COVID is still fresh in a lot of minds, and we’ve all been affected differently by it over the past two years. We’ve also reacted differently to continued measures and actions by those we elect to represent us, and reality hits everyone sooner or later. Me, I got red-pilled at several points, like when I stopped wearing a face shield on the job because it fogged up in the cold air and I tripped on a curb. Thank God my TobyMac hat broke the fall or I probably would have lost teeth or gotten a concussion.
As for the rest of it, certain individuals hope we’ll memory-hole the last two years, and as someone who studies history, I felt it was important to present a few of my experiences and point of view. This is not meant to start a fight, although conversation is totally welcome. Like I said, others may see this whole business differently, but this is some of what I saw (On a side note, I’ve also been collecting COVID-era media of various kinds, and anyone who’s interested can find the first playlist here. One of seven, by the way.).
Here we go….
My building has concrete stairs held up by hollow steel beams. In the revolving door that is apartment living, I don’t always know my neighbors’ names, but I can tell who is who by their footsteps. The sustained but steady tapping of a high schooler carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. The rapid staccato tones of a child running up to a friend’s house. The heavy footfall of an anonymous soul hoisting bags of groceries.
The stairs would announce these comings and goings with all the precisely-timed resonance of Quasimodo’s bell tower at Notre Dame.
Thrum. Thrum. Thrum.
Then the pandemic came. Two weeks to flatten the curve. We’re all in this together. People wore the tight-lipped smiles people always wear when braving the unknown. We would get through this and be better for it, even if the worst happened. The world had seen times like these before and would again, though current advertising called the present crisis “unprecedented” and “uncertain.”
My husband brought home flats of canned food, Emergen-C, pain relievers, and economy-sized bottles of hand santizer, one of which was installed as sentry on the mantel by his house keys. Like many households, we bought soap and paper products when and where we could, as empty shelves were a common sight.
The tower went silent as those footsteps were contained behind each apartment door, where we worried, worked, learned, and bided our time until we could run out to the grocery store or the DoorDash driver arrived with the day’s dinner. Commercials showed idyllic scenes of family unity, with kids cheerfully noshing on s’mores and yuppies serenely working on their laptops from their beds.
Since most people were staying put, I began timing my errands by the number of open spaces below my balcony, just to be sure there was a place to park. It didn’t matter if I was dressed in yoga pants or jeans; if spots were open I was out the door, most often with my restless twelve-year old son in tow.
Our first trip to WinCo felt like a mashup of World War Two and an alien movie. A long line of shoppers snaked around the building, dutifully standing on bright orange strips of tape placed precisely six feet apart, because even in that giant store they were only letting in a small number of people at a time. I briefly wondered if I had forgotten my ration book even though reality told me there was no ration book to forget.
Then I noticed a man, or at least who I think was a man, surveying the scene in goggles, a mask, latex gloves, and, despite the pleasant seventy-five degree temperature, a nondescript grey-blue hoodie, the hood pulled tightly around his head and the zipper firmly at the top.
Take me to your leader.
Coming home felt like escape. We kicked our shoes off, washed our hands, ignored the hand sanitizer, and settled in for another indefinite period of life indoors. We had made it. The coronavirus hadn’t gotten us.
Two weeks stretched into a month, and a month stretched into two. Then three. Then four. Then five. It was no longer about flattening the curve, but slowing the spread. We knew more than when the pandemic started; the coronavirus didn’t spread by surfaces, by food, or by brief contact. The vast majority of those who got it recovered.
Despite this knowledge, the experts continued to stoke fear. Wear a mask. Don’t gather. New waves and variants are coming.
It was what they didn’t say that was all the more telling, because the data didn’t bear out the amount of caution mandated. The information the experts hoped we wouldn’t notice.
Pay no attention to the fact that Los Angeles County had the highest number of confirmed deaths in California despite also having the highest number of regular mask-wearers. If masking prevented COVID, then by the CDC’s logic Los Angeles should have been the safest place in California.
