Post-Lockdown, What’s Next?

We’re back! We took a long-ish break but we’re ramping up again…collecting our thoughts…getting rid of anger and frustration as the world seems to be literally exploding.


What’s Next

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

The lockdown in Spain is over, at least for now. We’re mostly practicing social distancing (and are required to wear masks in public), but the situation around the rest of the world is hardly comforting. Numbers are going up in areas that have resumed almost-normal. The potential for a second wave is there and probably increasing. Meanwhile, the world is going to shit with more-obvious-than-ever hatred and racism. Didn’t we once believe humanity was better than this? What we’re seeing on flagrant display is just devastating. But I’m trying to think positive thoughts: DC statehood, #BlackLivesMatter, and movements for justice cropping up around the world. I am personally embarking on a couple of big initiatives that involve Syria and activism.

I’ll leave it at that tonight. Tomorrow is another day. Who knows, maybe Trump will finally catch the #Coronavirus.


The New Karen

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

During the past few weeks, we have witnessed the world waking up to confront years of bigotry and racism in the wake of the horrific murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minnesota. There are fleeting glimpses that we the people may actually be coming together in support of the social injustices perpetrated against the black citizens of this country and the minorities of the world.

With that awareness comes a different problem in America. People are policing others and shaming them into doing the “right” thing. Meanwhile, thanks to technology, there is a camera rolling somewhere, capturing these encounters. Many recordings have gone viral and made headlines.

Most prominent is the angry middle-aged white woman nicknamed “Karen” who personifies white privilege and entitlement. It is a little vague as to the origin of this nickname, but recently “Karen” has been recorded ranting at people of color and minorities in a confrontational and aggressive manner.

As I watch the scenes unfold on my social media feeds, I am touched by a myriad of emotions. I am shocked, amused, angry, sad, and even disgusted. These encounters are not new, but have a new meaning in light of the rising black voices against racism.

By now we are all familiar with Amy Cooper, the Central Park woman who becomes irate at a black man for telling her to keep her dog on a leash. She even calls the police and lies that she is being “attacked by an African-American man.” Why does she think it’s okay to do that?…. because she is a Karen. This Karen is using her white privilege to put a black man “in his place.”

Or the other one was the Karen in San Francisco who accused a man of defacing private property because he was chalking “Black Lives Matter” on the front of a home in an affluent neighborhood.

She and her husband assumed that he did not live there because of his “brown” skin color. Not only was it his home, but he had lived there for 18 years.

I realize that there are two sides to every story, but as soon as a white person takes a hammer and beats the shit out of a neighbor’s car they have lost the argument. As was the case with the LA Karen.

White privilege in America and the delusional assumption that they are superior has really gone on way too long, but isn’t that why millions of people have been protesting around the world these past few weeks? Demanding social justice for people of color? BLACK LIVES MATTER! Black people matter.

Remember I said I had a myriad of emotions? Well I forgot to add conflicted. I wonder if these incidents can be avoided altogether. Maybe we should we stop trying to police each other? Especially during tenuous times when everyone is on edge. Everyone is on hyper-alert at the moment. I think if we lay off the antagonism and take a chill pill or walk away, we could avoid these blow ups. Hey, just don’t be a Karen!


Becoming an Activist

Reposed with permission from Wayne Wallace, McLean, Virginia

It didn’t happen overnight. Despite (or perhaps because of) growing up in the South in the 60s and 70s, I have been offended by overt racism most of my life. But the more insidious, constant racism that permeates our society, not so much. It’s not that I didn’t see it; it’s that I didn’t see how harmful it actually was. Plus, it didn’t affect me. And who am I to change the world?

While I never thought it was fair that my opinion mattered more than my Black, Brown, and female colleagues, I didn’t see it as that big of a deal. I could see that it was annoying, but worth making a fuss about? Certainly not

for me. For one, I was the beneficiary of the subtle racism, and I had more important things to do. And who am I to change the world?

Then a lot of things happened that changed my perspective. For starters, I spent a lot of time with Syrian activists and saw what a difference a little activism can make. No, they didn’t topple the regime, but they did a lot of good and have helped establish the bedrock needed to make Syria better once the regime is gone. They made a difference. It’s inspiring.

I also had major changes and losses in my life that significantly altered my perspective about what is important. Not that I ever thought material possessions were key to a successful life, but my focus was more there than on improving the world beyond my very small circle. And besides, who am I to change the world? I should focus on raising my kids and improving MY world. Not THE world.

Now, the injustices in the world are too much for me to simply watch and ask, “Who am I to change the world?” I’m just one voice, but if a group of voices can work together, we can pry dictators out of their fortresses and into courts of justice. We can bring about real change.

So today I write, I document, I photograph, and perhaps film the world I see around me. I will add my voice to those of the others marching in Washington, Minneapolis, Paris, Sydney, Amsterdam, and Idlib. I know I can’t do much on my own. But by joining with others, we can bring about real change. People of color in my country can achieve true equality; oppressed people in other countries can know democracy. Peoples suffering from decades of occupation, war, and injustice can one day know freedom and peace.

Who am I to change the world? I’m an activist.


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Post 80: #Coronavirus and a perspective.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 80.


Liberty and military power

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I have an ache in my heart and a burn in my stomach. I am angry. I am seething. My president is a narcissistic racist.

The American president’s response to the Black solidarity movement happening in America today is instigating hate. The president has called the protestors “thugs” and “lowlife scum” when he is one of the biggest thugs in office. He wants to unleash the military to quell the [protestors] “violence.”

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for this great leadership! It’s like the frustrated parent yelling at their kid to “stop crying or else I will smack you so hard you’ll really have something to cry about!”

America needs to get to the heart of the issues and address the core values that have led us to this point. Our president is a racist! Our police forces have not been held accountable for their unnecessary use of force toward African-Americans.

We are not serving anyone by sending out the military to fight their own people. Let’s face it, the military presence will escalate the deaths of innocent people.

All my life, I have been watching activists speak up against anarchy, corruption, inequality, and racism – only to be silenced by the military powers of dictatorship and fascism.

America is waking up! Let’s hope this a start of a new understanding for the downtrodden and not a backward slide into a third-world dictatorship.

Dave Granlund cartoon retrieved via Internet search.
No copyright infringement intended.

The banana republic

Wayne Wallace, McLean, #Virginia

Yesterday morning, I woke up in a free country. For all its faults, it was at least free.

Last night, I went to sleep in a military dictatorship on the brink of civil war.

I recently heard Carl Bernstein use the term, “Cold Civil War,” to describe the state of affairs in this country. He was talking about the chasm between the alt-right and the rest of us. The uneducated White Trump supporters against the rest of us. I thought it was a very appropriate term to capture the state of affairs in the U.S.

I fear it will not be a cold civil war for long. The statements and actions of the @realDonaldTrump yesterday were not only announcing the end of democracy and the rule of law in our country; they were heralding the ascension of a despotic dictator. It was a big step that is sure to widen the divisions between the different factions in America. The steps announced from the Rose Garden yesterday will make the gap between Right and Left even wider. It will make the distrust between Black and White deeper.

@realDonaldTrump seems willing to tear the country apart to ensure his own reelection. Yesterday he took yet another giant step – not for mankind, but toward outright civil war – when he used federal troops to attack a crowd of peaceful protestors. That he did it solely to enable a photo op of him holding a Bible in front of a Church because he was embarrassed about being exposed as a coward hiding in his bunker makes it even worse. This is not what the country needs. This is the national-level equivalent to the White kids driving around the protests trying to hand bricks to Black protestors. Scaring White suburbia into reelecting a despotic thug just might work. I fear for this country if it does.

Retrieved from The DCist.com

Mein Trumpf

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Yep, ladies and gentlemen, we have a Hitler in our midst and the 21st century version is living up to its name.

What in God’s name was Trumpf thinking of yesterday? Seriously, a photo op for campaigning purposes? Really? After tear gassing protestors to get there? Really?

To think of the message that Trumpf was conveying at a time like this…using a Bible to reach his base…being a hypocrite to show up at a Church he has ignored for 3 years…to spew the venom…to actually pave his way there with tear gas from taxes we pay for…is this really the time for egotistical behavior??? Is it????

And now St. Paul’s II National Shrine? Seriously?

I don’t want to lose my focus today; we have a big Thawra day coming up on June 6 in Beirut. There are also #GeorgeFloyd protestors in every city around the world, and the #Coronavirus isn’t done – but the gall. The bloody gall.

And Ivanka in the background, sporting a designer white bag? Really? At a time of pure crisis…And Jared lurking as usual? I am ranting again.

Focus. Stay focused.

My brains can’t. I have too much anger and grief. I am outraged. I must stop here because I won’t be responsible for what else I might say.


The death of democracy

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

In 2011, Syrian-American activists and supporters starting holding demonstrations – against the Syrian dictatorship – in front of the White House. I remember being so impressed with the Secret Service officers, who told us they were there to protect us. As long as we kept things peaceful, there would be no trouble.

Those were the days when one of our chants was, “This is what democracy looks like!” We were all so impressed – the freedom to speak! The respect the authorities gave us!

Of course, those were different times. We were protesting the Assad regime, under whose brutal dictatorship in Syria, holding up a sign would get you arrested. Soldiers would fire teargas and bullets. True: your arms might be cut off in the torture chamber to teach you a lesson about holding up a sign.

But in DC, far away from Damascus, in front of President Obama’s White House, we were safe.

Yesterday I watched as peaceful American protesters assembled in front of the White House. They were People of All Colors demanding an end to racism. They were peaceful: Hands up, don’t shoot!

At first I thought, this is what democracy looks like. Tensions would surely be defused. POTUS – as infantile and sophomoric as he is – would realize that his legacy could be different if he would just put country before ego. I was sure the Secret Service or National Guard would never fire on American citizens exercising their Constitutional rights – because this is what democracy looks like. Until it didn’t.

I didn’t think they would teargas their own people, or fire at unarmed, peaceful civilians. Until they did.

This is not what democracy looks like.

We’re not in a democracy anymore. Just as surely and intentionally as Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, the President of the United States killed democracy yesterday when he declared war on We the People.

Rise up, America. MAKE NOISE. #BlackLivesMatter #Protests2020

Retrieved from Newswars.com.
No copyright infringement intended.

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If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 79: #Coronavirus and a perspective

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 79.

Tonight’s topic: Civil Resistance & Revolution


Lebanon: #Thawra

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

This is what we call a revolution in Lebanon. It is something we have been doing for a short time, only since October 17, 2019.

What we are seeing in the U.S. this week is a Thawra against police brutality, oppression, inequality, and racism. I am so proud to see so many people out in the streets in many cities, speaking out for #BlackLivesMatter, but truly, ALL lives matter.

I have been saying for the past 28 years, ever since the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992, that the U.S. is facing a ticking time bomb when it comes to racial issues. Beating, torturing, and killing non-White men because of their color or race is not justified by any means. No matter the situation. Why don’t we see a White American being “handled” in the same manner by the police?

You guys out there protesting, more power to ya!

So let me tell you how we do Thawra here, only to give you some additional ideas:

  1. Daily protesting in the streets and city squares til the wee hours
  2. Closing down main arteries and roads into big cities with cars and trucks
  3. Daily car and truck convoys to politicians’ and governmental officials’ houses
  4. At 8 pm daily, we take out our pots and pans and make lots and lots of noise
  5. We write songs about Thawra and we blast them from trucks carrying big loudspeakers
  6. We wear the Lebanese flag as bandanas, face masks, and arm bands.
  7. We destroy government buildings (look at how the Lebanese Parliament is barricaded now)
  8. We have DJs hosting Thawra parties in all big cities and we yell and scream against the “nizam” (the screwed up system)
  9. Watch out for fifth-column infiltrators; in your case, the Aryans.

So my dear fellow Americans, go out and make noise, because we cannot let the system remain status quo. We must, we absolutely must, make the rights of every citizen mean the same to every American citizen.

Retrieved from alaraby.co.uk. No copyright infringement intended.

Palestine: We Need #Change

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Right after the George Floyd murder by a White police officer, I made a comment to my family about how the police tactics used today are as brutal as those used by Israeli soldiers towards Palestinians.

My son responded that I should not compare this incident with what’s happening to Palestinians under occupation, because we need to address the issue of social and racial injustice in America for what it is.

I totally agree and I am outraged by the blatant discrimination and murder of Black people at the hands of police officers in this country. However, as I read the news I see a few words tucked away amidst the myriad of US headlines. I see this international headline: “Israeli Forces Shoot and Kill Unarmed Autistic Palestinian Man.”

How can we pretend that this is okay? Iyad Halak, 32, was a mentally challenged autistic man. His crime? He was a Palestinian man walking down the street carrying something that was mistaken for a weapon. When the armed forces yelled for him to stop, this mentally disabled man ran away and attempted to hide. The police pursued Iyad and began to shoot at him. As Iyad lay dying, one officer continued to shoot at him.

This happens a lot to innocent of Palestinian men, women, and children. Most of the time, it doesn’t even make the news, or the report is tucked away discreetly at the back of the paper.

Retrieved from Reddit. No copyright infringement intended.

What can be done? Just as the Palestinians who protest the mistreatment of their people at the hands of the Israeli soldiers are called terrorist thugs, the Americans expressing their frustration to the mistreatment of Black people are called unpatriotic thugs.

As we saw during the South African apartheid, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. People can only be held down for a limited time before they respond emotionally in order to be heard.

You may be wondering how this is related to America. If I told you your U.S. tax dollars help fund a violent, racist Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people, would that make a difference? What if I told you that almost all Palestinians murdered by the U.S.-funded Israeli military forces were unarmed? Would that make a difference?

The world has completely lost sight of humans and humanity, especially when we turn a blind eye. It is time to demand change and make change.


Syria: The #Revolution Continues

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

It started in early 2011 with simple, peaceful demonstrations and hundreds of brilliantly creative displays forms of nonviolent expression. Activists launched ping-pong balls marked with the words “freedom,” “democracy,” and “dignity” from a mountaintop in Damascus. There were original songs – the kinds that drew crowds of up to 500,000 in one instance, defying curfews and regime orders – about telling the dictator to get lost. Syrians held sit-ins, stand-ins, and flash mobs. They ran social media campaigns, flooding Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube with hashtags, posts, and videos. They banged pots and pans in noise demonstrations, then went totally silent in flat-out strikes. Once someone filled a water fountain in a main city square with red food coloring – the leaping, dancing water, when the water flowed, symbolized the blood of activists who were getting shot at, with increasing precision and savagery, by militarized police and soldiers. The regime released criminals from prisons, armed them, and had them infiltrate the peaceful protests to agitate and stir up violence. Suddenly, nonviolent activists were labeled “rioters,” “looters,” and “terrorists.”

Sound familiar in 2020s America?

Here’s part of an article I wrote in 2012 about the nonviolent movement in Syria:

“The cycle of demonstrations and gunfire repeats itself, every day, and we understand perfectly the need to defend against a brutal regime. We understand perfectly the urge to respond to the government’s crackdown with gunfire. Yet we maintain our position: “Violence plays into Assad’s hands. Violence begets more violence. Revenge begets more revenge.”

We are certain that if we truly want democracy, the transition must begin with us. We will not become the tyrant we are fighting.”

~ Me

That was all before the regime started using warplanes and barrel bombs to target residential buildings and schools and hospitals and markets. That was before the regime started using chemical weapons with alarming impunity.

As the police and other law enforcement in the U.S. get progressively more violent and use increasingly lethal weaponry, I hope my brothers and sisters in humanity – of all races and ethnicities – fare better than Syrians did in the quest for freedom. Trump’s calls on governors to use more force and show strength in the face of protests are reminiscent of Assad’s orders to his paramilitary troops on what to do with protesters: shoot them, arrest them, torture them, kill them.

Today, badged members of the press get shot at in crowds across the U.S. In Syria, reporting the truth is a crime punishable by permanent disappearance. Hell, you can get arrested and tortured for a Facebook post or a Tweet. Is that where the U.S. is headed?

It’s time to ask ourselves if America is any better than a third-world country led by a tin-pot dictator. Ironically, Assad also once hid in a bunker in an undisclosed location.

Syrians have not given up. Today, despite the 1 million dead, quarter-million disappeared, 6 million internally displaced, and nearly 6 million refugees, we still have a couple of favorite sayings: “Down with the dictator” and “the Revolution continues.”

And so, brothers and sisters in humanity, you must do what you must do in America, for the sake of future generations. Just like in Syria, the revolution continues.

#BlackLivesMatter #ResistDictatorship #Riots2020 #TrumpResign

Aleppo, Syria, 2014. Photo Credit: BARAA AL-HALABI/AFP/Getty Images
No copyright infringement intended

Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 78: #Coronavirus and a perspective

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 78.

Tonight we’re free-form writing


Them Cats

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Today, I want to add a little humor into our otherwise morbid quarantines and the ticking time bombs exploding worldwide. Hong Kong, Lebanon, Minneapolis, and most U.S. cities are but a few places where racial inequality, hunger, and poverty loom and are among the many issues that we will have to grapple with once we start “re-living.”

I live with 5 felines who consider us humans their staff. And each one of them has personality traits that crack me up! I just might need to change their names.

Cosi, our eldest Himalayan Lilac Point is a quiet soul who never needs anything except his treats. He meows and demands this right several times a day. The rest of the time, he contemplates and sleeps. Very much like Putin. He states his intentions, gets what he wants quietly, and retracts.

Casper, who is 4 years old, is an adventurer, a hiker, and a climber. Where there are heights, he needs to reach them. Very much like Jacinda Adern. Once he reaches the top, he will only look to reach higher.

Bambi, a 3-year-old Persian, is a cuddle of sweetness and kindness. He is very much like Angela Merkel: efficient, effective, and direct.

Jazz, a grey Persian kitten, is the epitome of a bully. He doesn’t poop in his litter box, he steals the treats from other cats, he pushes everyone out of the way to reach his food bowl, and then makes the other 4 play musical chairs with theirs. You know like ummmmm, yep, you got it…Idiot-in-Chief!

Miskeh, his twin sister, is the relentless one who lives by her rules. But she also wants to be loved and taken care of. She is the smart one, she picked whom she felt is the right person for her. She did not vote for me. She voted for my husband. It’s her right. She made a choice and in an otherwise democratic household, she exemplifies today’s poor world citizen.

Me believes me will need therapy after the lockdowns are lifted for many-a-reason!

G-5 Summit

Freedom for All

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I want to write something lighthearted today, I really do, but I’m unable to concentrate. My brain is in mourning over the crazy shit we are seeing in America.

I finally watched the CNN reporter and crew being arrested on live TV. As they were covering the protests in Minneapolis, the police arrested the crew for no apparent reason. It did not make an impact on me a few days ago because I was fuming at the lack of justice for George Floyd. Now with all the frenzy of the clashes of demonstrators and police, we are looking at an amplified response from citizens of the United States.

Are they protestor or demonstrators? Are they making a valid point or are they “thugs”?

How can we even begin to pass a judgment? ENOUGH ALREADY. People have had enough of the inequality and the racial injustice in this “Great” country.

A physical response from the people is what happens when people are at their wits’ end for not being heard.

America has ignored racial disparity for far too long. George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As an immigrant, I stand by minorities and I stand by the downtrodden and the underrepresented. No matter how we protest our mistreatment and inequality, we are silenced and/or imprisoned.

Living in a country where we afraid because of the color of our skin is not the country I immigrated to. When prominent sports figures took a knee in silent protest, they fired and labeled “unpatriotic.”

I am reminded that I could be living in any third-world dictatorship at this point. Where the government has to control its people with might. Where curfews are imposed. Where police drive cars into protestors. And of course, where the country’s leader is justifying this ugly behavior.

But I chose America! A proud country of immigrants. The free America. The America that speaks up against injustice. Or so I thought.

As it turns out, my America is selfish and self-serving. It speaks up only when there is something in it for the privileged few.


If you do nothing else…

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

…change your profile pic. Support the Movement for Black Lives in their call for a week of action June 1-June 5. Use hashtags #DefundPolice and #DefendBlackLife.

Silence equals acceptance. Stand up for human rights. #BlackLivesMatter.


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 77: #Coronavirus and a perspective: #Riots2020

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 77.


Almost speechless

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

The tragic events over the past week have left me almost speechless. I’m still not sure I can express my sorrow at what has happened in America. Any progress People of Color thought they had made over the centuries has been undone, not just by the murder of #GeorgeFloyd, but all the senseless killings, human rights abuses, and other injustices that Whites have not had to suffer, not like this. By the disenfranchisement and marginalization of people because their skin is a different shade. Because of fear, ignorance, and hatred – all perpetuated, today, right now, by a racist in the White House. That he was elected is further proof of the utter imbalance of justice, morality, ethics, human values, and power in America. And this insidious, virus – which I’ll call Trump – continues to pour gasoline on the fire.

Why do people riot? Because they’ve been left with no other choice. Never forget the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

America should have been better than this. So many of us grew up with the notion that this was the land of liberty, the one place where “equal” and “opportunity” were part of the deal. Our Black brothers and sisters have known all along about America’s evil side. And today, right now, the rest of the world knows it, too. Today, right now, we need to take a stand: We can no longer un-see images or videos of innocents being murdered because they are Black. We can no longer un-hear the statements of White supremacists. #BlackLivesMatter.

We can no longer look away, or hope this will blow over. Today, right now, no amount of “land of the free” or “home of the brave” or waving of flags can be enough for us to go back to complacency and silence. Dr. King taught us that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Silence equals acceptance. Now go out and make some noise.


What is happening?

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

I am hanging my head – part of me wants to bury my head in the sand – what happened in Minneapolis and the aftermath can’t be happening in my country. My country stands for Freedom for All and Liberty and Freedom and and…. Well, it is happening in my country, we can’t look the other way, we can’t pretend it is an isolated case, we can’t blame others, it happened right here.

I have reposted two posts from my community, one from the police chief and one from my pastor on my Facebook page. They both said it better than I could – I am proud that my leaders in Bend are committed to service to those historically oppressed. Unfortunately, even in this community where there is an attempt, even pride, that we are inclusive – I know of instances where we have not been. Where People of Color have been afraid to walk on the street in an area that prides itself on being inclusive and inviting diversity. There is a lot of work to be done everywhere, and we can only start where we are and move forward. 

I was in college in the Sixties and there were many race riots, police brutality, and injustices. That was 55 years ago. I naively thought those days were over. I have seen lots of advancements – but today we took a giant step back. If this is going to be behind us, we need to fix the cause and change the system so that the inequities of opportunity do not exist. Then we will be able to hold our head up high. 

Retrieved from unsplash.com

In keeping with the purpose of the blog, I must relate to the #Covid-19 virus. The Virus of Racism is worse. Those who are using the masks that are supposed to be protecting others from the Covid virus, but are using them to disguise themselves, are no better than the KKK wearing white sheets.  Those who are coming into cities to agitate, loot, destroy on the pretext of protests should be dealt with for what they are. Those who are truly grieving for George Floyd and for the injustices towards him and trying to do so peacefully, should be protected.

I hope that I can someday hold my head up with pride again in My Country. 


Breach of contract

Wayne Wallace in McLean, #Virginia

It shouldn’t take a video. We should do the right thing always. Evil should be punished universally, not just when there’s a camera recording the evildoer. You would think that the panopticon enabled by universal cellphone cameras and social media would make this type of tragedy anomaly, rather than then all too frequent event that it is.

We were told to always act as though our mothers could see what we were doing. If we followed this advice, or at least acted as if the camera was always rolling on our actions, tragedies like the Amy Cooper “swatting” of a black man, the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, and the public murder of George Floyd would not have happened.

As Trevor Noah says in his brilliant analysis, the social contract is broken. We are all asked to behave in a certain way, live by certain values. What good are those values when they don’t apply to Law Enforcement? We are asked to live by a code of conduct that applies only to some. Society, and our social contract, are designed to protect those who live by the rules. We’ve learned, over and over, that protection does not apply to People of Color.

And justice does not apply to White law enforcement officers. How can we expect anyone to uphold the social contract or their end of the agreement, when those who represent the law are above the law? How do we not expect lawlessness when our contract offers lawlessness?


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If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 76: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Today’s topic: #BlackLivesMatter.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 76.


Get out there

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

#BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

People, GET OUT THERE AND MAKE NOISE.

Join a protest.
Stage a rally.
Demand justice.

Kneel. Boycott. MAKE NOISE.

Because silence equals acceptance, and silence is killing people.


There must be an answer

Wayne Wallace, McLean, #Virginia

I am tempted to start with, “When things like this happen…” Except things like this don’t happen in my world. I am at a loss. Unfortunately, “things like this” do happen. A lot.

I don’t often think about White privilege, but I do recognize it and know that I often benefit from it. I have always known that White privilege means my opinion matters more in meetings. I know that I will get more respect than my non-White (not to mention female) counterparts.

What I haven’t thought about with regard to White privilege is how it affects me in my personal life. Now, I understand, White privilege means petty offenses do not carry a death penalty for me. I’ve long been of the opinion that U.S. drug laws are racist, but now it’s clear that far more often than should ever be tolerated, basic laws and law-enforcement activity are applied differently – depending on race.

As a White parent, I fear that my children may make stupid mistakes or bad decisions. But I don’t have to worry that their choices could carry a death sentence simply because of the color of their skin.

I don’t know what can be done to fix this. There are certainly legal remedies that need to be implemented. But more is needed. We, as a society, must reject the notion that Black men are to be feared. We need to stop accepting and electing politicians who play on our insecurities, biases, and fears. Instead, we must elect leaders and promote ideas that unite, tear down barriers to advancement, and eliminate the unequal application of justice.

What is not needed is more indifference to disproportionate treatment for criminal allegations, depending on the race of the suspect. What’s not needed is for the rest of us to avert our gaze while others plead, #ICANTBREATHE under the knee of police brutality. What is not needed is more White liberal guilt that ignores the real pain and suffering while being all too willing to weaponize race for personal gain.

Much the way it took men to “allow” women the right to vote and begin to heal millennia of gender inequality, it’s going to require the conscious effort of right-thinking White men and women to stop allowing separate and unequal justice, and demand equal treatment and dignity for ALL. Not just all of “us.”

Retrieved via Internet search.

Enough

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

I have spent a lot of time pontificating on what I have learned from the #coronavirus. I’ve reflected on the impact this whole experience has impressed upon me. It’s all been a bit overwhelming, really.

Now many are returning slowly to “normal” life. How do I start to move on? Personally, I don’t want to move on. I want to move away! Out to the country and be self-sufficient and live sustainably. But I want my voice to be heard.

I’ll emerge back into full-fledged engagement with “real” life after I am assured that the government really does hold the wellbeing of its citizens as a priority.

After the police is held accountable for murder.
After “Black Lives Matter” is a slogan imprinted on every American’s mind.
After “All Lives Matter” is a slogan we all live by.
After everyone, including officers, are arrested for committing cold-blooded murder.
After my America is so longer Amerikkka!

Enough is enough. We cannot continue to allow the racial divide to fester.

I leave you with the names of a fraction of those Black lives murdered by police. May you all Rest In Peace.

Michael Brown. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Eric Garner. Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd.

Retrieved from @MrsChrstiBerg on Twitter

My country ’tis of thee

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

My country, the one I pledge allegiance to and the one I am proud to live in, is breaking my heart.

We abolished slavery.
We claimed equality.
We call ourselves a melting pot.
Lady Liberty says she welcomes everyone.

And yet, every American who is not a WASP or an Aryan, is definitely not welcome here – be they Native Indians, African-American, Asian, Arab, Latino…

We, non-WASP or Aryan Americans, make up 30% of people in these United States and still we are considered inferior to the White ones.

We are the ones working on today’s frontlines, in grocery stores, in menial jobs that no White American wants to do. And yet we are considered second-class citizens.

Are these United States a third-world country or first? Today, after the horrifying choking death of George Floyd, we have absolutely proven that we are worse than any third-world country.

We chastise these third-world countries on their leaders and policies. We condemn terrorists, sanctioning foreign governments. We still hold our heads higher than any other country, but we spew more hate and racism than any other life on Earth.

My country, you put me to shame. You ain’t no land of sweet liberty. 

Retrieved from lightboxcollaborative.com

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Post 75: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Today’s topic: If you were ________, how would you have handled the pandemic?

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 75.


Blindfold or Mouth Gag?

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Oh, how this pandemic has shown the true colors of many people around the world, be they leaders, politicians, corporate thieves, humanitarians, educators, first responders, medical staff, or simple normal people.

In hindsight, it is always easy to criticize and claim there was a better way to do things. But when one is in a massively difficult decision-making position, weighing all the options and visualizing all the scenarios is awfully difficult.

Unless you are the Idiot in Chief and you are more worried about your Twitter image than displaying true leadership. So, if I were the President of the United States —a country I love and miss terribly—I would have done 8 things:

  1. Listened to the warnings coming out of China in December and begun a real assessment of where this might lead my country and acted on it.
  2. Hired a team of experts to take over the daily management of the Pandemic, giving them total autonomy and authority to act as needed for the greater good.
  3. Closed the borders immediately, but also would have opened refugee camps for those who have nowhere to go.
  4. Teamed up with international leaders to create a policy that will save the fragile economies worldwide.
  5. Supported the World Health Organization more than usual so that they can manage the chaos and give better guidance.
  6. I would not have used the Pandemic as a campaigning platform to toot my own horn.
  7. I would not accuse others of my wrongdoings.
  8. I would have worn a mask.
Retrieved from boredpanda.com

If I were Any World Leader Today…

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

I think this is the first of many pandemics and today’s world leaders need to start making plans for living in a Pandemic World.

Why do I think we’re going to be binge-experiencing pandemics? Several possible reasons. One, years of covering the news taught me that events come in clusters. There was a time when plane hijackings were regular news fodder. Don’t hear about those much anymore. 9/11 brought on a spate of smaller terrorist attacks. Not so much of that happening now, except if you live in the Middle East, of course. Mass shootings? If there are any, the news isn’t covering them. Now we’ve got a pandemic. If news history repeats itself, we’ve got a few more lockdowns ahead of us.

But it’s more than history repeating itself that says world leaders need to have national and international plans for dealing with rogue viruses. Personally, I think bioterrorists and bioterrorist nations are seeing just how unprepared the world is for dealing with a pandemic—whether a pandemic created by Mother Nature, who thinks the human species needs to be brought down a peg or two for its cavalier attitude towards her; or by certain countries flexing their power; or by a consortium of individuals who stand to profit from the demise of our current economic system.

World leaders and their publics—i.e., us—need to get ready for a new world plagued by plagues. This particular pandemic may be over soon, but there are going to be more. And next time we may be battling more than one or two simultaneously. There won’t be enough labs in the world to create all the vaccines we need.

My personal solution…I’m going to start eating some dirt. Build up my body’s immune system. No more pampering my body with gluten-avoidance. Being a GMO fraidy-cat. So precious with myself I can only eat organic. No. I want a body that can take on all comers. I want a body that will make any virus say “calf rope” when it tries to infect me. (“Calf rope,” BTW, is Texan for, “I give up.”)


If I Were the #Coronavirus

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Heh, heh, I sure showed you, world! I bet you wish you hadn’t taken so much for granted! You thought it was normal to slaughter animals in the open-air markets…you thought it was normal to live your lives of privilege without a care for the environment or your fellow humans. You thought you were immune to everything.

Well, I brought you to your knees! I brought your world economies, your health care systems, and your stock markets to a standstill. I defeated your fake power structures; I exposed your false social narratives. My crown trumps – with a lower-case t – your missiles any day.

And I’ll be back. Even if you find a vaccine, I’ll be back, and stronger. You know why? Because I’ve been studying you humans for millennia. I’ve learned that you don’t learn. Your leaders are simultaneously empty suits and full of hot air. Mask, no mask; gloves, no gloves; social distancing or not. Go ahead and hug, gather, and claim to love each other in your houses of worship. I’ve exposed so many of you for what you are, you bigots; I’ve made you show your true colors, you racists. I see you going back to your “normal,” selfish behavior; your manmade borders, your enslavement of others, your xenophobia. I see that disregard for human life – unless it’s feeding your agenda and coffers – is part of your holy grail.

I’m the great equalizer: poor, downtrodden versus rich and famous; I’ll strike you at my will. I’ve proven that all you claim to stand for is nothing when confronted with my thorny crown. Your willingness to destroy everything around you for the sake of a few bright, shiny coins makes me stronger. Your own false sense of power makes me, Corona, invincible.

And so I’ll strike again. And again.

Photo by Mick Haupt. Retrieved from unsplash.com.

If I Were a Leader…

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

If I were able to be anyone I wanted, I probably would pick the person who could have nipped this pandemic in the bud at its onset, China’s President Xi Jinping. The Chinese government is no stranger to flu pandemics, having experienced three in the last decade alone.

I finally understand why the Asian population has been wearing masks in all public places for the past few years. They know how quickly these flu symptoms spread and are not taking chances. Now the whole world is following suit.

So if I were the Chinese President, I would have responded immediately. As soon the first reports emerged from the hospitals indicating a surge of flu-related admissions, I would have isolated those patients and immediately contacted the World Health Organization.

I would not have delayed the announcement, nor would I have imprisoned doctors raising alarms for “rumor mongering.”

Photo of Dr. Li Wenliang, whistleblower. RIP.
Retrieved from abc.net.au

Actually, if I were the president of any country, I would emanate confidence in my government and my citizens. There is so much ambiguity when it comes to the truth. We must lean on the experts and consider what they have to say. If people are afraid to speak up because they may be fired or imprisoned, then there is a problem in the system. Knowing what we know now, there should be no excuses about a straightforward handling of any epidemic/pandemic.

But in all fairness, if I were the president of China, I would also remind the world that our final death toll was approximately 4,630 to our population of 1.4 billion.


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Post 74: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Today’s topic: If this were 2019…

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 74.


Head in the sand

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

It’s May 2019, and I am weeping uncontrollably. My countries are a mess and there’s nothing I can do about it. The land of my parents is embroiled in a conflict that has killed at least hundreds of thousands of civilians, while the international community has watched, impotently, and clucked sympathetic yet meaningless drivel. The struggle for power in #Syria just fuels hatred and sows fear while civilians are literally dying to be free.

Meanwhile, the land of my birth, once (to me at least) the bastion of freedom, the land of equal opportunity, the upholder of human rights, is descending into authoritarianism, the kind we see in the land of my parents. The ongoing racism and increasingly blatant hatred in America have chipped away at any belief I once had that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were sacred for all Americans, not just the White ones. Since January 2017, I have been watching a power grab that sows hatred and fear in America, while people of color are literally dying because they are not free.

