D. None of the above

Pexel photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

What do we do when we meet someone new in 2021 IRL, or, to the 12 uninitiated readers, “in real life?”

Well, for starters, we can’t and shouldn’t shake hands. That ritual is probably long gone. Maybe the Japanese were right with bowing. If handshakes are out, hugs, even for those we might have been speaking to for months during the isolated pandemic, are absolutely forbidden.

If we can’t hug grandma, grandpa and other relatives we’ve known most or all of our lives, we certainly can’t hug, even casually, someone new.

Ideally, we’d stand somewhere between six and 60 feet away from them, especially if we’re inside. That could be problematic for people who can’t hear all that well and who don’t have the benefit of reading anyone’s lips anymore. 

In fact, I’m thinking of going into the business of selling those Mission Impossible voice changers. If you’ve seen the movies, you know that the Tom Cruise teams can change their voices to sound like everyone else. Most of us who have heard our own voices on voicemail would like a few moments to sound more like James Earl Jones or Scarlett Johansson. Maybe we like our own voice, but we’d prefer to have a British, Australian or New Zealand accent. We could change our accents, the way we change the navigational voice on Siri and ask people if they know where we’re pretending we were raised.

Now, what we discuss is a bit tricky in the hypersensitive, polarized world of 2021. Someone who’s walking a dog most likely would be happy to talk about their four-footed companion. 

I’ve been surprised by the type of questions and information people seek when they talk about my dog. People have asked not only how old he is, but also how much he weighs, as if dogs around his size are in some kind of modeling contest. Fortunately, my dog doesn’t seem particularly concerned about his weight, as he demonstrates regularly with a feverish appetite for everything from broccoli to french fries to cat vomit. Yes, he eats cat vomit, which means that if I cook something he won’t eat, he thinks it tastes worse than cat vomit, a notion that delights my teenage children.

Now, if you’re thinking about politics, you probably should keep that to yourself. Unless someone is wearing a MAGA hat or has some version of Dump Trump on a T-shirt, it’s tough to know where they stand on the plate tectonic sized political divide.

We can talk about sports, but we run the risk of someone telling us how irrelevant sports is in the modern world during a pandemic or how they wish they could return to the age when sports mattered.

Children seem like fair game, although we have to watch out for many age-related minefields. 

My son, for example, is a senior in high school. Some parents are happy to tell you all the colleges that accepted and rejected their children, while others are content to share what city or even what coast intrigues their progeny, as in, “yes, my son has only applied to schools on the East Coast or in states with fewer than seven letters” (there are nine states in that category, by the way).

So, where does that leave us in the strange world where we’re all putting on masks before we go into a bank (imagine taking a time machine from 1999 and seeing those entering a bank without masks getting into trouble?) Well, the weather is often safe, as are dogs, the disruption the pandemic caused and, generally speaking, children.

Photo from Pixabay

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

For my family and me, the pandemic-triggered life change started almost exactly 10 months ago, on March 13. How different is the life we lead now from the one we led way back in March? Comparing answers to the same questions then and now can offer a perspective on the time that’s passed and our current position.

Question: What do we do?

March 2020: Shut businesses down, encourage people to stay home and track everything. Talk about where we are “on the curve” and hope that we can “flatten the curve” and reach the other side, allowing us to return to the lives and habits we used to know.

January 2021: Try to keep infection rates down and take measured chances in public places, while hoping officials allow schools, restaurants and other businesses to remain open.

Question: What do we eat?

March 2020: Pick up take out food whenever we can. Go to the grocery store and cook. Baking rapidly became a release and relief for parents and children, who enjoyed the sweet smell of the house and the familiar, reassuring and restorative taste of cookies and cakes.

January 2021: In some places, we can eat indoors. Many people still order take out or cook their own food.

Question: What do we do with our children?

March 2020: Overburdened parents, who are conducting zoom calls, conference calls and staring for hours at computer screens, face the reality of needing to educate their children in subjects they either forgot or never learned.

