Post 28: #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 28. Important Note: WE DON’T ALWAYS AGREE – nor do we have to! We post our opinions, and those of our guest bloggers, with no censorship. No copyright infringement intended WRT photos in this post.

Roula B. is back, and our Barcelona writer joins us for a third post!
Today is our writing free-for-all, so we cover fears, anxieties, hope, love, and allergies.


Schizophrenia

Roula B., Falls Church, Virginia

I’m a Gemini, so I’m already a bit dual in my nature. This lockdown is starting to make me schizophrenic. Is this happening to anyone else out there?

One minute I’ve got it all under control. The yoga and zen are kicking in. I see beauty in everything that is happening. I pay attention to all the positives. I come up with more little ways to make people around me a little happier, like those “stone-buddies” my son made and distributed as a Random Act of Kindness project. Then, something triggers and I get angry and unreasonable. RAGE! I want to erupt like a dormant volcano, or burst like a flood of tears.

It’s been a challenge to keep a balance 24/6. On Saturdays, my beautiful boy gets to go to his dad’s for his one day/night a week, which is nice. Sure, dad does try to step in every now and then when work allows. You see, he’s a database network architect and these guys are bizi-bizi during these times because the network traffic is so heavy with everyone working and playing their lives online. Anyway, after going out for bloodwork this morning, homeschooling, hearing tragic news about friends, dealing with the repair scheduled for my mother’s smart TV – which we only bought 3 months ago, laundry, and cooking three meals, I finally sat for a moment to listen to author Glennon Doyle’s daily “Morning Chat” on Facebook and she really hit the spot with her message. I encourage you to look into her and her books. Her latest, Untamed, is currently #2 on the New York Times Best Seller List for non-fiction. I’m waiting to get it in the mail any day now. It’s been sold out!

Basically she said to parents like me: “LET THEM WATCH TV! LET THEM EAT WHATEVER, DO WHATEVER. THESE ARE NOT PEACE TIMES. THIS IS A TIME OF WAR!”

Oh. My. God.

I almost cried, almost! My eyes definitely welled up a tiny bit, but inside, I felt like someone wrapped my heart in warmth and gave me permission to CHILL OUT. But I feel guilty. I don’t want this to end up with my son being malnourished, brain-damaged, and screen-dependent!

It’s hard being a Gemini. It’s hard being anyone during these crazy times.  Who doesn’t have a story? But as Doyle says, “we can do hard things!”

Inward and onward…


Where will our fears go?

I., #Barcelona, Spain

Will the fear that justifies social distancing lead to justifying renewed cultural distancing, racism, and xenophobia? Will it lead to further economic distancing and a bigger income/class divide? Will it lead to further political distancing, with countries losing more common national grounds to stand on, resulting in more civil, regional and world conflicts?

If I force myself to see a silver lining, I am grateful that we’re fighting a war to save lives as opposed to killing each other, a war where courage and bravery are defined by care and humanity, as opposed to muscle-power and brutality. 

Family outing in Barcelona

But then again, my 50+ years have taught me to listen for a fat lady singing, before thinking that it’s over and passing judgement.  Could this be the beginning of the next age of warfare?  Have we gone where we thought no SOB would ever dare go? Who (P) would (U) do (T) something (I) like (N) this?  I wonder…

A couple of things to add to the other predictions that have appeared in this blog: ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. Billionaires around the world probably already have a ventilator for each member of their household, Millionaires are on the waiting list. The capabilities and capacities marshalled to produce ventilators and PPEs will result in the rapid development of such product designs, models, and the launch of personal ventilators and PPE sets. Ventilators and PPE sets will replace the camels and livestock in dowries. This leads to an interesting question: are we watching the creation of a new industrial complex that will need to be kept alive by creating demand for its products? I (U) hope (S) not (A). WWII and the military industrial complexes that it created are a scary precedent.

They think that after the quarantine our freedoms will be given back to us gradually; however, we should expect a surge in the number of divorces as soon as the civil courts reopen. That’s what happened in China. Also, many people will be reluctant to go back to the old ways and will stay socially distant and homebound. We will become more conscious of our safety space (a radius of 1.5 meters), and some of us will freak-out if their space is violated. Reminds me of a bully who beat me up as a kid because I stepped on his shadow.

Like Osama Bin Laden took the fun out of international travel, tourism and an endless list of little freedoms we enjoyed prior to 9/11, COVID-19 is going to rain more shit on our freedom parade and the whole brotherhood of man bullshit. Whether you like it or not, your temperature is going to be measured and your biometrics used even more intrusively for population safety and control measures. Plastic gloves are going to give some people bad, bad ideas. And ja, ja, und ja will eventually be the voting options.

