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.

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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:

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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Post 16: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

Day 16. Still think it’s just a flu? As of this writing, Spain has recorded more than 85,000 cases; the U.S. is approaching 150,000. Imagine the numbers in refugee camps and other densely populated places where residents cannot socially distance or wash their hands. We’re still writing every day, though, as we get through this difficult time. Join us!

My Corona Blues

RafifJ in Malaga, Spain

Most days, I’m positive and grateful. Some days, like today, I’m not. On days like these, I pace around my apartment, feeling like a caged animal. Days like today don’t feel very productive even though I have work to do. My timing is off on everything, it seems, and I am irritable. I have nothing to say, nothing to write. Everything sucks. Do you ever feel that way? The thought of having another two weeks of lockdown fills me with despair.

Suddenly, my eerily-quiet street – the one where customers at Drunk-O-Rama & the Poke Bar & the disco & the Flamenco Museum used to keep the neighborhood awake and buzzing until the wee hours of the morning – wakes up. It’s Clapping Time.

With the very first clap, I remember who I’m clapping for and why. The neighbors are clapping too. My biggest issue? Not that I don’t have food or shelter; it’s that I miss my other child, the one in Virginia. But he’s alive, I’m alive, the webcam is alive. I also miss the sea, and it’s not going anywhere.

Clap Clap Clap for all those who are taking care of us – Clap even harder, because their smallest challenges are an entire universe bigger than my greatest irritation. With every clap, my mood improves. Too bad Clapping Time isn’t longer – I’d be freaking ecstatic.

I swing back to grateful me. And then:

I read Tina’s post (below) and it puts a smile on my face. I read RJD’s post, too, and realize that things will be all right, after all.

Thank you, ladies.

An Orange Man’s Fairytale

Tina F. in Fairfax, Virginia

The scene; an orange man steps up to the podium with his cronies on either side of him. They all wear arm bands emblazoned with the orange man’s face on their right arms. The orange man holds up his small hands with his fingers splayed out in salute. Everyone else does the same and they chant “We’ve Made America Great!”

The orange man speaks:

“I want to tell you a story. I’m a really good storyteller. Not too many people know that about me but I have an uncle who was a storyteller. I know everything about stories because they are directly related to the stomach…. When I was in my mother’s stomach I knew I would be a great storyteller. It’s a really great thing ..the stomach….

Well, here is my story:

The Chinese people, well you know they make things. They make cheap things that put our great American people out of work….but they make things – Well, they made this puny virus and they were showing it off to the world. They love to show off, but we can show off better than they can. No one else can show off like we can. So we let them have their time and now it’s our turn. We have the biggest virus now… it’s really a beautiful thing.

We have the most infected people in the world. Thanks to me. But no one ever says nice things about that! … but there you go…. people will thank me later.”

People in the audience cheer and cough.

“The lamestream media keeps getting in the way with a distorted version of my great story. If I were their boss I’d fire their ugly asses…unless they had nice boobs. I like boobs.

This virus is big. It’s the biggest virus I’ve seen….And I’ve seen a lot of viruses.

I built a wall around all of America. A big, beautiful, powerful wall. We will keep the virus to ourselves.

But our wall is unique….one of a kind…it makes the wall of China look like it was built a long time ago. Ours is so great…it has a door in it so we can sell our agricultural products to China. People think I don’t like China… I like China….. I like China so much I’m sending them the medical protective gear so they can see that we like them and so the world can see that America does not need protection.

And another wonderful thing…that door does not let people come in…no it is an exit door. I will be sending the Mexicans, Arabs, heck all brown people…maybe even Obama…I’ll send them out through that door. And anyone who is not nice to me too. So watch your back, you could be next through my door.”

The audience cheers and coughs and gasps for air…..

Tina F. bio: Tina graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and then received a Master of Arts degree from Drexel University in Philadelphia. In 2006, and after 17 years as an Interior Architect, Tina decided to re-focus her career on photography. She is the founder and owner of Depicting Life Photography, based in Fairfax, Virginia, and serving the DC Metro area. A lifelong learner, Tina loves to stay current with technology and new techniques.

Mindless Sunday; Many Thoughts

RJD in Beirut, Lebanon

So I took a break yesterday from Coronoia, from life, from the blog, from my work as my husband’s executive assistant. I pretended it was a normal Sunday.

On Sundays, I have a ritual. Coffee with the cats in the morning on our terrace watching the beautiful Lebanese mountains and sea (first thought, a sea contaminated by anything and everything. Second thought, how beautiful the mountains look without the pollution cloud!) Then, after breakfast and a nice jazz playlist curated by my husband, I go back to bed and catch up on my favorite series (haven’t done that since, well…) 

After a takeout lunch, I catch my husband up on the daily news and events (I didn’t have much to share because I didn’t read anything, so it was brief!) Then, I have my “self-care home spa;” a long bath with music and bubbles – no champagne! Followed by a body scrub, oils and moisturizers, a facial scrub, and masks. Clean PJs and back to watching series. 

In Corona times, I have had to add the manicure, pedicure and guess what? A haircut (thought: no not the bank haircut in our deposits!) I never thought I could do it but I did and it turned out just fine! According to my mother (thought: one remarkable lady I might add) after years of watching someone give me a mani/pedi and cutting my hair, I should have the basics down! 

Still not many more thoughts. Then, a dear friend called and we had a long catch-up conversation. She tickled my brain and thoughts started pouring out. At 8, Beirut clapped and cheered for all those amazing people in the medical, food and other sectors that are sustaining us during these difficult times. 

By 9, I fell asleep for 12 hours straight. Woke up ready to start the week with many projects on my mind. I am going to be busy planning for next month, April. That’s a thought! 

RJD Bio: From Beirut to London to Ithaca to Washington, DC, and back to Beirut, she has enjoyed a contented and grateful life adventure. RJD has had a full career spanning graduation at The George Washington University in 1985 to opening Beirut’s first personal training studio in 1997; in 2000, it became a full-fledged Pilates studio. Today, with Corona, she is a blogger/housewife who takes care of her husband and 5 cats. Down the road, she is hoping for more travel, writing, and possibly going back to school for a Master’s degree.

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