Lessons in lockdown

16 Jul

“Signs in Quarantine” by Felicia Chiao.

As the weeks in quarantine continue and the virus surges inexorably, I have been thinking about what I have learned in this historic time, ruminating on existential as well as banal questions during all this downtime. Here are a few thoughts:

**As long as we are the two of us here at home, I am having no problem having no visitors. It’s been years since I’ve enjoyed the idea of having a dinner party, or afternoon visitors, in any case, so this has not been difficult to maintain at all. It would probably be much harder for me if I were single and alone in the house. But I am actually surprised to realize what an introvert I am, and how easy it has been for me to stay home and just communicate via the internet or to talk with George.

**Continuing the above thought:  except for visiting museums and botanic gardens, I was never that driven to be in social groups, like choirs or clubs. This isolation is really hard on those who are social, those who are used to having lots of friends over and are active in group activities. As long as I have access to social media–and THANK GOD for that!–I’m OK with those interactions. I DO miss hugs at my AA meetings! And I do want to have projects to do on the computer or as a craft.

**I really worry about families/couples who have had any kind of tension in their relationships. All this togetherness is at times trying on even the most compatible people. I have heard that many people in early recovery from addictions have been under tremendous pressure in isolation, and all of my psychologist and counselor friends have been swamped with requests for therapy.

**Having pets has been vital, I think. I can understand why so many people have gone out and acquired a dog or a cat while housebound. I pet the cats much more often than before, and use them as substitutes for human hugs. They seem to love the routines that we have established, and are perfectly happy that we’re home all the time.

**I am so grateful we have a yard/garden that attracts birds. My amateur birding has been a constant joy as we sit on our back porch. I am actually getting better at identifying even the NBBs–the non-descript brown birds!

**Los Angeles skies are much clearer these days, as traffic has been so reduced. It’s really noticeable on our walks.

**We notice so many more people on our walks around the neighborhood. We always take our masks with us, and if we see another person walking toward us, we either go into the street to avoid being close, or we put our masks on immediately.

**No matter what others say, I have found no effective way to keep my glasses from steaming up when I wear a mask.

**The ONE source of tremendous sadness and distress for me: not being able to visit the grandchildren in Denver. Since George is high risk (COPD and heart issues), since we always catch whatever illness the kiddos have when we visit, and since Dottie works in a hospital, we just cannot risk getting there, either by plane or driving. We are missing their sweetest year, but are again so thankful that we have social media to keep us in touch. I just want the grandsons to remember us when they grow up. That, to me, is our only form of immortality.

**I have to avoid what I can of the news, since it just fills me with despair that we are suffering through this pandemic with the absolute worst possible non-government in power. But all the reading that I have been doing–what else is there to do?–inevitably leads me to some considerations of how America has devolved into such a situation. Here’s one thought that came to me and that I shared on Facebook: “I’ve just been reading, in David Talbot’s Season of the Witch, the story of Dan White, the pathetic human who assassinated Harvey Milk and SF Mayor George Moscone–you know, the one who got away with murder because his aggressive lawyer used the ‘Twinkie defense.’ What struck me in the story of this guy was something Harvey Milk said about him: ‘I feel sorry for him, because he’s just stupid, and out of his depth as City Councilman.’ Then it hit me: part of the problem for people like DT and CERTAINLY for Betsy deVos, is that they are not very bright at all. This makes them so defensive when they are out of their depth intellectually that they have to lash out against those who are smarter than they are. Couple this, in DT’s case, with pathological narcissism and you have the mess we’re in today. Stupidity can make people do awful things if they’re not loved enough and/or find themselves in positions of power and incapable of knowing what responsibility that power requires.”

**It’s even harder now to keep track of what day it is than it was once we retired.

**Zoom meetings are frustrating, but better than nothing.

**TV: for some reason, I find the presence of actual TV in real time calming, no matter how mindless the programs (well, up to a point). It must be my age, but it makes me feel like someone is out there, even though I know that isn’t true. Netflix and other streaming apps are great, and I do appreciate watching real shows and films on them, too. But for a feeling of security, I watch reruns of “Law & Order” over a first-run program. And no, I would NOT watch Tiger King!

**I really miss a swimming pool! I am never one for big-time, long-term exercise regimens, but I’m astonished at how creaky I can get if I don’t keep up some exercise routines. I wasn’t aware of how much running around I used to do in a day.

**I have resigned myself to the fact that in many ways, these quarantine routines are what we are going to have to live with for a long, long time. I am not ready to die yet, and getting COVID-19 is just not an option if I want to stay alive for a little while longer. So I must appreciate the small things, stay in touch with loved ones by media means, and be thankful that I have always been one to read and think.

**I will close with cats again: Kolo, the black & white one, always looks better in photos than he does in person! And orange one Zuma doesn’t like to pose.

Stay healthy and safe, everyone!


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