When Will Things Get Back to Normal?

How ironic that I chose to ‘disappear’ before all this happened. And then, the moment I returned, we all had to ‘disappear’. I’d promised that that’s what this post was going to be about, hadn’t I?—why I chose to leave social media for an entire month, why my publicist turned it into the #FindPatricia game. (I know we all enjoyed that part of it, at least, and I do certainly thank everyone who sent in videos, and everyone who played the game.)

I had reasons for wanting to “get away from it all.” Things that had made me sad and confused. I needed the break. But those reasons for going away from everything that was usual for me seem so insignificant now in comparison to this world-wide tragedy. Now, every one of us is sad and confused. On top of that, we’re scared. We don’t know what to believe. We don’t know how to gain back at least some control over our lives. Every one of us, to a greater or lesser degree, feels all of this. And let’s not forget what our children are going through. While some of us are making “come rescue me” jokes about having to stay home with children twenty-four hours a day, every day, their lives have been turned upside down too. My heart aches for those who were graduating this year, going to prom, planning a summer job, looking at colleges. It’s unhealthy for them to be stuck in front of a computer all day for lessons, which are being hastily put together and presented by teachers who had no time to prepare for any of this.

But far too many are suffering more than emotional turmoil. There are those of us who are also hungry, jobless, and homeless. Some are suffering more domestic abuse. There is an uptick of what seems to have sickeningly become the “requisite” hate crimes, against Asians now.

We also know we’ll be dealing with the financial effects of this for a long time to come. In the last few weeks alone, 10 million people in the U.S. have filed for unemployment benefits. Thirty-five million will lose their health insurance. We each know some of these people, maybe we are one of these people.

But none of that compares to the suffering of those who’ve died from this, who’ve lost loved ones. We can’t even grieve for the ones we’ve lost as we usually would. We can’t knock on a relative’s or neighbor’s door to bring food, offer other in-person services, we can’t gather for a funeral. We can’t hold each other to comfort. We can’t even be present when someone who means the world to us passes from this virus.

In my own world, I count four deaths thus far. I am deeply anxious over the fact that my son is stuck thousands of miles away in another country. My mind goes to the worst-case scenario, what if he gets sick? What if I do? Will we ever see each other again?

It’s surreal to be writing this.

And yet, this is happening at a time of year when we think about renewal. In the hemisphere from which I write, in this part of the country, the signs of planting are everywhere. Trees and flowers are still starting to bloom, just as they do every year at this time. And I can’t help but wonder if, maybe … just maybe, because this is happening to all of us, maybe it will bring us together. Maybe we’ll come out of this and, in some ways, ways that are most important, we’ll be better than we were.

Let’s face it—we’ve been awful to each other. We’ve been so divided, we’ve been so afraid of our neighbors, afraid of and suspicious of anything and anyone that seemed like the “other.”

And now, we’re seeing with no uncertainty how much alike we are, and how very much we all need each other. Everywhere I look I see humans helping other humans. The landlord in New York who waived the rents for his more than 200 tenants didn’t ask them who they voted for, what their religion was, whether they were straight or gay. He just stepped in.

Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers, no matter what color their skin is, are putting their lives on the line for whoever is sick, no matter what language they speak. Rich and poor are getting sick, rich and poor are dying, rich and poor are helping the rich and the poor.

Granted, there’s still much greed, ineptitude, lack of caring, too. But for me that is being overshadowed for the first time in a long, long time by the heroes who are making themselves known by their selflessness, their courage, and their empathy.

Until very recently, social media was one of the things I wanted to escape–the viciousness was appalling. It was wearing me down. Truthfully, I had started to wonder if there was anyone left who looked at any stranger with any compassion at all. But in the past few weeks, Facebook in particular seems to have changed. My timeline is filled with people sharing recipes, beautiful inspiring photos, funny stories, games to play with children. There are people sewing face masks, people buying gift cards to support small businesses, people expressing sympathy to strangers, signing petitions, doing whatever they can to help those whom they will never meet.

There were so many other things I had planned to write in this newsletter, but this seemed so much more important to discuss. It took something brutal, but I have the hope that kindness and generosity is making a comeback. I don’t know how long it will last, but you know what? I for one, don’t want to go back to the “normal” we had before this virus forced us to come together.

Stay safe, stay sane, reach out to help yourself, and to help others.

With warmest regards, Patricia


Here’s Where I Might Be in the Coming Months, if things improve:


NEW MEDIA FILM FESTIVAL 2355 Westwood Blvd. #381 Los Angeles, CA 90064 June 3, 2020

HAUNTED VOICES RADIO with Nicole Strickland June 16, 2020




BOUCHERCON 2020 Where Murder is a Capitol Crime OCTOBER 15-18, 2020 Sacramento, California


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