So, this is late.
And people who are looking at the covers will realize that I have jumped from 17 to 19. Story 18 was an alternate history, written over a quarter of a century ago (yes, I’m old), and I am just not comfortable with it. It was alternate future, not alternate past, and the key character is… someone who is alive now, adult, and not in any way but name associated with the character in the story.
Don’t write stories with fictionalized real people T_T.
Because I was angsting about this — and about the face that I know nothing about photoshop and cannot therefore change the numbers on the covers of the stories — I may have fallen off the stability wagon a bit and therefore did not get a new story up on the right Monday.
Today’s story is a story that I reprint with permission; it was written for the first Valdemar anthology, a collection of shorts set in the Valdemar universe. I was a bit stressed about this because I wasn’t certain that I could write a story that would tonally fit Valdemar – so that became the over-riding guide in my attempt: Does this have the right tone? Will this work for Valdemar readers? (Hint: if you hate the world, do not say yes.)
For those of you who visit the site on a phone or tablet, you might have noticed a bit of a change. In June, I hired Jeremy Tolbert at ClockPunk Studios to do a partial redesign of my site. I asked him to: leave the backend alone, and to leave the web-site on the computer end looking pretty much the same, but to make asset and code changes so that the site looked reasonable on mobile devices, as so many people now use them. The asset change was an updating of graphics so the site would look more reasonable on retina screens.
I am very, very happy with the work he did.
I have been finding it increasingly difficult to avoid news and to avoid news about politics — which seems to be what covid-19 is considered across a large swathe of the US at the moment.
I have returned to a partially opened bookstore — where most of our business remains curb-side pick-up or mail order. I feel safe in the store, or as safe as I can feel, but I’m aware that it’s still a small risk. In Toronto we have mask requirements in place, and we have hand sanitizer at the door (and it’s really weird; it’s got a lot of Aloe in it, so… you need a very small amount, and if you use the normal amount it takes ages for it to dry).
But other than that, we are homebodies. Whenever I get frustrated — and increasingly, I admit I do — about being at home, I go online and look for doctors and nurses currently working in the US and … listen to them. The only thing I can do is… stay home. Here, that’s what we did, and in Toronto hospitals are increasingly free of covid patients – as in, have discharged their last covid-19 patient. I’m sure there’s a huge sense of relief – but also, in some part, some when is the other shoe going to drop.
And that’s the thing: it’s not over yet. The virus is still here. If we rush to go back to pre-covid life, the virus will roar back, because we’re not at zero cases.
We are in phase two of opening; phase three is coming. Discussions about schools opening have been ongoing… but I’ve had small kids. I cannot imagine that you can put 25+ four and five year olds into a classroom and somehow get them all to socially distance or wear masks.
I can’t imagine you can separate the desks enough — I think you’d have to have plexiglass shields at height around each separate desk — if you even have the space for that.
And here, that’s an actual discussion, because to make the changes for school to be safe for teachers & students, it’s going to cost a fair amount of money. For one: way way way more cleaning, and possibly cleaning staff — and the Toronto Board had kind of budge cut most of the janitorial staff into non-existence.
Anyone who has young kids knows that they pick up germs at school and bring them home to share. There’s no way around that. If your kids are older, but not yet in puberty, maybe this can be managed. But I know I couldn’t have.
I just… without some deliberate planning and actual money, I can’t see how school can in any way be safely handled.
My younger son is looking at entirely on-line course work for his final year of college. Would I like the college to be open? Yes, of course. But… I want it open as safely as possible — and in this universe that means money for all of the changes.
The thing I do not understand is how covid-19 can be a political issue to so many people. It’s a pandemic. It doesn’t care how we vote. In Canada, the politicking stopped the minute the full, looming disaster became clear (it has since resumed, of course — but for two whole months, with a single idiot federal exception, none of our parties were taking shots at the leader). Did we move quickly enough? Probably not. And some provinces did better than others (mine was not the best). But people pulled up their socks and accepted that … we were all in this together.
It’s much easier in Canada because the CERB payments came within days of application; there were small business loans (in part to cover employee salaries when the shops were legally closed), and healthcare is essentially free to us.
I realize this is not the case in a lot of the US.
But… NYC was terrible for everyone; it made absolutely clear what could happen if things weren’t shut down and serious effort put into keeping things closed until cases went down. So many people died. They won’t be coming back.
And — it seems to me, from the outside, that a lot of places in the US are now going to become NYC, instead of learning about how serious it was. And people will die.
Do I like masks? In the middle of a humid, hot summer? Well, no. Of course not. But I don’t like cleaning my bathroom, either — and it has to be done. It is a way of protecting other people on the off chance that I have covid and I have no symptoms. And it’s a way of protecting myself, and by extension, my family.