In this episode, we reflected on the past year—the pandemic, white supremacy reaching what feels like a fever pitch, and the end of a Trump presidency—and talked about our measured, cautious optimism about the year ahead.
A quick note from us: We recorded this episode before March 17th, when eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, were murdered in an act of anti-Asian, misogynist, white supremacist violence in Atlanta. Join us in standing against white supremacy in all its forms and taking action in solidarity with AAPI communities.
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It’s been a year of staying in, staying masked, staying on Zoom, and also kinda staying sad/angry/anxious. Even though Spring is almost here and vaccines are rolling out, we thought it might be a good time to talk about what the last year has been like. We basically go month by month and chat about what we were thinking and feeling throughout the pandemic. Then we talk about the habits we picked up this year that we hope to bring into our post-pandemic lives, and share our extremely cautious optimism about the year ahead.
This episode was produced by Rachel and Sally and edited by Lucas Nguyen. Our logo was designed by Amber Seger (@rocketorca). Our theme music is by Tiny Music. MJ Brodie transcribed this episode. Follow us on Twitter @OhILikeThatPod.
Things we talked about:
Rachel: Welcome to Oh I Like That, a podcast about things we like and occasionally things we don't. I'm Rachel Wilkerson Miller.
Sally: And I'm Sally Tamarkin. And Rachel, it kind of feels like spring, even though this particular day we're recording, it's incredibly cold.
Rachel: Yeah. I would say the vibe today for me is like spring lite, spring junior, spring-ish. We're ramping up to spring, but it's also that frustrating time of year where it's spring in your heart, but it's not actually spring yet.
Sally: Yeah, exactly. And I think this year more than any other year, I'm really feeling like spring is a feeling you feel rather than a season that exists objectively.
Sally: Because I'm feeling like the vibe for me is, it feels like it might be time to be optimistic, with fifty question marks after it.
Rachel: Yeah. With a lot of asterix and some disclaimers, caveats, all of that. It feels like a time for a little bit of cautious optimism.
Sally: Yeah. Just a tiny, tiny smattering of cautious optimism. You know, depending on when you're listening to this, you may know that we recently in the US administered 3 million vaccine doses in one day, which is great. And puts us on a trajectory to getting enough people vaccinated that we might reach some kind of herd immunity situation, which is shocking to believe.
Rachel: Yeah. I'm shaking my head in sort of disbelief because it just feels too good to be true. And I don't know, this year has been so disappointing and so bad and there've been so many instances of, we could do things the right way, but we do them the wrong way instead that it just feels difficult to think that we're doing things the right way and we're going to keep doing things the right way. So I look at all this vaccine news and I just feel very, like, "Big if true."
Sally: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah, 2021, big if true. I think that's the right attitude. And I think that we've been burned a lot of times over the last year by having hope [laughs] and feeling optimistic about the human condition. And I also was noticing that I've turned into a little bit of a 'just asking questions' type of person because anytime I see, even in our group chat, we'll be sharing links and talking about numbers and statistics of vaccinations or infections or things going down or things looking good. And I can't ever believe that things look good. And I do some Googling and I'm like, "Ah, this must be being reported poorly. There's no way this pandemic is ever going to end." But you know again, big if true, optimism, fifty question marks.
Rachel: Yeah. I also feel like we're in a period where a little bit of warm weather and a little bit of daylight is doing a lot. And I feel like last week I heard from multiple different people, "Do I feel hope? Is this good? What's going on?" And I think it was the combination of increasing vaccine news that was positive, coupled with, in New York at least we had a 68 degree day. And I think those two things together... I don't know. I mean, it's always kind of funny slash depressing when you realize oh, the thing that I needed was just some sunshine and a walk. That was enough to pull me out of this crushing feeling of sadness, which I think is happening for a lot of people right now. So I think in a year that has felt so endless and things are not changing or they're changing for the worse, it's sort of wild to be like, oh right. Spring is coming, summer is coming, as they do every year, but it still feels a little bit surprising. And I think delightful as a result.
Sally: Totally. Yeah. And, you know, I think many of us will... it'll take us a long time to trust again, but hopefully in the next few months, we'll feel like we can trust that things are getting at least incrementally better.
Sally: Speaking of time marching on and having feelings and reflections and so on, we thought we would take this episode to do kind of a reflection on one year into the pandemic.
