We’re a group of friends and family in various parts of the world, and we’re sharing our experiences and thoughts during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. IT’S DAY 22.
Important note: WE DON’T ALL AGREE – nor do we have to!
We post our opinions, and those of our guest bloggers, with no censorship.
Normal got us here, so was it all good?
Hadi Madwar, Montreal, Canada
Life through/under/despite/consequent to COVID-19 is compelling me to approach the notion of “normal” with caution. I no longer understand what normal is, what it was, and what it should be.
That I’m privileged enough to spend time writing a blog post about the notion of normalness whilst others live in the face of a virus that the world is yet to fully understand – be it through the nature of their uninsured day-jobs, the density of their living spaces, the rationality of the government in power – is enough of a reminder to me that to call anything ‘normal’ at this point is not a matter of fact, but a matter of perception.
And my perception of normal is tied to what I choose to remember of the past.
What was once a few weeks ago normal – being with friends and family, sitting next to somebody in a classroom or at work, aimless movement in the city, the dream of long-distance travel for the sake of escape – has been relegated to nostalgia. Perhaps it’s too early to make such a statement, but I’d argue that that past should remain nostalgia.
Svetlana Boym, the Harvard scholar of late and an expert on the concept, defines nostalgia as such:
The word “nostalgia” comes from two Greek roots: νόστος, nóstos (“return home”) and ἄλγος, álgos (“longing”). I would define it as a longing for a home that no longer exists or has never existed. Nostalgia is a sentiment of loss and displacement, but it is also a romance with one’s own phantasy. Nostalgic love can only survive in a long-distance relationship. A cinematic image of nostalgia is a double exposure, or a superimposition of two images—of home and abroad, of past and present, of dream and everyday life. The moment we try to force it into a single image, it breaks the frame or burns the surface.
Going back to the pre-COVID past feels like an invalidation of the now. What home would I be going back to? The things we loved, that involved the people we loved, have become actual vectors for the spread of disease. Any desire to relive the scenes of the past running in all our minds is a liability issue at this point.
In short, today, nostalgia kills. I’m not a killer, nor is anyone around me. So at what point did the perception of normal fail us all?
Roula B., Falls Church, Virginia
Ok, I get it. Wash your hands, cover your mouth, social distance, stay home! But there’s a limit to what I can accept, because some things make sense and a helluva lot doesn’t in this media hailstorm we’re under. Here are some #COVID-19 responses that don’t make much sense to me:
- In New York City, people who are caught not social distancing are thrown into crowded jail cells.
- Seeing people driving alone in cars- with windows closed- wearing masks.
- Taking away car window squeegees at gas stations, but allowing those same hands to touch the gas nozzles.
- Closing fields, nature parks, and dog parks.
- The removal of all public scooters, but keeping public bikes circulating. (parked 6 feet apart!)
- The shutting down of public water fountains. What are the homeless supposed to do? And there have been so many of them visible on the street lately. Maybe because they stand out more in the emptiness?
I am jealous of Sweden and the way they’re calmly and wisely handling this situation with acceptance and deeper vision. The Swedish government is taking the utmost of care to avoid panic and preserve the citizens’ normal lives and liberties while searching for good solutions. Most importantly, the government trusts the academics, scientists, doctors, and their citizens to play a part in social survival.
Imagine that, TRUSTING people to cooperate and make the best decisions for themselves within government guidelines and recommendations. And the people CAN be trusted because trust is a two-way street!
In America, the government takes advantage of each crisis to gain more power over the people, to own us more and control us more. We have already been stripped of so many liberties in the aftermath of 9/11 and given up so much of our power to the varied industrial complexes. This crisis seems to be taking aim at our rights to gather and assemble, as well as our right to the pursuit of happiness.
I see it coming, folks. I see all the non-COVID-19 related carnage, which will cause much more lasting damage to our societies (Even the old prune Henry Kissinger agrees). The suicides, the crime, the bankruptcies, and the desperation will surely give us a drastic paradigm shift. But in which direction? It’s still too early to tell, but I’ve got an ounce of optimism left in me that says we the people can rise to the occasion… with the right leadership our eyes can be opened to a better way of existing and coexisting.
Inward and onward..
A woman’s best friend
Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia
A member of my family who has not received any attention in my blogging is my lovely dog Scottie. He is a hound mix and came into our lives exactly a year ago.
We had just experienced the pain and grief of having lost our dog Remington. We rescued Remi (also a hound mix breed) 6 years ago. But Remi developed a tumor on his spine and it slowly made him lose all sensation in his legs. We loved Remington and thought he was the perfect dog. His loss was devastating. But in the midst of our grief, Scottie came along. Scottie was an exceptionally trained dog. His owner was a young man who recently got married. Both he and his wife were nurses and were looking to find a good home for Scottie. Nurses work in 12-hour shifts, which meant Scottie would be home alone for at least 14 hours some days.
It did not take much to convince us to take Scottie in. When we compared photos of the 2 dogs it was hard to see the difference between them. Both are predominantly white with brown patches on their head and they are exactly the same size. It was like a sign from the heavens. Remi was telling us, don’t be sad, here is my younger brother.
As a child, I did not like dogs. I grew up in a country where people only had vicious guard dogs (or so it seemed). I was petrified of them because you never knew when one would jump the fence and chase you down the street. So it took a lot of convincing to even get our first dog Remington.
But I soon found out that dogs are amazing creatures. They are loyal, lovable, and truly a woman’s best friend. Now we have Scottie. He is so gently and loving. I cannot imagine life without a dog.
Scottie has been getting a lot of walks and attention with everyone home. I wish I could know what his thoughts were about all this #coronavirus madness. But I think I know.
Every night when we let him out into the back yard Scottie would run out do his business and run back. Lately he has been ignoring our calls to come home. One night we thought he had run away. We called and called for Scottie but there was silence. We drove around the block looking for him, but he was nowhere.
Finally my son spots him in the neighbors yard and after some coaxing Scottie came running home. Apparently he had discovered a break in the fence and had gone off wandering.
I finally understood how Scottie felt about this “stay home” order. By the end of the day he too just needed some time alone.
@$*^ You. No, @$*^ YOU!
RafifJ, Malaga, Spain
Now as we enter weeks 3 or 4 of lockdown, some bonds are fraying. The #COVID-19 numbers are really up – practically TRIPLE in some countries in the past week. Our anxieties are also growing exponentially and we’re all trying to figure out who’s next, what’s next, and why.
We’re also playing the blame game…On social media, more people have started to point fingers at others. I mean, I know we blame governments for everything, but I’ve been seeing entire nationalities maligned or being offered up as sacrificial lambs for testing. Minor disagreements are erupting into real hostility. Former friends are taking potshots at each other.
Since we cannot understand the #Coronavirus, we have to find a scapegoat. Because we’re frustrated, that other person must be a jerk. If we are anxious, it might be because that other person with whom we disagree is an asshole.
On Facebook, I’ve seen more insults and more toxicity than ever before. People used to be polarized over national politics; now it’s over who went out, who stayed in, which leader is doing more (or less), which governments have become facemask pirates.
Put on your big girl (or boy) pants, folks! We have a long way to go before we can start adapting to what will become the new normal. (More on that tomorrow). Let’s stop the fighting, the escalations, the silliness before THIS becomes the new normal. You can’t control other people’s statements, but you CAN control how YOU react. The moral of the story is, if you can’t say something nice, walk away. Or just STFU.
Thank you for reading our blog! All feedback welcome.