Masks

There have been many dark things about the COVID-19 epidemic, but I have always been jealous of the fact that Japanese people wear medical masks out in public as a matter of course, and up until last year, that has never been socially acceptable in America. Now, it’s less socially acceptable not to. I have many reasons for liking masks – it reduces communicable diseases (not just SARS-Cov-2) but also I just like hiding my face. No one needs to see it unnecessarily, it’s just common human decency.

But I’ve been far more ambivalent about the mask mandates.

I’ve been mostly keeping my mouth shut about this until now. Quite honestly, I don’t really know enough about the effectiveness of masks to have an opinion as to whether they work or whether they should be mandated. People with far greater opinions of themselves than I had decided they should, and, well, my ego really isn’t quite that big yet. So, I’ve just been going along with the status quo.

But, starting next week, the mask mandates in my state (Texas), as well as most of the “lockdown” restrictions that remain, will be lifted. And, I am okay with that.

I am ambivalent about the mask mandates. What I am far less ambivalent about is other states (and our dementia patient in chief) sticking their nose into our business.

Let me tell you something about America, for those of you that do, and for those of you that don’t live here. America is a country, but it is a country made up of fifty individual, autonomous states. Texas is one of the largest, both in population and in area (and it’s getting larger because the other largest state, California, is a dumpster fire). And if our elected officials wish to make a constitutional ruling that the need for mask mandates has ended, well, that’s the end of it. It’s none of Alaska’s, California’s, New York’s, or anyone else’s business what we, as a state, decide to do. It’s especially not Biden’s. Biden’s job, as the President, is to provide for the common defense. That’s it. Sure, in practice, that’s kind of been turned on its ear, but it’s certainly not to call us a bunch of Neanderthals because we dared to make a decision of what’s right for us for ourselves.

Mr. Dementia-Patient-in-Chief Biden, Gavin “Soon to be ousted” Newsom, Governor “I swear I didn’t touch her” Cuomo… mind your own business. We can take care of ourselves. And if recent experience is to be believed, far better than you can.

I, personally, will continue to wear a mask. I feel more comfortable with it, and no one needs to see my ugly mug unnecessarily. Many businesses will continue to require it, and bully for them. But, if you’re not from Texas, butt out. It’s none of your concern, and we’re frankly not interested in what you think.

Oh, and while I’m at it: Dr. Fauci? Shut up. You stopped being useful a year ago.

Motteke! Sailor Fuku

I don’t think I can describe how bad 2020 has been in so many ways, both personally and on a macro level.  But I don’t have to, because most of you have experienced it.  First a virus from China showed up and pretty much shut the world down for a few months, and now idiots in my country are rioting and looting in many major cities.  What next?  Will an asteroid land on New York?  (And yes, those who are looting and rioting are morons.  Now peaceful protests, etc., are a different story, and not one I will get into here.)

It’s too much, it really is.  It’s getting to me.  I find myself waking up early in the morning wondering what’s going to happen next.  I am lucky that I live in an area that has both not been hit too hard by the coronavirus, and is not a choice target for the rampaging morons, but that doesn’t change the anxiety.  There’s just so much to worry about anymore.

But a few days ago I found a song called “Motteke! Sailor Fuku” and I can’t seem to stop listening to it  It’s silly, it’s stupid, it’s banal, the lyrics make little sense in Japanese and even less when translated to English, and it’s essentially about a high school girl’s sailor uniform.  But I can’t seem to stop listening to it because it’s stupid, it’s banal, the lyrics make little sense in Japanese and even less when translated to English, and it’s essentially about a high school girl’s sailor uniform.  And it’s catchy as hell.

I did not have a good childhood, and my teenage years were even worse, but it was simple.  Apart from the artificial worries my parents and church imposed on me, there wasn’t much to worry about, really.  And the thing about that song is, it manages to capture that simplicity very, very well.  When you’re in early high school, who worries about mortgages, about politics, about work, money, all that stuff?  You just worry about getting to school, doing your homework, and playing at being adult even though you have no idea what adulthood is all about.

I don’t wish to go back to my high school years.  But I kind of wish to go back to the idea of high school years.  They’re stupid, banal, your worse worries are often what kind of grades you’re going to get in school, and even though often everything feels like it’s going to be the end of the world, I’d rather have that in favor of what’s going on around me today.

If I could look back at the 80s and early 90s, knowing everything I do now…  we didn’t know how good we had it.  Now it’s all going to hell, and all we’ve got is the shadows of things that were.

And thanks to the Japanese for encapsulating them so perfectly.  It’s such a great distraction, right when I really need one.  Now, if you will excuse me, I need to figure out why three centimeters is a rule you can overlook.

 

Covidity

This blog is nearly always about topics Japanese, but not always.  Today, as with most people in the world, other things are on my mind.  And I think I’m going to post about that, today.  We can talk about Japanese some other time.

The world – MY world – has begun to see severe disruption because of the spread of the Chinese Virus, also known as the Coronavirus, SARS-2-COV, or COVID.  In my neck of the world, schools have shut down, for some reason people are buying so much toilet paper they must be swimming in the stuff, grocery stores have implemented a limit on the number of people who can be inside at one time.  Austin has shut down pretty much all non-essential businesses, such as restaurants and bars, and my suburb will, if it hasn’t already, follow suit very soon.  Currently, in Austin, there is no longer a rush hour, as nearly everyone who is capable is now working from home.  Heck, even my Japanese class is going to be virtual for a while.

The world feels subtly different.  It’s like, with the sound of a billion screeching brakes, the world just… stopped.  And I’m not sure it’s ever going to be the same again.

And I’m not sure how I feel about that, to be honest.

Some people are going to die, some people are going to get sick, and some people are going to get through this with a big question mark over their heads asking what the heck just happened.  Are we going to return to business as usual when this is over?  Or is the world now forever changed?  If it’s forever changed, will that be for the good, for the bad, or a combination of both?  Or will it even be over?  Will we be, for the rest of our lives, forever looking over our shoulder, afraid of every cough or sneeze as if it’s looming sudden death?

I’m not comfortable with this.  Maybe that’s the point.  Maybe no significant or meaningful change happens without some precipitating factor that is the trigger for it.  Maybe I am living through a historical inflection point, and the world will look significantly different when we come out the other side.

Or maybe I won’t come out the other side.  That’s a possibility I have to consider as well.

I’m not going to go to sleep, and wake up in the morning, and it will be better.  The nightmare continues, and soon, the nightmare will be the new normal, and I think that is what I am most afraid of.