Rachel: Yeah. I think that anniversaries naturally make people reflect and look back, and I've seen a lot of that happening. I'm curious, Sally, how you're feeling about just the anniversary of it all. Are you somebody who does feel sort of a sense of something -- I can't come up with the right word for it, but do you feel something around anniversaries traditionally? Do you feel like you're having just a natural sense of like, it's been a year I need to reflect, or are you doing it because you're seeing other people do it or what's your overall feeling on an anniversary? Particularly one like this.
Sally: So I think as far as anniversaries go, generally, I'm agnostic. I think they can be delightful and they can be fun to celebrate. And Andrea and I often celebrate our anniversary, but sometimes we forget about it. I think it's one of those things that for me, if I make up my mind to observe it and make a big deal out of it, that's fun and great. Other anniversaries, I tend to think a lot about sadder anniversaries. Those just have a heavier weight in my life. So I feel kind of predisposed to be thinking about the pandemic anniversary, particularly because for the last year, it's been very hard to think about anything besides the pandemic for a sustained period of time. I certainly have thought and talked about other things, but the pandemic was kind of always at the very least the background. And so I almost feel like, you know, thinking about the one-year anniversary is an opportunity to think about it kind of intentionally, which is different than it just sort of being this ambient thing that haunts you. This ghost that just follows you around. That's kind of where I'm at with it. What about you? Anniversaries in general slash this one as well?
Rachel: Yeah, I think that, you know, I enjoy an anniversary or a birthday or whatever the case may be and tend to reflect, but not so much. I'm with you that sadder anniversaries tend to crop up more. And I think generally, I don't know about you, but even if I don't want to think about an anniversary, I'm going to think about it. There's something about the way that time works and the way our bodies just imprint trauma and grief and sadness, that it's hard not to just catch feelings of it here and there, when you're going about your business. I think there's something that's like, you can't avoid it even if you want to, at least that's how it is for me. And so I'm feeling a bit that way this year, where if you had asked me on, like, February 25th if I was going to have any feelings about this upcoming month and the anniversaries contained in it, I would've said, "I don't think so." And then last week it just was kind of hitting me here and there in small ways and I wasn't really expecting it. But I think there's a very human tendency to connect with what you were doing a year ago at this time. So it's hard not to think about it and to feel emotional about it, even if you can't totally explain why. Another thing that I've been thinking about, and I don't know if this will resonate with anyone, but I found that when I was going through really difficult times in my life where things were very uncertain, the start of a new month and then the start of a new year made me feel really, really anxious, just a feeling of dread in my stomach. There was something about the passing of time that would just sort of surprise me anew and make me feel really uneasy. And I think it is a time when, if everybody's reflecting like they are at the end of the year, looking ahead to the new year and you're like, "Well, nothing's going to change for me," or, "Things are still going to be bad for me." It can feel really upsetting. So I'm not feeling that way right now, but if anyone is feeling that way, I think that's also really normal, is just a sense of anxiety around both that feeling of reflection and that feeling of looking ahead and not totally knowing what's coming. Because even though we do know some things, like we've still got to get through this and there's still a lot of things uncertain, even if vaccines are widely distributed, I think there's still a ton of uncertainty. So I wouldn't blame anyone for feeling that sense of just impending doom right now.
Sally: Mm-hmm, yeah, I am totally right there with you. And you know, when I'm lying in bed at night, I'm not feeling the 'spring is here' optimism. There's definitely more of a feeling of dread and doom about like, "But what's going to happen after that," quote unquote, I don't even know when 'after that' is, but, yeah. I mean, it's...
Rachel: Yeah, exactly.
Sally: It's an emotionally complicated year we've been having.
Sally: Before we talk about that aspect of it though, I'm wondering, do you remember the last things you did in the world before you started to quarantine?
Rachel: I do. So I remember everything very well and I also have the photos on my camera roll to put all of it to certain dates. So February 27th was the day that my girlfriend listened to the episode of The Daily that scared the shit out of her, and that she went to CVS to get hand sanitizer and got the last two bottles. And at that point, Vice had been covering this a little bit here and there. I'm actually surprised in looking back how early on we were covering how long to wash your hands for and things like that. So I was aware of it, but I was in that, you know, mild cases mindset. So I wasn't feeling worried. So February 27th was where we got pretty worried and started to really hunker down. But we still did things that in hindsight I'm just like, it is a miracle that we didn't get sick. We went to a show with our friend Terry on March 3rd, where it was a one man show. You could see the spit flying out of his mouth, illuminated by the lights. We were sitting in close quarters and sharing food. We were washing our hands and sanitizing our hands a lot and talking about the coronavirus while we were sitting there. And even when we left, we ended up walking several blocks versus getting on the subway immediately. So we were having that fear, but it was all tied to surfaces. So let's see, the following weekend, so it would have been around the 6th and 7th, we went out with friends to The Gutter, which is a bowling alley, which is also where the first case of Ebola occurred in the United States several years ago. And that's where we decided to go.
