The first week of sequester was so much fun. All my work obligations were gone. I had an air-tight excuse for rejecting every invitation, every request, every “should do that.” I had to stay home, and I wasn’t even sick, like other times when I have been a shut-in. I was full of energy to turn toward this new world, the world inside my house! I made a pledge to get dressed every morning, because otherwise it might never happen, and to meditate. Beyond that, there were no rules.
On the first day Roberto and I cleaned the refrigerator, thorough, drawers and shelves out, containers of green and blue fuzz sent to the compost pile. I was so proud that I made a chart where I could track each day – a column for exercise, for house and yard projects, for doing good, for spirit/mind enrichment. (In retrospect I should have made a column for Netflix, for that, it turns out, is the one constant.) The little squares for Day One were all full! This was going to be so productive. Day Two we cleaned out cupboards and began sewing masks. I sent a check to the local Food Depot and bought a gift certificate to support our shuttered beloved local bookstore. I took a long walk and meditated. Life was so good that I realized that this forced retirement (much of my mediation work dried up almost immediately) was not something to fear but to embrace!
There was one significant problem. The deep, institutional inequality in this country came into sharper focus each day. We were living in luxury. Plenty of food, gas, shelter, friends and access to nature right outside the door. We can walk in the arroyo all day and not see a soul. We can even take our neighbor’s dog with us if we want to pretend we have a dog. We have enough money to write checks to assuage the guilt. That is real luxury. I imagined being trapped with 3 children under 4 years old, or with a couple of frustrated teenagers, or with an abusive spouse, or without enough money and food, or all of the above. I thought of the inevitability of outbreaks in prisons, in refugee camps, in the jam-packed streets of Calcutta. Now the news is full of the stories of people, out of work, dealing with stresses in every aspect of their lives. We see inside the hospitals, the heartbreaking interviews with medical workers, the staggering reports from morgues and funeral homes, the pictures of a nurse, a fireman, a bus driver who have died…and the families they leave behind.
Close to home, Indian Country has been hit hard. In New Mexico 52% of our covid cases are Native American, yet only 10% of the population is Indian. It is a terrible crisis, and another symptom of the stark inequity in this country. One-third of Navajo households have no running water, so regular, thorough hand-washing is impossible. Traditional Navajo homes are one-room, six-sided hogans that hold a family, often three generations. Health care, education, economic development, – you name it — is substandard in most of Indian Country. When a pandemic hits, it is inevitable that this population along with other minorities in both urban and rural settings, will take a disproportionate hit. [added 5-4-2020: many people have asked me how to help — I recommend the Navajo Nation Department of Health at http://www.nndoh.org/donate.html Also, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez gave a really good interview to Chris Cuomo on CNN a few days ago https://video.snapstream.net/Play/1mqiKotJTAWUfQ5UvWObAT?accessToken=2o35t2ta9d3w ]
On Day 6 I got up, did not get dressed and zombie-walked into the kitchen. I stood and stared at the wall. “I could just stand here all day,” I told myself, “and it wouldn’t make any difference.” My chart for that day was empty.
But, now at Day 45, I have found reasons to keep going.
- Making masks: We have ramped up our production using scrap material that I was saving for when I turned into a quilter, which was never going to happen anyway. We have sent dozens of masks to the Navajo Nation where we have good friends who can distribute them for us. Our masks are a small gesture, but one that is much appreciated. And we are very grateful to be able to do something.
- A stranded French family: About a month ago a French family of four arrived next door in their camper van. In February they had landed on the east coast to begin a six-month tour of
national parks. They spent a carefree few weeks in Florida, before heading west. By the time they reached Carlsbad Caverns, NM, they realized that they needed to abandon their itinerary and find a place to hunker down. In desperation, and with little English, they texted a French-speaking couple from New Hampshire they had met in the Everglades. They referred them to their friends in Santa Fe, our next door neighbors. Christophe, Berenice, Eva and Matheo have become so integral to the neighborhood that, yesterday when they suggested that they might be able to move on in a couple of weeks, I cried, “Nooo! Ce n’est pas possible.” Bonds that are formed in times of crisis are special. They are grateful for the safe haven, and we are grateful for the chance to form an international friendship that I know will last, even as they mosey down the road. (for more about the family go to https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/french-family-s-road-trip-across-united-states-takes-twist-n1178586 )
- Nature: On my daily walks I take comfort in the constancy of nature, just rolling along, doing her thing which includes the beautiful and the horrific. And I wonder if maybe this is her message to us, giving us a taste of what the planet could be if we changed our ways. She is giving herself a much needed break by curtailing our activities. The canals in Venice are clean, the coasts around cruise ship destinations abound with happy whales and dolphins, people in the most polluted cities can see skylines and horizons they may have never seen, birds are chirping more and louder without the competition of human clatter. The photo of the coyote staring at the Golden Gate Bridge is a classic.
- A new normal: My hope is that when the pandemic recedes and we “go back to normal,” that normal will not be the old normal. I pray that we hang onto some of these revelations, that we mend our ways and become a more compassionate and equitable society, living a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle, with less travel and less consumption. Those wishes are mighty aspirational, but here is one that is in my power. On the personal level, I promise to remember the insights from this enforced sequestration and not retreat to the old normal, where I frenetically tried to satisfy whatever need came along, where I was never caught up, and where I neglected the joys of home. I hope that both the planet and I hang onto the sweetness of this time, even as we struggle to forget the horrors.
