ONCE MORE…SOYLENT GREEN

Yesterday, someone I love very much called me crying (this was a man and I had never heard him cry before) and said: “You have to see the Michael Moore film: Planet of the Humans (https://planetofthehumans.com/) which started playing on YouTube on Monday and is going to run free for 30 days. I turned on the film and watched all the way through. I did not cry when it ended although the director tried his best to evoke my tears showing the final scene of a scraggly orangutan dying alone in the mud against a deserted landscape with the trunk of one sole dead tree which had been its last home. The image is enough to bring me once more to the verge of tears, but I will not be provoked.images2WAUULWM

The film is a very convincing unveiling of the scam and the gold-mine for greedy investors (the Kohn brothers, et al), lying politicians (Gore, et al) and irresponsible Conservation Associations (Sierra Club, 350, et al) that green energy has turned into.

It is good that we should know this, and I appreciate that they relieved me of the pressure I was putting on myself to finally buy an electric car (that’s out), but I do not agree with blanket denunciations that offer no other solution, not even the slightest hint. The documentary reminded me of a dystopian thriller from 1973 (almost 50 years ago) staring Charlton Heston called Soylent Green that visits a future (year 2022!!!) of dying IMG_20200424_153115oceans and year-round humidity due to the greenhouse effect. In the film, the world is suffering from pollution, poverty, overpopulation and depleted resources. For those who have not seen it, I will not spoil the surprise ending: it is worth watching. In this movie, there is no solution either: it is meant to shock you and make you think. Obviously it didn’t make any of us think enough for we are but two years from the fictional setting and there is still no solution on the horizon.

Back to my gripe. The movie offers no possible solution to problems that can only be solved, first by scientists and then by well-meaning politicians and investors. Yes, the lonely, home.ridden citizen can vote… and looking around at the array of politicians and people holding high offices in what we consider our democratic nations… that is not exactly a consoling possibility. We can support Associations that pressure governments and undertake projects to solve the problem… but that is exactly what we have been doing and what the film denounces as just one more scam (perhaps due in part to ignorance, but suggested to be caused by greed). So we’re back to zero. Unfortunately, films like these make one feel angry, frustrated and helpless which –for me- is the worst possible result, because I will not only not do anything about it, but will reject all further information.

So, after steaming a bit last night and then watching a short series on Netflix (The Innocence Files) where at least people are doing something to solve a problem (finding ways to free innocent people locked up in jail for crimes they didn’t commit), I found myself waking up this morning and thinking: “Well, what can I do and what am I already doing?”IMG_20200419_123856

First I went to what I do now. I buy as much bulk and as little pre-wrapped food as I can. I separate my garbage (compost, recyclable, glass and waste) very carefully. I make sure that all plastic bottles, cans and containers are crushed to occupy the least possible space both in the garbage and in the recyclable (one of the problems of garbage is the volume). I wash my dishes and hands and face with cold water (save gas) and with the stopper in the drain so I can reuse the rinse water to soak the next set of dishes 8aves water); I turn off lights I am not using in my house (all this is good for my economy also). I use the car as little as possible, mostly walking to where I have to go unless that isn’t a choice. I wear my clothes for umpteen years and hardly throw anything out; when I do get rid of something, I take it to the second-hand shop. When I throw out a pair of  nylon stockings I snip them into little pieces so, if they do get to the ocean, they can’t strangle turtles or other marine life. By the time someone informed me that there are now cotton buds with wooden sticks, I already had a 100 piece box with plastic sticks in my drawer. I hardly ever use them but when I do, I cut the plastic stick into very tiny pieces with scissors before throwing away. If I had a meat grinder, I would grind them up… might get one, now that I think of it. I use so little plastic wrap (I reuse it until it falls to pieces) that one box has lasted me the 10 years I have been here in France and promises to still be imagesU53O0PN6around when I’m not.

What else do I do… Well, I help de-contaminate the mental sphere of the world aiding women (and people in general when asked) in finding happiness, or at least peace, in their lives and stop suffering. I have been doing this, through certain therapies and groups, for the last 27 years.