It’s May 2019, and I cannot stomach the thought of another revolution. The one in Syria was already too much for me. I apply for a long-term visa to Spain. If I can’t be effective in either of my countries, at least I can figuratively stick my head in the beautiful, peaceful, soothing sand of the Costa del Sol.


Silver Lining in Every Cloud

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

What was I doing with my life this time last year? I was swigging Dr Pepper. Eating pre-digested, nutrient-free junk food, engorged with every petro-chemical-laden flavor enhancer. All this high living was topped off with me watching 24/7 news 24/7.

Today, in the time of corona, I haven’t had a Dr Pepper in three months. I only let homecooked, fresh foods pass my lips now, so my digestive system’s doing the happy dance 24/7. And 24/7 news binge watching? Off the menu. I refuse to let the words of another broadcast opinionist, who’s posing as a journalist, hit my eardrums ever again. And this is coming from someone who used to be a member of that tribe. It was once a semi-proud profession. Now the Founding Fathers are wondering about the wisdom of the First Amendment. They may be thinking someone should open a good old-fashioned can of Second Amendment whoop-ass on that tribe.

No longer watching the news has given me all the time I need to work with a business/publishing consultant to put the polishing touches on a book I’ve written. Comes out in a few weeks. The consultant’s also guiding me in retooling my business, which corona has taken its toll on. But that’s okay, because now I created a better…pandemic-proof…business.

So, even when the lockdown’s lifted, I’m staying in. Except for going to the hair salon. This time last year my hair looked pretty fetching. Not so much today.


May 27, 2019

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

If this were May 27, 2019, it would be Memorial Day and my family and I would be gathering at my friend’s pool for the annual “official start of summer” party. There would be around 25 adults and teenagers for a special kefta BBQ. We would be eating, drinking, and swimming all day. Whilst a few brave souls attempt to sing karaoke.

But it’s May 27, 2020, and it is Day 74 since the Covid shutdowns began. I have been at home celebrating for the past 2.5 months, eating and drinking every day. The public pools will not open for the season this year and it looks like my friends pool will not be open to non family either. But don’t worry about me, after several cocktails I will shake the dust off my bikini and attempt to wear it on my overweight body. Then I’ll go running through the sprinklers in the front yard singing Shake that Money Maker at the top of my voice. That should spice up the neighborhood gossip.

Retrieved from pinterest.com

Italy, work, family, work

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Every summer, I visit my family in Virginia for a few weeks and then my husband and I go on a trip for a month. Usually, Italy is on the books for 10 days, somewhere during that month. 

Last year, we spent 3 weeks in Tuscany and Cinque Terre. Blissful, peaceful, quiet, beautiful. 

I always used to worry about my work back in Beirut, because during the summer the workload was lighter and we usually did some housekeeping. I had to stay on top of things and could not disconnect completely from Beirut. 

But what I do, when on these trips, is spend time alone walking the streets of where we are for a few hours, go to a spa, and immerse myself in the culture. In Italy, cocktails before dinner is a tradition. Sitting at a bar in the local piazza with a glass of Prosecco and big giant green olives is heavenly.

During that time, I scan through my phone to locate the best way to walk to the restaurant, where we will have dinner, taking the longest way possible to enjoy the sounds of the town, look into the shops, and talk to the natives. 

I can just hear it now, the sound of people chit-chatting, walking their dogs on cobblestone streets, stopping by to say “ciao” and there is always the one guy who knows everyone and is the loudest! He also always has a dog!!!

Oh, how I miss Italy, my work worries, my family, and my life in 2019. And oh, how I look forward to visiting Italy and my family as soon as possible. Meantime, I do also miss my work and my ex-normal life. Yes, I am adjusting to 2020, and 2019 is nothing but a distant memory in my otherwise busy head. 


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Post 73: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Today’s topic: What has the next generation learned from this pandemic?

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 73.


Generation Gap

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

We humans are all different, and yet we are made the same. Other than the color of our skin, we are all made of the same organs and limbs. It’s our world circumstances and the way our brain deals with them that affect us as we grow. Therefore, it’s quite impossible to pontificate about the next generation as a whole. Even if I just focus on the US, it would be impossible to make a generalization.

I am most concerned about the younger generation who witnessed their parents losing their jobs and living in fear of hunger and homelessness. And those whose parents were front-liners separated from their families. What about those who witnessed the death of a loved one from this virus?

Granted, they are not the children of war-torn countries, but #trauma is trauma, and it manifests itself both physically and mentally. And we must help prepare a coping mechanism for their future.

The one thing that the next generation all experienced together was when schools closed their doors and education came to a halt. Then the sudden frenzy to normalize remote education. Special-needs students did not have access to their resources and parents were forced to become educators.

So now I narrow this topic down further to Middle-Class America.

To the entitled generation of “Snow Flakes”: Maybe I’m being harsh, but my kids are part of that generation. We helicopter-parented them and protected them from the “bad world.” You know you did. Now many are graduating this year and they need to stand on their own feet and face their uncertain future.

Created in Typorama

Honestly, I think this #coronavirus is going to have a positive impact on this Gen-Z. They have been given a chance to stop and reassess everything they took for granted. Many have used their time creatively, from raps and videos to writing or baking with the blessed TikTok by their side. (FYI it too emerged from China).

These Gen-Zs have grown up thinking that life has revolved around them. Hopefully after they emerge from feeling sorry for themselves, they will rise because of this creativity. And let’s face it, the best lesson they have learnt is adaptability and resilience.


Poor Learners

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

Heard some next-generation folks saying they want to turn “birding” into a Pokemon Go kind of game. Since they can no longer run around the commercial countryside looking for Pokemon sightings, they want to charge around the wilderness turning “birding” into the new Pokemon Go.

So, what do I think the next generation has learned from the pandemic? A fat load of nothing.


A Teenager’s Take

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

I have my own opinions on what the next generation SHOULD learn from this pandemic…but that might be because I’m an opinionated mom. I decided to go to one of my sources of truth, an expert on the next generation: my 16-year-old son, Ramsey. He writes:

“Quarantine has been a long few months of stress, fear, and stupidity. The global COVID-19 pandemic has driven people to break laws, riot, and tweet unnecessary soundbites. With poor leadership throughout most of the world, we have reached approximately 5.5 million cases and 348,000 deaths globally. Since the first case in December 2019, the world has fallen apart into a near-dystopian nightmare.

As the world finally starts to gain some sanity, many governments have initiated lockdowns, some going as extreme as having tanks in the streets; however most lockdowns are not fully enforced. As people slowly lose common sense, all social distancing has been ignored and they are rapidly returning to beaches, parties, and packed crowds. Protests in Michigan have gotten violent, and in the more southern states, the blood of Jesus is apparently the only cure.

That being said, I have learned that society is not prepared for everything. I have also learned not to take regular things for granted – such as school, work, friends, family, etc. – as those are the things that keep us sane.”


Boomer and Alpha

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

It’s 2035. Joe, a seasoned baby boomer, is chatting with a Generation Alpha teenager, Mira. Joe begins with the positive things that happened because he didn’t want to dampen Mira’s hopeful eyes with the negatives yet. He told her stories about Bernie Sanders, AOC, Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Edward Snowden. The, Mira asked him, “what about the Pandemic of 2020, what was that like?”

Joe went into a soliloquy that he couldn’t stop. It was as though he had been waiting 15 years for this moment.

“Mira, what I want you to focus on about that time is that no one should be at the mercy of any bigger entity, not a corporation, not big pharma, not Gates or Bezos, and not a government.

The Pandemic showed us how much inequality there was, not only on the economic level. Listen to the science and make sure that what you do is not motivated by political and financial advantage. There should always be a safety net for people, and no group or government should get excessive power. But during the Pandemic, we also saw so much help for the disadvantaged, homeless, poor, immigrants from good folk. This is something we had lost somewhere along the way at the turn of the century.

If you take anything from this conversation today, Mira, it is that your generation should be ready for future pandemics, as they might happen more often – this is due to my generation’s abuse of nature. You should have a system in place, just like we did when we grappled with nuclear war preparation when I was your age. This is the biggest threat that you will face.”

Retrieved from view.stacker.cc
No copyright infringement intended

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We sometimes use photos and images we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 72: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

READER CHALLENGE: If you were to direct a #Covid-19 movie, who would be in it?

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 72.


Hollywood Takes on Covid-19

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Disclaimer: I really don’t know anything about the movie industry except that they make way too much money.

But what if I could direct and produce a movie about Covid-19? Would it be serious or funny?

My first instinct would be to make a funny movie, since we could all use a little humor right now. Just imagine it! We could focus on the the shit show we are living here in the US. The screenplay has already been written. All we do is emulate real life, just like Saturday Night Live has done for the past 5 years.

I would recruit Jack Black as the President (I know Alec Baldwin plays an amazing President, but I’m going for a new funny face) and maybe Ben Stiller could be the Vice President.

The comedic version would be the easiest, but what if we make the movie serious? Then I would ensure that all the characters are played by actors that are soothing to the eye. For example, Matthew McConaughey, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ryan Gosling for a start. I would add two others just for me… my all-time bad-boy heartthrobs Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro.

Actually, throw in a few leading actresses and that version would be a sexy, serious movie worthy of all the Hollywood melodrama. However, it would be way too expensive to produce because the audience would expect amazing effects and Hollywood glamor, but the good thing is we can set it up for a sequel.

No, I don’t think I want that version either. The really serious movie would be played by a cast of women. I would focus on the strong female leaders who have successfully guided their countries through this pandemic. I would pick seasoned actresses such as Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Helen Mirren, Frances McDormand, and Glenn Close. Their characters would be believable and accomplished. And since this is my movie, I may pretend that one of those leaders was the president of the US. We would create a scenario of how our strong female President united the country. She spoke eloquently as she took charge of the situation and nipped the outbreak in the bud within the first month.

Yes! I like that version of my movie!

Created on Typorama

Darth Cuomo

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

 If I were making a movie about Covid-19, Anthony Hopkins would play New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo. You might say Hopkins is a bit old to be playing Cuomo. But he certainly can project the nasty image I’m looking for. The focus: Who is the real Gov. Cuomo? Is it the man who gives concise, reasoned press conferences each day to update the good folks of the nation about New York’s Covid-19 status? Is he the governor who successfully skates with hot blades on thin ice when dealing with President Donald Trump? Or is the real Gov. Andrew Cuomo the governor who doesn’t want to include the deaths by coronavirus of the elderly in nursing homes in his state’s Covid-19 death count? In his world, the elderly shouldn’t exist in this tragedy. They’re just old people his state has housed in ill-run facilities where underpaid staff were left with virtually no government support to help these poor souls die a terrible death with him and the state not giving a damn.

I believe a nation should be judged by how it treats its children and its elderly. That’s why I would call my movie Darth Cuomo, his state abandoned the elderly in their nursing homes and considered them so unimportant their deaths ranked no higher than raccoon roadkill.


Total Recall 2020

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Ahnold will walk into the ER of a Los Angeles hospital carrying 5 people on his shoulders and will say with all his might that these people need to be treated for Covid-19. Then he walks out to rescue more people. He doesn’t wear a mask or gloves, of course.

The lighting is red and everything is somber and he is the only one on the dark, silent streets.

My vision of a Covid-19 movie will start with this scene, but will slowly change with the light of a new dawn where people are out on beaches sunbathing and swimming until…they start falling…and who will come to rescue them? Ahnold!

Not really…that’s what Hollywood will probably produce for the Covidiots who like this kind of mindless entertainment. But what should Hollywood focus on?

Going back to the ER, Hollywood should spotlight the doctors, nurses, and first responders (George Clooney, Ellen Pompeo, Luis Guzmán as part of the cast) who spend endless days and nights managing their patients, their sanity, not being with their families, seeing constant fatal cases, unable to stop the outbreak with little or no support from Washington.

Hollywood should show us how they survived this current ordeal and have the stories be about them: their dedication, fears, trials and tribulations, and about how they have been honored by an actual President with higher pay scales than football players, movie stars, and politicians.

The actual real-life movies and series should give us a glimpse into what actually happened so we learn from our current BIG HUGE mistakes. We need to have a stronger healthcare system with medical care for all, be they citizens, residents, or immigrants. People are people and whomever they are, they should be the ones benefitting from the system and portrayed in big-budget movies and television series.

Retrieved from Augustman.com

Ending the Clusterfuck

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

My movie is a basic dramatic re-enactment of the pandemic and how it was bungled by the United States government. The finale, though, involves bringing criminals to justice.

The plot, developed in collaboration with Shonda Rhimes, is simple. Viola Davis, tireless justice-seeker and investigator extraordinaire, uncovers the truth about the real numbers of Coronavirus victims in America. Working with women scientists (Susan Sarandon and Eva Longoria) in a secret lab, she discovers that the 100,000 (and counting) deaths in America could have been avoided had those in power taken quick and decisive action back when like 2 people had it. In the course of her work, Viola helps other nations uncover their own truths. Her team of researchers, including those played by Robert De Niro and George Takei, exposes the senators and other public officials who made shit-tons of money through insider trading and illegal small business loans.

What thriller is complete without a kidnapping or two? Enter Liam Neeson, who with colleagues Matt Damon and Kerry Washington, frequently saves the day AND those who were kidnapped. Best of all, they find the damning evidence that the president of the United States knew what the virus could do and how many it could kill, and did nothing to stop it.

At the end of the movie, Donald Trump – played by Danny DeVito – is prosecuted for negligent homicide. The jury includes some of the president’s “favorite” people: Hillary Clinton, Ashley Judd, Shakira, Alyssa Milano, Mickey Rourke, and Matt Damon.

The judge: Barack Obama.

Life in prison. Public humiliation. Trounced by Obama. Justice served.


If SNL Was a Movie

Wayne Wallace, McLean, Virginia

If I were to direct a Covid-19 movie, I would most likely focus on the comical bungling of the current administration. Which pretty much limits the actors to Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon. Baldwin’s parodies of Trump are spot-on. Though now the reality has been even more ridiculous than the spoofed version. And Kate McKinnon’s impersonations of so many in the White House have been not only hilarious, but enlightening.

Retrieved from Billboard.com

Assuming this movie is made after the Coronavirus crisis has passed and we’ve had time to reflect on the enormity of the tragedy, it might be time for a more lighthearted look at the events of the last few months. It will be a challenge for Alec Baldwin to outdo the insanity of “perhaps we can inject disinfectant.” And perhaps he can consult with Jon Lovitz to perfect the unique way of lying so obviously with a straight face.

Kate McKinnon has shown such versatility in recreating members of the administration. Perhaps she can play Dr. Birx as she tries to not show her disgust and discomfort with the things her boss is saying. Or any of a host of characters from who have invaded our TV screens the last few months.

And of course, Brad Pitt will play Dr. Fauci.


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

We sometimes use photos and images we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 71: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Today we’re free-form writing.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 71.


Day 71!

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

We have been blogging every day since March 15, one day after #Spain went into lockdown. Originally, RJD, Tina F., and I wanted to chronicle our quarantine experiences, but we had no idea they would extend over such a long period. Since we started blogging about our CoronaDays, we have added team members. I’m so happy that Charlie, Norma, and Wayne have become more or less regular contributors. The bigger the team, the more diverse the opinions! We don’t always agree politically, but I believe we have a common interest in humanity.

Today it’s free-form Sunday, and we have really interesting and controversial topics: #religion, #gratitude, #friendship, #humanity, #economics, and #justice.

I hope you enjoy the posts! I’ll be back tomorrow. In the meantime, #EidMubarak to all those who celebrate it!

RafifJ, #Malaga, Spain


Don’t bite

Wayne Wallace, McLean, #Virginia

I don’t understand. If God is everywhere and we can speak directly to Him, how can any government regulation stop anyone from worshiping? The latest round of insanity confuses me.

The current guidance is that people should not gather in large groups. That’s not limited to churches, synagogues, and mosques. It’s everywhere and applies to everyone. Not just Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists. Presidential rhetoric aside, nobody’s rights are being violated. Christians can still worship, just not in a large, dangerous group. Today is still Eid; it just needs to be celebrated responsibly. And for many, yesterday was the Sabbath, regardless of the locks on temple doors.

This is another quirk of the so-called right that I find irksome. The same group that says, “just because the government doesn’t pay for it doesn’t mean a right is being denied,” when it comes to healthcare or other entitlement is now screaming bloody murder that religious practice is somehow being infringed.

Color me cynical, but this is so clearly yet another example of #theRealDonaldTrump trying to divide the country in order to secure his reelection. That he has managed to somehow turn the science-based response to a major threat to the health, life, and safety of every American into a culture war is disgusting. We shouldn’t bite (and most right-thinking people will not). It’s not only ugly, it’s un-American.


Gratitude

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

Being in lockdown has nudged me to re-read Anne Frank, the Diary of a Young Girl. Now there was a lockdown. We’re free-range chickens compared to what Anne Frank and her family and friends endured in their close quarters. We’ve got wifi, the Internet, Zoom, FaceTime, our computers, iPads, and mobiles. And no one’s likely to take out firearms on us if we go for a walk or run outside.

Having a bad day dealing with the inconveniences of our lockdown? You can always turn to a tele-therapist to talk you off the ledge. Admittedly, the supermarket lines could be long, but we have Instacart to carter to our culinary necessities. And pizza is only a phone call away. Not sure the Franks had that option when they had a hankering for some fast food.

I’ve got a full freezer of food. Lots of friends to Zoom with. I’m using the lockdown time to finish a book and retool my business. And when I get peckish from being corralled inside for too long, I hop in my car and go to the C&O Canal to enjoy a stroll near the Potomac. This is hardly a hardship lockdown.


With a little help from my friends

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

It is difficult – there is no getting around that. 

The world is opening up in different ways around the world, but getting through this time is still difficult. More for others, I know. It’s strange to go to a store and have people in masks behind a shield. It’s difficult to not hug the person you haven’t seen for awhile. Even more so, it’s tough to not hug a person who has experienced a loss. There are no words that can help – a hug does, but we can’t give it. Virtual hugs only go so far. We have to figure out what we can do so that that person doesn’t feel alone. 

Isn’t that true of all of us, we don’t want to feel alone? 

How can we not feel alone when we can’t be physically together? This blog is helping me. FaceTime and Zoom help me. Today I went to church via the Internet. I know, churches are allowed, even mandated by our president. I am glad my church is going to continue having services via the Internet until it is safe to be physically together. The doors of our church may be closed but the hearts are always open. I want to feel that my home is the same. I haven’t had anyone in my home in over two months – my heart has always been open. So have those of my neighbors and friends. 

Yesterday, a friend came over and power-washed my fence. Another neighbor is going to stain it. They can do these things for me and maintain their 6-foot distancing. Still another friend is coming over to help with putting flowers around my fence after it is painted, and they’ll do the heavy trimming. I am definitely on the receiving end of all this help, and I am so grateful. I try to be helpful and do what I can. I may not be able to dig out a big bush, but I did plant the herbs I wrote about the other day.

The feeling of accomplishment when I did what I could, helps me get through the day.  Even if it is a little accomplishment, it feels good.

I have received a lot of help and I like to be able to help others; that’s also good for me.

I must tell how I helped someone this morning and they were so grateful. My family will not believe this – but it is true. A friend called, I helped them with a computer problem. Since I am technically challenged and call my son for IT support, neither he nor anyone else in the family will believe me.  However, it’s true. I helped someone and it made me feel good. 

Keeping my heart open is what keeps me going through the pandemic.


Enough is enough

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

This past Easter, church bells rang but no one was in church. No happiness, joy, pastel colors, spring or Easter egg hunts. Ramadan passed in a somber mood worldwide. And Eid El Fitr is here, quietly trying to emerge between all the lockdowns and restrictions.

To those celebrating today, I hope we never have another holiday, ever, that is this painful. To those who feel that they have a right to go celebrate en masse and with no social distancing, please be wary.

Not because I care what you personally do, but in Lebanon today more than 80 Bangladeshi workers have been put in isolation due to a high infection rate of Covid-19 and because of lack of adherence to lockdowns/social distancing and so on.

These Bangladeshi workers left their country and their families to come to Lebanon to work as trash collectors and street sweepers. They left their home country to earn not more than $200 per month. They are living in old buildings that need renovations badly, that have no heating/cooling, no plumbing, no real beds or kitchens, and no proper ventilation. They are living 15 people to a room. And we wonder why their residential complex became a corona cesspool?

Moreover, they are no longer collecting their salaries because they need their money in greenbacks, which we do have access to, in order to transfer to their families. The companies they work for cannot pay them except in Lebanese Pounds, and not at the market rate but at the official rate. Meaning their salaries are now worth about $50 per month.

How can we strive to make their lives any more miserable than this?

Here I am, speaking on behalf of the Bangladeshi community. What about the Filipino community, Ethiopian, Sri Lankan, Eritrean, Malagasy, Ghanaian or Togolese? We have more than 250,000 foreign workers in Lebanon (under the Kafala system – which sucks) that are either under paid, not paid, abused or victimized and we have more than 60% unemployment in our own population.

I can’t say more today…Happy Eid.


Excited for sports?

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

As we wind down from the #coronavirus, it’s time to open up all aspects of life again.

Especially missed are the sporting events. They are negotiating how to safely open up stadiums and addressing the logistics of how to quarantine if a player experiences an outbreak during the season.

I saw the Premiere League (UK’s top tier soccer teams) had announced to play televised games without any spectators in an attempt to finish their season. I watched part of a game with my son and it was rather dull. Fans screaming and cheering in the stands provide a totally different atmosphere. It elevates the excitement of the game. So it’s no wonder that the players themselves are refusing to play in empty stadiums. There is no such thing as home team advantage anymore.

The funniest excuse for refusing to play came from the team playing Manchester City claiming that MC would have an advantage because they are used to playing in empty stadiums.

While the world is negotiating the start of all sports, the fans are excited for a return to normal.

Teams, managers, and players are still working in the background, trading players and signing on new ones for millions of dollars. That’s unbelievable! A quarterback received $60,000,000 at signing and a $34,000,000 salary. And the fans – such as my son – applaud this because they want their teams to win.

Wait, did you count those zeros? Do you realize this is an obscene amount of money? My son was justifying their salary based on how hard they work behind the scenes in order to perform so well. “They get up early and train. They don’t have any days off. They have to watch their weight and their diet. It’s hard, Mom!!!”

Hmmm, yes…and what about the trash worker who picks up your garbage? He has to get up early and be fit enough to haul heavy, stinky trash in order to provide food for his family. He makes $34,000.

Do you notice the three missing zeros?

OK, I’m not becoming a Communist or trying to take from the rich to give to the poor (although that would be an honorable thing to do). I am just saying that making obscene amounts of money for playing with a ball is despicable.

I get that this is the country of free enterprise. But after 2 months of watching “front line” workers, trash collectors among them, going to work and doing a great job for $12 and hour, I can’t help but ask the question:

How the heck did we get here?

Retrieved from turfshowtimes.com

Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 70: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Today we’re free-form writing.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 70.


Do People Ever Really Change?

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

I held on to the notion that the lockdown would alter some of our less attractive behaviors. Oh, how naive I was!

This week I ventured out to go to a doctor’s appointment. It’s not the first such trip I’ve made during lockdown. Typically, the highways have been pretty abandoned. But on this day, it was almost traffic as usual for 10 AM on a weekday. However, it wasn’t driving as usual. The folks on the road were INSANE!! More than they ever were before lockdown. Driving like they were competing in NASCAR. Swooping in and out between small spaces, between other cars, where tailgating was being observed. There were at least 10 near-collisions. It was as though everyone thought any minor lifting of the lockdown entitled them to revert to the behaviors of 2-year-olds.

I dropped in at a Trader Joe’s on the way home and the shoppers acted like they were members of some exalted royal family. It was a scene of entitlement on steroids.

Apparently, at least in DC, the lockdown hasn’t humbled or changed the population at all. In fact, it’s ramped up their hubris quotient.


Was there color when you were little?

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

One day, years ago, my kids ran up to me, wanting to discuss something. They were about 4 and 6 years old at the time, and they had clearly been discussing something serious among themselves.

“Mommy, was there color when you were little?”

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

At the time, I *think* I resisted the urge to laugh. I gathered them close and we talked about how blue skies, green grass, and bright flowers had been around forever. We talked about crayons and black-and-white versus color TV. We talked about how the world had changed since I was a little girl growing up in New York City. We talked about pizza and mac & cheese and ice cream. We talked about getting sick and going to the doctor and eventually being all right. We talked about how the universe took care of us and how everything always worked out the way it was meant to work out.

My kids were eventually satisfied my answers and ran off to play a new game. Every time I remember this conversation, I smile at their innocence but worry about how the world has changed for us all.

What questions will future generations will ask? Will history be kind to us?


Jeff and I are like Trump and Xi

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

I buy almost everything I need from Jeff’s Amazon. This has been the norm for more than 15 years because in Beirut, I can’t find everything I need. I used to be in love with Jeff’s Amazon. Select, add to cart, checkout, two weeks later I receive my order.

It was an amorous relationship full of flirting, romance, jealousy, and sometimes arguments (when items were not available on Prime!)

And then the Lebanese financial crisis began. Banks closed, more and more items disappeared off our grocery store shelves…then came Covid-19 and lockdowns and supplies dwindled in Beirut, in the US, and worldwide.

What to do? Our spoilt lifestyle came to a halt. Going to a Dean and Delucca-style store became a thing of the past; buying organic Scottish smoked salmon became a memory; finding gluten-free baking flour became a major search on all the local store sites. Yes, serious first-world problems. Luckily, I had loads of toilet paper! So, I order much of what we are missing from Jeff’s Amazon.

That brings me why I am finally falling out of love with Jeff’s Amazon. Just like the Idiot in Chief (INC) was in love with Xi Jinping when he invited him to Mar-A-Lago at the beginning of his doomed presidency, he also fell out of love…but he tends to do that way more than I do.

I am having a love-hate relationship with Jeff’s Amazon (the one with the INC is a permanent hate-hate relationship) because of how Jeff treats his employees, especially when it came to precautions during the pandemic. The way he feels it’s his right to not provide them with a good working environment, doesn’t pay them if they call in sick because they contract Corona, lack of job security/protection from Corona, healthcare benefits, and decent pay among many of their grievances.

To put it in numbers:

  • Jeff Bezos is worth $147.3 billion.
  • The US Government is worth $123 trillion.
  • The Chinese Government is worth $63.8 billion.
  • Xi Jinping is worth $12.5 billion.
  • Donald Trump is worth $2.1 billion.

Jeff commissions Chinese products made by Chinese sweatshop workers who get an average of $3.37/day; the products are shipped to the US for Jeff’s warehouse workers to pack them for us at $15/hour. Then Jeff gets tax breaks (up until 2019), so that leaves the majority of what I pay going to Jeff.

In any idiot’s mind, the numbers are outlandish.

In a smart person’s mind, I buy from Jeff, who buys from China, who now pays taxes to the US and Chinese governments, and the two presidents fight with one another over COVID-19 among many other issues. Five entities gain, the other 2 get paid pennies. So just like Trump and Xi are having a trade war, I am going to declare my personal war with Jeff.

Retrieved from knowyourmeme.com
No copyright infringement intended.

Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 69: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…

…on how to handle a bad day.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 69.

Note: We don’t claim to be mental health professionals, and any advice or tips we offer are based on personal experience only.


Are bad days here to stay?

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

The good days have been fewer and fewer these past few weeks here in Lebanon. The political, economic, financial, and Covid-19 crises are playing out badly on a daily basis.

So, when I wake up in the morning, I get this heavy, sinking feeling as I wonder what the day will bring. How will it be? As the day evolves and more bad news emerges on the local and international scenes, I begin to feel this heaviness getting bigger and wider.

Unfortunately, a lot of what is going on here affects us on a daily basis: what price is the lollar at? Will we be able to get money out of the bank? How long is the wait at the bank? What rate is the bank providing today on withdrawals in US Dollars? Will we find the groceries we are used to purchasing? Will there be road closures? And last but not least, which of our ruling class will punch each other in the face during a meeting? It is endless…so one anticipates all the bad before one can see a shred of good.

My new policy is to NOT watch the news, nor read any, at the start of the day. I have removed all push notifications except for one site. I scroll through it when I have the time or feel like it. I have switched my phone to silent so I don’t get phone calls at other people’s whim. I answer text messages when it is convenient for me. I am no longer at the mercy of everyone and my device.

This has helped reduce some of the stress and anxiety that make me have a bad day.

Sadly, bad days are going to become more of the normal than we expect, at least in the short run. We might have to go through several more lockdowns until herd immunity takes over, we are going to pay a heavy price for the economic and financial depression that we are facing and we will be more on edge in general.

For now, on the really bad days I try to find humor, keep myself busy, and vent it out. Alas, oh for the days when one used to wake up in the morning and feel like it’s a new day!

Retrieved from quotereel.com. No copyright infringement intended.

Turning a bad day, sad face, or frown into a good day, smile, or a happy face

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

Whether the bad day is due to the isolation, lockdown, or just a personal bad day, there are things that can be done. I have thought of simply standing on my head to make the sad face into a happy face – but since I am 76 and don’t have as good of a balance on my feet as I used to – I’m not sure I could balance on my head, so decided not to try it.

During the Covid-19 shutdown I have found that sticking to a morning routine helps tremendously. I get up and before coffee, I do a Tai Chi warmup and the Eight Pieces of Brocade. I do other exercises, depending on what type of exercise I expect to do during the day, and how much time I have. I have breakfast and do chores around the house. My family has a FaceTime call, so I try to look halfway decent for them. I am usually dressed by then. It makes my day!!!!

Whether or not we are in lockdown – there are always ups and downs in living life. I think of the triggers that might give me a down day. For me they are the holidays, special birthdays, anniversaries, and special events I did with my husband, who passed away two years ago. I plan for those days and make sure I am busy with activities. Again, I am so fortunate for my family. They make sure that I am looked after in some way and included in their days (whether it be in person, FaceTime, a call, or chocolate-covered strawberries). I am so fortunate to have such a supportive family. My local friends also treat me like family and do something special, drop off some cookies, or give me a call. I am so grateful.

What about those unexpected bad days where everything goes wrong, what do you do? Yesterday, my afternoon started off like that. My homeowners association (HOA) sent me a notice that my fence is not up to code. I must paint my fence. Again, my neighbors and friends are helping me. However, I have to buy the stain. I went to the paint store – without the correct measurements, and worse yet, I forgot my wallet. No, money was not the problem, I could go home and get that. However, I had to drive home, knowing I didn’t have my license with me. I knew there was a policeman on every corner waiting to give me a ticket. My technique for handling “bad” day situations like this is:

  1. I am not the first person to forget my license – in the worst case, I get fined if caught.
  2. It isn’t the end of the world if I don’t have the right measurements – I can remeasure.
  3. Take a deep breath – drive carefully and do the best you can.
  4. Fix what you can in a bad situation, know what is beyond your control: STOP, BREATHE, and THINK.

Do this not that

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Having a bad day? Define bad. My days have been good and bad and interchangeable. Granted, we are all experiencing some level of anxiety at this time, but how does one get out of the funk?

A few days ago I was feeling much better about my life. Quarantine was over, the shutdown was coming to an end, and I had a new found energy about my life. So what happened? How did I go from that feeling to having a complete shit day? The type of day that leaves me with a throbbing headache and a pit in my stomach. 

I know it’s stress-related, but for some reason I cannot shake it off. I’m digging deep and tapping into all my self-affirmation resources. I may experience relief for 30 minutes and then it’s back. The more desperate I am to “fix” the issue, the worse it gets.

Does that happen to you? The time when you desperately need to deal with a bad day and you cannot find the solution? It is more common that you think.

What I have learned is that during that stressful moments, the best thing you can do for yourself is to journal and identify the source of the trigger. It is not the time to come up with a game plan. The best time to rationally deal with a bad emotion is when you are feeling good. It is then that you can see the situation and solutions more clearly.

I was attending an online class called The Neuroscience of Change and I learned that emotions are passed down to the next generation. Scientists had conducted an experiment on mice where they introduced a sound and then shocked them. These mice would respond with the same anxiety level every time they heard the sound. When the next generation of mice came along, they too responded in a similar fashion when subjected to the same sound, even though no shock was administered. It is therefore possible to inherit emotions too. So am I carrying the horrors of my ancestors? Shouldn’t the same theory apply to happiness then? The answers are yes and yes. 

In my class I also learned that “We operate on a memorized set of behaviors, emotional reactions and unconscious habits.” It is during the cognitive analysis that we can make changes and “Replace old programming.” We must remember to not berate ourselves and be kind to ourselves. Learn new ways of giving and receiving love, and always remember to acknowledge your accomplishments.  


What’s wrong with having a bad day?

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

You’re having a bad day. SO WHAT?

Let me explain my perspective before I get accused of being super-insensitive.

Of course, I have bad days just like everyone else. I find ways to get over them – a walk on the beach, a phone call with a special friend, a joke – but here’s the bottom line: bad days are good for you. How else would you recognize the good days?

Here’s a little perspective: if you’re not a refugee, in a war zone, at risk of starvation, or mourning the loss of multiple members of your family, you’re in pretty good shape.

But you don’t have to suffer calamities to have a bad day, and the old expression, “my headache is worse than yours” is relevant. It may be a good idea to think through your bad day, figure out what’s really bothering you, and acknowledge it. Like Judith Viorst’s Alexander, who had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, sometimes we just have bad days and have to learn to deal with them.

Besides exercising or a brisk walk or reaching out to a friend? I know! I could sing to you, and that would have you in tears of laughter.

Or try doing something nice for someone else. The Helper Therapy Principle applies, especially during anxiety-ridden times like, oh, a pandemic. You could pick up groceries for someone who cannot, offer a hot meal to a homeless person, or spend some Zoom time with a kid who is driving his or her parents nuts.

Sometimes, just gaining a little more perspective on how not-bad your life actually is can help you turn your bad day into a better one. And remember, today will eventually end, and tomorrow is an opportunity to have a much better day. Make it a good one!

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Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 68: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…

…on staycation versus quarantine.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 68.


Staycation, quarentincation! What’s the difference.

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

In the late 1970s, early 1980s, my parents lived in England. My youngest brother was still living at home and my older brother and I were teenagers attending separate boarding schools a few hours away. We only went home on school breaks. I looked forward to the Christmas holiday, when my brothers and I would reunite and spend a few weeks at home. We literally stayed home for 2 of those weeks. All the shops and restaurants were closed and there was nowhere to go, so we made the most of our time at home.

