamo Drafthouse couldn’t replicate, snacks and all: we set the schedule and we curate our own themes. Right now, we are watching films that explore civil rights and our country’s dark history of white supremacy.

Many new things we do may continue, including the favorite parts of our routine. Sam says he will continue wearing masks for allergy season or whenever he needs to protect himself from dust. I suspect we may don them in public other times, too. It’s kind of gobsmacking how, in the before times, we were expected to go to work with a cold, or otherwise be out and about and infecting each other. Egad.

In other words, I don’t think it’s just the family dog who’d rather we keep the current routine. Maybe that old routine from the before times wasn’t so free after all, subjecting us all to much more of a rigid and unhealthy grind than we remember.



  1. Nancy LeMay on February 3, 2021 at 12:26 am

    I love that your daily calculus time is joyful.

    What civil rights/white supremacy films have you most appreciated? “Just Mercy” and “I Am Not Your Negro” have my vote.

    • Peggy on February 3, 2021 at 4:46 pm

      We built a pretty long and varied list that include the titles you enjoyed, Nancy, and also include sports-based exploration, like Invictus and 42; classics Corinna, Corinna, Milk, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner; documentaries John Lewis: Good Trouble, Cesar’s Last Fast, The Other Side of Immigration, Dolores; hero’s journeys Selma, Hidden Figures, Green Book, Harriet and Lee Daniel’s The Butler.

      I read Stephenson’s Just Mercy before I visited Montgomery three summers ago and I confess that if I had seen him, I would have fan-girled a bit. We owe him a lot.

      • Peggy on February 3, 2021 at 4:59 pm

        I forgot to list Crip Camp! It’s a documentary on the disability rights movement.

  2. Janemarie Clark on February 3, 2021 at 1:05 am

    Ditto Nancy- I’d love to see your civil rights movie list! Many virtual hugs to you and Sam. I too hope that the simplicity and quiet of this year is not a temporary thing. But I very much want to spend time with friends and family again one day!

    • Peggy on February 3, 2021 at 4:39 pm

      Spending time with friends and family is the biggest thing we miss, too. It’s a huge, aching hole. Funny how I really don’t miss going out, but I miss meeting a friend for coffee, or sharing a potluck dinner. Zoom is just not the same.

  3. Annette Fuller on February 3, 2021 at 3:02 am

    I am amazed at you guys learning calculus! Way to go.
    I have wondered, too, if masks would become a permanent thing.

    • Peggy on February 3, 2021 at 6:05 pm

      They certainly are in other countries. I think I’m going to always wear one on airplanes and in airports. I’m tired of always getting sick after I travel.

  4. Shelly Tucker on February 5, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    “Calculus” and “joy” are not two words that I would use in the same sentence … but I’m glad that YOU get a kick out of it. Masks will probably be part of our wardrobe for ALL of 2021 and beyond, but I don’t mind it so much. It means I don’t have to wear much makeup! The pandemic, for us, has been a little difficult, because we don’t have a “bubble,” but it hasn’t been horrible. I DO look forward to a trip to Oregon to visit the kids when this is over. And, I learned to cut my own hair (it actually looks fine, because I wear a “punky,” spikey hairdo that hides any mistakes), so there is that. I’m ready for travel, and I’m ready for hugs … but I’ll wait. I’ve got both my vaccinations, and we are hoping that my husband’s number comes up soon. Stay healthy and happy!

    • Peggy on February 5, 2021 at 8:42 pm

      Shelly, I hope his vaccine number comes up soon, too. We all need hugs.

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