Post 6: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

We are still trying to go global! A few friends and I are chronicling our experiences during the #COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines, and other restrictions. Tonight we write from Fairfax, VA, USA; Beirut, Lebanon; and Malaga, Spain. 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

Day 6 of #coronavirus lockdown. I’ve been alternating between upbeat (went out, felt the sunlight, bought groceries, heard from friends & family) and devastated (count in Spain is now 20,000 and rising about as fast as everywhere else in the world).

Happy to work productively; crushed to learn about Italy’s military deployment.

Up. Down. All freaking day.

What is going to happen to us? Adam and I play around with what-if scenarios over dinner as we try to address his anxieties over high school graduation, Fall semester, and the inevitability of a prolonged lockdown.

Despite being in near-constant touch with friends and family, we feel alone. 

Blog 6_rafifMeanwhile, #Trump’s press conferences continue to be shitshows as he dominates the stage and spews idiocy when he should let the experts do the talking. What’s up with the press corps? Why aren’t journalists walking out en masse?

Here I go on my downward spiral.

But wait! Let me think nice thoughts. Clapping Time is always the best part of the day for me. For tonight’s event I called family in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and McLean, VA, and kept them on speaker so they could hear and clap with us.

Solidarity from around the world. But we’re still on our own.

***

Tina F. in Fairfax, VA

After feeling down and rather stressed out yesterday, I decided to heed the advice of my fellow bloggers. Although my husband and I are under self-quarantine, the outdoors is not off-limits (yet). So we took a drive to the country and looked at nature. Walked in the fresh air and took pictures of how nature is metamorphosing into spring regardless of the stock market crashing and the shortage of toilet paper. The cows are all out in the pasture no social distancing enforced upon them, but it looks like they instinctively know.

Yes, my friends, I feel better today.

Later I will make a list of things to accomplish daily.

Tina_Blog_Day 6

Photos by Tina F.

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RJD in Beirut, Lebanon

In Lebanon, we kiss three times when we see someone, even if we saw them yesterday!

We also hug a lot! And we double dip all our food!

This morning when I woke up, I couldn’t stop giggling: I am going to finally be liberated from all 3 of the above!!!! Thank you life-post-Corona.

We also tend to overreact and out-do one another. It’s just the way things are.

With life-post-Corona, we are all going to claim that we survived Corona. All 4 million of us! We will share stories of who got sicker, which hospital did a better job, the BEST doctor and nurse in the country, and who got more visitors while in the ICU.

What we don’t do well during the Corona lockdown is heed to the advice of the authorities. Not all of us anyhow; there was the Corniche incident on Sunday.

Yesterday, there was a spike in the numbers because some areas weren’t taking things seriously. Just like students on Spring Break in Miami. Except we don’t have Spring Break – what we have is “going for a coffee at the neighbors” or “I can withstand Corona, let’s go hang out.”

Today, my husband (who is 74) and I needed to go to a bank appointment to get money (that’s just how things work over here now – Blog 6_Ranaanother story for another day). Waiting in the lobby to get to the bank, there was no social distancing. The security guard handed out gloves with his bare hands.

The worst part was that the guard removed his mask so he could smoke, then blew smoke in all our faces. Then he took our temperatures.

HELLO? Anyone out there?

So I smile at what happens in life-post-Corona and get depressed at life during Corona. I think I will walk to the kitchen now…daily exercise…make a cup of Afghan Sweet tea and call it a day.

***

Care to be a guest contributor? Please send me your posts by email, WhatsApp, or text. 

Post 5: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

And now we’re four! A few friends and I are chronicling our experiences during the lockdowns, quarantines, and other restrictions due to the #COVID-19 pandemic. Tonight we write from Falls Church, VA, and Fairfax, VA, USA; Beirut, Lebanon; and Malaga, Spain. Special credit to Mayya S. in Herndon, VA, who came up with the idea for us to share our experiences. Care to join us? 

From Roula in Falls Church, VA

My intuition tells me that the Washington Metropolitan Area will go on some kind of lockdown in the next 24 hours. Everything is pointing in that direction. So once again, my son and I ventured out for a few groceries and bread in the morning and we took a walk around the neighborhood later in the afternoon – just to observe.

The atmosphere here is still mixed. About half the people seem to be going about things normally, or at least visibly trying to hold on to the last moments of normal. The other half are wearing masks, which emphasize the fear and suspicion in their eyes. It’s unsettling because we haven’t tipped over yet and it seems the shaming of people who haven’t “gotten with the program” is beginning to emerge in the local media.

My son and I live in a 535-unit high-rise condominium building that is home to 1,200+ residents and employs about 50 staff. Things are getting tense around here, especially with the high number of residents over the age of 70 (including my own mama – a blessing!). Housekeeping staff disinfect “high-touch” surfaces every hour or so, and the management office is locked down. The manager and 2 assistants are there but a big sign at the door directs residents to communicate by phone or email. In one of our elevator rides, a woman stood against the corner and held her breath all the way down to the lobby from the 15th floor!

