Week 5.5: The real pandemic, books, baths and Zoom in a time of covid-19

Our governor extended the stay-at-home order to May 3. I was not surprised. As a matter of fact, my surprise will come if she doesn’t extend it longer. There are certainly people in our state who still believe “it’s just the flu” or who prioritize economy over people’s lives and lay blame to an overreactive media, but I believe the majority of us have good common sense to understand the significance of flattening the curve and saving the lives of our neighbors. One thing is for certain, intelligence levels are showing themselves to be greatly lacking across the country. As I’ve said for years, the deadliest pandemic is the ignorance pandemic. It is ignorance that layers each brick in the building of walls, and ignorance that carries the silver platter of the rich and straddles the pot-hole ridden roads leading into low-income, minority communities and grows tall as weeds along the dirt roads of rural communities. I will be honest; I have no sympathy for the protestors and the weak foundation they stand upon. When a person has no empathy for their fellow human, what else can you expect. As well, if a person lives only in fear, they retaliate in anger. Our country is in trouble and has been for a long time. This pandemic pulled the raggedy, worn Band-aid off our country to reveal gangrene.

My post was not meant to be a rant, but it can be disheartening to see your fellow woman protesting to be able to get her hair done. It all goes back to ignorance and I can’t help but wonder what is missing from their lives. It also makes me wonder how many of these people have ever read a book – books whose stories lift you from your world and place you gently in another. Books with characters you’ve never given yourself the opportunity to speak to on the street and whose lives you never once thought about until you sat with a book about an unknown, new world in your lap. From John Grimes and Beloved, to the Buendia family and Teresita, if you’ve never taken the time to immerse yourself in stories rich in history and life, then people must appear like flat, paper dolls that you dress in what you think they might wear in scenes you’ve been told they would act.

Books. While I attribute much of who I am to my loving and open-hearted parents, books are and continue to be the grout of my mosaic. During these five weeks, I have read two books and am starting a third (courtesy of my cousin in Hawaii who mailed me the book she’d just finished along with a beautiful postcard of a Humpback whale). The first book I read was by one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett, A State of Wonder. I encourage reading Patchett’s work because as a reader you get lost in the setting, the details of the environment, the time and the people in her stories (I started with The Patron Saint of Liars, then Bel Canto). This book brought an unexpected ending that kept me up for a few hours after finishing – in the dark rethinking how I could have missed it, what were the signs Ann placed upon the story’s road that left tears on my pillow. It could also just be the time we are in. After that, I needed something light, so I chose Heather Webber’s Midnight at the Blackbird Café, an easy read filled with magic, birders and family histories. Like the pies so gloriously described and desired by the townspeople, this book was a perfect choice to give me pause to enjoy a bit of sweetness. And now, I tackle the novel that took Amy Tan eight years to write, The Valley of Amazement published in 2012. Amy Tan’s writing is rich in imagery and I’m already worrying and cheering for young Violet.

I cannot imagine my life without books, and it is unfathomable a life lived without reading. Now, since bath is in the title of my post, I’ll end with a smile. It seems humans are not the only ones who seem to be missing their barbers and stylists (such a spoiled lot we’ve become). Beatrice, Executive Assistant, was especially put off that she was not going to visit her friend Shelby for her five-week bath and grooming. Bea loves to get groomed, but imagine her surprise when instead of Shelby, she had to visit The Bearded One’s Quick Bath & Comb. She was not impressed, but she smelled a whole lot nicer and I’ve decided we need a bigger tub. Next up, learning to clip her nails. God, help us.

And, Zoom. I don’t know how we would manage this whole work-from-home-shelter-in-place if it were not for Zoom meetings. Not only has it brought some sense of normalcy to work, especially with our Coffee Chats twice a week, but it has brought my cousins from all over together, if even for one evening. Our first Cousin Zoom lasted two hours and included many a toast, catching up and lots of laughs with cousins who live in the same city, but also Texas, Ohio, Arizona, Hawaii and Illinois.

I have a few more scheduled in the upcoming weeks with different groups of family. It gives me something to look forward to and it eases these stressful workdays, which I will detail in my next post when the dust settles.

Five weeks. And, it will be longer. It needs to be longer. I will stay home the rest of the year if it means my parents, my neighbors, and even strangers will not be lost to this disease. That is what it means to truly live – love unconditionally your fellow humankind. In other words, love thy neighbor and in doing so, save their life.

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