Meditation on a Year of Shelter

I do not like people. I don’t generally like people in my space. I’m not a hugger. I’m exhausted by all interactions. All of them. Even the ones with people I love. My wife is the only exception. So this past year hasn’t sucked for me, personally. It was difficult to watch the world, the country fall apart in very predictable ways. It was exhausting to watch authority crush vulnerable people and not be able to do much of anything. But waking up in the morning when I wanted to and drinking a leisurely pot or two of coffee with my wife and discussing if maybe we should frame that stack of art and maybe hang it on the wall, yeah that part didn’t suck. The days where we could say we wanted pjs and Buffy all day or beer and darts in the sunshine. The days where we could do chores all day and not feel like we wasted valuable time. The days where we could read an article in the morning about the film we watched the night before and just discuss it all day. It was a year of weekends. I could edit and write when I wanted to. It felt like breathing for the first time. Adulthood shouldn’t make you feel like Giles Corey.

The forty hour work week is capitalist bullshit. Tying health insurance to income is capitalist bullshit. Health insurance as a concept is capitalist bullshit. People are not workers. Societies thrive on leisure, not labor. When we have time to think, we innovate. Some innovations are around labor. Some are around art. Some are around mRNA, which is still a concept I don’t understand and I don’t need to because I’m not a scientist. Not everyone needs to understand everything and everyone as long as we can trust those who are supposed to know.

Two weeks ago, I got my first vaccine shot.

We planned to wait until after the 15th when all Californian adults are eligible, but, as I dozed off around one in the morning a few weeks back, my wife announced, “I can get us vaccine appointments tomorrow. Davis is opening them for everyone,” which woke me right up. The next morning, as we ran inventory before leaving (masks, water, insurance card, pre-check in), she realized that “tomorrow” when it’s one in the morning is actually the next day. It was a thing.

The pre-check in was pretty fucking cool. It asked gender and sexuality and pronouns (and offered about ten options plus a write in). At the vax site, we did our check in together. The person registering us in noticed our last name is the same and also that we look super gay and said “married, I assume” instead of the grocery store “all together?” when we obviously put all four items on the belt together, Janice. The last name thing is honestly super convenient (that particular piece of capitalist, patriarchal bullshit works in our favor), but also we were both born in the mid-eighties so of course my wife’s middle name is my first name. And yes I almost got her shot instead of mine, which probably wouldn’t be good? I don’t know. I failed high school biology. Twice.

I was devastated to find out my wife got a UC Davis Med Center branded Band-Aid and I got a “flesh” color one (those always mock me. I am not that tan). The moment we got home, she grabbed a handful of Sharpies and wouldn’t let me look until my Band-Aid was properly jazzed up. You know, for the photo shoot.

The nice thing about marrying a photographer is that she takes you just seriously enough when you say you want to do a post-vax photo shoot for socials (and to send your mommy). The problem with marrying a photographer is that she sometimes has to workshop themes before you can commence with said photo shoot.

For the last year, I’ve been waiting for this moment. Now, it’s here too fast. I don’t want to go back to the status quo. I don’t want to work a job where my positive impact is shielding abused queer kids from homophobic adults who are supposed to protect them. It’s amazing to help so many kids but, shockingly, it’s actually terrible for my mental health? I don’t want to do emotional labor unless I A) signed up to do explicitly that and B) am getting paid for that labor. Honestly, I don’t want to work any job that isn’t staffed by at least fifty percent queer people and at least fifty percent people of color. I don’t want to work with “liberal” white people who come to my office to ask if they did a racism, but also could I explain it to them in a way that doesn’t make them feel bad about themselves?

Society is toxic. I’d rather not re-enter toxicity. If re-entering society means diving back into the racist, heterosexist, transphobic, sexist sludge I’ve been swimming in for over thirty years, then it’s gonna be a hard no for me, dawg.

The problem, of course, is that society isn’t optional. Being a hermit isn’t actually a viable option (the wi-fi in the woods sucks). And if I want to do things like go to the occasional gay bar with my gay buddies or continue paying for my Netflix subscription, I’m going to have to work. My only real hope is that we are headed for a reckoning. Then again, Rome took centuries to fall.


  1. I like the tone of your writer’s voice. Also…I’m sure you’re not the only person who adjusted well to the Covid mandated stay-at-home routine, and consequently is not hot to trot back to the pre-Covid world.

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  2. Some of the weirdest innovations were found during this “time”. Schools were a major change and teachers are still reeling. Give them props for going online or whatever they had to do. Its been hella-bad I’m sure. All I know is my 2nd grade niece is getting only six hours of tablet school in a week right now and is at home the rest of the time. Her generation will be the most anti-social on the planet come “tomorrow”.

    Hey and how bout sports? I’m not a huge fan so I am liking this low volume discussion. I dont have to listen to the top scores of whatever every day…because…its not happening. And that, my friend, while fantastic for me, will probably be our United States economic downfall. Do you remember how much money is made from sports?

    Also Medical changes. Everyone with a mask. Almost everyone get shots (still not giving it to kids < 12). And hand washing-which I found odd since…umm…YES wash your hands. And the shame of coughing?? The restrictions of routine check-ups at the hospital? The way people seem to think Mask are good enough cover to steal and commit crimes like porch piracy. That last one doesn't have Medical written on it but I just have to say a Mask does not equal safety. And that six feet distance should be reassessed, as well. Apparently, people have different ideas of what six feet means.

    Yeah….I'm with you Ash Barlett.


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