I teach yoga on the scenic rooftop of our building. Last week, I scrubbed and disinfected all blocks, straps, and eye-pillows. A handful of yogis showed up, and we set up the mats at least 4 feet apart. The yogis were hopeful that we continue with yoga through this thing, but I’m not sure we’ll be allowed to.

Blog 5-Francis_CoronaIt’s really tough navigating this thing solo with my 10-year-old son. There’s so much to balance: his learning, food, activities, play, physical activity, etc. Not to mention keeping this whole situation in an age-appropriate perspective for his delicate mind. I also have to police him and keep him on some kind of routine, as well as be his playmate. It’s an exhausting mental and physical see-saw.

These days, my sanity comes from long chats with friends, Win Hof method breathing, journaling, reading, yoga, cooking, cleaning (yes, cleaning!), watching Netflix, hot Epsom/lavender baths, cold showers, and nature walks with my son where the best versions of us emerge and engage.  I honestly don’t care how strict any lockdown is going to be. As long as we can still get out into nature, we’ll survive.

Inward, outward, and onward!

***

From Tina F. in Fairfax, VA

Today I wanBlog 5 Tinat to focus on all the “positive” aspects of what we are about to face in the inevitable lockdown in the USA. Check out this list! A fine outline of beautiful togetherness.

BUT the reality in my household is it feels like we are all in Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. (If you are not familiar with it, please look it up).

We have a LONG way to go to get to this idea of happiness in togetherness.

Our reality is the TV is on loud, the music is on loud, those who are attempting to read cannot focus. Conversations lead to arguments. Yes, my friends, “ Hell is other people.”

Of course, that’s a bit exaggerated. But honestly, I’m not sure if people can just suddenly change. As Marianne Williamson put it, we have become an ADD nation. We cannot just sit and contemplate on our lives. If my family is unique to this outcome of togetherness, then we have a lot to learn. We are 4 individuals who have led independent lives. We have taken our social standards for granted. This should be a humbling experience.

I am fully aware of the resources out there of meditation, breathing, yoga, and self-care, and I can implement those as need be. But the real question is, how do you teach an old dog new tricks? Many people still think that all of those things are woo woo.

This is early days yet, and as we face more restrictions, it should become more interesting. If more people, including my family, learn to turn inward to find peace, then maybe we will come out of this as a better nation.

***

From RJD in Beirut, Lebanon

Philosophy Day: Blog 5_Rana_Sea ViewEnjoy each day and live it to the fullest Don’t think about the past, look to the future. What goes around, comes around. Live in the moment. The power of now.

As I drink my coffee this morning and stare at the sea, I listen to the louder stillness and start thinking about life and what is yet to come. What lessons should the world learn from the #Coronavirus pandemic?

  1. Gaza has been on lockdown for years. Is it time we realize that we need to be compassionate and put politics aside? Give peace a chance?
  2. Refugees all over the world fleeing from their countries…
  3. Climate change…look at the canals in Venice, the clearer skies in Wuhan
  4. War machines…
  5. Is it time we stop the greed (look at how Wall Street tumbled) and start being more communal with wealth?
  6. Is it time we gave up being selfish beings and start being more charitable?
  7. It is time to stop attacking the core of this planet lest it unleash its wrath…

When I look at how the Lebanese, who can’t count on their government, helped each other during the peak of the revolution, my heart opens. When I see individuals putting their lives at risk to run errands, for free, for those who can’t, I cry. When, we as a people, replaced basic services that the government hasn’t provided to help one another, I have hope.

World leaders, greedy corrupt politicians, and CEOs need to be held accountable for #Coronavirus and much more. So instead of sitting at home feeling sorry for ourselves, we should be coming up with a plan forward that will make this planet a better place. We need to save Mother Earth from us. And we need to hurl each and every one of those who got us here to oblivion.

Meantime, I am on strike: Not wearing a bra until this is over!

***

From @rafifj in Malaga, Spain

BREAKING RUMOR: The Spanish government may extend the lockdown to April 11. Not a rumor: The number of #coronavirus cases in Spain has surged past 17,000. This chilling information suppresses any urge to violate the lockdown rules.

OK, now that I’ve processed THAT news….yesterdBlog 5-To Do listay I joked on Facebook that if it weren’t for work keeping me busy, I’d be ironing my socks. I create to-do lists every day (here’s a sample) so I can feel like I accomplished something by choosing to stay home and repeatedly checking off the tasks.

In case the lockdown gets extended here in #Spain, and for those of you who are about to enter your lockdown phase, here are some sanity-preserving ideas:

1. Learn a new language. Try Duolingo or any of the other free services. Better yet, hire an online freelance instructor and keep someone partially employed.