Who cares that most children aren’t susceptible to or carriers of COVID? And that this fact was proven over and over again? Teachers’ union members are scared to return to the classroom because it’s literally a matter of life or death, but no biggie. They’ll post an interpretive TikTok dance about their fear and a Chicago union leader will take a selfie on her Caribbean vacation. None of them have anything to say about the sharp rise in suicides among young people or low-income students fading out of the system entirely.
Ignore the five governors who ate out and visited their vacation homes in other states while telling Americans to stay home. These same governors forced nursing homes to house COVID patients and then tried to cover their tracks when the voters who elected them cried, “Foul!”
The definition of what was known as a “superspreader event” changed according to what the experts approved of. Swimming in a public pool was a selfish, neglectful act. Attending a church service was unnecessary according to some. Visiting the elderly was strictly tabu, even when loved ones were on their deathbeds, and some nursing homes were not above cutting off communication with families. A protest was a superspreader if it was against communism.
This wasn’t about caution, but control.
California was the slowest to open of all the states, and in my opinion it only happened because the effort to recall Gavin Newsom began gaining traction. In the end, he survived, but Californians remained vocal, protesting against the neverending emergency while ignoring new mask mandates.
By that time it had been business as usual in my home of Placer County for several months, as our board of supervisors chose to lift the emergency order long before most other counties did the same. California newspapers had a field day, hinting or saying outright that Placer residents were a bunch of selfish, reckless grandma-killers. Recently, however, the Sacramento Bee has changed its tune, drawing the ire of certain individuals.
In counties where the emergency orders still stood, desperate business owners, particularly restauranteurs, tried whatever they could to keep their operations afloat and hypocrisy was rampant. A tearful Los Angeles restaurant owner asked her phone camera why, after spending money and time to build an outdoor dining area, she had to stay closed, even though a Hollywood production company was allowed to serve its employees not ten feet away.
Burbank restaurant Tin Horn Flats, despite compliance with state mandates, was not only forced to close, but the owner’s son was arrested three times. Tin Horn Flats didn’t back down, though, cooking in a food truck and serving what they called “Freedom Burgers” from the sidewalk. Eventually the city forced the restaurant to evict themselves and sell even though they owned the building, and Tin Horn Flats sued, which local judges weren’t in a hurry to address. As of this writing the case still hasn’t been resolved.
Even as cases and death numbers plummeted, the so-called “new normal” empowered Karens of both sexes throughout the country who thought it was their duty as the smartest, kindest, most enlightened people in America to harass anyone who didn’t wear a mask religiously. If one didn’t comply, one was anti-science, despite science and fine print stating ad nauseum that cloth masks don’t prevent virus transmission.
When the vaccine came along, Karens spouted the Dogma of the Jab, even as reports surfaced about adverse side effects like blood clots, heart inflammation, and death. It didn’t matter; their vaccinations weren’t valid unless everyone else was vaccinated, too. Those who hesitated for any reason were called “anti-vaxxers” and threatened with second-class citizenry and perpetual masking, with a sizeable chunk of certain people in favor of taking children away from their parents. The FDA tried in vain to have any information about the shots suppressed until 2076 but lost, and a lengthy list of side effects was released to the public.
We weren’t all in this together. It was Us vs. Them, the Skeptical vs, the Compliant, with everyone else caught in between.
Then Dr. Fauci’s e-mails were leaked. He lied about masks. He lied about the origins of the virus. He lied about transmission. He lied about everything. And America’s journalists allowed him to, promising to suppress and censor anyone who didn’t fall in line.
Fauci threw tantrums. Fauci’s acolytes threw tantrums. The media stayed silent except for a few doomsday croakings about a Delta variant. Skeptics crowed in their vindication and called for Fauci’s imprisonment. Amazon withdrew Fauci’s book from circulation.