Sally: This actual bowling alley?
Rachel: This specific bowling alley.
Sally: That's incredible. Well done.
Rachel: Yeah. So we went there. Again, we were washing our hands a lot and not sharing drinks or anything like that, but it was packed with people. That was the true last thing we did. After that, we had... we both worked from home that Friday, and then Vice shut down on Monday. And I can't remember when my girlfriend's workplace did, but she didn't go back after that either. And so then that Monday, we were like, okay, that's it for us.
Sally: Was that the 8th or the 9th?
Rachel: I think it was the 8th or the 9th, yeah.
Sally: So the very last thing I did, which I think is kind of funny and ironic, is I got a haircut on March 8th.
Rachel: Wow. I mean, that was, you know, good timing.
Sally: It's actually really good planning on my part. And I also bought this cute little plant. It's the first plant I've ever bought myself. And I wish I could report that it's now a giant flourishing plant, but it's a 'slightly bigger than it was a year ago' kind of flourishing plant. But it's been cool, because it's been hanging out with me for the last year.
Rachel: That's nice.
Sally: Which is nice. And it really was just a couple tiny sprouts and now it has a bunch. But we also, I remember that we had a friend come visit us that weekend and it seemed like... so this characterizes a lot of my mindset at the beginning of the pandemic was, "Is it totally going to be read as an overreaction if I don't want to do this thing?" And I actually was like, "I don't want to get my hair cut. Is it an overreaction?" And I remember talking about it with Andrea and deciding it was probably fine. I remember thinking, I don't think I have the data to support that this friend shouldn't come visit, but I don't know. And I remember that when he arrived, he put his arms out to hug us and was like, "Should we?" And we were like, "Yeah, let's hug." And then after I was like, man. And a few days after that, I had plans to go out to dinner with my friend Carl at this deli that we both really like, and it's this deli in Philly where you're sitting so close to people that even in normal times you're sort of like, this feels germy. So definitely on Wednesday the 10th, I was like, dude, I'm sorry, there's no way, I can't, even if it's safe, I feel so freaked out.
Sally: So the last thing I really did was on March 8th, but I was looking it up to tweet about it, because that's the kind of person I am -- on February 25th I ordered hand sanitizer and I ordered these five tiny one ounce Bath & Body Works. One is cherry merlot, one is cucumber melon. And I was like, "All right, well I got hand sanitizer, so I think we're probably good." I had five ounces total. But I remember also just being on the phone with my therapist and pacing back and forth and being just so scared. And also there was this period of time, which I guess I don't have to get into this now, but just quickly, there was a period of time in the very beginning where I felt like I was very scared and most of, I should say my world, was not caught up to how scary it was yet. And I think it was just because I was working at Self, which is a health and wellness brand. And so I was talking to people all day every day who were reporting on this and stuff. So I just, when I think back to that time of early to mid March, I have this intense, almost bodily memory of just the anxiety and the fear and the sort of franticness, you know?
Rachel: Mm-hmm. So one thing I'm curious about is rewinding a few more months. At the start of 2020, what were you thinking that the year was going to look like? Did you have any big plans or goals for the year that were abruptly cut short, or what was your hope for 2020 going into it?
Sally: So there were two big things. One is that we were going to take a big old road trip in the summer and drive cross country, which we were really, really psyched about, to visit friends in California and all along the way. And it quickly became clear that that was definitely going to be canceled. The other thing is I was feeling really psyched about my birthday because in 2018 on my birthday I had an appendectomy. And the next year I had a good birthday, but I just feel like ever since the appendectomy birthday, I've been just trying to have really good birthdays. And I feel like other than 2019, 2020 and 2021 are both going to be pandemic birthdays. So, you know, that was the thing that I was looking forward to, but truly it was really the road trip that was the biggest bummer. And, you know, just the ordinary things that you do, like having friends come visit and stay for the weekend, going home for Passover, just the normal visiting with friends and family type things. Especially because we moved to Philly really recently, and so we only really recently have a guest room. And one of the reasons that we were so psyched about that is because we were like, "We're going to have people over and it's going to be great." And so that has sort of yet to come to fruition. So I think those are the big things. What about for you?