2. Take a virtual tour. Spain, France, and Italy – I’m sure many others as well – have opened their most treasured museums to us all online. Visit the Louvre from your couch! Schedule discussion groups so you can show off what you’ve learned.

3. Exercise. Water bottles can make good weights, especially if you do enough repetitions. Please remember to tighten the caps unless you seek the efficiency of doing jumping jacks and showering at the same time. Now I know.

4. Read a book. It’s nice to feel a bit of paper every now and then, and give the screen a rest. Online book clubs must be flourishing by now, so join one.

5. Learn a new skill. I am going to learn – heaven help me – to cook. I have little choice anyway since restaurants are closed. For those who already know how to cook, there are plenty of resources to tap into for photography, art, crafts, and so on…

6. Organize a party. Who says everyone has to be in the same room? Use your various collaboration tools to host a virtual dinner or dance party. Your neighbors may be grateful, or you can give them something else to complain about.

7. Give back. Or just give. Lots of people are afraid, lonely, depressed, confused…if you can brighten someone’s day – virtually – you’ll have offered a tremendous service.

I can think of a hundred other things CLAPPING TIME is here.

#StaySafe #StayHome

***

 

Post 3: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

Well, two perspectives: Beirut, Lebanon, and Malaga, Spain. A couple of friends and I have decided to chronicle our experience during the lockdowns, quarantines, travel bans, and other restrictions during the #COVID-19 pandemic.

More perspectives welcome – if you’re interested in sharing yours, please send a guest post!

From RJD in Beirut, Lebanon:

Monday is usually the day I replenish groceries, supplies, and so on. Then I start focusing on work and the day’s events as they unfold. Today I also will rant…

In the #Corona age and the lockdown declared in #Lebanon yesterday, instead of going grocery shopping, I had to call each store, check if they are open, what procedures they are implementing, whether they accept credit cards, and after 30 minutes, I made a plan of “action”! Now, toss and disinfect everything outside our apartment door so that when I leave, at least my mind is at ease. Am I becoming OCD? Am I being overly cautious?

The reflections that this lockdown is imposing on us are very valuable though. I am learning that our housekeeper, who is a devout churchgoer, from Eritrea, is convinced I am going mad. “It’s just a flu, for heaven’s sake,” she says. She went to church yesterday but didn’t touch anyone or anything. “Look at Eritrea, we went into lockdown and we have no cases.” “This is God’s will and come what may.” Reflect, reflect, hmmm. Nope. Yes. No…I don’t know.

The roads are still empty.

The sounds of Beirut Monday morning are non-existent.

What do I make of this and do I accept God’s will? For many here, a saying is being repeated: He whose time has come is going to go anyhow…fatalistic? Well the Lebanese are. After many centuries of lively adventures, our DNA has developed a fatalistic gene!

I think of those mad people who spent Sunday morning in masses walking on the Beirut seafront corniche yesterday. Reflect…are they out of their freaking minds? What irresponsible behavior? Then they blame the government on doing nothing. They needed fresh air. Irresponsible…

True that flus and viruses hate the outdoors and the sun, but in masses, the chance of this virus spreading is unreal. What part of lockdown did they not get? Exposing an exponential number of people to infection is a social irresponsibility…he whose time has come is going to go anyhow…

Spoke to Mim. Mim and I have been on a continuous conversation since the October 17 Revolution broke out in Lebanon. One long conversation that has touched each and every aspect of our lives. Today, she will send me a bottle of alcohol as she has a pharmacy run (as a gift instead of flowers) and I will send her two bottles of Lysol wipes!

On that note, I am mentally exhausted as more people are diagnosed today in Lebanon with a total of 109 cases. Thank goodness still only 3 fatal cases.

***

From @rafifj

Went grocery shopping today, with Adam. We didn’t know that we’re not allowed to travel in pairs. Now we do – we also know that only one person per household (at a time) can go to the grocery store, medical facility, or place of work. One person can take the pet for agrocery-shopping quick walk.

The police may stop you and ask for proof of your purpose for being out of your home. If you have no proof, you may be arrested. You may also be fined – up to 30,000 Euros. There were more police patrols today. Martial law is no joke, especially when the number of coronavirus cases is creeping up to 9,000.

The streets were pretty much empty, like yesterday. We did see a few homeless people. They were asking for food, not money. We brought them back some basics and vowed to bring more tomorrow.

Nearly everyone we saw – including the police and except for the homeless people – was wearing a mask and gloves. Where did they get the gloves? We finally found masks. No gloves anywhere. This is not good.

The big break in the day is clapping time, when everyone opens their windows and starts applauding. Well, a lot of people. Today there were fewer than yesterday. But it’s an act that I find beautiful, and so I will continue to applaud.

I applaud the grocery store clerks, who put up with cranky customers. I applaud the pharmacists, who have to deliver the bad news that they are out of sanitizer and masks and gloves. I applaud the truck drivers and bakers and gas station attendants. I applaud the medical personnel, who are bracing for the disaster that is coming our way.

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