I normally use Medium to tell stories that I don’t get to tell elsewhere: personal, emotional, and current stories that would be out of date by the time I tried to place them. But I should note that I’m also a freelance writer who has the luxury of telling longer stories — the kinds that take many conversations and many weeks to weave.

Today I learned that one of these stories, “Columbus Pizza Places Square Off,” was recognized with a first place SPJ award for freelance feature story. This was one of the first features I worked on when I…

The third year of COVID schooling begins

It hit me two weeks ago, when my kid got a sniffle. His illness seemed completely ordinary. We were more careful than we used to be about a cold — taking his temperature twice a day, asking about taste and smell — but saw no real reason to worry. We postponed a playdate or two, but more or less went on with our already low-contact lives. Then my second kid got it. Same symptoms. Same process. …

Once again, parents are a forgotten piece of the economic puzzle.

And so it begins. Faster than you can say “vaccine,” the narrative that unemployment benefits are causing people not to work is creeping into the news. This isn’t new — and it isn’t true, either. While blaming the government for being overly generous and blaming potential employees for being lazy is a convenient story, it’s also an oversimplified one, leaves out many reasons people may not be jumping eagerly into employment lines. …

A year without school is a year without school shootings

Photo by Like_the_Grand_Canyon

When the tornado sirens went off early last week, it was the height of pandemic excitement. We’ve memorized the routine of our neighborhood after repeating it for 54 weeks, and that routine includes a weekly test of the tornado warning system every Wednesday at noon. “It’s the Wednesday alarm!” the boys say as they eat their lunches.

So when the sirens went off just before 10 AM last Wednesday, they noticed. “It’s not lunch time! Is it a tornado?” Despite the sunbeams streaming in through the window, they had to ask.

The early alarm was a statewide drill, and we…

I got the vaccine the first day I was eligible

The vaccine line outside St. John Arena, March 19, 2021

Fifty-three weeks to the day after the shutdowns began, I got my first Covid shot. One dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is working its way through my body. I couldn’t be happier.

I’m still in disbelief that it happened so quickly. When the vaccines started rolling out in December, I optimistically checked where I’d be in line. As expected, I was very far back: 10 million people were estimated ahead of me in Ohio; 1.1 million of them in Franklin County alone. …

Remembering when we thought Covid might be a temporary inconvenience, and what it became instead

The contents of my pantry from March 10, 2020

I have a photograph from March 10, 2020 on my camera roll. In it, my kids are pointing at the contents of our pantry that we’d emptied onto the floor. They’d built a tower of cans and peanut butter next to a collection of boxed soups. I’d used the occasion to teach them about counting with tally marks: we listed the contents of the cabinet, adding lines to categories as we pulled food from the shelves. Canned beans. Dried Beans. Pasta. Breakfast bars.

While in retrospect it might be fair to call this my first lesson of pandemic homeschooling, at…

A night in March 2020 that was nearly normal

snarls photo by Brian Kaiser

One year ago tonight, I was dancing my ass off at a concert. The local band snarls was celebrating the release of Burst, its first fantastic album, and the music hummed in the humid air while the room buzzed with energy that only just-might-be-about-to-become-rock-stars can pull from a crowd. Fans spilled over the rafters and beer spilled on the floor, and there we were, a thousand of us, packed into the room, breathing in the notes, experiencing every beat of the bass drum together. …

An indoor kids play place near me called Fun in the Jungle has embraced anti-mask wearing fanaticism. They are so proud of their stance that they are giddily sharing their unwillingness to participate in “the Mask Enforcement Party” on all of their social media streams. The language they use to justify this policy is of the seemingly innocuous I’m just asking questions variety. You know, the kind where you can claim you’re not doing anything wrong, just making people think.

But I’ll take the bait and engage, because it’s a pandemic, and I’m not going anywhere else. All of their…

Our job now is to act

Photo by Jacob Stone on Unsplash

It’s better to burn out than to fade away.

Donald Trump doesn’t strike me as a Neil Young fan. He’s nonetheless following Young’s advice, as he uses the final two weeks of his presidency to torch our institutions. If one thing is certain after Wednesday, it’s this: Donald Trump will not fade away.

It’s up to us to decide what to do about that.

Democracy, we were taught in school, was a gift that was handed to us, our birthright as Americans. The textbooks present it as a done deal: an heirloom that passes…

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

You should know, Columbus taxpayers, that the Columbus City School system is spending your hard-earned money on gaslighting. To be clear, this is not literal lighting that would be part of badly-needed school building maintenance. This is the metaphorical kind, when people in power tell you the truth isn’t real. These people — our school leaders — are attempting to brush aside the dangers of a pandemic and willingly putting the health and safety of 50,000 students and 9,000 teachers and staff at-risk. By default, that risk will spread throughout the community, possibly into your homes. …

Linda Lee Baird

Columbus-based writer, educator, and mom. Read more at lindaleebaird.com.

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