Before that, I spent four years working for a Mexican Conservation Association called Pronatura (two of those years, as its President), mostly raising money to protect sea turtles and monarch butterfly habitat (several programs that were begun under the auspices of Pronatura continue to be in effect today). So I understand how difficult it is for Conservation Associations to come by money for their projects. When, at the end of the film, several associations are named and their pronaturacontributors listed (all big, ‘greedy’ companies) I remembered how I had gotten myself a bleeding ulcer giving pep-talks and soliciting big greedy companies for money so that we might carry out as many of our conservation programs as possible. Receiving money from these ‘enemies’ did not compromise our nature commitment in the least so I don’t really know if the film is uncovering misdeeds, or if its makers have been misled. Unfortunately, it does not show what conservation associations do DO, so it might harm those that are really fighting the good fight.

The Nature Conservancy was among the companies listed in the film as receiving big bucks from big bad companies. It was also an organization that Pronatura worked with while I was President, but I know from experience that The Nature Conservancy does marvelous work supporting conservation programs in developing nations and was an important factor in supporting us with big bucks in our sea-turtle protection program. What is wrong with getting big bad companies to support good nature programs and then giving them credit for it. Sounds to me as if they want to throw out the baby with the bath water. IMG_20200424_152554

So that about sums up what I did, and what I try to do now… Can I do more? I am open, I am willing, I am waiting for someone to show me a new way… That is something that Michael Moore’s film did not do.

 

SPRING HAS SPRUNG…

IMG_20200328_143854It’s here, there’s no doubt… it’s blooming, exploding, all around. I can see it, I can smell it, I can feel it in the warm, lush air. SPRING…  I am happy… How can I be anything but happy?

When I leave my small apartment to walk to the bakery and get my morning croissant (a gift of Corona), I suddenly notice a bustle of cars and… even people, not seen before in any of the days of this Lockdown. There are “dots” (the Corona version of lines) in front of every store that is open, and almost all the parking places are taken around the small Super Market close to my home. What is going on?

It must be SPRING… The LOCKDOWN has not been suspended and people keep dying from the pandemic, but I feel happy. I buy a coffee (also offered at the bakery), along with my croissant  and stroll over to a bench with Salomé in tow. There we sit, watching people come and go (it is soooo weird to see people come-and-go after … what is it? Four weeks??? of Lockdown) thinking: ‘It must finally be Spring’.IMG_20200326_144924

Sooo, what can I say? I am happy. Everyone I know is –so far- healthy; my son has completely recovered, the sun is shining, the unseasonal cold that crept in during the last two weeks has disappeared, and I feel like dancing down the sidewalk.

A neighbor is standing in front of her door. I wish her a cheery good morning. She immediately informs me –before anything else- that there are over 10,000 dead. I shake my head.

“Yes, and we are alive,” I say to her in my broken French, and, smiling, wish her a good day. I prefer not to dwell on things I can do nothing about. That might seem callous to some, but why would I choose to add more suffering to the planet if I don’t have to. Where can I make a difference? That is what I need to know, not where I couldn’t have anyway.

IMG_20200401_153436As I see it, Corona has given me a gift I never expected. Twenty-seven years ago, when I was pulling myself out of three addictions (alcohol, cigarettes and relationship), I needed the support and companionship of other women (after a life-time of thinking men were better company), so I formed a 12-Step Group for Codependent women in Mexico. Last year, when I visited my daughter there, I had the gift of attending a meeting of that group which still gathers and helps other women every Monday of the year. I was sad that I could no longer attend meetings regularly. So…. when Corona hit and everyone on this beautiful planet was confined to their quarters, it occurred to me that I could organize a Codependent’s meeting on line and therefore, could attend my beloved group’s gatherings at least as long as Lockdown existed. I proposed it and not only did they all jump at the opportunity, but also –as no one has a terrible lot to do these days- we now meet three times a week (in the morning for Mexico and the afternoon for Europe) and three friends from this side of the ocean have joined. What a gift!

