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!


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?”


“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.


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…