January 2021: Many students continue to go to school, even as the threat of closing, particularly in hot spots, continues.

Question: What do we do for exercise?

March 2020: People take to the streets, order exercise equipment or circle the inside or outside of their house countless times, hoping to break free from their blinking, beeping and demanding electronic devices.

January 2021: Gyms have reopened, with some people heading to fitness centers and others continuing their own version of counting the number of times they’ve circled the neighborhood, with and without their dogs.

Question: What can we do about work?

March 2020: Many businesses close, asking employees to work from home.

January 2021: Many businesses are trying to stay open, even as others have continued to ask their employees to work from home, where they can talk on computer screens in mismatched outfits, with nice blouses and shirts on top and gym shorts or pajamas.

Question: What can we plan for?

March 2020: We cancel weddings, parties, family gatherings and all manner of events that involve crowds.

January 2021: We have learned not to make plans that are set in stone, because the calendar has become stone intolerant. We make plans and contingency plans.

Question: What do we do for entertainment?

March 2020: We secretly binge watch TV shows, although we don’t share our indulgences.

January 2021: After we ask how everyone is doing, we regularly interject questions about the latest TV shows or movies.

Question: What do we notice in the supermarkets?

March 2020: Toilet paper and paper towels are hard to find.

January 2021: Toilet paper and paper towels are generally available, but we may only be allowed to buy two packages. The cost of paper goods and other items seems to have risen.

Question: Do we let our children play sports?

March 2020: Almost every league in every sport shut down, following the lead of professional teams.

January 2021: Youth leagues have restarted.

Question: What’s a cause for optimism?

March 2020: We believe in flattening the curve.

January 2021: The vaccine offers hope for a return to a life we used to know.

Photo from Pixabay
Daniel Dunaief

I have brought three fictional characters in to discuss their thoughts for 2021. Please welcome Yoda from the “Star Wars” series, Jack Ryan from Tom Clancy books, and Jane Craig from the film “Broadcast News.” I will call you all by your first names. Well, except for you, Yoda.

TBR: After such a tumultuous 2020, I wanted to ask you what you all thought would likely happen next year.

Yoda: Tough to say, the future is. If the answers you don’t like, the questions you must change.

Jack: Look, I’m not sure what we’re doing here, but I think the vaccine offers real hope for change. Your world, such as it is, should be able to move in the right direction.

Jane: The trends at this point are horrific. You have enormous numbers of positive tests each day, hospitalizations are up and the number of dead continues to rise.

TBR: Yoda, you’re kind of off point and sound like a backwards fortune cookie. Jack, I appreciate the optimism and Jane, I think you’re focusing on the negatives.

Jane: We can’t preclude the possibility that the positive infections will continue to climb for months. While it’d be swell to have a big party to celebrate the vaccine and the return to whatever version of normal each of us has, it’s important that we protect ourselves and our families.

Jack: She’s right. Everyone doesn’t have the vaccine and everyone hasn’t taken it, which means we won’t reach herd immunity for a while. While this is killing the entertainment industry, among so many others, it’s necessary for us to sit tight for a while. At the same time, we need to consider the possibility that other governments will become opportunistic about this messy transition at the White House. We need to protect ourselves and remain vigilant. This is a dangerous time, in so many ways, and we need to analyze all kinds of traffic.

Yoda: Know something about vigilance, do I. Messy, this world has become. Goodness, hope and optimism, there remains. Effort to get there will it take.

TBR: Jane, this question, in particular, seems right up your alley. What do you think about the news business in 2021?

Jane: I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been a tough year for everyone, particularly in the news business. We are not the enemy. When we do our jobs well, people get to hear the truth. They can make informed decisions that affect their lives. Are there problems? Of course, but that doesn’t make the entire industry corrupt, any more than it would in any other business.

Yoda: Inside each of us, the enemy resides. Confront it, we must.