Rachel: I think my big thing was, okay, I've got this book coming out. I'm going to really throw myself into the marketing of this book. I'm going to put myself out there more. I'm going to do talks at bookstores or, you know, sort of any opportunity that I get for this book, I'm going to take it. I'm going to challenge myself to be willing to be in the spotlight a little bit more and to really sell this book, you know. But specifically by being in public more, going and doing things more, which obviously couldn't happen. I did what I could virtually, but yeah, it was just like, well, you thought, but there's no way that that could happen. So that was my big goal that, you know, it's fine. Not the end of the world.
Sally: Next book, you'll get them next book, as the saying goes.
Rachel: Yeah [laughs]
Sally: What about, do you want to talk about the kind of emotional trajectory of the year? I'm wondering, what was spring like for you? March, April, May? Because like I said, for me, I feel like it was a lot of just feeling terror.
Sally: Once different cities issued stay at home orders, I felt a relief that this was being taken seriously, but fear and then just intense fiery anger at people who wouldn't stay home and people who wouldn't-- at that point, I don't even really think it was wearing masks, because I don't think masks became a thing until later, early summer maybe?
Rachel: I think the mask conversation was happening in April.
Sally: Oh really?
Rachel: Yeah. I think. I could be wrong, but late April at the latest I would guess.
Sally: Late April. Okay, I'm already misremembering. So what were the first couple of months for you like? I want to do some emotional time travel and know about your state of mind at that point.
Rachel: So I think that in March, my state of mind was despair, fear, and then: I have work to do, I am throwing myself into work. And I actually think that was a through-line for most of last year for me, in a way that I don't think is common necessarily. And I wouldn't necessarily recommend, I think I was really fortunate that the work that I do and was doing at the time allowed me to be useful and have a sense of purpose when I needed it. If I had been doing some different kind of work, I think I would have had a really hard time with it. But for me, it was like, I'm reading all this, I'm consuming all of this, but I can also contribute to this in a meaningful way. I can create service content that actually helps people deal with some of this stuff. So that for me was always kind of the thing that was keeping me rooted and keeping me busy and moving forward. So in March it was working, and my first pandemic article was how to work from home without feeling like a garbage slug at the end of the day. And so when people responded well to that, I was like, okay, great. What next? Give me more problems to solve, give me more ways to be helpful. So that was a big chunk of it, but then it was also just, I remember feeling so, so, so sad. And I think that the sadness and the despair really continued through spring and even into the summer. I just remember reading the New York Times so many mornings and just feeling so, so, so, so sad about everything. And, I don't know. It just was overwhelming. I still feel sad about everything, that hasn't totally gone away, but it was really, really present in March, April, May.
Rachel: What about you?
Sally: Yeah, I mean, I think same, I think immense sadness and for me also anger. And I think there was a period of time too where we were reading a lot about hospitals having to ration health care and all this stuff. And that was really terrifying to me. And I was like, this is some, you know, just dystopic sci-fi shit. And I found it really scary and really overwhelming. I think that I've felt more angry than sad for most of the year, but I think that's just how I roll. I don't think that's because the events of the year have been sadder than they are maddening, or more maddening than they are sad, you know?
Sally: And I think the next thing for me, the next phase of my emotional journey, if you will, was that it felt almost novel. I remember in, I think June, or maybe July, Andrea and I took a week off work together and we had a staycation. And we actually had a very nice time, it felt really relaxing and we stayed off the internet, which was really nice. And I remember, I had been telling a friend of mine, you know, a staycation might feel actually really nice. And she and her partner did it many months later and they didn't enjoy it. It was not good, but I think it was at that point so far into the pandemic that being home together no longer felt sort of novel.
Sally: Which when we did it, it was a new way of life. And not that it was good, or we were psyched or like, "The silver lining is that we get to do this novel thing." It really truly was just this period of being like, oh, this daily life feels really different now. And there's something about that novelty that I think kept me going for a while, you know? And then soon after that turned into just extreme boredom and isolation followed by more anger. What about you? What was your kind of next phase?
Rachel: I think in the spring, I would say late April, and then through May, it was the same despair, it was the same 'I have work to do', but there was a sense of DIY spirit that was sort of infiltrating everything. So it was like, we're growing scallions on the windowsill and we are figuring out how to do my hair without my hairdresser, and we're figuring out how to safely get groceries. And we were just figuring things out all the time. And it was peak adapting things from our old lives into our new lives. So I feel like we did a lot of, that was when we were watching Drag Race and so we would do drag brunch on Saturday mornings. And I remember making breakfast tacos and pickling onions. And that felt really nice. And we were doing duvet o'clock every night, so we were putting the duvet on the bed and pulling the monitor over and having this transformation midday. And we started doing Instagram dance workouts. So it was this period of discovery, I guess, or just trying things. You know, at that point we had realized, I remember The Daily episode that we listened to that was like, "The fastest a vaccine has ever been developed is four years." And I remember feeling just so sad that day and for a few days afterwards, but I think also after that kind of passed, it was like, okay, well this is life for the foreseeable future. So what do we make of it, and how do we cope with that? So I think that was, it was something to do at least, you know. There were little breaks from the fear and the sadness.
