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.

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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 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 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.


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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.


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 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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