So I am happy.

Yesterday I swept, mopped and dusted my whole tiny apartment (which seems much larger since I am doing the housework), and –even though I couldn’t see the dust before the cleaning- upon finishing, the rooms seemed to shine and wink in the afternoon sunlight.

As I write, a bee flies in the open window. I stop for a moment to watch it buzz around my plants looking for a flowering one… There is nothing sweet there and soon it departs through the same window. I smile and feel the happiness bubble up inside of me. Outside I can hear the birds singing (in spite of the fact that there are more cars today then I have heard in the past three weeks) and I begin singing along with them: “The sun is shining, Oh happy day… No skies are cloudy and no skies are grey… Oh happy day, oh oh oh lucky me.”  Won’t you join me today?IMG_20200325_143258

P.S. How can I be anything but happy…. This afternoon I left for our after-lunch walk at 3:45. One look at the sky told me that the heavens were going to fall any moment. My IMG_20200411_160745ears caught the rumble of thunder. I was not to be discouraged: I needed cheese. So -I decided- if the sky falls while I am in the Supermarket, I will just wait it out and walk home when the rain stops.

Well, I got to the Super without a drop falling and was on my way back when I crossed paths with one of the ladies that wait on people at the pharmacy. Just because there was no reason not to, I asked for the umpteenth time if there were any masks available. To my surprise she said “I can IMG_20200411_163326give you two”… Seeing as I had none and was not about to test my clumsiness trying to make one, two was a treasure-load of masks -and for free. I gushed my thanks and trotted off home with my bounty, arriving just in time to avoid a soaking. I mean… How can I not be grateful? What a life!

Adelaide’s Body

No, it’s not the solution

to throw yourself under a train lilke Tolstoy’s Anna

or to drink Madame Bovary’s poison

or wait on the plain of Avila for the visit

by the angel with an arrow

until throwing a shawl over your head

and beginning to act.

(…)

There must be another way that isn’t called Sappho

or Messalina or Mary of Egypt

or Magdalente or Clemencia Isaura.

Another way of being human and free

Another way of being.

–Rosario Castellanos

The day the carpetlayer arrived, Adelaide met her Destiny. He was short, skinny, disheveled, and very macho. He had red hair and a beard. As he wove a net of smooth, beguiling words around Adelaide’s beauty, he laid the carpet, and then he laid Adelaide herself on the carpet. He took her there the first time with the smell of new carpet tufts exciting her nose; then on her grandmother’s sofa that exhaled ancestral dust with every thrust; twice under the dining room table while she saw Christmas lights and gave thanks and, in a final superhuman effort, he besieged her in the broom closet where he fell exhausted on the mouse droppings.

Adelaide straightened what was left of her skirt, while the redhead gathered his tools, snapped shut his toolbox and his fly, bade farewell with an arrogant gesture, and disappeared through the back door where he had entered just an hour earlier.

She never saw the carpetlayer again, nor did she ever have another carpet laid, or tidy any sofa, or mess up another skirt. She abandoned her house to dust and time and with iron determination began to pursue that Fatal Star that had shone for her under the table as the carpetlayer enjoyed something she couldn’t understand. It didn’t have anything to do with nocturnes by Chopin or exercises on the piano or cross-stitch embroidery or art history classes or the elaborate preparation of succulent meals for a future husband or knitting little sweaters for mothers-to-be or bridge parties on leisurely afternoons or rosaries for the dead or even that pleasurable and undoubtedly sinful sensation of washing certain parts of her body under the tepid caress of water. In other words it had nothing to do with anything that she had ever known.

