Spring Always Comes

Here in Chicago there have been small signs of spring in the past few weeks. We have had some days where the temperatures reached the mid-60’s. The sun was out and it was warm enough that we didn’t have to even wear a jacket. I can see the stems of daffodils in my yard beginning to pop up above the ground, although the flower has not yet appeared. The trees are still bare, but we’re seeing the beginning of spring.

Lately, I have been a little depressed about things in my life that I can’t change. I was driving home from work one day this week and it was a beautiful spring day. I found myself thinking how the weather is symbolic. No matter how harsh the winter is: the cold, the snow, ice, etc, spring always comes. Here in Chicago, we don’t even remember what the grass looks like by the time February comes, because we haven’t seen it in so long. It’s been covered in snow for 2 months and when the snow finally begins to melt, it’s brown and mushy grass; nothing like what we remember from last summer.

Some days in March have been spring-like and some days have felt more like winter. It is cold, the sky is gray, and it is either pouring rain or a lovely snow-ice mixture. But, spring always comes. No matter how long the winter seems, or how dead the trees and grass looks, the spring will come. Soon, the grass will be a vibrant green. The trees will be full of leaves and my daffodils will bloom into beautiful yellow flowers.

I know that even after the worst bout of depression, or the worst things in the world that can happen, spring always comes after. Things will turn around – even if you can’t see it at the time. Even if things seem bad or gloomy, and it’s hard to imagine leaves ever appearing on the bare trees, or the sun ever coming out. Or even seeing your back patio underneath the snow.

Sometimes it’s hard in the winter to imagine going to the beach again one day in the summer, or being so hot that you don’t even want to be outside. Likewise, during the beautiful summers in Chicago it is difficult to remember the piles of snow on every corner, the constant gray sky, and the months of cold weather. Something we would rather put out of our minds, anyway.

I know that spring is coming, but the on-again, off-again days are hard. However, one day, probably not until May, it will be consistently warm and sunny and I’ll be glad I held out until then to see how beautiful the world is.

My daffodils beginning to bloom.

Adult Friendships Are Weird

Adult friendships are weird. Being a mom is weird. But, mostly, mom friendships are weird. Are you friends because your kids are friends? Or, are your kids friends because you’re friends?

Do we sometimes forge mom friendships with other moms, because that mom is the one who we spend the most time with because your kids have been going to baseball together for years? Did we want to form those friendships or did they just happen because of circumstances? Would we have ever become friends with that person otherwise?

What about our friends who happen to be moms, and have kids the sames ages as our kids? We find ourselves forcing our children to be friends, because we are always hanging out together so whether our children like it or not they need to be friends. Their other option is sitting and staring at each other while their moms are talking for hours.

We’ve got the friends who aren’t married and don’t have kids. I find these adult friendships especially challenging. Am I talking about my kids too much? Too little? Will my friend ever find a partner and marry? Did I say the wrong thing…again?

But, what is it about adult friendships that make them so weird? Why aren’t they like the friendships we had when we were younger? Why is it not the same anymore?

We used to spend every waking moment with our friends – from the time we got to school until school ended, and then sometimes after school. I used to spend hours on the phone after school with my friends. Then, we went to college and we spent 24/7 with our friends – we dormed together, went to classes together, ate together. After college, when we were single we spent all our time with our friends – lunch break at work, after work, every weekend.

Now, we see our very best friend for coffee at 45 minute intervals once a month, if we’re lucky. We text each other about stupidity like – will our four year olds get into kindergarten? Should we get our thirteen year olds a phone? Then, we go out for a leisurely cup of coffee and we discuss inane things like: Which birth control are you using now? Should I put my kid on medication?

I yearn for the days when I had time to spend hours and hours with my friends and have long philosophical conversations. When we had time to discuss things other than our aging parents, whether the school will remove the mask mandates soon or not, and if our kids should know how to wipe themselves yet or not.

Everyone needs mom friends, but the question is – how do you meet those friends? How do they become good mom friends? Adult friendships can be tricky and weird. You forget that you knew your best friend since you were both 7 and now you’re 37. It takes time to get to know someone well; especially if you only meet up for an hour or so every few weeks.

Maybe, it’s not that our adult friendships are weird, but that they have evolved into something different than what they used to be. It’s not necessarily bad, just different. Times have changed. We have changed. And, as we change, the nature of our friendships change. It’s just something we’re going to have to get used to.

Ready to Move On

I had a whole blog post I started writing about my son who is refusing to take OFF his mask, even though it’s been over a week since his preschool made masks optional. The whole thing makes me so upset, because the poor kid has no idea that it’s not normal to wear masks at school, and he is so used to his mask that he wants to keep it on. But, I’m sick of talking about masks. I really am. I am sick of talking about Covid, also. It is time to move on to some new topics.

