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Exactly a year ago, I did a round of panic grocery shopping in which I bought a box of Lipton Noodle Soup packets, which I secretly love. I unexpectedly brought things full circle when I reached for the last remaining packet this week as I was briefly sidelined with fatigue and aches after getting my second Moderna shot (which I received through volunteering with Sharp, a delightful experience I recommend).
Fans of the VOSD Podcast know that things got very real while we were recording what had originally been scheduled as a live podcast where we planned to dissect the primary election results. We sheepishly canceled that event, almost certain we were overreacting.
Instead, we recorded it in our studio, where we were shut in a small room together, spewing aerosols. Thinking about that is as insane as this picture of all of San Diego County’s important officials standing inches apart even as they transmit information about the spread of the virus. Even the county’s public health officer is in this photo, maskless, flanking her colleagues. That’s not a dunk on anyone, just a reflection of how little we knew in those moments.
It truly felt like the whole world changed in those minutes we recorded the podcast. We emerged to notifications that the NBA season had been canceled in its entirety, and that Tom Hanks had tested positive for the virus. Buzzfeed looked back at those developments in an oral history this week, and described those few hours as “the day COVID swallowed everything.”
I don’t have anything very profound to say about what this insane year has wrought. It’s been very, very, very hard and I’ve also been very, very, very lucky. That latter part is true, but the fact that I feel compelled to acknowledge it – and the fact that I, like many others, am incredibly nervous about having revealed I got vaccinated – speaks to the weird culture of judgment and shaming the pandemic ushered in.
That’s one thing I hope disappears as normal life resumes. But the ability to make a truly epic sandwich in my kitchen as I work from home, and restaurants being allowed to sell to-go margaritas? Those can stay.
What VOSD Learned This Week
Quite a week for education coverage: Kayla Jimenez exhaustively documented the sexual abuse and harassment cases during San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten’s tenure, and spelled out why the district’s handling of those cases has made some uncomfortable with her nomination for a job in the federal government.
Meanwhile, district officials including Marten apparently knew for quite some time that one community member’s allegations of misspending at Lincoln High School were true, but they still took steps to discredit him. Some of that money appears to have involved federal funds.
And at the higher education level, many college students are still paying fees for buildings and facilities they’re not allowed to use in the pandemic.
Police enforcement against the homeless doesn’t appear to be going down under Mayor Todd Gloria so far, but homeless camps are growing. We discussed the city’s addiction to consultants and task forces to address homelessness on this week’s podcast.
What I’m Reading
- The past year illuminated the extent to which our approach to care work is fundamentally broken. But there’s also hope on the horizon. (New Republic)
- This reflection on our year of loss interrogates our obsession with statistics and encourages us to think about loss in much more textured ways. (Gen)
- This essay makes a compelling case that California should find a way to honor the migrants who’ve died trying to find a better life here.
- No one could have chronicled and articulated Andrew Cuomo’s brand of brute leadership better than Rebecca Traister does here. (New York Magazine)
Line of the Week
“Many schools for the richest American kids have gates and security guards; the message is ‘you are precious to us.’ Many schools for the poorest kids have metal detectors and police officers; the message is ‘you are a threat to us.’” – This piece on private schools truly lays bare some of the darkest inequalities we’ve allowed to persist.