The #1 Lesson I Learned from COVID

Hello, friends!

So I don’t like to say mean or hurtful things, not about anyone nor anything.  But at this point, after everything we’ve all been through in the past year or so, I can’t help myself.  This message needs to be heard:

It’s been almost a week now that I’ve been fully immunized against COVID-19.  For those of you who may be curious, I got the Modern vaccine.

I’m hesitant to say that the pandemic is winding down or that COVID is going away.  But I do feel like COVID will be less of a threat going forward, and we can safely (or semi-safely) start getting back to our old lives.  With that in mind, I think this is a good time to reflect on some of the lessons learned during the pandemic.

For me personally, the #1 lesson I learned is that I’m not as much of an introvert as I thought.  For most of my life, I’ve felt happiest when I’m alone and loneliest when I’m in a crowd.  Social interactions—even with people I like—tend to leave me feeling drained.  And that’s pretty much the textbook definition of introversion.

So when the pandemic started, I was secretly thrilled.  Social distancing sounded like a dream come true.  I thought I was going to write all the things, and draw all the things, and read all the books, and build all the Lego sets.  But being totally isolated from the rest of humanity—turns out that, for me, was a pretty draining experience, too.  Being alone all the time is almost as draining as being at a crowded and noisy party with a bunch of highly judgmental people.

Now that I’m fully immunized, and as more and more people are joining the fully immunized club, I am just so gosh darn eager to talk to somebody—anybody!  For the first time in my life, I’m acting almost like an extrovert. Yes, I do want to talk about the weather and the local sports team!  Yes, please do tell me how your kids are holding up!  And your opinions about politics?  Actually, no.  I still don’t want to have that conversation, thanks.

Maybe this is a temporary thing.  In fact, I’m sure it’s a temporary thing and that my introverted ways will gradually start to reassert themselves.  But still, a lesson was learned.  I’m not as much of an introvert as I thought, and maybe a little social activity is good for me after all.

What lessons did you learn from the pandemic?

I am COVID-Negative!

Hello, friends!

I wanted to give you a quick update: I got the results of my COVID test yesterday.  According to my healthcare providers, I am COVID-negative!!!  So it seems that, shortly after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, I coincidentally caught the flu, or a bad cold, or something like that.

Anyway, I have a lot of catching up to do out in the real world, now that I’m allowed to leave quarantine.  This is going to be a busy week, and I don’t expect to have much time for blogging.  Therefore, my plan is to resume my regular blogging schedule on Monday.  And I really, really hope you will tune in for Monday’s post.

You see, being in quarantine for two weeks, and being sick for most of that time, gave me a lot of time to think about life and about writing—and about blogging, too.  Some new ideas are percolating, and some changes may be coming to this blog.  I’ll explain what I mean on Monday, and I may have some questions for you, dear readers, about what you want to see on this blog going forward.

#IWSG: Writing with COVID

Hello, friends!  Welcome to this month’s meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!  If you’re a writer, and if you feel in any way insecure about your writing life, click here to learn more about this amazingly supportive group!

They say write what you know.  Sometimes writers follow that advice without intending to.  There’s a recurring theme in my writing.  I never noticed it was there until my editor pointed it out.  That theme is illness.

In the epic, sprawling Sci-Fi universe I’m creating for Tomorrow News Network, a lot of people get sick.  There are lots of space viruses and space parasites floating around out there, some of them natural, others manmade (or rather, alien-made).  I also tend to use disease as a metaphor for other things.  When my editor pointed this out to me, my reaction was basically: “Oh, that makes sense.”

It’s become something of a running joke among my circle of friends.  If there’s a big, scary disease in the news, James will probably catch it.  I’ve had tuberculosis.  I’ve had West Nile virus.  I’ve had swine flu.  To be honest, I’m surprised that I managed to dodge COVID-19 for as long as I have.

But last week, I found out that I’d been exposed to somebody who later tested positive for COVID.  Shortly thereafter, I started experiencing COVID-like symptoms.  I’m currently quarantined at home, waiting patiently for the results of my COVID test.

Needless to say: not a lot of writing is happening right now.  Not a lot of anything is happening, except sleeping, chicken soup eating, and binge watching Carl Sagan videos on YouTube.  But my muse assures me she will return as soon as I’m feeling better, and we’ll probably have another scary space plague to add to our epic Sci-Fi universe.

Sciency Words: Covidiot

Hello, friends, and welcome to Sciency Words!  Sciency Words is a special series here on Planet Pailly where we take a closer look at science or science-related terminology.  Today’s Sciency Word is:


As you might imagine based on this Sciency Words series, as well as other things I’ve written, I love language.  I enjoy learning about why language works, why it sometimes does not work, and all the processes by which language changes over time.

One of my favorite linguists is Anne Curzan of the University of Michigan.  She’s written books and articles about language.  She hosts a radio show about language, and she’s a member of the American Heritage Dictionary’s usage panel.  She did a wonderful TED Talk called “What Makes a Word ‘Real’?” and her Great Courses series “The Secret Life of Words” is one of my favorite things to listen to on long drives.

Curzan often talks about how people like to play with language.  Some might dismiss such playfulness as slang, but really it’s a natural aspect of language usage.  And so when a friend recently introduced me to the word “covidiot,” I immediately thought of the things Curzan has said.  Here are people being playful with a scientific term, and I love that!

Now normally in these Sciency Words posts, I’d tell you the definition and etymology of the term we’re talking about.  I don’t think that’s necessary in this case.  It’s pretty obvious what “covidiot” means and where the word came from.  The only thing I want to say about covidiots is this: please don’t be one.

Next time on Planet Pailly, I’ll have a very strange weather forecast for you.