Therefore, I am moving on to some light topics that I want to poke fun at. For example, the new fashion trend of wearing a fanny pack over your shoulders, like…a purse. Why not just wear a purse, then? Why buy a fanny pack only to wear it like a purse over your shoulders. It seems you’re really cool if you wear the bag part on your back. I think. I’m still enjoying the fact that I can wear a fanny pack around my waist and be hands-free and I won’t be made fun of.

How about the trend to make your closets and pantries extra organized in clear plastic containers that are labeled (even though the container is clear) with what is inside? Don’t get me wrong, I have been organizing for years and I love having my things neat and organized. I am fond of saying that back in the day The Container Store was nearly empty when I shopped there ten years ago. Now, when you want to run into The Container Store for one or two measly items, you’re forced to wait in a line to pay that weaves all throughout the store. Plus, those clear plastic containers are always out of stock. I have been continuing my organizing (and labeling) trend, but I recently realized how out of hand it was getting. I didn’t need to have all my snacks for the kids for school unpacked out of their cardboard boxes and put into clear containers, just because it became trendy. My pantry is never going to be ‘perfect’, and if it does look perfect that probably means my kids are grown up and out of the house. But, as my sister bluntly said, “What if you don’t buy crackers that week and you have a glass canister labeled crackers?” I mean, these are real issues to worry about.

In my defense, the reason I started labeling all of my containers even though they’re clear is because my son had many allergies, including to gluten. When you bake gluten free cakes and cookies, you use a mix of many different flours: rice, almond, coconut, sorghum, potato and tapioca starch, xanthan gum. They basically all look like the same white flours and I had to differentiate which was which.

Now, that we have officially moved on past Covid, and I don’t really have any comments I wish to share about the war in Ukraine other than the fact that I’m scared as hell that World War III might really be starting, everything is good. We’re moving on to light topics that don’t involve Covid, because if we pretend Covid isn’t there, maybe it will go away. That’s my plan, anyway.

And, while we’re discussing random topics, why don’t people think Bill Clinton was the worst president? Why was it Trump? I was in 8th grade when it was discovered that Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky and was put on trial for impeachment. I went to a sheltered Jewish Orthodox day school and I remember our ultra-Orthodox teachers struggling to explain to us that the great President of the United States had an affair. I’m pretty sure it was the first time I heard the term ‘affair’. Good times.

Well, here’s to living life again without Covid, masks, or vaccine debates!

Where Does That Leave Us?

My family and I live in in a Northern suburb just outside of Chicago. Over the past two years of the pandemic we have put up with a lot of garbage, and although I have disagreed with many issues, I’ve mostly complied, albeit unhappily.

Stay home? Fine. Nothing is open anyway. Wear a mask? Fine. If that means we can leave our houses. Get a vaccine? Hesitant, but if that means we can get on with our lives already, fine. Take off our masks? Hurray! I have been waiting for this moment. Give your 12-15 year old the vaccine? Hesitant, but okay, if it helps us get back to normal…and now 3 out of 5 members of my family are vaccinated so, surely, we’ll be safe, because none of us have gotten Covid, yet.

Wait, now it’s August 2021- put your masks back on! The vaccine isn’t working!

October 2021- I get Covid, along with my 11 year old and 4 year old: the two remaining family members who are not vaccinated. Six weeks later, I have finally regained my strength and my taste is starting to come back.

November 2, 2021: The Pfizer vaccine is approved for 5-11 year olds. My 11 year old just recovered from Covid at the end of October so we’re definitely not getting him the vaccine now. Also, the vaccine didn’t seem to work that great. Six weeks of being sick was enough for me to come to the conclusion that the vaccine isn’t effective enough.

December 21, 2021 – The City of Chicago announces that any individual over the age of 5 who wishes to dine at a restaurant, visit a gym, or go to a theater or event must be fully vaccinated. The mandate begins January 3, 2022.

Soon after, Cook County (where I reside) followed suit. On January 3, 2022, the mandate began.

As of January 3, my 11 year old son was not even 90 days past his Covid infection. While some doctors disagree and say that one can get their Covid vaccine immediately following their infection, many also say to wait at least 90 days. After he was sick with Covid for a week, I wasn’t rushing to give him the vaccine. I have a friend who didn’t run to get her 9 year old the vaccine in November when it was approved and her child became infected with Covid in December. The rest of her family is vaccinated and she fully intended on doing it eventually, but now her kid can’t go anywhere that the rest of the family can go. Now what does she do?

