“Is this thing on? Check. Check 1. Check 2.” Finally, some sound. A little volume. Sounds good. It took nearly two years to fix this microphone we call Commonstate. We were on a roll there for a hot minute. But you know, life, a lack of funding, and a little thing called the pandemic happened. Apparently, it’s still happening, depending on who you talk to. One thing that is clearly not over is the will of humanity to forge ahead and live their lives—albeit either masked or unmasked. And I can’t help but find myself taking a personal masked/unmasked inventory while I’m walking around the grocery store produce section. But at the end of the day, to each his or her own. I’m more likely to judge you if you’re in public wearing pajama pants and crocs. But I digress. I not so fondly remember March 2020, at home watching a random NBA basketball game, when Utah Jazz forward Rudy Goebert tested positive for the Coronavirus, a revelation that occurred mid-game. He was escorted back to the locker room and immediately put into isolation. And then they shut the game down entirely. Then they shut the NBA down entirely. That was when I knew that this shit was real. My household, like so many, snapped into action. We stocked up on over-the-counter medicine and yes, toilet paper (but we didn’t go overboard, come on people). We filled our fridge with meat. I put my gym membership on hold. That hurt. We got up to speed quickly on how to use Microsoft Teams and Zoom and Google Meet and all of a sudden had multiple channels on our computers hitting us with messages that seemingly never stopped. You’d get a text, then a Teams message, then an e-mail, and then a phone call, then a Zoom invite, then another e-mail, and then you realized your work—whether you were conducting it from your living room or your bathroom—was consuming your life. But here’s where the first twist in this disaster movie comes in: People liked working from home. Most people, that is. I found myself going to meetings, cutting the grass, going to more meetings, playing nine holes of golf, going to more meetings, eating lunch, and generally making my own schedule outside the confines of a traditional office. I was productive, happy, balanced even. I was lucky that I didn’t have little kids running around. For parents of young kids, working from home was mostly hellish. But it wasn’t nearly as hellish as it was for the people who got Covid and didn’t recover. Their families never got to say goodbye to their loved ones, who died alone in hospitals. This was happening across the country. The grim news fueled even more motivation to say safe and not contract the virus. This is why working from home, for me and many others, was a godsend. We felt safe, weirdly isolated, and all the while the world around us was changing. In the throes of the pandemic, some industries faltered, others thrived. People were spending so much time in their homes they decided to redecorate and start projects. Binge watching HGTV probably had something to do with this. The jogger pant business also thrived. Although some people apparently stopped wearing pants entirely. But a lot of us aren’t home contractors or in the business of sweat pants. And it didn’t take long for the pandemic to create massive upheaval in our economy. Unprecedented numbers of workers were left without jobs. Companies made huge cutbacks. Restaurants and retail stores shuttered their doors as pictures from New York City filled our television screens with packed hospitals and death rates. Fear—sometimes crippling fear—got under our collective skin. I remember taking walks in my neighborhood and intentionally staying on the opposite side of the road of a neighbor, for fear I might be too close to them and catch something. I politely would wave, smile, and keep walking. And while most of my family stayed healthy, our big blow came in November 2020 when I was relieved of my position at a local advertising agency. Business wasn’t good, and I was being cut. Instead of lasting deep depression, however, being relieved of my duties felt like freedom. And this was plot twist number two: One of the weird by-products of the pandemic was that we were all asked to reinvent our lives in some way. How we went about our daily activities, what we were doing to make money, how we interacted with other people—all of it was being reinvented in front of our eyes for better or worse. People invoked the word normal as if “getting back to normal” was somehow achievable. But as the pandemic drew on, it became clear the virus was here to stay. Normal was being redefined. If anything, as a people, it turned out that we were quite resilient. This freedom I felt brought on the first inkling that Commonstate could get revved up again. And after a year of lockdowns, the dispersal of vaccines and then boosters, the slow reawakening of bars and restaurants, and the eventual release of a much anticipated James Bond movie, people started venturing out in larger numbers. A massive, loud collective exhale. This means all the creative people in this world, those who make, those who are compelled to express themselves artistically are going to come out in droves, changed, altered, jettisoned into a new society not quite post-pandemic but ready to jump out of their shells and get back to the work that they do. And Commonstate will be here to cover it, because we believe that the creative thinkers of this world will shape it moving forward, with new visions and new perspectives on whatever this new dare I say “normal” is going to be. Whatever it is, something tells me it’s going to involve masks and strangely painful cotton swabs up the nose for the foreseeable future. So get ready for a barrage of new content. There are many stories to be told. This microphone has laid dormant, silent for too long.