Post 42: #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 42. 

Today: free-form writing.

Why I’ve Come to Despise the Hypocrites Who Call Themselves the Press

Charlotte, Metro Washington, DC

As I sit here in a Gimme Cap about to hop on a Zoom call, I feel my fury toward the #press growing exponentially. Why am I “attending” a Zoom call in a Gimme Cap? Because my roots, after a month of hair salons being closed, make me look like a skunk, and I’m now starting to look like “Geezer Godiva” my hair’s so long.

Why is this setting off fury in me about the press? Because I listened to it for about a few nanoseconds a day and hear a prominent female anchor criticizing a state for opening, among other things, hair salons. She says, “Why are they opening hair salons? They are hardly essential?”

REALLY, PRESS B*TCH!!!!! You old geezer. You’re telling me no hairstylist and colorist hasn’t touched your locks in the last four weeks. You’ve got no roots showing. Your hair hasn’t grown so much as an in the last month. And no one’s styling your perfectly styled and sprayed down hair every day before you do on the air? What is YOUR secret? And besides, why is it so essential for you to look good on camera, and not important for me to look good on camera when I’m on Zoom everyday trying to make a living.

And don’t get me started on all your female and male colleagues who look equally well-styled above the neck every day on the air.

You in the broadcast press are busy lecturing us schlubs at home to stay at home for the health of nation, but you flannel-mouths are using bootleg hair folks to keep you looking good? I don’t think it’s essential for you to look “good” on camera. I think it’s essential that you truthfully report the news AND walk the talk you preach to us.

But I’ve learned not to expect much from members of the press and professional yammers broadcast from their fancy kitchens and dwelling digs while “chatting their opinions” and lecturings to us common folks. Is this where your bootleg hairstylists come to do your hair? Or do you go to them?

I’m going to close with a rambling about one doctor who’s clearly “auditioning” to be the next Sanjay Gupta. The newly shorn male anchor welcomes her to the show, and there she sits in warm lighting highlighting her magnificent head of just-styled hair. Behind her you see her fireplace ablaze and a wall festooned in truly gorgeous masks from Africa. And outside the sliding glass door near her, you see the palm trees of Los Angeles.

If the press is going to talk out of both sides of its mouth about getting your hair done, what else are they double-talking us about?

Let them drink Lysol

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Hey, Trump supporters! Your leader has offered a possible cure for the Coronavirus. Will you follow his medical advice? Have you started drinking Lysol? Taking those Clorox tablets yet?

Get yours while supplies last!

You want to liberate yourselves? You think it’s un-American to be under lockdown during a pandemic? If you think you should end social distancing because your freedoms have been curtailed, TRY THE CURE!

If you believe your First or Second Amendment rights have been violated, TRY THE CURE.

Help your country thin the herd. My family is not expendable to me, but you are. So get out there and socialize with like-minded folks! Sarcasm aside. Think of what you could accomplish: you could free up jobs; they’ll be back eventually. You could liberate hospital beds. You could save the country lots of stimulus money – maybe I’d finally even get my check.

But best of all: you can make America great again if you TRY THE CURE.

I know you’ve all seen the picture on social media. I have no idea who created it, but thought I’d share it here anyway. Definitely no copyright infringement intended, and I hope whoever designed this gets an award.

Leadership, Wherefore Art Thou?

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I, for one, am outraged and appalled – not only because the president is using the forum of the White House daily briefing to spout harmful theories. But also because no one is able to stand up to him and silence his BS.

Sarcasm or not, the president is wasting the time of reporters, his health committee, and the general public by using the podium to invent cures and ranting insane and dangerous ideas.

We need leadership! This is no longer just a coronavirus issue. People’s anxieties in the United States have shifted from the coronavirus pandemic to the lack of real viable information. Governors are handing out conflicting messages. The president is making “sarcastic” remarks. It seems our future varies, depending on which leader we choose to follow.

