Coronavirus Spit

Elinor and Marianne on a walk in “Sense and Sensibility”

In the spring of 2020, the world changed. Travel was discouraged, sometimes forbidden. It was eerily quiet.  We stayed home more than anyone in the world outside the novels of Jane Austen. (The Bronte and Eliot heroines are more mobile.) 

We stayed home to make the world a safer place.  Some of us embroidered, some read books, some watched TV, still others turned it off, others did puzzles, others played games, still others coughed, still others died. 

When the states reopened, politicans were fully informed of the dangers.  (There have been a few investigations of possibly fudged numbers at test sites.)  Dr. Anthony Fauci repeatedly explained the danger of reopening until the states met federal guidelines. “There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control.”

Epidemiologists and public health officials continue to warn against gathering in crowds.  Churches,  parks, and beaches are teeming with people.  But pent-up energy has become so explosive that people believe what they want to believe, and many ignore the warnings.  And yet the globs of coronavirus spit travel a long way when people talk, chant, and sing.  

And now there are the protests.  A group that was doubtless clinically insane recently stood on the State Capitol steps and protested AGAINST VACCINES.  One misinformed, evil man  announced that no one had died of Covid-19.  And there is the national wave of protesters against racist police brutality and the unjust killing of George Floyd.  However good the cause, it is unwise to protest in a crowd during a pandemic.  Would Floyd, who  tested positive for Covid-19, have wanted protesters to infect or be infected?  With the utmost sincerity, I believe it is time to listen to Obama, who reminds us in an essay at The Medium, How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change,” of lessons  we can learn from Civil Rights history about the importance of negotiatinv with state and local leaders.  

Obama writes.

…I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobediencethat the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

“When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government … But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.”

All Dressed up and Nowhere to Go? Read Proust!

 Kristin Stewart reading Proust

It is your mission. You decide to finish Proust.  “It’s all downhill after Swann’s Way,” a friend confided. And since it has been five years since you read the last volume, you don’t even remember who the characters are.   So Swann’s Way again?

Funny, you’d rather read catalogues. One thing new this spring: all the models are suddenly LGBT.  Yes, the women are all holding hands…on a beach…and wearing plenty of things you’d like to buy:  embroidered jeans, summery tunics, and slip-on sandals that doubtless would slip off.  

If you bought these lovely clothes, you’d be all dressed up with nowhere to go. These days, you mow the lawn for fun. Or go to the grocery store! 

The state has “reopened”–it  proudly is a hotspot– and it is a bit too much.  And so many people are staying home.  Restaurant dining rooms are empty.  The parking lot at Perkins is empty (perhaps it’s closed altogether).  Penney’s is out of business.  Supposedly drive-in theaters are open, but I’d like to know where the heck these drive-ins are.

The drive-through at Starbucks is very popular:  I’ve seen the lines!

Really, it’s enough to inspire you to stay home and keep reading Proust.  I’m going to go eenie-meenie-mo and pick a volume.

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.