It’s been a long weekend. And it has felt like the first normal holiday weekend in a year and a half, bookended as it was by backyard barbeques with old theater friends on Friday evening and earlier this evening. Good friends, good conversation, and the reliving of past triumphs and tragedies on the boards -the kind of reminiscing that theater people always do when they get together. I’ve noticed that theater folk are pretty much the same, at least in the English speaking world. Referential quips to famous lines and lyrics, spontaneous sing alongs, stories of random mishaps both backstage and onstage. I haven’t been to too many Broadway salons but I imagine it’s not all that different there.
I completed the two major projects I set for myself this weekend. The first was to get plants into all the pots on my deck so I could have some flowers and visual interest outside my windows. One trip to Home Depot for potting soil, several flats of annuals, a couple of hibiscus, a rose bush and a few other assorted odds and ends and I have living growing things around my seating areas. It remains to be seen if I can keep them alive for the season. I have two spots left and I have decided I’ll get a couple of potted ornamental cypress trees for those areas. I’ve seen some nice ones for sale at the Botanical Gardens so I’ll probably make a trip over there this next week.
The second was to get all of the proof edits done on the book. I finished that job this afternoon. Almost everything is essentially done now other than one more pass at the prologue and epilogue to see if I can get them right. They’re almost there but I think they need just a little bit more tweaking. Everything remains on schedule for the book to be available as of the last week of June or first week of July. As soon as I hear more details, I will let everyone know. Now that the world is opening up thanks to vaccines, people are starting to ask if I’m going to have a release party or signings at any of the local book stores or something else of the type. My ego is pulled two ways by this. First, I’m flattered that people care and are looking forward to seeing the finished product. And then that part of me that suffers from Impostor Syndrome kicks in and starts to believe that no one will actually ever want to read it and that the quicker I bury the project and move on to something else, the better.
We’re rapidly evolving into a two tiered society of vaxxed and unvaxxed. People end up in one camp or the other for various reasons but, if you wish to get the vaccine, it’s now available essentially anywhere to anyone over the age of twelve. The relatively quick distribution of the last few months has contributed to a sharp drop in cases and deaths back to what they were in the earliest stages of the pandemic more than a year ago. But they do continue to mount, fed by the significant percentage of the population that remains unvaccinated. We’re now at about 595,000 deaths in the US since the beginning of the pandemic, only 15,000 to go to surpass the Civil War to become the second greatest mass casualty event in US history. (The 1918 flu has the number one slot at 675.000 deaths). The rate of spread in the unvaccinated population remains roughly the same as it was at the height of the pandemic in January. Death rates are lower, as the unvaccinated population tends to be younger and healthier, but there are still going to be a lot of people who die who don’t need to. Because of lingering propaganda from a previous administration which has poisoned certain communities’ trust in sound science.
When the variants from India get here, and they will get here, with their much higher levels of transmissibility and they find their way into the unvaccinated population, we may find ourselves back to overburdened Covid wards and strained health systems. It won’t be as bad as this past year as we’ve figured out what we’re doing in terms of treatment and we’re better at keeping people alive, but I remains gravely concerned about the health effects we don’t know about. We’ve become familiar with the small percentage of long haulers who months later have significant viral symptoms but I suspect there’s end organ damage that’s going to manifest in a decade or so as early onset chronic kidney disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or early onset dementia or congestive heart failure and that’s going to take a lot of people, and the health system as a whole, by surprise.
I shall be happily retired at that point. I don’t know when exactly I’ll retire but Covid has certainly pushed me towards earlier rather than later. The fact that it is sneaking up on me was brought home by my receipt of my retirement packet from the University of California system that arrived in the mail this past week. My pension under that system stops accruing on my 60th birthday next year so it makes no sense to not start taking it at that time. It won’t amount to a lot of money but, considering what that system did to me and Steve in the end, I plan on collecting every penny out of them I can. The best revenge is living well.
You may not have to wear a mask any more if you’re vaccinated, but it’s still a good idea to wash your hands.