This brings us nicely to November 2020, a month which will either bring the resurgence of a great nation that can once again unite and lead the world, or the birth of up to 51 new nations, if not more.

And for those awaiting the Messaih, it’s on Netflix.


Pass the Benadryl

RafifJ, Malaga, Spain

Well before my now-28 days of CoronaCaptivity had started, I knew a couple of things could send me into near-anaphylactic shock: mustard and Donald Trump.

Usually a strong does of Benadryl takes care of the mustard thing. I have not yet found the right antidote to combat my other problem. In fact, my allergy is getting worse. Take yesterday.

Among the headlines, one in particular stood out to me: “Oversight erased, Supreme Court hijacked: Trump turns the presidency into a dictatorship.” This was on USA Today.

I often feel myself gasping for air when I read the headlines coming out of the United States. Dictator Trump’s “antics” long ago stopped being like those of a spoiled child; the headlines these days, during this anxiety-ridden time of global pandemic, remind us that history repeats itself. Apparently, totalitarianism can proliferate easily – just like rats or cockroaches – and is more difficult to stamp out.

Are we seeing Totalitarianism enjoy a steady march into our United States of America? I think yes. I’m listening to the words he uses, this self-aggrandizing, self-trumpeting dictator as he wraps himself in the cloak of White patriotism and simultaneously gnaws away at the last vestiges of our illusionary democracy. What I hear is our dream of democracy shattering.

The noose around the media’s throat gets tighter every time Trump lashes out at a reporter who asks a legitimate question. Apparently, anything that hints at requiring accountability – or an honest answer – from this White House occupant is branded as fake news, a nasty question, or an unprovoked attack. I fear that Inspectors General, who are meant to safeguard against corruption and drive transparency in their institutions, are an endangered species because they keep getting fired for doing their jobs. Meanwhile, Trump surrounds himself with sycophants who are too cowardly or too corrupt to stop the gradual chipping away at America’s democratic institutions. My throat closes up and my ears hear only the thundering approach of jackboots; they’re getting closer. I want an antihistamine, but there isn’t one within easy reach.

Instead, there’s Trump doing his daily show while the Coronavirus ravages communities across the country. In hogging the limelight, pushing aside experts, and touting unproven drugs, Dictator Trump is practically pulling the trigger on hundreds of thousands of Americans. And in my state of near-suffocation, I remember that he’s “the Donald” – the one who so famously boasted that he could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue in New York and get away with it.

I hope America (and the world) finds a cure for the Coronavirus. And while we’re at it, a high dose of Anti-Trump to reverse the current political tide. Otherwise, we may emerge from one crisis only to find ourselves in a far bigger one: dictatorship in America.


Moving Forward

Norma Bea Wallace, Bend, Oregon

I had just finished my Yoga while watching the plasmaquarium and listening to the soothing music when my family called for a FaceTime call.  What a perfect way to start the day! Starting the day like this is the best anxiety-reducing I can imagine in these times, and actually, anytime.  

One of the questions this week was, “what will life be like after this is over?” Will it be the same as before the Coronavirus?  No one knows what it will be like. Everyone’s past experiences are different and therefore how they relate to this situation is different. I have one experience I am sharing:

Two years ago, Bill, the love of my life, passed away. We had been married for 54 years. For the past 2 years, life has not been what it was before he passed. I have struggled with doing simple things alone, and I have been most fortunate and grateful for my family and friends who have helped me along the way.  In fact, I am even writing a booklet about my journey through grief. 

In many ways, this parallels what I think that life after #Covid-19 will be. You know the stages of grief as Shock, Pain, Anger, Depression, Reflection Loneliness, Upturn, Reconstruction-working through, then Acceptance and Hope. Isn’t that what we all have been going through?

It sounds like a straight line of going through the emotions. It’s not, going through it is a jumbled mess of going through one emotion, then the other.  Before this started, I was preparing for a cross-country trip alone in my little 13-foot teardrop trailer to see my grandson graduate from high school. Well, that was cancelled. Just like all of your plans were cancelled. Another setback and I will learn to adjust. 

In my journey through grief, I have been trying to find a new way of living and am inspired when I think Bill would want me to move forward and figure out how to do things differently. I think that I will be inspired to move forward but do things differently after this (?), I can’t even think of a good word for what we are going through.

I was inspired last night by a young single mother in Bend. She had been been laid off from her job as a hospitality worker. She is homeschooling her daughter and was interviewed on TV. She said, 

Wouldn’t it be nice if, after this, my daughter and I can look back and say the Coronavirus time was terrible but we got through it. We loved each other and we got through it and now we are moving forward.   

