Wearing a mask got difficult on a hill-filled walk through Oakland Zoo’s Glowfari attraction. (Oakland Zoo screenshot)

Wearing a mask got difficult on a hill-filled walk through Oakland Zoo’s Glowfari attraction. (Oakland Zoo screenshot)

The pros and cons of living through a pandemic

Social distancing might be thing we want to keep post-COVID


I’m so bored with the virus. Now that we’re looking down the barrel of another year in the grips of another lockdown, I’m starting to reach a level of stir-crazy that borders on actual cray-cray.

At least there’s some light at the end of 2020. A vaccine. The stimulus passed. Except we’ve seen glimmers of hope before. When it comes to life in the age of COVID, for every potential benefit, there is usually an equal or greater downside…

Can you imagine what it’ll be like in 20-30 years when kids have to study the history of this era? They certainly won’t be bored.

For those of us in the trenches, though, it gets old. There is a genuine sense of peril. Like 1.7 million dead worldwide. Record unemployment. Businesses going under. Evictions…

And while the survival-rate is promising, what about the people who’ve “recovered” but are still experiencing symptoms months after testing negative?

I don’t like getting sick. So I wear a mask. Even though I find them excrutiating.

Earlier this month, right before the voluntary shutdown, my wife and I took our daughter to Glowfari, a lantern festival at the Oakland Zoo. While the animals slept, we meandered through darkened paths, illuminated with wildlife-shaped lanterns, flashing light displays, dinosaur animatronics and colorful butterfly installations, as music blared from speakers hidden in the bushes – a Spotify playlist of songs with animals in the titles, from “Octopus’s Garden” to “Hungry Like the Wolf.”

After traversing the entire park, I struggled to climb the last hill. With a mask on, it was difficult to breathe. My glasses were fogged up from hyperventilating. Feeling disoriented, I found a dark corner, pulled off my mask and tried to regulate my breathing.

At times like these, it’s hard not to think maybe the anti-maskers have a point. But then, I’m also a smoker. So I should be just as angry at my own proclivities as a government mandate…

Still, I don’t know how people who work in public manage all day long. I was talking to the manager of Hawking Bird the other day and he told me the mask is the most frustrating aspect of his job.

When a bunch of anti-maskers congregated outside London Breed’s house to protest the latest lockdown, one guy had a sign that declared, “Masking preschoolers is child abuse.”

Bit is a stretch, maybe, but our soon-to-be 4-year-old refuses to wear a mask unless she has absolutely no choice. And while it’s on, she constantly yanks at the string and moves the fabric off her nose. But then, she’s never been an easy child to groom. She won’t let us trim her fingernails or comb her hair more than once a week. It amazes me when I see children out in the world who dutifully wear masks. Of course, they usually have perfectly combed hair as well…

When it comes to social distancing, I’m a fan. I wouldn’t mind if that rule hung around post-COVID…

While it’s frustrating not being able to work, thanks to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, I’m able to spend more time with my child.

At least, until my meager benefits run out. Or I have to start paying some of it back because of a confusing request in their automated system for net and gross incomes. How am I supposed to remember what I put down six long COVID months ago? Back in July, we were still delirious from the first lockdown and living on bank account fumes…

Parenting during a pandemic never ends. Especially when “working from home.”

And while an infinite amount of time at home might imply an increased ability to be creative, it has to be the right kind of time at home. Quiet time. Child-free time. Distraction- and interruption-free time. Which only happens once the child is finally asleep. And by then, your brain in mush…

Of course, nighttime is the best time for shopping. Even though the shelves are most likely to be barren. But then, the shelves are always empty anyway…

Without fail, anything that might even remotely be good about the lockdowns is quickly overshadowed by all the negative aspects. I’m over it. Let’s hope that glimmer of light in the distance is more than a figment of our imagination. And that we’re not just going crazy.

Kelly Dessaint, a San Francisco taxi driver and veteran zine publisher, is the author of the novel “A Masque of Infamy.” His Behind the Wheel zine series is collected in the paperback “Omnibus,” available through book marketplaces or at his blog, idrivesf.com. His column appears every other week in the Examiner. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of the Examiner.


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