My mom would help us stock up on all our snacks and goodies. We took time going through the special 2-week edition of the TV Guide, circling every program, show, or movie we wanted to watch during the holiday break. The broadcasting companies made an effort to bring home new and exciting programs for Christmas, and with four channels on TV to choose from, we didn’t want to miss anything. We spent several of those days in our PJs well into the afternoon, watching TV, snacking, and playing board games.

I know it sounds very similar to the current situation we all find ourselves in due to the #coronavirus. But back in those days, the shutdown was self-inflicted. It was Christmas and the tradition in England was that everything would close for at least 10 days to 2 weeks. Also the dates of the closures were defined. From December 23-January 3, the country was pretty much closed for Christmas holiday. Then by the time everything reopened, we were ecstatic about going out again and shopping. Those are some of the fondest memories of my youth.

Fast-forward to March 2020, and I find myself in a similar situation with my family. Everything is closed. I’m in my PJs till the afternoon, I have stocked up on everyone’s favorite snacks, and we all watch a lot of TV.

I secretly had a romanticized view about being shut off at home, but now 2 months later, we are still here at home trying to wrap our heads around our changing world. Is this a quarantine or a staycation? Who cares? Some days it feels like a fun vacation from the real world, but most days it is very painful because it is endless. The end is not designated on a specific date so we cannot prepare for it to be over and move on.

With that being said, I would love to go back to the days when holidays were sacred and everyone took time off. In this country, we set the standards for opening late or even 24/7, and the UK has slowly been following in the US’s greedy consumeristic footsteps. They even have a Black Friday sale! And they do not celebrate Thanksgiving, for heavens sake!

Unfortunately, our society has become so used to working ridiculous hours and receiving instant gratification for all our needs. When we were asked to stop and slow down, we ran around like chickens with our heads cut off. I agree this is too long, but from now on, let’s all fight to get more time off in our lives and take time to stop and relax – not just from pure exhaustion, but because we want to.

Retrieved from dictionary.com. No copyright infringement intended.

The difference is choice

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

I have always looked forward to a Staycation as an opportunity.  It was an opportunity to do those things in an area that I lived in that usually only tourists do. So many times, we would get bogged down with work, housework, and schoolwork, and not enjoy where we lived. Right now I live where outdoor activities are boundless, there are usually plenty of outdoor concerts in the summer featuring both local and more famous people. There are spectator sports, as well as many sports to participate in.  Actually, I have been fortunate and have lived in 10 states around the country. All of them have most of these activities in different forms. It was always nice to take a day or week, and just enjoy and not do any work at home. 

The difference between a stay-at-home order, lockdown, or quarantine and a staycation is that the first is mandatory.  Just the fact that I am required to stay in makes it difficult. The expression, “we are all in this together” isn’t true. During this time, I could go out for a walk while others could not.   Whatever individual restrictions were—they were restrictions. Who wouldn’t have enjoyed a day by the fire with nothing to do as a rest from the rat race, before the shut down? In quarantine that day inside is mandatory and all that can be thought of, especially at first, was what we needed to be doing. Now all that can be thought of is, “what’s next?”

Is it possible to try and trick our minds into enjoying our time in quarantine? Can we treat it as a staycation? Probably not all the time, but try some of the time. I have seen lots of videos in which people are doing inventive, fun activities. I have seen lots of family time enjoyed. 

Let’s try to remember the good times of being together (forget the annoyances of being too close 24/7 or learn from them).


Good day, sunshine

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

I think back to the “early days,” when we thought lockdowns and states of emergency and panic and crippling anxiety would only last a couple of weeks. But today, Day 68, I can say, with certainty, two things:

  1. I can’t believe it’s been 68 days.
  2. Quarantine is no staycation.

Remember when we would stay up half the night to watch news, and sleep most of the day? Remember when we panicked because the rapid spread of Covid-19 surely meant the end of the world? Remember when it was cold and rainy and the weather was lousy and everything was miserable?

Yeah, all that anxiety seemed to evaporate as soon as the restrictions were eased here. It’s finally a staycation! The sun is out! The sky is blue! The remaining days of lockdown are hopefully few, and will seem like a distant memory soon.

Now that everyone can go outdoors [almost] at will, the smiles have returned to the faces of passersby. The pigeons aren’t so hungry, and I swear the bugs are acting all friendly. We’re in that honeymoon phase, reacquainting ourselves with charming neighborhoods, reliving nice memories, hanging out at the beach. The street musicians are slowly making their way back to the plazas and the pier. Outdoor restaurants are starting to fill up. Living in a place as happy as Malaga definitely makes for an awesome staycation. Life is good again.

Photo by Matt Hardy on Pexels.com

Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 67: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…

…on staying indoors during warmer weather.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 67.


Summer time

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Now that summer is around the corner, I am looking forward to a change. I have this fluttery feeling in my stomach remembering what the word “summer” means to me:

  • Summer means walking barefoot all day
  • Summer means visits to the beach and eating ice cream on the boardwalk
  • Summer means spending the day by the pool with a cocktail or two
  • Summer means longer days and BBQs with large gatherings

May 25th is Memorial Day and the official start of summer in the US. So how does this all play out during coronavirus 2020 ? Will summer will be cancelled?

I doubt it will be cancelled, because many states in the US have already opened their beaches, allowing groups of people to gather in one place. For those who decide to go, life will seem normal. As though we never had a pandemic. At least not until the numbers of fatalities from the coronavirus rise again.

So the question, “Does the warmer weather make it difficult to be indoors?” is a no brainer. Of course it does.

But if our brains weren’t so programmed on how summer is supposed to be enjoyed, we would not feel a loss if it does not live up to our expectations. We only have to change a few things and we could enjoy summer tremendously.

We in America have not been asked to lock down with curfews like most other countries. We have been asked to stay home. The outdoors is open. But there is no retail or entertainment or restaurant dining, but those are opening back soon.

As for me, I am not ready to go back to the normal hustle and bustle. So I will spend as much time as I can outside, barefoot, drinking cocktails, soaking in the sun, admiring the flowers. Eventually the temperatures will soar and I will retreat back indoors to my air-conditioned home.

The chair on the left has my name on it…let’s hope I can go there soon! – Tina

Ughhhh summer is here…

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

The temperature in Beirut has been at 90 degrees Fahrenheit since last week and it has been so unbearably uncomfortable.

I am a hot-blooded individual. The heat has never been my friend and I hate humidity and stickiness. In the summer, I take 3 showers a day!

I also have an aversion to eating outdoors when it is this hot. I can do so if I am in a bathing suit, sitting in the shade. But to me, summer outdoor events, from lunches to weddings, are a nightmare. I avoid them vehemently.

It is beyond my comprehension why anyone would spend hours at the hairdresser and wear evening formal clothes (at a high price I might add), to eat and dance in this kind of weather. And only to see mascara running and sweat marks on their lavish clothes. What a waste of time and money…I know many would disagree with me, but hey!

So, in these lockdowns, I am – luckily – just as happy as can be sitting in an air-conditioned room pretending it is winter. I dream and long to walk the rainy and cold streets of London like a happy duck. Soon…I hope…

Retrieved from brightstarcare.com. No copyright infringement intended.

Venturing out and #planting

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

I am going out today!!! Yes, it is more difficult to stay in when it is sunny and bright out. I am actually going to a store!!! I have had friends go to the store for me since the lockdown.  I am going to venture out with masks and gloves, of course.

I was perfectly happy staying in by my fireplace this past week while it rained. I have gone out for walks, where I was hoping to go between showers. Unfortunately my timing wasn’t right, I got drenched. That made my fireplace even more inviting.

After reading RJD’s perspective in Blogpost #64, I got out my planters and decided I would make a little herb garden in them. 

You see how far I have gotten during this week during the rain. The planters have been in my garage for two years and were actually just containers for other things. It’s good to think of them being repurposed and used as planters. No, I am not going to save money. I don’t know what the cost will be, but I need to buy potting soil and plants. I also will have to bring the planters in at night because it still gets below freezing. It will be worth it. I am getting out of the house with a purpose—will get some exercise and eventually add some fresh herbs to my food. 

It feels great to go to the store. Will post another time with the end product. 


Warm weather, good

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

I thought I’d start with a photo of beautiful Malaga. It is virtually impossible to stay indoors when the sky and the sea are this blue. These are just some of the colors that delight our eyes.

I took this photo the first day we were permitted to go outdoors for walks. Other than my elation at being “allowed” outside, what struck me was that the weather had turned warm, overnight. One day we could only go out for groceries or medical needs, and it was cold. The next day, we could walk around during specific times, and the weather was just fabulous.

Actually, for most of our lockdown, the weather had been unseasonably cold and wet. It was as though Nature understood that we were miserable indoors, and chose to make any outdoor trips unpleasant. I remember occasions when I was feeling claustrophobic and invented reasons to go shopping – I need parsley – we’re out of pencils – we might run out of dental floss next week – I would walk furtively to the store, only to get rained on. I’d return home quickly, cold and shivering.

But now it’s a completely different story. Looking at the happy, happy people filling the cafes, and the groups strolling along the shopping avenues in this beautiful city, it’s almost like we never had a coronavirus issue. Other than the masks nearly everywhere (and as of midnight they are required), you wouldn’t know that two weeks ago people were afraid to greet one another, let alone hug and kiss as they do now.

Spring marks new beginnings and new life. Hopefully in May of 2020 and beyond, the spring and summer will not mark a new life for the virus.

#StaySafe #WashYourDamnHands #WearAMask


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Post 66: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…

…on how to get along with your spouse during lockdown.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 66.


Meditating through marriage in lockdown

Tokyo Boom Boom Ciao*, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Really, meditation and yoga have been my one and only saviors during the lockdown here in Lebanon.

You realize things during quarantine about your husband. Sure, you marry for love and it’s romantic and you actually love your companion, but we were all used to spending a small amount of time together in those old days before Corona.

But in no one’s life are you with your husband every day, every minute, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week! You leave for work, he leaves for work, you are out of each others’ lives and whatnot from 6 pm until 10 pm, you have dinner, bath time, and homework if you have kids, watch a Netflix movie together…literally, it’s absurd to spend this much time with anyone.

And one other thing I am going to rant about: you guys are dirty. I never realized how you manage until now. You burp, and you think we don’t hear it? Your butt crack hangs out of your pants and you think we don’t see it? You lay all over furniture with your sweat, you think we don’t smell it and deodorize it when you are not around? You don’t wash your hands after you eat and you eat all day! I didn’t know that until we started living quarantine lives. And you go to the toilet with the door open, who does that?

I am not living with my husband anymore; I am living with a college roommate all over again!

Alright, I am exhausted from this quarantine and have no solutions except the need to go back to work regularly and not live with my husband all day long for the rest of my life. Until then, ughhhhhh…..I will go meditate and practice yoga again.

Retrieved from Pullingcurls.com
No copyright infringement intended.

* Pseudonym to protect the innocent

Co-existence for dummies

RJD, Beirut, Lebanon

When I speak to my friends locally and internationally, I hear the same about coexistence: I am going to kill my partner if these lockdowns continue!

Yes, we are all under duress, we are all anxious and worried, and we are all getting on each others’ nerves. Thirty to forty percent of the world population will go through a depression or anxiety-related issues in the coming few months.

So how do we coexist? Here is my list:

  1. Socially distance yourself. Bathrooms are great places for that. Wait for your partner to finish daily bathroom needs and spend as much time in the bathroom as you can. You can do a self-care ritual, you can sit and read, listen to music, message and talk to friends in private and complain about your partner!
  2. Create time zones. Take a fake nap in the afternoon, watch a movie or series alone, or just meditate more often! Transport yourself to a different time zone for an hour or two each day while your partner is awake.
  3. Sing. Sing badly in a loud voice around your home, hum or whistle. Usually, your partner will get fed up and move to a different space!
  4. Consider the best-case scenario.  What would you love to do on your own right now? Travel? Watch a YouTube trip to somewhere you love, pretend you are there. Get drunk with your friends, host a party (in the bathroom), make a drink, and cheer each other.
  5. Encourage your partners’ friends to stay more in touch.
  6. Create a man/woman cave for them.
  7. If all else fails, have a fake fit! It does calm things down!!!!

The lockdowns will end one day, but you don’t want to end up in a situation where you are permanently alone (or do ya?!), so make the effort and apply co-existence for dummies ideas to get by for a few more days…weeks… months…it will end one day.

Found during an extensive Internet search.
No copyright infringement intended.

Knickers in a twist

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

There is a saying in Arabic for when two people have been spending a lot of time together. We say “tizein bil bas.” Translated it means “two asses in an underwear.”

Usually the saying is used when the two are getting along with one another. But after spending so much time together in such close proximity, it’s inevitable that the underwear becomes way too tight and nerves/threads start to fray. And they basically can get their knickers in a twist.

I must admit that my husband and I are finally dealing with this constant oneness quite well. We have decided that we are each entitled to feel the way we want. We are also allowing each other to be as productive or as lazy as we want.

Do you see the common thread? Allowing the other person to live as an individual is key to a lasting relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have our moments. For instance, I dread hearing him call my name when he is sitting in his home office at his computer. A sure sign that he has a technical questions. It maybe the fifth time he has asked about this issue and this is the fifth time I give him the solution. I take a deep breath and bite my tongue… haha, anyone who knows me knows I would never bite my tongue, but rather I bite his head off!

Sometimes I feel especially angry and want to go and lock all the controls on electrical appliances and watch his baffled face as he tries to warm something in the microwave.

What? I’ve never done that! I was just thinking about it…

Anyway, back to the positive interactions. We go on walks together a lot, we eat and drink together a lot too. But if I am truly honest, the key to success is this: Live independently but not selfishly. Share in the chores and never expect things to get done without asking for them first.

Retrieved from chatelaine.com
No copyright infringement intended.

Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 65: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…

on skills we’ve developed or improved.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 65.


If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Let me tell you a true story. Once, when I was about 9, I baked a cake on my own and set it on the counter to cool. The family dog, Boots, managed to jump high enough to grab it. That’s it. I mean, literally that’s it – Boots didn’t even eat it. The cake was THAT awful.

While I don’t think that incident scarred me for life, I must say that cooking and baking have never, ever been on my priority list. Throughout the years, I’ve gotten away with ordering takeout or delivery, dining out, or – and this is the best – getting others to cook for me. “Others” have included friends, family members, my ex-husband, and my kids.

[Another true story: I once hosted a dinner party and couldn’t order the food, so I ended up serving my guests Pop Tarts and cereal.]

With the lockdown in Malaga, going out was no longer an option. The number of carryout places was severely limited. Delivery was pretty limited, too, and outrageously expensive.

So I started to make a few simple things. Adam made helpful comments like “too much salt” and “would it be okay if I microwaved this?” But I didn’t give up. Once I mastered basic dinner recipes, I quickly moved on to baking.

My first disaster was when the blueberries in my mutant blueberry muffin/cake exploded in the oven. But I kept trying.

Since my encounter with the blueberries, I have been baking something every day. I’m happy to say I have finally conquered crumpets and vanquished biscuits. Tomorrow I’ll move on to the subjugation of scones. And I’ve spent way more on flour and baking supplies than if I had just ordered the damn delivery. BUT I DID IT.


Practice makes perfect

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I love seeing how creative people have been during the shutdown period of the #coronavirus.

I have a list of skills and interests that I was hoping to hone in on and improve now that I had all the time in the world. Surely I would find something off this long list, which includes photography, Photoshop, cooking, crafting, speaking fluent Italian, and gardening.

So which skill have I focused on and improved? Well none of the above! And the first was quite by accident.

Writing has played a major part of getting me through each confused and bewildered day during shutdown. Until this blog, I hardly wrote nor voiced my opinion in writing. So after 60-plus days of daily blogging, I hope I have developed a style that I can be proud of and maybe even worthy of a following.

The second skill has emerged because of necessity. I’m a sprouting mixologist!!! Not because I plan on getting a job as a bartender when this is all over, but because “happy hour” cocktails have become a crucial pastime and an event to look forward to during shutdown.

I have become creatively experimenting in fun new drinks, or sometimes just putting a twist on a classic. For example, you take the Moscow Mule, which we all know is vodka, lime, and ginger beer. That can be adapted to an Italian mule by adding limoncello. Or a Bombay mule by infusing the vodka with cardamom and adding real ginger and simple syrup. Viola! I’m a mixologist.

Practice makes perfect, so I keep trying to improve daily. I still believe in Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule, which claims that you need 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill.

If I count the 2 hours a day writing and making drinks, then I’m on hour 124 of skill mastery. Only 99,876 hours to go!

Cheers to a better tomorrow!

Discovering the kitchen

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Back in my 20s (like yesterday, ok?!), I had a flair for cooking and baking. I used to live in an apartment complex where many of my college friends resided, and on Sundays, we all had lunch together over a Lebanese meal from the Mloukhieh (Jew’s Mallow) to the Fatteh (chickpeas, pita bread, yoghurt, garlic, and ghee-fried pine nuts sprinkled with paprika and chopped parsley.) 

I also used to love baking and decorating cakes, and became very good at it. I even considered it as a business at one point.

Fast-forward to living alone in Beirut in my 30s (um, also like yesterday), I survived on takeout and my cooking/baking flair was all but a distant memory.

Fast-forward again to being locked down in the wonderful world of Coronoia (I am still in my 40s, duh…) I needed to remain busy, so one day I asked our housekeeper for permission to use her kitchen, under her supervision. She reluctantly accepted while looking at me with a bewildered look, because since she started living with my husband and me, my trips to the kitchen have entailed making espresso!

And I rediscovered the joys of cooking with passion and love, albeit with a few burnt attempts!!! From making wonderful salad dressings to baking gluten-free cakes and pies (my husband is gluten-intolerant). Oh wow, what an experience it has been. The only gratitude I have for the lockdowns!

I now look forward to being in the kitchen, researching my recipes, and preparing them. But the biggest joy of all is when my husband has a taste, and as I look at him in anticipation, he says “mmmmm, this is good!” Problem is, he always looks so surprised at my newly found talents!

First attempt at pecan pie!

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If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 63: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Today we’re free-form writing!

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 63. 


Social policing is the new norm

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I bet many of you know about the way the grocery stores are handling their customers these days. As for me, I had no clue because during quarantine I either ordered online or had my son do the grocery shopping. That is until this week. I finally decided I was going to do the shopping myself.

The first stop was Whole Foods. I knew to expect lines with everyone obediently standing 6 feet apart. I was happy to see the attendant wiping off other people’s germs off carts (another new normal), but what I saw for the first time was the traffic directions taped to the floor, and other stickers on the floor with additional instructions like, “Stop!” “Wrong way.” “Do not enter.” “One way only!” “Maintain your distance.” These were not makeshift signs with masking tape and marker; no, these were permanent and professionally printed.

My natural instinct upon entering the store was to tackle the grocery shopping as efficiently as possible. I walked up and down aisles, turning around halfway to get other things. Then somehow I finally looked down and noticed the signs on the floor. Oops.

At first I thought, Dang! How much money did they spend to get these made and installed? Then I started to worry that I might get into trouble for not obeying the signs. Then I was struck with an even weirder thought… will they assign traffic police in grocery stores and public spaces? Will they give us citations for walking the wrong way down a one-way aisle? Or lingering too long in one place, or perhaps for standing too close to someone else?

I can just picture it. I am chased by an officer honking a hand-held horn. Everyone slows down to see what’s going on. I am pulled over and the officer says “ma’am, do you know how fast you were walking down the aisle IN THE WRONG DIRECTION?” Ugh!

Nothing is considered far-fetched anymore. When we have a crumbling economy, an armed militia, and media chaos, a police state sounds very plausible. But the ugly truth is that we are already policing each other these days. Public shaming has become “normal.” Just as beating the heck out of the person enforcing the rules has become “normal.”

I can understand why people are moving to the country, where the population is less dense. Where the air is fresh and the birds chirp. Life is always slower and more laid back. I too am planning on moving to that utopia. I plan on growing my own produce. Maybe even have some chickens and bees.

But that does not happen overnight so until I move and am self-sufficient, I guess I will have to put up with these crazy rules around me.

Wait, these policing rules don’t apply to the country, do they ?

Retrieved from thespec.com/opinion
No copyright infringement intended.

A conversation inside my head

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

I am tired
I am disappointed
I am sad
I am frustrated
I am confused
I am distraught
I am helpless

These thoughts keep turning and turning in my head. Why can’t I have a clear train of thought these days? Why is my head so all over the place?

I looked at myself in the mirror and tried to set things straight. I said to my head: “there is nothing you can do about the world…you can’t fix Covid-19…stop being depressed and get your act together.”

I went back to bed, crawled under the blankets, and cried. I cried not for myself. I rarely do. I cried because my advice to myself was useless. I need to do something for the poor refugee children, for the hungry families, I need to stop this chaos, I need to shut the politicians up, I need to help the students stuck abroad with no money, I need to fix the world.

I have always been a Type A personality: over-achiever, plagued with Catholic guilt, disciplined, obedient, and law-abiding. Bah, that is not getting me anywhere these days. I cried some more.

In the morning, I got up. I inhaled smoke from my first cigarette, looking out at the beautiful Mediterranean, with the sunrise over the Sannine mountains, and convinced myself that I cannot stop the chaos we are living in. I sucked on that fag even harder…but what can I do to stop feeling so helpless?

My answer was to keep writing. This blog and my personal journal are the two things that keep me from going mad. Yes, I am depressed, angry, and frustrated. Yes, I am helpless right now, but at least when I write, I get some of it off my chest.

To those who read my posts, I am sorry if I am always lecturing and spewing anger. For those who see some of my humor, keep smiling. For those who send me encouraging messages, thank you for holding me up. I am blessed in general. I know that, and am blessed to have your support.

And a big thank you my dear friends and family for making the past two months bearable by giving me this writing outlet. Thank you.

Photo by RJD.

After all, tomorrow is another day

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Today I decided to be positive all day, just to see if that would improve my mood. It did!

It’s amazing how you can set your own tone, your own level of positivity. I guess it starts with having a good night’s sleep. But it also takes conscious effort to not be bothered by the little things. Ugh, that SO does not sound like me!

[SIDE NOTE: You can control your mood by breathing deeply, exhaling, and thinking sunny thoughts. You can also push away deep, dark thoughts that will take you down a nasty road. Sometimes denial, even temporarily, can help you see things through a different lens. I LOVE denial.]

Throughout the day, I chatted with friends and family, read some interesting articles (not Covid-related!), and contemplated my future. What do I want to do when I grow up? Who do I want to be? Where do I want to live? Why do I ask myself so many damn questions?

If the #lockdown has taught me anything, it’s to be a little more introspective and enjoy the process. Doing my what-if analyses, with a positive spin on each option, made me feel optimistic and super-productive. I sent and received good vibes. I volunteered to help a client on a project. In my positive-thinking-state, I realized that I don’t need to have answers to my questions; I just need to BE.

Now at the end of my day, I’m looking back and thinking, I can do this more often. As long as the sun rises and sets every day, virtually anything is possible.

Let’s keep those good vibes going all around.

Marbella, Spain, last February

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If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 62: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on…

…books and movies about pandemics.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 62. 


Is it the end of the world?

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

The genre of pandemic-related books is categorized under science fiction. Probably because it’s so unrealistic that we must use our imagination to create many of the scenarios. I don’t usually read or watch anything about science fiction because I just can’t wrap my head around it. However, I did read one book several years ago for book club called Stations 11 by Emily S. J. Mandel, which at the time seemed scary, but rather far-fetched.

Yet here we are in 2020, living during a real pandemic. It is scary and disconcerting. The virus has spread fast across the globe. The death toll is high. The unemployment rate has skyrocketed. So is this an example of life imitating art?

I began thinking about this book and how it compares to the current situation. In Stations 11, the world is hit by a virus called the Georgian flu. It is a highly contagious disease with a near-zero survival rate. The flu becomes a global pandemic with in days, wiping out most of the world’s population and, in turn, destroying the infrastructure of technology and civilization. The book does not describe the decline of civilization, but jumps to 20 years later, when the earth has become post-apocalyptic and only a few have survived by walking into the wilderness.

We also find out that there was a plane that was grounded at Toronto airport, but the passengers never disembarked; they survived and eventually left the plane and lived in the airport. They collected and preserved items from their past lives and created a “museum of civilization.”

Retrieved from amazon.com

Of course, the plot is deeper than my brief description, and I do not recall too many details, but it does beg the question: how easy is it for the world to completely fall apart? Can a virus put a stop to all the infrastructure supporting the world? If we lose most of our population, and our leadership and banking system collapses, maybe we would also become desperate wilderness wonderers.

During our 2020 pandemic, as we have been sequestered in our homes, we realize what it takes to make the world economy go round. It is people. That’s it. Nothing could be possible without people. People are needed to work, make money, make things, grow food, and spend money.

Think about it – how do we acquire computers, Internet, food supply, water supply, electricity, automotive parts? Basically, you name it and people are behind its creation and administration. Even robots were designed by people.

I do not want to visualize or live in a world of mayhem and lawlessness, but I see how it can be possible. Especially when we see the armed militia storming the Michigan Capitol, threatening to kill the governor. Again, I say we need real leadership to put the kibosh on this lawless behavior.

So in conclusion, we need people to run the world, build, and create. If the pandemic does wipe out the majority of our population, we could find ourselves having to start from scratch. Let’s stop taking our lives for granted.


Will we have a happy ending?

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

I just watched the movie Outbreak, which was made in 1995 and starred Dustin Hoffman. It sure has a different meaning today than it would have had I watched it in 1995. To be honest, when the topic of movies about pandemics was proposed, I could only think of a movie about the Spanish Flu. Someone had mentioned Contagion to me a few weeks ago, but that person said she wouldn’t watch it—she was living it. I don’t know why I chose to watch Outbreak; I was surprised how many movies have been made about pandemics. Where have I been? I never heard of them nor watched them, so I can’t compare. I do know the reviews of Outbreak said the movie was totally lacking in personality and was increasingly preposterous. When I think of all the military scenes, I agree. 

However, since we have been living in this crazy world the last few months, the essence of the movie is not preposterous, but just plain scary. Could this happen? The doctors, and anyone dealing with the virus research, wore clothes like this chemical warfare suit all the time. The virus, carried by one person infected by a monkey went to a movie, and everyone in the movie theater came down with this disease within 24 hours. People were dying as they overwhelmed the hospital. They started out with flu-like symptoms. 

This is all too familiar. So scary—in 1995, I wouldn’t have believed it possible—just another story. The lies told by our government, the actions of our government, would have been unbelievable—making everyone staying inside their homes by military force. We aren’t being kept in by military force—could it come to that? 

These are all thoughts I never would have had in 1995. The movie was rated two stars. However, because of the Coronavirus, it held my attention. It also had an ET-type moment when the monkey made friends with a little girl.  Only she was its friend, and that simple act of kindness made it possible to capture the monkey and make the antibodies that saved the town.

Dustin Hoffman’s scenes in the helicopter really were preposterous, but it made for a happy ending. He got the monkey to the town. Saved his ex-wife from the virus and the whole town too. 

I am sure we will have a happy ending to #Covid 19. It might be a sappy ending to a movie, but I hope we have a happy ending too.


The end of the world as we know it

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

I was going to write about the movie Contagion, because so much of it closely resembles our current Coronavirus situation. Released in 2011, the movie is particularly chilling now that we’re living it daily in 2020.

But I’m not writing about that movie tonight. There’s another drama playing out today, and it’s not going to end anytime soon. This is a horror movie about America’s swift descent into chaos and anarchy.

I can’t get certain images (Ahmaud Aubrey’s shooting, for one) and words (“Lock her up!”) out of my head. America has become a giant petri dish of contagion, fueled by pandemic hatred, propelled by ineptitude, and noteworthy for its colossal stupidity.

Imagine this scene: A customer walks into a Target store and is asked to wear a mask. Rather than complying (or leaving), he breaks the store clerk’s arm. In the past, it was easy enough to think these types of acts of violence were isolated incidents; we could send good vibes to the clerk and say “what an idiot” about the perpetrator. And then move on. But random acts of violence have stopped being anomalies; now they are daily occurrences.

How about those Michigan protesters? Armed with assault rifles, they stormed the State Capitol and threatened to murder their governor. I don’t believe it was a case of isolated idiocy. That was no group of peaceful demonstrators, and they weren’t exercising their right of assembly. No, this one smells more like heeding a call to “liberate Michigan.”

Does a stay-at-home order (in response to the pandemic) ever justify a weaponized protest called “Judgement Day”? What should we think when people suggest that, because of restrictions on movement, Michigan’s governor be “hanged, lynched, shot, beaten or beheaded“? Was this free speech? It was not an isolated incident, and we can’t just move on. It’s not enough to call these people idiots anymore. Their threat of violence is coordinated and deliberate.

As this American movie spirals into further chaos and anarchy, here’s a prediction: it will get a whole lot worse. More people of color will be gunned down while jogging, driving, or just being. More limbs will be broken when store rules aren’t convenient to follow. The ballot box will be replaced by the ammo box. Wait until November – if we even have elections, and if they don’t turn out a happy result for the alt-right-insane, I bet we’ll see a whole lot more “Judgement Days.”

There’s just no vaccine for this shit.


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If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 61: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Tonight is the night to rant.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 61. 


Too many choices

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

There are so many things I could rant about.

I bet you’re thinking I will launch into a tirade about #Syria, where for NINE YEARS the Assad regime has maintained its grip on power by systematically and deliberately destroying the country and committing some of the worst atrocities in modern history. And the world just watches. But no, I can’t go there just now because there aren’t enough words to adequately express my rage at the utter lack of justice.

Retrieved from Art for a Change.
No copyright infringement intended.

OK, you might think I’ll go nuts over my realization that the American Dream is little more than a fantasy that plays out quite nicely for the super-rich White crowd. We’ve been spoon-fed a fairy tale about equal opportunity and the rule of law, but People of Color – any color but white – know better. As America heads down this slippery slope, and fast, I think I see authoritarianism peeking from around the corner. So no, I won’t go there just yet, because I already know that dictators and their puppet regimes will kill anyone and anything that gets in their way. And the rest of the world will watch.

I could rant about global greed and corruption, but it’s become a too-sad, too-often repeated refrain. How about the 800 MILLION or so people in the world who suffer from hunger? Child trafficking? Institutionalized slavery? Animal cruelty? Pick an issue, and you’ll find injustice. And the world watches.

Now that I’ve used up my allotted space, which rant should I choose?


Normal and civilized?

Wayne Wallace, McLean, #Virginia

I’m not sure when it started or why, but I’ve made a bit of a transition in life. Or at least my outlook and attitudes have changed.

It wasn’t all that long ago that my sympathies were far more aligned with John Galt than John Lewis. I don’t think most would describe me as heartless (though some certainly have), but I will admit my focus has been more inward.

That has changed, in part because of my own brief but very real flirtation with death; in part because of losses in my life (my father most of all). But also, I think my attitude has shifted so dramatically because of what I see going on in the world around me. For instance, I’ve watched the Syrian disaster from a closer seat than most casual observers. The way the Assad regime treated its people was an anomaly, I believe, and not how “normal” and “civilized” people treat each other. But I was wrong.

While what’s going on in the US is not barrel bombs, starvation, and genocide, it is abuse of power by the elite to maintain their status at the expense their subjects’ lives and livelihood. Two examples fuel my rant:

First, #TheRealDonaldTrump bought 6 weeks of Coronavirus protection by partially blocking travel. Then he squandered that protection by neglecting to act, or, more importantly, by failing to alert the public and the governors who would need to take the lead in responding.

Why? Because news of a pending pandemic might spook the markets and hurt his reelection campaign. To be clear, the president of the United States was willing to kill tens of thousands of Americans to ensure his reelection. Normal? Civilized? Well, Bashar Al-Assad must be pleased to have a kindred spirit in the White House.

Second, millions of Americans were infected, and tens of millions of us stayed home to save the country from the pandemic. In a rare case of bipartisanship that actually addressed Americans’ needs, Congress passed the CARES Act. It provided unprecedented relief to workers and small business owners who were sacrificing all for the common good. What actually happened? Banks lent money – not to the small businesses most impacted by the Coronavirus – but to large multinational corporations. The American people watched impotently as Harvard University and Barron Trump’s elite prep school received small business loans that don’t have to be paid back (grants).

Is this a “normal” or “civilized” country? For me, it is not.


Rant I shan’t

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

I feel all I have done in the past few months, is rant. So I decided today I will not rant about the Idiot-in-Chief, nor the Lebanese government, the lollar, the Covidiots, the social irresponsibility, racism, the selfishness and greed, pollution, the Bisri Dam, inequality, women’s rights (specially the Kafala system). I shan’t.

The reason is simply because, as we say here in Lebanon, “leysh we2feh 3aleyeh” (is it all hinging on my actions – as in my actions will not make a change, so what?)

Yes, I am resigning from yelling about the big to the small issues. I am finally  adopting the Lebanese attitude.

I am resigning because I live in a country and a world that will just not stop being corrupt. I am resigning because I will not be part of the big corporate reign on the world.

Retrieved from shutterstock.com
No copyright infringement intended.

I am resigning from trying to educate the many idiots who feel it’s their natural right to litter the street. I am resigning from explaining to the ignorants about why we need to save Mother Earth.

I am resigning from analyzing the cobwebs of news and their implications on our lives.

Most importantly, I am resigning my civic duties as a Lebanese and world citizen.

It is with great regret that we have allowed ourselves to be led like sheeple and still bow to Big Brother and think he is actually a bro. I cannot allow myself to be one of those sheeple, I never was, and I shall never be. To that end, I thank #Covid-19 for locking me up at home with a device on which I can write out my thoughts. Fortunately, the device doesn’t disagree!

But rant, I shan’t!


Limbo land

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I have never belonged to any group/organization like a sorority or anything else. I believe that I have a mind of my own. I am a balanced person, able to see both sides of a situation and remain on neutral ground. Actually, after re-reading the last sentence I wrote, I must admit it is not really true anymore. These days I am a flip-flopper. Maybe I’m just a doubter. Wait, maybe I’m a believer…

These days I have time to read the news and pontificate on our world and our future. I make judgements on our leadership. I decide to laugh at some tweets. I cry at other sad reports. But one thing is for sure, I am fed up of the double-sided views.

The US has devolved into the recurring rhetoric of doubters vs optimists. Of the strong vs the weak and a test of good vs evil. No wonder everyone is confused. The news you get also depends on which papers you read. Is it real news or fake news? Is it fact or conspiracy?

Don’t pay attention to the news, some say. Just turn it off and listen to music. But I can’t. I’m obsessed with trying to make a judgment. Sometimes I try to pretend that there isn’t a pandemic and just read the tweets for a humorous pastime. But it’s not long before I’m jolted into reality.

Retrieved from apensiveheart.wordpress.com
No copyright infringement intended.

