Do you like it? It’s been so long since we’ve all seen each other in the school pickup line without our masks! Renee, your Invisalign came out great, by the way.

I know, it’s bold. I thought letting my grays come in would be my biggest aesthetic change during the pandemic. But then, one night after I went to bed, my face started feeling super itchy. I thought maybe it was an allergy to the novelty bunny-face mask I wore to the post office because all my usual ones were in the dryer. I took half a dose of Benadryl and went back to bed, and when I woke up, I had this beak.

Kyle was as surprised as I was, but he’s been really supportive. Although, he has been spending a lot more time on his pandemic hobby, which is ordering miniature wargame figurines and painting them like Bob’s Burgers characters. He won’t tell me how much he spends on them, but last week he looked worried when I came home with brand-name ice-cream sandwiches instead of generic.

The kids don’t seem to mind either. Kyle Jr. downloaded a bird ID app and told me it’s the beak of a red-tailed hawk. Excellent for biting and tearing the flesh of medium-sized rodents, he says! I’m not sure Micaela has noticed, to be honest.

What the beak is great for, though, is screaming. I can make this really unholy screech. Usually, it’s under my control, but sometimes it comes out when I don’t mean it to. Like when Micaela came home from socially distant French Club and dropped her sweatshirt and her strawberry hand sanitizer in the middle of the floor, even though I’ve asked her a million times to put her stuff away when she gets inside, and the hand sanitizer leaked everywhere, and then the dog ate it and the vet said we would have to pump his stomach, and I was like, EEEEEEEYYYYAAAAAHHHHH!!!

I felt bad for making Micaela cry, but not that bad, because she hasn’t left her stuff on the floor since then.

I’ve also discovered there are times when a bloodcurdling shriek is just the thing, you know? Like when your son says he won’t come out of his room until they un-cancel his soccer season, and your mother is texting you about your anti-vaxxer cousin’s Instagram posts, and you just stepped on a tiny metal goblin painted like Linda Belcher, the best self-care is not opening another box of ValuSmilz Choco Sammies—it’s shrieking like an angel of death.

Or when you’re still not working, because last year your state decided reopening bars was more important than reopening schools, and none of the politicians bothered to ask who was taking care of the kids while they were at home, which was you, because you quit your job even though you had just been promoted to the position you’d been working toward for six yeEEEEEEEYYYYAAAAAHHHHH!!!

Sorry, that one just popped out.

I know most people want to move on now. I get it. They’re like, “Hey, we’ve had our shots. Let’s get back to normal! Maybe cool it with the murderous raptor act? Go watch a movie in a theater or something?” But, honestly, I’m kind of, I don’t know, not done screaming.

Like sometimes, I think about those people who used to stage anti-mask parades through Target just so they could cough in cashiers’ faces. Or how last November, half the country looked around after seven months of watching their grandparents and neighbors dying and went, “Yep, sign me up for four more years of this!” Some of those people have kids on Kyle Jr.’s soccer team, and how are we supposed to teach them it’s wrong to kick each other in the shins?

Or I think about people who still don’t want a free vaccine, because they think they’re not really at risk, so it doesn’t matter, even though it might keep them from infecting a child or killing someone who has cancer, and how as long as those people don’t get vaccinated this is never really going to end and EEEEEEEYYYYMMMfff.

I’ve learned that if I quickly nab the nearest small rodent, I can kind of stifle the scream. I didn’t get any blood on your bag, did I? I think it was a vole.

Oh, is that my kid coming this way? Kyle Jr. told me a hawk’s vision is way better than a human’s. I’m still nearsighted, sadly. But I can’t unsee what I’ve seen during this time, you know? So I guess this is who I am now.

I’ll tell you what though: it’s nice not to have to carry chapstick.