My 11 year old son was supposed to start guitar lessons at a place that offers both dance and music lessons, and because it is considered a fitness center, I received an email on January 3 that all children attending any lessons need to send in a picture of their vaccination card. When I spoke to two different people over the phone about this, they responded that it was a shame he couldn’t start lessons there, but that was it. I was refunded my money immediately.

My husband has season tickets to the Bulls, who play at the United Center in Chicago, where a vaccination card is required. My 11 year old son can’t go to games anymore. He’s the only one who ever wanted to go to the games with my husband.

Depending on which restaurant we choose to go to, everyone in our family can dine in, except the 11 year old. Even our four year old can dine in, because he is not eligible for the vaccine.

We recently (October) purchased a family membership to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Guess who can’t go to the aquarium anymore until he’s vaccinated?

The Jewish schools my children attend had their mid-winter break last week and the kids were home from school for a week. Many indoor places required vaccine cards for children over the age of 5 to enter and therefore there were many places we could not go. We went outdoor ice skating in Chicago (no vaccine required), then headed up to Wisconsin for three days for some well-deserved freedom. Another bonus is that in Wisconsin you don’t need to wear a mask, in addition to not needing a vaccination card. We stayed at a wonderful resort where my kids were able to swim, play in the arcade room, and even walk around the hotel mask-less! The people working at the coffee shop and ice cream store in the hotel were serving food mask-less. What a breath of fresh air. Literally.

We recently visited New York City for a family wedding. At the hotel we stayed at we were required to show our vaccine cards for everyone above the age of 5 in order to be able to swim in the pool. Thankfully, they weren’t too careful at counting the amount of vaccine cards equaling the same amount of people we were checking in and everyone was able to swim.

For so long, I followed all the rules, as ridiculous as they seemed, yet we have gotten no further. I got vaccinated, I wore a mask. Two months after the vaccine was approved for 5-11 year olds the children were put under the mandate, which means that according to the CDC and the City of Chicago and Cook County, one is only fully vaccinated two weeks post the second vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is taken three weeks apart. So, unless you scheduled your child’s Pfizer vaccine within the first week that it was authorized for emergency use, your child could not go to any of these places on January 3.

I wasn’t trying to be rebellious before, but now I’m mad. My son JUST had Covid. He is not getting the vaccine. There is no need! He is young, he recovered from Covid fairly quickly (Unlike myself who was double vaccinated, sick for 6 weeks and still haven’t gotten my taste back 100%). Of course, he is also my child who reacted terribly to vaccines as a baby. He was always sick with fevers for days after his vaccines. So much so, that my pediatrician let me do a delayed vaccine schedule for his 5 year old vaccines. This past summer, when he turned 11, we went to the doctor and he had 4 vaccines that he needed. I said to our pediatrician, “No way are you shooting him up with all of those today!” I looked her in the eye and promised her I would be back for the next ones if she let me do 2 today and come back in a month for the next 2. She wasn’t happy, but she allowed it. This is aside from her usual coercion to get a flu shot every year that I deny.

I waited for the vaccine to be approved and since my 13 year old got her vaccine in July I kept promising my 11 year old that soon it would be his turn! But, then he got Covid and things changed. There are many children who got Covid in the months leading up to the approval of the Pfizer vaccine whose parents are vaccinated and would have otherwise given their child the vaccine. But, now it makes no sense to give these children a vaccine. And, I’m not giving him the vaccine just because the city of Chicago or Cook County wants me to! It still makes no sense to give a child a vaccine less than 90 days after he was sick with Covid and possibly ever, but we won’t start a debate on that.

So, where does this leave us? Those of us whose families are all vaccinated, aside from the children ages 5-11 who were just approved for the vaccine. What do I do? Do I get him a vaccine he doesn’t need, because he probably has natural immunity, and make him sick for two days? Then, can he go play at Chuckee Cheese with his mask on? Can he go for guitar lessons at a music school? Can he dine in his favorite restaurant? Why are these children being punished?

80’s Kids

I have a thought on the 80’s kids. I mean those of us who were born in the 80’s… not necessarily grew up then. I was born in ‘84 and I don’t need to add the 19 to it- thank you very much. We might be the generation they’re calling millennials but I’m so mixed up on which generation is called what – which just shows that I don’t even get the current lingo, because I can’t even figure out which generation I’m part of.

But, this post is not going to be about how the 80’s kids played outside till the streetlights came on, because honestly, I don’t even remember doing that. I’m not going to bemoan the fact that our kids don’t know what a cassette tape is, either. This post is going to be my own unscientific hypothesis.