The positive side of #Coronoia

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

I tried all day to see the positive side of the lockdowns and being stuck at home. I spoke to a few people to see how they are feeling. Here in #Beirut, the news has been very depressing this week and most of the friends I spoke to are feeling the weight of the political and financial uncertainty. Our nationwide mental well-being is on the verge of a major psychotic breakdown!

Then, it dawned on me that we need to turn our negatives into positives. When we listen to the news, all we hear about is how bad things are. We forget, in that moment, to look at the positive outcomes.

For one, when we look at #Corona numbers, we always read how many cases and how many deaths. Today, I looked up how many recovered cases there are. Worldwide, the recovered cases are over 812,000, that’s a 28% recovery rate. In small #Lebanon, with its population of 6 million (of which almost 1/3 are refugees), we only have 704 cases of #COVID-19. Of those, we have 143 recoveries; 20%! For a country that’s financially bankrupt, economically devastated with barely any public funds spent on health care in centuries, that’s a major positive.

Then, when I look at how people are working together, helping the needy, neighbors helping neighbors, I find positivity. Humanity. We are also having conversations about the new normals and not going back to hurt our environment like we used to. That’s another positive.

Are we going to be poorer than we were, worldwide? Yes, we are. Same happened in 2008 and we all recovered. Some more than others. I am sure that many businesses are going to shutter, but many new concepts, ideas, and ventures are going to fill the void and change things around. Survival of the fittest. And as Lebanese, we are endowed with the creativity to make things happen. That’s yet another positive.

And when the world re-opens and we resume the normalcy we were used to, maybe one of the positives will be less greed, fewer wants and needs, and more compassion. What we need right now is a light to begin to acknowledge that we will leave the tunnel. Watching the news, reading the articles, and staying glued to social media is not going to change what is happening. Being aware, having faith, and embracing the changes that will happen is what we should focus on.

Dealing with fragile feelings in a place like Lebanon today seems impossible. But what I know is that we, as humans, throughout history, turned the tide. And this worldwide standstill was very much needed in order for us to assess, accept, realign, and persevere.

Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

We often use photos we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

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 39: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on…#freedom

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 39. 

Freedom and Birthdays

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

Freedom has different meanings for each of us at different times in our lives. 

An 18th birthday is marking entry into adulthood – a perceived feeling of being able to do whatever you want. Yet for my grandson, a young Wallace, he doesn’t get the simplest freedom of going out except for groceries till after the lockdown, due to the #Coronavirus. We will celebrate his birthday via Zoom. Freedom for William Wallace, the Liberator of Scotland [many, many generations before my grandson], meant Freedom for his country. 

I remember that my freedom as an 18-year-old was simply that I could do what I wanted. Yet I lived at home, and in 1962, that meant living by my dad’s rules. When I was asked out on a date, by my future husband, I was told “no” – not unless his aunt went with us. I wasn’t used to that type of reaction, but my father had a preconceived notion that I shouldn’t go out with Bill. We went out with Bill’s aunt, then proceeded to a pizza place on our own. I felt like I got my freedom despite the restriction. Bill and I were married for 54 years.

Freedom, no matter what the freedom, comes with responsibilities. I hope when the lockdown is over, everyone will take responsible precautions so that they are not infected, nor infect others, with this dangerous virus.  I feel that despite the restrictions, we can have freedom. We will need to maintain social distancing; perhaps wear masks until there is a vaccine, cure, or something that science says makes it safe. Your newfound freedom of movement will be precious as you have lost that freedom, through no fault of your own, don’t lose it again.

Be Safe.

Who can we trust?

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

The lack of real leadership in the USA is taking its toll on a country that has already been divided by outspoken, bi-partisan rhetoric.

Instinctively we humans either take on the role of shepherd or sheep. For centuries, we have had leaders and followers. Some forcing their way into power with might and others taking up arms against one other. Oppositions to those in power have come about when a group of people form a strong enough movement to rebel. We have seen it in every part of the world. We have seen it in this country when people protested the Vietnam war and demanded change. This is our constitutional right in the USA.