Jack: I’ve dealt with journalists all the time. They are a competitive group, I’ll give them that, but they are necessary to shine light, at the right time, on everything from the fight against the virus to the battle against corrupt governments.

TBR: Do you think we’ve learned any lessons from 2020?

Jack: It’s been a brutal year and so many people have lost so much. The numbers don’t tell the entire story. We can only live with what we know: we can protect ourselves and our family through policies that have nothing to do with politics. Careful analysis and science brought us the vaccines. We need to make informed decisions about using them.

Jane: Exactly my point, Jack. We can and should make informed decisions, which the media, at its best, can support.

Yoda: Mistakes, everyone makes. Opportunities to learn, we have. Family and those fortunate enough to share life with us, we must cherish.

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

What if James Bond had to wear a mask? What would it look like and would it become a fashion accessory and a multi-functional gadget at the same time?

It could be all black to match his dapper tuxedo. If he ever wore a bow tie that was a different color, he could coordinate the two items to keep the visual integrity of the ensemble.

Then again, maybe it’d be pink with a small ribbon, to show that he’s finally caught up to the times and, after all those years of leading ladies who fall in love with him at their own peril, he sees an opportunity to show his appreciation for women and the fight against breast cancer.

Maybe the mask would have a bright light built into it. He could use the light to interrogate someone, to shine it in someone’s eyes who was about to shoot him or to distract a vicious dog or lion that was about to eat him, but who followed the light around the room instead. He could also use the light in dark tunnels or underneath pyramids.

A problem with masks, even the ones we change each day, is that they don’t change what our faces do beneath them. It’s hard to sense the difference between a hidden smile and a smirk.

Remember those mood rings, which changed color depending on how we were feeling? A modern Bond could have a mood mask.

A James Bond mask wouldn’t simply be colorful. It would also be a communicator, akin to Maxwell Smart’s shoe in “Get Smart.” By tilting his head once to the right, Bond could speak with M or Q or any other one-letter person or, perhaps, another 00 like him, who would be able to speak with him through their mask. Tilting his head twice to the right would hang up the phone. He could dial by touching his tongue to a keypad in his mask.

By tilting his head to the left once, Bond could order a vodka martini, shaken not stirred, from the nearest bar.

In fact, keeping up with modern times, maybe Bond wouldn’t need to speak at all, but the mask could pick the ideas in his head, like, “hey, that woman over there looks intelligent. I can’t wait to speak with her about her hopes and aspirations. After we get to know each other well, we can establish a trusting relationship and then blow stuff up, kill some bad people, save the world and then spend some time undercover, if you know what I mean.”

A James Bond mask would also be the modern version of his all-purpose watch. Contoured to his face, he could whistle, causing the mask to break glass by releasing a supersonic sound. It could also shoot out a lifesaving dart or even provide oxygen for him if he were trapped underwater by a bad guy who didn’t realize that you can’t drown Bond while he’s wearing his mask.

Given the physical demands of the job, the mask would also come with a built-in coolant. Instead of sweating into the mask, the mask would be made of a dry-fit material while, on cue, it would release a comfortable and sweet-smelling coolant that would also cover up his bad breath.

Maybe he’d have a mask that played the theme song from his movies. Each time he bit down, he could sway and swagger to the familiar and engaging theme, annoying the evildoers with a song that almost always signals a Bond victory.

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

My wife wanted to get out of the house and move beyond the daily walk in our neighborhood for her birthday. We decided to take our teenage children to the zoo.

Back when our son and daughter were younger, a trip to the zoo was a cause for celebration, as they got to see animals from all over the world, watch various shows, spend about four seconds reading an interesting fact about their favorite creature, and continue to hop, skip and jump from one exhibit to the next.

These days, their thumbs do most of the hopping, skipping and jumping. Given the importance of birthdays in our house and the willingness to do whatever the birthday celebrant desires, our teenagers gamely climbed into the car.

As with most zoos this year, we had to preregister for tickets. Indeed, the Bronx Zoo requires visitors to use a date-specific ticket.

