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Article Published October 15, 2020

Pandemic Persona

By Juliana Gribbins/

I don’t know about you all, but since this pandemic got started, I feel like I’m a different person. So different that I’m compelled to name my new, unwelcome pandemic persona. I’m going to call her Pamdemic.

Pamdemic possesses many qualities that I never had in the past. Pamdemic puts very little effort into her appearance. She showers daily and brushes her teeth, but that’s almost too much effort. Hair goes up in a clip. A slash of lipstick is applied so that no one mistakes Pamdemic for the walking dead. No mascara. No eyeshadow. Brows? Who cares about brows? Pamdemic sure doesn’t.

Pamdemic’s wardrobe is boring with no personality. It consists of T-shirts, sweatshirts, and P.J. pants. The rare urge to “dress up” means putting on jeans and a relatively unwrinkled shirt. Jewelry is minimal if worn at all.

Pamdemic’s diet is pathetic. It’s basically a five-year-old’s fantasy of what she’ll eat when she’s all grown up and Mom can’t tell her she has to finish her peas. Dinner for Pamdemic has been known to be raspberry ice cream with hot fudge sauce. After waking up from falling asleep in front of the TV, Pamdemic often finds that she’s hungry again. So, she follows up the sundae supper with a chaser of chocolate chip cookies.

Pamdemic is going to be diabetic by the time a virus vaccine is found.

Pamdemic is always cranky, not just in the morning. Maybe this is because Pamdemic hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since mid-February. Three in the morning is when she finds herself waking from a stressful dream where she can’t find her mask and a crowd of mask-less crazies are chasing her down. When she wakes, her brain begins to twirl like she’s mentally riding a Sit n’ Spin. She can’t solve any of her problems during the witching hour, but she’ll dwell on them as if she can.

Pamdemic is antisocial. There used to be nothing better than meeting up with friends for a nice meal and a night of dancing. Now that such activities carry the risk of contracting a nasty virus, Pamdemic severely limits her socializing. Sometimes she’ll meet a friend for a walk or an outdoor meal, but she doesn’t do this very often. She never sits next to strangers, striking up conversations and making new friends. Who needs new friends? Pamdemic sure doesn’t.

Instead of socializing, Pamdemic hunkers down in her bunker and catches up on TV shows she was always too busy to watch. It’s amazing how many shows have been produced in the past decade. If this disease keeps going, though, Pamdemic thinks she just might burn through them all.

Despite all of this, Pamdemic still holds a tiny sliver of optimism. She decides to get her passport renewed even though no one from the United States can go anywhere. Pamdemic wants to be ready when the world’s borders open up again.

So for a brief time I cast off my pandemic persona and am myself again. I dress up in jeans and a relatively unwrinkled shirt. I put on earrings. I also apply mascara and eyeshadow and blow-dry my hair so it’s not completely crazy. Then I go to Triple A to get my passport photo taken. I hope I don’t have lines under my eyes where my mask hits my face. When the attendant asks me to, I remove my mask, stand up straight, and smile.

The photo is developed and handed over. Once I get to my car, I sneak a peek.

Who the heck is this?

Oh good Lord, it’s not me in the photo. It’s Pamdemic. There she is in all her weary glory. The months of sleeplessness show in the bags under her eyes that are large enough to hold a load of laundry. The hair is frizzed and frazzled. The smile is strained.

I’m looking forward to the day when I pull out my wretched passport photo and board a plane for a faraway adventure. In the meantime, I have to get going to my kitchen. Pamdemic needs a sugar fix.

Juliana Gribbins is a writer who believes that absurdity is the spice of life. Her book Date Expectations is winner of the 2017 Independent Press Awards, Humor Category and winner of the 2016 IPPY silver medal for humor. Write to her at Read more of her columns at