Here in the USA we are proud to be a country of the free. I like to think that after the War of Independence and the writing of the Constitution, we created a civilized country with civil rights and civil liberties. Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition; freedom to bear arms; and of course, freedom of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But freedoms need to have parameters. Laws have been implemented as far back as the 10 Commandments because people need direction. Left to our own devices, we would face mayhem, anarchy, and lawlessness.

We are currently experiencing unprecedented conditions. We have been told to shut down our businesses and shelter at home. Our children were sent home from schools to be home-schooled and we all complied.

Here we are months later, sitting and waiting. Placing all of our belief in an already fragile system.

Now Americans have begun to rebel in more than a dozen states. They believe their civil liberties and their personal freedoms have been violated. At first I thought I could see their point. People are losing so much during this economic shutdown. But here is where it all gets complicated. Who are these people? Are they frustrated workers who need their jobs back? Are they organized by conservative groups aiming to bring Trump mania back into the limelight? Why are the right-wing groups and militias taking to the streets with their guns? Do we still call them civil liberties “protesters” or White supremacists? Aren’t those the people who oppose our country’s civil rights?

We look to the president for guidance and we hear him mumble his sympathies to the protestors because he understand that “they were treated a little bit rough.” This raises the question again: Is this a campaign rally for Trump?

This country is the land of the free. We have witnessed governments around the world controlling their people through fear, undercover surveillance, and online monitoring. This is happening around the globe, not just in countries run by dictators. Yet right here in our own free backyard, we have succumbed to the fear and boarded ourselves up to stay protected from this unseen enemy.

The difference is that this is not a US problem. This is a global pandemic. This is a time where the true leaders can make a difference. But receiving mixed messages from our President and the constant barrage of media analysis does not reassure nor unify the American people.


RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Standing on a side street with his wooden cart, Ayman spends the day waiting for a car to stop by to purchase some of his jasmine plants.

My windows were half-closed. I hesitated to ask him if he had potting soil. Ayman was not wearing a mask, no gloves, and of course, no sanitizer in sight. He proceeded to walk straight to the car. He was happy to see a customer and, in his elation, totally disregarded social and physical distancing. For a minute, I thought if the window had been open, he would have leaned into the car…and my OCD went haywire!

Looking like an alien from outer space, adorned with my mask, shield, and gloves, I gently ask him to step back. He smiles. He smirks, actually.

So, we executed our soil transaction and then I decided to take the plunge. I asked him his name and where he was from. Ayman is Palestinian (I was parked outside the Bourj Al Barajneh camp, where many Palestinian refugees have lived here since the Nakba).

I playfully asked, “and why don’t you have a mask and gloves on, ya Ayman?” He again smirked at this mad alien, but with embarrassment this time. He said “Ya madam, I would rather spend the money feeding my children and they don’t do anything to protect you from the Corona.”

And right there and then, my heart was shattered into a thousand privileged pieces. Ayman would rather subject himself to the dangers of #Covid-19 to feed his children, than to protect himself.

I went further “But Ayman, if you get sick, who will feed your children then?” He lowered his head and said “If that’s God’s will, then be it.”

Poverty took Ayman’s freedom away. It also took away the freedom of over half the Lebanese population. Poverty dictates where you live, what you eat, and what water you drink. Poverty dictates that you would rather put your life in danger than to self-isolate. Poverty robs the Aymans of the world of having the choice to a better life.

Another great “advantage” of poverty is that it increases crime. When hungry, one will go to any lengths to feed their loved ones. And when a crime is committed and the perpetrator is caught, he loses more freedom by being sent off to jail. In many countries without a fair trial. And the cycle continues…

When we, in the first world, say that poverty is a violation of human rights and freedom, what are we really doing about it?

