Lately, I’ve been writing articles about art and history because those are the topics I am interested in. I like to pretend that I am living in a normal world, so writing such articles is my way of pretending that the world is completely sane. Deep down, my soul is screaming that I am deluding myself.
“You should be writing articles about what it’s been like to work in a hospital this whole freaking time!” my angry muse yells at me.
“Shut up,” I tell myself. “Maybe I don’t want to write about all the dystopian crap that I see at the hospital every day.”
My angry muse yells at me often, most especially while at work.
“See,” my angry muse tells me when I pull back a curtain to reveal a patient sitting in a gurney without a mask on, “this is the crap I’m talking about. How much do you want to bet that this patient will test positive for Covid? Don’t you think that the hospital should at least try to prevent the spread of this awful disease by at least putting a mask on everyone?”
“Well, heck ya,” I tell my angry muse. “But no one cares anymore. It’s not even a topic worth writing about.”
My angry muse screams at me like Greta Thunberg. “People need to know what’s going on in the hospital! This is not a place where anyone is safe! You should write about how all safety protocols have flown out the window!”
“Ya, ya, ya,” I tell my angry muse. “Why don’t you try coming into work and deal with this shit? I don’t know how many Covid-riddled lungs I can CT scan anymore before I can start caring again. This is the new normal. Get used to it. It’s just better to assume that all patients have Covid and slap an N-95 on your face and get on with it.”
It’s true. An N-95 mask has been part of my uniform since March 2020. I’ve never stopped wearing it, and I’ve been around 100s, if not 1000s, of Covid patients. Those things work. I have been wanting to scream for 21 months now that if everyone wore one for two weeks straight, this whole nightmare would be over. If only everyone would stop breathing on each other for just a couple of weeks, this plague would come to an end. Worldwide. The solution is not only to be found in vaccines, the solution is also to be found in good medical-grade masks. The pandemic will only end when the world ends it together. We need to collectively do this if we want this to end, but we won’t. I know we won’t. The answer is too obvious.
“Write about that!” my angry muse yells at me.
“There,” I said, “I just did. But I can assure you that it won’t make one bit of difference. Hardly anyone reads what I write anyway.”
It’s true. I’ve been writing to the void for months now. Hell, I’ve even written a whole book and sent that into the void as well. Sure, a few people have read it, but nothing worth bragging about. And, I wrote a timely book, too. It’s about traveling and how I can’t do it anymore.
“What do you mean you can’t travel anymore?” my angry muse asks me. “You used to travel everywhere.”
It’s true. I used to be a traveling fiend, but I lost the desire to go anywhere in the midst of all this (imagine me gesturing to the entire world). What’s the freaking point of wanting to go anywhere right now, or ever again, at this rate? Traveling was expensive enough before, and I don’t want to add a $150 Covid test that I’d have to race to find on top of it.
“You’re just making excuses,” my angry muse tells me. “You should go to Europe.”
“Ha!” I laugh at my silly soul. “You still think that things are normal. How many times do I have to tell you that things are not normal anymore? There is no just getting a plane and going to France right now. Sure, people are doing it, but not me. As far as I’m concerned, a real-life game of musical chairs has played out, and I am just guarding the seat I landed on.”
“What does that mean?” my angry muse asks me.
“It means that I can’t even leave if I wanted to. Have you seen the prices of real estate these days? I thought about running away to a cabin in the woods, but I can’t afford to. Besides, odds are the place would burn down in the next wildfire anyway.”
“Boy, aren’t you the negative Nancy?” my angry muse chastises me.
“Listen,” I tell my most unhelpful muse, “calling me names isn’t helpful. Haven’t you seen how divisive it is to call people sheep?”
“Ya, that hasn’t done wonders, I’ll admit that,” my angry muse says. “Say, what do you think of mandates?”
“Oh, criminy, you’re gonna ask me about that?” I say to my angry muse. “I’d rather not go there.”
“Oh, but I rather you would,” my angry muse counters.
“Okay, which mandates are you asking about? Are you asking about the mandates in the United States or the ones imposed worldwide? Are you asking about the mandate that says you need a vaccine to keep your job, the one that says you don’t need a mask to go into businesses, the one that says you need three shots to be considered vaccinated, or the mandates that aren’t mandated yet? The mandate question is way too broad, but I can say that I’m not a fan of mandates except for the wearing a mask one, which isn’t even mandated. Ah, what a circle jerk that question is.”
“Explain to me again what a circle jerk is,” my angry muse says.
“A circle jerk is a group of people who are “getting themselves off” in the echo chamber of their own opinions or activities,” I say.
“So, how does that relate to the answer about mandates?” my angry muse asks me.
“It means that certain mandates satisfy a certain status quo. It can be weaponized for political or ideological reasons. They are not about ending the pandemic anymore, and if we’re not careful, a whole new world order will replace the one we used to know.”
“Okay, that’s a Pandora’s box you just opened there,” my angry muse says to me while taking a couple of steps back.
“Oh, you think so?” I ask my angry muse. “Are you not paying attention? Where do you think all of this will end? Do you think you’ll just wake up one day and this whole thing will be over?”
“Ya, maybe,” my angry muse says. “At least, I hope so.”
“Hope?!” I scream at my angry muse. “I’ve lost hope already! Where is there hope anymore? Does hope come in the form of winter tornados? Or in the form of the melting Doomsday Glacier? Or does it come in rising temperatures, megafires, massive floods, ghost forests, extreme hurricanes, abortion restrictions, gun violence, rising home prices, inflation, or in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Did you know that I expanded my vocabulary this year? Ya, I added the words flying blue dildo, aridification, megadrought, and airpocalypse. Airpocalypse! What does that even mean? I’ll tell you what it means: it means we’re all fucked unless we do something about it.”
“Now, now,” my angry muse tells me, “calm down. No need to get huffy about this.”
“What kind of upside-down world am I living in when my angry muse tells me to calm down?!” I yell.
“No, no, I totally get it,” my angry muse assures me. “I’m pissed too, but I still think that there’s something that we can do to fix this.”
“You do?” I ask my angry muse.
“Sure, there’s always something that we can do,” my angry muse says.
“Okay,” I say,” lay it on me.”
“We can…” my angry muse starts.”
“Yes, I’m listening,” I say.
“We can…we can all join a commune.”
“That’s doesn’t work anymore,” I tell my angry muse, “it’s no longer the 1960s. What else you got?”
“We can…we can see the world as one complete unit and solve all the problems collectively. No more nationalism, no more divisions, no more working against each other.”
“Ya,” I say to my angry muse, “good luck with that. That’s not how the world works.”
“Okay, Ms. Smartypants,” my angry muse says to me, “what do you suggest?”
“I already told you that I lost all hope. Believe me, I want to have hope, but the world as it is right now isn’t giving me much confidence.”
“That’s so sad,” my angry muse says.
“I agree,” I say, “it’s very sad. Forgive me for feeling negative, but I’m just being honest.”
“Is there anything I can say that will help you change your mind?” my angry muse asks me.
“Maybe, there is one thing that you can say. You can say, no.”
“No to what?” my angry muse asks.
“No to the future barreling ahead the way that it is.”