We learned the American Federation of Teachers lobbied the CDC on school reopening guidance and even helped them draft their protocols. Oh, they tried to pass off their leanings as science, but parents weren’t fooled. In California, the number of families homeschooling their children tripled in a culmination of a three-year trend.
Fearing their gig was almost up, certain political leaders tried imposing vaccine mandates and attempted to turn Americans against each other. Newly-elected president Joe Biden said, “Our patience is wearing thin.” as Americans of all races and education levels refused a vaccine his party once undermined. Americans responded by wearing T-shirts and posting signs saying, “F*** Joe Biden,” and chanting it at sporting events.
Much to the chagrin of Biden supporters, a newscaster at NASCAR either misheard or tried to downplay “F*** Joe Biden” by saying the crowd was really chanting, “Let’s go, Brandon,” and it became a second rallying cry that was code for the first. Merchandisers and influencers had a field day, printing the slogans on anything and everything.
More variants were rumored, but most of the public said, “Meh,” as life continued to return to normal. Doomsday drum beaters cried in frustration but there was nothing they could do. Their credibility was shot. Major news services saw their ratings plummet, CNN’s by an embarassing ninety percent. Americans didn’t want mandates, and news reports of internment camps and other Draconian measures taken in Australia, Germany, and Austria only galvanized opposition to separating people based on their medical decisions.
By the end of 2021, the so-called “experts” were unnerved enough that they started to backpedal from their previous narratives as if this was what they meant to do all along. Even the former director of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Leana Wen went from this:
Those who religiously masked continued to live in fear and some teachers went on strike in protest. More, however, happily took their masks off and went about their business.
Some also chose to make their own TikTok videos:
Then, like the proverbial house of cards, it all fell apart. We were done, whether the fearmongers and their acolytes liked it or not. We were tired of being forced to mask and take the shot while elites publically skipped both. We would live with COVID just like any other virus. Johns Hopkins University, one of the most ardent supporters of the accepted COVID narrative, admitted in a study that lockdowns caused more harm than good.
Britain, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark dropped restrictions first. Canadians, along with Americans and others around the world, cheered as a long line of truckers made their way to Ottawa and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hid in an undisclosed location right before announcing that he had COVID and calling the truckers white supremacists. France’s President Macron teargassed women and children. American politicians dragged their feet, but as timing would have it, 2022 is an election year. Must mind those p’s and q’s.
Unless, of course, one is the governor of California, in which case, it’s fine to accuse legislators of wishing death on Californians.
Those who pushed the experts’ narrative the hardest will likely never win back the trust of those who didn’t allow fear to control them. Seeing as their mask fell off in more ways than one, this may be no calamity. Many, many people suffered terrible losses as a result of COVID restrictions and the individuals who caused their pain should never be allowed to forget. Barring their coming to Jesus, there will be severe judgement in store for them, if not in this world, then the next.
Two years later, Dr. Fauci has disappeared from public view as the experts now expect everyone to unite over a war that George Soros and other shady elites are suspiciously in favor of, as if they hadn’t spent two years villifying everyone who disagreed with them. No one likes what is currently happening in the Ukraine, but no one likes being gaslit, either, especially when patriotism hinges on either accepting exorbitant gas prices or driving electric cars most people can’t afford. And no one except authoritarians likes governments pushing strict vaccination laws, COVID restrictions now being part of a melange of political death.
At my house, the hand sanitizer on the mantel has been moved to an undisclosed (read: forgotten) location. We barely made a dent in the contents. The stairs thrum out their rhythm with more gusto than before, and, it is to be hoped, with more wisdom.
The Buster Keaton Blogathon is coming up tomorrow. Thanks for reading, all (congrats if you made it this far), and hope to see you then…
If you’re enjoying what you see on Taking Up Room, please consider supporting the site on Patreon, where you’ll find extra content, behind the scenes tidbits, and exclusive merch for qualified subscribers.