It was and is extremely necessary for the world to go into lockdown during a pandemic like this one. It is essential to protect all citizens. But is it viable for the (supposedly) 10%  of the world population who live below the poverty line, those who earn their bread from daily work, those who are forced to go to work while their bosses hunker down in luxury bunkers, not to have enough resources to adhere to the warnings and lockdowns? Is it possible that their poverty negates the advice to “wear a mask,” “shield your face,” “wear gloves,” and “wash your hands.” With what soap do they get to wash their hands?

This is what is beginning to happen here in Lebanon this week: the fabric of this lockdown is stretched to the seams. This week in Tripoli, people are protesting against hunger and poverty. No masks, no gloves, no social or physical distancing, and breaking the lockdown instructions about gatherings. They don’t care. Their freedom to provide food on the table at the end of the day was taken away from them by the government regulations and by a throned germ.

The price of the soil was $3. I gave Ayman LL20,000 (which used to be $13 and now is worth $6) and told him to keep the change. It is not much. But I also didn’t want him to feel like I was forcing charity on a working man. He smiled and thanked me. And I left reminding him to be safe. Knowing very well that what I just said means nothing to the Ayman or Jimena or Rahwa or Raj of the world.

Defining freedom

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Where does your freedom begin and mine end? It’s a question I have been asking for years, and I haven’t found a definitive answer. I tried to answer it back in 2014, when I was working on the #Syrian Freedom Charter. Along with a team of activists, we tried to define “freedom” and what it could mean for Syrians after the regime collapsed. Freedom of expression, of religion, of political persuasion…these Syrians and their families were literally dying for freedom by defying authoritarian rule and meeting to discuss freedom in the first place.

If I fast-forward to today’s CoronaCrisis, I hear slogans like “give me liberty or give me death” coming out of the mouths of White supremacists and bored, middle-class fools in #Michigan. They had the gall to march to their state capitol building – some of them armed to the teeth – demanding that their governor lift all forms of quarantine, lockdown, or social distancing.

Why? Because they were asked to stay home for a couple weeks? No, Mr. repulsive White Supremacist, you’re not fighting for liberty. You’re merely trying to defy science and common sense. And you’re armed. You don’t get to cry dictatorship or authoritarianism just because your haircut has to wait. Ms. Middle Class, you’re not living under martial law because your nails miss the salon.

Give me liberty or give me death, indeed. Try waving your weapons around a government building while Black. Or Brown. Or Arab. Then you’d learn, very quickly, the “give me death” part. Then you’d learn where your freedom ends.

And yet, as much as I think the Michiganders (and protesters in other states) are idiots, I respect their right to engage in protest. But where does their freedom end; where does yours begin? If you lived in Michigan, would you be worried that those “free” people were spreading a deadly virus? If they infected you, and you were likely to die, would you say your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness had been denied? Where does your freedom begin?

Freedom is precious. Ask any Syrian (or many other nationalities; we don’t have a monopoly on suffering) who has survived torture, or whose relative(s) is still in prison, or whose entire family was blown up when a barrel bomb exploded over the house. Ask the millions of children who have been denied a future because of an authoritarian regime that refuses to step down. Try asking the people who died, and those who are still willing to do so 9 years later, for the cause of actual freedom. Give them liberty or give them death: that has been the reality of their existence.

“Give me liberty or give me death” needs to be the rallying call for people who are truly enslaved. People whose very existence is at the whim of dictators who think nothing of mowing down civilians. Freedom of expression is too precious to be wasted on frivolous chants like “Liberate Michigan!” when your governor spells out inconvenient truths.

But on the other hand….isn’t the beauty of freedom that you get to go out and protest? Isn’t that your fundamental right, whether your cause is just, racially motivated, or just plain ignorant?

I still love the question – where does your freedom begin and mine end – and it will continue to puzzle me. I’ll leave you with a quote from a young Syrian activist:

“I am already free; therefore, I have no need for you to free me. You can imprison me, torture me; you can even stuff me into this pack of cigarettes. I will still be free. Because I’ve freed my mind, and will no longer be enslaved by yours.”

A. in Gaziantep, Turkey

Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

We use photos from Internet searches. No copyright infringement intended.