We’re the generation that are tons of processed foods growing up. Our parents didn’t really understand certain health problems were connected to unhealthy eating. Most of us even remember our parents smoking, not really understanding the ramifications. So, I’m going to start by saying that this wasn’t our parents’ faults. They didn’t have the knowledge then that we have now. Most of us grew up eating processed foods, instant soups with MSG, snacks packed with chemicals and preservatives, canned foods, food dyes galore, and frozen, processed chicken nuggets full of soy, chemicals and G-d knows what else.

By the time we hit puberty we all had bad acne. I remember this “weird” holistic guy my family knew well from synagogue saying that he had his son go off of white sugar, white flour and processed foods and his acne went away. We mostly thought the guy was nuts and couldn’t fathom going off that delicious, wholesome food we were so accustomed to. Meanwhile, my friends, my siblings, and I had nasty acne. Large swollen bumps, blackheads, and cystic acne covered our faces. Besides for our good friend, the crazy holistic doctor, I never heard someone say that our diet was connected to our acne. And we thought the holistic doctor was really strange back in the late 90’s. I bet he’s really busy now and you probably can’t even get an appointment with him.

Fast forward to our early 20’s and we still had acne, albeit somewhat improved. After being on countless over the counter and prescribed acne medications, both oral and topical, my acne was still not great. By that time, Accutane was all the rage. Everyone I knew was on it and their acne miraculously improved considerably. So, I joined the masses and began a six month regimen of Accutane. Accutane was such a strong medication, there were warnings all over the boxes. Each month I had to visit my dermatologist and fill out a form, swearing I would not get pregnant while using Accutane. I had to write down the two forms of birth control I was using and only after I filled out the form, was I given that month’s prescription for the Accutane. On each pill that I popped out there was a figure of a pregnant woman with a big red cross-out over it. What was in Accutane that made it so dangerous?

It was a miracle drug, because my acne finally went away one hundred percent. The side effects experienced while on Accutane included extremely dry lips, dry nostrils (try sticking a Q-tip of Aquafor up your nose), loss of appetite, and depression.

I wasn’t upset about the weight loss, because the 5-10 pounds I lost was great; as a woman in her twenties, who wouldn’t want to lose a bit of weight? When I told my dermatologist that I had no appetite, she asked me if I was eating. So, I told her, yes, that I forced myself to eat, even though I wasn’t hungry. “Okay,” she said. And that was that.

No one spoke much about the depression, until some famous celebrity’s child committed suicide while on Accutane. Then, Accutane was all over the news, but this was many years after everyone I knew had been on it.

So, then us 80’s kids hit our 30s and we realized we’re all depressed. Is it lingering affects from the Accutane? The crappy food we lived on? Don’t get me started on the ‘pandemic depression’. I’m talking about the depression that was around way before then.

And, now what? What’s the next medication to fix our depression they’re going to throw at us? And will we take it blindly, like we ate the MSG and preservatives and processed foods that caused our acne? Or will we jump to take it like we ran to get the Accutane to cure our acne?

My unscientific hypothesis is that the reason the 80’s kids all have depression now in our 30’s is because of the Accutane we all took in our twenties. That’s it. I’m not a scientist. The end.

What Will We Tell Our Children?

            The year is 2040 and our children are now adults. We all survived the Covid-19 crisis, yet survived is not quite the word we should use. We made it through. We are still alive. However, we did not leave unscarred. The children we raised during the health crisis and pandemic have questions for us. After all, we were the adults at the time. They were just the children of the pandemic, following us, trusting us. They did what we told them to, because we were the parents at the time. Now, they are adults and they have questions for us. The young children see pictures of themselves during the Covid period of time and the older children have questions for us based on what they remember from during that time. One of their questions burns through me when they ask me.

            “Mom. We wore masks for TWO straight years in school. TWO years. You didn’t wear a mask! You were at home during the day and you mostly didn’t wear masks unless you went to a store or were traveling.”

            “I know, honey, I’m sorry. I know that two years in a mask all day at school was hard.”

            “But, we were just kids. We trusted you.”

            “I know. We thought we were doing the right thing. We thought it would stop the spread of the virus.”
            “But, Mom, what did you do to stop it? Did you fight the mask rule at schools?”

            That is when I stand there silently. I have nothing to say.

            “We trusted you! You told us we had to wear the masks, because it was the rule and there was nothing you could do about it! There was nothing you could do about it, because you didn’t do anything!”

            “I wanted to…I just…I didn’t know what to do.”
            “Did you even try?” They will ask me. “Didn’t you want to help us?”

