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#COVIDCatLady, Day 768

OK, here we go again. There are a few hundred cases in Shanghai and the city is on lockdown lite. Or as I like to call it, rolling lockdown. I'm currently on hour 23 of a 48-hour stay-at-home order, and got tested for COVID last night at 11:30pm (for free, by the way). It reminded me of trash pick-up time in Taipei, where the neighbors gather in pj's.

Life has been mostly “normal” in Shanghai since March 2020. For the first time since March 2020, schools are back to online learning, most companies are back to working from home, entertainment venues are temporarily closed, and restaurants are take-out and delivery only.

March 26 of 2020, I had my birthday dinner with a group of friends, all adjusting to post-lockdown exposure anxiety, while my friends around the world started asking me: How long is this going to last? I had no good answer. But my wildest guess would not have been "at least two full years."

This round of pandemic inconveniences in Shanghai has been frustrating and a bit anxiety-inducing, but after 2 years of near normalcy, I honestly can't complain.

While the world was on lockdown and the death toll climbed, I was able to go to concerts, have big group dinners, and travel, albeit only domestically, and occasionally needed a covid test. I refrained from posting outings and gatherings on facebook and instagram, honestly fearing that friends outside of China would consider us reckless.

I never once worried about me or my mother or any of my friends here getting sick (not one of us did), though we all fret about the annoyance of covid testing before domestic trips, and/or struggled with homesickness and depression as borders remained closed, year after year, and trips home seemed near impossible.

Two years ago, I thought this pandemic would be the one unifying experience for humankind. "Remember lockdown? Yeah me, too!, I'm so glad we can go to concerts now!" I thought for once, I was experiencing something that my friends around the world will find familiar. A shared human experience. I never could have imagined how politicized (and racialized) this pandemic would become.

The fatigue is real. I'm tired of closed borders, but I'm even more tired of people bickering over what measures are right, which policies are stupid, and how everyone is doing this pandemic all wrong. How China is too strict and the U.S. is too reckless. What Denmark did right and where Norway f-ed up. It's a pandemic. There's no perfect solution. No one has the right answer and fewer of us have options. We're just all doing our best, y'all.

On a more personal note, I’ve been DESPERATELY waiting for borders to reopen so I can make a trip home without having to spend a whole month in sad hotels eating quarantine meals. Taiwan has gone from 14-day hotel quarantine to 10 days at home (I’d have to kick my mother out of her own apartment for those 10 days, but she’s a good sport). The tricky part is the return trip to Shanghai. It’s now effectively 14 days in-hotel and 7 more days at home. The cost of flights (and likely cancellations), hotel stay, pet-sitting, testing… Grrrr.


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