So much for our return to "normality". On Tuesday night dissident republican Danny McClean was shot dead in north Belfast. In any other part of the UK it would have been headline news for a week. Here, people barely said a word.
That same evening in the east of the city a masked loyalist gang walked through the streets as the UVF apparently tried to settle an internal feud.
Across Northern Ireland graffiti and posters warned port staff not to administer the Irish Sea border - or face the "consequences". Councils sent them home for their safety.
Whatever else this is, it's not peace. This wasn't the Northern Ireland we were promised in the Good Friday Agreement 22 years ago.
And yet our first instinct is to tell ourselves it's still nowhere near as bad as it used to be. It's our new "acceptable level of violence".
But the fact that they haven't gone away, you know, means even though they are at the margins today they may still take centre stage tomorrow.
All of which is why so many people, trying to stay alive in a pandemic, have found this week's rhetoric around the Irish Sea border so disturbing.
Let's be perfectly clear: loyalist threats against public servants cannot be tolerated.
By the time you read this well over the required 100,000 people will have signed the DUP's online petition for a parliamentary debate on triggering Article 16. There is no doubt that unionism broadly feels aggrieved and undermined by the Northern Ireland protocol in the EU trade deal because they claim it favours Irish nationalism.
Avoiding an economic border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has given rise to a trade barrier on goods travelling between Great Britain and NI - that plays to a long-held unionist existential fear of being betrayed by Westminster and bullied by nationalism.
Unionist history often reads like a long litany of betrayals by British governments of all hues - it's no surprise unionists fear an all-island economy will only serve to hasten a united Ireland.
During the Brexit negotiations, Remainers argued a border between north and south would anger nationalists who identified as EU citizens and that the spectre of customs posts would lead to dissident republican violence. And, of course a north/south border would automatically breach the Good Friday Agreement.
Unionists regarded that as weaponising the border for nationalist ends, which had nothing to do with trade.
As it turned out, it was the big friendly EU which ended up trashing the GFA by triggering Article 16 in a fit of pique because its vaccination programme is lagging so far behind the UK's.
For a few hours, the EU saw no problem with a hard border between north and south. It was only representations by the UK and Ireland made to a power in Brussels which had acted without any consultation at all that reversed the stupid decision. Despite its hollow breast-beating, the EU wasn't concerned at all about peace in Ireland.
Indeed, it wasn't even concerned about its own member state, whom it didn't inform of its plan to re-introduce a hard border.
Humiliatingly, the Republic found itself abandoned by its supposed ally, trying to get through on the phone every time Boris Johnson got off the line.
Just when it seemed to be at an impasse, unionism was handed a winning hand. It is hard to see how or when Article 16 could be triggered again. It may well already have been rendered useless in all but name. Pushing the big red button isn't much value when you end up having to "unpush" it with an equally red face.
What unionism needs now is not hot rhetoric, where it risks being seen to inflame tensions on the street, but cool heads negotiating a way out of the problems with the current agreement.
For unionists, an east/west border is as much a trashing of the GFA, creating barriers to the nations they feel the closest bond with, as a north/south one. That may be politically inconvenient for nationalists, but it is a stone cold fact.
Lofty and patronising dismissals that the Irish Sea border is just an administrative or economic convenience don't bring a scintilla of reassurance to those who can see only that Northern Ireland is being made subject to different rules than the rest of the UK.
Nationalists who refuse to acknowledge unionist sentiment take risks with the peace. Unfortunately the response from many has been basically "suck it up".
Nationalist leadership needs to show vision too. The whole purpose of the GFA was to allow for both sides to build mutual trust.
Nationalism needs to acknowledge unionist fears over identity and offer solutions, not simply vogue like Madonna.
The conflation of 'nationalism' with Remainerism is neither accurate nor helpful from any perspective; neither is the identification of Brexiteer with unionist. That the EU clearly sees nationalism as its preferred pro-EU option is typically deaf to the nuance of 'regional' sensibility which marked the trashing of Greece. Some Remainers will now be taking a good hard look at the EU after last week's cack-handed knee-jerk tantrum.
Deplorable as the threats are, it isn't surprising elements unhappy about the current arrangements are drawing from the north/south border EU playbook. "It worked for them" will be the misguided rationale.
Sadly that happens in a place where it's in our DNA to play the zero sum game. But now is not the time for that sort of fool talk.
The DUP needs to be anticipating crises, not reacting to them; it needs to be occupying with smart attitudes all the spaces where masked men might be tempted to intrude with their boots, as well as getting ahead of the thinking in other jurisdictions and leading with solutions not presenting obstacles.
Regardless of cultural allegiance, everyone is suffering due to the disruption to business and empty shop shelves. People can't get Amazon orders or garden plants. Taking the dog on a holiday outside NI has become costly and tortuous.
A first step could be getting a temporary extension of the grace period. That would give all sides time to think. We have solved worse. This can't be an insurmountable problem.
While advancing the unionist cause, unionist parties should also be trying to advance the whole of Northern Ireland, making it a success. If there is an opportunity to enjoy the economic benefits of our unique status, let's seize it. They should also be in persistent contact with partners in other jurisdictions, including Dublin. One suspects those connections are not being fostered from 'up here' as they should be.
It is very clear though that they are also not being promoted from 'down there' either. Why would they be, you might ask? Well, because there is a government in Dublin and a nation across the border which seeks to gain jurisdiction over Northern Ireland - that is a simple fact.
And any government with that ambition, one would think, would be making extra special efforts to persuade, cajole, woo and (simply) respect the people they seek to govern.
And this is about people, not border posts or badges or flags or parties or blocs or ideologies.
Can we please not stumble along any more? Is everyone intent on ducking responsibility, as if the only time these blokes will deign to wear masks is not in the queue in the Spar but when they are armed? Are there any adults in the room at all in Westminster, Brussels, Dublin or Belfast?
What is to be feared is that the answer too often seems to be no.