            “Of course, I wanted to help you!” I am silent again. I am thinking of the days when I was so grateful that school had started again after having the kids home for six months that I dropped the kids off happily and I did, indeed, tell them to please wear their masks. We were nervous that if the kids didn’t wear masks then the schools would get shut down like they did in New York when the Jewish day schools were trying to get around the mask rules. I just needed them to be in school, whatever the cost.

            I remember that as the year went on and I would do school drop-off, I would cringe and look away when I saw the little kids going into school with masks. The five year olds putting on their masks and skipping into school as if this was normal. What did they know? They were only five. They were just doing what their parents told them to do.

            The year went on and school stayed open. Parents and teachers got vaccinated. Some kids stopped wearing masks. Then the mask rule was unofficially over and the kids didn’t need to wear masks anymore, but it was already May. During the summer of 2021 anyone over the age of 12 could get vaccinated, which included my daughter at the time.

            “But, you told me when I got that vaccine that summer that I would never have to wear a mask again! I was so sick. Remember after the vaccine I was in bed for two days! You lied to me!”

            “I didn’t lie. I didn’t know. I thought you would never have to wear a mask again.”
            The new school year started, and along with it, the new variant of the virus. The governor made an indoor mask mandate for the entire state of Illinois, whether vaccinated or not. But, I worked from home. I didn’t have to wear a mask all day like they did.

            The second year of the mask mandates at school, my almost 4 year old started preschool and he had to wear a mask all day.

            “But, Mom, I was tiny! Look at those pictures of me in preschool wearing a mask! How could you put me in a mask!”

            “I didn’t know what to do! You had to start preschool.”

            Why didn’t I fight harder? My kids will ask me. They will ask what we did, how we fought. They were the kids. They trusted us. We were the adults at the time. They did what we told them to do. And, we told them to wear masks for two years in school, because they had to go to school and that was the only way they would be able to go to school.

And what did I do? I did nothing to fight it. I want to have a good answer for my kids when they ask me in 20 years what I did to fight the mask rules, because they will ask me. And, I know that when we look at pictures of our small children in masks all day at school we will ask ourselves why we didn’t fight more. I know this, because school just started today and I am already wondering why I didn’t do more.

How Social Media Has Destroyed Our Lives

I grew up in the late 80’s and 90’s and I remember when I was 12 years old we got a computer in the house and AOL. My siblings and I each got our own email address, and even though you could have up to 5 email addresses per account, I got my own. We got “The Internet”. But, as long as you weren’t near a computer and had 20 minutes to log on to the Internet, you couldn’t stay on for too long anyway. Email turned to AIM and we could message our friends in real time and chat. Next came Blackberries. You could email from your phone! I was already in my early twenties and I swore I would never get a Blackberry, because I thought it was weird that people were emailing from their phones and always busy with work.

A few years later, I was married with two small kids and I started doing freelance graphic design work. Eventually I found it easier to respond to emails via my phone rather than run to a computer so I bought myself a phone that I could email from, but not a Blackberry; I wouldn’t succumb to that low of a level.

iPhones became more and more readily available and affordable and eventually I got an iPhone. I think it was about the same time that Facebook and then Instagram were becoming more and more popular and I had accounts for both Facebook and Instagram. Once I got my iPhone and I had Facebook and Instagram on my phone, I would get notifications on my phone whenever I got a like or a comment on a post I had put up. Soon I was getting notifications on my phone from Facebook for everything. For example, my acquaintance from school in Israel that we attended together ten years before that posted about her daughter’s school play. That’s when it started to get to be too much. I tried several things. First, I took the apps off my phone and forced myself to have to log into Facebook or Instagram on Safari, which was an extra step, plus I wasn’t getting the notifications on my phone.

But, in my mind, things had already changed. Why were people posting every single thing they did and ate? Why were they posting all these pictures of their kids? What about privacy? What if a crazy child pornography person got ahold of the pictures of my kids I posted? Why did I need my old boss or the random person I didn’t really know seeing pictures of my child’s birthday party? I stopped posting pictures and even tried to delete all the old pictures I had put up on Facebook over the years. I logged out of my Instagram account and then I even forgot my password to re-log in the next time I wanted to go on. I opened another Instagram account a few months later and tried to only follow stores, celebrities and public figures. I didn’t want to follow anyone I knew personally.

I realized that I had a real issue with Instagram, specifically. As Instagram grew more and more popular, I was following local women that I knew. But, it was weird to to follow someone who I wouldn’t even say hello to if I bumped into on the street, yet I knew every detail about their life via Instagram. And, I realized, they knew nothing about my life. It was a strange situation. The other issue was that my mental health was suffering. When I saw women I knew out for drinks, at a party, or going anywhere where I thought I should have been invited to, I felt sad and jealous. I would scan photos of beautiful, skinny women and mourn my body that never looked as good. I was never dressed as well as the beautiful influencers. My kids weren’t as well dressed. My house wasn’t decorated right. My pantry wasn’t organized enough. I also wasted hours scrolling through social media when I probably could have been doing something more productive with my time, like actually talking to other people in person. In my opinion, watching a TV show is better than scrolling through social media.