- And finally, every morning I watch one of the four following video clips. It’s a ritual that sets me on the right track for the day. Give it a try.
- Two feature toddlers
- Two include music
- Two have dogs
- One has an ice cream cone
- One stars a young couple that I wish I were sequestered with….
….and none of them is political
(sorry, I don’t know why the first two appear as links, but they all work)
14 thoughts on “Corona Daze”
good read, Lucy! on days i make lists, even whimsical lists, i get dressed and get at it. i’ve had a few, but not many, pj-daze days. made masks for friends who are out there working; other friends too, neighbors and sending out to Navajo area. some people asked for masks; so i said yes & asked them to make a donation to shelter, worked as nice thing. am still making masks. writing poetry. doing art. gardening. missing the pool at SFCC where i do water work outs. i hope you and all your beloveds continue to do well! we are lucky to have the governor we have & the proclivity for this state to collaborate, rural and urban.
You’re doing great! good idea to make masks for friends in exchange for donation to worthy cause. And yes, we are very lucky to have Michelle Lujan Grisham as our governor. She is an ideal leader — strong, clear, honest and obviously she cares.
We’re al so surprised how we have decided to spend our unexpected free time that our conversations are often about how todaywe put our winter clothes away or washed the floor or planted some seeds or read an interesting article or—or — or . This special time is teaching us many new things about ourselves. Hope we learn some good lessons.
Indeed. Let’s try to find those lessons and hang on to them. I’m surprised, and a little disappointed, that I haven’t used the time to complete a list that I have had running in my mind for years — to reduce belongings, organize what I will leave behind, finish a young adult book, look under the beds, etc….. I seem to fill the time with brand new things!
Lucy, I can picture you and Roberto in your writing. I feel lucky, I haven’t missed a day of work, I rediscovered cooking for myself, and I spend time with my daughter in parks riding bikes and picnicking. Each time we go we spend 2 or 3 hours just sitting and talking. She’s so delightful to be with, ole Dad ain’t so bad for 16 yr old to hang out with. I wish you and Roberto well. Tony
great to hear from you, Tony, and so glad that you are getting time and space to be the great dad that you are.
Lucy, I’ve thought it. You wrote it. Thank you for all your words, photos and adorable videos. Our Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham sent an email that ended with a gentle request, “If you’re in a position to give and want to help out…” Unlike so many requests that I delete or throw into the recycle bin with some guilt, Michelle’s plea was honest, straightforward and left me with no feeling of being manipulated. There was a link to the All Together Fund to which I’m thinking of sending a donation. I’m hoping it will be managed in the best way possible to help those most in need and who could be more desperate for help right now than our Native American population, especially those without water. If you know of any other way to help them, let me know.
Hi Jan — yes, we are in a luxurious position if we can write checks or click on that donate button. If anyone wants to donate directly to the Navajo Nation Department of Health which is heading up their covid response, this link will make it easy. Many people have asked me. http://www.nndoh.org/donate.html
Thanks, Lucy, for another thoughtful commentary on life as it rushes past, even in these times of isolation. Yes, to the idea of returning to a better normal. If only. I’ve been making masks also (sent some via a friend to the French family you’ve met) and have given them out around town and mailed them to friends and family out of town. What would be the best way to send some to the Navajos? (I’m again impressed at how you’ve mastered the art and techie aspect of the blog. Brava.)
Hi Jeanie — I saw the family in new masks — had no idea they came from you! Many thanks. The ones that are pictured in the post are the first ones we made, and we gave them to the family back in March. So they were ready for new ones!
Here is donate site for Navajos http://www.nndoh.org/donate.html
As for my techie skills –mighty minimal! I am lucky to have a great web mistress who put the site together and handles any weirdness that pops up — Hope Kiah, Santa Fe Web Design. I am proud to say there are fewer and fewer weirdnesses as time goes by.
love to you and Bill
I was starting to feel like a house cat, napping, stretching, yawning, and napping again. oh, get a bite to eat. go sit on the couch, Is this what it is like to be cooped up inside all the time? I am glad my kitties can go outside and get fresh air, me too. If I start to meow, I will know I am transitioning. projects? nah. cleaning out the refig and closets, nah. writing papers, sorta, not really. I am wrapped up in my procrastination gene. maybe later I will get inspired and feel better and get on with the stuff. Nah.
Love it, Linda! Gives me insights not only into you, but into our two cats. I can definitely relate.
Wonderful Blog, so many good things to think about and process. Patty and I were following the separation rules even before the Governor shut down the State of Virginia. Patty stopped booking massage appointments on March 13th, except for me on occasion. My sister-in-law made us masks which we have been faithfully wearing when going to the grocery store, which is really the only place we go. My yard has never looked so good, as we have been able to spend time and do chores that do not often get done. We are getting outdoors as much as we can, going for walks and riding the exercise bike on days when it rains. We are lucky in many ways, as of today there were 37 cases of Coronavirus in Bedford County, as compared to 75,000 residents, and 769 square miles of territory. There is a lot of open space with the Blue Ridge Mountains occupying the entire NW border of the county. We have read a lot of books and watched a lot of Netflix, etc., and had Zoom cocktail parties with assorted people. We even had out Master Gardener meeting on Zoom this past week.
But, like everyone else, we are looking forward to the day when we can visit our friends face to face, and give then a hug. We hope and pray that all of you stay healthy, and safe.
Thank you, Jeff, for the report from Virginia. Life sounds very good, except for the not hugging part. Interesting how much I miss that…. take care.