A few months ago, I wrote about making lemonade out of lemons while we sheltered in place. Obviously, I did not think the pandemic would now stretch into August. Although California tried opening up again, the result was the emergence of a second wave or surge.

The year 2020 will certainly not go down as one of my favorite years. For many of us who are older and have lived long lives, we have never faced an event like this.

In January I was in San Francisco helping take care of my sister, who is currently battling Stage IV lung cancer. Fortunately her treatments are working and her health has improved.

While we were in the City, news came of the death of basketball icon Kobe Bryant. At that point the coronavirus was just spreading in China. Kobe’s untimely death was a foretaste of events to come.

What has really had an impact is the racial unrest caused by the death of George Floyd. Events have definitely made American confront the issues of racial inequality but the violence and looting have added to my sense of anxiety and a disturbing polarization of Americans.

Cabin fever is beginning to affect us all. I find myself with a little less patience and perhaps paranoid about strangers. As we shop for groceries at Ralph’s and sometimes Costco there is an uneasiness. In the back of your mind I rationalize that getting sick while shopping for groceries is very small. On the other hand, in the back of your mind, you wonder if the person in front you in line an asymptomatic carrier.

There is a certain amount of anxiety as the months have passed. It is like waiting for the next shoe to drop. As I scan daily The L.A. Times coronavirus coverage, the number of the infected and deaths continue to rise. I wonder when it will peak. This is not to mention economic impact is staggering on a level that rivals the Great Depression.

One of my retired friends said he is sick of being sheltered in place. To quote him, “This is not living! I can’t do anything for the fear that I will get sick and die.” He is tired of staying home but is also afraid to venture out into crowds or shop. He said it feels like he is in prison.

As a person in the autumn and maybe winter of my life, I am resentful that the pandemic is taking away opportunities for travel and time with family. We have only so many years to fill the bucket list before Father Time restricts us physically.

We have missed a wedding and have had a couple more postponed. Unfortunately, also missed a memorial service of a close family member.

Perhaps my greatest frustration has been the lack of unity as a nation in confronting this pandemic. Think of how our nation confronted the challenges of WWII on the home front and the unity of the war effort. We could learn something from the Greatest Generation as they lived through both a war and the Great Depression.

Instead we have made our reaction to this pandemic political and in some cases denying science and data and arguing that this is some sort of political conspiracy.

What is more disturbing of late is the behavior of young people on college campuses who need to party. This behavior continues to contribute to rates of infection although the number of deaths is not as great. Yet it is evidence that we may have raised a generation of self-centered kids.

This summer I was the coordinator for our district foundation’s summer high school. It was an experiment in distance learning which is now taking place this fall in many classrooms in Los Angeles county. No matter how much we Zoom, it is difficult replicate a real classroom situation.

I feel sorry for both parents and kids who are homebound. Togetherness can be both a blessing and a curse. We can only play so many video and board games. We are running out of recipes to try! We all need haircuts! You may have already binge-watched all of the TV shows that you have saved on your DVRs.

Recently I mentioned to my wife Lisa, what would put a cherry on the top of this disastrous year of 2020 would be to have the Big One (i.e. earthquake) strike California. And to date, unfortunately, wildfires. Then we would only need pestilence to really make this a disaster of biblical proportions.

We need to be paroled but this can only happen if we bring down the number of cases, i.e. wear masks and avoid large gatherings. When will this happen? I wish I knew. If humankind survived the 1918 pandemic, it can survive this!

On a less serious note, last Sunday was National Tell a Joke Day. In that vein, here are two to share or ignore (ha! ha!).

Why do kangaroos hate rainy days?

Answer: Because the kids have to stay indoors!

Why was the woman willing to date a mushroom?

Answer: Because he was a fungi!


Bill Yee is a retired Alhambra High School history teacher. He can be reached at Opinions are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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