This has become the new me. Sometimes I’m the grey-haired photographer, a radical, a pacifist who does not believe anyone. No, the truth is nonexistent. Other times, I’m a conservative and a denier. Maybe I’m a rebel. Or is my current condition just limbo land?

Don’t worry, I will not crawl into a dark hole and live off the grid (although I want to). No, I need my friends and family to exist, so I’ll just sit here and wait for the current brawl to end so I can get back to …..

I can’t even remember what I used to do before….


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If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 60: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on…

#accountability.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 60. 


Anti-corruption or status quo?

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Unfortunately, lately I have been very down because there is no accountability in my country. Since February 21, we managed to contain the #Covid-19 outbreak in Lebanon. Hooha!

On May 4, we started phasing out the lockdowns. Today, May 13, the country went back into a total lockdown for the coming four days. Our infection rate has steadily increased after reaching 2 days with a zero-case rate!

Covid-19, worldwide, has become politicized. Lebanon is no exception. On top of which, our society lives on finding a way to break the law, not that there is much law and order in the first place.

So who is accountable?

It isn’t the people who have worked hard to achieve our amazing results up until this week. It isn’t the people who heeded the warnings and stayed home and wore masks and gloves.

Accountability begins at home, then moves into society and government. In our case, I blame society and government. Our government is to blame and should be held accountable for not following through on any of the laws we ever created, unless they are financially beneficial to the chief and his cronies.

Society is to be blamed and held accountable for knowing that it can break a law and there is no reprimand.

The only way to solve this problem is by instituting anti-corruption laws that are implemented to the T, with incentives for those who enforce them. Society and government alike.

That, my dear friends, is a long way away over yonder.

Retrieved from telesurenglish.com.
No copyright infringement intended.

Start at the top

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

When I hear the words, “holding someone accountable,” I think of imposing consequences for bad behavior. It can be used to describe an individual’s responsibility to implement certain expectations.

Ideally the “leaders” in all aspects of society should be the ones to set good examples. We start at the top, causing a trickle-down effect of good behavior and accountability.

When it comes to the USA, the most obvious person who needs to be held accountable is the US President. Basically the President can exert the power to influence and set the standard for accountability so that his advisors, speakers, the Senate, Congress, and citizens are also held accountable. But when the person at the top is not providing any clear leadership and resorts to finger-pointing to shirk his responsibilities, he sends a terrible message. Our system is broken and we have no qualms hating and disrespecting others.

The accountability of the president is a loaded topic in itself. However, I would like to focus on a smaller section of the government, the criminal justice system.

Recently I have watched a lot of these docuseries about people who are wrongly accused and sent to jail for decades for a crime they did not commit. They spend years writing and reaching out to anyone who will listen. Some lucky few find lawyers or organizations willing dig into past cases, hoping to find evidence to exonerate these incarcerated individuals. Mostly these crimes took place before DNA evidence was used in court so when the evidence is brought out and re-examined, the DNA findings exonerate them. This may sound very quick and easy, but in reality it takes years to reopen a case and present all the bureaucratic paperwork that may eventually release the individual from jail.

This is where I would like to see a major rehab in the system. The accountability for wrongful actions in the judicial system needs to be more severe and publicly displayed.

It is shocking to see the corruption and lack of commitment in one of the most important Governmental departments. In some cases, the prosecution will not cooperate with the defense; in other cases, evidence is deliberately kept out of a trial. These are tactics the prosecution uses to speed up the trial. The value of the young defendant’s life is overlooked in favor of the courts and police departments reaching closure on a case. It is fact that prosecutors can advance their political agenda after several courtroom wins.

The exoneration of the wrongly accused does not automatically mean accountability for any wrongful doing by the criminal justice system.

So what do we do? We need to reassess our system of checks and balances and ensure that some control is in place in all departments of government and private companies. Starting at the top, we should count on our leaders to be held accountable for their wrongdoing, so we can set the example.

Retrieved from history.com.
No copyright infringement intended.

Kindergarten

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Accountability is an interesting concept, and it’s a hot topic now that there is so little of it around the world.

We learn about accountability early in life, about the time that we’re taught to share toys and play nicely in the sandbox. We learn to apologize sincerely when we bite our friends, and to “own” our behavior, or face consequences. We’re taught to make choices, and we mostly choose to do the right thing.

Where do we start to lose these values? How does accountability fade over time? Is it dead?

As people age, so many of them lose sight of what they learned as little kids. The death of accountability is a slow process, but by the time some folks are adults they’ve given in to greed, selfishness, entitlement, and even a sense of being above the law. You know the people I’m talking about – they transcend political party, religious affiliation, race, or any other distinguishing trait.

Wait. I don’t want start on a rant, so rather than go off on the UTTER LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY AROUND THE WORLD, I’m simply going to share something I read a long, long time ago. This piece has stayed with me from the very first time I read it, and I try – try – try to practice its wisdom. Join me, won’t you? Maybe if enough of us take responsibility, own our mistakes, and be accountable for all we say and do, we can encourage our so-called leaders to do the same. Maybe it takes going back to basics.

“These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):

  1. Share everything.
  2. Play fair.
  3. Don’t hit people.
  4. Put things back where you found them.
  5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
  6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
  8. Wash your hands before you eat.
  9. Flush.
  10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
  12. Take a nap every afternoon.
  13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
  14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.”

― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten


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If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 59 #Coronavirus and a global perspective on…

some good books we’ve read recently.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 59. 


Listen to this…

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I love books!! I love to read them and I love listening to them. If the narrator is good, you can be entertained by the performance as well as the story.

A few months ago, when we were able to go out and browse through the bookstores, I saw a book being sponsored by the Jenna Bush Book Club. Jeez! I thought everyone and their mother has a book club now. But I was curious enough to see what Jenna was recommending.

The book is called This Woman is no Man and, to my surprise, it is about a Palestinian family who emigrated from Palestine to Brooklyn, NY, for a better life.

A book about my people! I was overjoyed and excited. I put it on my reading list. I finally listened to it in April during the shutdown.

I really liked This Woman is No Man. And as a first novel by the author, it was terrific. However, I was upset at first because it follows a traditional Palestinian family of refugees and describes the cultural stigma of spousal abuse and male domination. What? Another book stereotyping how backward Arabs are? This is not how I grew up. Most Arab-American women I know are strong, independent, and successful.

But when I started to talk about it to others I began to see how important it is for this abusive behavior to be exposed. Spousal abuse happens in every culture. Even in Anglo America, some forward-thinking families treat women as inferior to men.

I then watched the series called Unorthodox on Netflix about Hasidic Jews and their treatment of women. Basically, women are bred to be married off as young as 17 to an arranged suitor, and are expected to be nothing but a vessel for making children. Specifically a male heir.

Many cultures still follow these antiquated traditions. Even the royalty in Europe have used arranged marriages to cultivate their heirs and gain power in other countries (until Prince Harry married Megan Markle).

So the bottom line is this: no woman, regardless of religion, social status, or cultural traditions should be abused, beaten, or treated as an inferior.

There have to be more safety nets in America for these women. Many are afraid and do not know their rights. They are threatened with death or even have their children forcibly taken away by the “male elders.”

So I applaud this Palestinian-American author (Etaf Rum) for having the courage to write about her community in Brooklyn, which ironically is where the Hasidic Jewish community also reside.

Abuse of women is truly a universal problem that we cannot turn a blind eye to. I highly recommend Etaf Rum’s new novel.

Photo credit: Kate Ter Harr, flickr.
No copyright infringement intended.

We have it pretty good

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

I realize I’ve been kind of complaining about my lockdown situation (which seems to be getting extended in Spain). The reality for most of us is that we don’t have it so bad. Sure, our movement is restricted, we have to wear face masks, and travel is just not an option now. Some of us have lost jobs; many of us have lost security; and some have lost loved ones.

Guess who has it worse?

Child soldiers.

I’m not talking about the thousands of #Syrian children who were recruited to fight a war that was not theirs. No, tonight I’m writing about a child soldier who, to me, represents ALL children who are recruited to fight the battles of bloodthirsty authoritarians whose lust for money and power make them forget the sanctity of life.

Today my hero is Ishmael Beah, who was recruited as a 12-year-old soldier in Sierra Leone in 1993. His book, A Long Way Gone, describes his incredible – and atrocious – journey through war-torn villages to his current place of residence.

Here’s a little hint about how powerful this book is:

“Setting the body on the ground, I start to unwrap it, beginning at the feet. All the way up to the neck, there are bullet holes. One bullet has crushed the Adam’s apple and sent the remains of it to the back of the throat. I lift the cloth from the body’s face. I am looking at my own.”

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
Ishmael Beah

I know we think we have it bad. We’re obsessed with the new “normal” versus the old normal and what habits to change, what to keep, how to behave, and how to adjust. We amuse ourselves with thoughts of where we’ll go first, what we’ll eat, what we’ll buy as soon as “the #Coronavirus is over.”

Read this book, please. A Long Way Gone tells Ishmael’s story, but he could be describing a million child soldiers all over the world who have managed to survive seemingly endless, senseless conflicts. Who continue to live through the ravages of war. Beah brings home stories of wars that we usually think are “over there” – distant lands that many of us couldn’t place on a map. As long as “over there” is not in our own back yard, we can barely imagine them.

Well, we need to pay more attention. The world is getting smaller, and injustices “over there” may one day be our “over here.” That thought makes our current CoronaBlues seem a little less tragic.

Luckily for Ishmael Beah, he was rescued by UNICEF at the age of 16. He went on to accomplish great things in life, including setting up a foundation to support the reintegration of child soldiers into society. Another accomplishment: writing this heart-wrenching book.

He now lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 58: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on…

lessons learned.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 58. 


Tonight’s blog

Mother Nature may be forgiving this year, or next year, but eventually she’s going to come around and whack you. You’ve got to be prepared.
~ Geraldo Rivera

I can’t believe I quoted Geraldo! I also can’t believe I agreed with him on something! But he’s right – Mother Nature eventually gave us a whack, big time. And so tonight our blog is about lessons learned in the context of #Covid-19.

Don’t you love the thought of lessons learned? The concept that when (not if) we screw up, we can learn from our mistakes and avoid making them again in the future. “Lessons learned” implies that we pinpoint our errors, learn what caused us to make them in the first place, and stop making them going forward. Now that would signify progress. Can we do it?

I hope people around the world take stock of the lessons they’ve learned over the past several weeks. Has it been so bad to attend meetings online? You’ve saved on the commute. Has it been such a struggle to avoid traffic and pollution and frustration and noise? You’ve been healthier and more productive with your time. Can you make do with what you have? You learned you don’t need to constantly consume. We don’t need to always want more, more, more – just about everything we have is really just “stuff.”

If I’ve learned anything at all over these past 58 days, it’s to have a healthy respect for Mother Nature. To keep my hands and space and thoughts clean. To appreciate the blueness of the sea and the sky, now that they are so much less polluted. But also, to make do with less. To feel with others as we mourn the loss of people, jobs, and security; as we celebrate births, fresh starts, and do-overs; and best of all, as we survive long enough to see the next day, and hopefully make it better.

RafifJ
#Malaga, #Spain


The good, the bad, and the ugly

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

The new normal is being hyped by all sectors and industries, from education to work to shopping. But will we manage to embrace and implement some of the changes to which we had to adapt during the lockdowns, or will human nature revert back to its comfort zone?

Let’s start by establishing that as humans, throughout history we have been endowed with an adaptability gene. With #COVID-19, we had to adjust our lives to being at home all the time. We adapted by shopping, working, learning, cooking, exercising, and visiting with friends remotely, all from a desk chair or a mat in front of a screen.

What this did was it reduced pollution due to fewer cars on the roads, people traveling for a “meeting” or a “conference,” and fumes from factories and machinery.

I read somewhere that we should close down everything on Earth once a year for a month. To me, that makes a lot of sense. The Europeans have been closing down Europe for a month every summer in a staggered manner. Why not call it Earth Month instead of dedicating 1/365 days a year to this planet? Implementing this can be done on a global basis and can be organized by the United Nations.

I also came across an article that highlighted that many people were traveling to meetings unnecessarily and can do the same job with teleconferencing. Big corporations need to realize that their contribution to the overinflated airline industry has hurt not only the environment but also made travel less desirable for many others.

Yes, this will affect the hospitality and airline sectors, but when travel becomes a good experience (once) again, more leisure and tourism will bridge the gap.

Finally, and on a more positive good note, individual responsibility is a must here for change and implementation to work. Just like we were able to teach our children not to drink and drive, we can teach them to be more minimalist and more aware of the world they live in. Now that’s easy to implement, no?!

Retrieved via Internet search. No copyright infringement intended.

Save the world

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

During this coronavirus lockdown, we’ve all had time to recharge and re-assess our lives. Many of us have developed new techniques to ensure our personal fulfillment during the crisis. However, the environmental side effects that have come to light after only a few weeks and now almost 8 weeks into our lockdown demonstrate that the earth needed a break from us.

Whenever I go for a walk, I am amazed at the beauty of Spring. The greenery, the floral smells, the blue skies, and the birds chirping in the background. Gone are the fumes and traffic and all the other forms of physical and noise pollution.

We have seen many photos from around the world showing clearer horizons, now that the smog has dissipated. Representing to me that of all the lessons we have learned since the lockdown, #environmental protection should emerge as the most essential. What can we do to ensure that this important lesson is implemented in the future? 

First, I think employers should encourage telecommuting. They can save on rent if 50% of employees work remotely. Business meetings that require flying from country to country could be replaced by Zoom meetings, thus cutting expenses and unnecessary travel. Steps should be taken to improve and facilitate the availability of electric cars – that would take care of a small part of emissions pollution.

We hope that the UN Climate Summit can provide global guidelines and place the responsibility on governments to find ways to reduce emissions from their industrial activity. The Clean Air Act issued in the US in 1970 and revised in 1977 and 1990 was a step in the right direction, and proved that we need to protect our environment and the public’s health. However, it has not been revised for almost 30 years. In fact, the current administration has worked at reversing some of these environmental regulations. 

We cannot emerge from this pandemic without understanding the urgency of protecting our environment, which in turn, means protecting our own health and well-being. We must not wait for the governments to make change; rather, change can be made by each individual.  In the words of a very young environmental activist, No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference [Greta Thunberg].

Retrieved from lovetoknow.com.
No copyright infringement intended.

Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 57: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Today we’re free-form writing!

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 57. 


And now…#AUB

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

“Saving AUB must be our only priority. And save it we will.” – Fadlo Khuri

I was heartbroken this week reading President Khuri’s email to The American University of Beirut’s (AUB) staff and faculty about the fragility of AUB during the #COVID-19 pandemic. This comes after many small businesses, including mine, closed recently. This also comes as the Beirut Marathon declared yesterday that it has halted operations.

Lebanon’s devastating Greek/Venezuela-like economic crisis has made this great institution raise its white flag after 6 months of turbulence from the October 17 Revolution to the collapse of the government, the instability of the greenback to #COVID-19.

AUB has been an integral part of my life since childhood, and I am certain many others feel the same way.

Most of my family members had something to do with AUB at one point or another in the past 100 years: my grandfather used to take care of the cows at the AUB farm, my grandmother used to sew for the wives of the faculty and was rewarded with her first sewing machine, my dad graduated from AUB in the early 60s, my uncle too and was an engineer in the hospital where my aunt was a graduate nurse, my father-in-law was the President of the Alumni Association, and my husband teaches to this day.

Most of my childhood memories revolve around the campus, playing in the playgrounds, spending time running with my dad on the green field, folk festivals, concerts, kissing boyfriends under the trees when playing hooky from school, and most importantly, my dream to graduate from AUB when I grew up.

That dream was shattered with the advent of the civil war, when my family left Lebanon. Upon returning to Beirut, in the 90s, AUB remained on my daily radar. Still living close by, still running on the green field, and still dreaming of having a second degree from this landmark institution. I also got the opportunity to give a talk at the University for Seniors a few years ago!

I love the campus, I love the spirit, the old chapel (now the Assembly Hall), the museum, the guest lectures, the Oval, the cats, the lighting of the Banyan tree at Christmas, and the old Observatory. There is so much more hidden on campus if you look deeply. How many of you know the number of stairs from upper campus to the tennis courts? What are the names of the dorms? Which small pathway takes you from one staircase to another?

As AUB struggles with coping during these uncertain times, I am now more determined than ever to go back to school there and make that dream come true, and in my little way, help save AUB. As gloom and doom loom, I am now more determined than to promote the great achievements of this iconic institution, the alumni, the campus, and the faculty to heed to Dr. Khuri’s word, in my own little way.

Save it, we will.


Happy Mother’s Day

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

Mother’s Day is celebrated today in the US and in seven other countries. In Spain, it is the first Sunday in May. In the Middle East it is March 21; in the UK it is March 22 and is called Mothering Day.

Whatever the date, one day is set aside for honoring Mothers. It’s wonderful to honor them (Mothers) with flowers, and often, a Mother’s Day brunch or breakfast in bed. I got a very special box of chocolate-covered strawberries that are my favorite. They are the biggest strawberries I have every seen and so delicious. My special thanks for being remembered today, Rafif, Wayne, and boys.

This year, I think, more than any other year, Mothers are doing so much more. Being a Mother has always been a 24/7 job. But it is not always a 24/7 with the children all day. It is not usually adding the job of teacher and making 3 meals and 100 snacks a day, especially if the kids are younger.

Macintosh HD:Applications:Microsoft Office 2011:Office:Media:Clipart:Photos.localized:j0178459.jpg

Don’t worry, some day the kids will go back to school and will be able to play in the playground or hang out at the mall. We will get through this pandemic. When I think of it, my job was so much easier, but I am not giving up my strawberries.

Happy Mother’s Day every day, 24/7.


How did it all start?

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

The million-dollar question today is, where did the COVID-19 virus really originate?

The majority of the world is in agreement that Wuhan, China is where it came from, but who was Patient Zero, and how did the virus manifest itself?

By December 2019, the Chinese government realized they had an epidemic, and they informed the world that this virus was a natural occurrence from infected bats sold at a Wuhan market. It’s ironic that there is a lab in Wuhan – not far from the market – where scientists conduct experiments on the coronavirus. Coincidence?

Let us remember that the lab was funded by the United States government, which now adamantly maintains that the virus leaked out of that lab, and which is accusing the Chinese government of a cover-up. China has lashed back at America, stating that this accusation is part of Trump’s re-election strategy. The US administration has decided to cut research funding and placed political pressure on the Chinese government to allow an independent investigation to determine the origin of the coronavirus.

So here we go again with the blame game and finger-pointing. Perhaps the Chinese government has not been forthcoming about the virus’s origin. (Notice I say the Chinese government and not the Chinese. We have seen a rise in xenophobic hatred and violence towards the Asian community in the US because of China’s association with with the coronavirus).

Retrieved from makeameme.org
No copyright violation intended.

Honestly, I’m not sure I care who is to blame, but it’s the circulating conspiracy theories that have me aghast. There are so many undercover occurrences and theories to make us second-guess ourselves, let alone our governments.

The virus, whether man-made in a lab or accidentally transmitted from bats to humans, has become a pandemic. Yes, a PANDEMIC! As of current writing, the world has 4,000,000 confirmed cases and almost 280,000 deaths from COVID-19.

We, as citizens of the world, are owed transparency and truth. What we are getting is political rhetoric and threats. Maybe this battle of the words is a strategic act by governments to confuse their citizens so that we no longer seek the truth, thus allowing more underhanded collusion and deception.

The political games being played will not curtail the spread of the virus. I know I speak for many when I demand that world governments work together to find sustainable solutions to this pandemic. After all, it’s in everyone’s interest to recover our health and our economy.


Not a Rant

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Today I’m not going to rant about how Mother’s Day is little more than a commercial construct…or that EVERY day should honor mothers – not just one – because they give us LIFE…no, today I’m #grateful that my boys, 18 and 16, are alive. I’m grateful that in their lifetimes, they have not known real adversity.

Today I also feel sorrow. Sorrow for the mothers who have lost their children to racism, gun violence, drug addiction, and the countless other horror stories that befall our societies. Sorrow that some mothers must fear for their children’s lives every single time their kids step outside the house. Fear that a stray – or intentional – bullet will catch them. Or that they will be caught Running While Black or Driving While Arab or Working While a Person of Any Color But White.

Hug your children every day, if they’ll let you. It could be their last one, especially if they’re a minority.


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Post 56: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Today we’re free-form writing!

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 56. 


RANT ALERT


Rest in Peace

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

To Ahmaud Maubry, I hope you rest in peace. You are not the first, and sadly, you will not be the last. But you are the one who made me break down.

To the other countless #African-American men and boys who were killed out of hatred last year, and the year before that, and for generations upon generations before that, I hope you rest in peace. Let’s hope that one day, the efforts of many millions of people who protest injustice and defend human rights will bear fruit and #justice will be served.

For the million+ #Syrians who were killed by Assad’s barrel bombs and chemicals, Iran’s starvation sieges, and Russia’s Air Force, I hope you rest in peace. Please know there are millions of other Syrians who are still fighting the good fight to ensure #freedom, #dignity, #equality, and #democracy for future generations.

To the millions of #Palestinians whose occupiers wiped them off the face of the earth, I hope you rest in peace. As with Syrians, millions of Palestinians continue to seek #freedom and their rightful homeland. May #justice be served.

To all victims of #genocide, I hope you rest in peace. Maybe one day the world will replace hate with #love. Or at least acceptance.

Millions of people have spent their lifetimes defending democracy and human rights, seeking justice, and searching for freedom. To no avail.

Rest in peace.

For now, I have no other words.


De plane…de plane

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

In the opening scene of an old TV series, Fantasy Island, Tattoo rings the tower bell and yells “de plane, de plane” as an airplane begins its descent on the island.

Now that we are living on an island called #Lebanon (Syrian border is supposedly closed, southern border is not an option, that leaves us with the sea to the west, so we are essentially an island!), where the airport has been closed for over two months, seeing a plane makes me feel Tattoo’s excitement!

Planes arrive every other day – with repatriated Lebanese citizens from all over the world. With them, also, comes #COVID-19 cases. And with them, too, comes a lot of political favors. Nothing like the joy of Tattoo.

A week ago, a friend of mine and I saw a boat coming to dock full of containers and we got so excited! Did our imported food supplies finally arrive? Quaker Oats? Bob’s Red Mill?

Two days ago, a plane was descending on the old runway course and flew over our heads. It was a military plane. No questions asked, keep in mind that we don’t really have military planes or a real Air Force!

Yesterday, the notorious #London plane arrived. On it were passengers from London (who had to have had a PCR test done 3 days prior to boarding) and a contingent of students returning home from the US and Canada (who didn’t have PCR tests done). The plane was packed. The passengers went haywire not only because of the number of people on board, but also because they were made to pay exorbitant fares due to social distancing. There was no social distancing.

But pardon me for asking: how is that fair in the fight of COVID-19 in Lebanon (that has more or less contained the spread under very extenuating economic and political circumstances)?

And lastly but repetitively, who is responsible for this mess? Foreign ministry? Health ministry? The airline? As is the case in Lebanon, most likely it will be buried in the blaming game that everyone plays (government blaming banks and banks blaming politicians and politicians blaming one another…here we go ’round the Mulberry Bush).

Our Fantasy Island is sad but true.

Video taken anonymously on the London-Beirut flight yesterday

Ranting

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

I seem to be doing nothing but ranting these days. I can’t bear the lack of common sense or the unwillingness of people to do their jobs right. Especially at a time when there are lots of folks who do have more than two synapses in their brains together and are looking for work. Why do we have to endure the unbearable heaviness of people’s laziness?

First, I would like to see a new definition of the politically incorrect word “moron” in Oxford’s esteemed dictionary. It should read: MORON—someone God gave a hefty IQ to who refuses to use it, especially when it comes to acting with a modicum of common sense.

There are a lot of morons in charge of stuff during this pandemic, and their incompetence is furled in full display in the state where I live in Metro Washington, DC.

  1. Wearing of masks: A few goings on that seemed to have been missed by the morons in charge.
  2. In our esteemed state you must wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet from another person. Fair enough. Then explain to me why not a half a block from my home, construction workers are working a mere 3 inches apart and no one’s wearing a mask. And then, at the end of the workday, those folks run amongst the general population like potentially infected free-range chickens.
  3. Let’s move on to the state’s road construction crews. Same scenario as above. Can’t tell you how many of these state road workers, still in full construction regalia, are ambling through Costco after working all day with no mask on and snuggling up close and personal with their cohorts.
  4. Homemade, reusable masks: My state demanded ten cents to use a plastic bag for your groceries. They wanted everyone to use their soiled, never-washed reusable bags from home. I asked a local supermarket chain manager about the health risks involved with this. I believe my question went like this, “What are you guys gonna do when some pandemic rolls through our area and everyone’s trotting in their virus infected bags from home?” He, of course, accused me of rolling off my nut with that comment. Well, now my state’s banned these reusable bags from all stores. BUT HAVE THEY BANNED SOILED HOMEMADE RESUABLE MASKS? NO. So all those homemade masks and scarves people are sporting that they never likely wash are probably spreading more of the virus that preventing it.
  5. CARES/PUA: My state is flush with affluence., and we pay taxes out of every orifice in our bodies. As it happens, my little sole proprietor/LLC requires I meet with people face-to-face. No teleworking possible. So, I apply for the $600 CARES stipend I’m eligible for. My state has yet to able to figure out how to implement such payments to its eligible citizenry. Apparently, it has the worst record in the nation for getting these mandated payments to people. There are my tax dollars at work.

My first boss in television said to me on my first day, “If you make a mistake, don’t make me have to fire you. Gather up your things, leave the building, and I’ll have HR send you your final check.”

Guess what, I never screwed up. I think my old boss’s policy should be put into action in my state. The Secretary of Labor should gather up her things, leave the building, wait for her check (which she’d likely get before I ever get mine), and give her job someone who isn’t a moron.


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Post 55: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…

…on going “touchless” in the new normal

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 55. 


Can’t touch this!

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I think we have all developed #coronavirus paranoia when it comes to touching anything. I know that I am very conscious of how many items I have to touch when out in public.

Many public places already have automatic doors, as well as touchless toilet flushers, faucets, and hand dryers. In some European cities, the public toilets go through a full automatic sanitation after every use. However, we are only at the tip of the iceberg with this technology. Many other public items should become touchless.

On any given day, I can touch so many public dispensaries such as a ticket machine, an ATM machine, a postal stamp machine, a snack vending machine, and a gas pump.

In March, while I was visiting England and people were still in coronavirus denial, I was buying a train ticket from a machine. It was so vile. Not only had it never been cleaned, but it was obvious that someone had spat on it. I was not going to waste my sanitizer cleaning the entire machine so I held my breath, got my ticket, and sanitized the hell out of my fingers.

No! Gross! I cannot do it anymore. All these machines must become touchless. I think this will be easy to accomplish. Much like the parking apps available today; we should have apps for everything.

Apps that can handle payments and produce tickets at public transportation machines. Maybe we can have a passcode in the app that allows you to access the retina recognition for high-security machines like ATMs. I’m not sure exactly how this will be implemented, but I am confident someone will design the solution.

Items to address:

  1. ATMs
  2. Ticket machines
  3. Mail drop off boxes
  4. Vending machines
  5. Handles made for passengers to hold on to in public transportation compartments.
  6. Rails of stairs and escalators
  7. Elevator buttons
  8. Touchscreen slot machines
  9. Touchscreen soda machines

Until such time as these items become touchless or controlled by an app, disposable clean finger covers (not gloves, but something like the rubber finger condoms worn by chefs when they cut a finger) should be available next to all machines. Of course, they should be made from biodegradable material because you know people will start littering.

Original found on Amazon.com.
No copyright infringement intended.

Contactless…no thanks!

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Many new ideas will emerge to help us (at least for the coming few years) as we navigate the presence of the throned germ in our lives.

One of these ideas is a key that helps us deal with opening the door, pressing keypad buttons, carrying things. Another is the contactless card that one scans over a credit card machine when making a purchase.

In the Far East, society functions using one’s own phone to make payments, board public transportation, and many other daily tasks in society.

I would probably purchase such a key and use it when I am out and about, but my question here is more philosophical than practical: What will being so worried about contact do to us as humans? We are a species that loves a hug; we are made to be in physical contact with one another. Will we start having relationships with an Orgasmatron soon, like in Woody Allen’s Sleeper?!

I am going out a bit more than I used to now that the lockdowns are beginning to ease. I smile at people I see; they don’t smile back because they don’t see my masked smile in the first place! I feel really silly smiling now.

A friend passed by the other day. We didn’t hug or do the 3 cheek kisses after not seeing one another for a long time. It feels awkward, emotionless, and cold.

What about when I want to thank someone profusely with a warm handshake? The key doesn’t do the job here and I, for one, am not looking forward to being impersonal in my contact with people in the future. I am a junior dinosaur on many levels, but then videotapes, CDs, and DVDs are a thing of the past that I did get over…


You’re on camera 🙂

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Virginia

Many moons ago, I worked for a company that specialized in biometrics. They were among the industry leaders in fingerprinting and retinal scanning. At the time, I thought the technology was pretty cool – but somehow a little creepy. I mean, who wants to have their retinas scanned so they can go to work? But that was back before iPhones looked lovingly at your face before letting you in.

Over these 55 days of lockdown, I’ve been thinking about how touchless technology, including retinal scanning, can solve problems: less bacteria, fewer infections. Better controlled pandemics, improved overall hygiene. But there are down sides, too. Touchless and other types of technology can help Big Brother take even more giant leaps.

If you use Face ID on your phone, guess what? Big Brother is probably making faces at you from behind an invisible screen. Want to get ahead at the airport? Just smile into the camera and skip to the front of the line. Your trusty airport security is watching.

Want to take public transportation? In most big cities, you can already link your phone to an account that gets debited every time you take the bus or the train. No germy turnstile to push, no coin or card slot to touch. And the authorities know exactly where you are and where you’re going. They might even know who you’re going to meet.

Vote by phone! Now your political preferences are known, and you didn’t have to touch a grimy voting booth. Shop online! Now your consumer profile is public, and you didn’t have to leave your home.

Whether providers use retinal scanning or other biometric technology, let’s face it: our eyes are not just the windows to our souls; they’re the keys to our bank accounts and personal data.

I could go on and on – there are so many examples of how super-sophisticated technology has invaded our daily lives – but here’s an essential point: what we thought was creepy and futuristic 10 and 20 years ago is today’s reality.

And is that reality so bad? With Artificial Intelligence, biometric information can help identify hotspots, predict future pandemic outbreaks, and perform contact tracing.

Do the risks of more invasive technology outweigh the benefits?

Either way, from this point forward, I think “touchless” and the “new normal” will – pardon the puns – see eye-to-eye and go hand-in-hand.


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Post 54: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…

…on freelancing in the age of #Covid-19

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 54. 


I am my own boss

Wayne Wallace, McLean, #Virginia

I am my own boss. I make my own hours. Freedom!

These and other lies do NOT describe the life of the freelancer, self-employed, or small business owner. The reality is much more like having a job without the security or any level of certainty.

The idea of being my own boss was certainly appealing. What I quickly learned is that I no longer had a boss; I had many. I am now answerable to every customer, every employee, every vendor. If I don’t do my job, people and bills don’t get paid. Healthcare benefits, cell phones, computers, all need to be paid for, set up, maintained, and occasionally replaced. I am now answering to everyone, rather than just one boss.

Retrieved from tenor.com
No copyright infringement intended.

It is true, I make my own hours. Unfortunately, for most freelancers, that means 24-hour workdays. We are never “off.” Gigs take more time because we NEED the work product to be as good as it can be. There’s no buck to pass if quality is less than 100%. If we’re not working on a project, we’re chasing the next one. And if we’re not doing that, our thoughts are consumed with the next gig, where it will come from, what we should be doing right now instead of going out to dinner, watching a child’s school performance, or enjoying a vacation. (A note on vacations: you will work during them; family will not be happy.)

But there is freedom. That part is not a lie.  We chose this career path, even if unwittingly. We can be as successful and as free as we chose to be (provided we’re willing to put in the work). While the burden of success is on us, as freelancers/self-employed, small business owner, so is the reward.


Haikus in Confinement

Hadi Madwar, #Montreal, #Canada

As a freelancer
I am at a loss for words
So I wrote haikus

Original image from clipartbest.com
No copyright infringement intended.

I am so fed up
Acting like it’s all so fun
When it’s clearly not

What’s cookin’ tonight?
Omelette with cheese and mushrooms
Why not, who cares, lol

Good evening Netflix
Here’s to another binge fest
Films though, not junk

Let’s take out the trash
I love being so tidy
And I miss the stairs!

But is it raining?
Or is the neighbour bowling?
Well, at least it’s noise!

The other neighbour
Is venting, venting, venting
About zoom meetings

Here’s an idea
Why don’t I do some yoga
To burn that pound cake

That’s so authentic!
Someone baked a whole grain loaf
Like everyone else

Oh Trump said something!
He said what, something stupid?
This is getting old

If I look into the mirror
And stay two big steps  away
Is that far enough?

I am waiting for
My prince charming to tell me
That lockdown is done

This is not a dream
This is not a quarantine
This is a nightmare

Doing just nothing
Seems easy enough a task
When you haven’t tried.


For a limited time only!

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Want to be a freelancer? No problem! This week we’re offering our Freelancing for Morons course for only $9.99!!! This is a SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLAR VALUE and it’s yours for under ten bucks IF YOU ACT NOW. But wait! There’s more!

You see these promoted scams – er, ads – every day, all over social media. IMO, the folks running these ads are taking advantage of other people’s misfortunes, and hopes for future success. They promise you riches in weeks! minutes! You know those people who say they started making a six-figure income after reading a book or following a particular method? They’re lying.

The reality is, it takes A LOT of hard work to be a successful freelancer or entrepreneur. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.

I’ll help you get started, and I won’t charge you.

Go back to basics. If you want/need to start freelancing, figure out your top three to five skills or services. The three to five things you do really, really well. Now go through your contacts and send them all an email that you are offering those skills on a freelance basis. Build a website using free templates. Get on social media and let everyone know you’re available to provide those services. Figure out your target market(s) and collect contact info, then use it. Update your LinkedIn profile and search for relevant work there. Join freelance sites and job boards if you like, but do not join the race to the bottom on bids. Let your friends and family know what you’re doing so they can help you spread the word. Believe in yourself and your skills.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

I’ve heard of too many people who get on freelance sites and provide work for free, just to get a good rating. That is nonsense! Or folks who will write content for $1 per 1,000 words – that is racing to the bottom. If you value yourself, your skills, your education, don’t go there. Instead, keep networking and trying.

