If I told you I got a box of KN95 masks from my local liquor store for free, would you believe me?
Welcome to the surreal Christmas of 2021.
I reminded myself ‘Omicron’ is part of the WHO’s efforts to not stigmatize places first identifying the variant. At first, I thought it also sounded like the name of a Dr. Who villain and tried to Google it to confirm my memory. It’s not Omicron. It’s ‘Omega’and I can hear Tom Baker’s pronunciation in my head from the recesses of my childhood mind.
Omicron is more transmissible, and triple-vaxxed people are getting it in spades. I got my booster on December 20, and the new variant led to cancelling a planned event to welcome back students to on-campus classes. We are not back to square 1 more like Square 1A. The downtown campus library will be open twice a week, and I will work there Tuesdays and Thursdays, then back to my regular campus Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The library hours changed as well as mine. (8-4 this time.) I feel for the students who came to the library on Tuesday and Thursday nights the last term to study or have a place to take their tests. The college will also issue staff KN95 masks, and everyone will be wearing them, with no exceptions, as per public health recommendations.
It’s the mask-du-jour at the moment, and the province designated casinos and Liquor Marts to distribute the boxes. I went out for a wine run, prepared to have my local store run out of the masks. (I still had the 3-ply surgical in steady supply, so I was alright.) I took my place in line outside the store doors and popped an employee with a cute Christmas Sweater and a large box. He cut open the large cardboard box and handed out the boxes containing 20 masks. I asked for another one, and the man gave me another box. I thanked him, and he said matter-of-fact there are over a million boxes to hand out among the liquor marts and casinos.
If it sounds strange, it does, and for this government makes total sense. The two revenue-generating machines, casinos and liquor marts, both provincially owned, means the spigot will run green (or red, brown, and blue as per our Canadian currency.) I would like to say it will go to our hospitals, but this government doesn’t care about health care or education. If it were up to them, we would be like the small, evangelical towns in the southwestern corner of the province. You know, a charity in place of social safety nets. Female-dominated professions like nursing and teaching paid in pennies. Also, no LGBTQIA, no feminists, no women with opinions, no birth control, no abortion, no booze, no Jewish people, no liturgy because no Catholics or Orthodox with their idolatry, no fun, no orgasms, no good sex, no sexual fantasies, and you can add to the list in your mind. Have I met people from these places? Yes, many times in my life. They try to convert me from Catholicism and, while sometimes my church drives me bonkers, why swap one male-dominated faith for another. No, thank you, I am staying here.
But I digress.
Anyway, you are out of luck if you have a gambling or alcohol addiction. Even after getting my boxes, the distribution channel didn’t make sense to me. There are looking at other channels, but saying they are looking and actually doing it are two different things. Let’s face it, a government is a government. The other box of masks was for my aunt, mom’s youngest sister, and the last one left among my mom’s family. I spent Christmas Eve with her and minded my friend’s place and cat while she visited family out of town. Last year, 8 months or so after dad died, I spent Christmas at my aunt’s. This year, I wanted to get used to getting up alone on Christmas Day.
Except I was not alone.
My friend has this doorknob hanger in the shape of a cat saying One Spoiled Rotten Cat Lives Here. She bought it while her last cat, Talula (RIP), called the place her kingdom. Dylan has two handmaids making sure wet food is served, treats are dispensed, and catnip liberally provided. He slept with me during my time housesitting and knocked off earlier on Christmas Eve while I watched a televised Mass from the Vatican.
While I celebrated Christmas alone, New Year was at a friend’s place for a sleepover with wine and appetizers. We both retired a half-hour before midnight. We said our Happy New Year through the doors of our respective rooms, fireworks heard outside around her neighbourhood. It signified how 2021 tired both of us out. I went out on the highway earlier that week to pick my friend, the one I am housesitting for, from her hometown, a place usually an hour outside of town but took 25 minutes to get on the highway along as the city roads turned into skating rinks.
Throughout my break, I left work behind or made efforts not to think about it. My mental health is better for it and I need to get ready for whatever 2022 brings. We can reduce our hours even more or go into WFH mode, but it’s anyone’s guess at this point. After all, it’s only the second day of 2022.