You know things have changed when you're terrifed of the dentist, and it has nothing to do with the drill.
I've been trying to stay home for the majority of the pandemic, but a toothache brought me to the dentist last week. I've been to the doctor a few times since the pandemic started, but this was the first time I've removed my mask in a building that wasn't my home. I felt naked and strange. And not only did I take it off, I opened my mouth for the dentist and hygienists, and little droplet I saw made me anxious. I was so glad they were wearing face shields on top of their masks.
We often refer to the current COVID-19 era as "the new normal," but I've found myself both adapting to all the changes and feeling startled by them. My appointment made me wonder how we'll adapt back to a post-pandemic world. We'll be feeling the effects of COVID and our great losses long after it's over, in ways great and small. It won't be an easy re-entry.
But maybe the dentist will go back to just being scary because I'm terrible at flossing.
Today's long read
My colleague Bill Keveney and I have been working on a story about how police TV shows are responding to last year's Black Lives Matter protests, and it finally published yesterday. We spoke with actors, TV producers, executives and racial justice advocates about what changes are already happening, and what needs to.
"When George Floyd died, it changed the game for me,” says Shemar Moore, who plays Sgt. Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson on CBS's "S.W.A.T." At the meeting, “I said, 'There’s this divide, this debate, this confusion. There’s an anxiety between civilians and police.' I was like, ‘We’ve got to talk about it.’ ”
Viewers don't get a broad enough depiction of policing, says April Reign, a racial justice advocate who wants shows to consult with voices from the community, including those who have been incarcerated, to get a broader perspective.
"We as entertainment consumers take a lot of our thoughts on particular issues, including crime and punishment, from TV," she says. "My concern is there's not as much nuance as there needs to be."
"We're not asking for completely positive portrayals of Black people or completely negative portrayals of police officers," says Arisha Hatch of advocacy organization Color of Change, which identifies itself as the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. "We're looking for a more accurate conversation about policing in our communities."
You can read the whole story here.
Today's (shorter) reads
Looking for an extra bit of motivation? Here are some tips from one of our USA TODAY Network papers, Erie Times-News.
Anyone here a Peloton fan? We have an interview with Jenn Sherman, who recalls how she became the company's first-ever instructor.
A few weeks ago I shared a big story filled with the wanderlust wishes of USA TODAY staffers. We followed up with a story about where readers are yearning to travel when the pandemic ends.
I'd like to introduce you to a pup who is so very warm.
This is Abby. "She is about 4 years old, a mix between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, French Bulldog and Boston Terrier," according to humans Marcia and Scott Jackson. "Her favorite things are sleeping on the futon and chasing squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks in the yard. The (picture) below is Abby in her new winter coat – all ready for the cold weather here in Green Lake, Wisconsin."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Going to the dentist is the weirdest thing I've done in 2021