Stay confident but avoid self-aggrandizement. Be realistic. Price your services fairly, even competitively. It takes a while to land the most difficult contract: the first one. After that, it gets easier, especially if you do a good job, focus on delivering a quality product, and follow up with the client to make sure they’re happy with your work.

Good luck! And seriously, if I can be helpful, I will. No charge, no books, and no time limit.


We can adapt

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

“In this unprecedented time…” We hear those words a lot. Everyone has had to experience a shift in their daily routines and work process. 

We see many manufacturing industries turning to making medical gowns and ventilators. But these are the big boys. What happens to the sole proprietor? To those who have lost jobs? We have seen the closures of many businesses that have been forced to throw in the towel in defeat.

However, I would like to focus on the positive for a moment. I am impressed at how quickly small businesses have adapted to the “new normal” of not operating from a brick-and-mortar location. 

I know a boutique clothing owner in Fairfax, VA, who took to social media like wildfire. She posted on Facebook and blasted emails to try to keep her business afloat. There were videos of her and the new collections to entice customers to purchase online. A form of digital catalog, but with a personal touch. She also began selling stylish face masks that were selling like hotcakes. 

This is one of many resilient small business owners who have had to adapt to the situation in order to survive. 

There has also been a growth in nonprofit organizations trying to help local businesses. My nephew in Vermont has developed a business called Local Maverick to unite these nonprofit organizations and local businesses so they can support each other. 

In my opinion, support groups are essential for entrepreneurs who need to quickly adapt to a changing world. A solid support group to help you through the transition. Change is difficult, and if entrepreneurs cannot modify their strategies, they will fall behind. 

The future of many businesses is on the line, but what this pandemic has shown us is how creative and flexible people are. Hopefully, we will all come through this with more resilience and the courage to take chances. 

Local Maverick T-shirt sales to support Vermont food bank

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Post 53#Coronavirus and a global perspective…

…on projects we’ve accomplished during lockdown


Self, version 2.0

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

So much time and nowhere to go! The #Coronavirus has freed up a lot of hours for me, even though I’ve had consistent work during our 53 days of lockdown. But 52 days ago, I had no idea how long it would be before I once again had places to go and people to see.

Right off the bat, I organized and re-organized my closets. I deep-cleaned the kitchen cabinets. I reorganized shelves. As time wore on, I organized some of my electronic files. I watched a lot of really bad Hallmark shows on Netflix. I finally ran out of little organization projects I could do at home.

So I started on the most important project of all: myself.

In 53 days, I’ve had time to consider how I react to emergencies or crisis situations, especially around my kids. I’ve come to learn more about strengths and weaknesses I didn’t even know I had. I’ve questioned my values, ethics, and beliefs. I’ve shed some habits (mindless shoe shopping, for example) and tried to pick up some others (mindfulness and patience). In my 53 days of introspection, I am learning who Rafif 2.0 is becoming.

Now that I’m able to go out and see the sea, I feel a sense of calm even though I’m still a work in progress. And guess what? I’m at peace with that, and that makes me happy, and that’s a great accomplishment.


Endless

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

I still have to digitize my old photos, but I managed to clean up my music library and update my playlists. That was so good because I needed music during this time.

I still have to wash and pack my winter clothes, but I managed to weed through summer clothes and give away a lot of what I will not need in the new “normal.”

I still have to fix my files and I hate doing filing, so I am waiting to get rich (ha!) and hire a filing assistant. Shelves until another day. 

What I loved most during this lockdown is discovering my hidden talents as a handyman, plumber, computer guy, pool man, to name a few. Here in Lebanon, usually, you call “someone” and since labor used to be cheap, things get fixed without needing online instructions!

But what I am so proud of is I managed to de-clutter so many closets and reduce things that had a way of occupying a corner for absolutely no reason. For years. Now, I have room for all that toilet paper!


Organization

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

How many projects around the house can you do? I have sorted my closet so many different ways. What were the projects that I really enjoyed? There was one closet filled with photos. That is the one that I enjoyed the most.

Each one of the pictures brought back memories of trips – the ones in the picture are all around Oregon. It took forever to go through them because I would stop and remember the experience. The top picture is cross-country skiing in town. Actually, I was on snowshoes, but the skier looked so graceful gliding along. The picture of the swing is the last photography photo shoot my husband and I went on in Oregon. It was so special, as the whole four-day trip was in places that meant so much to us and we were with people who meant a lot. Then there were family pictures. It took hours to go through one box. Oh my, my grandkids are so cute. Those took a day to go through. I still have more to do; it was really not a chore but a wonderful time going down memory lane.

The most worthwhile project was the one where I made masks for a few people who needed them so they could go to work. I am not an accomplished seamstress or quilter who makes the pretty masks, but mine got the job done. I was so glad to be able to help and it made me feel like I was part of the solution during this pandemic and not part of the problem.

I have actually enjoyed doing projects about the house. I know I wouldn’t want to do them all the time; I still have a lot to do on my bucket list.  Maybe I will start tacking a few hours a week to do projects around the house. If I did that—there wouldn’t be so much to do that it seems overwhelming and therefore never gets done.


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 52: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…

…on #telemedicine

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 52. 


Doctor, Doctor, What’s Ailing Me?

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

In the USA, we have to have health insurance to receive medical care. (I won’t go into the broken healthcare system in this post). I have Kaiser Permanente as my health insurance company. Kaiser is an insurance and universal healthcare provider. Unfortunately, I still have to seek an integrative medicine doctor to receive the type of care I believe I need.

A few weeks after the pandemic was announced and the shutdown restrictions were put in place, my fantastic integrative medicine doctor telephoned me. She wanted to check in and make sure I was managing. She also let me know that my routine appointment, which was scheduled pre-corona, would not be an office visit, but rather a telehealth video visit.

A video appointment with doctors was not new to me. Kaiser has been ahead of the game with their technology. Members have online access to all our medical records, test results, and prescriptions. We can create and cancel our in-person or video appointments via the app. I never really cared too much for the video appointments because of the lack of personal interaction, but I have loved the efficiency of the online resources.

On the day of my appointment with my integrative doctor, I was a ready. Our appointments are usually frank discussions, so the video call was an easy transition. The fact that she is just the kindest doctor I’ve ever met helps. After a chat about my health and a review all my medications and supplements, we discuss any issues I have been struggling with.

I have a pain in my heel, I tell her. She asks a few questions, then asks me to show her exactly where I feel the pain. So I lift my iPad and bring it to my foot so I can point out the area. All the while thanking my lucky stars that my ailment was not a boil on my ass….

She gives me some recommendations and we conclude the appointment.

Throughout the pandemic, my Doctor has been communicating with us (her patients) via email with tips and recommendations on how to handle this crisis. She has also provided a free Zoom class every week, outlining resources and discussing nutritional, emotional, and physical data for building our Covid-19 resilience.

Although I am grateful for all the bells and whistles Kaiser provides, I am most grateful to the personal touch and care provided by my integrative medicine doctor. At the end of the day, it is comforting to know that my doctor is invested in my physical and emotional wellbeing.


Telemedicine and Medical Care

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

I should be writing this after Thursday of this week, when I will have my first telemedicine appointment. 

Three weeks ago, I took a spill on my bike.  I felt that I was okay.  Not good, but okay.  My elbow hurt a bit at the time, and by the next morning, it was dark purple and swollen. I should have put ice on it immediately. I did some range-of-motion tests and although it hurt, I could move the arm without pain. I didn’t go to the doctor as I knew that they were only taking patients who had urgent needs. I didn’t want to take any time away from someone who really needed a doctor’s care. I knew the first aid things to do. I waited until today to make an appointment. I was surprised that I can only get a telemedicine appointment or wait until June.  I will have my appointment on Thursday. I’ll tell you afterwards if I did the right thing.  Isn’t hindsight always 2020. 

As far as medical care, two of my friends have had very urgent medical needs and were treated at the their local hospitals with the utmost care.  One was in California and one was in North Carolina. Neither of the cases had anything to do with the virus. However, the effect of the virus on the way of admitting patients was the most difficult. I can’t imagine dropping off someone who is seriously ill at the door and not going in with them.  One was taken care of and released the next day. It was very difficult for the family to not be there. In the other case, the person was in the hospital for over a month with no contact with family or friends. That was extremely difficult for her and the family. She will be discharged on Mother’s Day.   The care was excellent in both cases; being apart was what was difficult. 

A special gratitude goes out for all medical personnel who are risking their lives to take care of others. I know we have to be socially distancing, I am sure we will all be more careful in the future. However, the human touch is so important. I can’t wait to hug someone. I will wait until it is safe—we have to find a way to make it safe. We will. I am always hopeful.  


House Calls Are Back

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

I hate going to the doctor. I mean, I’m the person who goes years without getting a checkup. I’ve been nagged and lectured about this by pretty much everyone around me, but the bottom line is, I can’t stand the wait at the office or the paperwork. I despise it when they take my vitals. And then the dreaded poking and prodding. And in the end, what happens? The doctor comes to a conclusion that I already knew: I’m fine. I could stand to lose 5 or 10 pounds, and since I have the mind of an anorexic and the willpower of a dog, maintaining my ideal weight can be a challenge. So exercise more, eat more vegetables, cut down on red meat. I’m told to make an appointment for next year. I agree, but don’t go back.

Retrieved from spaceotechnologies.com

But telemedicine…now that is something I can get behind. IMO, this is one aspect of technology and innovation that really does simplify our lives. For one thing, there’s no commute!

The coronavirus pandemic and the associated lockdowns have forced all industries to be more innovative, and the healthcare industry is a case in point. Today, we leverage technology not just out of convenience, but out of necessity. And while telemedicine is not new, I’m betting that A) it has gotten a lot more popular in the last 52 days, and B) it’s here to stay.

I like that if the doctor gets really busy with other patients, she can call me when she’s ready. It’s kind of like a house call – the doctor comes to ME. No more impatient foot-tapping in crowded waiting rooms full of sick people!

If I have symptoms, I can describe them on the phone. The only bedside manner I need is for the doctor to examine me on camera. And then BOOM, we’re done. She’ll give me the same cautions and warnings. But with telemedicine, when she says she’d like me to schedule another checkup in a year, I will say yes – and mean it.


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Post 51: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…

…on human interactions in the future

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 51. 


COVIDIOTS

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Today in #Beirut, it was the first day of the second phase of lockdown easing. Restaurants are open today, with many restrictions. So are many other small businesses, such as barbers. Hairdressers will open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, while barbers can open on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Having a “necessary” errand to run, I went out thinking things would still be quiet on the corner of the American University of Beirut. But alas, it was mayhem. We are back to the double parking, but worse yet, everyone I encountered had no social distancing on their minds nor were wearing face masks. Gloves are a thing of the past.

On the way back, I encountered a lady going up in the elevator. She did not have on a mask or gloves, and she stood as close to me as possible. I freaked out. This is the second time during these lockdowns that I freak out because someone is not maintaining social distancing with me. The first one was at the bank a couple of months ago. And when I lose my s%*^,  it is not a pretty sight.

I was hoping the Lebanese people will follow the instructions for the phase-in of openings and would adhere to the guidelines by the Ministry of Health. I was also hoping that the police would be more visible in monitoring. I was hoping that all the efforts of the poor Minister of Health, who has managed to help us contain the virus in Lebanon, with fewer than 750 cases despite the protests.

So how do I see human interactions changing in the future? I simply don’t, with so many Covidiots around.

Essentially, this means I am going to keep on losing my s%*^ and freaking out. I suppose my view on the change in human interaction means I will be staying home for a long time to come.


Thanks to the pandemic

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

I’ve gotten a bit metaphysical about the pandemic lately. I’m wondering if the pandemic is Mother Nature and the Universe bringing some balance back into our insane world.

  1. Thanks to the pandemic, we’re not likely to go back to being smushed into overcrowded planes.
  2. Thanks to the pandemic, we may seriously consider doing something about the overcrowded highways. How many people now teleworking wanna go back to sitting in traffic for two hours when the trip should only take twenty minutes?
  3. Thanks to the pandemic, continuing to telework could give parents extra time for the working/life balance they want.
  4. Thanks to the pandemic, we’re probably going to be seeing automakers bow to making less polluting cars sooner rather than later.
  5. Thanks to the pandemic, families are spending more time together.
  6. Thanks to the pandemic, people are going outside more and walking off some of the hours spent at the computer.
  7. Thanks to the pandemic, colleges are looking at lowering their bloated tuition costs.
  8. Thanks to the pandemic, scurrilous lenders may no longer be able to keep students indentured to student loan debt for the rest of their lives.
  9. Thanks to the pandemic, kids being bullied at school are getting a break from the misery.
  10. Thanks to the pandemic, parents are having to home-school their kids. That’s going to up teacher appreciation and maybe their salaries.
  11. Thanks to the pandemic, the overheated stock market is cooling its jets.
  12. Thanks to the pandemic, karma is having a bit of a laugh at folks who belittled Muslim women for covering their faces. Now we’ve all gotta cover our faces when we go out.
  13. Thanks to the pandemic, online dating is less about the quick hookup and more about getting to know someone first.
  14. Thanks to the pandemic, we see that Mother Nature sees us all the same. She doesn’t care if you live on Nob Hill or a rented trailer. She’ll kick anyone’s butt when she chooses.
  15. Thanks to the pandemic, we have time to reflect on what we really want out of life and not wait till later to go for it, because if there will be a later.

My list could be twice as long, but I’ll stop here. I want the deaths from the pandemic to stop. I don’t want to go back to the way life was before the pandemic.


The new “normal” and the elderly

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

We all keep talking about the new “normal” and how it will be different after the lockdown. I think young people will welcome it. After all, weren’t they born with an iPhone and iPad in their hands? Isn’t social media already their mode of communication?

Weren’t many give debit cards as soon as they were old enough to use one to spend their allowance? Do they even know what a check is? What about the elderly?

I am 76 years old, and I don’t even think of myself as elderly. I believe I am fairly computer literate; my son may disagree with that. He gets a call from me every once in a while—I need IT support, please. At least I hope I say please, sometimes I am so upset that I have no idea what comes out of my mouth.

Retrieved via Internet search.
No copyright infringement intended.

I have friends, some even younger than me, who only have a flip phone; some friends have no cell phone at all. Just yesterday, I paid my bills online. Yet I have friends who still write checks and even balance a checkbook. One friend had to go to the bank last week to cash a check. I asked why? Just take a picture of the check. I have to admit, I was skeptical of doing that the first time I tried. I still haven’t tried Zelle. That’s been out a couple years now, so I am behind.

With the new “normal” being more and more computerized, automatic, and impersonal—don’t forget social distancing. How will the elderly and computer-challenged (I like that instead of illiterate) be able to function? One way is for those around them to be helpful by teaching and reteaching, patiently, and understanding. Simple things for the younger generation are complex for many of the older generation. While so many things are advancing, there needs to be a way to make the way we do things backward-compatible for those who did not grow up with a computer in hand.

When I think of all the problems in the world, this doesn’t even seem important. There are also simple solutions. I wish there were simple solutions to the other problems in the world. I am forever hopeful.


Hello!

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I remember the first few weeks of the outbreak, everyone felt so awkward. Familiar greetings like shaking hands and hugging were now questionable. We threw an uncomfortable air hug when seeing someone for the first time in a while. Followed by some embarrassed laughter hoping they didn’t consider it weird. We left people hanging when they extended a hand for a simple handshake. Thinking “You must be joking, I’m not touching you.”

Now it is universally understood that we keep our distance and have no physical contact. Everyone is anticipating that post-corona this lack of physical contact will become the new normal, and we will forever stop our intimate greetings.

I disagree. Most humans are programmed to hug and kiss. We feel better when we are physically intimate. So I believe we will continue distancing for only a few weeks, and then we will fall right back to the way we were pre-corona.

I have always said we are a nation of amnesiacs. We have a short-term memory when dealing with crises. Life will be bizarre for a while, but this will pass. We will forget all the crap we had to go through, forget how people suffered, forget the dead, and slip right back into the way we were. Huggers will be huggers, the touchy-feely will continue as before, and germaphobes will be ….. well….they probably will be more accepted.


Social un-distancing

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Is it really Day 51 of lockdown? Was there really a global pandemic? Just a few days ago, social distancing was the rule. You wore gloves, you maybe wore a mask, you washed your hands obsessively, you stayed away from other people. OK, you cheated by going to the grocery store a little more than necessary. But you did NOT gather in large groups, hug your besties, or do the mwah mwah as you greeted your friends.

Today, we are un-distancing at an alarming pace. Kisses and hugs are spreading as fast as the coronavirus did. At the beach, the crowded boardwalk is happy and full of life, with all the elderly, little kids, teenagers, and young adults going out to socialize. Clearly, our newfound freedom is something to celebrate, even though just a few days ago, we were crippled with fear of physical contact. Hello, neighbor, kiss, kiss; hello cousin, hug, hug.

What else will we forget? What will change? Here are some predictions for the long-ish term:

  1. Business and Work: More people will telecommute and start businesses. Location-independence and the digital nomad lifestyle will become the norm. At the same time, the number of those Chained to a Corporate Desk will dwindle.
  2. Travel: Back to the old normal after much dramatic fretting, lobbying, and feeble attempts to sanitize trains, planes, and buses. There will be half-hearted efforts to make travel affordable again. After price hikes and much wringing of hands, we’ll see special deals for romantic getaways and luxury business travel. Cruises will make a comeback.
  3. Bureaucracy and Paperwork: YAY! I predict that standard processes will be significantly streamlined as government and other institutions implement more sophisticated automated systems.
  4. Dining Out: Back to business as usual in a couple of months. It’s too difficult to eat in when the weather is glorious.
  5. Interpersonal Relationships: The business handshake might take a while to make a comeback, but physical greetings among friends and family are already back. We miss our people, and an elbow bump just doesn’t convey how much we love them.

These are a few notions based on what I’ve seen in the past two days. But here’s the thing: If we can’t maintain social distancing just a couple of days after total lockdown, where will we be in a week? A month??

Here’s a final prediction: if we’re not really, really careful, we’ll have a second wave that will propel us into another lockdown. I know our survival instincts make us rebound quickly from short-term adversity. But what I’m observing is long-term folly.

Please #StaySafe.


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If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 50: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 50. 

Today is free-form writing.


Special needs and #Coronavirus

Myriam Ramadan, #Beirut

For me, the one person who helped me deal positively with this pandemic is my son, who has special needs. My eldest at 21, Karim was born with Cerebral Palsy. Since I am divorced, Karim and his brother Nadim get to visit me a few days a month. They are far from me, but since I am the type to look at the cup as half full, I came to realize that the boys’ visits make my confinement a little sunnier, happier, and brighter. As everyone probably knows, Lebanon is going through not one, but two crucial issues that are threatening its future: #Covid-19, in addition to a severe economic crisis.

Being confined, alone, without the constant presence of my boys, has been tough. So it is only natural that when they come to visit, spending time with them makes this “Stay at home” lockdown that much softer.

As a mom, caring for Karim is a whole different dimension. Aside from the strenuous physical needs, such as carrying and transferring Karim – mostly done by his male helper – I give him his meals and get to spend quality time with him. He loves good food and classical music. The tool that has benefitted me most in helping Karim and myself to accept his disability is humor. By no means does this imply that I am a clown on wheels (I wish I was)!

Back to confinement, having Karim restrained at home is no easy thing, as his level of frustration from being unable to go out is quite high, since outings are essential for him. The good part is that being confined together for a few days has allowed us to enjoy one another.  

Now that all outside activities have been eliminated, I pick Karim’s brain about music, explaining to him about the pandemic, all the while using humor. So, whenever an advert about “staying home” comes up, we look at each other and we say laughingly, “We got it. What else is new?”

Karim, you are my sunshine.


My daughter on the front lines

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Medical personnel are getting such praise for their heroic work during the #coronavirus crisis. My 21-year-old daughter is a clinical technician at Fairfax Hospital. She is anticipating finishing nursing school to receive her RN (registered nurse) position. However, she is not immune to the hardships and sacrifices all healthcare professionals are experiencing during the coronavirus.

Her shift begins at 7 pm and ends at 7 am. By the time she gets home, I am awake and I hear her come through the laundry room. She places placing her scrubs and hospital items in the washer on a sanitize cycle. We don’t exchange much conversation as she heads down to the basement, where she is living. She takes a very long shower, unwinds, and goes to bed for several hours.

She does not feel like a hero. She is only doing her job.

My daughter was scared at the beginning, not knowing what to expect. She was asking me if she should quit.

“OMG!” I said “You are so lucky to have a job! You cannot bail out because you are afraid. This is a test and you are to answer the call.”

That was the last time I heard anything from her. She does what she is asked at the hospital. She goes into COVID-19 patients’ rooms when she is needed. She trusts hospital protocols and her PPE to keep her safe.

She has kept her stamina and continued to do what is asked of her without complaining. One thing that resonates so much with me is when she described how much some of these COVID-19 patients suffer. This is different than anything she’s ever seen. She explains how unpredictable it is from day to day. This virus is debilitating.

At the moment, they are extremely busy at the hospital, and the staff does not have time to rest. She told me the other day, ”Everyone should be very diligent. This is very serious.”

I am so proud of her! I pray that she stays safe.


What virus?

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Forget social distancing; forget quarantine! Today we’re enjoying Day 2 of relative freedom: we are allowed to go for walks. Our walks may be for 1 hour. If we’re older than 14, we may walk between 7 am and 11 am, and between 8 pm and 11 pm.

This may possibly be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Who is going to observe this? Not the people I saw yesterday. Who will enforce these rules? The officers on patrol seem to be just as relieved about this wind-down as the civilians.

I went for a morning walk at 7:30. I figured few people would up and moving about that early in laid-back Malaga. I was so wrong! There were a gazillion people out – some walking, some biking, but most pretending to jog. The higher up the mountain – the more challenging the climb – the fewer the new athletes. I am not implying by ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION that I am an athlete, but reaching the point I did was quite an achievement after 50 days of lockdown.

Heading back down, past the port, to the beach, and then back through town, I saw new “joggers” in really colorful and matching activewear. Some were fully made up, hair carefully done. In the athletics-versus-fashion challenge, there emerged a clear victor.

During my evening walk along the beach, I noticed families going for a leisurely outing. Couples were holding hands and strolling along the boardwalk. Groups of people were hanging out on the beach. I was almost expecting street performers to show up on the main avenue.

Virus? What virus? The lockdown mentality in Malaga seems to have disappeared overnight. Spring is crossing into summer here, and the we’ve been locked up for too long.

But…If we’re not careful, we’ll have to reset the clock…we’ll have to start at Day 1 again…there will be a second wave…and this blog will never end…

I think I’ll stick to 7:30 am at the top of the mountain.


Women and perspectives

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it. – Arundhati Roy

There is nothing fair or healthy about patriarchal norms and the expectations they generate, so why perpetuate them in our families? This is a stressful time for absolutely everyone and there is little that we can control about the circumstances that we are now living in. – Soraya Chemali on Think.

If I had one message for all children in the world, it would be this – be bold, dream big and most importantly, be the change you imagine for yourself! – Hartini Zainudin

We live in an interconnected world, in an interconnected time, and we need holistic solutions. – Naomi Klein

While we all go through this we will also hear of so many acts of kindness and caring, because Good has always had that extraordinary will to outdo Evil. – Hala Deeb Jabbour on My SeventyYear Old Eyes.

Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses. – Greta Thunberg

We find that marginalized girls are more at risk than boys of dropping out of school altogether following school closures and that women and girls are more vulnerable to the worst effects of the current pandemic. – Malala Yousafzai

I’ve got some bad news and I’ve got some good news. Nothing lasts forever. – Kate McGahan


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We often use photos we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 49: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on the #MiddleEast

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 49. 

Today is free-form writing.


Just play nice

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I have been reading articles from different sources, like the Washington Post, the Times of Israel, the Christian Science Monitor, and Haaretz on how Arabs and Israelis have been putting aside their differences and showing solidarity in the medical establishments in #Israel. Although this a lovely vision of Arabs and Jews helping one another stay alive during a pandemic and a promise of unity, it’s actually a farce. It’s a mask or a Band-Aid on a very infected wound of what has festered into a gruesome, unequal existence. These stories are an attempt to present Israel as benevolent. The Israeli government pretends to exude understanding and peacemaking while undermining international law and arrogantly moving on with its apartheid agenda.

The Israeli government, with the backing of the US administration, is dangling a rotten carrot while planning a systematic annexation of the West Bank and confiscation of more #Palestinian land.

The American peace proposal introduced earlier this year is also a shameful pretense that the USA holds the interest of both the Israelis and the Palestinians. No one in the world other than the USA and Israel considers this a fair plan, especially when the Palestinians were not even consulted.

In simple terms, the Palestinian situation is equivalent to a squatter taking the large house. He gives the owners the outhouse and the shed under the condition that he can store all his shiny new equipment in the shed, giving the owner a tiny space in which to live. All while demanding that the owners stop complaining and being disagreeable because the squatter will take the shed anyway.

The world community has tried to intervene on many occasions. In the past, Israel has scoffed at international laws, bullying its way into creating settlements on Palestinian land. Although this is illegal under UN resolutions, no action is ever taken against Israel.

Now as the world’s attention is diverted by the coronavirus crisis, and while the Arab and Israeli medical community plays nice, the Netanyahu government again defies the world, weaseling its way into an annexation of land that never belonged to it.

Yesterday, British politicians wrote a letter to the UK prime minister urging him to lead the world in sanctions against Israel. The European nation has condemned the annexation as illegal, and the United Nations warns that the annexation is “..undermining the prospects for peace between the two sides..”

I am a pacifist. I believe in equality. I am a Palestinian, and I refuse to accept that this land was God-given to the Jewish people, or that they have the right to slaughter my people. Show me where God says …. “go and get this land with force. Kill the indigenous people, destroy their villages, and drive them out. And if they don’t leave, force them to live as third-class citizens.”


Trendsetters

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

The Paris of the Middle East (actually, formerly “the Switzerland of the Middle East”), Lebanon was long known as a delightful, perfect combination of Arab culture with Western flavor. Its location on the Mediterranean Sea meant you could ski and swim on the same day in April and May.

The sun and ski part is still true.

Now, we are neither the Paris nor the Switzerland of the Middle East. Nor are we affluent, productive, or stable. What we are, though, is educated, creative, and resilient.

But what we are notorious for is our trendsetting: For 30 years, we only operated the public and private sector on a corruption basis. Washington, Moscow, and many other capitals have only learned to become really good at corruption in the past 10 years.

We have been laundering money for mafias, drug dealers, and Ponzi schemers for more than 30 years. We can actually write a “Corruption for Dummies” manual. The West laundered that money for us. There.

In October 2019, most businesses in Lebanon cut employee salaries by 50%. The West followed suit in February and March. By Christmas, we furloughed or laid off 55% of employees. In April, the U.S. unemployment rate was 30 million.

And then came Corona. We were one of the first countries west of China that declared lockdowns. You all followed suit.

We were the first to run out of groceries (well, that is also because we don’t have money to import anything!) and you all followed suit again. We were the first to have protests due to unemployment, hunger, and poverty from  lockdowns and utter inequality.

Beware what will happen to you next. Remember we are the trendsetters.


Being Mindful

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

I walked up the mountain today, going nearly all the way to #Gibralfaro. It was the first day of the gradual easing of restrictions in Spain.

Everywhere around me, joggers, hikers, bikers, and walkers were celebrating their first freedom in 49 days. The sun was shining in the blue sky and the sea shimmered below – a perfect day to start the gradual phasing to the new “normal.” Next week, some businesses will open; the week after, restaurants can open, although at limited capacity. We will slowly go to a new “normal” in this little corner of paradise.

As I stood at the scenic overlook, breathing in Malaga’s majesty, I felt a wave of guilt so strong it almost knocked me down.

What happens in parts of the world that are NOT corners of paradise? In #Syria, #Covid-19 is just another form of death. For refugees, and those who have been displaced – sometimes multiple times – “normal” for the past 9 years has meant barrel bombs, starvation sieges, and imprisonment. “Normal” has meant hunger, fear, and the daily loss of loved ones. How do we define “normal” when medics and hospitals are not applauded, but deliberately targeted? What is “normal” when a government deliberately gasses its own people?

So many of us are privileged. We talk about our need for freedom from lockdown; we lament our graying hair and expanding waistlines. We join fitness classes and prepare elaborate meals. We even plan what we’re going to do when we’re out of this quarantine prison. Syrians – and so many other displaced peoples – are not so lucky.

We have the privilege of knowing our lockdowns will be over soon. If we truly take away lessons from the past 49 days, I hope they are that we need to be more mindful. Not just mindful of nature and Earth; let’s be mindful of greed and the lust for power, and how destructive they are. Let’s be mindful that no matter how bad we think our experience has been, there are millions of people who have had it so much worse, and for so much longer.

I hope, in our new “normal,” that we’ll be more grateful for what we do have and less judgmental of the have-nots. I hope the new “normal” means not more restaurants and salons, but fewer wars and less killing. I hope the new “normal” means justice for all.

Retrieved from ORF Online. No copyright infringement intended.

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We often use photos we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

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Post 48: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on…

how we defuse #lockdown-inspired tensions

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 48. 


Stressful moment, or two, or three…

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Stress. It can eat us up.

Tension. It can engulf us.

Humor. It can release the stress.

Music. It can diffuse the tension.

All good and nice, but under lockdowns, our stress and tension have increased exponentially and a small trigger can ignite a war. So how to manage?

I use humor and music. An old friend once told me, when I first moved to Beirut, to turn everything that annoys me into a humorous situation and laugh it off. I applied this for many years and still do during these difficult times.

Another friend once told me that when you are in a tense moment, imagine everyone in front of you nude. Automatically, a smile emerges, then a snicker, then you can manage better.

I still use that one as well!

And when all else fails, I find a corner, put on my headphones, and blast the music. Depending on the time of day and the stress, I go from classical music to wild dance music. Either way, I end up relaxing a bit and changing the mood.

Smile and dance…

Photo credit: ITV.com

On my/his last nerve…

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Today I snapped. Oh wait, that happened yesterday, too. And the day before.

As we move toward Day 50 of lockdown, it’s inevitable that tensions arise every now and then (okay, a little bit every day). But social distancing, and the quarantine that goes with it, have a way of creating new co-dependencies. Let’s face it, Adam and I are each other’s only in-person company for the time being.

So when tensions flare up, one of us tries to make a joke. Sometimes the joke is actually funny and that takes care of that. Sometimes the joke is so incredibly stupid that we burst out laughing and the tension is gone. Sometimes, though, the joke is actually offensive and things can get more heated. At that point, a break is called for. It takes the form of music, a movie, a chat with friends…space. A little distance from one another.

One of the beautiful, positive things that has characterized my time with Adam in Spain is that nearly every night, we talk. We do that over dinner, or a game of cards, or ping-pong. We tell each other funny stories. Sometimes we debate, argue over, or discuss something – but we communicate. Slowly, we get to the point where we apologize to one another, sincerely, for whatever mean thing we said or inconsiderate thing we did. And then our good humor is restored for the rest of the evening.

After all, tomorrow is another day of lockdown, and we’ll still be each other’s only in-person company.


Attention to tensions

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Simply put, the best and most effective way to defuse conflict is avoidance. Thank goodness we have enough rooms in our house for each person to have their own space. If the door is closed, do not enter. if the headphones are on, do not interrupt. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything. These have become unwritten rules to maintain harmony in my household.

Some days that is wishful thinking. So I retreat to the only place I know I won’t be interrupted, the bathroom.

Well …..That’s the lighthearted version.

Personally, my tensions have varied in intensity, depending on the cause. I have been reassured by numerous articles validating these feelings as a normal response to a crisis. Examples of solutions offered are to breathe, meditate, go for a walk, get some sun on your face, and maintain a routine. All of which I implement in some form or another.

The most helpful aspect for me has been communicating with my friends. I have a tight group of female friends, with some of whom I share this blog, who have been pillars of support. We have been in touch daily via text, calls, or FaceTime.

In the past, because of our busy schedules and our physical distance, we did not communicate regularly and only saw each other every few months. Now we are in constant communication. We answer FaceTime calls even if we look like shit and offer support and encouragement.

The most important thing to remember is we are all feeling the repercussions of this #coronavirus crisis. Let’s cut each other some slack. Stop being so angry and disappointed in others and in ourselves.


Me and Lucy

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

I have a friendship that may end because of the coronavirus. We disagree mightily on the lockdown and generally how Americans are handling it. Doesn’t really matter whose position is what. What does matter is that my soon-to-be ex-friend so disapproves of my position that I’m forbidden to bring up the subject of the coronavirus. I’m beginning to wonder if the virus is going to separate us in more ways than social distancing did. In more ways than Trump vs Liberals have already separated us. Rather than coming together to fight the virus, I think we’re just to be fighting amongst ourselves about the virus like we do about politics.

In truth, I have no idea how to handle this. To shut up about something that is so much a part of our lives now, and likely for a very long time, means not talking about something that informs how we live our everyday lives. The friendship will likely now be about nothing more than talking about the weather.

I’m glad I adopted Lucy, my 15-year-old cat, a few months ago. She doesn’t give a flying fig about the lockdown. She had been living in a windowless bathroom for months after she was rescued from a home where they didn’t want her anymore. Now she’s living in high cotton. Her life couldn’t be sweeter. And every time I look at her, I realize how sweet my life is with her, lockdown be damned. She spends her days sleeping and relaxing and enjoying my company no matter what my opinion is about the lockdown.

This is Lucy

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We often use photos we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

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Post 47: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on #music

...and our favorite #lockdown playlists

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 47. 


Bella Ciao

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

As soon as the lockdowns began, I started putting together a playlist that I called Corona Morona. 

Year of the Cat was the first song by Al Stewart. It’s been a year from hell for me. January alone was as long as a whole 12 months and it spiraled from there…

I then added: Help me make it through the night by Gladys Knight and the Pips, L’italiano by Toto Cutugno in honor of Lombardi, Dream a little dream of me by the Mamas and the Papas, Closer and Closer Apart by Mary Chapin Carpenter, to name a few.

And then came the most poignant one of all for me, Bella Ciao is placed at the top of my playlist from the series La Casa De Papel. This song was reinvented from an old Italian folk song originating from the women in the paddy fields in the late 19th century as they sang it in protest of harsh working conditions. During the 1940s, it was used as an anti-fascist song symbolizing freedom and in the case of this particular series, symbolizing protests against entire governments. 