Sally: Yeah, I totally think those periods of being like, "Okay, I guess this is life, let's figure out how to adapt to it," in a weird way kind of gave you -- gave me, at least -- a thing to do. And of course, I'm coming from a place of immense privilege where I already worked from home. I didn't have a job that required me to leave or, you know, deliver mail or be someone's healthcare provider or whatever. So what it was mostly about was figuring out what everyday life was going to look like now.
Rachel: Yeah, definitely. And then after that, it was June and the whole country was in the streets protesting. And I was having such an intense month because it was like, my book came out in May so I was doing a ton of, that was when I was finally getting to do all the virtual events that I had wanted to do. And I think a great way to sum it up is that I got invited to go on ABC News to talk about: the protests, Pride, and the pandemic, in a four minute segment.
Sally: [Laughs] Oh my god.
Rachel: They just took me from one thing to another. And I just remember, when I watched the video back, I was like, wow, when I'm not talking, I'm just sitting there. I look so tired and I was just so exhausted, and it was just like... exhausted isn't quite the right word. It was just like, there was so much happening. And we were also trying to move apartments, which was a whole other complicated logistical thing. We moved ourselves after waiting as long as we possibly could because we were each paying double rent in the meantime, it was a whole mess. And so trying to do all that at once was just, I don't recommend it. So it was just ultimately a very difficult and very dehumanizing time, because as much as the protests were really galvanizing and validating, it was like, yeah. But we got to this point by just seeing Black death go viral. And so that was really rough. And so for me, the end of June, when the press events eased up and we were in the new apartment was the first time I was able to sort of feel a little bit of relief and a little bit of like, okay, now I can just be here and not do... I don't know, now I can just be here for a minute and catch my breath. And so that's when I started to feel a little bit of, I don't know if relief is the right word, but, you know, we moved into an apartment with a bedroom after being at my girlfriend's studio for months. So that was major. And it also had outdoor space. So those two things were just so, so unexpected and so different and also came with the projects that go with moving into a new home. So that was a nice change of gears while being stuck inside. Some options, some opportunities. And it was also, I think that was when people started to go outside again -- we didn't, but the whole vibe kind of shifted at that point for a lot of people. But I still remember feeling a bit like, "You guys are just going outside into the park." I was still reading all the bad news and still feeling that we were still in a pandemic. And I remember it being really weird to be like, everyone's just going to the beach with five of their closest friends and not wearing masks and sharing ice tea and beer, like, okay. Huh. Interesting. I found myself feeling really thrown off by the really different worlds and universes that I felt like we were in.
Sally: Yeah, the summer I think was a really weird and bad and sad time for a lot of reasons. Like you said, Black death going viral, and people figuring out how to show up for the things we want to show up for in the middle of a pandemic, and the police violence -- especially I think people who live in cities, seeing that all around all the time. And I think was a really galvanizing moment, and I think between that and the impending election, those two things, just becoming more involved in mutual aid and activism and advocacy were a big part of what I was giving my time and my emotional space to in the summer. But it was also just a really sad time and a really confusing one, I think too, because like you said, Rachel, people were starting to go out into the world in a way that seemed also to me just really ill-advised. And it was another time where I felt very out of sync with almost everyone, basically besides you and like three other people.
Rachel: [Laughs] Right.
Sally: I was just like, what? I feel like people are pretending that the way they're behaving isn't going to make this deadly pandemic keep going. And that's just a really bad way to feel. [Laughs] It's a very isolating way to feel. And I remember also there being kind of an ongoing conversation at that time about what to do if you have a group of friends who has different levels of comfort with socializing, because people wanted to do quote-unquote 'distanced hangs' and stuff like that. And how to handle that and everything. And, you know, in my relationship, we had to have a conversation, because we have different comfort levels. I have no comfort level with anything, and Andrea is a person who does things based on the data, which I really respect, but I do things based on data plus intense fear, you know what I mean?
Rachel: Yeah, I know what you mean.
Sally: So there were conversations to be had. And I feel like, because it was warm and people were out of doors, that negotiation was a huge part of the summer.
