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Coronavirus, hurricanes, riots, everything closed, social distancing, and a presidential election. Even the murder hornets that were supposed to arrive in the United States to add to the tumult said, “Forget it. It’s all too crazy for me.”

People will believe what they want to believe

 "I’ve written a lot about the Spanish Flu over the years, and people have asked me to compare the two ..."

Let’s not mince words: 2020 sucked.

Coronavirus, hurricanes, riots, everything closed, social distancing, and a presidential election. Even the murder hornets that were supposed to arrive in the United States to add to the tumult said, “Forget it. It’s all too crazy for me.”

This year didn’t start out looking like a nightmare. In fact, in January, it looked pretty good. I was projecting strong growth in business, and my wife and I were planning on celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary.

At the beginning of the year, we booked a wonderful Alaska vacation. Our room on the cruise ship had a balcony so we could look out over the gorgeous scenery of the Alaskan Inside Passage. Then COVID-19 hit, and, not surprisingly, the cruise and associated land trips were canceled. Amy and I will re-book the trip in the future, but it won’t be a big anniversary trip. 

The biggest change I have had to deal with this year was in my work. I sell books at festivals, an average of three out of four weekends a month. I also have about two presentations a month where I speak before various groups and sell my books. This year, I participated in a festival in early March, and then I had nothing until September. For a while in March and April, it felt like organizers were cancelling an event every day. It was depressing, frustrating, and worrisome.

This mess forced me to take a new look at how I worked. I am trying to develop more digital know-how to sell my e-books. I am working with another author whose sales were barely interrupted by the virus because he sells a couple thousand e-books each month. I am trying to learn how he does what he does. 

Our son graduated high school this year. His last three months of school were all virtual. Not only did he have senioritis, remote learning made it worse. He had very little interactions with his classmates and teachers, and his grades suffered.  His graduation was drive-thru. Cars wound through a long path with teachers cheering and holding signs in support for the graduates. We pulled up to the podium at the front of the school. My son jumped out, walked up to the podium, shook the superintendent’s hand, received his diploma, and posed for a picture. Then he got back in the car, and we drove home.

Luckily, my family hasn’t been hit with the coronavirus. However, my mother lives alone, so she was feeling pretty isolated through all this. She couldn’t go out, and my sister and I had to be careful about visiting her.

I work at home, and I am used to the isolation. However, even I felt it a little more when I couldn’t take a break and go to the library or a restaurant.    I think I made much more of an effort to get outside and walk and bicycle this summer. It became more important to me.

I have also learned this year that people will believe what they want to believe, even if it contradicts not only science and facts but other beliefs they might hold.

I’ve written a lot about the Spanish Flu over the years, and people have asked me to compare the two.   For it to be comparable, 2.2 million Americans would need to die from the virus in less than a year. Yes, people wore masks, but it was for a couple months only. Yes, businesses were shut down, but it was more from the fact that people were too sick to go out. That was that people were sick. It wasn’t a disease where 40 percent were asymptomatic. One “good thing” that came from 2020 is that it brought my novel about the Spanish Flu in Allegany County new life. October Mourning sales skyrocketed.

I am still getting cancellations for events. Nothing in 2021 has been cancelled yet, so I am hoping to start off the New Year with a clean slate.

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