The Quarantine Reunion Special
The television landscape is obsessed with bringing the old gang back together. For every excellent original series that graces our screen in this platinum age of the medium, there's older Ross and Rachel on the old couch, bearded Hogwarts kids perusing the reconstructed dining hall, and 3/4 of the Sex and the City gang holding up a mirror to what many of us never realized was kind of a problematic group to begin with.
We looooooooove the comfort of seeing our old friends in the living room. Hell, since March 2020, I've rewatched just about every single one of my favorite TV shows, including The Sopranos twice. And there's nothing wrong with that. Truly. For me, it brings me back to where and who I was when I first experienced it, and how differently I relate to the characters now that I have a few more years under my belt - as evidenced by my recent rewatch of Entourage (talk about problematic, holy shit), where I'm now the same age as Johnny Drama and have had many successes in this industry, yet, like him, I still live paycheck to paycheck, scrounge for survival jobs, and yearn for the next audition. It's a far-cry from the 22-year-old, Bud Light chugging machine, who was convinced a Vincent Chase lifestyle was in his future.
But hey, today's post isn't about how the dandy fuck my career is going. Today's writings are about FUCK GOD DAMNIT I'M NOT DOING ANOTHER FUCKING SHUT DOWN.
Outside of selling my soul to a catering company a few times a month to make ends meet, I've built a pretty amazing business by teaching acting classes and doing private coaching. I'd call it the best "survival job" I've ever had, but, and oh boy golly am I going to spray paint cliché all over this bitch, it truly never feels like work. I'm dead serious. There are many days where I love teaching acting more than I love acting itself. Acting will always be my high school sweetheart and the greatest chance I have to make a comfortable living. Writing, filmmaking, and having an impact on the many artistic lives in which I am trusted to do so gives me far greater joy than I could ever imagine.
You know what else is fantabulous? I make my own schedule. I block off weeks for vacations without waiting for the approval of a boss. And because it's almost exclusively done over Zoom, I can do it from anywhere.
Alright, I'm done bragging. Let's get to the fucked up stuff.
The last class I taught was December 21st. My first day back is tomorrow. That's two full weeks to recharge my battery, take a planned trip with my girlfriend, and see family for the holidays.
On December 22nd, I woke up to a sore throat, dry cough, and congestion.
On December 23rd, I got a rapid test. We waited in the freezing cold for 90 minutes on Amsterdam Ave. At one point, some fucker drove by us and made sheep noises. I laughed at first, then spent the rest of my time on line wishing I had thrown my thermos at his forehead.
The rapid test came back negative. I got a booster at a city-run mobile site afterwards, to which they were like "hey, handsome, you get $100 for this". I went home, took a nap, and woke up side-effect free from the booster.
Everything was coming up Millhouse.
As a precaution, we picked up some at-home tests to take on Christmas morning, where we planned to see my parents, who are both over 60.
On December 24th, I cooked the best steak I've ever made, we exchanged gifts and made cocktails with our new Bartisian.
On December 25th, after showering, shaving, and putting on my festive green flannel shirt, my at-home test turned up positive. To my knowledge, there was nowhere to go to get another rapidtest. My PCR results had not come back yet. I had no choice but to call my parents to let them know we weren't coming. We told each other what gifts we got them over the phone, and I spent the rest of the day on the couch.
On December 26th, my PCR test came back positive.
We had to cancel our trip. The isolation ensued. You know what else ensued? Anger. Fear. Depression. Irritability. Heavy Drinking. Sleeping till 2pm.
And, dare I say it, PTSD.
I've always been extra careful to throw that term around. It goes back to that comparing and despairing of trauma that I've talked about in a previous post. How could I compare having to sit with my feet up in my apartment - with every TV show and movie ever made at my disposal, Seamless delivery, and a loving partner - to someone who, say, fought in a war?
What came up for me was massive dread. Seeing Omicron surge brought up all the memories of February and March of 2020, just as I had recovered from a suicidal episode, branched out my in-person acting classes, and began practicing Muy Thai. I was in such a good place after hitting the lowest part of my life, then it was all ripped away from me... from all of us.
The difference then was we were all in a collective unknown. We had a brief window where we all could have said, "all right, we have a collective enemy, now let's figure out how to take it down together." Now, an already divided country has become irreparably fucked. Our leaders have failed to unite us an unprecedented time. Our society has become reactive and hostile. Everyone thinks they're right. No one listens and hears anyone else.
The vaccine, which was a beacon of hope for so many, has become a political weapon. People I love are on the other side, and I can't bear myself to part ways some of them (for some others, it was a welcomed excuse), but I'm so fucking tired of being filled with hope only to have it ripped from my soul with an avoidable positive Covid test. In the beginning, I admittedly did respect people's decision to not get the vaccine for fears of not knowing what they were putting in their body. Now, after seeing politicians use it as a prop to ensue a fucking Civil War amongst the people, while no one is fucking dropping dead from taking the god damned thing, I've exhausted all of my understanding.
And so it goes, I'm back to waking up at noon and reading Twitter wars till 2pm from bed. I'm back to playing video games till 4am. I'm back to cracking a beer at 5:30pm because I'm bored. I'm back to watching eight season of a TV show in less than a week. I'm back to hearing everything my neighbors do, all day, while the anxiety of "is this enough noise to bang on the wall" consume me with crippling anxiety. I'm back to not remembering that last time I showered. I'm back to the anger, sadness, and bitter resentment of the state of the world that will likely take me into my forties.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IT'S THE QUARANTINE REUNION SPECIAL!
Before you text me to make sure I'm okay, please know that I have no intention of harming myself in any way. I promise. I've been writing a lot, which has been a saving grace. I have more tools to cope with these feelings now than I did when, you know, was going to do a bad thing. Getting this on the page and acknowledging these feelings is healthy for me.
I'm just really, really pissed off.
If you are struggling with your mental health, there is no shame in getting help:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 160 crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 1-800-273-8255. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.