I want all of you to know that at one point in my life, I was cool. I swear.
Just five years ago I went to all the trendy bars in Washington, D.C., wore the cutest outfits, had purple hair and even went to the Oscars. I stayed up until 2 a.m. or later, used the latest social media and technology (back then, it was Snapchat) and consumed a lot of avocado toast.
A world changed by the pandemic has coincided with many of my major life changes as I approach 30: Getting married, buying a house and planning for a family. But the changes to my life, and the world around me, have dramatically accelerated my transition from partying 20-something to old fogey. Once I used to save up for concerts and fancy cocktails, but for the past few days I've been staring longingly at an expensive vacuum cleaner. At this point I'm pretty sure that I will never understand TikTok.
A big part of this change is that my favorite activities of my early 20s – bar-hopping, dancing at clubs, attending festivals, going to a party at a friend's house – have been decimated by quarantine. Seemingly everyday I hear that a different club or restaurant I love has closed forever.
So many of us, understandably, want things to go back to normal as quickly as possible. But it's clear that some things have changed forever, even our very personalities. That can be scary, but it can also be good. I was always going to grow up. I couldn't day drink, scroll through Tinder, and Snapchat forever. And honestly, becoming a responsible adult, and yes, buying a fancy vacuum cleaner, is going to make me extremely happy. In 2020, I'll take any happiness I can get.
Today's alternate Halloween plans
A cool pandemic-friendly adventure that might be available near you this year: A drive-thru Halloween experience.
It makes a lot of sense when it comes to safety. You stay in your car, and anyone working the event is outside. Even if it's not as scary or thrilling as a traditional haunted house, it's still something fun to get us out of the house as the weather gets colder.
Friend of the newsletter Carly Mallenbaum set out to sample a few of the haunted drive-thrus in Los Angeles, and she gives the experience her official endorsement.
"Life in 2020 has been full of enough terror as it is, that it feels good to instead embrace the absurdness and joy of the holiday of ghosts and monsters," she writes. "This October, I'm delighting in the ridiculousness of receiving a shovel full of candy (social-distanced style), chatting with friendly witches and admiring a Spongebob Squarepants made out of pumpkins. I’m currently seeking a fourth drive-thru experience to help sustain the silly, magical feeling."
I highly recommend watching the video of Carly driving through some of these locations. It's so sweet and also, makes me feel like I get to spend time with my friend. Miss you, Carly!
Some other alternate Halloween activities my friends and family (and myself) have been doing this month:
Virtual horror film festivals (Here's one near me our neighbors are talking up)
Over-the-top pumpkin carving (Can I write my name in a pumpkin? Maybe!)
Multiple costumes for kids (Wearing a different costume every day of the week is possible, sewing ability and money permitting!)
Candy making (You can actually make some at home, carefully)
Judging the neighbors' Halloween decorations on our daily walks (Have you seen these 12-foot skeletons that are all over suburbia?)
It may not be parties or trick-or-treating, but I'm already having fun.
Today's friendly skies update
Our USA TODAY Travel team is working diligently to follow updates about flying during the pandemic:
A new study conducted for the Department of Defense adds credence to the growing belief that airline passengers face minimal risk of contracting coronavirus when flying. The study found the risk of aerosol dispersion – transmission of the virus through the air – was reduced 99.7% thanks to high air exchange rates, HEPA-filtered recirculation and downward ventilation found on modern jets.
As airlines roll out COVID-19 testing for passengers, we rounded up everything you need to know about the programs.
Is holiday travel safe this year? We spoke to experts.
I loved actor Aaron Tveit when I saw him in "Catch Me if You Can" on Broadway years ago. Now he is the only person nominated in his Tony category. So congrats, dude!
My colleague Bill Keveney interviewed Leslie Jones about her new version of "Supermarket Sweep" on ABC. Not surprisingly, he had a lot of fun talking to her.
Dr. Anthony Fauci warned against Thanksgiving celebrations, which led to a question our health reporters tried to answer: How can I stay safe indoors from the coronavirus during cold season?
My weekend TV recommendation: The "West Wing" reunion special. It was just so sweet.
One of our reporters in New Jersey interviewed his 92-year-old father about voting in
Your happy cry for the day: This Michigan woman beat COVID-19 after nearly 200 days in the hospital. “I pray for those patients that don’t have the strong group of advocates that I have had, I would not be here today without them,” she said. “If any lesson learned from my fight for my life is that COVID is real, take precautions seriously and to be safe.”
Two for one special over at the Staying Apart, Together pet emporium: A dog and a cat!
Says human Roma Kroll, "This is Chester my 2-year-old Shar Pei and his brother Butch. Seems they get along just fine when they both want the same thing -- getting in the house!"
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID coping: I used to be cool. Then the pandemic happened.