So let’s make the best of now

We are a good half a year into a pandemic that seems to have no end, and I feel compelled to share some thoughts. I am just sharing my thoughts, as everyone has experienced this “new normal” differently. Things have changed for all of us, in ways we couldn’t have imagined when we shouted “Happy New Year” amidst the corny Barbara Walters “This is 2020” memes.

The disease itself is bad enough. It might kill you in a horrifying way — alone, unable to breathe on your own or even say goodbye to loved ones. Or you might get the virus and have mild symptoms, even none at all while unknowingly spreading it to others who won’t be so lucky.

Or you might survive after a long and insanely expensive hospital stay, only to be released to go home with permanent lung damage and no good answer to the questions, “Am I OK now? Am I immune?”

Because we don’t really know.

Our “leaders” have been, at best, ineffective and, at worst, criminal in their handling of this.

Each day, from around 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Dallas and Tarrant Counties — among others — trot out the latest numbers detailing new COVID-19 cases and the latest numbers of those who died from the virus. But what do the numbers even mean? Are they accurate? What is the course of action? Are they getting better or worse?

We don’t really know.

On Saturday, Aug. 15, Tarrant County reported 1,443 new cases. Is that an example of rampant and alarming community spread, or is it just the release of backlogged tests from overworked labs?

We don’t know.

The percentage of positive tests is higher than we’d like to see. Is that because, at the beginning of the pandemic, healthy people were getting tested out of fear and an abundance of caution, and now, mostly symptomatic people and those with a known exposure are getting tested?

We don’t know.

What do we know? We do know that matters have been made worse by the inexplicable politicization of a virus. Look: The virus doesn’t care who you are or how much money you make. It just seeks a nice, warm, moist place to set up shop — like your nose or mouth. If only there was some way to help prevent that from happening that was readily accessible and something everyone could use. You know, like something we could use to cover our faces. (Sarcasm intended, in case you didn’t catch that.)

For the life of me, I just cannot comprehend how showing compassion or care for a fellow American’s health and, ultimately, slowing or putting an end to this pandemic has become a political statement.

We are a nation on edge. We are at war with an invisible foe, and wars need leaders, strong generals to craft winning strategies. Instead we have a so-called leader who boasts of being able to identify an elephant in a picture book.

God help us all.

Probably the single biggest cause of the tension is that so much remains unknown. How do you plan when you may lose your job? Or worse?
Living in a constant state of fear is untenable. Even if you don’t get sick, the virus can lay waste to your life. Job losses are at a level not seen since the Great Depression. Evictions have been postponed, but when protections expire, those evictions will have a cascading effect.

I don’t have a solution, no more than anyone else does. All I can do is maybe develop a way to cope.

I’m one of the lucky ones: I still have a job, and so does my wife. But there are no guarantees that either one of us will still have those jobs in three months. Still, there’s no reason to think we won’t, so we are staying positive and living our lives.

But even the definition of “living our lives” has changed. We don’t do much outside the house except care for our home. We seldom go out, and when we do we always wear face coverings — whether the mask is required or not, because it’s required by me. We use hand sanitizer after shopping — always. We wash our hands a lot more.

I found one of the coping methods one day while brushing my teeth. There is a small bottle of perfume that I love. It’s my favorite; it’s called “Flower Bomb.” But I consider it expensive, so I haven’t been wearing it. After all, I work from home, and my dogs could care less what I smell like.

But the other day, I spritzed some on, and I felt so pretty and so much more put together.

This pandemic has ended so many of my simple pleasures, like getting my nails done. Even though salons are taking precautions, I’m just not ready because so many customers won’t follow the rules. So, I paint them myself now — and again, I do it to feel better.
None of us know what the future holds — the racial unrest screaming for change, a pandemic that has killed so many of our fellow Americans, an election is happening in just a few weeks, and a new school year has begun — and so much more.

As for me, I’m going to keep paying attention to the little things we take for granted, like enjoying the chance to spend more time with my three border collies. (We play Frisbee every day.)

After all, I may live to be 90, or then again, I may not see another Christmas. But when the time comes for me to check out, it would make me sad to leave this life with a perfectly full bottle of perfume.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in the DFW area. Read more of her blogs at