Latent Lollygagger: Return

The week before last, I did something I’ve never done: I clicked on an Instagram ad and bought the product being advertised.

It’s one of those metal scraper things you can drag across a rug or a carpet—or as I just did, both, after vacuuming—and piles of dog hair and dust miraculously get pulled out from the carpet, and you can collect it all into a ball of detritus and throw it away.

It is very satisfying.

That is to say, I was procrastinating.

It’s hard to return to something, like writing a blog, that you’ve been away from for a while.

I spent the first part of July on a van road trip with my husband and dog, traversing big square states between here and my sister in almost-Canada, Minnesota.

Finally, when we saw people not wearing masks, our first reaction wasn’t horror. Mask mandates had been lifted in San Francisco on June 15, so we’d spent time cautiously dipping our toes into the water of exposed faces. First, just outside. Then, slowly, inside—if you were vaccinated. There were still a lot of masks in grocery stores and the pharmacy, but at least here in the Bay Area Bubble, you could tone down the indignation and at least hope the person without a mask was vaccinated. Our rates suggest that they probably were. Or at least you were.

Me sitting in a camp chair reading a book, next to a campfire, with dog resting nearby

Being vaccinated, we felt free. I hadn’t seen my sister and her family (including my adorable niblings) since March 2019. Our pandemic puppy played with her three dogs and tried to flip us over by panicking and trying to crawl into the kayak. We still weren’t eating indoors, but we could sit on a deck overlooking a lake eating walleye sandwiches with tartar sauce.

That day, on that lake, the sky was a bit hazy from smoke, from the fires we were vaguely hearing about in Oregon and California.

On our way back, we drove through Glacier National Park, which was similarly hazy. We couldn’t see the other side of Flathead Lake, and Missoula was tinged yellow. Lassen Volcano was completely hidden. The alert on the radio wasn’t a drill, it was to evacuate along a highway that we almost took, but at the last minute decided to take the coastal route because we were tired of 100-degree temperatures.

It took a week or two of post-vacation re-entry to look around and realize we’d gone backwards. The Delta variant was spreading. Mask mandates and vaccine cards are ubiquitous here. The Dixie fire was still burning (and still is, three weeks later).

To make matters worse, we have solutions: a vaccine. Alternative transportation. Dense housing.

I have been feeling a rage lately that, until I put my finger on it this week, sidelined me with depression and related somatic symptoms (IBS, headache, fatigue).

I am enraged at anti-vaxxers, but I am more enraged at leaders who fan the flames and prohibit masks and vaccine requirements. If only Covid targeted them specifically, I would wish the virus to spread in their world. But, of course, they’re probably all vaccinated sitting in their mansions. Instead, the virus will target the vulnerable, including kids, and the people whose ignorance may be frustrating but certainly shouldn’t sentence them to death.

It seems completely out of control.

And so, I pull clothes from my closet and put them in a bag to donate. I pull years-old hotel shampoo samples and Advil from the closet and dump into a trash bag. That drawer of chargers and cords for things purchased since 2008? Sorted and pruned. Purchases on Instagram to help me clean, spiff up, organize.

I can control my immediate surroundings. That seems to be all, these days, and that’s even a false claim since I’m not the only one who lives here. At least in the moment, when I’m pulling dog hair from the rug or admiring our new squishy kitchen mat, I can feel the smallness of my world embrace me and comfort me, when the rest of the world is, literally, on fire.

3 thoughts on “Latent Lollygagger: Return”

  1. Welcome back Erin! Lots of positive feedback on your column. The book is still at the printers, guess I’ll light a fire beneath their collective posterior come Monday …


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