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I have many personal stories about healthcare deferred, issues postponed, obvious problems sidelined until they (hopefully) resolve themselves, but the lump in my neck couldn’t be ignored.

I noticed it about a year ago, right before the pandemic was picking up steam — a small pea-sized bump on the right side of my neck, right near my jaw.

I mentioned it to my doctor at my annual physical in December. She probed it and declared that it was superficial, nothing to worry about.

“It’s been there for a while,” I said. …


I live alone. It’s been a very long year.

Illustration of a person dressed in winter clothes walking alone on the sidewalk with swan necks silhouetting in the foreground.
Illustration of a person dressed in winter clothes walking alone on the sidewalk with swan necks silhouetting in the foreground.
Illustration by Derek Abella for GEN

It has been one year since I’ve been properly hugged. I have never been a casual hugger, and yet it was this fact I kept coming back to as we approached the first anniversary of the pandemic. Or, rather, the fact kept coming back to me, swinging in like a wrecking ball, bringing with it the reality that I have had to survive 12 months of global death and uncertainty without the simple, basic, fundamental comfort of being held.

It is never lost on me that this sort of deprivation is, to some degree, a punishment inflicted on criminals, or…


After a year of the pandemic, I want all the drama I can get

Photo: Alyson Aliano / Getty images

At some point in the last six months, I realized almost every conversation I have is exactly the same. All anyone can talk about anymore is their Covid fatigue, their projected timeline for when and whether this will all end, and how life under shutdowns has caused them to lose their grip on reality. No one ever knows what day it is; everyone has opinions about vaccine efficacy, reopening strategies, and those assholes who went to Tulum in the middle of a pandemic.

I know there’s a logical explanation for this. It’s been a year without parties, packed bars, and…


You don’t have to be religious to see the value in temperance

Photo: Pat Gaines/Getty

I tell people I was raised “very Catholic,” by which I mean that my parents usually dragged me to mass once a week unless they were too tired or forgot or just didn’t feel like it. But whenever we didn’t go, they’d feel really guilty about it, which is the Catholic way. I had a first communion and cried when I had to drink the wine because it tasted gross, and I assumed my distaste for the wine — the blood of Christ — signaled my imminent eternal damnation. I am now what you’d call a “lapsed” Catholic (unless my…


Nearly a year into the pandemic, these unexpected chats are my greatest joy

Joan Crawford dwarfed by a giant telephone c. 1927. Photo: John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

A friend who I am very fond of but don’t necessarily keep in regular touch with recently emailed me on a bcc-ed list with the subject line, “Your Birthdays — I need em.” She was asking for people’s birthdays and mailing addresses to add to her calendar. It was a nice gesture during trying times, so I thought I’d return the favor in a way that some might describe as maniacal: I called her up out of the blue.

When my friend picked up, I explained that I was calling her in response to her email and read out my…


Our senses are starved. They lie dormant, waiting for the reopening.

Photo: Thanasis Zovoilis/Getty Images

It is nearly a year now, though time no longer passes with any structure. Each day is the same, weekends bleed into weeks, days into months, the seasons blur into each other.

There are three categories of people in lockdown: couples without children, couples with children, and single people. The couples without children have learned languages, watched box sets, and made sourdough bread. They’ve gone for long walks, played board games, argued, and made love. The couples with children have been running exclusive boarding schools: being parents, teachers, playmates, nannies, and cooks. The single people have been trapped in a…


How I Got Through This

It’s a game I didn’t need to win — I just needed to push through

Photo illustration; source: Minecraft/Mojang Studios

Few things have brought me more comfort and joy during the pandemic than a video game beloved by millions of adolescent children. I’m a grown-ass adult who does Very Adult Things, like paying taxes and drinking whiskey straight, and yet Minecraft consumes a not so insignificant portion of my brain space. You might say my interest in the game is equal parts pandemic-induced boredom and standard millennial escapism, but that’s only a half-truth. In reality, I started playing Minecraft years ago, when my life and sense of self were a nebulous cloud. Minecraft helped give it a shape. …


How I Got Through This

Feeling disconnected, it was time to commune with the Wood Wide Web

Photo illustration; source: Getty Images

On the sad curve of what passed for big fun in 2020, going for a walk in the woods was the Covid equivalent of… I don’t know, checking into a luxe hotel for a three-day weekend?

My wife and I went for a lot of nature walks this year: the Staten Island Greenbelt, the Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Westchester County, Tallman Mountain State Park across the Hudson along the Palisades. At first, our impulse was anything that gets us out of this apartment. This was back in spring, when the trails were muddy and crowded with masked humans desperate…


How I Got Through This

The Gang’s chaos agents helped me understand what the hell just happened

Photo illustration; source: FXX /Courtesy: Everett Collection

At the end of every day, I slide three feet from the desk where I sit with my computer, to the couch where I sit with my computer. I’ve made something for dinner — at this point an exercise in calories, and boredom, usually over polenta — when my boyfriend turns to me and asks me the same question. “Time for The Funny?” he says.

It’s been a long day online, my brain has melted into a jiggly-wiggly blob. “One Funny,” I reply. “Maybe two.”

The Funny is 30 minutes of the only thing that has brought unfiltered, screaming, crying…


How I Got Through This

The world fell to pieces, but I knew I could crawl into the little glowing screen of my phone to find comfort in my friends

Here’s a handful of topics I broached with my group chat in the past 24 hours: Covid-19 vaccine videos that have made me sob; god I’m so annoyed at anti-vaxxers; I think I imprinted on both Tom Cruise and Thandie Newton at age 8 thanks to Mission: Impossible 2; also why is it that months after the fact people keep defending the Zoom dick dude? If this sounds like my brain is a landfill site of useless information, you are not wrong. …

GEN

What matters now. A publication from Medium about politics, power, and culture.

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