I think that’s my favorite part. Everything is quieter, somehow.
There’s still an occassional siren, the annoying motorcycle blaring down the street, and children screaming and screeching outside.
Yet, there’s no traffic. There’s no hustle/bustle of construction workers, or work trucks rumbling by. There’s no outdoor noice violators, no parties in the park, no gaggles of loudmouthed teens catcalling their neighbors at 11 PM.
There’s no more work phone buzzing daily. Just the quiet headset and conference call where most of the participants sit on mute. There’s no jangle of a doorway opening, or a customer walking in.
The house is quieter, because we can only watch so much so we listen instead. Soft radio stations playing in the background. Sometimes an album or a podcast. But often, we just kinda let it all fade away and sit in silence, quietly working or keeping busy.
The nights are quieter, although I’m not sure if we’re all going to sleep earlier or just laying around bored.
There’s fewer things outside for the dog to bark at. Aside from her enforcement of social distancing by verbally acosting the few pedestrians that walk by, there’s not really anything going on for her to patrol. She just lays around waiting for walks.
And inside my head, where my thoughts used to tumble in a laundry load of checklists and to-do’s, it’s so much quieter. I have fewer things to worry about or focus on. I have more time now - more time to get things done, more time to relax, more time to focus on what matters.
Maybe eventually I’ll get tired of it and wish for the sounds and the hum of busy life again.
But honestly? I’m not sure I’ll miss it that much.
Is It Over Yet?
Is it over yet? I feel my sanity and happiness slipping away from me each day deeper I venture. I can’t do this much longer. My skies are turning gray, my pillows are tear-stained, and I woke up with another awful hangover. When was the last time I didn’t have a headache? I’m drowning so deep in my own sadness and despair, I feel I am no longer counting the days until this pandemic is over, but rather I am counting down the days where the water will cradle me in and calm me from the pain I’ve been lugging around.
The new normal. I rather like it. Yesterday, I saw more children out riding their bicycles and playing gleefully out of doors (only with siblings, of course, and not too close to a neighbor child). It was a lovely sound: children’s chatter and adult laughter carried on the breeze of a sunny spring day. Each morning when I run, I see other people also running or walking (not too many and one of us always crosses the street as we get closer). Sometimes whole families are out walking. It’s a new and welcome sight, although I do enjoy the silence of nature punctuated only by the birdsong that leapt to life some few weeks ago.
I love this new normal; this world where parents and children have unplugged themselves, some more than others I am certain, from their constant attachment to electronic devices spewing apparently captivating video and audio providing non-stop entertainment to the exclusion of all else. All others. I love this new normal where families take walks and actually take in their surroundings and communicate with each other with eyes that see and lips that speak without the need for a keyboard and a screen, a handheld device or a laptop, a home theater or a home office.
Unplugged. Yes, I know there are many things very wrong with this new normal that finds many alone and all six feet from all strangers and so many unexpectedly six feet under. The economic fallout will be – already is – harsh, the repercussions deep, myriad and long term. The sociopsychological impact will no doubt have ripples throughout society for more years than I have left on this earth. Improvements in ethnic, religious and/or racial relations worldwide are coming under attack because people are afraid. Previously tenuous relationships are ripping at the seams as people around the world resort to violence, anger and scapegoating. Fear of the virus, yes, but more fear has erupted because of hunger, imminent or present. Politically, I am quite interested in a rather morbid way to see how this surprise viral disaster affects both domestic and international relations. Things are off to a chilling start.
But despite all the very obviously negative, I still find joy in seeing so many unplugged from virtual reality and reinserted into the world around them. Reconnecting with those whom they love and who love them.
It’d be nice
I think it’d be pretty nice
for the sky to hang above me once again,
to be able to see outside without glass in my eyes,
or to share a whisper with a friend.
My dreams are extraordinary -
odd characters I’ll never meet,
places I’ve never been
and plots made of jelly.
A week or two into quarantine,
I woke up to surreal reality after having had
the strangest of all dreams -
it was me, walking free with no mask in the streets.
It’d be pretty nice, I thought,
to be able to breathe again,
to chase the fleeting sky and get lost
and call out and be found by my friends.
It’d be nice to live in that dream but 'till then,
the world and I will be sitting at home,
waiting for all this to end.
I’m in quarantine again.
House-bound; stuck; alone.
But I’m not alone now: everyone is here too. I hear from old friends, new friends, groups I’d given up on.
In a week, I probably do more than I could in a month before.
It’s not accessibility when everyone uses it.
Not special needs when everyone needs it.
I miss going out: it scares me again.
I fear when my needs are once more ‘special’.
But I want to leave.
And I ask myself; who you would like to be with, dear,
locked in four walls?
Would you like him maybe?
Or the one that kept you like gold in his hands?
You also think of that little one who has a gift for music..
Or would you prefer that rich man who pampered you with his touch?
Whom are you waiting for, dear, tell me, why are you alone every night?
Share your secrets with someone now
just to bring restlessness and longing to life.
