Michael Mechmann
Michael Mechmann

Januaries tend to bring a time of both retrospective and prospective thinking. This new year has brought both in heaps. The past couple of years have been a living fever dream, but I started off with a more literal fever. That’s right — I’ve now officially joined a very exclusive club: despite being fully vaccinated and boosted, I caught COVID-19 and lived to tell the tale.

The scene ends badly, as you might imagine

I should start off by saying I am fine. The case was a mild one, like an annoying cold, and I’m now over it. I don’t seem to have much in the way of “long COVID” but I’ll probably head to a doctor to verify that.

Like most COVID cases of the past few weeks, mine was the result of holiday travel. Of course, this had all been booked well before the Omicron surge hit, so when the time came to go back to New York and see family for the first time in over two years it was hard to pump the brakes and cancel, which is what we probably should’ve done. Hindsight being 20/20 and all that.

Well, one thing led to another and pretty much the entire trip was a huge disaster. Plans were canceled, tears were shed, and we got to see far fewer people and do far fewer things than we wanted. Truly a cavalcade of anger and fear.

Ready for the bad things to come?

But through it all, we thought we were ready. We’d been so damn good these past years, staying inside when the lockdown happened, wearing masks even when the mask mandates were relaxed. We were prepared for this trip, with plenty of KN-95s that we wore so often I got scabs where my glasses pressed the straps to my face.

But of course, a virus doesn’t care about our good behavior. All it takes is for a droplet to get past the defenses. Did my father bring it with him when he went into the office that one day? Did we pick it up when we lowered our masks to eat, even though the restaurant was checking vaccination cards? Did a stray aerosol hit my eyeball the one time we rode the subway?

We’ll never really know. All I do know is that I took rapid tests literally every day we were there, and the PCR tests we took while there were negative too. And despite all that I developed symptoms the day after we got back, and tested positive. Strangely, Ilona seems to have gotten two false positives from rapid tests, since my post-travel PCR was positive but hers was still negative.

The good thing is that we don’t seem to have spread it to anyone while we were still in New York, and all of our high-risk family members are ok.

And on the plus side, I guess now I’m super-immune for a little while, so that’s cool I guess.

In a way, it’s a bit like STIs: the only way to truly avoid them is not to have sex, but even if you do wear protection there’s the small but non-zero chance that something will get past your defenses.

For all the preparation we were doing, we hit that 0.1% chance of failure.

Good things ahead

Nothing like catching a potentially-deadly disease to put things in perspective for the future, though, let me tell you.

So in that age-old January spirit I’m definitely planning on doing things a bit differently now. I’ve been letting a lot of personal enrichment hobbies languish instead of cultivating them during the pandemic. It’s time to change that.

One thing I plan to do is dust off my rusty composition skills. To that end, I’m planning to write — and upload — one piece a month in 2022. Why, that’s really not much music, you might say, and you’d be right. There are folks who’ve done one song a day since 2020. That’s awesome, but I’ve been out of the game for too long. I want to ease back into things, not dive right into the deep end and drown. This is an easily achievable goal, so the hope is that by hitting it I feel good and do more of the activity. Like exercise (which I also should do more of and plan to using a similar method so shut up).

I also need to get back to these half-finished projects that are sitting around! This is a bit of a bigger goal, since there are multiple ones (including a few that haven’t hit the blog yet), but again I hope to start small and work up. I picked up some translucent plastic for the Mlattel viewer, and I need to get some better tube mounts for the Cold War Clock. But hopefully there will be more to come on those soon.

Plus, there’s some retrocomputing I’ve been meaning to get to too…

I am gonna make it through this year

By tradition, every January 1st I listen to The Mountain Goats’ This Year. The chorus is, simply:

I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me.

This year, I came a little closer to that “if” than I usually do. But here I am, crashing and kicking, making it through this year. Let’s make it a good one.