Saturday, March 28, 2020

Pandemic Diary Entry #2

A neighbor's weeping cherry tree

Pandemic Diary Entry #2

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. New York City has become the new epicenter of COVID-19 in the US, and the US is now the new epicenter for the world. My heart goes out to my friends and cousins in NYC.

At this point, we only go outside to occasionally pick up groceries, and to take walks. It almost seems cruel, doesn't it? That so many trees and flowers are blooming, and it's still March, and it's all lovely and inspiring, and the world is a trash fire.

Daffodils! They're everywhere in our neighborhood

T.S. Eliot said in the opening line of The Wasteland, "April is the cruellest month." But March has been cruel enough. If April is worse than this (and it undoubtedly will be), we're all doomed.

See? I have moments of deep despair, where all I want to do is crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head and shut out the world. I've suffered from anxiety all my life. I took Xanax for years. This is worse than anything I've been through, and I've been through a lot.

But I have to remind myself that we have plenty of food, a warm house, a beautiful neighborhood for walks, tons of books to read, and of course there are always movies to watch. I also have to remind myself that everyone is in the same boat and the only way we'll get through this is together... apart but together.

Received an email on Friday from my college roommate, who has lived in Paris since 1984. She became a French citizen years ago, and when I emailed her last week to ask how she's doing, this was her response (she gave me permission to post):

We are in our second week of lockdown and can only go out with a printed or handwritten form ticking off one of the 7 reasons for going out. Then signing, dating and marking the time. We have to show it along with our ID card.

People can go out alone or with a family member for max an hour within one kilometer of home address, to have a walk or walk the dog. The first time fine has gone up to 135€. 

The gov't is saying the lockdown could last 6 weeks but will depend on the curve. At the moment, it's rising exponentially and some area hospitals are overwhelmed.

The East and Paris region are the most affected. But poor Italy has double the number of deaths as China, and Spain is quickly catching up to that number.

So you think you're suffering during your quarantine or self-isolation? At least you don't have to show an ID and have a printed form filled in with date and time whenever you go out to the grocery store or for a walk! At least you aren't limited to your own neighborhood for walks. 

On Friday, besides talking the walk pictured above, we started cleaning out our pantry, one shelf at a time. Found some canned soups that were best by 2017! So it's been a while since we cleaned that closet, obviously long before my second brain aneurysm rupture (which was in 2017). We also found a bag of dried navy beans we purchased from an Amish market two or three years ago (there's no date on the bag). My husband is currently washing and soaking them. Does anyone know if it's safe to eat beans that are two or three years old?

Today, the rainy day, I cleaned out the extra bathroom in our house, the one formerly used by our sons, who are now grown and living elsewhere. Oh, how I miss them! I just want to give them each lots of hugs, but for now I have to put up with texts and phone calls. However...

when I cleaned out their bathroom, I found all of these treasures!

They're ours now. Buried treasure! It made me deliriously happy!

Stats for March 28th:

Still reading The Overstory by Richard Powers (this book is long, and the print is tiny!). I miss the years when I could read faster. I have some fantastic-looking books to read next, including one by Amy Sarig King and one by John Green.

From Worldometer:
Countries affected: 199
Number of cases: 662,402
Number of deaths: 30,826

That's more than doubled from four days ago. The US now leads the world in total number of cases at 123,271, although Italy has the most deaths at 10,023.

How are you holding up? Do the stats depress you? Should I keep them to myself? You know I'm really keeping this journal for the future, right?

Do you take walks and look for beauty where you can find it?


  1. I enjoy your posts. As for statistics about the corona virus, my husband and I watch news reports every night and read the news every day. It's the only way to keep up. I have a nephew in France, one in England, many friends in Spain, not to mention family in India and friends in Canada, and we are concerned about all of them. Meanwhile, yes, by comparison to some lock downs, ours in the US is relatively easy. We take our walks every day. Our shelves are stocked. We have lots of books. My husband has been printing his negatives; I've been working on a book and also working in the garden. So far we are healthy and all our loved ones are, too. It's good to remember how blessed we really are, worried or not about the outcome of this virus. Keep posting, and stay safe and well.

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth! Glad to hear you and your husband are staying healthy and keeping busy. It's hard when friends and family are far away, isn't it? Stay strong!

  2. I admit to having moments of panic. watching a lot of netflix (finished October Faction, still working on Riverdale, Sabrina, and a few others). Reading The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith (you might remember her, she used to blog), and walking daily with Bruno, who thinks it's fabulous I'm home every day now.

    253 cases here in Maine - 3 deaths so far. All I can say is I'm glad I live out in the boonies.

    Fabulous find!

    Stay well.

    1. Thanks, Marcy! You stay well too. I remember when Maine had zero cases. I was hoping you guys would stay that way. We watch a lot of movies on Netflix, but not tv shows so much.

  3. I’ve been taking many walks recently as well—it definitely helps with cabin fever! I can't believe how much more unpleasant the self-quarantine is in France! Good luck holding up through all this, and good thing you've got good books to read!

    1. Good luck to you too! (Do you have a name? I feel funny calling you Completely Full Bookshelf!) Glad to hear you're taking lots of walks.

  4. Thanks for your pandemic diary, Joanne. Thrilled you found those rolls of toilet paper.
    During this time, I am back to novel writing, after taking a very long break and thinking that my writing days were done. As an in-home caregiver, we are now allowed to visit only one client, so my income has taken a hit, but it is delightful to see my client who is a gregarious 81 year old and is really hurting for company.
    I have watched a lot of movies (which I don't usually do.) Our dog is ecstatic to be going on so many walks!
    Thank you for the uplifting photo of daffodils, my favorite flower. A reminder that there's still beauty in these hard times.

    1. Michael! So happy you're back to novel writing. I need to motivate myself to do that too. And I'm sorry your income has taken a hit, but how lovely that you're there for that one client, who obviously needs you in these trying times. Daffodils are my favorite flower too. Plus, the deer don't eat them, which is why everyone in our neighborhood grows them.

  5. Who ever thought finding three rolls of toilet paper would be a thrill? Times are hard. This is day 19 for me. I have walked to the mailbox a few times and walk in my back yard with my little dog now and then. I'm having a lot of trouble focusing on reading and am doing virtually no writing, but I am well, have everything I need and a lovely home to wait this out. Thanks for your post. The words from you French friend put a lot of things in perspective. Stay well.


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