After another year or so on my new Instagram account, I made the decision to delete my account on Instagram and delete it off my phone for good. This was over 2 years ago and I don’t miss it. I chose to keep Facebook for the time being, because I felt it did less damage to my mental health and the benefits of Facebook outweighed the cons. I mostly use Facebook as my news feed; I follow a lot of newspapers and media outlets that I like to read. I am also part of allergy groups, writing groups, a Chicago moms group, a Chicago Jewish group, etc.

So, how and why was I convinced to leave Instagram and how did I get myself to do it?

It was right after Passover two and a half years ago when I decided to do delete my Instagram account. My husband had checked out a book from the library entitled something like “Ten Reasons to get off Social Media Now” as a joke, because he always teased me that I am addicted to social media. But, it was no joke. I knew I was addicted to social media and I was miserable because of it.

After reading the book over Passover, I vowed to delete Instagram for good when Passover was over and I did. I knew that the only real way to stop myself completely was to delete my Instagram account for good. It felt really good and freeing. It’s been over 2 years now and I have not gone back to Instagram and I really don’t miss it. Sometimes I miss out on local stores’ announcement or sales, but mostly I’m okay. My friends post ads in WhatsApp groups for local places so I’m not totally out of it.

After being off Instagram for so long, I was trying to convince some younger friends of mine to get off Instagram. Most of them shrug me off, but I see how unhappy it makes them, too. Sometimes, these friends will even discuss Instagram posts in our WhatsApp chats, and they will go so far as to screenshot a picture from Instagram and post it in the chat. Although it’s interesting, I beg them not to, because I really don’t want to see. That is the reason I am off Instagram. Mostly, though, my younger friends tell me that I’m crazy to get rid of Instagram, and ask me how I survive without it.

Recently, the answer hit me. Millennials, or people in their low thirties and younger have never lived without social media. They don’t even know the beauty of life without it! How free it is. How there are no awkward pictures of you out there for the world to see whether you like it or not, because someone who isn’t even a friend of yours who you were at a party with posted the picture on Snapchat and someone else screenshot it and now so many people have seen it that you can’t even keep track of where the picture has gone. Millennials don’t know life before social media and they can’t imagine what life is like without it, because they’ve never experienced it. This is probably why social media doesn’t bother them as much. They’re used to it so it doesn’t feel so strange to them, like it does to me.

I know that I still have other social media to get off of, like Facebook and TikTok (my newly acquired social media outlet!), but in the meantime, at least those aren’t making me unhappy. They are only time wasters, which is its own problem. I still enjoy TikTok and I find Facebook useful, so until that changes, I will keep those social media outlets. But, as soon as I feel unhappy because of either of them, I won’t hesitate to get rid of it.

Vaccines, Vaccines, and More

The other day I was looking in the mirror and thinking about how fat I look (as usual), when it suddenly hit me: I have had more side effects from my IUD than I have had from the Covid vaccine I received a few months ago. I’ve even had more side effects from taking antibiotics than I did from the Covid vaccine.

I did have side effects after getting the Covid vaccine. About six hours after receiving my second Covid vaccine I started to feel the fatigue. Then the aches and pains began and the fatigue became so extreme that I could barely drag myself out of bed to go to the bathroom. After about twenty-four hours of this, I told my husband, “If this is what Covid felt like then I did not have Covid!” It was pure hell. But it was also over in twenty-four hours. As quickly as it started, it ended. After the day of hell, I haven’t noticed any long-term effects since receiving the vaccine five months ago.

I have, however, noticed long term effects from my IUD. After my last child was born, three and a half years ago, I put in the Paragard IUD. After about a year and a half of heavy bleeding for ten days and then spotting for the weeks in between, I decided it was enough. My doctor had already checked me out and decided there was ‘nothing wrong.’ So, in October 2020 I had the Paragard removed and the Mirena inserted at the same appointment. Within six weeks, I gained eight pounds, none of which I’ve been able to lose over nine months later. I am also spotting two to three weeks of each month. If you’re wondering if the spotting from the IUD is related to the Covid vaccine it’s not possible, because I had the Mirena IUD put in October 2020 and I had my Covid vaccine in February 2021.

