How long have we been doing this Sheltering-in-Place, quarantining ourselves, social distancing; not wearing masks, then wearing them? It seems like months. I suppose, like many, we slog through by routinizing our days. I read The NY Times each morning on my I Pad. The Times has adopted a new format on their I Pad platform that features stories on the Corona Virus from various angles- not much of it is designed to inspire confidence that this will end anytime soon. I watch CNN and MSNBC probably more than I should. They keep an ongoing tally of cases and deaths in a graphic on the right side of our TV screens so we are always mindful of the ever growing size of this disaster. The numbers are unimaginable. 62,000 people have died in something like 6 weeks in the US. Each day between 5 PM and 5:30 PM Trump starts his cynical briefings, littered with misinformation and untruths (read: lies); they are chock-full of embarrassing moments perhaps designed to distract our attention from the pandemic. Why do we watch? Perhaps we watch for the same reason as we slow down to get a good look at car wrecks. It has left me feeling we are nearly rudderless in this shit storm. Trump insults reporters, undercuts his distinguished team of science advisors asking them to play back up to some of the buffoons he has working on this mess. It’s hard to watch distinguished scientists forced into making statements they appear uneasy with. And then there’s the shining ultra-violet light treatment and cleaning lungs with disinfectants. That one is in a class by itself!
I go walking each morning with my wife for about a mile and a half around the park, exploring the neighborhood we moved to just two weeks before the virus erupted in earnest. On the plus side we visited the Botanical Gardens and Art Museum and enjoyed many fine meals, but then, everything closed. In the afternoon, I take a second walk of equal length. The walks are soothing and the startling signs of Spring are healing.
I fretted because I was without a mask for a few weeks. My neighbor’s daughter finally made me the cloth one I am wearing above. Just a few days earlier, Yang, a Chinese woman named Yang whom I had tutored in English through a website called, I Talki a few years back, contacted me through the We Chat. She was alarmed I had no mask and went about her village trying to secure one for me. She sent me photos of masks disinfectant sprays that she wanted to send, but, alas there were bureaucratic problems with shipping. It was very kind and generous of her. The cloth mask that my neighbor made has a nice feature that allows me to insert a filter for extra protection. The mask covers everything it is supposed to on my face, but these cloth masks are less than perfect and don’t block the virus. I sent a photo of the cloth mask (above) to Yang to assure I was covered and reasonably safe. She sent me a giggling emoji and said my mask looked like “underwaist” which she clarified were underpants. Since then, one of our housepainters gave me a couple of N95 masks that are largely used by hospitals that can get them. These create a tight seal around nose and chin and are said to protect against the virus. I don’t know how long I can keep using each mask. I have also gotten a few cloth masks from my son that include filters and finally an order of twenty surgical masks have arrived two days ago in the mail. Now I have a pile of masks for every occasion.
I wear a mask when I go to the market, the pharmacy, UPS, and Home Depot. That’s pretty much the list of places I have been over the past 6-7 weeks. I haven’t put gas in my car in weeks.
Lynda works from home for the time being and is on Zoom most of the day. I have taken on a few modest projects and organized others with professionals willing to risk painting inside, or setting up audio -visual systems. Everyone who has come to do something has been very careful about making sure that they have assured us they are safe and want the same assurance from us.
I have also worked on finishing touches for my new book, NATHANIEL’S GOT THE BLUES. It will go to editing in two weeks and I suspect I will be rewriting parts for a while after the manuscript is returned.
I wrote small piece on having asthma and the threat that the virus poses to us with this breathing disorder. When I finished it, I shared it with a couple of the big papers as a potential OP ED piece. No takers but a few nice notes from editors. I have posted it on this blog and it preceeds this post..
Our neighbors gather on the grass median down the street at 5 PM, Wednesdays for social distanced wine and conversation. It takes place in a big circle where all are conscious not to share drinks and maintain a proper distance from one another. An hour later we go back to our homes. It is a welcome respite.
I am taking a class with a music instructor from Durham, NC I had taken classes with for the past year. He is using Zoom to teach four weeks on Brahms’ Requiem and Mahler’s 2nd Symphony. The man is an excellent teacher so look forward to this.
I check on my adult children in California say, once per week. They seem to be doing well. As for me, I must admit to some despair. I believe it will get better, but not before it gets worse. I have feared the virus because of my asthma and believe it could very well kill me. So, I’m careful. Not crazy careful, but careful, just the same.
We are ordering all kinds of crap on line, but then, so is everyone else.
The other day, a dystopian story I read many years ago popped into my mind. Neville Shute’s, ON THE BEACH. It pictures a world after WWIII where nuclear bombs freely used and radiation spreads everywhere gradually killing people. The feeling of remembering this book is a little like the feeling I have about the pandemic.
Today the news is all about opening up the economy. I appreciate how this is wrecking the economy but to open things back up like the Governor of Texas plans, strikes me a massive exercise in magical thinking. We’ve done this long enough. We’re getting used to the news stories. So, maybe we just adjust our expectations and learn to live this way. We have gotten pretty good at this. If we want to believe that we’re OKAY bad enough, then, we’re Okay. But in truth, what we have done is managed the flow of seriously ill patients to hospitals, so our healthcare demands don’t exceed our capacity to provide care. Over two thousand people died in Wednesday and another two thousand on Thursday in the US. So, we’ll be open on Friday!
And oh yes, I am working on a jigsaw puzzle which I am going to spend some time with now.
April 30, 2020