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 21: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

We’re a group of friends and family in various parts of the world, and we’re sharing our experiences and thoughts during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation.

This is Graupel

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, Oregon

During a FaceTime with family, I mentioned that I didn’t go for a walk because of the graupel outside.  You may not have graupel in your area – I have never seen it anywhere but Oregon. 

This got me thinking: why not go for a walk in it?

So the next day, when the white little pellets were dropping from the sky, I put on my coat and hat and went out for a walk. It really was nicer than walking in the rain a few days ago.

I am a lucky one, I can and may go out as long as I have the right clothes and stay six feet away from anyone. I am fine. If the weather is too severe, I can stay inside and be comfortable inside by the fire. Yes, I am very fortunate and so grateful. Today it is cold and snow is predicted and I will be reading by my fire. I will be fine.

Now I am thinking more. We do have time to think these days, don’t we?

Last week, my emotions went up and down with the weather. This week I am in a very stable, even-keel state. What’s the difference?

I have interacted more with family – social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t interact – it means we can’t interact physically. I have FaceTimed, joined a Zoom exercise class, talked over the fence with neighbors, and written (yes, with an old-fashioned pen and paper), and tried other creative ways to connect. I even had a birthday party for a neighbor within the guidelines of social distancing. I baked brownies from a mix I had. (I haven’t made a cake from scratch in years). I put a brownie in a bag with a small birthday candle in it with instructions to light the candle, take a selfie with it, and send it to the neighbor whose birthday it was. I put the bag on their porch and rang the doorbell. Neighbors were creative with their selfies and it made all of us a little bit happier. I am so grateful for all of my family and all my friends.

Yesterday was National Rainbow Day. Since I tied my blog to the weather two weeks in a row, I will end with a 🌈. Instead of wishing for a pot of gold, I wish for a cure for the coronavirus. A vaccine to prevent it. Yes, we all are wishing that this will come to an end. In the meantime, I will wear a bandana when I go out and practice social distancing.

I hope you all stay safe.

An act of kindness

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

Life during lockdown is so discombobulated. Time usually flies, but now the days seem to drag. Was it only a month ago that everything was still operational? Before the stock markets crashed and toilet paper became such a hot commodity.

I saw a meme online where a guy pays for his cup of coffee with 5 squares of toilet paper and tips the guy an extra square. I laughed, because it was funny and ridiculous. It will never come to that….Will it?

In our household, we still have a few rolls of toilet paper. But I told my kids if they see any while out at the store, to just buy it. They returned home with many items but no toilet paper.

Three days ago my son went to the Asian market and called me on his way home. he sounded so excited! “Mom, they had toilet paper!! I picked up two packs but the guy yelled at me and said I was only allowed one.

I laughed and answered that we don’t need to hoard; one pack was better than nothing.

When my son got home, he handed me a small shopping bag. “Where’s the toilet paper?” I asked. “In the bag.” I look inside and I see the cutest little four pack of toilet paper that I had ever seen. It was a mini 4 pack. I was happy and distributed them to each of us.

Today my friend texts me and says that she is at the store and do I need anything. Jokingly I text back – Do they have TP? LOL.

A minute later I hear the phone ding.

She responds, “Yup! But I can only buy 2 packs of 12 I’ll take one and I’ll give you one.”

Alleluia!! We can all rest assured that our butts will be wiped the luxurious cotton rolls.

Within 30 minutes she was in my driveway. I ran out and stood 12 feet away and gave her an air hug. She placed the items halfway between us. “ I also brought you napkins, chlorine, and a pizza. Just wipe everything down before you take it inside.” I nod in amazement. What a good friend she is. But that was not all. She had also brought us 4 masks from her own stash because she knew we had none.

I was so happy! Wow, so touched. Another big air hug and she was off.

I walked up to collect my items feeling so grateful. Candace has always been one of the kindest and most generous people I know and today was no exception. Thank you, Candace!

