On Feeling Safe – or Not

NEWS FLASH: Jen P is our randomly selected winner! Congratulations, Jen, and please check your email.

Edith/Maddie, writing from north of Boston after a weekend of socializing with fully vaccinated friends and family, and I’m giving away an ARC of No Grater Crime to celebrate!

I can barely describe the joy of hugging someone I love deeply – and haven’t been able to even touch for fifteen months – now that we share a COVID-safe status.

Hugh and I had four get-togethers this weekend, starting on Thursday, plus a work party at the Amesbury Friends Meetinghouse to get it ready for in-person worship next week.

Miss B, now a very tall fifteen-year old, who came to dinner with her family
My son Allan and our favorite three-year old, Miss C., working on baseball skills.
A bunch of my most favorite people.
Raising the center divider in the historic Meetinghouse to provide more airflow. It was SO good to see Friends in person.
A few good friends, some longtime, some new, over for drinks, snacks, and conversation

These gatherings are important. They fill my heart. They re-establish connection. I even had an outdoor dinner on the Cape with fan Jay a few weeks ago. Feeling safe being close to people is a rusty feeling, but a good one.

But the people I trust to be with while unmasked number maybe two or three dozen, CDC guidance notwithstanding. I’m still not ready to be indoors for very long around people I don’t know. No indoor dining. No airplanes. No mystery conventions. I know many people feel differently.

After the year we’ve all had, when I’m out in public around people not wearing masks, I have no idea if they are fully or even partially vaccinated. I dread getting COVID and, worse, getting it and spreading it to others. I fear the new virulent variants.

So what does the new unmasking in public do for my writing?

Writers – especially crime writers – need to be able to capture feelings of fear, of dread, of distrust. I need my character to think, “Who can I trust? And can I really?” She needs to be afraid of that dark room. He needs to dread finding out what caused that noise or learning that someone he thought was a friend wasn’t really. I can mine the feelings I experience when I’m near an unmasked stranger.

As always with authors, it’s all material – even living in an almost post-pandemic world.

Readers: How are you feeling about being in public these days? I’ll send one of you an advance copy of No Grater Crime!

80 Thoughts

  1. Pleased to learn you are getting your meetings started up again. I’m afraid I’ve developed a little resistance. Not sure why I’m not anxious to go myself! Have a good one!

  2. I go out but always where a mask. The one exception was to a Members’ Day trolley meet and it was all outside. No one wore masks. It was a weird feeling, but not really scary. Our daughter was along. We are all vaccinated. I still wear a mask whenever I’m inside except at home. I’m getting more comfortable talking to the lawn guy outside where neither of us are masked. It’s just going to take time to get used to it. I”m patient.

  3. I’ve been to one family gathering, maskless, and had to tamp down the inner panic at first, but I did manage to relax and enjoy myself. But there’s one family member who proudly proclaims she will never get the vaccine. Even during the height of the pandemic, she believed Covid was no big deal and stated firmly that she doesn’t believe in social distancing. When she wears a mask, which is rarely, she only wears it on her chin so she can say she IS wearing one. I refused to let her ruin my day with all the other family members who ARE vaccinated, so with her, I just practiced the social distancing she refuses.

    I closely watch the numbers of new cases in our county and state, which thankfully are trending downward. At the first sign of new cases in anyone who is fully vaccinated, I’ll be backtracking for sure. But for now, I’m weaning myself off the mask while keeping it in my pocket just in case.

    1. Oh, mask on chin – sad and infuriating! Glad you were able to enjoy yourself despite her. And I agree – caution is always the key.

  4. It’s nice to be to go out and not have to wear a mask again. I’ve started shopping in the stores again. It was over a year since I’d been in a grocery store. I would order on line and my husband would pick them up. Just open the trunk, no contact. I only went to the pharmacy when I had too. Usually because they screwed up something and I got tired of being on hold for an hour. Yes, I am in the process of switching pharmacies. Can’t wait to visit family next month so I can hug my granddaughters again. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway!! pgenest57 at aol dot com

  5. I am still cautious because my immune system is still not what it should be. Although I am vaccinated, a mask is still part of my attire. It is not an enjoyable think to deal with in summer but it’s better than being sick. Thanks for offering your giveaway.

