To Mask or Not to Mask

Everyone is sick of wearing masks. Me, too. It’s become an extension of myself when I leave the safe cocoon of my home, my car, my office – though at work I wear my mask on a chain around my neck so I can pull it up fast if anyone comes in. When I’m out in public and see someone not wearing a mask or, heaven forbid wearing one on their chin, I find myself moving away and keeping extra distance.

Well, that got just got harder to do. As of today, thanks to our governor, Texas is wide open 100% – no limits on business capacity, and no mask mandates. Let’s open up restaurants, bars, businesses, arenas, stadiums, theaters, and pack ’em in, no masks required. Except … that’s not what the CDC says. So it leads us to a dilemma: to wear a mask as urged by the CDC, or don’t wear a mask and go back to business as usual pre-pandemic. There was a middle ground that the governor chose not to try: open up the businesses but still require masks, at least for another two months, so more people can be vaccinated. Many businesses ARE continuing to require masks but it’s unenforceable except for federal buildings, and it was very weird to be in a store with half of the people masked and the other half looking naked.

I’ve had both of my Moderna vaccine shots though I need another week before I’m considered fully covered. But with that vaccination, I know that I won’t die of Covid and probably wouldn’t be hospitalized if I catch it. I could still get sick and I could infect someone else – and that’s why I wear a mask. I do not want to risk infecting someone else, especially all those store clerks, wait staff, service workers, you know, the essential workers, who haven’t yet been able to get vaccinated.

According to the CDC, I know that I will soon be able to get together in small groups with other fully vaccinated people or with those not vaccinated but at low risks. But I’m not ready to rip off the mask and go to a party at the club, or to a crowded restaurant, or to see a movie. I feel naked when I don’t have it on and don’t know how to feel safe again without it. That’s going to be a harder adjustment than putting them on in the first place.

I’m not going to the mask burning party at the club, though. I still need it.

Holding fast to my convictions

The President announced last week that churches are essential services and must be allowed to open. What he doesn’t understand, what so many people do not get, is that the church is not the building. It’s NEVER been the building, no matter how beautiful it is and how much people like worshipping there. This pretty much sums it up for me:

Image may contain: outdoor, text that says 'Churches are essential... we already knew that. When the faithful are scattered in every age due to persecution, disaster, plague, we persist worship and service, in sacrament and sacrifice- feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, being good news for the poor, working to free the captives and oppressed. Our highest and holy calling is to be the church, not go to church. CJS'

I work in a church that has not held in-person services since March 15th, but resumed yesterday with Golf Cart Church outside. Everyone was so excited to be back but I couldn’t make myself go. I knew almost no one would wear a mask which isn’t so scary to me outside – except they were singing. I cannot make myself do that; it’s too risky.

I’ve been singing in church choirs since I was 6 years old. It’s how I worship, it’s my community, it’s my home. But singing projects the virus far greater distances than even coughing does – as it also projects flu and colds. The coronavirus is highly contagious and there is no vaccine and won’t be for some time, no matter what the President claims. Science isn’t politics. Until there is a vaccine, it’s not safe to sing in groups; adding in close proximity and indoor spaces of being inside a church multiplies the risk. Not everyone will agree with me and that is their right. For me, this isn’t negotiable. Neither is wearing a mask out in public.

The country is opening back up after many weeks of shut down and almost 100,000 deaths, which are continuing to climb. But things couldn’t stay closed forever. Too many people are out of work, too many businesses are in financial distress or facing permanent closure. My neighbors are busy shopping, getting their hair and nails done, going out to eat, gathering for dinner parties. I rarely see any of them in a mask even though they are strongly recommended.

I’m wary. I’m not afraid of getting the virus, or even dying from it if it comes to that. I just don’t want to give it to someone else. Wearing a mask is a small thing to do – and it pisses me off that so few people do it. I’ve done a little shopping (okay, two stores other than grocery) but have no interest in eating out, dawdling in stores, or even getting my hair or nails done. They need it mind you, and my hair is ready, but I’m not.

So I’m feeling distant from my neighbors and friends. Well, there was a lot of that already because of politics. They are being true to who they are and the steps they think are the right ones for them to take, but those steps are not ones that feel right to me for myself. I think my Covid Isolation will continue a while longer and once it starts to get really hot (which is overdue), I know I won’t want to go out no matter what.

I do miss the gym, though, which is such an odd thing for me. It reopened this week but I’m giving it a little more time before I try to figure out a good time to go when minimal people will be there. Even without the gym and without getting maximum steps, I’ve continued to lose weight on Noom during lockdown. As of this morning, I’m down 45 lbs from my start in January. It feels good and I was actually insulted last week going to the doctor when they didn’t want me to get on the scale first.