Whether I’m organizing things or just trying to figure out when something started or how long it may last, I tend to use either a year (in case I need to look it up in a diary) or, if I can’t be specific, before or after an event in my life. For instance, I’m not sure of my sofa’s exact age, but I know that my mother sewed the blue velvet armrests for it. She gave up sewing when her last illness began in 1998. (Hang in there, sofa!) So that gives me a specific enough time period, late last century but before ’98.
The past two years have been littered with milestones for me, good and bad. Two of the more specific milestones are my father’s death in March 2019 and the novel coronavirus and its shelter-in-place order, which began just after the anniversary of Dad’s death. So these two years and things that I have done or acquired will be easy to label, I catch myself thinking — before or after Dad’s death and, if after, before or after… what?
This time in our lives may wind up with as many names as the dog in the picture — terrier, Jack Russell, Parson Russell, or just dog.
I won’t use the phrase I hear in so many radio ads, “this challenging time.” That’s not enough difference with last year (or many other periods in anyone’s life).
“This mess” appeals… but again, it may not be specific enough!
Sometimes I catch myself thinking of “before the virus.” But I’ve caught other viruses in my life (not COVID-19, I’m glad to say), and one laid me (un)fairly low back in 1988. For many years, I thought of that time as The Virus, with the same capital-letter voice that my parents used for The War. I’m glad that’s gone, and although I think of some things as “closed due to the virus,” I don’t confuse them with 1988.
“The Shutdown” works well — again, with that capital Seriousness that appeals, although The Shutdown as an event (or series) doesn’t.
Before Corona or During Corona seem to fit, but they sound like fighting the virus itself, like “what I like to do to feel better when I have the flu.” (I know, I know, it’s worse than flu — that’s just my comparison.) After Corona sounds a bit like drinking beer, anyway, which I don’t.
I was reading the news then about China, but I didn’t see all of this coming. Hmm, “all of this.” Nah, it is as un-specific as “this mess.”
I think I’ll go with “before the virus shutdowns” with matching “during” and (oh, pleeeease) “after” expressions. Feel free to debate in the comments.
Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.
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