  6. Well now this is an interesting question, isn’t it?

    I’ve been following the various guidelines right along since this whole debacle started. I haven’t really hung out with anyone besides my friend Ann a few times (spaced far apart). My sister cooked me a birthday dinner back in March but otherwise, the people I’ve been around the most have been my co-workers and my the guy who owns the comic book shop I frequent. There I’m masked all the time unless I bring a pizza for lunch and then the mask comes down for as long as it takes for me to take a bite.

    As someone who doesn’t mind spending long stretches of time by myself, I’ve been less affected by the various isolation requirements.

    The odd thing is now that they are loosening up the restrictions, I think they are going too fast and relying on the same people who have been jackasses all this time to stop lying and actually being vaccinated. The same people who have been on social media swearing a blood oath that they would never get the shots! As for the businesses, they have been falling all over themselves to drop the requirements for masks as fast as possible. So now places that I was somewhat comfortable to go into are giving me pause. Even when I go to pick up some takeout, if a person gets too close to me, I move further away while waiting for my order to be ready.

    I still have no plans to go to concerts until next year at the earliest. Which means I’m going to have to eat a $35 ticket I have from a show that was postponed from April 4th of last year to August 28th of this year. Same goes for any kind of comic book conventions. I’d say book conventions too, but there was little chance I was going to be able to go to those anyway.

    I might venture out to an individual book signing if those return in some distanced format but that would obviously depend on who the author was. As you know Edith, getting to have an outdoor dining experience while you were on the Cape was fantastic but probably the only author meet I’ll experience this year. And we were still doing things the right way even outdoors and separated by a picnic table.

    I’ve gotten my 2nd shot now so in two weeks I’ll be crossing that “fully vaccinated” threshold but that doesn’t mean I’ll suddenly ditch the mask and start tongue kissing anyone I meet. The shots shouldn’t make you stupid. So I’ll still be loathe to hang out with too many people for months to come…at least.

  7. Your get together looks so fun!! I’ve just recently started going to big stores again, plus have a hair appointment for a full “do” this week, so I’m slowly reintegrating into society lol! I’m not sure I’m quite ready to totally go maskless yet, especially in crowded stores.

  8. Congratulations on your get-togethers – what fun!

    We’re still masking in public. Maine is well ahead of the curve in vaccinations and our infection rates are lower than many other states, but with so much still unknown I’d rather look back and wonder what I was so worried about, than suffer from, or worse spread, this awful illness. We did attend a garage sale maskless on Saturday. It was at our medical provider’s home – everyone was fully vaccinated and the event was outdoors. I felt like a kid seeking out the door for a forbidden date!

  9. With medical issues, others may go back to “normal”, but as us we will remain cautious. To me that means taking steps others seem to thing is ok to forego. Although comfortable visiting with vaccinated friends on our front porch, although still keeping some distance (hard for me cause I’m a natural hugger), I’m not comfortable with pretending nothing happened and all is ok.

    We live in a tourist town and I understand it’s a financial thing for a lot of folks (and after last year a need to keep from losing everything), I’m still not comfortable being in the festival mode every other week with lots of tourist from every state and a few nations. Being a good home body means I’m comfortable staying at home. The only travel we have done was going to the state north of us to visit with hubby’s Mom (who is 91) and sister (both fully vaccinated). We took groceries and cooked at home. We were fine with that because went to see them face to face and to talk rather than to get out and go some place.

    When we do need to get out for groceries or to run an errand, I still wear a mask when going indoors around people that I have no idea if they are vaccinated or not. Call me over cautious, but I don’t want to get Covid and I can’t afford to either. I’ve had many major surgeries and my one ray of sunshine was hubby being there with me. The thought of having to be so sick and in the hospital all by myself is incentive enough for me to take precautions and by some standards go overboard in the steps I take to remain safe and well.

    Whoever is fortunate enough to win a copy of NO GRATER CRIME is going to be very fortunate! Can’t wait until it’s available for everyone. Love your books!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  10. I’ll be honest – I’m ready to ditch the mask.

    I rarely wear it if I’m outside. I might have it in my pocket if I go shopping, and of course I’ll respect any business that wants me to put it on, but if it’s not a requirement, I’m leaving it off. The day-job has regularly brought immunologists and infections disease specialists to talk at our quarterly-meetings to talk about how all the science works, so I’m pretty confident even if I do happen to meet the odd unvaccinated person while I’m out.

