Life at Crisis Point During a Pandemic – As Written For High School Students Studying Canadian History in 2084

Dearest Highschooler,

I am so sorry that you have to read my ancient blog post. I’m not sure what the internet looks like now but I imagine my words to be projected directly into your brain. My sincerest condolences; sometimes I don’t want my own words in my brain either if it makes you feel any better.

Please also allow me to apologize for the fact that you are not making out with the hottie who sits behind you in English. Again, I too would rather that the 2020 pandemic had not happened thus freeing up your time and your tongue for more attractive activities, but since it did, let’s get down to business.

As of today we are eight months into the pandemic here. The last ‘normal’ day was St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t know whether you still have that, it’s a day for binge drinking and making bad decisions under the guise of celebrating part of Europe. Even then, St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t normal. Everyone sat perched on a sharp edge, as though waiting for catastrophe to arrive.

It never did.

Manitoba – it’s a province, we cut Canada into pieces and then claimed that everyone needed different things; Alberta needed oil, B.C. needed hippies to eat organic produce, Manitoba needed winter coats, and Toronto, or as some might call it, Ontario, needed tiny, expensive condos to bankrupt their residents, there were other provinces too but they weren’t important – my home shut down early and hard. Kids were out of school for six months including the summer. People were fearful and stayed home. As a province, Manitoba did really well, our case numbers were very low – there was even a period of two weeks when there were no new cases of COVID.

Then the fall came.

People started gathering inside. We still weren’t sure of how the virus was spread. Initially in the pandemic people were crazy for disinfectant. Wipes were sold out everywhere. If you saw them, you grabbed them, even if like me, you didn’t use wipes. My still untouched canister of wipes is probably in a museum somewhere – “From the COVID era, wipes were a popular tool to combat coronavirus”. People were bonkers, they were disinfecting everything in sight. I even read an account of a man who froze his morning paper to kill the virus because he couldn’t wipe it down.

Finally people started wearing masks. This should have been a turning point in our pandemic fight but it wasn’t. Unfortunately the pandemic came hot on the heels of Trump’s presidency. That man stood for ‘Me, me, me and especially ME!’ What this meant is all of North America was well versed in getting riled up about having their rights violated while trampling other’s freedoms. So not everyone wore masks.

Some idiots even staged anti-mask rallies where they gathered together and all breathed in each other’s fumes while bellowing about how they wanted to hug everyone and the virus was a sham. These same people would end up in hospital killing all the grandmas and grandpas with their negligence because case numbers kept going up and hospital beds were in short supply. Physicians had to make tough choices.

Doctors had it bad but no profession was safe. The teachers were all stressed out because they had to teach online or in person but two meters apart and no one could do any group work or have fun in the classroom. Nurses were stressed out because they were overworked to begin with and kept getting sick. Ditto for the healthcare aides.

If the minimum wage workers hadn’t been laid off then they were working the front lines and were also getting sick. Small business owners were hurting, big companies were hurting because there were shutdowns of entire industries. The only people whose lives were mostly the same were the IT guys who worked from home but even those poor dudes had their work load doubled because everyone was working online now.

And the working online. Dearest highschooler, it was bad. Like French egg bad – oeuf. Picture trying to video-brainmeld with your great aunt Lilly. People had no concept of norms; they’d show up in their pyjamas, they’d have wildly inappropriate websites open on their screens, sometimes they even used the can while their coworkers watched. The can is what we used to call the toilet. You probably have a more sophisticated method of relieving yourself now. You’d think that the virus robbed people of their common sense rather than their smell and taste.

Weeks turned into months, then more and more months ticked over. People got tired of the restrictions. But the case numbers kept going up and hospitals continued to be overwhelmed. Even for the general population, every day felt like waking up in a lead vest – heavy, a slog. There was a kind of worried sadness that permeated every aspect of life. You’d be out in the grocery store and ask how someone was and they’d just stare in silence then shake their head.

When I was your age, I wished for an event as grandiose, life changing and romantic as a World War. This isn’t a war but people are dying and across the world, everyone’s lives have changed drastically. If I could go back in time, I would wish for more fun nights with friends and hot dates.

I’m done rambling now – tell your teacher that you read my words. Now please go make out with someone in your car while wishing for more of the same.

Day Drinking with the Elderly

So this blog used to be about humor, But now it’s a spot to post my writing assignments. Please descend on this piece like a pack of hungry jackals.

Introduction to Storytelling

Write about a time you tried something new and it surprised you. Now take what you’ve written and make it exactly a hundred words – not ninety-nine or a hundred and one. Think about what can be cut and why. What choices do you make and how do you create priorities when editing your work? Now take the hundred word story and write it in six words.

It was nine am on a Sunday. I’d been up for an hour and it would be at least two more hours until my sister Diana woke up. The clock ticked slowly. I wished I had brought a book.

At home, I go to church. But I wasn’t at home. I was somewhere in a metropolis. Even when I’m somewhere new, I still go to church. I once sang hymns while accompanied by a minister who played his trombone. The minister’s young son spent the entire service tugging on his leg and asking when it was going to be over. To date that was the smallest, most unusual church service I’d ever been to.

I looked at the clock again. Nine oh two.

At once, I decided that I was going to find a church. There had to be one around. Leaving Diana a note, I walked out of the apartment. Before I saw the sign, I heard the bells. A church.

An Anglican church, I’m United, but as far as I’m concerned, in the same way that love is love is love, God is God is God. How bad could it be? I’m guessing they’d have a piano which already put the service a cut above the outdoor one I attended with the trombone playing minister.

God is absolutely God. And love is absolutely love but Anglicans have their own agenda and it looks nothing like any that I’ve known.

The entire sermon, they were reading from a book that I didn’t have. I was one of six parishioners so I even pew hopped to look for the missing scripture. No dice. Apparently it was BYOB- bring your own bible.

Being the only person under eighty jumping from one pew to the next would have been enough embarrassment for the day but it was also communion.

In the United church, we have individual, tiny glasses and individual wafers. I’m not crazy about the plastic waste but I go along with it.

Apparently the Anglicans are hardcore environmentalists. They shared a cup.

One cup.

For all the old people.

I would have opted out, but everyone rose from their seats and formed a line at the front of the church. I was in line behind a centenarian before I realized what was happening.

Once again they were reading from the book I didn’t have so I was extra confused and a little grossed out. But all the same, I knelt down on the cushion and drank from the same cup that the minister had thoughtfully wiped with a towel after the man before me finished. It tasted like wine and the 1918 Spanish Flu that the gentleman before me had survived.

Afterwards I walked home and thought about how my soul felt lighter even if my lungs were now heavy with liquid tuberculosis or some other old person ailment.

479 words

While visiting my sister, I went to an Anglican church. I am a United Christian but ‘How different could it be?’ I naively thought.

It was very different. They spent the entire sermon reading out of a book I didn’t have. It was BYOB – bring your own bible.

The worst was yet to come. It was communion. Instead of the individual, plastic glasses at the United church, all the parishioners lined up to drink from the same cup. I was kneeling at the front of the sanctuary before I realized what was happening. By then it was too late. Ugh.

100 words

Anglicans read secret books and share cups.

7 words