Living in Doris Lessing’s World: A Pandemic Unforeseen

I get it.  I don’t want to, but I do.  Men think they’re invincible. How wonderful that must be.

There is still a crazed notion here that COVID-19 is just the flu.  Everything I’ve read contradicts this; everything you’ve read contradicts this. Since the outbreak here can be traced to a small group of vacationers returning from a cruise, people assume it is contained. They are not reading enough newspapers, whereas I’m at the point where I can make charts with colored pins and sticky notes, like  Martha Quest and  Mark in Doris Lessing’s The Four-Gated City.  But unlike the narrator of her apocalyptic novel, Memoirs of a Survivor, I cannot gather information from people on the street.

It’s actually unclear to me whether it is safe to take walks. There are so many gaps in these articles.   When we went out yesterday for a walk, I broke all rules of etiquette and crossed the street if I saw a person coming.  Mind you, hardly anybody was out.  My husband is so stubborn that he mocked a person who was walking in the street.  Frankly, that was the smartest person I saw all day.

Infectious disease experts are saying, “Work at home,” but not all employers have approved this homework situation (yet).  We’re a little behind here, just beginning to take it seriously.  The universities, schools, movie theaters, and libraries are closed.  The mayor declared  a city emergency and squelched the chutzpah of a belligerent group who had refused to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day parade. 

Mind you, I’m not panicking. We are all in a state of derealization. That’s a joke, but it’s also true you can’t take it all in.  I pay close attention to the details in the op/ed pieces by experts, but am more critical of journalists’ accounts of what’s unfolding.  Sometimes there is a note of hysteria, for which I cannot blame them. 

But why, oh why, didn’t the Senate meet this weekend to approve the relief bill drafted by the House?   Isn’t this a National Emergency? 

But two things we know for sure:  keep on washing your hands and avoid the crowd.

2 thoughts on “Living in Doris Lessing’s World: A Pandemic Unforeseen”

  1. Here, the governor of California decreed today that everybody over 65 must stay home. My husband and I have been self-isolating for two weeks already (except for a few fast grocery stops) because we are high risk, and it has been fine. My great mainstay has been that we live a block from the ocean park, and I have been able to get out in the fresh air, see the sea and flowers, walk on grass, for a little while every day. I am so hoping they don’t forbid us walking there, or close the park. When I walk I can easily stay 20 feet away from anyone else. It’s safe. Why did your husband mock someone walking, does he think it is very unsafe? Take care and be well, Kat.

    1. I do think it’s best to stay home! It IS probably good to get some fresh air, and the ocean park sounds lovely. Let’s hope this is over soon. All we can do is stay calm and wash our hands!

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