  11. Masks inside, no masks outside is what we’ve been doing. We’ve been meeting assorted groups of friends at the winery where our daughter works and it’s been great. I’m still not shaking hands, but I’ll hug people, because I can look away. It’s probably not logical, but works for me.

  12. We’ve been doing more and more gatherings. I’m still not 100% comfortable in large groups but love no masks and feeling more free.

  13. I am not apprehensive about being around people but I am cautious. No masks outside and with friends who are vaccinated, but masks inside stores, etc. I am dining out occasionally. I am ready to live life again.

  14. I’ve been out to dinner but remain 6 feet from the next nearest party. I still wear masks in public even though most places don’t require them anymore. I’m looking forward to getting out more and more as more people are fully vaxxed and exploring our new home. It will take time until I’m comfortable indoors in large groups. I’m supposed to go to an indoor concert in Sept. Still not sure it won’t be postponed, but curious to see what the new normal will look like there if it happens.

  15. I’m feeling a little safer.I’ve had both shots.But I still put my mask on when I go to the store.

  16. I’m not ready to give up my masks inside public places, but feel so much better about getting together with vaccinated friends! I spent 2 wonderful weeks with my son, daughter-in-law and grandson, yesterday went out with 2 friends to celebrate a birthday. BTW – my dil gave her midwives the Quaker Midwife books you gave me & they love them!

  17. We’ve done a few vary small family gatherings with people who are fully vaccinated and the larger one was outdoors. We’re still limiting errands to necessary ones and going on off peak times.

  18. Around people I know, I am pretty much comfortable being without my mask because I am fully vaccinated and know their status.
    If I am in a situation with a crowd of people I do not know I am much more comfortable wearing my mask. Being vaccinated, if I got covid I would most likely have an easier time of it but I could carry it to someone else. That would be harder on me than me having it myself.

  19. We just bought some more masks and hope to not have to use them. However, we are wearing masks inside and not wearing them outside with those we know have been vaccinated. Oh, the joy of getting hugs from our Grands recently brought tears to our eyes. We missed over a year in their lives and they have both grown so tall. I am ready for this to be over, but must admit that as an introvert I have enjoyed the less hectic lifestyle and I have had the time to read so many great books!

  20. A friend of mine said a couple of weeks ago, “We’re as safe as we’re going to be. Now each of us has to decide how we’re going to navigate it.” He meant the people who are going to get vaccinated have done it or are in the process and the people who are proclaiming they won’t be, won’t. This is our reality. I have been doing unmasked outside especially for walks and things where distancing is possible and masks inside. My general view of the next few months is that if any person or business asks me to mask, I will. It’s just like going to a “shoes off inside” house. It may not be your rules but you respect other people and their property and you’re polite.

    1. Barbara, second your friend’s “safe as we’re going to be”. Still navigating when to mask: outside no mask (life-long crowd avoider, anyway) but have one in my pocket. Shopping YES! Noticed last week the unmasked folks at Trader Joe’s were the same ones who wore the “droopy nose version” when required to wear a mask.
      Had an electrical contractor and a plumber in last week. Never had met the electrical contractor before, even with all windows open, we were masked up. The plumber, who had done major work taking two full days back in February, I greeted with “fully faxed” and standing way back (forgot my mask). He said, “me, too” and took his mask off. Again all windows open, but no masks.
      For me this is “one day at a time” territory. Hugs with family and no masks are wonderful.

  21. Although I am fully vaccinated, I am still really careful when going out. I started treatment for a medical issue last September & it will continue until August – so I need to make sure I don’t get sick. But it was one of those “0” birthdays this year & all my siblings and some of their children came over for an outside party earlier this month.

  22. I hope to feel comfortable again one day, I miss my friends and I miss hugging people….we are a family of “huggers.” It’s good to see people out enjoying life again, but it does bring a little worry that we are letting down our guard too early. I see so many people who fought the mask mandate out maskless and I know they haven’t been vaccinated. So scary. I’ll just remain inside as long as I can or outside with just my little family. I have kids and books, they both keep me occupied and sane, most of the time. ; )

  23. I’m feeling comfortable. But I’m not sure about returning to work. That seems to be the place I’m around the most where disease spreads, so I’m not anxious to be back in the office. Then again, I’m loving working from home, so I’m not ready to go back for many reasons. But the rest of life? It can resume ASAP, please.

