One of the few positive side effects of the pandemic was the spread of outdoor dining. Los Angeles’ climate is ideal for it, but the city normally makes it a permitting nightmare. COVID changed that – temporarily. Now, despite legal challenges, sidewalks and patios are again bereft of tables. Only takeout is allowed.

As COVID patients overwhelm local hospitals, filling intensive care units and consuming so much oxygen that hospitals warn of shortages – oxygen shortages! – my home contradicts the simple narrative that coronavirus outbreaks are righteous punishment for red state disregard. You can adopt every stricture, follow every rule and still wind up with a crisis. The virus is relentless – and still more mysterious than we like to admit. The lockdown is wearisome. For those whose livelihoods are now illegal, it’s a crisis in itself.

Although hair and nail salons did reopen for business in September, they’re again closed. Like many customers, my husband and I stayed away even during the brief reopening. We figured it couldn’t last. So my thumb sports a continual bandage, covering the permanently split nail formerly held together by a manicurist’s acrylic workmanship. My hair is the longest it has been since college, and my husband now sports a tiny ponytail. It keeps his hair looking normal on Zoom.