Unknown or not, Adelaide was convinced that that was her Calling in life and with her usual tenacity she dedicated herself to pursuing her new goal. Exactly how many bookstores she explored in search of ancient guides for her exercises or how many hours she spent prostrated before the makeshift altar with her forehead against the hard tile floor or how many days of fasting and sacrifice she endured or how many different names she invoked before hitting upon the one that corresponded to her century, will never be known because they are secrets that remained behind the closed door of her bedroom. But exactly at 11:59 p.m. on the second Saturday of May, just before the merciless hand of the clock marked the first hour of the date that is so stressful for the Wicked One, Mephistopheles grew tired of hearing such a string of nonsense and anachronisms in the sharp, persistent voice that silenced even the hissing of the infernal fires and decided to make an appearance in order to find out what the devil she wanted.

Satan arrived precisely at midnight. Adelaide was waiting for him in her blackest, tightest, most sensual dress. When she saw him she uttered the well-known but archaic formula of three, and she awoke in the spirit of the Spirit a nostalgia for the ancient rhetoric.

“Oh, mysterious and morbid lady who so fearlessly and insistently invokes the Spirit of Evil, the Prince of Darkness, the Invincible Satan, the Fallen Angel, Lucifer, the Supreme Instigator of Sin! What dark, secret and impeccable. . .I mean, peccable purpose has moved you to such conjuration?”

Adelaide rejoiced upon hearing the tenebrous tones and stood upright and proud to deliver her plea.

“Oh, Indisputable King of the Dark Gloom, Sinister Prince, Ill-fated and Ill-favored, Malign Being invoked by me since I realized my malevolent and lascivious desire, night after night in the long nights of this winter of my life. . .”

“Get to the point, wench! Many barren women are waiting for me tonight so they can wake up mothers-to-be. I suppose you want the same.”

“. . .in the long nights of this winter of my life, who on this Transcendent Night, Unique and Inimitable, has deigned to respond to my black-hearted and unyielding faith by appearing. . .”

“Hush or I’ll make you a zealot!”

“. . .appearing in Perverse Person and in all your Turbulent Grandeur to grant me my only burning and ill-conceived desire, without which I would prefer to descend to the eternal fire rather than continue in this miserable world, I beg of you. . .”

“. . .to make you a mother!” concluded Satan with a sigh of relief.

“. . .to make me a man!” concluded Adelaide, piercing him with an implacable look.

“Impossible!”

“Don’t recant! I am ready to sign with blood, saliva, or any other bodily fluid to close the deal and surrender my Soul to you for all of eternity.”

Mephistopheles gave her an incredulous look and burst out laughing with such violence that he extinguished the devotional candles and set the curtains aflutter.

“You poor little, insignificant thing! Innocent and naive creature! Women don’t have souls.”

“But I thought. . .”

“Just spiritual demagoguery to keep you under control. I’m sorry. No merchandise, no deal. Arrivederci!”

Mephistopheles spun around on one foot and headed resolutely toward the door. Adelaide felt her last opportunity slipping away and she held out a trembling hand.

“Wait! If I have no soul, I will give you my body.”

The Prince of Darkness stopped and, turned slowly around, his astute glance caught by Adelaide’s determined look.

“What good is it to me?” he asked cautiously.

“It’s young, strong and healthy. It’s got years of use ahead.”

“It’s imperfect, unstable, unpredictable, and in general, extremely defective.”

“By no means,” refuted Adelaide, slipping off her stockings and unbuttoning her blouse. “It’s a perfect, natural clock; tireless, accommodating, and docile. It has an endless capacity for enduring pain and tedium; it harbors an ancestral resignation; it withstands humiliation and mistreatment. It is a source of temptation, an indecipherable enigma, deception of innocent souls, bitter sweetness, a lair of contradictions capable of confounding the wisest sage or the holiest saint; it requires very little upkeep and will never aspire to fame or glory. . .”

Adelaide let her voice fall along with her bra, as she approached her bidder and allowed him to inspect the merchandise: the firm breasts, the smooth thighs, the flexible back, the aroma of the neck, the softness of the belly, and the incessant undulation of the hips. The deal was closed with no further haggling.

“Tomorrow you will wake up a man, and your name will be Adel,”  Mephistopheles exclaimed, as he disappeared.

“. . .and my trade: carpetlayer,” sighed Adelaide before she fell asleep.

