These are the best of times. These are the worst of times. What else to say? Words fail and then, somehow, they don't. Books are around to be read. Writers post comments and impressions that seem somehow to matter. Friends call, text, jot down feelings. "Just checking in."
Then some of us go out, in spite of the warnings, the pleadings, the rules. Someone living alone who has high energy must find a way not to feel isolated while being more fully aware of that state than partners, roommates or family folk. It's too late to adopt a dog so I'll rely on a neighbor who has one. Dogs don't get or give the virus, do they? I'll go even further and farther breaking the rules to enjoy the company up close of a few people whom, in these times of stress, I will call family. Substitutes. Not contact every day at length, mind you. Probably less and less as numbers (statistics) mount.
Among the many questions raised each day a key one is: How are you coping? What advice to you get or give? Answers will vary each day. One of the most ingenious for those of us who find concentration more difficult than ever is to order jigsaw puzzles online. A friend chose a complicated mandala pattern that she said looked difficult enough to challenge her mind - to put mind over matter and lose herself in the combination of shapes and colors.
You put a sign on the front of your house: Keep Calm And Carry On, rallying cry of the Brits during World War II. You wave at your neighbors through the window. On Friday at 5 p.m. our City Councilman hopes everyone will come to their stoop or porch or equivalent for Happy Hour. No doubt singing will commence. If the Italians can do it, so can we at least try. You vow to learn something new every day, however simple or even silly. I look at recipes as medicine, to lose myself in their myriad ingredients and then pull back: It's not possible to have so many required ingredients on hand and not possible to trip off to the store for just one or two items. Stores now have 'senior hours,' presumably to lighten the load of customers for their benefit - we seniors being the undefined elderly group said to be at great/greater risk. Never mind that seniors can transmit unseen terms like everyone else.
Pat me on the back, I put in several orders for books at the independent store now closed. Their industry is already severely compromised and these days give Amazon more power than ever.
Hearing that Britain's Royal, heir apparent Prince Charles, caught the bug I decided on his behalf and that of anyone else royal by reputation to concoct a mythical dog for myself and call him Charles. My Charles can get out and mingle, can still sniff and smell and tastes. He is cheerful and sociable and, of course, asks very little of me.
My real family is thousands of miles away. I cry when I think I will not see them soon and not know when I can. They are not avid Facebook or Skype people. Their texts are short. An email is an occasion.
Today is spring, usually a hopeful thing. I think about all the equinoxes I've been able to celebrate, the many years of life and memories they contain. I'm counting on summer, the heat and hope.
Slight digression here. Take a look and have a thought about some of the catastrophes in the world. Namely:
Holodomor Memorial to Victims of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932–1933 was opened in Washington, D.C., United States on November 7, 2015. Located at the intersection of North Capitol Street, Massachusetts Avenue, and F Streets N.W., the memorial was built by the National Park Service and the Ukrainian government to honor the victims of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932–33 and educate the American public. The memorial is one of three monuments in Washington, D.C. designed or co-designed by women (the others being the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.) Congress approved creation of the Holodomor Memorial in 2006.
For sure, this certainly isn't the worst (but how to quantity/qualify?) nor not at all the largest.
It does lend perspective, however. At least at this point in our shutdown/lockout status. At least most of us are still alive.
'Small' is relative. You can live big in your mind. Observe how many are utilizing their own resources to compensate for the isolation. Have an old table tennis table stashed away? Bring it up to the largest room in the house, give it center place, and get going with the paddles. Confirmed: physical exercise and mental exertion.
Everyone has their own idea of a good day, a 'sensible' plan. This writer likes to pretend she can have a schedule that involves at least one productive or creative enterprise, or attempt at one. It might only be vacuuming the floor, or wiping down the kitchen, cleaning out the fridge. But it is visible and valuable. Far trickier is the creative side since it involves dampening down the gremlins that provoke distraction, despair. Those stray thoughts and emotional vagaries....Now, finally, we may come to learn what is meant by discipline. Does meditation teach us how to focus? I'm a naif, willing to try.
April 1 - who's the fool?
We are all the fool when supposing we are in control. Irony aside, at last a person stuck at home can control the day's schedule. Limited choices perhaps, except when he/she get on the Internet and is overwhelmed by testimonies, advice, pods and posts. I'm guilty of that here, in the vain idea that a diary of sorts is worth keeping of the 'times out of joint.' To note how one acquaintance decides it is time to read Proust; another cleans her apartment''; a third takes up baking bread. I jump around, one plan to another, shiftless and undisciplined. One reliable factor is the daily newspaper arriving at my door - a talisman that such chaos can be contained within the pages. I challenge a friend in New York - another daily 'hard copy' reader- to come up with odd/offbeat pieces of information gleaned from NYTimes' prolific pages. I suggested a small article I saw that implied a study showed how warm, better hot baths were antidotes to heart trouble. She declined, saying it was really the obits that interest her. And no wonder. Great people are disappearing - but with legacies to cherish
On my block, which is how my world turns these days, the news is either big or small, depending how you view such things.. A very large owl (they are all large) lives in a very large tree next to my house. Or rather, he/she visits occasionally - preferably in the dark hours of 2 a.m. when streets are mostly silent and he can feast on the rodents that are on the ground below. Rats, mainly - leaving their former sites, the shuttered restaurants nearby whose garbage normally was a reliable food source for them. My neighbor across the street reports that his one year old Akita caught her first rat today - in his small back garden. It took two hours for the conquest to occur, but, then, the Akita s barely one year old and this was a novel encounter for her.
Another neighbor reports she could get most of what she ordered online from Costco Delivery came on schedule, more or less. Smiles all around.
When I ventured out shortly after 8 a.m. fo ra Trader Joe Senior Hour shopping binge I found so few people inside that some aisles were empty of customers. It was disorienting, to be privileged this way. The idea, of course, is that the elders are considered more vulnerable, both as victims and as carriers. Masks were common; smiles were not.
At 5 p.m. on a day when the DC Mayor predicted one out of seven residents would most likely be afflicted (for better or worse), I made a medicinal Margarita - lots of Vitamin C limes, abundance of alcohol and a swift dose of Triple Sec. I sat on my porch, facing the street, many more than six feet from the sidewalk. I had some brief exchanges with neighbors, lifting my glass. The custom of meeting up on the stoop, porch, whatever has not yet taken hold each Friday as our Council member hoped.