Plague Diary I

The Mirage

Last week it all seemed like a mirage, really, I mean we knew, of course, but it wasn’t real if you know what I mean. The map of the world turned red, country by country and I found myself thinking, well, we’re all one color now, dudes, even though you woulda never believed it.

I started getting a little antsy when I heard that the University was sending all the students home, but they were still here, on the sidewalks and in the coffee shop, dressed in their black clothes and backpacks. You still had to be lucky to get a table at Small World. You still had to stand in line at PJs for pancakes on Sunday. Last Sunday.

I bought a TV. That was a couple of weeks ago, at the last of the impeachment days; I don’t know why I thought I would have it but not watch it. The first time I turned it on it showed a smoking helicopter and we forgot the impeachment and masked people in China and we wailed and mourned for Kobe. Us old LA people remember watching him grow up on television. We wailed and mourned some more.  I turned the damn thing off and went back to my other stuff.

The second time I turned it on I watched Mitt Romney vote against his party, calling on God with tears in his eyes, sez he knows they will be out to get him and his family for this. Do they call you a prophet when the thing is so obvious?

The third time I turned it on (you think I’m shitting you now, but no…) I saw Chris Matthews announce his (forced) retirement from MSNBC in front of his scheduled guests. I’m thinking maybe I shoulda never bought the machine, y’know whadda mean?

It began to feel like we were walking under the hill into Tir Nan Og, everything began to fuzz out, like Druid fires being extinguished on each hillside one by one. The Y closed—no more yoga classes; all meetings cancelled; OMG the world is out of toilet paper! I woke up one morning and my first thought was, if this is NOT a mirage, I’d better DO something. Or not. Or what.

I went to Whole Foods and bought what looked like 2 weeks of groceries in case we were quarantined. Could that be? I thought of my mom working under Cheyenne Mountain for NORAD back in the Cold War days, how she never let the gas in the car get under half a tank in case the Russians sent nukes over the Dew Line and we all had to get to Nebraska. (Nobody would bother to nuke Western Nebraska.). I went and filled up the car.

The movie theater closed. The library closed. I bought a new book of Sunday Crossword puzzles for the long nights ahead.  I turned the TV on and watched the insane, doped-up face of the President of the Greatest Country in the World mouth words meant to reassure: it would be ok, we would stop all sick people at the border, there are plenty of supplies, we’re doing a really good job cleaning up what Obama fucked up.

Two days later I watched the President of the Greatest Country in the World as he stood shoulder to shoulder with the Captains of Industry and told us that we should stay home if we were sick but some people could go to work and the numbers were going down but there were millions of tests now available and he was announcing a hewge bailout for Wall Street, then turned and shook hands with every man jack of them. For the first time ever, the pundits stopped their polite he’s-kinda-crazy-but-he’s-just-a-blowhard and said into the camera HE’S FUCKING INSANE. In so many words, sooo many words.

If you were blind, deaf and dumb everything looked like well, it’s survivable.

That was last week.



Day One  3/15/2020

March 12 1,215 cases, 36 deaths

Today 1,629 cases, 41 deaths

Every Sunday I meet my friend at LIllipies coffee shop and bakery. We sit on the high stools and talk over avocado toast and fancy muffins. Well, I gave up bread and pastries for Lent (Don’t ask. Two Lents ago I gave up my husband. Last Lent I gave up my house and home. At the time, giving up bread and pastry seemed the least I could do this year.) so Lillipies presented a challenge but so far, so good. Ha! This morning Lillipies is closed to sit -down customers; all you can do is buy a pastry to go. Hey, this shit’s getting real now.

Oh, well, says my friend, taking her pastry, we can go to the nearby grocery store and sit there. I say ok. She’s a little fussy with the germ precautions when we find a  spot upstairs. She wipes the table with an alcohol swipe and places a bottle of hand sanitizer in the middle of the table like a bouquet. She wipes down two chairs. We sit and she takes a bite of her pastry while I sip my black coffee, thinking maybe we’ll be giving up plenty of other things for the rest of Lent, maybe I shoulda bought a scone. In the far corner a man is hunched over a table; to me he looks like one of the Lost Boys of the Homeless but we ignore him…until he coughs. My friend bolts out of her chair and gathers up her things and heads for the stairs in a fit of self-compassion. I, of course, follow.

