Just a quick update and Day 10 of Syl's Isolation Journal. Hopefully, all of you are healthy and safe. As our self-isolation and quarantines continue, so does life, if a bit slower than usual. In my neck of the woods, the sun is shining, and most people seem to be abiding by some of the guidelines. I say most because, well, there are always the wise noses who think they know better than the rest. Or maybe they think they are invincible. The sad part is that they may be. But, is their neighbor? Their parent? Their children? This virus attacks indiscriminately. So, as hard as it is, social distancing is a must, and so is staying at home.
During my run this morning, I saw people with little children on the playground. Have they no sense? I understand how hard it must be to keep small children inside and entertained, so take them for a walk; have them run their hearts out, but please keep them away from playgrounds. Keep away from dense areas; keep 6 feet distance from other people. Think of others. That is your responsibility people! Have a little empathy. Remember, this virus does not discriminate. It attacks the small, the young, the elderly. So act accordingly. Help save lives.
On another note, (and I really need to get this off my chest) how is it possible that anno 2020, In the United States, two weeks after the initial rush for stay-at-home supplies, our stores are still experiencing a shortage of toilet paper. And that's putting it nicely. Often there is NONE. No paper goods, no hand sanitizer, no bleach, no isopropyl alcohol... Shelves are empty … chicken is hard to find, as are dry goods such as rice, lentils, beans … Come on, people, time to stop hoarding. It is time to learn to share.
Until tomorrow, peoples of the page, with some art to brighten our day. Take care of yourselves and others. Be kind. Be safe. Share. Namaste.
ISOLATION JOURNAL | A Southern Strategy | Day 10 | "Through the Wall"
My sleepy town was more sleepy today as all of the other towns and cities in the state began to adjust their rhythms. I call here and there to get descriptions. I am told that Durham looks like a still photo from "The Last Man on Earth"; Raleigh is still buzzing, but the soundtrack is quickly ratcheting down from compressed radio pop to some genre of ambient.
The 30-day Stay-in-Place edict seems to have supplied some psychic structure to The Event for most, and some vision and promise that things may eventually get "back to normal," for the picture cannot be altered with a finger swipe or the click of a button. Of course, there are several hundred million personal dramas playing out amongst us, and most are in varying degrees of distress due to finances, health, or both.
This realization offers me perspective on my own situation and complaints: Many are in a far more imperiled boat. My contacts in Italy have been quarantined for some time, ahead of us on the projected arc of infection. There was hopeful word from a friend in Padua that things may be finally tapering off some in the Northern region, which has been a giant cluster of calamity for weeks.
San Francisco is quiet, according to my friend. Golden Gate Park, my favorite old haunt, is dotted with couples strolling together at a 'safe distance,' and cars are going up and down Fell Street, but far fewer of them. The grocery chains remain as erratic as the one in my burgh, but as of Week One, no loud complaints of starvation, only altered diets. Like most cities, take-out is still allowed for those who can wedge that into their budget. My friend is busy with taxes, and tucking odds and ends to a dozen unfinished projects in place. I take notes on how to busy myself.
I communicate with a lot of people on the phone and via e-mail, an inquiring family of dilettantes, and experts in their chosen field. A lot of writers like myself are curators of perspectives, I suppose.
A week ago, a friend who is a Beverly Hills psychiatrist reported that L.A. was ''a crazy mix of denial and panic.'' Later in the week, another friend in Venice posts his own beautiful, unretouched pictures of an almost-unrecognizable L.A. sky that one only sees in photoshopped tourist photos. The iconic ribbons of the highway are empty, flanked on one side by beaches, palm trees, sand, sky, and houses.
I think of how Los Angeles must have looked in the era of "Chinatown" and orange groves. What a paradise it must have been. Another friend qualifies his reaction to lockdown with "the numbers puzzle me." He has somenoteworthy background in epidemiology and public health, much more than myself and my B.S. degree. We agree we have no conclusions and will likely arrive at none anytime soon in this tempestuous conflagration of fear, politics, finance, nature, and newsfeeds.
I think of how Los Angeles must have looked in the era of "Chinatown" and orange groves. What a paradise it must have been. Another friend qualifies his reaction to lockdown with "the numbers puzzle me." He has some noteworthy background in epidemiology and public health, much more than myself and my B.S. degree. We agree we have no conclusions and will likely arrive at none anytime soon in this tempestuous conflagration of fear, politics, finance, nature, and newsfeeds.
The wind suddenly rises, and the chimes play a rousing song. It was cold a few days ago. Today it is 85 degrees, and it's still March. My neighbor says it will be back in the mid-40s mid-week. It's a mirror of the inconsistency of the people's attitudes about the Great Uncertain: this study's wrong, no, this study is right, after all. No, it's flawed. The flu is worse. No, this kills quicker. Don't you understand: our hospitals will be decimated. It could go on for a year. No, it will end by Easter.
Last evening, a few blocks away, residents were having the most raucous house-party I have ever heard since my days on a college campus. It went on to 3:30 AM. No one complained, and it occurred to me it was likely some "last party before lockdown," and everyone had decided to "party like it's 1999." By 4 AM, the crickets and other small creatures had returned to center stage, and Party Cental house was silent.
At the end of Doris Lessing's MEMOIRS OF A SURVIVOR, a woman named D. stares out of her window as the world slowly falls apart. The rulers apparently dashed off with all the spoils, and decay is all that is left. She finally takes in a girl, Emily, and her lover, Gerald, and the feral children they have adopted. D. discovers a portal into a new reality behind her living room wall, a door reached through review, introspection... and trust of silence. D. and her adopted family all go through the wall to a new reality.
I have decided, for right now, tonight, and perhaps the next day and the next, there is no exit but into the Quiet. My quiet. For ever how long it seems required.
© Silvanus Slaughter 2020
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