Photo credit: Patrick Baz

It is just so exemplary of life in Lebanon, where we have been living for the past 30 years, a big money heist by the political class that rendered us 40% poorer and with Corona, we reached a whopping 60%! 

The song has been played over and over during the protests on the streets since October 2019. In Lebanon, a local artist, Shiraz even made an Arabic version of the song. 

So every morning, I blast the speakers on my roof garden while I water my vegetables and make the whole neighborhood remember that we are living a worse reality than the hostages in the series! 

Here is the Corona version!


CoronaDance the Night Away

RafifJ, Malaga, Spain

Music: it’s one of the outlets that has gotten me through the past 47 days of lockdown.

In BC days, I had my music pretty neatly classified based on what I was doing or where I was: Airplane, Rafif’s Disco Night, Pool at Alex’s Place in Crete, and Hangin’ with the Girls are just a few. Then there’s Working on Deadline (classical) and Fun Work (jazz).

Along came the Coronavirus and new playlists: Staying At Home and Trying Not to Lose My Mind.

My final compilation, called Coronavirus 2020, makes me dance as I fumble through my 7 Interchangeable and Recurring Phases of Lockdown: Anxiety, Elation, Boredom, Loneliness, Frustration, Irritation, and Happiness.

One of my all-time favorites is Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show – click to play it and DANCE.

So what else is playing at my place? Here are another 15 songs to get you moving:

  1. Car Wash (Rose Royce)
  2. Safe and Sound (Capital Cities)
  3. Missing (Everything But the Girl)
  4. You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate)
  5. Hotel California (Gypsy Kings version)
  6. Some Nights (Fun)
  7. I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)
  8. Killer Queen (Queen)
  9. We Are Family (Sister Sledge)
  10. Where is the Love (Black Eyed Peas)
  11. You Spin Me Right Round (Dead or Alive)
  12. Counting Stars (OneRepublic)
  13. I Don’t Fee Like Dancin’ (Scissor Sisters)
  14. Can’t Stop the Feeling (Justin Timberlake)
  15. We Like to Party! (Six Flags)

Sadder Than a Country Western Song

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

My music preferences are generally pretty schizoid. When I meet a potential dating partner, one of the first two questions I ask is, “Have you ever listened to Glenn Gould’s recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and have you ever listened to Asleep at the Wheel?”

If the answer to either question is “No,” it’s time for me to move on.

It may sound strange, but lately I’ve skewed more to listening to Asleep at the Wheel and Country Western generally. That’s because I want to hear music that will cheer me up. And as sad as CW lyrics can be, they’re way more uplifting than what they’re yammering about on the news. The news today is sadder than a Country Western song. Whoever thought Tammy Wynette singing D-I-V-O-R-C-E or Waylon Jennings wailing about Luckenbach, Texas could cheer up my day.


Get Down Tonight!

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Retrieved from Reddit.
No copyright infringement intended.

At the beginning of the #COVID-19 life-changing experience and the #shutdown I was so amused to find songs that related to this situation. Some were quite funny and had me laughing and dancing. Yes, dancing in the privacy of my home, because no one wants to see me dance. I dance a little like Elaine from the Seinfeld episodes.

The Internet blew up with memes and songs containing clever lyrics and videos. Mostly I was listening to the older songs with lyrics that sounded as though they were written for the current state of affairs. Bobby Brown’s warning of Can’t Touch This was now incredibly poignant. The Bee Gee’s Stayin’ Alive gave me encouragement. When frustrated I turned to Queen’s I Want to Break Free.

It was Iggy pop’s song Mask, with its ironic double entendres, that took the cake. I’ll share a few of those lyrics with you, and as you read, think only of the coronavirus and the current situation.

“…..You’re wearing a mask

You look better that way

Are you my friend? Are you my plumber? Are you my God?

What do you do?

Wearing a mask, You’re wearing a mask

You’re wearing a mask, Which mask are you?…..

……critics fronting franticly in New York city, every body in L.A just plain licking ass or having it licked, irony in place of balls, balls in place of brains, brains in place of soul, where is the soul?, where is the love?, where am i?

Which mask are you? …..”

Iggy Pop

But soon I was fed up with all the songs that related to my state of mind like So Lonely, I Want to Hold Your Hand, All by Myself, and many others. Even the reassurance of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive was not comforting .

I had to switch it off. All of it. The only way I could listen to music was to find the sing-along songs that did not relate to any pandemic, fear, aloneness, or virus.

I found catchy tunes like Brown Eyed Girl, Wild Horses, and Twist and Shout are the best way to feel uplifted. Or better yet, songs with no lyrics at all, like Santana’s Europa are ideal. By the way….I’m still “dancing.”


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We often use photos we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 46: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…on #fitness.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 46. 


Are there enough hours in the day?

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

The choices for exercise are endless. It can be done indoors or outdoors. It includes running, walking, jumping, sitting, standing, lifting, cycling, rowing, swimming…. phew, I’m exhausted already. The health benefits are both physical and mental. Experts are saying that we need only 15-30 minutes a day of brisk exercise to reap the benefits. So why is it so freaking hard to do?

I can’t tell you, because I am one of those people who hate the word “exercise” and the work associated with it. I literally exercise as little as possible and then purely out of guilt. I don’t want to be unhealthy and I don’t want my doctor to be disappointed in me.

Pre-corona, I went to a pilates class once a week. Now I zoom a pilates class once a week.

Do you realize how strange that is? Exercising on a mat in your home while a live person is watching you through the camera of your computer with instructions on what to do next. I dread hearing my name because that is a sure indication that I’m doing something wrong.

Can she really see me clearly? I wonder how big her screen is? She said that she mutes us so we can hear her better. Well thank goodness for that, because I am grunting and groaning for most of that class.

Retrieved from the CDC’s website. No copyright infringement intended.

How do I feel when I’m done? Amazing! But I’m not doing that again for another 7 days.

I’m really trying to understand the psychology behind this exercise aversion. Is it fear of pain or just laziness? It’s only 15 minutes, for goodness sake!!! There are several things I do on a daily basis without a second thought.

  • I make my bed – 5 mins
  • I brush my teeth – 2 mins x 2
  • I take a shower and dress – 25 mins
  • I eat 3 meals a day – 15-60 minutes each (I also snack and make tea…so add time there )

So what’s the problem? Add exercise – 15 minutes to the list and it would still leave me with at least 10 waking hours to do other things. I think it’s the list of what I do in the other 10 hours that I really should question.


Feeling the power

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

I tried to be active during the lockdown. I would wear my Apple Watch and see how active I was each day, but found that even in my large apartment, I can’t meet my daily goals.

Eleven floors: down I go, step by step, and eleven up. Daily. That made a difference. But what really made me sweat and get all my negative energy out is a fusion workout I do regularly. I box. I box the throned germ, the politics, the Idiot-in-Chief, the Lebanese warlords, and whatever pissed me off that day. Twenty minutes of kicking and punching in the air.

When I am done with abusing each and everyone, I zen down and do a dance, barre, and yoga routine for 40 minutes. At the end, I imagine the most beautiful white light engulfing Earth and everyone in it.

That calms my mind and grounds me, until the next time I have to walk down and up 11 floors and see who is pissing me off at that particular moment!


Lockdown makeover

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

There’s a part of me that will be sad to see our lockdown end. Why???!!!! You might say. It’s because the lockdown is forcing me to develop new habits when it comes to what I do each day. I’m eating healthier. Going for walks in secluded parks, where I don’t endanger others. Got lots of PT exercises to do for my knees. I haven’t had a Dr. Pepper in two months, which has been like mother’s milk to me since I slipped out of the womb.

Generally, I am hoping to come out of this stronger and healthier than when we went into lockdown.

Retrieved from Bing.com.
No copyright infringement intended.

But I am concerned my new healthy ways will go the way of the dodo bird when they lift the doors to our cages. There is one old habit I hope never comes back: Watching the news. To break this habit during the lockdown, I signed up for an online course in Texas Holdem. They say we get what we focus on. If that’s true, I’d rather focus on poker than politics and the virus.

Actually, the real reason I’m learning to play Texas Holdem is I’m hoping to look young and sexy like the woman playing poker in the picture. Now that would be a serious Lockdown Makeover.


A real fitness freak

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

When we first moved to Malaga, we joined a gym. Adam went regularly, leaving the apartment at 5:30 almost every morning to get in a solid few hours of exercise. As for me, by the second month, the membership director had called twice to ask if I needed any special incentives to show up at the gym. By the third month, I had canceled my never-used membership. However, recognizing the importance of fitness, especially for #diabetics, I made a point of speed-walking several miles a day through this hilly city.

Enter #Coronavirus and lockdown. Adam was really worried about his ability to get enough exercise. On Day 5-ish, we ordered yoga mats. Then we ordered weights. We kept ordering exercise equipment because, you know, it’s so important to stay fit.

Now that we have all the accoutrements of a home gym, I can say I’m impressed by Adam’s self-discipline. He’s tried to work out at the same pace as BC, and most mornings he wakes up early so he can lift weights, jog in place, box, and do all kinds of floor exercises.

Retrieved on Pinterest. No copyright infringement intended.

A couple of hours later, I emerge from my bedroom. I head straight for the coffee maker for MY daily workout. I mean, who needs a bench press when you have a French press? And who needs to lift weights when you drink your coffee out of a monster-sized mug? The up-down motion – lots of reps – has really helped define my biceps. Talk about lifting weights – when I go all cafe con leche in my fitness routine, I am just unstoppable!

Of course, I am just (partially, sort of, kind of) kidding! Next week I’ll go back to speed-walking. And I’ll show off my chiseled arms.


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

We often use photos we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 45: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…our best and worst lockdown experiences.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 45. 


The positives of the #Coronavirus isolation

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

The Earth is feeling #love. Yes, streams are clearer, there is less smog, the coral in Hawaii is thriving. The sea turtles on beaches are thriving. The Earth is feeling loved. For years, the environmentalist have been trying to get us to take better care of the Earth. Yet we drove our cars and polluted the Earth, suffocating it. In just one month we see improvement – when the world opens up, let’s still take better care of the Earth.  

I see families out doing activities together, not just going from one scheduled lesson to another. Yes, homeschooling is tough. Yet I see more families being involved in the kids’ education. They also have a better appreciation of what teachers do every day.  Can we hold on to these good features when the country opens up? It really is more loving.

I see creative acts of kindness in our community. Calling the elderly to make sure they are okay. Listening to one another. Playing music, clapping to show your support, wearing a mask to protect others, food being donated, and for those who can, going outside. All ways of showing love that I would like to see continue.

I was trying to explain to children how one person could show their love and that it was contagious and would spread around the world. I took a glass of water and added one drop of blue food coloring. The whole glass of water turned blue.  

When the world opens up, I want to be a drop of Love that spreads around the world.  If more would join me, it would be a better place.  

Light at the end of the CoronaTunnel

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Today the staff at the Poke restaurant across the street put up bright lights on the outside – a sure sign that there’s light at the end of our CoronaTunnel. In Spain, we’ll be “permitted” to go for walks starting this weekend, and lockdown will most probably end the weekend after that. I am on the verge of doing cartwheels!

Some 45 days into it, I’m giving some thought to the best and worst moments I’ve experienced. I’ve had wild laughter during video chats (you know the kind, the laugh-till-you-cry moments) with my closest friends. I’ve also had many sleepless, anxiety-ridden nights. Despite the anxiety, I know I have much to be grateful for: we’ve stayed healthy, I’ve had work, and Adam has been able to zip through his online classes.

My best and worst days have been every day. I’ve chatted with family and friends; the daily rounds of FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, and WhatsApp chats have taught me who my real friends are. My best days are when I walk to the store via the beautiful sea – it is so calming, and the sound of the waves tells me the universe will be all right. My best days are when I say a heartfelt gracias to my heroes, the store clerks and the Amazon delivery guys. My best days are when I open the windows to let in the beautiful spring breeze, or when I turn to the sun, taking a moment to be mindful of the quiet beauty around me. My best days are when I see the plaza statues. In their stillness, they seem to stop time, and I take that suspended second or two to remember that good health and the bonds of family and friends are priceless. And fabulous weather is just that extra chocolate on the churros. My best days are when I walk along Malaga’s streets. They are resting now, and clean, thanks to the tireless efforts of those who disinfect them daily.

My worst days – well, they are when I inadvertently click somewhere I shouldn’t have. Suddenly I hear the voice of He Who Shall Not Be Named. My worst day is when I listen to him touting a weapon of mass destruction as a cure. Let me stop there and quickly get back to one of my best days.

As we head toward the new “normal,” I hope we remember to stay grateful for the simple things, the things that truly matter, the things we’ve learned are priceless. I hope you also manage to find your best days, every day.


Best and worst memories from a 50+ mom

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I am certain that most people on Earth have experienced a shift in some aspect of their lives during this 2020 pandemic.

I am blessed because my husband is retired and my kids are in college, which meant that we did not telecommute nor did we home school. We have been reading, walking, and reflecting a lot. But the best thing to happen during this shutdown is our divorce from the consumerist society we had taken for granted. We buy groceries only when we need them. With retail closed, we avoid impulse buying. Online retail has a delivery backlog so we only order only essential items.

The worst memory is having to listen to the stupidest leader of the free world taking “charge” of his country. Spouting misinformation and behaving like a kid in a school yard. Responding to crisis by name-calling and vindictive actions.

Best and worst memories from an 18-year-old’s perspective…

He loved the time off because he needed a break from the daily pressures of culinary school. (Culinary school is very regimented. The hours are long and vacations are few).

He has been thrilled to cook and experiment at his own pace on a variety of international foods at home.

His worst memory is the lack of schedule and self-discipline. He was sinking into an abyss that took over his life.

Although he has found a happy medium of rigid schedule and downtime, he still fears going back to “normal” life.


Moments…

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

For 45 days, our lives have been turned upside down. We are dealing with stress and anxiety and new chores and washing hands and worrying about mundane things more than on any other “normal” day.

Let’s start with the bleak…the sad memories of the last 45 days: over 2 million people starving, nearly 25 million people will be unemployed worldwide, and almost 212,000 people died because our governments in the first world acted like they are from the fifth world.

During such turbulent times, though, you sometimes do or see something that is hysterically funny and because of the stress, you end up in giggles far more than it deserves. That’s part of stress relief.

One of those endless giggle memories in the past 45 days is when the Lebanese government, (bless them, ha) voted to legalize Cannabis for medical and industrial use. Really.

That, in and by itself is funny, but the funniest is a post I read online the next minute:

Nouh Zeaiter is a well-known “El Chapo” in the Bekaa (where weed is grown). And since, unemployment is high in Lebanon, the joke was that he is the only one hiring in the whole economically devastated country!!!


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

We often use photos we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 44: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…on a historical figure.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 44. 


NOTE: One of our loyal readers challenged us to write about a historical figure. Easy enough! Here’s the catch: we are on lockdown with that historical figure. RDJ is stuck with Trump, and Tina is fortunate enough to be spending time with Nelson #Mandela. RafifJ was going to write about Rebecca Lee Crumpler, but unfortunately had to respond to a client emergency. Deadlines suck sometimes.


At Camp David…

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

The Donald and I are sitting on the porch sipping our evening drinks (Melania mixed them so I am not so sure if they are good) as the birds sing and the trees whistle above us. We are spending the weekend here at Camp David while Jared and Ivanka are gallivanting between New Jersey and DC. Someone in DC had dinner with them last week and told me that they claim they are corona-immune. Those Kushners!

The conversation resumes from where we left off yesterday, when we didn’t say goodnight to one another. This morning was tense, but during the day, we kind of let it go.

Donald asks “Hey, you still upset with me?”

I give him a long look, lower my eyes, shake my head, and respond “are you going to remain a self-centered prick while I am here, or will you remain so for the rest of your life?”

Our fight yesterday was about sweeping statements and walk backs. Donald was trying to convince me that everything he says is taken out of context and my argument was that he is totally irresponsible about his words, their outcomes, and the volcanoes that erupt from them.

I pointed about that he should read a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The Donald said he doesn’t like reading what others spew. I persisted by explaining that from the book, he will learn how to be more responsible for  the words he says and will stop creating needless suffering. He ignored me again.

“Melania, bring me my cheeseburger and fries. Hey, and bring our guest a bunch of green crap mixed with some of those grains that grow in the mountains of Australia (he meant Quinoa from Bolivia apparently), I don’t know what they are called and give her some dressing that my buddy Emmanuel (Macron) made for me, he loves me!”

“Donald, Mr. President, can you stop to listen for once without interrupting and being callous?” “Listen to what?” As he takes in a mouthful.

“Ok, so in the past few weeks, you have uttered more than 7 misleading or false claims such as: ‘Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion.’

“Seriously Don, you had a month of warning when China (your favorite piñata) Italy and Spain were burying their dead at a rate faster than lightning and you kept denying it and saying things like ‘I just think this is something…that you can never really think is going to happen.’ Well it happened. It happened in New York and New Jersey and Boston…you just chose to ignore the warnings and you have no right as it is your responsibility to protect the American public, plus you either fired or didn’t even fill the posts of experts in the CDC. You also slashed their budgets to use the funds to support your megalomaniac agenda.”

“Oh sugar, come on, we did great things with those funds. Who needs bodies filling offices discussing things that have a very very small chance of happening. I think I did the right thing and it was beautiful. I said that this pandemic is going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.”

“Don, do you have a version of reality that none of us see? Come on. Melania, talk to him.”

He answers on Melania’s behalf before she can open her silicon lips, “Ran, this thing, this crazy thing is just a way for my enemies to get back at me and umm…what’s her name…Melania believes everything I say because I am so great. I am the best. Look, I made America great again.”

“But Don, you didn’t! You have done everything to not make America great again: the world hates us, our infrastructure sucks, our innovations are falling behind, we are still spending money on the military-industrial complex and wars, nothing on education, rejecting immigrants and we are still not supporting inner city poor folk.”

“THEY don’t count. THEY are just like those cockroaches at the borders.”

“Mr. President darling (sorry Melania, I smile at her silence), where do you think the nurses on the frontlines come from? Idaho? Nebraska? They come from Africa and Jamaica and South America because we Americans find nursing a menial job. And you have the gall to slander them?”

“When one of your Corona team members, Dr. Anthony Fauci said ‘You’ve got to be realistic, and you’ve got to understand that you don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline,’ you decide enough of him and his scientific theories and now you want to fire him?”

You also said: ‘Anybody that needs a test gets a test. We – they’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.’”

“What the f*^% Don, what did you mean by that? The tests are beautiful. The tests are not Melania. They are not beautiful; a swab tickling your brain is anything but beautiful. Don, you need eyeglasses. Hell, you need a lobotomy.”

“You stop here Ran, or we are going to get into it like last night.” And he pouted. I left him alone for 10 minutes as I took a walk into the woods to meditate and calm down. When I came back, I wanted to hit him with one more before I pack my bag and give up my attempt to knock some sense into his thick head.

“Don, you are the best President the United States has ever had. You are the most successful man in business and you are the one who rescued America out of the gutters after Barack, but I really need to know one more thing.”

He smiled, he gloated and sat up straight. Hell, I know how to get to his ego and grab his short-spanned attention! It’s like telling my cats the word “treats!”

“I am all ears. Isn’t this place decrepit. I think I need to bring my team and turn it into a luxurious hotel with my name on it in big gold letters. I think we can knock down these forests here too, what are trees for and I will build the world’s biggest and best golf course…”

Stupefied, I go for the kill. Seriously and with a straight face. “Mr. President, which one did you choose to drink, the Clorox or the Lysol?”

He looks at me, perplexed. He asks why he would do that and I remind him that it was his suggestion last week in the presence of the poor Dr. Brix who wanted to become an ostrich right there and then.

He denied it, he said he never said that. Then he slapped Melania on her derrière.

…The only thing I recall after that are the lyrics from Hotel California “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave…”

Retrieved via Internet search…there are so many pictures floating around!
No copyright infringement intended.

When Madiba Speaks, We Listen

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I am honored to be shut down with Nelson Mandela, the global symbol of humanity and peace.

Mr. Mandela is a very wise man of few, well-articulated words. Our talks have been enchanting.

Mr. Mandela asked me to call him by his nickname, Madiba. I discovered that his birth name was Rolihlahla Mandela, but every African child who goes to school was given an arbitrary English/Christian name and his teacher picked Nelson. Reminding me of how many ethnicities use English names to fit into the Western world.

As the days passed, my feelings of fear and anxiety became overwhelming. Madiba calmly said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

To pass the time, we played games like Scrabble and Monopoly. He recounted how he and his fellow inmates kept busy during the many years of incarceration. Madiba was imprisoned for 27 years, and here I was, losing my mind after a few weeks of being home. He said that no matter how long he had been in confinement, his ideas never died. One must use time alone to reflect, think, and learn. The mind needs to be challenged and nurtured. Physical exercise and a sound mind go hand in hand. Note to self: begin exercising tomorrow.

One morning at breakfast, I apologized because we had run out of bread. Madiba smiled and told me how they were never allowed bread during their imprisonment on Robben Island. His fellow inmates were baffled by the wardens who claimed to be very religious and prayed “give us this day our daily bread,” yet they did not think the Blacks were entitled to share in their daily bread. Nevertheless, he was grateful. “It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”

By the end of the month, I was missing my family and friends. I asked Madiba how often he saw his family whilst imprisoned on the island. He told me they were allowed a visitor once every six months and the meeting lasted for 30 minutes. During those meetings, they were not allowed in the same space. Prisoners on one side behind a fence and visitors at least 6 feet away behind another fence, all yelling to each other at once. So the social distancing for him was not too challenging.

I am learning to spend more time alone in reflection, thanks to Madiba. However, I had a burning question for this great man. “Madiba,” I say “with your wisdom as an activist, peacemaker, and president of South Africa, how can the USA move forward with such a hateful, racist leader? He is dividing the country and his followers are armed militias hoping for a White America. I feel we are heading back to the days leading up to the Civil War.”

Madiba calmly responds, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

I tell him that people are proving they are inherently evil and I cannot allow that in my world. “Tina, “ he says “Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.”

Retrieved via Internet search. No copyright infringement intended.

Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

We often use photos we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 43: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 43. 

Today: free-form writing.

Burqas

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

I’ve decided I want to wear a burqa when I go out now in this time of the #Coronavirus. Actually, I’ve always wanted to wear one. When I lived in London, many of the women in my apartment building wore them. They looked so elegant as they headed over to Selfridge’s in their Jimmy Choo shoes. You could see a sliver of their high-end jeans. And their eye makeup was spectacular.

I’m thinking wearing a burqa now when I leave the house would be the perfect way to face this insane world we’re living in. First, it would cover up the goofy state of my hair. It would give me an excuse to gussie up my face with great, colorful, and cheerful eye makeup. That would lift my spirits. It would be the perfect excuse to go online and buy some fetching shoes. And there would be no need to wear a crumpled up medical mask anymore.

I’m going to hop online now and start looking for some of those fetching shoes.


Feeling Like the Last Person on Earth

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

Today I felt like I had to go someplace. I have stayed home and have not driven in a month, would I know how? I decided to go up to the ski resort, as I didn’t want to be around people. I am doing the best I can at social distancing. I didn’t know it would be as isolated as it turned out to be. The ski resort is only 17 miles from my house. After 7 miles, there were no other cars. Then it started raining. The road was blocked into the lodge; I could see the ski lift but not the mountains because of the clouds. It was so eerie! I felt like I was the last person on Earth. There have been many movies and books with this theme – I felt like I was living in one of them. Perhaps, if I really wasn’t the last person – if I could find a few others in other isolated areas.  Could we learn from this and start living together and create a better world?  I hope so. 

Then I drove back home and to reality.  I still have hope though.


“We are (not) all in this together”

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Listening to the radio while in my car, I hear musicians talking about the #Coronavirus and pontificating about our need to stay home and stay safe, followed by “We are all in this together.” This is now the new catchphrase to make the general public feel better about their situation. It is used in public service announcements and commercials, and by celebrities reaching out to reassure the public: “we feel your pain. Don’t worry, we are all in this together.” But clearly, we are not all in it together. The celebrities, politicians, and musicians are not in the same fight as the middle class and they are even more detached from the millions of the underserved, low- income people in this country.

How does the celebrity shut down in their mansion with a fully stocked pantry and sipping margaritas by their beautiful pool think they are in it together with middle-class America? And how does middle-class America sitting in their comfortable homes, lucky enough to have a little nest egg saved for a rainy day, think they are in it together with the impoverished? And how are the impoverished in it with the homeless? Whoever initiated the slogan may have intended to create a sense of solidarity among Americans, but instead has accentuated the real “social distancing” present in this country.

No, Bruce Springsteen (whom I absolutely adore), you are not making us feel better discussing how you and Patti are coping with the shutdown, passing the time riding your horses. No, Nancy Pelosi, we do not need to see your freezer with your overindulgent stash of ice cream.

I know that action is being taken by some businesses to help. For example, several credit card companies are waiving their fees and deferring due dates. And nonprofit organizations proactively raising money to help different sectors of the population. One of those is José Andrés, a world-renowned Chef and founder of World Central Kitchen, an organization that helps feed people during natural disasters. A commendable way to give back to your community.

However, the longer the economy remains closed, the more desperate the situation will become. The other day I read someone’s brilliant opinion on how the government should stop getting paid and live on $1,200 for 10 weeks. Maybe then, more of us can be in this together.


How I see Lebanon lockdown easing…

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

In the state of Georgia, some residents’ main relief is that they can now go bowling. Oh, I am so happy for them…

On the other hand, we in Lebanon are spending the day anticipating what our future will hold, as of tomorrow, when the easing of lockdown begins. Will we be able to afford food and staples with the continuous rise of the Lebanese Pound against the greenback when the government declared war on the Central Bank on Friday night? Will we be able to afford to pay our insurance, car repair, double electricity bills? Bowling is not on our minds…

The government declared a five-phase easing of lockdowns with weekly assessments. This comes after a week of fewer coronavirus victims, but we spiked yesterday with 8 new cases and 2 deaths.

No, we shouldn’t be loosening the restrictions. Not because I am enjoying being cooped up, not because people are not starving because of the lockdowns, not because of anything. But during this holy month of #Ramadan, with the daily iftars and souhours (meal before dawn), people are going to head out, either to socialize or to buy food or to demonstrate against the spike in prices and the flailing greenback.

This, in a country where only last week, demonstrations picked up and protesters wore no masks, no gloves, and observed no distancing in many poorer regions of the country. This, in a country where more than 4,000 expats will be coming back in 2 weeks from all over the world. All this, when ignorance and hunger precede lockdown restrictions.

As I am writing, I can hear the police sirens on the Beirut Corniche warning people to go home. The lockdowns are broken already! We live in a mayhem society, and teaching the public how things will proceed is as essential, if not more essential, than lifting restrictions and easing lockdowns.

Unless we can educate, monitor our phase ins and outs, we will be heading into a worse disaster than the greenback and the Lebanese Lira.


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

We often use photos we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 42: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 42. 

Today: free-form writing.


Why I’ve Come to Despise the Hypocrites Who Call Themselves the Press

Charlotte, Metro Washington, DC

As I sit here in a Gimme Cap about to hop on a Zoom call, I feel my fury toward the #press growing exponentially. Why am I “attending” a Zoom call in a Gimme Cap? Because my roots, after a month of hair salons being closed, make me look like a skunk, and I’m now starting to look like “Geezer Godiva” my hair’s so long.

Why is this setting off fury in me about the press? Because I listened to it for about a few nanoseconds a day and hear a prominent female anchor criticizing a state for opening, among other things, hair salons. She says, “Why are they opening hair salons? They are hardly essential?”

REALLY, PRESS B*TCH!!!!! You old geezer. You’re telling me no hairstylist and colorist hasn’t touched your locks in the last four weeks. You’ve got no roots showing. Your hair hasn’t grown so much as an in the last month. And no one’s styling your perfectly styled and sprayed down hair every day before you do on the air? What is YOUR secret? And besides, why is it so essential for you to look good on camera, and not important for me to look good on camera when I’m on Zoom everyday trying to make a living.

And don’t get me started on all your female and male colleagues who look equally well-styled above the neck every day on the air.

You in the broadcast press are busy lecturing us schlubs at home to stay at home for the health of nation, but you flannel-mouths are using bootleg hair folks to keep you looking good? I don’t think it’s essential for you to look “good” on camera. I think it’s essential that you truthfully report the news AND walk the talk you preach to us.

But I’ve learned not to expect much from members of the press and professional yammers broadcast from their fancy kitchens and dwelling digs while “chatting their opinions” and lecturings to us common folks. Is this where your bootleg hairstylists come to do your hair? Or do you go to them?

I’m going to close with a rambling about one doctor who’s clearly “auditioning” to be the next Sanjay Gupta. The newly shorn male anchor welcomes her to the show, and there she sits in warm lighting highlighting her magnificent head of just-styled hair. Behind her you see her fireplace ablaze and a wall festooned in truly gorgeous masks from Africa. And outside the sliding glass door near her, you see the palm trees of Los Angeles.

If the press is going to talk out of both sides of its mouth about getting your hair done, what else are they double-talking us about?


Let them drink Lysol

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Hey, Trump supporters! Your leader has offered a possible cure for the Coronavirus. Will you follow his medical advice? Have you started drinking Lysol? Taking those Clorox tablets yet?

Get yours while supplies last!

You want to liberate yourselves? You think it’s un-American to be under lockdown during a pandemic? If you think you should end social distancing because your freedoms have been curtailed, TRY THE CURE!

If you believe your First or Second Amendment rights have been violated, TRY THE CURE.

Help your country thin the herd. My family is not expendable to me, but you are. So get out there and socialize with like-minded folks! Sarcasm aside. Think of what you could accomplish: you could free up jobs; they’ll be back eventually. You could liberate hospital beds. You could save the country lots of stimulus money – maybe I’d finally even get my check.

But best of all: you can make America great again if you TRY THE CURE.

I know you’ve all seen the picture on social media. I have no idea who created it, but thought I’d share it here anyway. Definitely no copyright infringement intended, and I hope whoever designed this gets an award.

Leadership, Wherefore Art Thou?

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I, for one, am outraged and appalled – not only because the president is using the forum of the White House daily briefing to spout harmful theories. But also because no one is able to stand up to him and silence his BS.

Sarcasm or not, the president is wasting the time of reporters, his health committee, and the general public by using the podium to invent cures and ranting insane and dangerous ideas.

We need leadership! This is no longer just a coronavirus issue. People’s anxieties in the United States have shifted from the coronavirus pandemic to the lack of real viable information. Governors are handing out conflicting messages. The president is making “sarcastic” remarks. It seems our future varies, depending on which leader we choose to follow.


The positive side of #Coronoia

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

I tried all day to see the positive side of the lockdowns and being stuck at home. I spoke to a few people to see how they are feeling. Here in #Beirut, the news has been very depressing this week and most of the friends I spoke to are feeling the weight of the political and financial uncertainty. Our nationwide mental well-being is on the verge of a major psychotic breakdown!

Then, it dawned on me that we need to turn our negatives into positives. When we listen to the news, all we hear about is how bad things are. We forget, in that moment, to look at the positive outcomes.

For one, when we look at #Corona numbers, we always read how many cases and how many deaths. Today, I looked up how many recovered cases there are. Worldwide, the recovered cases are over 812,000, that’s a 28% recovery rate. In small #Lebanon, with its population of 6 million (of which almost 1/3 are refugees), we only have 704 cases of #COVID-19. Of those, we have 143 recoveries; 20%! For a country that’s financially bankrupt, economically devastated with barely any public funds spent on health care in centuries, that’s a major positive.

Then, when I look at how people are working together, helping the needy, neighbors helping neighbors, I find positivity. Humanity. We are also having conversations about the new normals and not going back to hurt our environment like we used to. That’s another positive.

Are we going to be poorer than we were, worldwide? Yes, we are. Same happened in 2008 and we all recovered. Some more than others. I am sure that many businesses are going to shutter, but many new concepts, ideas, and ventures are going to fill the void and change things around. Survival of the fittest. And as Lebanese, we are endowed with the creativity to make things happen. That’s yet another positive.

And when the world re-opens and we resume the normalcy we were used to, maybe one of the positives will be less greed, fewer wants and needs, and more compassion. What we need right now is a light to begin to acknowledge that we will leave the tunnel. Watching the news, reading the articles, and staying glued to social media is not going to change what is happening. Being aware, having faith, and embracing the changes that will happen is what we should focus on.

Dealing with fragile feelings in a place like Lebanon today seems impossible. But what I know is that we, as humans, throughout history, turned the tide. And this worldwide standstill was very much needed in order for us to assess, accept, realign, and persevere.


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

We often use photos we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 41: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on the first thing(s) we’ll do when it’s over.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 41. 


All you need is sleep

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Here we are, Day 41. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand reality, virtual or otherwise, and time is becoming much more fluid as the lockdown rules eat away at my psyche. The current (Spanish) government guidance is that children 14 years old and younger can play outside for 1 hour, starting April 26. [There is no way, right, that I can get away with saying I also need to play? And I need sunshine, and a walk along the beach?] But hopefully this is just the beginning of a slow and gradual easing of restrictions for the rest of us.

What will the words “lockdown over” mean for us? Will we quickly jump back into our BC patterns? What are the first things we’ll do AC? I don’t know if we can ever go back to our old reality, and I’m sure we will engage in what used to be “normal” social behavior (like hug loved ones, go out to dinner, hang out at the beach) with more gratitude, now that we know what it’s like to be deprived of our people, our habits, our “normal.”

I know the list of first things to do is a long one….so I will keep mine short:

Sleep.

Yes, sleep. You know how dogs sleep on their backs when they’re super comfortable? Belly exposed, not a care in the world, trusting that all is right in their universe. That’s how I’m going to sleep. When the pandemic has been declared over, I will finally sleep, deeply – the kind of sleep that isn’t elusive because of insomnia, or interrupted by anxiety. I’ll probably do that for a couple of days. And then…and then, I will head to the beach for a quick walk in the sea, under the sun, on my way to the airport.


First things first

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

I asked a few people around me about their ideas of what they will do when the lockdowns are lifted: “Go to the beach,” “Open my business,” “Travel on holiday,” “Go to a restaurant,” were a few of the answers I received.

…not go back to normal. That is my take on it right now. I am gearing up, for when the lockdowns ease, to change many things in my life.

First and foremost, hygiene. The diligence we have had to adhere to the past few months is going to be the way to go from here on out. However, I will use a lot more white vinegar to clean things than cleaning products. White vinegar comes in glass bottles, which are recyclable, as opposed to cleaning products, which are mainly in plastic containers.