Standing outside we talk for a minute or two. I make a dismissive noise with my mouth over some disgusting bit of news. and she backs away from me with an alarmed look on her face. I say, I’m outta here, call me if you want to take a walk by the river some afternoon, and get in my car.

I come home and make myself a hewge breakfast and start cleaning house. I change the sheets, rotate the bed, start the laundry, get out the baby wipes to dust. I feel weird and compulsive. I wonder if the University Chapel will have a service—they say gatherings of over 250 people are all suspended, and believe me, that chapel never has that many folks, so maybe. I walk up and its posted NO SERVICES UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE and I think, just when we are all afraid and all need community and all need somewhere to go for sanctuary, they close all the churches. Welcome to the land of the free and the home of the stupid. We may not all die from the virus, but we may indeed die from enforced isolation. (In Iran I hear they’ve opened the prisons and let all the prisoners out. Here, well…)

I sit in the church for a few minutes, feeling the colors and the stone walls, looking at the small lighted cross on the distant altar, playing a couple of songs on my phone that only I can hear. Church in the Holy Season of the Virus.

It gets worse and it’s not even noon. I walk to Starbucks, last bastion of civilization, and find them wiping everything down, preparing to suspend all seating at least, in an attempt to stay open. They set a timer for thirty minutes and when it goes off all the baristas stand in line and wash their hands and the timer is re-set.

I take my coffee and sit in the empty plaza on a glorious Spring day. Fuck a duck.



Day Two 3/16

My brother says that our entire culture and its economy have been based since the get-go on the premise of ON, ON, ON!! And now with a click of some switch somewhere in one or two days it is OFF. Full stop. Amazing, he says, how fast they could shut it down. We. Somebody.

Schools, businesses, events, coffee shops, the works. By 5 pm today. The logic (I use that word while choking on the tongue in my cheek and squirming from the corncob up my ass.) defies description. For instance, all the schools are closed but for the kids who are entitled to free breakfast and lunch, they can line up at a distribution center every day to pick them up. So it makes sense that 30 kids in a classroom is much more dangerous for the spread of the virus than 300 or so kids and their moms and their siblings standing in line for… oh I can’t go on.

I went for a walk yesterday afternoon; the sun was shining and I had an hour to …(Don’t say kill. Don’t say blow either, remember your social distancing.) …spend outside so I walked down to Harrison Street and up to Nassau street. Nobody was out. Well, that’s not quite true (Nothing is nowadays.). I saw a young hetero couple carrying multiple bags of groceries up one of the side streets, and I saw a woman about my age kneeling with a camera shooting the bluebells just coming out of the ground next to the sidewalk. On a Sunday afternoon in Princeton. Last week in what was to be the last meeting of our writers’ group, the crazyperson said, what if there was a zombie community and they were invaded by a human apocalypse? We thought it was funny. That was last week.

Anyhow, coming past St Paul’s Catholic Church and still feeling pissed off at the churches shutting their doors and posting NO SERVICES UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE during a global humanitarian crisis, I walked up to test the door to see if it was locked. It opened and I found myself standing at the back of the church as the priest was standing up front, telling the congregation, we are in troubled times, we must remember to love one another, we must remember that God loves us, we must show compassion to one another as God has compassion for us, we must not fear for God is with us, we must clothe ourselves in God’s love and reach out to others. Honestly, these were the first words of love I’ve heard spoken in a church since Father Peter in the English village church on Christmas midnight saying, with his hand outstretched: We must love deeper, we are called to love deeper, deep love. They served mass at St. Paul’s, no wine, but we were each handed a wafer. I was moved. I think if asked I could almost have put all my politics aside and joined the Church in gratitude for God’s house in the middle of this complete fuck.

Today I woke up thinking, this is not going to end in two weeks, so I went back to Whole Foods for more stuff. I was shocked by the empty shelves. I spent too much money and felt selfish as I brought the stuff home.