The present moment will then stop,
You will ably step into the ship of your own fortune
Which will take you far away to tame the waves together
And watching sunsets every evening
While the waiter is pouring you wine
While the lips are warm, they merge.
Tell me who you dream about, who do you want?
Surrender me your peace,
Don't give me yourself,
Hold it, take it
Embrace me, dear!
There are too many rules, too many mandates, shelter in place.
The sun at my back. Her by my side.
Hiking up up up.
Over the ledge are empty cities. You can see seven from the peak. One by one, we count them out.
A bird chirps and tweets: quarantine. And soon it’s a symphony.
We are six feet apart, thousands of feet from the cities, billions from the sun.
But somehow, it’s not enough.
Waiting for Sunshine
I gaze and look out through my second floor windows, and I see nothing moving. Not even the wind or the trees outside. I only see silence knocking on doors; nobody answers its calls, however. Everyone is hiding inside, scared of moving a muscle or even sneezing. So, silence keeps on moving door to door, pounding to break in, and find a single soul that can welcome it; yet the air of quietness brewing inside the closed cages pushes it away as far as the wind can carry it on its wing.
I sigh heavily. It is time to retract.
I put back the blindfolds and walk towards my empty bed. It’s time for bedtime. I turned off the lights and hid between the cold sheets, waiting for the sunshine. Maybe at dawn, I could go outside and roam like birds. Until then, I’ll try closing my eyes and sleep quietly, if silence won’t knock on my doors again.
Pandemic Land is a very weird place.
Everyone is infected but they’re not. You have to put blind faith in your leaders when you’ve never put blind faith in anything in your life. You’ve questioned every religion you’ve ever encountered and now you’re supposed to blindly follow those in charge. No one you know is sick. No one you know has died. You hear vague stories of an aunt of a friend of a friend who passed away. And yet life has been alerted in drastic ways.
You walk around with a face mask. You’ve always used a smile and your charm to get your way. It’s hard when half your face is missing. You feel guilty like you’re accusing everyone you meet of being infected. You apologize awkwardly to make up for not being able to smile. People nod and understand but do they.
Each shopping trip is like a perverse game of hop-scotch. There are squares marking where to stand. Directives of when to move. You’re in a board game where you don’t know the rules. No one does as you look around. You see the unmasked pariahs. You see the gloved cross contaminators.
You stand to talk with the requisite six feet distance. You see the stares from others. You’re blocking the aisles. You’re breaking the rules. People try to maneuver their carts between the two of you as quickly as possible. You’re sure you caught someone holding their breath. You laugh with your unmasked friend at the absurdity. You laugh at the absurdity of your own masked face.
You finally make your way to the cashier. So young and cheerful. She encourages you to shop local. We’re all in this together. You know the slogan by now. We’ve all been indoctrinated together. You thank her. Tell her the required stay safe.
You read the news. There is a new case. The panic rises. School is closed for the rest of the year. The children cheer. You silently cheer. How were you ever going to teach your students after this month and a half of chaos? You’ve been stressing and not able to sleep for weeks thinking about it.
Pandemic Land has brought out the conspiracy theorist in droves. You read in odd horror that anyone actually believes this bullshit. Then you realize these are your friends, your kid’s friend’s parents. You start to question your sanity. How did you ever think anyone was normal. Everyone keeps saying time will show if this works. And we will only know if people don’t get sick. You understand logically but after a month you just want to get sick and either live or die so you can move on with life.
Pandemic Land has to be the worst place you have lived and you know it has left an indelible mark on the landscape.
One lesson I learned during the Covid-19 Pandemic-When all you have in limp celery, make celery soup.
I’m aware that the USDA-United States Department of Agriculture recommends at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day. The problem though is that it’s been about two weeks since I’ve ventured out to the grocery store, so that colorful bowl of fresh fruit and veggies that I’m painting in my head is not going to be on my table today. I take inventory of the contents of my refrigerator: a head of lettuce, a tomato, and a few ribs of celery. Okay there is hope here-celery soup. I start a google search for celery soup recipes, but it doesn't look too promising since I don’t have heavy cream which I’m now learning is a key ingredient in celery soup. Who needs heavy cream anyway? There must be a healthier version of celery soup sans the cream. Success! I finally happen upon a recipe that looks promising! Now begins the scavenger hunt for an onion and vegetable broth. I rummage through the pantry and hit pay dirt with an onion and also a potato which are both starting to sprout. At the back of the refrigerator I find that bottle of “Better Than Bouillon” vegetable base that I haven’t opened since Thanksgiving. Great, I’m all set! I remove the celery from the bag, and it sadly droops in my hand. Limp. No problem, I reassure myself. (I’m too invested in this now.) I pull up the recipe again on the screen, and about 20 minutes later my celery and onion are simmering gently in the vegetable broth. And that potato which was not on the ingredient list? Well that was the icing on the cake! Hey, when your refrigerator gives you limp celery, make a healthy celery and potato soup.