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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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 11: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

Day 11. We’re chronicling our experiences during the #COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines, and other restrictions. Join us!

The Upside of COVID-19

Cindy Castellana, Falls Church, VA

I believe we would all agree (at least those of us who do not live on Pennsylvania Avenue) that this whole #COVID-19 thing is pretty serious – and not in a good way.  Recently we have heard about the true nature of the human spirit rising up.

There have been countless stories of people taking care of their neighbors and thinking of those less fortunate. Then there is the seemingly worldwide outpouring of thanks to medical professionals who are stepping up, often at their own risk, to take care of the rest of us.

But how about those who, in the process of going about their everyday jobs, find a way to provide us with a little bit of joy and just put a smile on our faces? For example, there is Adam the Zookeeper at the Melbourne Zoo who used the Giraffe Cam to show us how to bust a move. 

There are those Policia in Spain doing what they can to keep their communities calm and safe. And today I heard that Starbucks is promising to pay their employees for the next 30 days, whether or not they are able to work.

We need these stories to counter the unbelievable things we hear that just make us sit up and say…WOW.

For example, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is willing to risk his own life to get the economy moving. He feels that if he is willing to be out amongst his peeps, so should the rest of us. 

I don’t think so. 

Then there is the woman who licked a public toilet seat, hoping to get the Coronavirus so she could build up antibodies and then go on about her life.  I guess she isn’t thinking about the whole I could die from this thing. And, of course there are those folks who partied hardy on the beaches during Spring Break, who are now surprised that they are getting sick with the virus. 

Maybe these are just examples of the natural order of things helping to thin the herd

***

Fiction vs Reality

RJD in Beirut, Lebanon

Collecting thoughts these days is tough. Only a month ago, I thought of a dear friend who lives in Milan and it took me a whole month to get in touch and check in on her and her husband.

Upon updating her on life in Lebanon, I came into a realization that was both frightening and surreal. Inasmuch as I was in the act, I was emotionless. Now the deluge of emotions is finally hitting me hard.

After the October Lebanese Revolution, my business suffered. This month, I had to close it down. The week I was calling the finale after 23 years, we were ordered as Lebanese to go into lockdown. Even though I couldn’t say goodbye to my team and clients, the emotional closure, grief, anger, frustration, and helplessness are taking their grip on me and making me feel more down than I ever imagined.

I spent the last few days weeding through paperwork, small items that made my business experience special, packing, discarding and donating…and I stopped a few times in tears. You can’t discard 23 years, a whole career, an identity into boxes and trash piles. I can’t. I wanted to celebrate and embrace the end. The age of Corona has robbed me of that…the Lebanese politics, economy and corruption took that away from me.

True, my anguish is nothing compared to the poor(er) people looking for a piece of bread…nothing considering the people being buried with no one to say goodbye…nothing if you think of war victims…refugees…nothing in light of the world gone amok I say to myself. But it was my world and I need to take a few days to mourn it, I say to myself, I am allowed to grieve.

I am trying to remain real and not imagine that I am living a fiction movie right now. I must hold on. My friend’s words, from Milan, resonated with me all day:

“I’m so sorry my darling …your place will always be the best there ever was! But an end is inevitably a beginning. Beirut….akh! But we must look ahead. Which gets harder as we age. Fail we may, but sail we must! Bhibbek kteeer. Lots of love from your Italia! 😘.”

From Milan

I love you too, ragazza 💜💜💜💜 and I shall sail…

***

Shut Down by Coronavirus

Tina F. in Fairfax, VA

As the time passes, I forget what day of the week we’re on and the news sounds a bit repetitive.

I think it was a few days ago that our Governor of Virginia gave us all new directive and instructions to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus. It included the usual list of closures and listed essential establishments to stay open. GUESS WHAT?? Turns out that liquor stores are essential and will remain open. Hallelujah!!!

But that’s not what got me thinking. It was the announcement that all schools in Virginia will remain closed at least until the end of the school year. Within a few minutes parents were posting about how sad it was that their high school seniors’ school year is over. They will not get to experience the right of passage that every privileged high school senior experiences. No Prom, no photos, and no walking across the stage to receive their diploma.

I get it!!! It is a blow. But honestly, I was secretly thinking that this maybe what is needed to curtail all the unnecessary and extravagant rituals that have developed over the years. Those elaborate “Promposals” for a start. They were really getting out of control. Teachers would allow students to “Prompose” during class. The media was plastered with clever ways to get someone to go on a date with you. All this was the beginning of hundreds of dollars’ worth of expenses. There were the tickets, attire, dinners, limousine hires, and photographers. Not to mention the announcement and the block parties and all those monetary gifts. So look on the bright side, think of all the money you will save!

We are facing an unprecedented time of disappointing firsts for most of us. But I think I can help.

I offer my Photoshop expertise. Send me a photo of your high school senior’s face and I will send you a series of photos of them in graduation gowns and prom dresses. ALL THIS FOR $100!

***

Even a simple delivery can kill you

RafifJ in Malaga, Spain

Every day of our extended lockdown I learn new realities associated with coronavirus. Today I realized that anything I order for delivery must be sanitized before it enters my home. After I bring it in, I have to sanitize my home all over again. I should probably even take a shower and wash the clothes I was wearing.

You think I’m overreacting? Well, I take precautions – not because I’m paranoid or a hypochondriac – but because my 17-year-old son lives with me. Anything I drag in, he gets.

The sad reality is that we can no longer take for granted our daily routines. Think about the steps you take in performing the simplest of functions – all the things or people you touch, what you eat or drink, how many times you touch your face in between these activities. Try counting them and the numbers might surprise you. In short, every thing or person you touch is potentially going to kill you. A lockdown and proper care can save lives.

A lot of people still think nations and local governments are overreacting. There’s a particular so-called leader (and his sycophants) who wants to save the economy instead of saving lives, and I’m delighted that #NotDying4WallStreet was trending yesterday. Maybe People Power and Twitter Power will turn the tide against the insidious incompetence in the White House.

With the number of cases exceeding 47,000 in Spain (and rising fast), it’s obvious that we can’t be too careful. As numbers rise exponentially in the United States, more people realize now that the problem is not just the economy vs the people; the fundamental problem is the utter lack of leadership in the face of this deadly virus, which claims people of any age, any race, any belief.

COVID-19 is forcing humans to change a lot more than our processes. We’re re-examining our values. Some communities are doing what they can to help one another, learning along the way how to deal with new rules in an increasingly virtual world. Other groups – well, let’s just say that this deadly pandemic is exposing more than just our immune systems – it’s highlighting the greed and corruption at some of the highest levels of the very governments elected to protect us.

So I’m #NotDying4WallStreet; neither should you.

#StayHome #StaySafe and #WashYourDamnHands.

***

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