I listened to the radio as I unpacked. One cannot use the word unbelievable anymore. It’s like a discordant Quaker meeting now, everyone has a different opinion and no consensus can be reached. Chaos. One esteemed expert says no more than 250 people should gather at any one time, the next esteemed expert says no more than 100 people should gather at any one time. The President of the Greatest Nation on Earth says, while surrounded by a dozen or more other esteemed experts, no more than 10 people should gather at a time. In one town all the businesses must close; in another all the businesses except grocery stores and drugstores must close; in another the mayor announces that all the non-essential businesses must close and names the essential businesses as grocery stores, drugstores, gas stations and a handful of others, most likely owned by his brother-in-law. I asked at the hardware store if they had to close and they said no, they were always essential. I asked at the beauty salon and they said, welllll, they didn’t say beauty salons, so they were open. I went by the most essential store in Princeton, the Starbucks on Nassau Street and it was closed. People are gonna die.



Day Three 3/17

I just had the horrid thought that I might one day be writing Day One Hundred Three; at least that’s what they’re saying now. The Mayor of NYC says maybe a million sick maybe 100,000 dead.  ARE YOU SERIOUS? (I think of Larry Kramer holding up his 8 x 12 piece of paper every day with the number of AIDS deaths going up and up and up.) This shit is deep. No wonder the entire country has run out of toilet paper. Princeton is on curfew—nobody out between 8 pm and 5 am, oh dear. They really don’t need to say it, since there’s nowhere to go.

I am intimidated by the “hunker down” orders.  No personal contact, which means for me I will not be physically touched until this is over. I spent time meditating this morning on hermitage; maybe this will this make mystics of all of us. (Probably not; the people in Colorado are stockpiling guns and ammunition—and toilet paper.) I think, well, I like to write and I like to make art and I have a beautiful place, so why am I intimidated? I think I must practice what I preach: trust, accept, commit, intent. I am sent to this “far place,” isolated from my people, nothing to distract me, no running around, no meetings, no coffee shops. Shit! (Oops, forgot about the toilet paper shortage. My bad.). I tell myself if I allow it this can be the most powerful time in my life to grow spiritually. I pulled Merton off the bottom shelf.

Morning message from God:

1. Do not over-analyze.

2. Do not look for a “fix.”

3. Stay calm and centered and await further instruction EVEN IF it is a long wait.

4. We are in charge of time.

So this morning I meditated at the time of my Centered Prayer group. I made a prayer list of all the people I care about and want to stay in conversation with. I painted on my latest picture—a green queen. I vacuumed the house. And now it’s time for me to go for my afternoon coffee at Small World, and, well, you know…

So I will walk down by the river for a while, maybe walk down to the river.

My child, if you accept my words

and treasure up my commandments within you,

making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;

if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding;

if you seek it like silver,

and search for it as for hidden treasures—

then you will understand the fear of the LORD

and find the knowledge of god.

Prov 2: 1-5

Lotta ifs there, huh?



Day Four 3/18

Yesterday after I wrote to you, I walked down Washington Street and across the bridge over the lake and then up the tow path to Harrison Street and back to town. I stopped for a few minutes on a wet bench— cuz it had rained all day—and had a think. I looked over the water back at Princeton and I thought, this is how I felt when I was flying off to Scotland. Everything is caught up, all bills paid, all paperwork done, the house clean, now all I have to do is go to the airport and once I’m on the plane I’m free for a few weeks. No responsibilities, nuthin to do. In the beginning I didn’t even know anybody. I had a little room in a small hotel and my days went kinda like this:

6-8 am, wake up, journal, drink a cuppa Via, read whatever spiritual book I was reading; 8-8:45, take a shower, make the bed, get dressed, assemble my pack for the day ahead: coat, hat, gloves, computer, book, journal, art supplies;

8:45-9:15 breakfast, always the same: 2 scrambled eggs, cold wheat toast (They’ll never understand toast.), cuppa very bad coffee (Or coffee.);

catch the 9:36 bus to Calanais;

10—4 walk the stones, maybe more than once, maybe out to Door, sit in the Visitor’s Center writing and drawing and reading, drinking a cuppa espresso, eat a scone;

4:20 catch the bus back to the hotel. Early dinner. Read until my eyes fall out; sleep; read some more. Like a retreat. You know.

