Life lately: the “pandemic wall”

Have you heard about the so-called “pandemic wall”? Earlier this month, I saw this tweet from a WNYC radio host and could not agree more.

She followed up a few days ago with a podcast episode dedicated to this very topic. I listened to it while doing another one of my Anxiety Walks around a nearby park. The biggest thing I learned was that there is a difference between regular old depression and demoralization: the latter happens when your moral compass is strongly distressed by an external event, e.g., thousands of people dying daily from a pandemic, an insurrection at the capitol, to name a few. By these standards, I would definitely say that I am demoralized, rather than depressed.

Earlier this month, Switzerland finally put its foot down and made telework mandatory, in addition to closing non-essential shops again. I have a pretty solid work-from-home setup, so that’s not the difficult part. It’s more so the strong mental disconnect between what is currently accepted as normal (sitting at home all day, staring at a screen, no hugs, no leisure, no trips to see friends or family) and what normal is supposed to look like.

I’ve signed up via the Canton of Geneva’s online portal to be vaccinated. It’s not so much a registration for an appointment as it is simply waving your hand at the government and saying, “hey, once you finish vaccinating all the high-risk groups and frontline workers, I’d be interested in getting the shot.” The plan is to vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated by summer.

Earlier this month, I went to the dentist for the first time in over a year. Prior to moving to Switzerland, I’d never gone more than six months between cleanings. Whereas in DC my cleanings had been fully covered by dirt-cheap insurance, here in Geneva the clinic charged me 140 francs. Per usual, I paid out of pocket and submitted the invoice to my health insurance for reimbursement, and they ended up covering half. I actually don’t have dental insurance here; my French teacher told me that it’s uncommon for people to have dental insurance in Switzerland unless they need major surgery, and anyway, my health insurance premium had already increased to 420 francs per month at the beginning of 2021, so I was reluctant to shell out even more.

After the cleaning, they did an x-ray and showed me a spot where my fillings had fallen out. “You need to come back and get it repaired,” the hygienist said, pulling up a calendar on her computer. “Shall I set up an appointment with you now? It will be 450 francs for the operation.” I told her I’d call back later to set up the appointment myself and quickly slipped away. Ahh, Switzerland — where the unofficial motto is GIVE US YOUR MONEY GIVE US ALL YOUR MONEY NOW NOW NOW.

How cute was the clinic, though? Perfect Instagram aesthetic.
They gave me the most adorable goodie bag to take home.

Some more scattered memories from this month….

A few days before the inauguration, I saw this blown-up poster outside a newsstand. “Kamala Harris — the most powerful woman in the world.”
I made some delicious roast chicken and potatoes using this recipe.
Steamed buns using my family’s recipe!
The local park is weirdly really badly lit at night — which leads to creepy ambiences like this. It’s not scary, just hard to see where you’re going.
And here’s the park during the day.
Swan-watching at the small strip of manmade beach by Lake Geneva.
When the Bernie memes became so pervasive that even Switzerland Tourism joined in the fun. And Galaxus, one of the biggest Swiss online retailers, created a whole page on how to “Steal the look“!
Reminder to break for tea and a snack in the afternoon.

What I read / watched / consumed this month

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. This was one of his more recent works from 2019. It’s pop psychology, but I thought it was quite interesting and insightful.

The New York Times released their annual list of 52 places to visit. I have been to a grand total of… one. Milford Sound, New Zealand, back in 2018.

Is Switzerland really as unsafe as the Swiss think? (Short answer: No. Switzerland is perfectly fine and the Swiss are scaring themselves over imaginary crime committed by foreigners.)

It snowed a lot in Zurich… and people began skiing to work.

The Pixar movie Soul. It was really really good. Must see.

French baker’s hunger strike saves apprentice from deportation. Heartwarming.

Surprise, surprise — privileged American lives and illegally works on Bali on a tourist visa, refuses to pay taxes, sells an e-book teaching other privileged Americans how to move to Indonesia in the middle of a pandemic, gets deported. Pro tip: If you’re a digital nomad and don’t pay taxes where you live, you’re breaking the law and exploiting the local community.

What ADHD can look like for adult women. The comments on this one, wow!

I also watched SO MUCH TV this month due to boredom and isolation. I finished Bridgerton and Schitt’s Creek, and now I’m in the middle of The Americans, which is filling the Homeland-shaped hole in my heart. It helps that one of the actors is on the main cast for both shows!

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