Cupid, Mars and Venus

RJD, Beirut, Lebanon

There is something to be said about the universe skies during Corona. I woke up at 3 am and for loss of what to do, not wanting to watch TV or listen to music, I went out on our terrace with my binoculars. 

Lo and behold, the beautiful sky! The beautiful, beautiful star-filled sky. No smog, no clouds, nothing. Just me and the sky. I took out my binoculars and began star-gazing. 

Orion’s Nebula was so clearly visible, giving birth to new stars. Venus was out there calmly in the Western sky and quietly yelling at Mars on the Eastern side. Spica was blossoming. Ursa Major was like a portrait. 

My thoughts as I gazed up went to a philosophical and existential place (again.)

We, as human beings and all life on earth, are but specs of dust in this whole big universe. But so many specs of dust that we have managed to make a sandstorm against the universe, not just Mother Earth. We have invaded space with our satellites, we have mutilated every aspect of this earth, and yet the stars are out there dancing every single night as if we don’t exist. 

Corona has taught us so many lessons that we needed to learn, and no, life will never be the same. Will we all be more mindful, less materialistic, more giving, less self-centered? Mars and Venus’s son, Cupid, will always be the god of war. We just need to learn which war we want to deal with. 

Speaking of wars: Syria, Iraq, and Yemen don’t have war anymore? Israel’s bombing of Gaza is agogo now? Venzuela and Lebanon’s poor getting poorer is not a war by the rich? Rohingyas, Kashmiris, innocent children and women being trafficked and abused are of no one’s concern?

I understand that the media is totally pre-occupied with five letters: N-A-O-O-R-C…but is the media so self-serving that our governments are passing laws right under our own noses that affect us all and media is not telling us about it?

Thank goodness, we are not remaining quiet this weekend in Lebanon about the Bissri Valley dam. Activists are making a massive ruckus about the government’s decision to go ahead with a dam that will kill the agriculture and forests, will not fulfill our water needs, and will be lying on a major fault line, possibly causing serious earthquakes. I will not even explain that the World Bank is involved… 

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Venus, Mars, send your son to fight for us all…we, specs of dust, need your help! 

This is a time when…

RafifJ, Malaga, Spain

Lockdown in #Spain extended until April 26. I just want to scream, and this is my rant.

Sorry, folks, I’m not upbeat tonight.

No, tonight I’m thinking about how this virus is continuing to spread despite extreme measures to contain it. I’m thinking about my family and friends, at least one of whom has already contracted coronavirus but cannot go to the hospital because he’s not sick enough. I’m thinking about the news I just read on MSN: “in New York City, crematoriums are now running 24 hours a day…” Another article tells me that in Ecuador, “bodies are being left in the streets.

Tonight the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is close to 1.2 million around the world. Remember when the total number around the world was just over 47,000? That was in mid-February, just a few short socially distanced weeks ago.

Here’s the statistical significance of this virus: it spreads fast.

This is a scary-as-shit time. This is a time when families are starting to bicker as they grow increasingly claustrophobic. This is a time when domestic violence is spiking and the coronavirus is not.

This is a time when governments are locking us down or locking us up. This is a time when governments are revealing their true authoritarian faces. Note the narrative emerging from Hungary.

This is a time when governments are abandoning the fairytale of the collective, or the pretense of working toward the common good. Instead, they are bickering over who ordered how many masks, who stole what from which country, and who is the biggest hijacker. Note today’s international news.

This is a time when leaders around the world are increasingly adopting the war narrative – we are at war, we defend our sovereignty, we are patriots, salute the flag…blah, blah, blah. We are so, so mighty in our war…against…an invisible virus. Again, 1.2 million today. What does next week bring?

This is a time when we need cool-headed leaders. This is a time when leaders need to step up to the plate to which they were elected. This is a time when governments need to collaborate, share data, and protect humanity.

This is a time when we need leaders to demonstrate some goddam leadership. Unfortunately, like face masks and hand sanitizer, there seems to be critical shortage around the globe.

Thank you for reading our blog! All feedback welcome.