So I thought of all those days and weeks and months in Scotland, and I thought, the way to cope with this isolation is to re-frame. Act like I act when on Lewis. Move through the days without expectation of association or deliverables. Walk, write, paint, read. Like a retreat. You know.

Today I woke up ashamed of myself, I mean , I heard myself mewling “I can’t do this” and I thought, geez, girl you sound like you used to sound right after Glenn died, pissing and moaning in Xanthe’s office “I don’t want to do this.” But it wasn’t an option then and it isn’t an option now.

My morning reading from Thomas Merton:

“…I can do nothing whatever for my own salvation or for the glory of God if I merely withdraw from the mess people are in and make an exhibition of myself and write a big book saying, ‘Look! I’m different!’ To do this is to die."

I agreed to walk the labyrinth with Juliana at 10:45 so I left a little early and drove around the block just to see what’s open. Nothing. I drove past Juliana’s house, stopped to look at her email to check the address and saw that we were to meet at 11:45. What to do, so I drove down to Whole Foods and bought Juliana and Dick a pie and me some ground coffee and came back up at the right time. We caravanned to the labyrinth site because we aren’t supposed to get within 6 feet of each other—Juliana and Dick, Ruth and I. We walked separately to and into the labyrinth. When it was my turn I thought about how silly and fraudulent I have been, first of all thinking that when I got to Princeton I would be happy and all would be well and I could say whew! glad that’s over regarding these last 3 years of grief and separation. New start, that’s what I called it, like I had solved all my problems so I could see about teaching classes and writing and all that from a safe, good place.

Well I now think perhaps the dark days were perhaps a preparation for these dark days coming: the news is grim, 100,000 projected cases in NYC alone, lock down for up to 6 months, possibility not just of personal death, but the danger of the simplest act of kindness possibly contaminating someone else. As I stepped into the labyrinth I thought, well I lied, didn’t I? I lied when I said I commit. I lied when I said I accept. I lied when I said I have intent. I haven’t met any of these promises. Instead, I have freaked out about my loneliness and isolation and all and all. I walked into the center saying I wanted to release these lies and this fraud within myself, this failure to pass muster when things are still only 4 days in. I stood in the center and said again I commit and I prayed that I could mean it. I breathed the mantra trust, accept, trust, commit, trust, intent, trust as I walked out. I got lost at one point and re-entered. When I came back out I felt better, more grounded.

I came back home, washed all my clothes, and listened to a Q&A re the virus for an hour while I ate an omelet. Thought I could lie on the couch and read but find that I am still driven to do something. I may walk around the block. Outside is good.



Day Five 3/19

I got up at my usual time and made a list of all the people I care about, here, in Colorado, in the UK, California—about 45 in all, and I wrote to all of them—most with the following message:

Hello dear friend.  I am reaching out to you during these perilous times to send you love and encouragement.

I know that in your sphere of influence  people will come to you physically and virtually asking for help.

They do this because they know that you are a great and beloved healer.

People are full of fear and anxiety and uncertainty and the messages all around us tell us to  hunker down, isolate, shelter in place, don’t touch.

We crave trust and acceptance and love and community and touch—the very methods you use in your practice,

Even if at this time some of this will need to be “virtual," it is still felt by those who seek you out as very real..

Remember always that you are deeply and dearly loved by all of us and by the Creator.

Be compassionate with others, but be especially  compassionate to  yourself,

for you are bearing a heavy load of caring and we need you.

You are in my thoughts and prayers each day.

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,

who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

will say to the lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

For God will deliver you from the snare of the fowler,

and from the deadly pestilence;

God will cover you with God’s pinions,

and under God’s wings you will find refuge;

God's faithfulness is a shield and a buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night,

or the arrow that flies by day,

or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

For God will command God’s angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.

Psalm 91.  We prayed this as a mantra during the AIDS crisis. I hope it guides you this day.

Please keep in touch.  RoMa

Through the day several wrote back. I felt good letting people know that I was thinking about them as well as reducing my isolation.

