The New Normal

I hear so many people say, “Once we get back to normal.” I’m not sure that’s the discussion we need to be having. I’m not sure we’re heading back to the way it was. I think COVID-19 has rocked our society, much like 9-11 did. Before 9-11, we could actually go to the gates to see our loved ones off on their flight. We didn’t have to take off our shoes or endure extensive security screenings before boarding an airplane. So much changed after that event. I can’t imagine anything less happening after this global pandemic.

I don’t, however, think that we’re all doomed, and we might as well give up. It’s not in my nature. What we need to do is search out the new normal. What will our world look like as we transition into this new time?

For anyone who’s read this blog on a semi-regular basis, you’ll be quite aware of my podcast obsession. From writing podcasts to celebrity interviews to science to satire, I simple adore podcasts. I found a truth about myself, though, as I remained at home hardly driving anywhere for the last few months: I don’t listen to podcasts if I’m not in my car.

On the way to school, Chris Hardwick interviewed his first guest in months—well for me anyway. I eagerly jumped back in the car to pick her up that afternoon—even though I was in the middle of a project—because I couldn’t wait to hear the rest of the interview. Holy moly, I didn’t realize that was a part of my life I missed so desperately. It was a bit of normalcy in my life. Pre-COVID, I used to drive to my office prepping my mind for work by listening to Joanna Penn or Mark Leslie Lefebvre. On the way home, I’d put on Chris Hardwick or Alie Ward to relieve the stress of the day and prepare for family responsibilities.

I miss it. Will I get that back? I don’t think so. That office cost me money, and I’ve re-trained myself to work from home which I considered an impossibility before this forced isolation. How can I excuse that expense now? Instead, I’m going to start walking again—now that it’s not 110 degrees outside—with my phone calming my brain as it plays the latest podcast I subscribe to. Hey, without the commute, I have the time to squeeze the activity in. This is the new normal.

A few fellow writers and I used to meet every week for critique group at a restaurant. We read pieces and gave our opinions on each others’ works. The bit I miss the most, however, is the getting out of the house. We tried to meet online and did okay for a few weeks, but it’s not the same. Not even close. We haven’t met at all for the last two months, and I don’t even have the urge to re-start if we can’t meet in person. That was the bit I liked the most. That was the bit I looked forward to. Not only did I get to hang with friends and discuss writing, but I didn’t have to cook dinner that night or do dishes or any of the regular mundane things.

I miss it. Will I get that back? I don’t think so. Who can risk exposure to COVID for such selfish reasons? Zoom doesn’t cut it. It’s not the same—not even close. What I’ve done instead is find an editor to work with to help me make my writing better and experienced beta readers to share their experience with my manuscripts. As for the friends, I haven’t found a solution for that, but I have upped my frequency of calling just to check in. I’m more likely to text a friend for no reason. That personal contact—even though we can’t physically hug each other—has been a salve. This is the new normal.

Professional dress allowed me to get into the mood for work and helped me feel—well—professional. Now I wear t-shirts and work-out pants most days. You know what? I can live with this change. I save money on new slacks as I don’t wear them out. I don’t have to worry about donning the same outfit too many times—this is a true concern for many of us women. How many times have you seen a woman on your TV wear the same outfit twice?—because who’s going to see me in it? I’m not distracted by uncomfortable clothes. I’m not wasting money on make-up. I still get pedicures—we all have our weaknesses—but at a third of the frequency.

Still, after all of these benefits to not having to gussy up, I kind of miss it.

So what do I do when I need that extra professional push for a virtual presentation? I do get fancy. I even blow dry my hair. You know what? That makes those events even more special. Instead of a drag like many virtual events used to be, I find myself looking forward to them. I get to dress up, talk to real people, and make the content available to a much wider audience. This is the new normal.

We love to cook, but our schedules tend to be so packed that we don’t have nearly the time. Hence, we ate out A LOT. It saves a ton of time if you grab something and eat it in the car on your way to the next activity. With COVID, most of those activities have been canceled and our schedule has opened up. I really like this change. I can’t feel guilty. I’m not being lazy. I need to stay home to aide our society with controlling this pandemic. Side effect? We eat out significantly less. I have lost a pants size just from the change in diet. It’s much easier to cook healthy than it is to find healthy things to eat in the car. (Oddly, we haven’t saved any money though. Groceries have gone up so much, eating out less hasn’t impacted that bit at all.)

The only real problem is deciding what to cook this week… again. I saw a meme once that said adulting is just deciding what to cook for dinner and washing clothes until you die. That might be too real. Nevertheless, we’ve learned new recipes and eaten significantly more leftovers. This is the new normal.

How much of this new normal is sustainable and how much isn’t, I have no idea. Yet, this needs to be the conversation. What is the new normal for our favorite activity? How will the new normal establish different routines? What will our new normal look like as we learn to balance quality of life with risk of infection?

We can’t keep living in limbo. We need to move forward with the new normal.

What has changed in your life that you wish you could change? What has morphed into something that works better for you and your family? What do you think your new normal will look like?

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2 Responses

  1. Latone says:

    I agree that COVID will change some things, perhaps (maybe even “hopefully”) forever. IF we can get a working long-term vaccine, I think some of the things will be able to revert. Eating at restaurants and seeing friends will come back. If we could get infection RATES under control, we have hope of doing these things sooner. However, a LOT of companies have learned that work-from-home is not as impossible as they used to say it was and hopefully these attitudes will remain.

    • Kelly Colby says:

      Totally agree. I so miss restaurant time with friends. I even miss sitting at a coffee shop sipping a latte and scheming ways of torturing my characters.