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 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.

Thank you for reading our blog! If you like it, please share!

Better yet, join us.

Post 8: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

Growing in both numbers AND size! We’re chronicling our experiences during the #COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines, and other restrictions. Special credit to Mayya S. in Herndon, VA, who came up with the idea for us to share our experiences.

Care to join us? 

RafifJ in Malaga, Spain: Still Percolating

I’m having a hard time articulating my thoughts, so I will simply put this out there: I’m really pissed off. Sometimes we need to let thoughts percolate a little before we can articulate them, and that’s what I’m doing – percolating. Like coffee. Yum. Coffee and…a cookie. Oh wait, I ate them all.

Rana-Nature pic

RJD let me use this screenshot. No idea where it originated. No copyright infringement intended.

Seriously. I usually use (silly) humor to deal with painful subjects, but I’m running out of humor. The more news I read and watch, the angrier I get. About how so many people put money over basic human decency. About how corruption and greed are destroying the planet. About the injustices of the world, like war and refugees and homelessness. Maybe, just maybe, this global pandemic will teach us that all these evils and injustices are really unnecessary. 

Like I said, I need my thoughts to percolate a little more. In the meantime, we have some nice posts below and I hope you enjoy them!


Sunny in Frederick, Maryland: The Universe Throws Me a Bone

The TP gods smiled on me today.

Went to Costco to pick up a prescription. There, in the middle of the store was a lone package of 30 rolls. No one was in sight around it.

charlotte tpI sidled over and gingerly picked it up, expecting someone to jump out and yell, “THAT’S MINE!” But all was silent. I scurried over to self-checkout and then made my escape.

For three days I’d been stalking Costco for TP to no good end. Some days the universe just throws you a bone.


From RJD in Beirut, Lebanon: Quarantined Introspection

In moments between waking and naps, between meals and keeping busy, I reflect and introspect about life and beings and earth and spirituality. So interesting to note that many cultures do not wear shoes inside their homes. With the age of Corona, no one should. Even without Corona, no one should. Especially in a dirty city like Beirut.

Other cultures greet one another with palms together and a bow. Namaste. Obviously, they are the smart ones, no? They don’t spread as many germs that way…me thinks…In the U.S., my sister and mother practically used to disinfect their eyelashes until they figured out that sterilization reduces immunity. In the age of Corona, we are disinfecting and sterilizing but I worry about our immunity. My hands definitely are not happy! Don’t forget to moisturize after washing.

socially distant hug ranaThoughts keep going through my head…more positive some negative. Today, I came to the conclusion that our quarantine in Lebanon needs to be extended (like Spain) for another few weeks, especially given the numbers of people gathering in various areas. The military and the police are holding down the fort today. For me, the quarantine really began today, now that people are getting tickets for being outside, or are being taken to jail for violating the lockdown. Definitely another two or three weeks more.

That brings me to how I am going to fill my time. After the jokes and making fun of ourselves (today’s best is: “My family and I are going for a picnic today, we are heading to our balcony!”), I think it is time to become more productive. Tomorrow, I am going to start a new regime…will tell you about it when I implement. For now, Beirut time, 5 pm, clapping time is here…


Norma B. Wallace in Bend, Oregon: Acts of Kindness

In the middle of this chaos and craziness, simple acts of kindness are appreciated. Yesterday on a hike, I had to go over a high ridge to get to the River that was my goal. The rocks I had to climb over were wet and muddy.

A young woman with her two dogs first asked if I was okay with the dogs passing me. I was. She then said to be careful; she had already fallen twice. I wondered if I should continue. I started to crawl.

Norma and Puffin

By way of introduction, this is Puffin.

She encouraged me to go on—over the ridge it was fine. She showed me a better way, then waited below until I was on top of the ridge and okay. I thanked her and she just said, “Of course.”

It was so beautiful on top to see the mountains. Then I walked down to the River and relaxed. Soaking in the sun and listening to the sounds of the water. I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy those moments if that woman hadn’t encouraged me.