I putzed around for a few hours, talked to Virginia for an hour, then put on my shoes and walked out. I had no real thought about where I was going, went up to Nassau street—everything closed, walked past Small World, closed, walked up James street and kept walking for almost two hours. Slow, no destination in mind, looking at houses and trees and schools. All the streets empty, all the buildings shut, occasionally another person, a few couples, also out for a walk. I enjoyed the walk but when I got back to the house I felt fogged out. Couldn’t really get into anything, even reading. I try to tell myself that I am “on vacation” but I don’t really buy it. I feel kind of useless and a strange lassitude descends. I talked to my friend Eliane here in town and she said she felt the same.

The odd thing about isolation is that one needs the sounds of other people, well duh. So I leave NPR on all day and the TV on in the evening. I tried to watch my Netflix movie, but I guess my subscription has lapsed, who knows, I couldn’t get it up. I read somewhere that Netflix was being asked to slow down streaming so that the internet doesn’t crash. God, this is worse than the apocalyptic fiction I read a couple of years ago: Dog Stars, Station Eleven, The Last Policeman series. I ordered Connie Willis’ The Doomsday Bookand I’m re-reading it, maybe in order to convince myself that this is all fiction.

Even writing this little piece—one day in the Plague Diary—seems like an effort. The news is fucking appalling: the President of the Greatest Country in the World continues to lie, now calls this the Chinese Flu and reassures us that we are well on our way to a cure,  drugs for treatment, and for supplies. All lies. He says the Governors should “find their own equipment—the federal government isn’t a ‘supply clerk’ and more bullshit. We find that a southern Senator talked to his people (and dumped a million bucks of stock) weeks before the public heard about all this, weeks before our first case. Ah God. The President of the Greatest Nation in the World just this minute has asked state officials to “hold back” on revealing the (massive) numbers of new unemployed.

You can probably tell that I have the TV on as I write this, as you can see that the announcements pile up one after another. I don’t want to negate my own positive message from this morning, so I will quit for now.



Day Six 3/20

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the LORD.

Jer 29:11-13

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, let me do it gallantly.  Make these words more than words; give me the Spirit.

Celtic Daily Prayer II, p 1039

I spent an hour this early morning going through my daily journal to see where and when I first started to be engaged with the pandemic. It was at Pat’s, during my visit to Missouri, watching the press conference on CNN, when the president said it might get down to 3 or even 1 or even disappear like a miracle. I traced my reaction to the news of each day, my hopes that I could somehow be a hero in all of this, that I would not just “lie around in quarantine.” So naïve.

I talk to God (the only one here besides me) and I say maybe I don’t need to go out and help. Maybe my job is to stay isolated and safe. How is it of benefit to anyone if I go out, get sick and die? Somebody has to be around to help put things together when this passes, as it surely will. Am I right? Or am I deluding myself? I think of Mother Theresa—did she contract leprosy in able to help? I think of MLK—he went out with his people. God (always speaking in the imperial We) answers:

--Amicor, you want an answer, just as the world wants a “fix.”

* I remember David Whyte talking about being confronted with a broken bridge high in the Himalyas, “so I did what one always does in a situation like this—I stared intently at the bridge in the hopes that it would spontaneously repair itself.” That’s me.

--Indeed. Perhaps you can think of this as birth pangs rather than death throes.

* I’ve never given birth so I don’t usually use that as a go-to analogy.

--You talked about martyrdom: Red martyrdom, dying by persecution and torture; White martyrdom, advanced aestheticism and denial; Green martyrdom, leaving your loved ones and the known world behind.

* You’re saying this is a Green martyrdom.

--Yes, and martyrdom is abnegation of self and selfishness—and is painful on the human/earth level.

* You’re saying I am trying to see if I should “lay down” my life/body for the cause.

--And the answer is NO. Return to your study of the saints, write from the voice of the Abbess. Teach as a scribe.

* I have always been afraid of being alone.

--Sword and Buckler, Amicor. You will receive instruction as you go along.

*. I thought I could run away here…

--And you did.

*…and I thought I could start a new life here…

--And you have.

*…and I thought I could describe what that life would look like.

--And you cannot.

* So the message is this?

--The message is this.

* Trust.

--Yes.

* Accept.

--Yes.

* Commit.