Let’s talk about antibiotics. I used to have chronic sinus infections and I was constantly being put on antibiotics by my doctor and ENT. Eventually, I had sinus surgery done – which didn’t help, by the way. I still got chronic sinus infections after that and I ended up going to a nutritionist who helped me finally get better. Through diet and supplements, I healed my gut, and then my sinus issues slowly improved. It was a long process. I had to detox my body of all the antibiotics I took, and heal my body from whatever was causing the nonstop sinus issues. I ate whole foods, whole grains, and piles of fresh fruits and vegetables. I only ate organic. I finally felt better and I also stopped getting sinus infections. I had some other nice surprises after following this healthy diet: my headaches stopped, my seasonal allergies lessened in severity, my stomach stopped hurting all the time and I lost weight, of course. It is almost ten years later and I rarely get sinus infections anymore, but if I do get one, I don’t take antibiotics. And, guess what? I feel better after seven to ten days, anyway.

Since recovering from my twenty-four hours of being sick after my Covid vaccine, I haven’t felt any lingering side effects. A few months after I got the vaccine, I had my blood drawn and my nutritionist did a CBS – a complete blood scan to check my blood for any lingering issues. She found nothing out of the ordinary.

I don’t want to really get into the debate about the vaccine or try to debunk theories. I am not a scientist or a doctor nor do I have any medical background. What I do want to point out is that there are side effects to every medication we use and every single thing we put in our bodies; including every morsel of food we consume. I am very careful about what I eat since having chronic sinus infections and subsequently eating healthy and organic. However, I did choose to get the Covid vaccine, because in this instance I believe that the benefits outweigh the risk of side effects. I sure wish I hadn’t gotten this IUD, though…

Dr. Fauci as Time’s Person of the Year

From my understanding, Time’s big declaration of their “Person of the Year” is usually someone who is most influential in that year. It’s not a reward for the person who is the best or who we love the most.

I remember when Time chose us as their Person of the Year. It was the year that YouTube was either invented or blew up and making videos and posting them on YouTube was a novelty. So, Time chose the us, the people, as the most influential person of the year and to demonstrate this the cover of Time magazine had a mirror on it so when you looked at it, it was YOU who you saw as the Time Person of the Year.

I was in my early twenties at the time and that made a huge impact on me. Since then I’ve always looked to see who Time chose as their Person of the Year based on that year, because as I understood it, Time’s big honor was to name the most influential person or people of that year.

I don’t have a problem with Biden and Harris, however, they haven’t even started their term yet. Perhaps, next year they should be the Person or People of the year. I hope they do a lot in their term that Time will want to recognize them for the year 2021. But, what we should be focusing is on the year 2020. Who had the most influence on us, as a country, this year?

You might say Donald Trump, who was certainly very influential, whether some say for good and some say for bad. But, he’s already been the Person of the Year, plus he’s already been President for 4 years. You might say the healthcare workers, and they’re VERY deserving of this honor. But, I don’t think they have been so influential, per se. The healthcare workers and the essential workers should be given the HONOR this year. They should be rewarded for their hard work and dedication and selflessness. But, I wouldn’t choose healthcare workers as my top choice for Most Influential.

I vote for Dr. Anthony Fauci. Did anyone even hear of him before the Coronavirus outbreak? Maybe I should be embarrassed of this, but I never heard his name before. Then, suddenly, this little old man gets up their with Trump and suddenly the eyes of the country are on him. “Dr. Fauci said this” and “Dr. Fauci said that” is on everyone’s lips. Every move we make depends on Fauci and everything we do these days is influenced by what Dr. Fauci has said.

Everything our country has done during Coronavirus has been directed or been under the advice of Dr. Fauci. He’s quoted in every news article you read, and his picture is seen everywhere. Every time you turn the TV on, it was Dr. Fauci who was standing in front of the White House giving a Coronavirus breiefing. Who doesn’t recognize Fauci now?

And as of December 2020, we’re still looking to Fauci for direction. We saw pictures of him getting his vaccine, and we asked him if Santa will be coming this year. Every move we make depends on what Dr. Fauci says or predicts.

If it were up to my vote, I would vote for a little old man by the name of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has apparently been an advisor to the President for the United States since Ronald Reagan (according to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Fauci). President Trump assigned Dr. Fauci to lead his Coronavirus Task Force in January 2020, and since then Anthony Fauci has been a household name.

I applaud Dr. Fauci for his hard work this year, and I wish him luck with President Biden and helping to conquer the Covid-19 virus once and for all. I feel that as a United States citizen, living during this pandemic, I have been most influenced by what Dr. Fauci has said and done this past year.