Tina F. in Fairfax, Virginia: Sunday Bloody Sunday

Today I joined the ranks of all the morons who think they are smart.

Yes, my friends, I had the brilliant idea to wake up at 6 am and head over to our nation’s capital, Washington DC. My husband and I were being so clever….Since everyone was staying home, the plan would be simple: we drive in and get a few photos of the cherry blossoms near the famous Tidal Basin (a place we have avoided for years because of crowds) and drive right back.

You see, I’m a photographer. My husband has become my driver so I can pop out of the car and photograph with no need to park.

Tina blogWell SURPRISE, SURPRISE!! We ain’t so clever after all!! So many people had the same idea. Apparently, there was such a large crowd there yesterday that starting today, the park police decided to close the roads and parking lots surrounding the Tidal Basin. Do you think that stopped the diehard cherry blossom seekers? Of course not! People were out en masse.

Can’t drive to it? No problem, we will walk. WTF?? Entire families were out for a stroll, not worrying about keeping their distances. I had my mouth and nose covered and kept a hefty distance from anyone I saw. I walked in the middle of the closed roads while others strolled on the crowded sidewalk. I managed to snap my shots and got the heck out of there.

Homeless-TinaToday I understood why we have to implement total lockdowns. In Washington, D.C., we should be next because this lack of judgment is disconcerting. We are all morons. Myself included.

But on an even more important note, as I walked back to the car I saw something that hit me hard.

Do you think a lockdown will help get these people indoors?


Roula B. in Falls Church, Virginia: Hunger Games

I woke up this morning feeling like a million bucks, except that I woke up a much fatter version of me of a month ago, so add $50. Yep, the pounds are creeping on as an added ‘benefit’ of this lockdown/social distancing thing. Frankly, I don’t even know where my town falls on the hunker-down scale anymore. There are lots of rumors but also a kind of hush around the DC area with all the closings. The roads and highways continue to be quiet, but we’re still allowed to shop for food and essentials with ease. Most restaurants and cafes are operating on take-out basis only, so food is one of the few things widely available and accessible. It’s a double-edged sword. Stay home, you eat; go out, not much to do but buy food or eat it. Well, now that I’m aware of the problem, I can tackle it…. after I finish this last bag of avocado oil chips.

So I woke up feeling great because before I went to bed last night, I got a message from a yoga friend asking if I was willing to participate in a taping of a Kundalini yoga class (a trio really) given by my favorite teacher guru. She and I would be the only students while the teacher taught us and the camera. A rare opportunity to get out and do something half-normal with real people who I know and love. How could I pass it up?

You see, in an effort to serve the community and to survive, many of the yoga studios in the area have gone live online and/or relied on studio recordings. I’ve tried and enjoyed some of those classes, but there’s nothing like the energy and vibration one gets from practicing with a group of people in the same room. We’re all breathing and moving together (well, for the most part), shifting the energy and sharing this cerRoula yogatain oneness that’s held and guided by the presence of a teacher who’s walking around assisting students…with BARE HANDS!

I guess I’m also heavier because my body is sad. Our bodies NEED to be close to others in space; to move, touch, hug, and kiss. This social distancing phenomenon is making my body so sad it wants to eat all the time because it’s now only allowed to freely touch or kiss food and drink. I already miss normal yoga classes with live people. I already miss teaching yoga. The building where I live has closed off all community spaces, so I had to cancel my last two classes.

After taping the Kundalini class this morning, I hopped in my car to head home when my alarm went off. I had set it to alert me that Marianne Williamson’s Global Prayer for a Miracle was going to happen at noon EST (in five minutes). Since I happened to be very close to my favorite outdoor meditation labyrinth, I turned the car and made my way there. I recited the global prayer tearfully.

I think I’ll be returning to this labyrinth regularly in my foreseeable, restricted future. An open-air space with nothing to eat and a chance to move the body and relax the mind is exactly what’s needed right now. Grateful.


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