Second, this lockdown taught me more of my priorities in my life going forward. Materialistic needs are gone forever. My needs are now to take care of my family, pets, garden, and self. I don’t need clothes, gadgets, and junk, things…I need to show care.

Family and friends. I will see my family and friends and cherish every moment with them. I miss being with them terribly, be it here in Beirut, or in Dubai, England, Spain, and the US.

Activism. I plan on being much more of an activist for many rights that a lot of us take for granted. The kafala system in Lebanon is one of them. Children trafficking. Recycling. Environment. I am going to have to find my niche and get going on it immediately.

Charity. I have always been charitable. But I am going to spend a lot more time doing more meaningful work that is direct and not through organizations. Boots on the ground.

And finally, give love. Remember, I am a bleeding heart and I want to be able to give love to every living being. I want to hug people and animals. I want to smile at every person I pass by on the street and say hello.

I also want to celebrate life and hope and gratitude.


What is the first thing you will do after lockdown?

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

Ahhhh!!! I dream about the end of this coronavirus a lot. But what is the first thing I will do? The list is long and includes the obvious like visiting family and friends, taking short trips, and vacationing around the world. However, before I can go back into “normal” life I need a personal reboot. I would love to go to back a place where I feel physically and mentally at peace. To a place surrounded by wonderful people and warm weather.

For the past three years, I have travelled with Studio Be retreats to Casa Om, a lovely boutique villa 2 minutes from the beach in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. We are there for one week of yoga, Pilates, meditation, food, sun, and camaraderie. For one week, I am surrounded by a group of mostly women who have travelled from around the nation to meet at Casa Om in Mexico. All with one intention: to give ourselves time for reflection and personal growth.

I am not an early riser, but when I’m at Casa Om I get up early. There is something rejuvenating about waking up before sunrise and walking to the beach for a sunrise meditation. The sand is still cool as you sink your toes in it. All you can hear are the rippling waves and chirping birds.

Every day there are a couple of yoga or pilates classes. The rest of the time you can sign up for massages, sound healing, participate in local adventure, or lay on the beach.

The first time I went there I was skeptical. I do not do yoga or meditate or eat vegan food. I did not let that get in the way and I participated in everything, even took part in a temazcal (a sweat lodge). By the end of the week my mind was calm, my body was relaxed, and I felt great.

The day after I arrived back in the USA I was in a restaurant picking up my food order, when the guy behind the counter said “you look so relaxed like you are glowing” …. I looked around to see if someone had set him up or if there was a hidden camera. Who says that stuff? Had he just come back from a retreat? I must have had an aura around me. I took it as a huge compliment and left smiling even bigger.

So my post-coronavirus dream is not only to physically go back to that place in Mexico, but to have everyone open their minds just enough to let in the spiritual peace that surrounds all of us, no matter where we are. I know traveling to a place like Casa Om is a luxury that is not available to most people, but it is the thought that we can all work on our inner peace right here at home that inspires me. This lockdown has brought so many virtual resources to our homes. We are learning new ways to do almost everything. Maybe we can learn new ways to invite self-awareness so we can accept others and situations that are out of our control.

However, one thing I have come to value as irreplaceable is human interaction. That will never be replaced by virtual reality.


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

We use photos from Internet searches. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 40: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on…birthday parties.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 40. 

The perfect Zoom party

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Personally, I have not experienced a birthday during lockdown. I did attend a short Zoom gathering for a friend of mine, a book club meeting, and a Zoom meeting so I am familiar with the issues that need to be addressed to make my party rock. Some obvious problems are: experiencing technical difficulties. Having questions about what to expect once you are on. Feeling awkward because you do not know what to say beyond “HI.” Not hearing anything because people are talking over each other. Not hearing anything because one person has a finger on their mic and is creating loud scratching sounds for everyone else. Having long awkward moments of silence.

After much thought, I decided to organize my own perfect Zoom birthday. I would send precise instructions to avoid all the issues listed above. Here is a copy of my invitation.

Hello,

You are cordially invited to a virtual party to celebrate my birthday on April 23rd at 5pm GMT on the dot. I will send out an invitation with specific instructions for joining the Zoom video party in order to curtail technical difficulties. It is important to be prompt so we can all enjoy the party together. Latecomers will not be given access, as they interrupt the conversation in progress.

In the meantime, here are simple instructions you need follow to get ready for my party.

  1. This is a Downton Abbey party. Please dress in period-appropriate attire.
  2. Please have your finest china tea set with Assam tea (my favorite) brewed and ready.
  3. We will also have scones and strawberry cream cake. Do not worry, I will send you the recipes. Give yourselves plenty of time to accomplish this before the party.
  4. I will arrange to have a pianist join us at 5:30 GMT, at which time you will all sing “Happy Birthday” to me. Please practice this song so you know the words and the timing; otherwise, just mouth the words.
  5. I will be taking selfies so I can record my stunned expressions.
  6. After that, we will pop the Don Perignon, which you will also have pre-purchased and on hand, along with a champagne flute.
  7. We will raise a glass to me. I will go round the screen and ask you all to say something heartfelt and profound.
  8. We will then dig into my strawberry cream cake. At which time I will mute everyone so I don’t hear you chew.
  9. Then we say our final goodbyes before I disconnect.

I will be taking pictures of everyone on the screen and recording this party. I plan on playing it over and over again, so let’s make it good. This is going to be SO MUCH FUN!


Times are hard but special occasions should not be forgotten

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Today I will share two very short stories I heard during the Corona pandemic, about how people celebrated their birthdays under lockdown.

At the beginning of the lockdowns, back in March, a Lebanese expat arrived home. Her family couldn’t throw her a welcome home party nor a birthday party. Neighbors and family gathered on their balconies and sang happy birthday to her.

On another occasion, a friend who has family and friends all over the world celebrated his birthday with a Zoom call organized by his daughters; it was a worldwide party over a lunch. Each person prepared lunch, drinks, and decorations, and my friend’s wife brought out the cake when lunch was over to loud singing and cheers.

On the other hand, many people are living alone and with lockdowns and social distancing, they end up celebrating alone. For those, I share this photo with you. May 2021 make up the lost birthday of 2020.


18th birthday celebration

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Happy Birthday, Adam!

I’m so sorry that:

  • You were in lockdown when you turned 18!
  • You weren’t able to go out with your friends. I know you had wanted to go clubbing, now that you’re allowed to, but no clubs are open.
  • You didn’t get carded when you bought beer (for the first time, eh?) at the grocery store. You want to show everyone your ID; I already know how old you are so there’s no thrill in flashing your driver’s license at me.

On the other hand, I am grateful because:

  • You are flexible. You enthusiastically hosted a Zoom party with your family and friends.
  • You counted your blessings instead of complaining about the situation. That makes me proud.
  • You acknowledged how lucky you are and recognized that there are other adults, like you are now, who don’t have as many advantages.
  • You’re taking advantage of all this free time to read and learn and prepare for your future.
  • You can handle adversity, and future pandemics, much better now because of this experience.
  • You’re gracious. You told me the Zoom party, the birthday cake, and the beverages made for the nicest celebration you could have wished for, given the circumstances.
  • You have picked up some smooth ping-pong moves. Rest assured, I may be ancient but I can still kick your ass at this game.

I’m proud of you, Adam. Welcome to adulthood. No, you can’t move out yet.


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

We use photos from Internet searches. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 39: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on…#freedom

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 39. 

Freedom and Birthdays

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

Freedom has different meanings for each of us at different times in our lives. 

An 18th birthday is marking entry into adulthood – a perceived feeling of being able to do whatever you want. Yet for my grandson, a young Wallace, he doesn’t get the simplest freedom of going out except for groceries till after the lockdown, due to the #Coronavirus. We will celebrate his birthday via Zoom. Freedom for William Wallace, the Liberator of Scotland [many, many generations before my grandson], meant Freedom for his country. 

I remember that my freedom as an 18-year-old was simply that I could do what I wanted. Yet I lived at home, and in 1962, that meant living by my dad’s rules. When I was asked out on a date, by my future husband, I was told “no” – not unless his aunt went with us. I wasn’t used to that type of reaction, but my father had a preconceived notion that I shouldn’t go out with Bill. We went out with Bill’s aunt, then proceeded to a pizza place on our own. I felt like I got my freedom despite the restriction. Bill and I were married for 54 years.

Freedom, no matter what the freedom, comes with responsibilities. I hope when the lockdown is over, everyone will take responsible precautions so that they are not infected, nor infect others, with this dangerous virus.  I feel that despite the restrictions, we can have freedom. We will need to maintain social distancing; perhaps wear masks until there is a vaccine, cure, or something that science says makes it safe. Your newfound freedom of movement will be precious as you have lost that freedom, through no fault of your own, don’t lose it again.

Be Safe.


Who can we trust?

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

The lack of real leadership in the USA is taking its toll on a country that has already been divided by outspoken, bi-partisan rhetoric.

Instinctively we humans either take on the role of shepherd or sheep. For centuries, we have had leaders and followers. Some forcing their way into power with might and others taking up arms against one other. Oppositions to those in power have come about when a group of people form a strong enough movement to rebel. We have seen it in every part of the world. We have seen it in this country when people protested the Vietnam war and demanded change. This is our constitutional right in the USA.

Here in the USA we are proud to be a country of the free. I like to think that after the War of Independence and the writing of the Constitution, we created a civilized country with civil rights and civil liberties. Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition; freedom to bear arms; and of course, freedom of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But freedoms need to have parameters. Laws have been implemented as far back as the 10 Commandments because people need direction. Left to our own devices, we would face mayhem, anarchy, and lawlessness.

We are currently experiencing unprecedented conditions. We have been told to shut down our businesses and shelter at home. Our children were sent home from schools to be home-schooled and we all complied.

Here we are months later, sitting and waiting. Placing all of our belief in an already fragile system.

Now Americans have begun to rebel in more than a dozen states. They believe their civil liberties and their personal freedoms have been violated. At first I thought I could see their point. People are losing so much during this economic shutdown. But here is where it all gets complicated. Who are these people? Are they frustrated workers who need their jobs back? Are they organized by conservative groups aiming to bring Trump mania back into the limelight? Why are the right-wing groups and militias taking to the streets with their guns? Do we still call them civil liberties “protesters” or White supremacists? Aren’t those the people who oppose our country’s civil rights?

We look to the president for guidance and we hear him mumble his sympathies to the protestors because he understand that “they were treated a little bit rough.” This raises the question again: Is this a campaign rally for Trump?

This country is the land of the free. We have witnessed governments around the world controlling their people through fear, undercover surveillance, and online monitoring. This is happening around the globe, not just in countries run by dictators. Yet right here in our own free backyard, we have succumbed to the fear and boarded ourselves up to stay protected from this unseen enemy.

The difference is that this is not a US problem. This is a global pandemic. This is a time where the true leaders can make a difference. But receiving mixed messages from our President and the constant barrage of media analysis does not reassure nor unify the American people.


Ayman…Jimena…Rahwa…Raj…

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Standing on a side street with his wooden cart, Ayman spends the day waiting for a car to stop by to purchase some of his jasmine plants.

My windows were half-closed. I hesitated to ask him if he had potting soil. Ayman was not wearing a mask, no gloves, and of course, no sanitizer in sight. He proceeded to walk straight to the car. He was happy to see a customer and, in his elation, totally disregarded social and physical distancing. For a minute, I thought if the window had been open, he would have leaned into the car…and my OCD went haywire!

Looking like an alien from outer space, adorned with my mask, shield, and gloves, I gently ask him to step back. He smiles. He smirks, actually.

So, we executed our soil transaction and then I decided to take the plunge. I asked him his name and where he was from. Ayman is Palestinian (I was parked outside the Bourj Al Barajneh camp, where many Palestinian refugees have lived here since the Nakba).

I playfully asked, “and why don’t you have a mask and gloves on, ya Ayman?” He again smirked at this mad alien, but with embarrassment this time. He said “Ya madam, I would rather spend the money feeding my children and they don’t do anything to protect you from the Corona.”

And right there and then, my heart was shattered into a thousand privileged pieces. Ayman would rather subject himself to the dangers of #Covid-19 to feed his children, than to protect himself.

I went further “But Ayman, if you get sick, who will feed your children then?” He lowered his head and said “If that’s God’s will, then be it.”

Poverty took Ayman’s freedom away. It also took away the freedom of over half the Lebanese population. Poverty dictates where you live, what you eat, and what water you drink. Poverty dictates that you would rather put your life in danger than to self-isolate. Poverty robs the Aymans of the world of having the choice to a better life.

Another great “advantage” of poverty is that it increases crime. When hungry, one will go to any lengths to feed their loved ones. And when a crime is committed and the perpetrator is caught, he loses more freedom by being sent off to jail. In many countries without a fair trial. And the cycle continues…

When we, in the first world, say that poverty is a violation of human rights and freedom, what are we really doing about it?

It was and is extremely necessary for the world to go into lockdown during a pandemic like this one. It is essential to protect all citizens. But is it viable for the (supposedly) 10%  of the world population who live below the poverty line, those who earn their bread from daily work, those who are forced to go to work while their bosses hunker down in luxury bunkers, not to have enough resources to adhere to the warnings and lockdowns? Is it possible that their poverty negates the advice to “wear a mask,” “shield your face,” “wear gloves,” and “wash your hands.” With what soap do they get to wash their hands?

This is what is beginning to happen here in Lebanon this week: the fabric of this lockdown is stretched to the seams. This week in Tripoli, people are protesting against hunger and poverty. No masks, no gloves, no social or physical distancing, and breaking the lockdown instructions about gatherings. They don’t care. Their freedom to provide food on the table at the end of the day was taken away from them by the government regulations and by a throned germ.

The price of the soil was $3. I gave Ayman LL20,000 (which used to be $13 and now is worth $6) and told him to keep the change. It is not much. But I also didn’t want him to feel like I was forcing charity on a working man. He smiled and thanked me. And I left reminding him to be safe. Knowing very well that what I just said means nothing to the Ayman or Jimena or Rahwa or Raj of the world.


Defining freedom

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Where does your freedom begin and mine end? It’s a question I have been asking for years, and I haven’t found a definitive answer. I tried to answer it back in 2014, when I was working on the #Syrian Freedom Charter. Along with a team of activists, we tried to define “freedom” and what it could mean for Syrians after the regime collapsed. Freedom of expression, of religion, of political persuasion…these Syrians and their families were literally dying for freedom by defying authoritarian rule and meeting to discuss freedom in the first place.

If I fast-forward to today’s CoronaCrisis, I hear slogans like “give me liberty or give me death” coming out of the mouths of White supremacists and bored, middle-class fools in #Michigan. They had the gall to march to their state capitol building – some of them armed to the teeth – demanding that their governor lift all forms of quarantine, lockdown, or social distancing.

Why? Because they were asked to stay home for a couple weeks? No, Mr. repulsive White Supremacist, you’re not fighting for liberty. You’re merely trying to defy science and common sense. And you’re armed. You don’t get to cry dictatorship or authoritarianism just because your haircut has to wait. Ms. Middle Class, you’re not living under martial law because your nails miss the salon.

Give me liberty or give me death, indeed. Try waving your weapons around a government building while Black. Or Brown. Or Arab. Then you’d learn, very quickly, the “give me death” part. Then you’d learn where your freedom ends.

And yet, as much as I think the Michiganders (and protesters in other states) are idiots, I respect their right to engage in protest. But where does their freedom end; where does yours begin? If you lived in Michigan, would you be worried that those “free” people were spreading a deadly virus? If they infected you, and you were likely to die, would you say your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness had been denied? Where does your freedom begin?

Freedom is precious. Ask any Syrian (or many other nationalities; we don’t have a monopoly on suffering) who has survived torture, or whose relative(s) is still in prison, or whose entire family was blown up when a barrel bomb exploded over the house. Ask the millions of children who have been denied a future because of an authoritarian regime that refuses to step down. Try asking the people who died, and those who are still willing to do so 9 years later, for the cause of actual freedom. Give them liberty or give them death: that has been the reality of their existence.

“Give me liberty or give me death” needs to be the rallying call for people who are truly enslaved. People whose very existence is at the whim of dictators who think nothing of mowing down civilians. Freedom of expression is too precious to be wasted on frivolous chants like “Liberate Michigan!” when your governor spells out inconvenient truths.

But on the other hand….isn’t the beauty of freedom that you get to go out and protest? Isn’t that your fundamental right, whether your cause is just, racially motivated, or just plain ignorant?

I still love the question – where does your freedom begin and mine end – and it will continue to puzzle me. I’ll leave you with a quote from a young Syrian activist:

“I am already free; therefore, I have no need for you to free me. You can imprison me, torture me; you can even stuff me into this pack of cigarettes. I will still be free. Because I’ve freed my mind, and will no longer be enslaved by yours.”

A. in Gaziantep, Turkey

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We use photos from Internet searches. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 38: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on the role(s) of #women

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 38. 


If it’s a war, then I am a soldier

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Lots of heads of state are calling the fight against the #Coronavirus a war, a silent enemy that must be defeated. While I agree that the deadly virus must be defeated, I do think there’s another enemy out there that continues to attack our societies: sexism.

This enemy has been with us for millennia. It’s one that knows no racial or ethnic boundaries. Striking rich and poor alike, this enemy does not really discriminate based on culture or religion; it’s everywhere. Sometimes sexism is discreet, almost hidden, rearing its ugly head only every so often – for example when one is threatened by a strong woman. If you’ve ever been in the presence of this enemy, you’ll remember that you knew it, instinctively. Over the years you’ve learned to recognize and heed the twinge-y, sinking feeling in your gut when you encounter it, no matter how stealthily it is hiding. You just know.

Today’s war on the #coronavirus is also a war on our current social contract. The world is reeling from massive changes: democracies in decline, collapsing social structures, and free-falling economies. Human desperation is everywhere, even as the Earth heals, quietly and patiently, after so many years of abuse.

As we redefine our values and our essentials, perhaps we’re ready for a new paradigm, one that adopts equality as a human right rather than simply paying lip service to a concept. Let’s do that in the new Normal.

In fact, as part of our Corona-inspired angst and the redefinition process, people are making all kinds of pledges: we’ll do more of this, less of that once we’re out of this war. If we agree that social norms will surely change, let’s go a step further. Let’s pledge to end discrimination against women. For real this time; I for one am tired of seeing well-meaning but ineffectual numbers and letters, like menu items – “I’ll have a 1325 with a side of SDG to go, please.” We are redefining our -isms – nationalism, patriotism, sexism, chauvinism, and yes, feminism – and the new definitions will surely struggle to fit in our new Normal.

So as part of the pledge, can we agree to this: an equal workplace. I mean, location-independence has become a reality, and today’s “digital nomad” is more than just a cool title. Can we pledge to hold workplace leaders accountable – can they judge us by the quality of our work product rather than the size of our breasts? Will they value our achievements, decisiveness, and leadership…instead of wanting us to shake our ass “just for a minute.” Let’s stop sexism and misogyny in their tracks.

Can we do this? I’ll borrow from a great leader and say, “Yes, we can!”

Like most pandemics, the CoronaCrisis is temporary. But if we’re going to war on sexism, let’s be in it for the long haul.


I am woman, hear me roar!

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

Today I am probably not writing anything new. Most of you already know about the role of women in society. However, I think it is important to keep discussions about women’s roles active to make an impact and a change. The title of my post are lyrics from a song by Helen Reddy from 1971. So this topic is not new and has been sung about, discussed in full-length features, and written about in books. I am going to keep my thoughts and frustrations short.

The role of women in the USA has been changing slowly. More women are taking on high-ranking jobs in corporations than ever before. However, despite the increase of women in the workforce and the great strides women have attained in the past decade, they still lag behind men. They fall short in numbers and salaries when it comes to positions of power, in both corporate and political offices. In addition, most women are still expected to fulfill their domestic duties on their own time.

On the other side of the spectrum, many women have jobs that make the world go round – some of which do not pay for overtime, time off, or sick leave. Yet during the Coronavirus crisis, women are expected to step up and report to work, both physically or remotely. While at home, the role of most women continues to be that of wife, mother, cook, nanny, cleaner, driver, etc., placing so much more stress on them.

What happens when both partners are working from home? Are the domestic duties being shared? Perhaps many households have some sort of shared responsibility, but I can guarantee that in most homes this is still the woman’s burden.

Is it the fact that women can bear children and discuss emotions that make them weak in a “man’s” world? Or is it the preconceived notion of their physical weakness that holds them back? I know of women, pre-corona, who were afraid of exposing their pregnancy to their bosses. Or afraid that if they showed any emotion they would be overlooked for the next promotion. Yes! This is 2020!

This is the perfect time to rise up and make noise. The whole world is experiencing the same dilemma. This is the time for women to show strength and demand change.

At the moment, in the USA the committees and task forces making decisions are male-dominated and do not make decisions from a woman’s perspective. I would like to see a shift in the respect for women in power, an equality for women in the workforce and a protection for women who still experience domestic violence. We should expect equality in the division of labor in the home and demand more assistance designated to single working mothers.

It’s really not too much to ask, but it is important to take every opportunity to make a positive change.


Revolution Mama

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

So when it comes to the role of women, I am a staunch supporter of all women; those on the frontlines, those on the assembly lines, those who are mothers, and those who are just housewives. Not just today; that has been one of my life’s missions.

I have total respect for the women who are carrying more weight on their shoulders today than they ever did. But, once upon a time, not centuries ago, women also were the backbone of society. During the First World War and the Spanish Flu, when women were still the underdog in many societies and yet had to cope with a pandemic without the resources we have today.

For one thing, there was no media like there is today. Each woman had to fend for herself and her family. More than 500 million people died (that’s one third of the world population at the time).

And the superwomen were the ones holding the world together. In Rebecca Onion’s 2019 article, she writes: “While male doctors flailed, women took charge of the day-to-day care for flu sufferers. Perhaps this is another reason why the flu epidemic faded in memory: It was the women who did most of the work, and that work was dangerous drudgery.”

During the Second World War, some of those same women were working in factories making B2 bombers and were still taking care of their families while the men were sent off to fight meaningless wars. They also didn’t have the resources that we have today, but they survived and their families are today’s grandmothers and grandfathers.

Which brings me to today’s Lebanese women.

You are upholding the lockdowns and multi-tasking, between working at home, supporting needy families, managing your long list of daily chores – from children’s online classes to finding the right groceries at the right prices, and taking care of and worrying about parents, and dealing with 24/7 temperaments. Just like women all over the world.

But you are also the mother of our revolution, with more responsibility today than ever. We have a revolution that we need to nourish with our hands and minds.

Will we go back to having coffees and forget the needy families that will still need our help? Will we go back to the gym and forget that we have to build bridges with other women two streets over and close the gap between us? Will we no longer head to the Ring because there are too many people not wearing masks and gloves?

I count on us, DC and AC, to continue our march forward and not to stop until we build a better place for our children to live in.

One day, when we are grandparents, we will tell the story of the October 17 Revolution, which was followed by the 2020 #corona pandemic, to our grandchildren. We will smile with pride. I know we will, because we have already achieved a lot.


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We use photos from Internet searches. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 37: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on… the meaning of “essential”

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 37. 


Essentially, we need to build a nation

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Oh, how I would love to tell you that my post-corona essentials will be what they used to be 2 years ago! But for the last 2 years, Lebanon has been an economic ticking time bomb that blew up on October 17. This was followed by government resignations, Eurobonds defaults, rampant corruption unveiled, and billions in looted public funds extracted out of the country to Switzerland and Luxembourg and other tax havens. 

Comes Christmas and the time for giving. The Lebanese were already 40% poorer due to the devaluation of the exchange rate and an unreal inflation of prices. Santa didn’t stop by!

Now comes #Covid-19. More than 800 restaurants closed down permanently. Day laborers couldn’t find work – the minimum wage was $20 a day, if they were lucky, but with devaluation that became utter pennies. Businesses reduced salaries by 50% or shuttered. The snowball rolled down the hill awfully fast. 

So what is essential to most Lebanese today, putting aside the 1% of course?

  1. Food: more than 50% of Lebanese are now below the poverty line due to unemployment and inflation. If it wasn’t for some amazing NGOs and charities distributing boxes of staples to poor families, and the Lebanese army (under the new government) is doing the same, these families would not be able to purchase bread to eat with their tea – a meal in many poor households.
  2. Electricity and water: Almost everyone in Lebanon has to pay 2 electricity bills (regular bill and generator subscription – this is due to the daily blackouts we have had since 2006). We also have to pay for municipality water, water purchases when the municipality fails to provide water, as well as drinking water.
  3. Internet and cellular services: One of the highest bills in the world, the Lebanese have been lucky that the cellular companies that have been robbing us for so long provided free Internet during the lockdown. What happens post-Corona? Will we ever get decent coverage or high-speed Internet?
  4. Healthcare: If you work a full-time job, you have social security that covers some healthcare services. If you own a business (most Lebanese are entrepreneurs), you can’t apply for social security. Then you have to pay for insurance coverage. Or not.
  5. Retirement pension: Again, if you work in the public sector or are employed, you are entitled to “end of service” pension. If you don’t, no official IRA or 401K plan exist, so either your children provide for you, or you keep on working because no one will look after you. Or you starve and become homeless.

The essentials and priorities in Lebanon, with the advent Covid-19, coupled with economic distress, have become eating, having a roof, staying healthy, and staying employed. Staying alive.

For the 1%, I am sure it is the ability to export more of their funds abroad. 

For me, “essential” is not owning a business or starting one; it is not going to the gym, hairdresser, or spa, and not buying more things we don’t need and not spending frivolously because we can. What is essential to me is to help build a nation that I and more than 4 million other citizens can survive in with dignity. I, as a Lebanese citizen, am a red line.


You are essential!

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

Here we are one month or so into our “lockdown” in the USA. All businesses are still closed except for those deemed as essential . Did you know that the homeland security has issued a 10-page list of essential businesses? It might have been easier to just list those that should remain closed like educational establishments, retail, entertainment, and sports. All others, just figure it out and make it work.

Obviously, we need the first responders, healthcare workers, police, and army. We need gas so we can fill our cars to go to the bank to access to our money. From there we take a trip to the store and buy our essentials like food, diapers, booze, and cigarettes.

We go about our everyday life without a thought to the process. We take for granted that we get what we need and our lives just run smoothly. Now we are told that if we stay home and only go out to the grocery store this will all work out.

But how does it work? What about all those behind the scenes? Does anyone really think of them?

Let’s take a simple bag of rice. What does it take for that to reach our shelves at the grocery store? We can start with the farmers in California or Asia who grow and water the rice plants. The rice is harvested and dried. It is then threshed, dried again, and milled. All these processes are completed by hand or machine, but mostly by minimum-wage employees.

The rice is then loaded in burlap sacks and placed on trucks. Drivers will transport it to a packaging plant, which will package this rice in plastic bags made and printed at another facility. The rice is then boxed in cardboard boxes that are also made at another facility. These boxes are then re-loaded and taken by different drivers to the distribution centers and put on trucks, ships, trains, or planes to be transported around the world. When they finally arrive at your local store, the boxes are inventoried, unpacked, and placed neatly on the shelves by the grocery store employees. Finally we walk in the store grab the rice, pay, and leave!

So where do we draw the line on essential? As far as I’m concerned, all workers are all essential. Some jobs may seem menial, but in a chain they are extremely necessary.

I hope that after this pandemic we can appreciate those people behind the scenes, those who are under-appreciated and underpaid.


Is recreation essential?

Norma B. Wallace, #Bend, #Oregon

What are essential needs? That’s really obvious because they are food, clothing, and shelter. Once those are satisfied – what is essential? I think all of us who are in this Coronavirus Lockdown are grateful for the absolute essentials. To provide these essentials are the farmer, the transportation industry, the roads so construction, the delivery, the grocers, and clerks.  The list goes on and on. For every essential need, there are hundreds of people providing. Perhaps one good thing that has come from the lockdown is the appreciation for all the people we depend on to provide the essentials. 

After the essentials are met, the next question is, what is important? For me, that is an easy question. Family and friends. Yet, as much as we love them, can we be with them 24 /7? We need to work to have the resources to pay for the essentials. Working 24/7 isn’t enough either. That brings us to recreation and what that is for you. Yes, it is regional, and individual. One definition is refreshment of strength and spirits after work. Another definition is to simply re-create or some form of renewal. So yes, I believe recreation is essential. I love the four seasons and I choose and love the activities in each season. The picture is from one of my snowshoe hikes just a few miles from my house. Each season has special activities for me, and I love them all. Yet, it is not the activity or what I was doing that I treasure. It is whom I was with and how we felt. 

So I have to ask myself the question, what is essential, what is a real need?   I think the real need is love, caring for each other, and having hope. So once again, my last thought is that of hope. I hope each of us will come out of this crises with hope for the future, and love and caring for one another. 


Let there be Internet

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Gone is the conventional wisdom that “essential personnel” are limited to those in the armed forces or first responders. BC (Before Corona), bullets and tanks could save us, or so we were told. Back then, I’m pretty sure most people didn’t give a second thought to the grocery store clerk or the street cleaner. We know better now.

In with Covid-19, out with the old definitions as we slowly resign ourselves to our new “normal.” The definition of war is changing, since electronic warfare is cooler, and anyway, tanks and guns can’t neutralize the virus. Our modern-day heroes don’t only wear fatigues or capes; they also don their butchers’ aprons, medical scrubs, and firefighters’ turnout pants and jackets. Our wars are localized, and the truck drivers and bakers are just some of the folks we never thought to thank before who are keeping the supply chain moving so the rest of us can social-distance and quarantine in relative comfort.

While we’re redefining “essential,” let’s look at the habits we’ve kept up DC (during Coronavirus). What is an essential element in our day-to-day existence under lockdown? Of course there’s Maslow’s Hierarchy, but a modern pandemic in a modern existence requires more levels of essentials than just the bottom layers of the pyramid.

What about connectivity? Today more than ever, an Internet connection is essential (and should be a human right) if we want to communicate with, um, basically anyone. How else do we commiserate, cry, worry, or share with people who are not in our immediate household? The Internet now where we go to work AND play. Take away my Internet and, yes, you’ll have a revolution on your hands.

Speaking of revolution, I know we like to criticize billionaires and giant corporations. They’re too rich, we claim, and should do more to give back. I have been among those critics. I’ve called for the wealthy to give back more than they already have.

But let’s face it. You’re not reading this post, reading your newsfeed, listening to a podcast, or binge-watching a show because of providence or goodwill. Your online access and social media were not heaven-sent. You can thank, among others, a Gates, a Jobs, and a Zuckerberg. And if you need to do some shopping, Bezos and his team are right there for you. Shouldn’t these people and their teams get some hero credit?

The lockdown has given me a new perspective on who my heroes are and who they aren’t. And why they are and aren’t. My essentials have changed. Have yours?


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 36: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on… anything, again.

Weekends are free-for-all for our little group. In case you’re new here, we’re sharing our uncensored experiences, thoughts, and opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 36. 


Living in a bucket of noise

Charlie, Washington, DC Metropolitan Area

My neighbors are oblivious to the fact they have neighbors who can hear every friggin’ stomp, jump, and bash they make. I am held captive in a bucket of noise. I learn too late that the condo I recently bought, where I was assured there was state-of-art soundproofing between floors, is just another contractor lie.

I’m learning many things in the Time of Corona. Like, I want to live someplace without neighbors above, below, or around me. I want trees to be my new best friends. Now, this is a major shift for me. Before ToC, I migrated to metropolises known for their hustle and bustle. Lots of elbowing down crowded sidewalks. Jostling in lines to go to the movies. Bruising battles for a taxi. (In the days before Lyft.) And retail therapy that can save you from rolling off your nut when the stress of whatever professional rodeo you’re competing in becomes too much.

No more. I want to form a life partnership with someone who wants to live in the woods, where walking in nature is our pastime. I figure this change of domicile heart is a tender mercy, because I suspect if it’s not #Covid-19 that puts us in quarantine, there will be another bug come along. One that sets every hair follicle on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s head on fire and has him yelling for me to hot-foot it to the nearest quarantine bunker immediately. I now accept that the only entertainment and human contact in heavily populated areas will be standing in line at Costco or Trader Joe’s, waiting to buy the few grocery items left available because our food supply chains have snapped.

Of course, there is a challenge in my day and night dream of spending my last days with a new-found love who also wants to escape to the woods. How am I going to meet someone in the ToC, because social distancing has put the kibosh on human intermingling? Of course, there’s always the Costco line. Bound to find a disgruntled geezer there who doesn’t want to spend life’s last days in a bucket of noise and social distancing.


Every cloud has a…

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Up and down, up and down, that’s how we roll. I know I’m not the only one on the CoronaDays rollercoaster, where we’re all doomsday and negativity one day, and trying to find that silver lining the next.

Today has been a silver lining day for me. Maybe it’s because yesterday I got a long look at the sea. The sea always lifts my spirits and reminds me that nothing is permanent.

Today, was super-productive. I spoke with friends I hadn’t been in touch with for awhile, got caught up on emails, and figured out a good work schedule for next week. I also scrolled through my social media feeds and saw a post that intrigued me.

The author asked members of an expat group if we would make the move to Spain all over again. Beyond the move, would we move to a city, sight unseen?

I thought about the question for a long time. To me, the question went far beyond the immediate “yes” or “no” answer. It wasn’t just about traveling or making a bold (or crazy) residential move. In my silver lining state, I interpreted the question to be more about our willingness to take giant leaps of faith now and then. About our ability to trust the universe. Faith that all would be right with the world, even if takes longer than we think is reasonable.

Finally, I answered: a resounding YES!

Yes, because despite all the uncertainty we’re experiencing, I can see a day After Corona when we create our new “normal.”

Yes, because my silver lining day tells me that we’ve been given time to reflect and renew. It’s up to us to use it.

Maybe it was the sea yesterday. Maybe I’m having a silver lining day because the sun was shining and I could hear birds chirping outside. Whatever the reason, I’m feeling positive. I’m thinking I will only live once, as far as I know, and I should live it to the fullest.

So! At least today, no moping. No irritation at being in lockdown (extended to May 9 in Spain). Today, I’m thinking ahead. Daydreaming about the people I’ll see and the places I’ll visit. The new business ventures I’ll launch. Today, I know that post-corona, anything is possible. Today is my silver lining day.


Coming to terms with my procrastination

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

My husband and I were planning to move out of our home this spring. But the #coronavirus has delayed everything. This was a blessing in disguise because I was happy to have more time to get my house organized and ready to sell.

I’m a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to doing things I don’t want to do. The current coronavirus “stay home” order has highlighted this slight flaw in my personality. It really doesn’t matter how much time I have; I will avoid doing certain things.

