Hope. Still.

January 12th, 2022

 It turns out, you can stop progress.

This week, the state education department drastically shifted COVID protocol to their new policy of “Fuck You, Parents, Educators, and Nurses.” They’re halting weekly surveillance testing (a creepy name for what was actually giving us some peace of mind). When there’s a case in school, which happens weekly and will soon probably be daily, they’re not going to track close contacts outside of the classroom anymore. And instead of the “test to stay” program they just put in place a few weeks ago, they’re now going to “ask” parents to rapid-test their kids at home before bringing them in, with tests they can allegedly pick up at school — if there are any left. 

It feels very much like the wheels are off the schoolbus — the driver is long gone, too. The powers that be are throwing up their hands, and the cryptic emails we get from the district superintendent, always at like 8pm on a Sunday night pertaining to school on Monday morning, are confusing and lack any real transparency as to why they’re making decisions the way they are. 

School staff, particularly nurses, are overwhelmed with contact tracing and hypervigilance. Teachers are living in a viral war zone. Parents are toast, complete toast. And teachers who are also parents? I’m so sorry.

They say this is the “last hurrah” of COVID-19, but it really feels like the end of hope. Personally, I’ve spent two years terrified of contracting the virus and spreading it to my kids and older folks in my life. But now, I am starting to feel like nothing could be worse than living in this suspended reality for much longer, never knowing when I am going to be able to do the work I promised my clients, or when the myriad of daily symptoms we have here in stressed-out, wintery New England will turn out to be actual COVID. 

The uncertainty. The apprehension. The complete lack of stability in our day to day.


Our kids are getting a crash course in disappointment, too. In the last week I have had to let them down about their cancelled birthday celebration, school on the day they were supposed to ride the school bus to the ice rink, and their first ballet class of a new session. Most of this stuff is not getting rescheduled; it’s just not happening. People are suggesting that the kids should be wearing N95s to school. At this point, I’m way more worried about their mental health than their exposure to a virus. 

Let me be very clear. On the spectrum of COVID vigilance, I lie quite far toward the “careful, paranoid” end. I am just saying, I’m at a breaking point. My husband, as an RN, was one of the first to get vaccinated in the state. I got vaccinated the minute I could. My kids were in line the weekend after vaccinations were approved for their age group. We’re fully vaxxed, boosted, masked-up, careful, cautious, and crazy, at this point. 


While conducting ancestry research I found a 7th great grandmother named Hopestill. I guess those people were struggling too. She was born in 1725 in Taunton, Massachusetts, just inland from Cape Cod, where my ancestors originally settled in the 1600s. The colonists were beginning to feel the stress of taxation without representation, which would soon lead to the Revolutionary War with Great Britain. In the meantime, they were busy decimating the native population of Abenaki. At the time, there were about 75,000 enslaved people in the American colonies.

My 7th great grandmother was not one of them. She was probably about as well off as one could be. Hopestill was a white girl, and she went on to marry Ebenezer Paull and have a slew of children — one of which she named, you guessed it, Hopestill. She actually lived to be 63 and didn’t even die in childbirth — kind of amazing in those years. 

And here we are, seven generations later, still hoping. 

The latest episode of Radiolab, Worst. Year.Ever,, dives into what the worst year of all time may have been. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it definitely involved volcanoes, asteroids, a Game of Thrones-like eternal winter, and cannibalism. At least the sun still comes out here?

Meanwhile, speaking of eternal winter, I’ve been reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe with my daughters, which is giving us some escapist solace. On their “snow day of no snow” the other day, we also downloaded the movie, which I had seen years ago and was disappointed in. On a second watch, with my daughters, I really enjoyed it. 

Narnia, land of eternal winter and Turkish Delight, and mean nasty witches and cultured beavers — land of no COVID — how I wish you were real.

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