A New New Normal

At the beginning of March, the Governor of Texas (that little plot of land I live in) lifted the mask mandate and increased the capacity of all businesses in Texas to 100 percent. When I read that news, it sat there in the air like a bad Frito pie on a still day in August, and my brain did the thing it loves to do best when faced with potentially stressful information – it dumped a load of adrenaline into my system while screaming, “Throw up your hands, kids! It’s anxiety attack time!”

Quick housekeeping note: This isn’t a post about Governor Abbot’s decision. I believe we’re all reasonable people who have very passionate opinions, and I respect you enough that I’m not going to try to beat you over the head with mine. I mean, it’s pretty spot on, and definitely the right point of view, but I respect your right to be woefully misguided. See, don’t we all feel better?

Like I said, this post has nothing to do with where I stand on the mask/no-mask line, and more to do with the fact that in a year I’ve gone completely feral as social skills have devolved at an alarming rate.

 My thoughts over the year ran like this:

  • This is only going to last a couple of weeks – we’re doing our part! Our doors are marked. Break out the lentils and lamb!
  • Why has everyone gone weird about toilet paper?
  • Crap! I need to get on the hoarding bandwagon!
  • Do I really need a mask?
  • Ordering in is fun! I’m stimulating the economy one DQ Blizzard at a time! (Just kidding Jenn! Err… maybe not kidding)
  • Hrmm… ok, maybe this is over by Summer? I’ll plan a costume party!
  • Curbside margaritas? Yes, please!
  • I’d better tell the parents that the holidays are off.
  • If I mute my mic I can scream in meetings! Cathartic!
  • If I turn off my video feed, I can make faces in meetings, too!
  • Knocked out another series on Netflix!
  • Birthday trip to Big Bend cancelled; we’re killing everyone in West Texas.
  • No, I don’t want to talk to you on Christmas Day. Please, go away.

None of those thoughts are new or particularly unique to me. And actually the folks over at the blog The Dihedral did a much better/funnier job of summing up exactly how I feel and how things have changed in their recent and quite clever post Then and Now.

Like most, I went from hopeful for a quick return to normal, to feeling stabby everytime someone used the phrase “new normal.” It doesn’t matter how you brand it, it’s not normal. I’ve gone from sitting quietly and patiently in meetings, to standing up and pacing the room in big circles when they’re dragging or occur right after lunch. I started wearing flipflops and t-shirts regularly. Funny thing. It turns out I can still produce the same quality of work while wearing something that looks much dumber with matching dumb and uncomfortable shoes. Also, natural lighting and open windows are kind of nice.

How can Governor Abbot reasonably expect me to return? I can already picture that first day with that first post-lunch meeting as the presenter drones on and I’m expected to keep my seat with a placid look on my face. It’s going to be Hell. And considering that I have no facial control on a good day, pre-Covid and despite my very best efforts for a semblance of restraint, I know I’m still going to be rudely kicked under the conference table by my delightfully evil ginger midget colleague as she endeavors to get me back in line. Hrmm, I’m probably going to be expected to not refer to her in that way anymore either.  Something non-PC about referring to her as “evil” I suppose. No wonder I had that anxiety attack. The world is turning upside down again.

On a more serious note, this year I’ve been reminded of how important our community of friends and family is – how a simple hug can resonate through your soul and nearly drop you to your knees in tears – how real connection, that we had taken for granted for so long, is essential to our physical and emotional wellbeing.

I’ve adapted as needed. I have a gym in my living room. I moved out of my office to work where I can stare out of the front windows. (I’m now the Gladys Kravitz of the street – ask me about the rocket ship I’m certain the neighbors are building.) I’ve tried new things. I’ve gone back to old things. I’ve traveled. And while I arguably feel more comfortable than most, I declined two recent offers for larger gatherings. The idea of them makes me extremely anxious – even with vaccinations. (I’ve had my first.)

I’m nervous about returning to the world.

How will that look? How will it work?

That’s technically the end of this post. Stick around for a playlist.

During the summer, I was fairly distraught, so I asked friends for their best “f-you/I’ve got this” songs. I culled through the suggestions and put together a decent playlist. I’ve played it way too many times, so much so it’s become my Covid “woobie”. It’s also now one of my workout playlists. I also promised Jarod I’d share it, so really… this is for Jarod. I’m just a few (many) months late. 😊 Jarod, I’m putting asterisks by some of my favorites:

  • Rich, White, Straight Men – Kesha – (not recommended for RWSM)
  • F**k You – Lily Allen
  • Bye Bye – Jo-dee Messina
  • March March – The Chicks
  • Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On) – Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
  • Angels of the Silences – Counting Crows
  • Work B**ch – Britney Spears
  • Go Your Own Way – The Cranberries
  • Oh Well – Pt. 1 – Fleetwood Mac
  • Sing a Song – Earth, Wind & Fire
  • All Night – Icona Pop
  • The Middle – Jimmy Eats World
  • Firework – Katy Perry
  • Basso Profundo** – DeVotchKa
  • Say What You Mean** – Lunachicks
  • Sheela-Na_Gig – PJ Harvey
  • F**k You** – Headstones
  • Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
  • Blow Me (One Last Kiss)** – Pink
  • Come With Me Now – KONGOS
  • Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels – Todrick Hall
  • Boss Bitch** – Doja Cat
  • Love Bites (So Do I) – Halestorm
  • Make Me Wanna Die – The Pretty Reckless
  • U+Ur Hand – Pink
  • Blank Space** – I Prevail (a recent add after hearing their remake of Taylor Swift’s song)