  24. I still don’t feel completely safe even though I have been vaccinated. I have not yet returned to church and am watching my church sermons on television. There are just too many germs out there! I am grateful to have books to keep me entertained while all of this is going on.

  25. I’m still really careful where I go and I still wear a mask when going shopping. It was great going to visit my Sister in Michigan and we actually ate at a restaurant. It was the first time I ate at a restaurant since the pandemic started.

  26. I’m still pretty hesitant about being unmasked out in the world. We are planning in person worship in our sanctuary in June. We have gathered in our fellowship hall for a year in masks and socially distant. I’m not sure what it will be like to be in a larger space, with less ventilation. No flying for me yet and I really only unmask at home and with people I know are safe. I think it is wise to be careful in these days. We still have much to learn about viruses and how they mutate.

  27. Well, I am fairly comfortable without my mask as long as I a not in a crowd. Definitely not ready for concerts and sporting events! My friends and family are all fully vaccinated, so we have gathered a few times, outside for now, with hugs all but required! I have gone a few places indoors without my mask on. I do always carry one with me, just in case. I have a close friend with a blood borne cancer and they have been told that even though they have been vaccinated, testing shows they have no Covid antibodies, so we only meet outside and masked. I do believe masks are a permanent part of our lives going forward and I am ok with that. They do help keep colds, flu and allergy symptoms down. I will continue to wear a mask as appropriate for the situation and will always wear one if asked, but they are a challenge in 100+ temps, which we are back into as of tomorrow according the the weather service. Ah life in the desert!

  28. Such lovely pictures! I’m definitely still wearing a mask in public inside, but it’s so nice to gather with vaccinated friends and family members!

  29. I don’t feel comfortable yet. I do wear my mask in public and will continue to do so. The only time I go out is to grocery shop. I work from home and my kids are home doing online school. Things are looking definitely looking brighter, however, I will continue to wear my mask until I feel safer. It can be frustrating to know if a person is truly vaccinated or not in public.

  30. Although I’m fully vaccinated, I still wear my mask in public. If I knew that everyone in a group was vaccinated, I would unmask but that is hard to know. Stay safe and well.

  31. I think I will feel uncomfortable going out for a while; it is hard to change after this long period of time, especially with the variants that continue to pop up and having an autoimmune disease. It is strange being out on short trips now, but I’m sure I will feel safe again as time goes on.

  32. I am not feeling very confident about being in public. My husband and I both have had our vaccines. I will be taking medication that will decrease my immunity. I plan on still being careful with wearing a mask and social distance. Thank you for the opportunity.

  33. I’m still not a fan of being out in public. I’m still making as many Doc visits virtual, as much as possible. I will go maskless in the senior high rise that I live in, I’m on the first floor and about 20 steps from the mailroom/ lobby, Main Office, and front door. I seldom go anywhere else in the building. Outside, I’m maskless if I’m sitting in the sun for a little while with my pooch and my mother. If I’m in a store (I had to go- I have a wedding coming up in June. My best friend’s daughter. I had to get something new to wear, I had Gastric Bypass last year, and I literally had nothing to wear that would stay on me and not make me look like a pauper.) I certainly kept my mask on. I’ve been fully vaccinated for months now, but I don’t trust others. While in the store- there wasn’t one soul without a mask.

  34. The sense of fear (Who in this crowd will be my killer?) certainly may be useful to me down the road. In most situations, though, I now eel pretty safe.

  35. Although now fully vaccinated against Covid, I will be venturing to town today to get my second Shingles shot, LONG delayed by the wait for the Covid vaccine, then pretty much coming straight back home, depending on whether I get my act together to load the recycling into the van. I have been to an in-person Meeting for Worship twice now, wearing our masks until we are in the actual Meeting room, which we are borrowing from the Presbyterians as we laid down our own Meetinghouse in January. I will still be doing what little shopping I do during that 6-8 am slot designated for seniors, although now we do not need to wear masks, and I will still socially distance myself.

    1. I squeezed in my second Shingles shot a few months before COVID vaccines became available. How lovely to have in-person Meeting!

  36. Good questions, Edith. Happy for your reunions!

    I’m still trying to figure out what I’m comfortable with. I’ve also got kids to factor into the equation, so we’ll see.

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