‘The New Normal’ is a phrase we’ve all had to come to terms with over the last two years. Things that we thought would always be there, or always be possible, have vanished from our day to day lives. We’ve started to mask-up while we dream, and we cringe when we watch TV shows where people gather without social distancing.
It’s hard to know what we’ve experienced during the pandemic. I can’t decide if I watched everything I’ve ever known crumble and become unrecognisable, or if I watched something truly uncanny and life changing be absorbed into the quotidian. After all, life did seem to still function, albeit online.
And now apparently we’re going back to ‘normal’ (nothing new about it). But what is there left to go back to? I’ve lost the last gasps of my early 20s to the pandemic, and barely had a post-university life before being told to lockdown. I don’t have a normal to go back to.
This, I think, is how life is going to be from now on. We’re going to be tossed from one disaster to the next, some bigger, some smaller, always seeking out the ‘normal’ that came before, that’s just out of reach. Meanwhile, the threat of climate change hangs over the whole thing, and it seems like we’re doing nothing at all to avert it. This state of flux, this state of uncertainty and yearning for some kind of long-gone stability, is ‘normal’.
I started writing None of This Is Serious before the pandemic began, as a way to express what I felt was inexpressible. The kind of horrible anxiety you have when you grow up in a world of constant recession and climate disaster, where it feels like the rug has been pulled out from under you. Where the news feels like it’s so bad you have to put your phone down because it’s impossible for one person to be aware enough to truly care about it all.
Then, like I was using a haunted type-writer, what I wrote seemed to come true with the pandemic. I’m not a psychic, though: I’ve just been paying attention. None of This Is Serious is about what it feels like to be a background character during end times, unsure of what comes after ‘The New Normal’ stops being ‘new’ and is just ‘normal’.
Catherine Prasifka was born in Dublin in 1996. She studied English Literature at Trinity College Dublin and has an MLitt in Fantasy from the University of Glasgow. She has competed in both the European Debating Championships and the World Championships. She is obsessed with learning about how stories work and has ruined nearly all of her favourite books and movies by overanalysing them. She works as a creative writing
teacher in Dublin. None of This Is Serious is her first novel.