16 thoughts on “A New New Normal

  1. Alive and well!
    Hilarious and spot on.
    It’s pretty normal here – people doing what they think is best for them. Most others minding their own business, muttering maybe but or attacking or lecturing and leaving others alone…sort of acting like adults…if you ignore the crazy driving – I swear, people are so angry – it shows on the roads. Gads, get the world back open and maybe it will simmer down.
    Fortunate we are able to pick and choose where and when we go and do not have to deal with office situations. Still avoiding closed in meetings and groups of people.
    Love the music list. Really got into Sinatra and old Big Band sounds here…and pulled out all the old records – yes actual vinyl records out of storage and have been enjoying them.
    So enjoy going outdoors now…you know it’ll be hotter than blazes shortly and we’ll all be forced back inside…maybe…we’ll see if that changes this year?

    • Beth says:

      I still have all of my vinyl, but sadly no record player on which to play them. 😦 Funny you should mention ol’ Blue Eyes. We were heading to a local street market and blaring New York, New York while singing along. I never know if it’s going to be a “Swing, Swing, Swing” kind of day, one featuring more muddled and angry sounds or, it could be just good ol’ Steve Earle letting me know how he’s missing Ft. Worth. My true go-to song – the one when I’m feeling the most me happens to be “Feelin’ Good Again” by Robert Earle Keen (I can’t deny my Austin upbringing).

      Hope you all are doing ok and enjoying this nicer weather. Like you said, we’re just weeks away from having to close all the windows again. Still, I prefer the heat to a snow event any day. I still rock in place from that.

      • Pre-COVID Christmas Santa brought a vintage look turntable (with radio and CD). It seemed a little silly at first, but we have really enjoyed going through the record collection when stuck in place. Lots of Grateful Dead …seems appropriate HAHA?
        Mostly MIA from blogging as there’s so little time before it’s horrendously hot and so much yard recovery to do. ANYTHING outside is welcomed right now, right?
        Cheers and dance on

      • No masks and nice weather – more reason to go outside and play (before the summer scorching starts. Hope there’s sun all around you)

  2. azzageddi says:

    First thing I read on waking! In addition to being a great article, I didn’t spot a thing to change from the proofreader’s POV. Of course, I haven’t had coffee yet.

    • Beth says:

      WHEW!!! Let me know how it looks after the coffee. I’m not sure I quite believe I made it a whole post without a goof. It’s kind of my signature move. 🙂

      • azzageddi says:

        Just capitalized two letters!

      • Beth says:

        Sadly, I went in and had to change some things prior to your re-read. I wish I could catch all of it in my first and second re-reads before I pushed the magic “publish” button. Likely, if I slowed down and didn’t insist on posting immediately, I would be in a lot better shape. 😦 I think this every time, then I write, re-read everything and say “looks good!,” post and let it sit for a few hours – that’s when the gremlins get in and change things around, and then I come back and have my “OMG” moments. 😦

      • Beth says:

        … and David, in case I don’t say it enough – thank you a ton for taking time out of your days to go through and edit my writing. I greatly appreciate you for doing that!! ❤

    • azzageddi says:

      Hey, I’m happy to do it!

  3. julie4hardy says:

    Love this. So true. Are you rewatching season 2 of Sense8? They use music quite well. Also Sun is out of jail and Kala and Wolfgang finally did the nasty!

    On Mon, Mar 22, 2021 at 9:08 AM The Big Blue Mess wrote:

    > Beth posted: ” At the beginning of March, the Governor of Texas (that > little plot of land I live in) lifted the mask mandate and increased the > capacity of all businesses in Texas to 100 percent. When I read that news, > it sat there in the air like a bad Frito pie on a s” >

    • Beth says:

      I still haven’t started rewatching Sense8 just yet. I’ll have to pay close attention to the music. To me, Umbrella Academy really did that the absolute best, and I have a playlist Anna and Adam put together based off the episodes. It’s another one of my back-up workout playlists especially the song “Run Boy Run”.

    • azzageddi says:

      I have had Sense8 on my queue for as long as I’ve had Netflix, and I keep putting it off for when I can really watch it and pay attention. I really want to see it–definitely looks like my kind of show.

      • Beth says:

        David, I got Julie to watch it. It was one of those shows that just resonated with me. I didn’t just enjoy it, I loved Season 1. Now Season 2 – not so much – so I’m having a hard time getting myself to catch up to Julie on the rewatch. Still, I highly recommend – especially Season 1 – it’s SO very good.

  4. Heather Barthelme says:

    How did I miss this from 2 weeks ago? Chiming in late to say that you are right. There is no return and nothing will ever be “normal” again. It’s stressy!
    Brave – Sara Bareilles
    Broken and Beautiful – Kelly Clarkson

    Miss you friend!

    • Beth says:

      I think the thing that gets me is the over used phrase “new normal”. I just do not care for it. It’s like when Coke came out with New Coke – it didn’t matter what you called it, it wasn’t Coke. It was bad Coke that no one wanted with a bad advertising slogan, so they had to go back to give us old Coke. I want old normal or at least don’t try to make it sounds like this is awesome, because it isn’t at all. I disapprove!!! 🙂

      That said – I will listen to those songs and miss you a ton, Friend!

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