The experience of entering the zoo was remarkably quick and smooth, saving us the customary wait.

Zoos require guests to remain socially distanced and to wear masks. All but about eight of the other visitors we saw wore masks.

Most of the time, other guests also maintained social distancing, taking their turns to the glass to look at gorillas and apes, who didn’t seem at all curious about the appearance of people whose lips and noses disappeared behind masks.

While we circumnavigated the walking trail, all four of us reveled in the appearance of numerous animals, including an enormous bison and a swaying elephant.

It seemed slightly unfair to the ostrich, who is over nine feet tall and is the largest bird in the world, to share a pen with the 20-foot giraffe, which dwarfs a bird that also has the largest eye of any bird in the world.

Something about seeing all these animals, including a lemur resting in a tree, an arctic fox and a pair of lions, restored a sense of normalcy in an abnormal year. It was also comforting to hear the excitement from other people who all expressed similar sentiments in several languages when the giraffe started to run.

On our first trip out around the zoo, we stopped at three bear exhibits in which the celebrated occupants were either not there or hidden. Once we had circled the zoo and headed back towards the car, my wife played her birthday privilege, urging us to take one more look at the black bear, the grizzly bear, and the polar bear.

The first two bears remained out of view on our way back to the car. Standing alone along the railing at almost exactly 4 p.m., which was closing time, we saw the polar bear slowly emerge, then retreat, then emerge from a darkened den. We suspected he might have a keen sense of time and know when it as safe to come out and avoid  larger crowds.

He or she (we didn’t read anything about the bear’s gender) played with a toy that looked like the top of a garbage can and then reached up to a ledge to pull down a bone with some meat on it. After giving us an eight-minute private show, the polar bear took his bone and, as if on cue, exited stage right.

While the zoo might not be at the top of your list or top of mind, particularly during the winter, it offers a pleasant chance to get away from our own 2020 pens. The Bronx Zoo has a know before you go page, which you can see by searching Know Before You Go — Bronx Zoo, with details about visiting this year.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

My five-year-old neighbor Jack keeps me and his parents on our toes, and for that, I am grateful.

In this strange and challenging year, Jack offers a refreshing, clear-eyed and honest assessment of everything he sees. He speaks directly, asks questions and expects people to treat him the way his kind, caring and supportive parents do.

During the spring, at the start of longer walks around the neighborhood with my dog, I started the pattern of wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts during cooler weather. After all, with nowhere else to go, I didn’t feel compelled to put on a collared shirt, to change my outerwear or to put on my dress shoes. Speaking of which, I don’t think I’ve even looked for my shoes in months. The search for those shoes, and the black socks at the bottom of a drawer somewhere, will be a welcome return to a more normal routine some day.

Anyway, back in the first stages of an endless homebound existence, Jack saw me one morning, greeted my dog , who is 30 pounds heavier than he, and asked me one of the many five-year-old questions that he shares.

“Why are you wearing the same clothes as yesterday?” he asked, as if I were somehow on a walk of shame after an evening that stretched into morning in a college dorm.

“Oh, honey, he’s just wearing the same sweatshirt as yesterday. You do that, too,” his mother gently offered.

Then again, Jack was right. I was wearing the same sweatshirt and sweatpants.

Later, when a nephew who tested negative for the virus came to visit and took a walk with me, Jack listened to his mother chat with us. As we were walking away, Jack watched my nephew and me head to my house.

“Dan,” he shouted, “Don’t forget about six feet.”

Again, Jack was right. Comfortable as I was, even outside with my nephew, Jack learned the rules and was encouraging me to follow them.

Recently, Jack delved into the minefield of politics. Without any hesitation, he asked my wife and daughter about their votes for the presidential election.

His mother, once again, tried to provide a filter, suggesting that such a conversation might not be necessary or comfortable.

Our daughter, who has had extensive experience babysitting children of all ages, had no trouble answering the question in a way that wouldn’t upset Jack, regardless of his or, more likely, his parents’ thoughts on the subject.