+  +  +

The day he arrived at Aida’s house to lay the carpet, Adel met his Destiny. He was tall, handsome, blond, and seductive. As he wove a tapestry of sweet and insidious words around the beautiful body reclining on the sofa, he laid the honey-colored carpet and then he tried to lay Aida on the carpet, but she made him chase her all through the living room, around the table, across the sofa, into the kitchen, upstairs to the bedroom, and back downstairs until he managed to corner her in the broom closet and fall exhausted at her feet.

From that moment on, Adel was convinced that that was his Calling in life. He devoted himself night and day to the task of laying carpets so he could save enough money to dress that irresistible body with silk, adorn that smooth neck with pearls and diamonds, and bestow golden slippers on those tantalizing feet. He grew grey hairs and his skin became wrinkled as he labored endlessly, imagining in his solitude the ultimate possession of the body he so desired. In delirious dreams he constructed feverish altars for her and he saw her naked and tender, docile and resigned, fertile and submissive. Between carpet laying jobs he would visit her, giving her lavish gifts, kissing her feet, and besieging her with declarations of eternal, boundless love. Finally he reached his goal. On the afternoon of Holy Friday, Adel arrived at Aida’s house dressed in a suit of pure silk. He was only ten years older but it looked like twenty; he had the latest-model automobile with a chauffeur, an enormous diamond ring, and a bank account with seven figures. He laid it all at her feet and asked her to marry him. When he heard her resounding “No!” he exclaimed with desperation, “But, woman! Have you no soul?”

Aida gave him an incredulous look and let forth a peal of delighted laughter that ruffled the curtains and made the crystal chandelier tinkle.

*  *  *

(From the book of short stories “When I Was a Horse”

by Brianda Domecq; translation by Kayla García). 

Available on Amazon.

 

NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS

more newsI used to watch the News every morning… in French. It was to practice my French, I said, so while I was dressing I would turn on the TV and watch the news. Sometimes, if there was a particularly interesting or frightening or world-changing story I would actually stop dressing, sit on the bed and watch until the item passed.

I seldom watched at any other hour, I almost never used the news viewed as a topic for conversation, you know: “Oh, by the way, did you hear that…” or “Oh my god! What do you think of…?” I would watch the program and then get on with my life.

newsHowever, one morning about three years ago I was watching the yearly strike of the French train workers and I found myself yelling at the screen –in English, as if they would understand me- “Why don’t you lazy SOBs get on your feet and back to work” and then some expletives to underline the seriousness of my from-home intervention. Suddenly, I caught a view of myself in the mirror on the wall. What I saw was a half-dressed woman, shaking her fist at a televised version of people striking  the previous day, a woman who was obviously losing it over something she could no more control than today’s coronavirus.

WIN_20170722_130919 (2)I stopped dead and thought: I don’t need this. I am standing here, getting upset and angry about something that 1) has nothing to do with me 2) affects my life in no way 3) I have no control over even if it did 4) and serves me no purpose to know. That was the day I stopped watching The News. I even called Orange and asked if they had some kind of package deal without television as the only thing I watched on TV was the news (they didn’t).

I have only turned it on once since them and that was the night I received a Whatsapp from my son saying Notre Dame was going up in flames. That I wanted to see.

Since then I know one thing for sure: everything I need to know will somehow get to me; if it doesn’t, I didn’t need to know.

Sometimes, someone will ask me: “Did you see what was on the News this morning?” and when I say that I do not watch the news EVER, they will look at me as if I were some kind of undesirable fungus on their fancy dinnerware.

“Not ever??? How do you find out what`s going on in the world?”

cof

“I don’t. .. If I need to know something, the information will get to me somehow.”

“But don’t you feel you need to be informed, to know what is HAPPENING?”

“What for,” I ask innocently: “If it doesn’t affect my life, if there is nothing I can do about it… Why should I be up to date on the latest bombs dropped on Syria and how many are dead, or the most recent idiocy that has popped out of Trump’s mouth or a terrible snowstorm that blocked all communications to the polar bears in the Artic? Would that make my croissant any tastier or my coffee any hotter? Would it help me to be a better human being today?”