I like the expression, “moving forward,” rather than moving on, as it seems more positive. I believe we will move forward; it will be different than before, and we will figure it out.

So I end this post with HOPE! We will figure it out!


Sistas

RJD, Beirut, Lebanon

Today I would like to share the love and gratitude I have for women, specifically those in my life whom I cherish dearly.

Women are expected to exist with superpowers and some days, we need to shed those superpowers and just be. Mothers have their children and husbands; some have pets. Parents and family. Work and bosses. Home and daily needs. Self care. Intellectual and cultural development. Friends. Juggling all day can be and IS exhausting. 

So to these women who manage, I bow to thee. Specially since I can’t hug you these days!

But to a few women in my life, I want to say “thank you,” because without you, your humor, support, and love, the current situation would have been unbearable. 

My mother. Can’t say or do anything possible to show you my respect, love and gratitude. 

My sister. You are my everything. Life would not be the same without you. 

My friends, some of whom I have known as a kid in summer camp, some from college, others from adulthood. To you, you have shaped who I am today. 

The giggles when we used to make prank (landline pre-caller ID) calls. The nights out getting drunk and dancing til the wee hours of the morning. The boyfriends and the heartbreaks when we supported one another. The weddings, births, graduations, deaths that we have been through together. The books we told one another to read. The trips we made together. The advice and moral support we gave and still give one another. To you, I salute and say thank you for being an integral part of my life. 

Today, I just want to be grateful and content that I have you in my life because who knows…

Ok, done being sappy. Back to reality. Tomorrow is another day. 


Post 9: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

Here’s our installment for Day 9. We’re chronicling our experiences during the #COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines, and other restrictions. Mayya S. in Herndon, VA, came up with the idea for us to share our experiences.

Care to join us? 

A mother’s dilemma

Tina F. in Fairfax, VA

I have two children. My 21-year-old daughter is in college and works as a nurse technician in the coronary unit at INOVA hospital. She already lives at home. Her college will begin online classes and her job is obviously secure. She has not really had to modify her work life because of the #Coronavirus. But after her 12-hour night shift at the hospital I greeted her and asked about the state of the hospital and she said, “the shit is going to hit the fan in a couple of weeks, Mom” and disappeared to shower off her hospital germs and sleep.

My son is 18 and is attending culinary school in New York. Last week his university moved up Spring Break and sent the students home for an extended 3-week break. Since they are on a year-round school, that meant they were utilizing the 2 weeks of summer break too.

He has been home for a week and yesterday he was told that the university will be closed until at least May 11. They are going online with classes, but as a hands on learning school this will be a challenge.

We gave my son a well-deserved several days off; he is on break after all. As a matter of fact, we have all been watching more TV and binge eating. But his isolation has become a concern for this Mama.

At 11:00 am I knock on his door.

“Sweetheart, don’t you think its time to get out of bed? “

“Why?”

“Well, so you can get things done and give yourself a sense of accomplishment?”

“Like get what done?”

If it were a normal day I would have yelled GET A JOB! But I said, “I don’t know like….”

“EXACTLY! There’s nothing to do!”

Well, that’s not exactly true. My husband and I have given him household chores like taking out the trash, changing light bulbs, etc. And most importantly, going to pick up food for everyone. He accomplishes these tasks in record speed, then retreats to his cocoon with his PS4 and online streaming.

At dinner, I told him that I would like to spend some time together and asked him if he had any ideas about what we could do. His answer was vague and evasive. My suggestion of ping-pong was scoffed at. Then he said, “We could play Monopoly!” A glimmer of hope washed over me. “Sure, honey, that’s a great idea!”

“Ok, maybe tomorrow” and returned to his room.

Prices have gone up since Tina was a kid!

My question to you all is, how do you get through to your adult children who are stuck in this unprecedented limbo? Especially college-age kids, who have discovered their independence and think any time spent with their parents is being a loser.

Tomorrow after Monopoly I will start a new strategy. I just have to think of one.

***

Time to Stop Brawlin’
and Start Compromisin’

Sunny, a Global Cowgirl® in Frederick, Maryland

Life in the time of Corona is chock full of dire messages from the Dark Side, but what about a message from the Light? Of course, today’s medical town criers obsessively tell me in this time of Corona there’s just one degree of separation between me and the Grim Reaper. But I’ve been to the near-death rodeo a few times before and no horse has bucked me off yet. So, I’ll just do what I’ve always done—saddle up, shove my boots in the stirrups, and show this latest horse the meaning of true grit. And if I get bucked off? Well, everyone gets bucked out of Life eventually.