Cliche as it seems, it occurred to me, listening to my wife recount this conversation, that Jack, and the need to meet his earnestness and honesty, offered a reminder about public discourse.

Five-year-olds may not know everything, but they know when an adult is being condescending or is belittling them. They need the same kind of honesty they give.

At the same time, they need answers that don’t insult them. Even if they, or their parents, have different views, they need to know that others respect them.

Therein, it occurred to me, lies the lesson. We don’t need to avoid conversations with each other about topics on which we disagree. We are guaranteed the freedom to disagree with everyone, from our siblings, to our parents, to the president.

We also might do well to think of others who are speaking to us as Jack. We don’t need to picture others as five-year-olds. We can, and will, engage in more satisfying discourse if we follow some of the same principles when speaking with anyone. With so many challenges ahead, we will accomplish more together, and respectfully, than if we take each other down.

Photo courtesy of Pixaby

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Hello and welcome to the first and hopefully last Zoom Thanksgiving. Hey, hold on, I can see that you’ve muted yourself in Box 6 over there, Uncle Mary. Yes, I know I said Uncle Mary because I’m reading the name on your screen. Did you think that was funny? What are you saying that I can’t hear?

OK, so we’re going to forego the usual list of what we’re thankful for because it’s 2020 and we’re not together, and I promised the kids they wouldn’t have to talk to such a large group of faces who are all
looking in the wrong direction.

Seriously, what’s wrong with you people? Can’t you look at the camera? I know that might sound harsh. I just spent the last few hours before this fake happy scene trying to remember something about the Ottoman Empire. No offense to the Ottoman Empire, but I didn’t like history much when I was that old and now I’m trying to learn it again.

Yes, I know, Uncle Mary, it’d be easier for me to teach my kids these subjects if I pretended to be interested, but that ended in early April, when I had to try to remember something about the number of electrons in different orbits around atoms.

Anyway, I’m thankful we’re together. I saw that, cousin Clarence. Look, we don’t see you very often. The least you could do is not roll your eyes the entire time I’m talking. You’re doing it again! Cut it out! Oh, really? You have something in your eye? Let me see. Oh yeah, it does look red.

Okay, so we’re going to make this virtual Thanksgiving all about the senses. You see, we’re going to each search through our house for things that look like something else, put them on the screen and guess what the other person is holding. I read something about being creative this year, so this is it.

No, Alex, you can’t ask a question. Because I said you couldn’t. I’m running this virtual Thanksgiving, and I said you couldn’t. Well, then, your teacher is a better person than I am. I wish he was your father, too. No, no, I didn’t mean that. I just mean that we’re doing something differently this year. Okay, if you stop crying, you can ask a question.

Well, actually that is a good question. It doesn’t really have anything to do with Thanksgiving per se, but guessing what we’re holding is a way for each of us to connect. Okay, so, now, everybody, go get something and bring it back.

Ah, I see Uncle George has come back with something that looks like a baseball. Oh, it is a baseball? That’s not very creative. Oh, Uncle George, you’re not going to tell the story about how you almost caught a foul ball hit by Mickey Mantle, are you? Oh, you were? Well, that is a great story, and I’m sure there’s someone who hasn’t heard that story yet. By a show of hands, who hasn’t heard that story? Okay, well, Uncle George, it’s only because we all listen to you so carefully and we love to hear your stories. Maybe, though, we’ll skip that one this time. Are you crying too, or do you have something in your eye?

Okay, someone else go. Matthew, what are you holding? It looks like an origami bird. Wait, it is an origami bird? I wasn’t supposed to guess it that quickly? Well, it’s because you did such a great job. Now you’re crying?

Okay, it’s Jennifer’s turn. It looks like a huge glass of wine. You’re drinking it to test it? So, it was wine? And now you’re refilling it and drinking it again? One more time? Really? Okay, anyone else want to go?