Rachel: Yeah, I agree. So then it was fall, which feels like not very long ago at all. I remember sitting in this exact spot talking about the upcoming fall and preparing for winter. And, you know, fall was kind of a blur because it was just that point for me, it was like looming dread. Like, we know what's coming and there's sort of nothing we can do to stop it, even though there is a lot we can do to stop it. And it was really frustrating to just feel like we have... I don't know. It just is like the Titanic with the iceberg warning. It's like, you've got the warnings right there. You've got every expert saying the late fall and then the winter is going to be worse, it's going to be really bad. And everybody's talking about it, but also everyone's just doing what they want to do. And so I just felt a sense of... I think one thing that I often thought during this pandemic is I don't want to sort of indulge the feeling of 'let's get this over with, let's get on with it.' I don't want to wish the time away, because if something happens to me or to one of my loved ones, I will regret having wished this time away, this is time I can't ever get back. And so I don't want to wish it away, but I did have a sense of like, let's do it because we know what's coming. But also, who wants to run head first into tragedy, which is how it felt at the same time. So I think that was just that feeling of just watching something happen, a slow motion train wreck that there wasn't very much we could do to stop it, which felt bad.
Sally: Yeah. Hear, hear. It felt really bad. Between winter coming and the election, I felt totally overwhelmed with how potentially bad everything was going to get. And it feels unbearable. Things are structurally really bad. This isn't a matter of, you know, if I just take a hot bath and read a book, everything's going to feel a little bit better. And actually I'm realizing now that the last time I felt reason to be optimistic fifty question marks was when it became clear that Trump was going to lose, which wasn't until after the election, and then when it was going to be clear that he wasn't gonna be able to take the election and stuff like that. So I also was doing a fair amount of just participating in volunteering and activism. And that's one of the things that made me feel a little bit more okay and a little bit less dread. I think we even talked about it on Oh I Like That.
Rachel: Yeah, we did.
Sally: So that was the other thing too, is that fall was a moment of feeling like, man, we're so fucked, we're heading right towards the iceberg, and also just these little pockets of some things might be okay.
Rachel: Yeah. Yeah. That sounds right. And then it was January, and for me January was like, every Wednesday was bad. It was the Capitol riot, it was the impeachment, it was the inauguration, and then we got diagnosed with COVID. That was January, a month of Wednesdays, the worst day of the week after Tuesday [laughs]. So January is just a blur of bad. Because numbers were going up and bad things were happening politically, and it was hard to feel hopeful or good. The inauguration was something, but it just felt so scary and so hard-won that it didn't do a lot to alleviate fear. And I also, I don't know about you, but I didn't feel excited about Biden.
Sally: Yeah. You do know about me, Rachel. [Laughs] You know how I felt about that.
Rachel: Yeah. So it was like, oh some relief in the form of this guy, who I have my feelings about. So it was a blur, and it wasn't the roughest month, but it was like, it's just another sad month, another sad time.
Sally: It was a sad month. Yeah, for sure. And I also during that time was feeling really angry about people who were traveling for the holidays and outing for the holidays. And you know, this whole entire time I've also felt incredibly mad that our government won't pay people to stay home and is just letting people die, letting poor people die, letting Black people and people of color, indigenous people die in droves. And the same time, as I've said, I'm also very mad at the individual members of the owning class who have decided that they don't have to minimize risk and minimize harm. And I think I spent a lot of the winter season just feeling a real lot of rage.
Rachel: Yeah. It was really hard to watch, particularly in January when the numbers went up exactly as we were told they would go up, and it was because everyone sort of thought they were the exception to the rule. And even people who knew objectively that it was a bad idea to travel still did it. And I still haven't been able to make sense of that. And I still feel really just confused, sort of baffled by that, and sad by that. And I think that to me, white supremacy and American exceptionalism are really tied up in this sense of, well, if I go out, I probably won't get sick. And if I do get sick, it won't be that bad. What is it like to assume that something bad won't happen to you, but if it does, you will simply be fine. You will simply survive it. And that's just not something I can really relate to. And, I don't know. I haven't totally worked this out yet. I don't quite know what to make of it yet. It's something I'm still processing and trying to figure out, but I feel very disappointed. Not necessarily surprised, but still really sad by it and still really disappointed by it. And I wish that it hadn't been true, and it's even more frustrating after the protests last summer for people to not... it's really frustrating after the protests of last summer, when it was like, okay, people are getting it, they're examining their own role in upholding white supremacy, to then turn around and see those same people do whatever they wanted, knowing that it was going to affect people of color and other marginalized groups the most. And it's like, I don't know. I don't know how you can hold both of those things and not, I don't know, grapple with that on some level and think about it and think about your own role. And so I found that frustrating. Obviously I have a ton of privilege that allowed me to stay home, so I'm mostly thinking of people who I know well and know they have the same level of privilege to stay home. And so I'm just kind of like, what's going on here? Why am I choosing to stay home and you're not? What's the difference in our mindset and our worldview, because for me, it is a decision that is motivated by taking care of other people and protecting other people. I thought that's something you cared about too. What's happening?
