This is going to take a while to come back from…

My (personal) new normal: very dark humor, insomnia, bouts of mania, bouts of depression, and a feeling in my chest that simultaneously feels like exploding and imploding. The problem is that this feels normal now. It’s not normal, and shouldn’t be, but I’m not sure how to not feel this way anymore. What happens when this, all of this, goes back to some semblance of how it was pre-pandemic? Internalizing the level of anxiety coursing through my body on a second-to-second basis is burning me to a husk from the inside out.

A Plan for a New Normal?

A symbol of the new normal. Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

Maybe if there were some plan, some roadmap for how things will start “going back to normal,” it would be easier to digest and cope. The issue though, it doesn’t feel like there is any plan, anywhere, even after the months that officials have known this was coming. Governments, businesses, sports, everything just seems to be kind of…waiting.

I don’t think it’s bad to wait. Waiting is actually crucial. An important fact a really large group of people seem to be forgetting or ignoring is that successful pandemic management is boring. When social distancing, quarantining, and testing are working it seems like nothing is happening. If you’re bored now, that’s a good thing. Embrace the boredom, find new hobbies and interests, try to avoid literally dying. No one has a plan yet to go forward, we need to enjoy the present as best as we all can.

A New Normal for Sports?

Forget sports figuring this out. The NBA postponing their season may have been the harbinger for pandemic in the U.S., but all sports since then seem lost. The best option for moving any kind of competition or sport forward right now seems to be the creation of an evil villain’s private island tournament of fighters. While “Dana White’s Bloodsport” does sound both entertaining and like the plot of the next Sylvester Stallone film, the reality of it translating to anything beyond UFC is laughable.

In slightly less dictatoresque maneuvers, the WWE’s Vince McMahon (newly minted member of the government’s advisory group to help the U.S. open itself back up) is trying to keep people entertained in creative ways. Most states have bans for large public gatherings, essentially eliminating any large venues for Vince to use. Like usual, Vince has carried on undeterred and found a way to have wrestling push through the pandemic.

In what will be either unmitigated disasters, or the greatest “Money in the Bank” matches ever, the wrestlers the WWE has left will literally be fighting throughout corporate headquarters in Stamford, CT. The wrestlers will start at the ground floor of the building and “climb the corporate ladder” to win the match. The wrestlers will fight their way up to the roof to be the first to get a briefcase with a guaranteed championship match contract. All of what I just wrote is true, you didn’t just slip into a fever dream. The WWE wrestlers will be using their corporate headquarters to hold a pay-per-view event. This is the crazy world we live in now.

A New Normal for Human Behavior?

The new normal, you too can be a toilet paper kingpin. Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Speaking of crazy; the ruthless, horrible human behavior displayed in the early days of the pandemic seem to have gotten enough backlash to subside a bit. Hoarders losing thousands of dollars in supplies also helps set a good example for all of the other morons looking to exploit a disaster. As a general practice, just about everyone needs to display greater understanding. Being “understanding” of people exploiting others isn’t part of that though. For now, people need to reach out to help literally anyone in need, because there are a lot.

COVID has taken tens of thousands of lives indiscriminately. It does not care about a person’s wealth, their actions, who they know or what power they have. Somehow despite all of the death and human tragedy occurring around them, being bored has become some people’s greatest plight. They don’t have their sports, and other entertainment is starting to run thin. Someone’s got to pay. Successful pandemic management is far too boring for them. It should be obvious, but no one should want to see an eventful pandemic.

Stay home, stop storming state capitals en masse. If not, I hope those people all agree to sign waivers saying they’ll quarantine after massaging their own egos. Not a single person who attended those events should seek medical treatment if they get sick. Same thing with their family members they willingly exposed. If healthcare workers like my wife get put at greater risk because Billy Buckshot can’t entertain himself for longer than my two year old, then Billy really doesn’t deserve treatment. That offend you? I don’t give as fuck frankly. I would like life, and sports, to come back at some point please.

A Terrifying Display of Narcissistic Zombies

Watching a bunch of grown adults unable to control their boredom enough to not endanger the population as a whole is one of the most pathetic displays of a lack of self-discipline and mental fortitude I’ve ever seen. Please, though, put my at-risk mother-in-law in more danger so you can go to the beach. Sit on your couch and watch TV dipshit. I know there are no sports, find something else to watch and stay in so sports can come back!

Caucasian zombies, spawned from boredom and self-loathing, storm the Ohio Statehouse to demand their rights to haircuts and paying people menial wages to do the physical labor they don’t want to do. This cannot be a new normal for the U.S.

If any of my family were the living, Caucasian zombies pounding on the glass in the Ohio capitol pictures I would be mortified. I guarantee you that picture will be in history “books” in whatever form they take in the future. Those people’s great great grandchildren will have to explain the image to their friends. They’ll have to explain why their family members were self-righteous maniacs who chose to endanger countless scores of their community so they could alleviate their boredom and fight for haircuts.

A Bad Plan Forward

Images of Dr Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor and whistle-blower for coronavirus in China displayed at Hosier Lane in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Adli Wahid on Unsplash

Some states have already moved forward without any plan at all despite basically every warning and piece of guidance for re-opening (looking at you Florida California, you’re creeping in there). I would like to go to Disney again at some point in my thirties, stay home! Yes, I’m aware of the irony of the previous statement. I want to go to the ESPN Bar at Disney’s Boardwalk on a Florida vacation. I want Mickey Mouse to tell me what bus stop to get my buzzed ass off the bus. Here’s the thing though, I can wait for that.

The Hardest Thing to Normalize – Collective Over Self

The bigger picture, the collective, the necessary focus of the new normal. Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

A new normal for everyone needs to be for all of us to have a lot more patience. There’s one thing for sure this pandemic has shown us as a country. We are not patient; not with each other and not with a serious situation. Patience brings learning and understanding and there isn’t much of that going on right now. That will need to need to change if we ever hope to find and settle into whatever a new normal will be.

Looking ahead, the only way forward is as a collective. For a people who are individual to a fault, that is the hardest pill to swallow; there are times when our individual freedoms are put aside for the better of the country. For our grandfathers, and some of our fathers, that was giving up their proms, graduations, jobs and families to pick up guns and put their lives on the line. We’re being asked to watch more Netflix and cut back our shopping for a while. Just let that sink in.

Thank you for reading, hopefully a new normal for me will include getting back to more articles per week. In the meantime, please check out Belly Up Sports for all of your entertainment and sports. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with all of my latest work. Stay safe.

About Author

Mike Parent

Former English teacher, Associate Director of Quality Assurance by day, Writer by night, and Dad to my two boys. I love the Celtics, the NBA as a whole, all the New England teams (I'm a homer), the WWE, skiing, the Olympics, gaming, Star Wars, Sci-Fi and many other nerdy things.

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