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Are we coming apart together, coming together apart or just coming apart? The first in that list, coming apart together, gives us a chance to feel connected to others. By coming apart together, we are acknowledging the challenging year we’ve had and continue to have.

Without offering specific solutions, it helps to know we’re not alone and that, perhaps, through the together part, we can manage through conditions that are far from optimal, including the separation we feel from so many people we need in our lives.

Now, if we’re coming together apart, we are focusing on the fact that we can be, and are, together first, before we also admit that we may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away from people whose hugs, smiles and laughter fill the rooms we share. Zoom, FaceTime and other modern conveniences make it possible for us to see each other’s faces, even though the image of the other person can feel flat compared to the reality of sharing time and space.

The third of those possibilities, just plain coming apart, enables us to throw up our arms and acknowledge the reality of our world. Many children are home most, or all, the time. Parents are still working through
Zoom, looking at small squares of people on computer screens for way too many hours during the day. The sameness of each day can become tedious and wear on our nerves, especially during this time when we’d typically plan for family visits.

And, of course, without passing any specific judgment, the hot button election continues to drive wedges among families, friends and neighbors, who can’t imagine how the other side fails to see the obvious realities their favorite anchors or faux news and commentary shows echo each day.

It’s agonizing to see how the differences between camps have become a defining feature and have stirred a sense of frustration and antipathy for the other camp.

Where are the adults in the room? For so long, the country brought together people from different backgrounds, uniting us under the umbrella of an American Dream that was available to anyone who worked hard enough for it.

Our sports-crazed culture believed in the winners they cheered for and used their teams as an inspiration to get ahead, to put more into their craft and to try to win the battle for original ideas. Even fans of hated rivals acknowledged the skills and remarkable games they witnessed from their rivals during heated playoff series. I always rooted against Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski, but I also recognized his incredible talent.

Will a vaccine enable us to come together, together? I hope so. Next year at this time, if we have returned to some level of normalcy that allowed us to visit with our friends, to celebrate weddings, graduations, birthdays, and newborns, we will have the structural opportunities to spend time indoors, even in crowded rooms, and support each other.

Between now and then, ideally we’d plant the seeds that enable us to move forward together. We are not an archipelago nation, separated from each other by the ideological, religious or other labels. We do best when we play to the strengths of a workforce dedicated to getting ahead, to providing for our children and to helping the country even as we help ourselves.

While many of us are physically apart, we can try to reach out to family, friends, and neighbors, even if their ideas temporarily baffle us. We can come together if we are there for each other and if we listen to views outside our own.

Stock photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

With a number of extended friends and family pregnant during this turbulent year, I have been thinking about one of the first decisions parents make on behalf of children who can’t yet verbalize their preferences.

What’s in a name, you say? Well, just about everything.

A long, complicated and difficult to spell name could help someone stand out. It could also connect that person to a family legacy or history and enable him to
carry the trappings of a family tree every time he says or writes his name.

At the same time, that person, if she interacts with a large collection of people, may spend an enormous amount of time each day spelling or pronouncing her name and answering questions about its origin.

As an aside, one of my favorite names comes courtesy of a close friend who is a doctor. He was in the operating room many years ago during a complicated delivery by an expectant mother who didn’t speak English. She decided to name her son Nosmo. His middle name was King. She got the name from the No Smoking sign she read in the waiting room.

For some reason, when I meet someone, I struggle with two of the most basic elements of communication. First, they say their name. Something happens in that time shortly after I hear the name. I’m so focused on saying my name, which I’ve known all my life, that I erase her name. It’s as if a devilish part of my brain has blurred her name with a miniature eraser. That also appears to happen to other people, as  several of them have listened to me say my name and then ask, “Did you say your name was Doug” or “Dave?” They tend to remember the first letter.

You would think I wouldn’t have any trouble with such a simple first name, Dan, and yet, you’d be wrong. When I start with “My name is” or “This is,” somehow, the “s” from the “is” elides with my name, making my response sounds like, “This is Stan.”