Sally: And it's something that you perform thinking about and caring about. You, meaning the person you're addressing. What does it mean to say that you have an analysis of white supremacy and American exceptionalism and all those harmful things, but then still behave in the world in a way that hurts the people you're saying you don't think should be hurt anymore? What is it like to not care if you harm your community or other communities by what you're doing? Because over the summer, you were saying that this is a thing that you really cared about. And I found that that's been a very frustrating thing about this whole year. I feel like it has, between the pandemic and the increased spotlight on police violence against Black people in our country, I think shown us some things about people we know and our friends and how people are making decisions. And, you know, I had a lot of conversations over the year where I have talked to people in my life who were like, you know, people asking me, do you think it's wrong that I'm doing this thing? Or like, I'm afraid to tell you that I'm doing this thing because, you know. And I don't ever want to be a friend people are afraid to tell they're doing a thing, but I do want to be a friend where people, because of a thing I've said, or a thing I've modeled, it makes people think twice about their decisions, you know. But I don't know. I feel like we'll maybe do another episode on this, but I think a lot of us are coming out of this with maybe fewer friends than we had going into it, or different kinds of friends, or in some ways, I think, stronger relationships with some people than what we went into this pandemic with, because I think it's been a time of just really exposing people's kind of best and worst behaviors.
Rachel: I think so too. I think the way we were all sort of leaning or oriented -- and when I say we and we all, I mean us as a society, I mean, us as individuals -- I think it just sort of entrenched those instincts. And, you know, when we look at the country, the United States, it's the worst things about the United States. We did more of the bad things that we've been known to do. Some people did more of the good things too, I don't want to say that they didn't, but I think it's just the things that already existed just got pushed to further extremes versus totally new things happening. And so I think that's true for friendships too, that friendships -- and again, I think you're right, this is a very good topic for a future episode, but I think that the friendships that were already strong got stronger, the friendships that weren't, or that already had fault lines, started to crack. And the question of what our friendships are going to look like after this, I think is absolutely worthy of another episode. And if you guys have any specific questions you'd like us to address, send them our way, because I think we have a lot to say about this topic.
Sally: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Man, I feel like I could just talk forever about this whole thing of people's ethical decision-making during the pandemic, but I'm sort of tired of hearing myself talk about it anyway, so maybe we should just move on.
Rachel: So as we look toward spring, summer, allegedly widespread vaccine distribution, and a future where it's safe to leave our homes, what are some things from the past year that you think you'll keep doing and that will stay with you?
Sally: Okay. So I think a couple of things I would love to keep doing. One is just FaceTiming with friends more.
Sally: I'm sometimes like, why was I ever just talking on the phone to people? Why wasn't I always FaceTiming my friends? So FaceTiming friends more, I think a big one for me is being like, I'm writing off today because today sucks, instead of feeling like I have to persevere. I think that this year has given me a much more... has helped me really hone and have a much more acute analysis of the way capitalism shows up in how I think of myself and how I think of myself as a member of a community. And how it turns us against each other and makes us think about ourselves as individuals, not as members of communities, and so on. And so I can't help but think about how so much of my, "I have to persevere, I have to get through this," is about productivity that is about capitalism, versus, I have to get through this because it'll benefit someone or be good for the world or whatever. And then the soothing power of reality TV. I have never watched much reality TV, but I watched a lot over the last year and found it to be engrossing and soothing in a way that I really needed. So I'm just going to keep that in mind for 2021 and beyond.
Rachel: Those are great ones.
Sally: Yeah. What about you?