“That sounds selfish and self-centered, don’t you think?”imagesQCC8BODY

“Yes! That’s right! SELF-CENTERED… hurray, at last!  I spent 50 years of my life being OTHER-CENTERED and the only thing I got from that was unhappiness, frustration and rage. So I am self-centered in the sense that I take care of myself: I don’t expect anyone else to do that, it’s not their job, it’s mine. And part of that taking care is not allowing a lot of unnecessary and upsetting information to be emptied into my brain causing negative thoughts and, therefore, unpleasant and unhealthy emotions.”

“Oh, I don’t know… I don’t think I could go through life without knowing what is going on…”

“Oh I find out what I need to know, and even what I don’t need to know. The other day a friend came over looking terribly sad and when I asked her what was wrong, she told me about the brush fires in Australia: ‘and all the wild animals are dying, they have nowhere to go…’ she informed me.

I immediately had a visual image of all those furry little innocent animals, trying to outrun the fire and failing, and my heart shriveled up into a little ball adding a good dose of unnecessary stress to the atmosphere.

“If I am suffering for the animals in Australia, and getting angry at the authorities for not doing the right things, or big companies for polluting… I am in other people’s business and I am not doing my job which is to make sure that my passage through life does the least damage possible and to support with donations–where I can- those organizations that occupy themselves with these problems on a national or global level. So if someone needs me to sign a petition, they’ll sent it to me; and if someone needs me to donate money, I’ll be requested to do that too. In the meantime, my personal suffering does nothing to alleviate the suffering of others, quite the contrary…”

So now I am in Lockdown as is the rest of the Planet, and I continue not looking at the news. There is no change. I do not need to know how many people died in Spain yesterday (and in case I did, my brother just informed me that it was over 1000). No, I don’t need to know that today…

Instead, I am subscribed to something called Good News Network that comes to me through my email (gnn@goodnewsnetwork.org) and that tells me about all the KOALAwonderful and positive things people are doing for the world and others. It not only makes me feel good to be part of the human species, but gives me ideas of how I can make a positive contribution to the well-being of others and our Planet. For instance, it tells me about Australian soldiers who are using their time off to care for Koalas displaced by fires.

Or about a German supermarket that resells tons of food that other stores won’t thus helping our waste problem and about a Chihuahua pup that can’t walk befriended by a pigeon that can’t fly…PIGEON

Am I ‘hiding my head in the sand’…? Maybe, but I am also adding less negative ‘vibes’ to the atmosphere and more positive ones… so, I guess it evens out.oznor

Have a good Lockdown day, love yourself, give yourself what you need to… (I was going to say ‘get through’ but you deserve so much more than that): ENJOY the day ahead and have a full life while in lockdown.

DAY 18 OF LOCKDOWN

IMG_20200216_161054Things I have done.

I ran the vacuum cleaner for the first time in about 50 years (hadn’t done that since I was first married). Mopped and dusted and even made my bed one day (threw my back out, so since then I just pull the covers up).

I bought a whole chicken and made chicken and veggie soup (now I have to see what I am going to do with all that, but I guess Salomé will be delighted to share it with me).

Cleaned two shelves in the corner of the living room that is my office, and organized a Twelve Step Codependent Women’s group (in Spanish) over Internet. Threw out a lot of old papers and organized the ones I wanted to keep in new folders.

Whatsapp-ed everyone who I care about at least once every two or three days. Watched uncountable videos, cartoons and jokes over Whatsapp. Have finished two books, one on the Patty Hearst trial back in the 70’s (not worth the time), another American Pastoral by Phillip Roth (good). Just ordered Walden by Thoreau by Kindle… will tackle tonight.IMG_20200221_104425

I have finished the first revision of my Proustian memoires (1386 pages at the moment) and realized I will have to let them sit for a while. Feel frustrated because I am not writing, so decided to hammer out a blog post.