Covid-19: Mental Health and Suicides

We talk about the hospitalizations, the deaths, the election, the riots, the protests, and whether schools or restaurants should be open. But, there is a huge part of the Coronavirus pandemic that I feel not enough people are talking about. Every once in awhile I will see an article discussing the effects Coronavirus, and subsequently, the quarantining, is having on the our mental health. I feel that it is important to talk about Covid-19 and how quickly the vaccine is coming. But, I think it is equally as important to talk about the mental health of the people who have been quarantined for months, lost their income and in many other ways been affected by it.

During the quarantine time we had in March, April, May, and June most people didn’t leave their houses at all unless to get groceries or go for a walk. My brother-in-law, an NYC paramedic who responds to 911 calls, told me that he tended to many more suicides during that time than he usually does. You see, when a person commits suicide, 911 is called even if the person is already dead, because a paramedic needs to officially pronounce the person dead. Often, my brother-in-law would be waiting by the river for a body to be pulled out by a jumper off the Brooklyn Bridge. He would also respond to calls for people who had overdosed or hung themselves. At that time he was responding to approximately 3 suicides a week. I wondered how many suicides he normally responded to, before Coronavirus, so I could get a comparison. He said in the old days he would respond to about 0-1 suicides per week. This is just one paramedic, working a few shifts a week, in New York City, who was responding to 3 suicides a week. Let that sink in a bit.

My husband had an employee who called him one day in June in a panic. He was nervous about catching Covid, because he works in the health field and he was stressed about supporting his wife and kids during this stressful time. My husband told him to please take some time off and to get some help, because, as he relayed to me later, the man sounded like he was ‘going crazy’. About a month later, this man’s wife found him hung in their garage.

I remember reading this article in April, posted by an Israeli media site. https://www.timesofisrael.com/shop-owner-at-closed-jerusalem-market-dies-by-suicide-amid-financial-woes/ The Shuk is an open air street market that was completely shut down in Israel during their lockdown period. An Israeli Shuk owner committed suicide due to loss of income from the quarantine.

I have a friend who I consider one of my most grounded friends. She seems to be the person who never loses her cool, and always has control of things even when everyone else around her is losing it. A few months ago she started experiencing panic attacks. She began taking anxiety medication after being taken to the hospital after her first panic attack. She has started testing herself and her children for Covid obsessively, sometimes even on a weekly basis, convinced that they either have Covid or they’re going to infect an elderly family member with it. It is so hard to see a friend who I once thought of as my “strong” friend cracking under the pressure.

My sister is a nurse in a pediatric E.R. in Brooklyn, NY. Since she works in the pedatric E.R., it has been relatively quiet there since March (this is another entire story…) so I’ve been curious what it’s like now. Last week, she worked at the E.R. for two day shifts, meaning two twelve-hour periods. During that time she had three teens brought in for overdosing, and another two teens brought in by their parents, because the child was lashing out at the parents. These are teenagers who are locked up in their houses or apartments, doing school online, with little to no social interaction. They have no place to go and nothing to do. One boy got so angry at his mom that he broke the 65″ TV in their house. Last night, I got a text from my sister while she was working at the hospital. 3 people came in for overdoses in one overnight shift. That’s one 12-hour period.

Anxiety is such a common mental health issue, along with depression. Both are mental health issues that the world at large experienced during the quarantine and lock downs during the worst weeks and months of Coronavirus. People with more severe anxiety, or people who had a lot of anxiety before Coronavirus ever rocked our world, are suffering even more so now. Those people are still locked in their houses, still doing grocery pick ups, and they walk around outside with masks and gloves. Whether they are right or wrong, I do not know. What I do know is that they’re scared. They’re anxious. What if they get sick? What if they get a loved one sick? What if they get hospitalized? What if they’re in the hospital and no one can be there with them? What if they die? These are some of the millions of thoughts that are running through an already anxious person’s head.

The problem is that staying inside and running away from everyone and cutting off all social contact is not going to work. Social contact is the very thing that people need to survive and keep their mental and emotional health in check. Social isolation is NOT the antidote to anxiety. Having people locked up in their houses with their anxiety and depression is not the answer. Now people are hiding in their houses not seeing anyone ever and getting absolutely no support. Not physical support, because they’re scared to have their cleaning help, their babysitters, or any family members come to their house to help out. And not emotional support, because they don’t see anyone on a daily basis to talk to. There are no coffee dates for adults, and there’s no school for kids to see their friends.

Mental health is a real issue and I believe that Coronavirus and quarantine have made it much, much worse. It is wonderful that a vaccine for the Coronavirus is coming out soon. I just hope the scientists are working on a vaccine for all the new mental health issues that have cropped up. When this is all over, and the deaths have stopped, will we be ready to count up the amount of suicides and compare them to the deaths from Covid-19?