Rachel: Okay, let's see. Well, I will say that from 2015 to 2018, I experienced the exact sort of traumatic life event that perfectly, I would say, prepared me to deal with the pandemic and sort of this small life within four walls of incredible uncertainty and unknown, and feeling really isolated. So I feel like I had a lot of good stuff in place going into this that helped me and that also I was already kind of continuing to do, so there weren't as many surprises for me this year, but I will say that I'm with you on FaceTiming friends more and also just making more in-person events into Zoom meetings or keeping a Zoom aspect of things. Let's all agree that we're going to keep doing that. It's great for accessibility, it's great for a number of reasons. So that's what I want to keep going. I will say that also, fancy sweatpants and no bras as a lifestyle that I am like, I just simply can't picture wearing a bra again. I don't want to say it won't happen, but at this point I'm not looking to bring them back full time, by any means. I would say, you know, I've always loved having my little hobbies. So the hobby I've picked up this time is knitting, and I'm excited about that and plan to keep doing it. And then I think mutual aid is a big one for both of us this year, that I'm really grateful that so many people led the way on that and opened the door for all of us to come in. And I just got my recurring donation set up, but I also want to continue to give back and be a part of my local community and other more meaningful, specific in-person ways. Or let's say, if not in person, but you know, physically getting out there either literally or metaphorically. I want to really connect with my neighborhood, and I'm still trying to figure out how to best do that. But I think where I kind of landed is I'm just going to do until I sort of find my home in that regard, and just keep doing it because it matters and it helps a lot of people. And I feel really inspired by the people who've led the way in that, or led the charge in that way in the past.
Sally: Yeah, absolutely. I'm right there with you on mutual aid. I feel like again, it's one of the many things that has happened over the last year that has kind of sharpened my critique of capitalism in the way it alienates us from one another, and it alienates us from our political power, and it alienates us from both a desire and the strategic imperative to center the most vulnerable and marginalized among us and work for justice for those people. And mutual aid, Philly has such a robust community of activists and people who are basically being like, "Look, the state not only isn't helping people, is harming people. And the only way people are going to be okay is if the rest of us step in." And I found that to be really inspiring. And similarly want to continue to be involved in that. So I'm glad that you brought that up.
Sally: I think that's it. I think maybe we talk about a nice thing to end on.
Rachel: Yeah, let's do it.
Sally: All right. So what do you got, Rachel? What's your nice thing to end on?
Rachel: My nice thing to end on is that our terrace is open for business. Yesterday we spent some time uncovering the furniture that we had covered up, and in covering the furniture and sort of just... it was a mess out there. Things were not cleared or organized in a meaningful way for the winter. So we basically did that, we fixed that. We did some research, we've got some new little things coming to help make it a really nice outdoor space this summer. The weather report today is "Feels like seven," so, you know, it's technically open for business if not literally, but I'm very excited to be able to sit out there in a coat and boots and gloves and get some fresh air.
Sally: I love that. Spring is in your heart.
Rachel: It's in my heart. What's yours?
Sally: Mine is an album called Come to my Garden by Minnie Riperton.
Sally: What's delightful about this, Rachel, is -- I almost texted you, but I wanted to tell you on the podcast. So there's a Spotify playlist I've talked about before. It's called 'My life as a movie', and I really love it. And there's a song by this artist, Minnie Riperton, on that playlist. And so I ended up just clicking on her and listening to all of her stuff. And it's really delightful. She was an artist in the 70s, a singer. She has a really beautiful voice, I love it. I highly recommend listening to Come to my Garden specifically. But the thing that's amazing is that, so I was like, I've played it for Andrea. I was like, I want to play you this album, I think you'll like it. And she was like, "Oh, this is awesome. Who is this?" And I was like, oh, it's this woman Minnie Riperton, I don't know much about her. So I went to her Wikipedia page -- she's Maya Rudolph's mother.
Rachel: Oh, okay. Yeah. I've read in profiles of Maya Rudolph that her mother is a famous singer. I just didn't know her name. So, yes.
Sally: Oh, okay. I didn't know any of this. I didn't know any of this, I'm also not really a music person, so I never, you know, I don't know anything about music or the people that make it. So everything is always a delightful surprise to me. But I guess she had released a couple albums and then sort of stopped singing and was just living in Florida with her family, raising her family and stuff, but then was kind of rediscovered and put out a bunch of albums and is great. So listen to Come to my Garden. And I love Maya Rudolph so much, she's definitely one of my favorite people on earth. I just feel like someone is doing something right that Maya Rudolph even exists. So the fact that this is her mom, I just got really psyched about that.
Rachel: That's amazing. That's a great, nice thing to end on.
Sally: So yeah, I guess we did it. Thank you everyone for listening to this episode of Oh I Like That. Please do rate us and review us wherever you listen to podcasts.
Rachel: You can also follow us on Twitter @ohilikethatpod or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us individually. I'm @the_rewm and Sally is @sallyt.
Sally: Oh I Like That is produced by Rachel and Sally and edited by Lucas. Amber Seeger, who is @rocketorca on social media, designed our logo.