Watched three chapters of the short Netflix series “Dirty Money”; got depressed and disgusted… decided I didn’t need that. Watched a Turkish movie today because Netflix recommended it and it is the best, the very best movie I have seen in years (The Miracle of Cell Number 7).

Have bought and consumed a croissant every day in honor of all the ladies on the Titanic who didn’t eat dessert that last dinner so as not to gain weight. Bought a pint of Häggen Dazs ‘macadamia nut brittle’ and ate the whole thing watching the movie (tch, tch).

IMG_20200306_094958Salomé and I go out four times a day every day so we’re getting our exercise. She has finally given up going straight to the coffee shop. Have hopefully watch Spring burst forth on each walk, in spite of the bitter cold wind this afternoon. It would seem that the winter we didn’t really have keeps trying to stick its foot in the door.

I check the mailbox every time I go out even though I know the post is not passing now (oops, wrong: just ran into mailwoman and she says she comes three times I week… Yea! I can order a book over Amazon. I cover my hand with the sleeve of my jacket to open doors; if it is cold enough, I wear mittens.

I have washed my hands dutifully every time I come back home. I leave the latest meal’s dishes in the sink and wash them at the same time: two for one. Even that way, my hands are so dry they hurt. I have not found a way to take off the semi-permanent nail polish that has grown out half way and is all chipped, so apart from dry, my hands are a mess.

My son called four days ago to say he had the virus and was isolating from his wife (they were caught in a very small apartment rented while they finish the remodeling of their new house). He spent three days with bad fever and now he is better. Feels good in the morning, gets worse towards evening, but the high fever has not come back so he is getting better. He has dutifully kept me informed and I am taking it in my stride.IMG_20200309_212522

I am surprised how good I have gotten at controlling my mind and, therefore, my emotions. When I first heard the news –from him- my mind immediately said ‘What if he dies?’ and I stopped it right there. ‘Nothing has happened yet’ I told myself firmly, ‘he is a sturdy, middle-aged man in good health; there is no reason he would die… and anyway there is nothing you can do about it so take care of yourself and let life take care of him.’ It is surprising how calm I have been, not bothering him every five minutes for updates, waiting for him to offer the news, not even doting on the subject all day or bombarding myself with negative thoughts.

I downloaded a game of Dominoes on my phone and play against the computer all the time. Many times I win. When I am not playing dominoes, I am playing Scrabble against the computer. I bought two newspapers and have played Sudoku in both of them (I can’t do crosswords in French); not too interested in the news.

Things I have not gotten around to: cleaning any drawers; organizing books on shelves and getting rid of those I have no need for anymore.  Writing the second half of my Proustian Memoires. Cleaning out my filing cabinet. Taking out summer clothes (waiting for the warmer weather). Ironing a couple of pairs of jeans I washed. Baking a cake… (no way I am doing that!)dav

So I am being good, I am taking care to not breathe on anyone, to cough or sneeze into my elbow, to wash my hands all the time, to take sips of warm water all through the day, to keep my defenses up, to get a good night’s rest…

And yet today I was suddenly on edge. I think I was tired… tired of trying not to be sad, tired of trying not to feel how strange everything is, tired … just tired. I snapped at my personal trainer with whom I do exercise over Skype and refused to finish the class because I was so uptight. I snapped at Salomé when she took too long to come down the stairs on her last walk. I felt my chest heavy and sad as I walked in the silence of the night. I felt the aloneness, not only of myself but of everyone in the world as we sit out this strange, silent, invisible war. I longed to find myself on a sofa somewhere, with someone loved and let myself be held; I longed to sit at a table with my family sitting around and laugh, or joke or just chat while we ate our meal; I longed to hop on a plane and fly to Mallorca and visit my brother; I longed to take my car and drive to Madrid and have lunch with my best friend there… I longed…

So I try to be gentle with myself. I will help me into my pajamas and crawl into my bed, snuggle down under the blankets, lay my head on the pillow, close my eyes and drift off. Tomorrow will be another day…