What fascinates me more than getting thrown by Corona, is the valuable lesson it’s sending me. Compromise. We need to stop our brawlin’ and start compromisin’.

Politicians and government officials may talk compromise, but, if the proof is the pudding, then the pudding they’re serving us is rancid. The willingness to compromise in this time of Corona—and after—rests with us, we the people. Right now, the US, and the world, is on a train headed toward a mountain where no one’s dug a tunnel. I think Corona is gonna kick our petards into the next life if we don’t put down our dukes and come together to send Corona packing.

Is compromise and peace between the human species possible? When I get discouraged, I reread a message I wrote to myself after going to Antietam Battlefield. It is a reminder from the Light that compromise is possible…

Burnside Bridge

Battlefield of Peace

Peace. Countries around the world search for peace with guns and megaweapons drawn. We’ve even got war colleges dedicated to developing new ways to fight for peace. All of this done in the hope of achieving this elusive human yearning.

While my own life is full of vexations, frustrations, and anything but peace, I’ve found a place where I can feel and even “see” the peace I ache to experience all the time.

Ironically, the spot is on a battlefield where the bloodiest single day of fighting in American history took place. September 17, 1862. The Civil War’s Battle of Antietam, near Sharpsburg, Maryland.

Antietam Creek ran red with the blood of Union and Confederate soldiers. Over twenty-three thousand were killed, wounded, or missing.

There is a bridge that runs over Antietam Creek—Burnside Bridge. When I stand in the center of the bridge, I see a delicate cloud coming up from the earth, blanketing battlefield and creek. Within the cloud’s mist swirls a Light not of this world. Looking into the mist, my mind and body go calm. All worries evaporate. The air is pure, and with each breath, I’m filled with the cloud’s peace. I can see the misty cloud and feel its serenity every time I stand on Burnside Bridge.

There is something else. I sense the presence of the soldiers who died there, Union and Confederate. There is no rancor between them. Each body released its soul, and these thousands of souls made a peace among themselves that is beyond our understanding here on earth. They rest in harmony at Antietam.

I return again and again to Burnside Bridge to feel the unfettered peace that stretches out to enfold and caress its visitors, no matter the horror of our personal or political battlefields.

(from A Global Cowgirl Takes Stock of Life’s Lessons, being released in Spring 2020)

In our battle with Corona, I hope I’m able to lay down my discouragements, frustrations, and anger around the battle and use this time to see the Light in every person. To open myself to the compromises we’re all going to have to make to stop that train from running into the side of the mountain where no one’s dug a tunnel…at least not yet.

***

Another Sunday

RJD in Beirut, Lebanon

Today is another Sunday in Beirut. Oh no sorry, it’s Monday, Tuesday? Not sure anymore. Reminds me of an old movie called “If it’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” https://youtu.be/n2lEC58jtMI (for those who need an oldie but goodie to watch!)

So on this Monday, it is the beginning of our second week in quarantine. Realistically though, for me, it started yesterday when the military actually stopped people moving and gathering. Essentially, that prolongs our 2-week quarantine.

Most friends I am connecting with are starting to feel the worry and anxiety. Boredom, fear, loneliness are setting in. To stay busy, I cleaned out our pool room and opened pool season early (it’s okay to do that when days and weeks seem endlessly intertwined.)

In the process, I blasted the speakers with Lebanese Revolution songs and danced and sang as I cleaned. It was quite an outlet.

Tomorrow, Thursday, I mean Tuesday, it’s going to be planting day in hopes of seeds bringing new life which will help us see the light at the end of our tunnel. I am sure there is one…I want you, all my friends out there, to not despair and stay with me to see the light. We shall overcome.

***

Gratitude

RafifJ in Malaga, Spain

Day 9. Cold and rainy in Malaga. The wet streets are oddly beautiful. The rain makes the only sound that breaks the silence in this city that used to be so full of joy and merriment.

The news is more disheartening than the cold rain. More than 33,000 cases reported, including nearly 4,000 health workers. Lockdown extended to April 11. No flattening of curves in sight.

Calle Larios in Malaga

Being on lockdown teaches you to be thankful. Maybe guilty, too, because there are so many who are sick or suffering, and you’re thankful for not being one of them.

Going to the supermarket becomes an exercise in introspection. You appreciate being outdoors. You become grateful for the legs that take you to the market; the arms that carry back your purchases; the money that made the purchase possible. We’ll get through this somehow.

Clapping Time, even though short, makes you realize that you are applauding someone who may soon be your doctor, your nurse, your caregiver. This virus knows no race, religion, nationality, or income level. Let’s get through this, somehow. #StayHome. #StaySafe.

***

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