To compensate, I have tried to wait as long as possible between the “is” and my name, almost as if I’m building suspense. “Hi, this is” … wait for it … have a sandwich … check your email … look at that pretty bird … okay, now, “Dan.”

Sometimes, when I’m outside, I hear my name when no one was talking to me or to anyone else who shares my name. I returned from walking my dog recently and heard “Daaaannn,” “Daaaaaaaann,” “Daaaaaannn” calls. At first, I thought it was my wife, trying to use her special human echolocation to find me, but it turned out to be a crow welcoming my dog and me back.

When people are flustered, injured, or disappointed, they often yell something. Unfortunately for me and, perhaps, other Dans, they shout something that sounds like my name. After stubbing their toe or reading a disappointing email, they scream, “Damn!” Hearing the frustrated and loud call, I match that with, “Yeah, what?” That might be funny to them, if they weren’t already annoyed.

The ubiquitous nature of my name has created confusion on athletic teams or in offices. My last name doesn’t offer an easy alternative.

Indeed, my son, who doesn’t share the same first name as anyone on the baseball team, is, nonetheless, nicknamed “Knife” because, somehow, Duh nay uff, became Doo knife, which was shortened to knife. It makes sense to teenagers.

As one of Jerry Seinfeld’s girlfriends on the eponymous show “Seinfeld” pointed out, it could be worse: her name rhymed with a female body part Jerry couldn’t remember, and it wasn’t “Vulva.”

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

I’d like to add time to the list of things that have changed during 2020. In addition to our notion of personal space, our concept of public health and our ability to empathize with friends, neighbors and strangers around the world battling against the virus, some of us have a warped sense of time.

My brother calls it a “Groundhog Day” existence, the Bill Murray movie in which each day seems to be a carbon copy of the one before, as time stands still for him while everyone else thinks that one day is a unique part of a continuum.

These days, with so many people working from home and our ventures away from the house fairly limited, our daily existence, even in various phases of reopening, don’t change much, either by month or by season.

Indeed, for many of us, the weekends just mean two more working days from home until Monday. Now, we might not all be working as hard on Saturday or Sunday, but we are well-equipped to get that one additional project done before the week begins.

In addition to forgetting the day of the week, some of us have also developed a less clear connection to the usual merry-go-round elements of each year. Birthdays don’t involve the customary travel, we haven’t attended the same seasonal musical concert at school, and we don’t have the annual family traditions or gatherings.

That has meant both an acceleration and a slowdown in the movement of time. I am both stunned and not surprised that it is early November already.

To illustrate my point, I recently reached out to a scientist with whom I chat periodically. Not wanting to go to the same well too frequently, I try to separate my emails and calls by a few months.

Before I wrote to him, I guessed my last contact was about two weeks earlier. In reality, it had been two months since we spoke.

The mismatch between my memory of the interaction and the reality of the time that passed likely came from a host of factors, including the fact that I enjoy his insights, his sense of humor and the information he shares.

Additionally, however, the time warp is a product of the amount of running in place I do on a regular basis, whether that’s chasing down stories or providing updates on the ongoing twists and turns in our coverage of the pandemic.

Without much variability, each day achieves its own familiar rhythm, even if the days and weeks blend together.

For me, this week, with the election, arrived both quickly and not soon enough. It’s a relief that the attack ads, the cross talk and the vitriol connected with the election will end, even if the parties lining up on both sides of the fence line continue to shout into the wind about each other.

In addition to “Groundhog Day,” I have also pondered the Tom Hanks movie “Cast Away.” When Hanks’ Chuck Noland — wait, I finally get it, Noland, as in “no land” because he’s cast away from his previous life — finally escapes and returns to civilization, I thought we missed out on the incredible opportunity to see Hanks adjust to speaking to people after four years with only a volleyball for companionship.

Once our lives return to some level of normal, I imagine we will all make numerous adjustments, including to the annual journey through years filled with more varied activities and in-person connections with people who live further away.