Organizing my personal items has never been my forte. I have a friend who thrives on organization and even started a business to help others like me get organized. It must be a personality trait that she was born with because she has tried to “help” me without much success.

Now I have been home for four weeks and I think I am still deliberately putting off clearing my clutter and packing. I know I am struggling with the same emotions and anxieties many of you are experiencing in the current state of affairs. I’ve heard from several friends that these uncertain times are rather overwhelming and at times crippling. Some experts equate the current Corona Blues to the feelings associated with grief.

After much analysis of my own, I have come to understand the reason for my current procrastination. Packing and moving means that I will be saying goodbye to the past 16 years of my life. 16 years of living in one place and raising my kids. This is the longest I have lived in the same house. I don’t think I’m mentally ready to make the move.

So is procrastination a crippling anxiety and a way of avoiding the truth? Is it the fear of the unknown? Or is it a hope that somehow it will take care of itself?

As Norma wrote in her blog on Saturday we will move forward after a life-changing event, but to do that, we must go through the present. This present is a double whammy for me. I feel the loss of my old life and the loss associated with an unknown future due to the Corona Blues. I need to get to the other side to be reassured that it will be OK.


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 35: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on… anything.

We’re friends and family from around the world, sharing our experiences and thoughts during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 35. WE DON’T ALWAYS AGREE – nor do we have to! We post our opinions, and those of our guest bloggers, with no censorship.

On weekends it’s free-for-all writing.


Forty-Five Dead and Counting

Charlie, DC Metropolitan Area

The media abounds with spit and spittle flying out of the mouths of the media. I’m not going to say “press” because we don’t have journalists anymore. We have opinionists who wave the flag of the First Amendment, but they are hardly serving the public good. And they’re writing and spouting is hardly “free.” It’s costing the American public a lot in terms of prejudiced information that these opinionists are spreading to serve the ratings god and their personal narcissism. And just so I’m clear, I sling these arrows at the liberal AND conservative opinionists.

One of the costliest prices I’ve seen us pay is the death of 45 seniors at a nursing home in Richmond, VA. One national paper thought it had done its press duty by reporting these deaths – when the body count got so high they could tell the public it was the highest number of #Coronavirus deaths at any one nursing home. Job done. Had a headline grabber to get clicks.

Where was the “press” when these people were dying? Presumably, these seniors didn’t all die in one day. It’s been going on for weeks. The workers there had been trying to get help through the Virginia system to no avail, as best I can tell from the “reporting.” Why wasn’t this being covered in the local and national press well before the count got so high? This nursing home is in the commonwealth’s capital, where the governor lives. After the national story broke, why hasn’t the “press” been all over that governor like cheap suit about how that happened right under his and the state legislature’s noses? And how are they going to make sure the elderly in his state are better protected in the future?

Of all stories out of COVID-19, this is the one that will stick with me forever. Not the applauding of ourselves about how America’s “cowboyed up” to fight the virus. But how this country let down 45 elderly people who deserved better from us. Who suffered needlessly. And how many other stories are there like this that the opinionists have neither the skills nor the compassion to cover?

BTW…There are no pictures in my rant because there’s not a wall big enough to post all the faces of shame that belong on it for letting this happen in Virginia.


On paying taxes

Michael Purzycki, Arlington, Virginia

A group of people are waiting for a business transaction to begin. As they wait, they start talking about the difficult times they live in, and soon the conversation turns to taxes. Someone asks Abraham, one of the oldest people in the group, whether he thinks the taxes they have to pay are too high. Abraham replies that, while they are indeed high, the burden of paying them is nothing compared to the burdens of people’s own “idleness,” “pride,” and “folly.”

A scene like that would be remarkable in the United States in any era, merely for the fact of any American telling his fellow Americans to stop complaining about their taxes. But Benjamin Franklin wrote this scene in 1758, in The Way to Wealth. Years before American colonists, including Franklin, rebelled against a British government that taxed them without giving them a say in the process, the author of Poor Richard’s Almanac reminded his readers that taxes are not the worst of life’s burdens.

Normally, April 15 would have been Tax Day in the U.S. That dreaded day when, in the imagination of many Americans, the IRS robs us of money we deserve to keep and forces us to spend precious time looking for loopholes to keep more of what’s rightfully ours. This year, of course, the pandemic has forced the government to push back the filing deadline, and the IRS is giving most of us $1,200 checks to help us pay our bills. But #COVID-19 gives us an opportunity to think about how vital taxes are to the society we value and are trying to preserve.

The pandemic has laid bare may weaknesses in the U.S., including priorities underfunded by government – medical supplies, medical research, computer technology in government offices, preparedness for major disasters. These things don’t come cheap, and while some corporations may be ahead of the curve, we can’t be too reliant on organizations whose biggest motive is profit, not service. We have accepted major changes to our lives, from social distancing to greater use of teleconferencing. As things get closer to normal, higher taxes are another change for us to get serious about.

When the pandemic has passed, there will be other challenges to tackle – climate change, aging infrastructure, the high cost of housing and childcare, a shortage of skilled workers in many industries. Each of these is going to cost money. Yes, the 1% should pony up more than anyone else. In the short term, we need all the revenue we can get, and the best place to start is at the top. But if we rely too heavily on the rich to fund our government, does it really belong to us? Won’t we be better invested in a government we’re helping to fund more of ourselves?

Plus, some changes won’t happen if we rely too much on private virtue. We need a collective push in the right direction. For example, if we had a carbon tax, we would have a financial incentive to buy fewer things made of plastic, not just rely on restaurants to get rid of plastic straws. Carmakers would be motivated to make electric cars cheaper. And more electric companies would shift from coal to nuclear and renewables. Likewise, if we taxed financial transactions, we might rethink our reliance on borrowing and Wall Street for so much of our economy; we might save more money the next time the economy booms.

Yes, the tax code could be made a lot simpler. Yes, many government programs and bureaus could be made more efficient. Yes, it matters greatly which individuals are in which positions of power. But it also matters how willing we are to pay for what we use. It matters how strong our connection is to the government we rely on to keep us safe. Before the next disaster strikes, we should look for ways to strengthen that connection, including by investing more of our own funds, limited though they may be, in a government that helps us all.


What will be the outcome?

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

When this lockup/lockdown, whichever way you look at it, is over, when a cure to COVID-19 and a vaccination are available, what will the world be like? 

Environment: After seeing clearer seas and rivers, animals walking about city streets, mountains visible after years of hiding behind a cloud of pollution, will we be more caring toward Mother Earth? 

Life and stress: After having time to spend “talking” to ourselves and reflecting, will we choose to go back to being aggravated by daily life and its stresses? 

Kindness: After the whole world united behind caregivers, emergency staff, nurses, doctors, and other essential workers, will we go back to bumping into someone on a busy street and caring less, not stopping for a second to say I am sorry? 

Humanity: After seeing so much death take over so many lives and hurt so many people, will we go back to passing by the homeless man sitting with his dog and pretend he is not there? 

War: After pillaging countries over oil and gas and other mineral resources, will we go back to waging wars on behalf of the military-industrial complex and think it is okay because it doesn’t touch our daily lives? 

Poverty: After fearing the worst for those who don’t have medical benefits due to poverty and have no time to sign up because they are holding 3 jobs, trying to feed their children, will we accept anything short of universal health care for every inhabitant of this earth? 

Human rights: After seeing the slums in India, the refugees in Gaza, Syria, Myanmar, and Yemen, are we going to keep ignoring basic human rights? Abused domestic workers? Abused women? Trafficked children? 

Greed: After seeing that a throned spec of a germ doesn’t discriminate between a Prime Minister, an actor, a refugee, a doctor, a nurse, a retiree, everyone essentially, will we still be greedy about wealth and materialism? 

If we come out of this lockup / lockdown with the same perspective as when we went in, then we, as humans, should be eradicated by a throned germ and leave this Earth to the better living species. 

Yes, I am a bleeding heart, but we need more bleeding hearts to envision what the new normal outcome will be like.  


And now, for a little levity…

This swamp is your swamp, this swamp is my swamp, from California…to Andalucia

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Do you remember The Princess Bride, one of the greatest books / movies of all time? Remember when Dear Sweet Westley and Princess Buttercup made their perilous journey through the Fire Swamp? There, Westley (aka the Dread Pirate Roberts) fought lightning sand, flame spurts, and the infamous Rodents of Unusual Size, or R.O.U.Ses before reaching the other side.

I find that navigating today’s news in our new “normal” lockdown state is kind of like walking through the Fire Swamp. At every turn, mayhem and fire spurts await; lightening sand is lurking and ready to suffocate us. Just when we think we’ve gotten to safety, another damn R.O.U.S. shows up and sets us back. Tweets encouraging people to “LIBERATE” their state, and linking lockdowns to a loss of 2nd Amendment rights, have become the modern-day mating ritual for R.O.U.S.es. While there is similar madness elsewhere in the world, I think our R.O.U.S. is the biggest and most dangerous one out there.

Back to the Princess Bride for a second. After surviving the Fire Swamp, Westley is tortured in the Pit of Despair to the point that he’s mostly dead. He recovers, of course, and in the end, because it’s a fairytale, Buttercup and her Dear Sweet Westley are reunited. Twu Wuv triumphs.

In our real-time horror movie, I simply cannot see good triumphing over evil anytime soon. If you’ve ever seen Contagion, or read The Stand, you know that today’s scenario has been playing out in imaginations for decades. If you read the recent Timeline of the Coronavirus Pandemic and U.S. Response, you might conclude that today’s nightmare wasn’t just a figment of someone’s imagination; governments KNEW. GOVERNMENTS KNEW.

What does this all mean for the average person? Well, that is totally subjective. But I bet one universal truth is that we can no longer make our own decisions about our near-term futures. Today’s reality means that next week’s travel plans are just as realistic as “tomorrow, inshallah.” And not being able to make decisions about next week, or next month, fills me with the kind of anxiety Princess Buttercup must have felt upon entering the Fire Swamp. Side note: Where the hell is MY Dear Sweet Westley?

In the end, and because this is NOT a fairytale, our global Fire Swamp is getting more dangerous. The R.O.U.S.es are multiplying like…rats. The entire world has become the Pit of Despair, and the ROUSs are torturing us until we’re mostly dead. I can only remain hopeful that one day, we’ll be rid of the R.O.U.S.es.

May Twu Wuv triumph.


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 34: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on…keeping busy during lockdown

We’re friends and family from around the world, sharing our experiences and thoughts during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 34. WE DON’T ALWAYS AGREE – nor do we have to! We post our opinions, and those of our guest bloggers, with no censorship.


All the time in the world

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

Although the days merge into one another and the hours seem to slip by with not much being accomplished, I actually have a few daily rituals to help me pass the time.

I try to get out of bed around 7 am and go downstairs to enjoy the peace and quiet since my family tends to sleep in. I love making my tea and catching up with my dearest friends and family across the world who have been up for several hours.

The one thing that I have found so rewarding, and which has brought me solace, is the daily writing of this blog. I never had the discipline to write a blog on a regular basis before, but for some unknown reason, I have found an outlet in these short daily writings.

It’s after that that my day becomes a little fuzzy. If you are a regular reader, you know I like to joke and present a crazy impression of the current situation. I am the “funny one” amongst my friends (a role designated by me). However, I do not feel fun or funny some days; other days, I feel as though there were a lump in my chest that wants to explode. Many times, I sit immobilized, unable to do anything.

It was when I sat down to really think about how I pass the time for this post that I realized how lucky I am to have all so many options.

These are some of the things I do after my I write my blog:

  • I read a book.
  • I scan the Internet for interesting stories and to see what’s new with the Coronavirus.
  • I go for walks with my husband and my dog.
  • I watch British period dramas online.
  • I FaceTime my parents and my friends.
  • I Zoom my Pilates class.
  • I team up with my son and play the interchangeable role of chef/sous chef as we create our elaborate dinners.
  • I team up with my husband as bartenders and come up with fancy cocktails.
  • I look through my old photos and family trips.

Wow! After looking over my list, I feel as though I am on an awesome vacation and I feel better.


Locked up in the car

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

I hate driving, in normal times, in Beirut. The traffic, the aggressiveness, the waste of time, the lack of parking spots, and the double parking in narrow streets are just a few of my personal grievances.  

I also hate the fact that people have no respect for personal space, even for a car. Bumper to bumper, anywhere a toothpick can fit, one should occupy that space. I often wonder, “You moron, is it going to get you there any faster?” 

Avoiding hitting another car is like trying to drive a bumper car, in an amusement park, sans amusement!

The lockdown law is so that certain days are for odd-numbered license plate cars to drive (run “absolutely necessary” errands, as the policeman told me today at a checkpoint) and even-numbered cars on the other days, with a total curfew on Sundays. Like yeah, right. 

So being Lebanese, I take that opportunity to drive the more or less empty streets, blare the speakers, and listen to my favorite playlist. It has become my reprieve from staying at home. I drive along the Beirut Corniche, look at the sea, fantasize about swimming in it (it is one of the most polluted seas in the world), and enjoy the peace.

Today, I did just that. For half an hour. It was heavenly. I don’t leave my sterilized car (you know by now, I am OCD.) 

In a sad way, I am enjoying the lockdown rules and pray that when they are eased, this law of even and odd numbers will remain to reduce the Lebanese air pollution that we live in. Oh how I wish. But if it doesn’t remain so, I will go back to driving on Sundays only! 


Hope for After Coronavirus (AC) 

Norma Bea Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

We have to get through it first.

Yes, there is Hope that life AC will return to a new normal. I’m sure we will not go back to Before Coronavirus (BC) behavior. Thinking about the new normal – we will have to create what that new normal, just like we have had to create what the new normal is after any life-changing event. 

In an earlier blogpost, I wrote about how life has changed for me after my husband passed away two years ago. I had to move forward. We will move forward, AC. But before we move forward, we have to get through the present life with the Coronavirus and how it affects us. 

So what am I doing during this lockdown?

I am fortunate – I can go out for walks and bike rides and keep social distancing. I live a short distance from National Forest Land. As more people are using the trails, I use them less. I have a stability ball, yoga mat, and some weights at home; I am using them.  I look forward to FaceTime with my family and checking by phone how friends are doing. I have a little patch of yard that I am getting ready; I’ll put in containers with flowers in them. A friend has a greenhouse and he has been starting my flowers in flats. What is the stuffed toy chicken named Aurora doing there? A year and a half ago I started a story about a romance between Aurora and Puffin, who you met on my first blog. She (Aurora) lives with the family that’s preparing my flowers. I had forgotten about that story until the other day. So, I am going to dust off that story and work on it.

I have been sewing masks for friends who needed them for work. I am going to start making them for neighbors too, because it looks like we will be needing them to go most places. So I have kept busy. I enjoy seeing and hearing what others are doing, which reminds me of what a photographer here in Bend is doing. 

The photographer was featured on the same local TV station as the mother I wrote about last week. She started going to her portrait clients’ homes. Using a long lens – in keeping with social distancing – she photographs activities the family is doing; perhaps sitting on their porch or working in their front yard. This helps so many people. The family thinks about the activity they want photographed, or the photographer suggests one and they create a memory. Some families were building human pyramids; some had costumes for a play; some were painting outside; and others working in their flowerbeds. The list seemed endless. I am sure that gave others ideas in addition to the family having their experience documented. I know it made me think of my flowers and going back to writing. There were so many creative ideas that I am sure it inspired other families to do something creative.

We will get through this, and as long as we have hope, we will figure it out in our own way. It will change us; let’s make the change for the better. We will have choices; I believe we will learn from this. 

I am forever hopeful. 


Time keeps on ticking

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

During lockdown, time has a certain fluid quality to it. Some days it goes by quickly; other days, it feels like it is simply not ticking. As the Steve Miller Band says, “Time keeps on ticking, ticking, into the future…” and that future is post-Corona. Then, I really do want to fly like an eagle.

Right now, the sad truth is that I plan my day around Clapping Time, when for 1 – 2 minutes, nothing but the sound of applause matters.

OK, 23.58 hours to go!

I find it easy enough to get my work done, clean the apartment, chat with friends and family, and catch up on the news. These activities keep me occupied for most the day. And let’s not forget the excitement of taking out the trash!

In the evenings, ping-pong and social media occupy me for a while.

But what gets me is the anxiety-ridden nights, those sleepless nights, when time keeps on ticking, and I have no answers for the future.


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 33: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on…#Travel

We’re friends and family from around the world, sharing our experiences and thoughts during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 33. WE DON’T ALWAYS AGREE – nor do we have to! We post our opinions, and those of our guest bloggers, with no censorship.


Dreams. Senses.

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

I woke up to the smell of freshly brewed espresso, the sound of someone walking their dog, a delivery truck driving on cobblestone streets. I opened the curtains and went outside to the terrace and saw the sun rising over the hills of Tuscany and sat, basking in the sun.

Oh, Italia, how I miss you! Home to us, every summer. Today I woke up dreaming of our next excursion in Italy. I get this nagging feeling every spring. But then I really woke up. No vacation this summer in Italy. No vacation anywhere. I realized I was dreaming of the smells, the sounds, the tastes of being on holiday. 

What will the future be like for vacationers? We were planning a trip to the Far East, as well as one to South America, with our normal pit stop in Italy on both trips. Now that is all but not happening. 

I opened my digital photo albums and started reliving all the different places we have visited and sites we’ve seen…Kenyan safari, Tanzanian wildlife parks, Italian beaches, walking through the streets of Dublin, Edinburgh, Paris, Prague, Munich, Salzburg, Santorini…and started crying. I still have a lot to see. How will that happen now? 

But what I miss the most is being home with my family, girlfriends in Virginia, sipping Prosecco with Elderflower syrup by the pool. I can hear the sound of laughter and teasing as the younger generation splashes in the pool. The smell of the BBQ grill, the birds chirping, and the tree leaves hissing. I can feel the moment. Are all those good old days gone forever? 

I pray not. 


Where to next?

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

It feels like so long ago that travel was taken for granted. I’m sure soon we will return to our travels. We will go to the beach and sit at cafes. We will stroll along the Seine, walk along the Great Wall of China, and climb Mount Everest. Personally, I have dreamt of visiting New Zealand for many years and I look forward to doing that more than ever.

But how will this all take place? Since the onset of the #Coronavirus, we have spent so much time and effort living in fear of this virus. We arm ourselves with masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers before we go out in public. How will we transition to the way it was before?

Will it just start off as a Coronavirus survivors club? Assuming they are all now immune from reinfecting us and themselves, they can essentially return to their pre-corona “normal” life. They can hug and kiss each other. They can go to the beaches. Heck, they can even travel to other countries!

Will they be forming a #COVID-19 survivors club? Maybe they will have “survivors only” buses/planes to transport them to various destinations. I can see the government issuing a permit of “Freedom to Roam” that survivors must carry when out and about. It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss book about the star-bellied Sneeches as they gather on the beaches and don’t let the sneeches without stars take part in their festivities.

I know, I know! Whenever I try to think of life post-corona, my imagination always takes me to a weird hierarchical society. Probably because I fear the unknown or maybe because I have experienced it. But I will hold on to my dream of visiting New Zealand. I have fallen in love with pictures and I hope to physically go there very soon…. so long as they are accepting foreigners….


Have passport, will go home

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Milan. Paris. Maybe Prague. How about Amsterdam? I love to travel!

When I moved to Spain last year, I was excited at the thought of occasionally catching quick flights to other parts of Europe. The proximity to other places and the cheap airfare were great advantages of being in Malaga, and near an international airport. Sure enough, Adam and I were able to travel a bit in Spain; we also made it to #Rome just ahead of the #Coronavirus.

Since the outbreak, all our planned trips have all been canceled. The long weekend in Milan was the first to go. Then the trip to Paris got canceled. Then the the trip back to the States, when we were planning get-togethers with friends. Now our biggest travel adventure is going to the fresh market down the street.

We are eager to get back to exploring. There are so many places to discover! East, West, North, and South – I want to experience the world, especially now that I realize that our time on this planet is so fleeting.

So I start making a list of places to go. I want to go on an African safari, and I’ve been promising to take that drive across Morocco. I’m eager to sunbathe on new beaches and ready to taste different foods. I can’t wait to experience new cultures, learn a few words of another language, and make new friends. I can be packed and ready to go in 10 minutes!

And then it dawns on me: the reality that, as soon as it’s safe to do so, I will be on the first plane I can find to go to…not the Taj Mahal. Not Victoria Falls. Not the ancient city of Baku, but…McLean, Virginia.

Back to my family (side trip to Montreal) and friends. Because as much as I’d like to taste new foods and meet new people, everything about this lockdown is making me want to run back to what’s familiar. My need to hug Ramsey, my other son, the one who’s back in the US, is far greater than any desire to drive across the desert or ride an elephant. Maybe he’ll come with me on the next trip.


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 32: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

We’re friends and family from around the world, sharing our experiences and thoughts during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 32. WE DON’T ALWAYS AGREE – nor do we have to! We post our opinions, and those of our guest bloggers, with no censorship.

TODAY’S TOPIC: Remote Learning


The future is calling

RafifJ, #Malaga, Spain

Remote learning, distance learning, online courses, online collaboration – whatever you call it, it boils down to the exchange and processing of information in a socially distant and hygienic environment. Today, anyone reading this blog is using the Internet. In their daily interactions with others they also use applications like WhatsApp, FaceTime, Zoom, WebEx…..I don’t need to go on, do I? We are learning and unlearning – learning to use new technology even as we unlearn what is “traditional” education.

Our kids are learning and unlearning, too. From language classes to business principles, students are adapting to the new way of acquiring knowledge and the accompanying etiquette. We know about online manners: hate speech and bullying have severe consequences; disrespectful comments will earn the wrath of fellow participants. Instructors define the rules of online classroom behavior, much as they did in their brick-and-mortar classrooms.

What is changing, though, is how we acquire knowledge, and the pace at which we acquire it. Along the way, we’re unlearning some of the old rules. Is a 4-year degree really so important? Can one acquire the same amount of knowledge through multiple online sessions? Increasingly, Generation Z kids, who were raised with plenty of technology, acquire knowledge not just through in-person classrooms but through online learning and eBooks as well. These once nontraditional learning methods are fast becoming the norm; we did not need the #Coronavirus to get here, but it has accelerated adoption. New traditions are being formed. Forget about commuting or packing a lunch; today’s learning is available to anyone, virtually anywhere, if they have an Internet connection and a device.

I experienced this myself a few years ago when I did my master’s degree in strategic communication at my alma mater: The American University in Washington, D.C. I joined AU’s School of Communication for its a top-notch online master’s program. Two years later, I had earned my degree at a pace that was right for me. The program’s flexibility allowed me to play with my kids, take care of my work, and even have some time for myself. I actually wrote a couple of blog posts for AU about their program and its benefits. No, I’m not getting paid to promote it.

Today, I’m happy to say I’m still in touch with many of the students and professors I “met” during my remote learning experience. Every so often, I teach a proposal course at AU for the same program (just held a session via Zoom a week ago).

All in all, I think remote learning is the way to go. It’s the way we are going, at any rate. “Resistance is useless,” as Douglas Adams once told us. You can look it up online.


Interview with a University Professor

RJD, #Beirut, Lebanon

Today I interviewed a professor at The American University of Beirut (Suliman S. Olayan School of Business) to find out his perspective on remote learning. Here are his thoughts:

What do you consider to be the benefits of remote learning?

“I think the student has the option to learn at their own pace. The student can also replay the material (specially Voice over PowerPoint) over to ensure they understood the material. Another advantage is that they can review the material on a schedule that works for them. Some people are more clear in the morning, others prefer the evening. And finally, I think not having travel time allows them to concentrate more on the material and the assignments at hand!”

What do you not like about remote learning, or what don’t you find effective? 

“I believe remote learning takes the fun out of campus life and limits the students’ ability to interact. I also think that, even in large groups, students learn from one another when the session is on campus. For instance, when I tell them a story, or when they share their experiences, and we all relate. 

Also, I feel remote learning makes it more difficult for a teacher to know if specific students are having difficulties with the material because you can’t see them all the time! 

It is also more difficult to ask questions online if the class is large. Between reading questions and answering them verbally, for instance on Adobe Connect, I can lose my mind and it is very distracting! 

Reshuffling my classes from in-class sessions to online also took a huge effort to produce; to perfect it was also very tedious. For instance, when you are speaking, sometimes you say “ummm,” but in a presentation, you have to force yourself to stay away from these pauses.

Finally, I love to tell my students interesting anecdotes and stories about my personal business experiences to illustrate a point, and sometimes this happens spontaneously. In remote learning, I am finding it difficult to relay such stories and make the class more interactive. 

On the other hand, the material that we had to prepare this semester can be used over and over, should the need continue (for instance some colleges are thinking about remaining remote in the upcoming Fall semester).”

Would you recommend remote learning in general? 

“Absolutely not. It takes the pleasure out of teaching and out of learning. It makes the whole experience mechanical. I am noticing that a lot of students are not learning as much, are not as disciplined about assignments, communication via email is not the ideal and I just don’t have the time with 4 courses and over 100 students to talk to each one individually.”


Remote Learning

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

This is not a topic I claim to know much about. Although I do consider myself a lifelong learner, I usually research and learn about specific topics that interest me. I have never attended a class remotely.

I asked my kids, who are both taking college classes, how remote learning is impacting their college experience.

My daughter has “real time” classes, but the lecture is prerecorded so it’s not real time because she can pause it and take notes or take a nap. She says she would much rather be in class in real “real time” and not on a screen in her room still wearing PJs.

My son said the same thing, although his classes do not have lectures; they post the class resources and homework on their school’s remote platform.

The kids agree that they miss physically being on campus and in the classroom, where they can chat with teachers and friends. They also miss the hands-on classes like lab, darkroom, and the kitchen the most. Classes that are taught by doing and seeing and working with their hands. Unfortunately, those classes have to wait till the students can get back to campus.

In the meantime, my daughter still needs to finish and pass her darkroom photography class. In the absence of the darkroom, the teacher has given them creative assignments such as watching a movie and writing a paper about it. According to my daughter, it is a waste of time….

The truth is, both my husband and I agree that testing is a measure of someone’s ability to memorize rather than their ability to learn and comprehend. We believe in some cases it’s better for students to research the answers and learn, rather than guessing or getting it wrong and never learning the correct answer. So maybe this is all positive. Is it really cheating to take the time to look up an answer? Learning should be based on everyone’s personal abilities. It is not a one-size-fits-all. I personally hope the post-Corona school system will reassess the curriculum, standardized testing, and how we teach kids today.

My kids also agree that the whole process is weird, especially since the teacher cannot monitor if students cheat. (Perhaps they are confessing something to me).


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 31: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

We’re friends and family from around the world, sharing our experiences and thoughts during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 31. WE DON’T ALWAYS AGREE – nor do we have to! We post our opinions, and those of our guest bloggers, with no censorship.

TODAY’S TOPIC: Pre-existing conditions


Dementia

Suzanne Meriden, Washington, DC

Today I broke down.

For the first time in a long time, I broke down and cried all my quarantine tears out. I am generally calm through a storm, and always look for the silver lining in any difficult situation. Some friends even say I take the positivity to a nauseating level. This pandemic has been no exception: I have looked at this experience as a chance for all of us to stop, reboot, and reconsider. I have been enjoying the solitude (minus the Zoom calls of course), and the time at home to appreciate home. I have also finally been forced not to travel anywhere, which is a good thing, considering that for the 6-8 months prior to the lockdown, I almost never spent more than 2 weeks in any one place. I have been resting and I was dealing perfectly with this 2020 toilet paper-clad crisis. Or so I thought.

Today I was looking forward to waking up to a sunny outlook after a week’s worth of clouds and rain. I was going to have my coffee, catch up on the news, and go to the park to get some sun on my face. I wanted to feel the warmth of the rays on my skin. I took out my favorite cup from the dishwasher, filled it with coffee, plopped myself on the couch, grabbed the remote, went to my news channel, and was ready for a coveted morning period of coming to life after a deep sleep and getting mentally ready for the day. 

And then I saw it. It was a feature story. It wasn’t the part of the news where reporters share #COVID-19 statistics and city lockdown updates. And it wasn’t Dr. Fauci giving us details on the virus or Trump telling us how hugely well he is managing this pandemic in our country. It was none of that.

Instead, it was a story about an elderly woman with Dementia. The report showed her standing in her room at the window in a nursing home, speaking to her daughter and granddaughter, who were outside. She could not understand why her children would not go inside to see her. And to hug her. She kept asking why? And they would explain that it was for her own good. She was asking if it was because they had a dog. They would explain again that it was just best for her health because of the virus. She assured them dogs were allowed in. They would explain it was about social distancing and not about the dog. And this pattern went on today during their visit, but it happens every time they would visit, they said. 

And that was the moment I broke down. At her age, probably in her mid-70s, and with dementia, how was she feeling about her children not coming in to hug her and hold her and love her? Dementia is already difficult. But now her own children could not hold her, not even to comfort her. And the reel began in my head: images of people dying from the virus on their own, with no one by their side. No one to hold them and tell them they will be OK, or even simply to hold them and pray.  Parents quarantining from their children to not hurt them. Doctors staying far from their babies to not infect them. The reel went even further. It went deep into the past 9 years of my life, devoted to free Syria activism. All those people dying, and suffering, and wondering why no one came to save them. How alone they must have felt. Just like this woman behind the window. How terribly lonely. How terribly sad. All these scenes, mind you, were playing in my head to the soundtrack of Queen’s These Are The Days of Our Lives. It was quite the dramatic moment. And then the reel came back to COVID-19 and back to reality and I realized I was crying out loud and with conviction. 

Apparently, I had been wanting to cry for a long time but had held it in to stay calm. I had to remind myself that it is okay to break down. It is good to let it out. It will happen again. I need it to happen again. I don’t want this historic moment to pass me by. I don’t want this to be a crisis that comes and goes. I want to learn from it, and grow from it, for me, for you, for Earth. I need to feel it. Yes, I do need to be strong and hold myself together for those around me, but I also need to feel weak and vulnerable and feel the crisis to learn from it. I hope we all do. I hope that things don’t get back to normal. I hope we work towards a new and better normal.


Don’t let them eat cake

RafifJ, #Malaga, Spain

Oh, for a slice! Or a cupcake!

Under #lockdown, a lot of people turn to comfort foods as they deal with the anxieties and boredom associated with being forced to stay indoors and have minimal social contact. Lucky them!

Imagine having dietary restrictions. Whether they’re caused by allergies or a metabolic disorder, restrictions necessarily mean re-defining “comfort food” or suffering the consequences. For many us who have Type II #Diabetes, comfort foods like mac & cheese or chocolate cake can cause dangerous spikes in our blood sugar levels.

Back when we thought the Coronavirus was “just like the flu,” I threw food caution to the wind. I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to do that – my diabetes is not new – although I have an idea. Being in the land of wine, I allowed the spirit of sangria to move me while delicious paella and heavenly bread fed more than just my soul. At the beginning of CoronaDays, I enjoyed typical comfort foods, and my son and I would help ourselves to a nice dessert after dinner.

One day I was feeling particularly tired AND jittery; the pounding heart and onset of a massive headache are always good indications of really bad food choices. I checked my blood sugar level – and sure enough, it was dangerously high. I realized then that if I needed urgent medical attention, nobody could just rush over like they could in the BC days. My son wouldn’t know what to do or how to get help quickly. And I realized how stupid I was for making these choices – they potentially have really serious and grim consequences – that HE would have to deal with. I can’t put my kid in that position. Fortunately, I was able to lower my blood sugar. Sigh of relief; emergency avoided.

Still…it’s not like broccoli is a comfort food – no matter how I spin it – and spinach is hardly my idea of a midnight snack. Beer just does not go with lettuce! Pairing Champagne with a hard-boiled egg would kill me, and not just because of the sugar content. Between counting carbs and counting calories, my optimal diet should consist of a low-carb whole wheat cracker, a dollop of cream cheese, and a cucumber. WHAT?? I want a drink! Pasta! Dessert!

To be honest, if it were just me in my world I might allow myself to keep up a high-carb, high-sugar, instant-gratification diet and face the consequences. But with two kids, other family, and my sistahs, absolute love and parental responsibility are stronger motivators than wine and chocolate. Wait. Really? YES, YES.

And so I will start making those low-carb, low-sugar foods that I promised myself I’d try years ago. I know diabetes doesn’t have to mean dessert jail, and I’m committing to making a bigger investment in vegetables. Celery stick, welcome home. Mi casa es tu casa.


What condition?

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

#Coronavirus can be fatal for people with pre-existing conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney, liver, heart, and pulmonary disease. These people are the most susceptible, but all immune-compromised people are at risk. According to my medical records, I fall in the “immune-compromised” section.

I have Ankylosing Spondylitis (a type of autoimmune disease in the arthritis family). I also have reflux, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, iritis, hypothyroidism, allergies, and Raynaud’s syndrome – oh, and depression. Conventional medicine was going to heal me with medications that could potentially kill me.

So about 5 years ago, after many years of struggle with my health, I took control of my own wellness. I lost 20 lbs and cured myself of 90% of my illnesses. I followed a functional medicine routine and changed my diet and took supplements. I began this journey on my own but then sought the supervision of a functional medical doctor who helped me tweak my supplements.

Before you think it was easy, here is a list of food restrictions: No Gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no meat, no processed foods, no alcohol, and no caffeine. People asked what’s left? Well, for 2 years there was plenty. I don’t know how I did it. I was eating mostly salads and never felt like I was missing out on cocktails, bread, or dessert.

And then I fell off the wagon. I wanted my cocktails and desserts. I wanted to be invited to someone’s house for dinner and eat what was put in front of me. I have been on and off my diet like a yo-yo for a couple of years. I indulge and then I go back to being strict. It’s not ideal, but it works.

Then guess what happened to ruin everything ??? Hello Coronavius COVID-19!!! For a month I have only wanted comfort food. Granted, I try to eat gluten-free cake and dairy-free ice cream but it all has sugar. And chocolates too!! No more of that 70% dark vegan chocolate. Nope, the milkier the better! And have I mentioned my son is home from culinary school and is making us amazing buttery, fatty delicious meals? How could I sit in my corner and nibble on carrot sticks ?

But wait…. the important question is …How do I feel?

Like shit! Oh I’m happy whilst consuming the forbidden items, but I’m gaining weight, I have Plantar Fasciitis, and my face is breaking out.

I am looking through the wrong end of the telescope. How do I get back on track after the “quarantine” side effects have left me in a sugar-induced coma? I know what I must do. I’ve done it before and it works. But how do I do it now? I must remember that l am one of the high-risk people. Autoimmune-compromised and susceptible. Healthy organic whole food is my best medicine.