COVID-19: The Things I Didn't Think I'd Miss

There's a lot about the "old normal" that's not worth going back to, but there's a lot about the "new normal" that's made me appreciate things in a new light of late. In no particular order, a list of things I miss during these COVID-times that I never expected I'd miss:

Pandemic Diaries: Survival is Insufficient

Our descent into quarantine-times looked like it did for so many others: on Thursday, March 12th, our 7-month-old son went to daycare as usual. On Friday, March 13th, he was running a mild fever (likely from teething), so he stayed home. By Monday, we figured he'd be home for a few weeks while we tried to juggle two full-time jobs, two volunteer roles, some freelance writing work, and full-time childcare with a baby who hated napping. 141 days later, that blissful period of time where we thought we'd all be staying home for a "few weeks" feels like years ago, decades ago, a time from another life somehow.

We're now staring down that seven-month-old's first birthday, and five months in, I can almost--almost--believe that I'm finding a way to navigate these "unprecedented times," this "new normal." "Now, more than ever," I'm learning things about myself, my family, and what I want from life that I had been unable to focus on before.

I put these phrases in quotes in part because they are quotes that I could pull from any news article, email newsletter, or other written material written since the onset of COVID-19. But they are also air quotes, intended to mock and minimize the sayings themselves, because not a single one does justice to the moment we are in.

Let me reiterate: This is not just a "new normal." And while, yes, this time is truly unprecedented in so many ways, boiling down the experience of two pandemics (the new, COVID-19, and the old, racial injustice) to "unprecedented times" fails to capture the magnitude of the situation in which we all find ourselves today. "Now, more than ever," we are all collectively learning that sometimes, survival is all we can ask of ourselves on a daily basis--while recognizing that "survival is insufficient."

Here For It, or, How Not to Lose Your Soul in America, by R. Eric Thomas

R. Eric Thomas, the columnist behind the popular “Eric Reads the News” on, is smart. And charming. And funny. And in Here for It, his first collection of essays, he uses this smart charming humor to explore his life as a gay, black, Christian man and what it means to be different--and to be one’s truest self.

Thomas bounces between disparate topics across his essays: Michelle Obama and Mister Rogers; racial slurs and horror movies; scented candles and Pride; family and religion and first loves and true love. (There are also lots of mentions of Beyoncé throughout). Though seemingly unrelated, this wide spread is evidence of Thomas’ skill as a storyteller, a testament to his ability to use one small anecdote as an entry point into larger conversations about racism, pride, religion, and mental health--just to name a few.

“The comedic surprise I’m always trying to get to in [my] column is hope” (11), a concept that is borne out across every page in Here for It. It’s rare to laugh out loud in the midst of a story that ends in a suicide; it’s unusual to guffaw when reading about racism. Thomas’ sense of humor, though, invites readers to laugh while acknowledging the very real, very large problems facing our world today. And in between it all, that laughter succeeds in delivering just what Thomas aims to do in his columns: hope.