After 11 Months, Am I Too Feral for Polite Society?

Bulldog by Sally Wiener GrottaThis past Friday, almost exactly eleven months from the day I locked the door of my home against the Covid-infected world, I received my first vaccine shot. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it isn’t an oncoming train. I have started to imagine what it will be like to be out among other people. Yes, I will still have to be masked and appropriately social distanced. But with some people, like my sister once she has her vaccinations, I will actually be able to share a human touch and loving hugs.

The problem is… well, I’m worried. I think I may now be too feral for polite society.  All signs of civilization have been stripped from me. I’m a wild woman of nature, living out here in the Pocono Mountains with all the other feral animals of the woods.

My hair is wild and long, reaching past my shoulder blades. I walk around in Daniel’s old baggy pants and big sweaters. Even though I’ve lost some weight, it’s going to be almost painful to wear skinny jeans or nicely form-fitting blazers. Forget about bras or shoes other than comfy slippers or old broken-in sneakers. If my clothes from yesterday pass the sniff test, why not wear them again… and again?

When I was a child, I was indoctrinated in proper table manners. I would no more have used the wrong fork for shrimp than I would use a straw to sip wine. Now, determined to not leave behind any of my delicious homemade soups, I slurp the remnant juices directly from the bowl.

I talk to myself at all hours of the day and night. For the first few months, I maintained the fiction that I was talking with my dog Shayna. Sure, she does react to the sound of my voice. But the truth is I just need to hear a human voice, even if it’s only mine.

A month and a half from now, after I’ve had my second vaccination and waited the two weeks for it to take effect, and I finally unlock the door to my home, how will I remember the proper way to behave so that society doesn’t shun me or send me packing back up to the Poconos? Heck, how will I remember to close the door to the bathroom?

Will children point at me as I walk toward them on a city sidewalk? And will their parents take them in hand, crossing the street to avoid the crazy lady? Will I embarrass my young nephews and convince their mother that it’s best not to invite Aunt Sally to their birthday parties? Will even Shayna cringe, and try to pull me in the other direction, when I spot someone I know just a block away?

Or will everyone nod in recognition when I commit yet another faux pas? Heck, we’ve all been living locked away from polite society.

Then again, maybe I’m the only one who has gone completely feral.


Envisioning better health outcomes for all

Mapping covid-19 cases across Europe (source: MIT Technology Review)
Mapping covid-19 cases across Europe (source: MIT Technology Review)

I loved doing the interview and research for this piece. So meaningful. This kind of meaty feature piece is why I originally got into journalism. Okay, my name isn’t on the piece, but the information is out there now. That feels good. (Written for MIT Technology Review)

“…According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared to the general United States population, African Americans are 1.4 times more likely to contract the coronavirus, and 2.8 times more likely to die from covid-19. Similarly, Native Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are nearly twice as likely to be infected by coronavirus, and 2.5 to 2.8 times more likely to die from it.

“Underlying these statistics are significant structural, social, and spatial issues. But why is this? And how do we begin to quantify and address the nested problems of public health inequality?…”

A cool distribution system powered by a GIS (geographical information system) may be the answer.

Please Click Here to read the full article