--Yes.

* Intend.

--Yes.

* And not know.

--Yes.

* I am a pussy.

--No. You are recalibrating. Don’t rush this. We are in charge of time.

(As I write this, the radio plays Marvin’s “Let’s Get It On.”

There’s nuthin wrong with me lovin you

I ain’t gonna worry, I ain’t gonna push

Let’s get it on. You know what I’m talkin about…

If the spirit moves ya let me move ya. Get sanctified.

Jesus! How I miss Marvin.)



Day Seven 3/21

One can no longer say It’s a strange day or a weird day or a whatever day because we’ve crossed the weirdness line. Black doctor on Rev Sharpton saying we gonna get through this but how scarred are we going to be? Rev says how do you go through a drive thru test site if you ain’t gotta car? How you gonna shelter in pleace if you ain’t got shelter? How you gonna tell a homeless person that s/he needs to go home? How you gonna tell an incarcerated person to have social distancing when you have 6 people in a 2 person cell?  He said he talked to the President of the Greatest Country on Earth (now self-designating as the War President) who told him that he was “thinking about it.” Rev Al says, at times like this you have to do things that are outside your comfort zone, adding:

“Don’t serve time, let the time serve you. Don’t serve isolation, make the isolation work for you.”

I put out the word to my friends that I wanted more phone calls and conversations. Some of them are responding: Floy, Nicki, Virginia, Stephanie, Gregg. I heard a nasty rumor that they were going to restrict us from going outside unless we had a dog. I went bonkers at the thought of going bonkers so I went out on my late afternoon walk at noon. Still people out, a couple of runners, young couples with strollers.  Then back to Skellig Princeton.

Been painting all afternoon in between watching creative videos—mostly from the UK—that people send me. One of the videos shows a singer on her balcony in Italy singing and all the people on the surrounding balconies applauding, then a singer in Spain singing from his balcony and all the people on surrounding balconies applauding, then a nighttime soloist singing off key in the UK followed by one voice in the darkness saying Shut The Fuck UP.

Here in the Greatest Country on earth we hear the mayors and governors begging for medical supplies and the President Himself of the Greatest Country on Earth saying that there are plenty of supplies and this will be over soon. I suppose if Jesus were to pick this moment to Come Again, s/he would have to come as a Black doctor in a hospital in uptown NYC—or Philly, or SF or Nawlins or Mzippi. S/he could walk around letting people touch the hem of herm robe. Wouldn’t need a mask.



Day Eight 3/22

Stand at the crossroads, and look,

and ask for the ancient paths,

where the good way lies; and walk in it,

and find rest for your souls.

Jer 6:16

They (the braying asses of the government and media) keep saying, “This is unprecedented! We are in uncharted territory. This has never happened before.” And I think of the AIDS Quilt covering the mall in Washington, for one, just one. Myself, I keep reaching for the Old Testament, the Psalms and Prophets. Every day I recite a Psalm and exegete the Celtic Daily Prayer readings and I think WE may not have ever been here before but GOD has been here many times. I think about becoming a Catholic for their compassionate “preferential option for the poor” and I think about becoming a Jew for their poetry of calamity and faith. It’s Sunday morning sunrise and I find myself missing church.

I have a fantasy of going and sitting on the steps of Univ Chapel with a sign that says

I CAN PRAY WITH YOU

and seeing who stops to join me in the 91stPsalm. (Before I get stopped by the little men in golf carts.). I think of tuning in to the livestreamed mass from St. Paul’s. I think I should create a eucharist here in Skellig Princeton.  The morning readings:

Aidan said, ‘Do you not know that it is the Lord who moves the air, raises winds, darts lightnings, and thunders from heaven to incite the people to fear Him, and to put them in mind of the future judgement? Wherefore it is indeed a time for us to show due fear and love.’

CDP I 360

~ ~

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire the sound of sheer silence.

Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

1 Kings: 11-13

~ ~

A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped for the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was dead calm.

Matthew 8: 24-26

~ ~

Some went down to the sea in ships,

doing business on the mighty waters;

they saw the deeds of the LORD,

his wondrous works in the deep.

For he commanded and raised the storm wind,

which lifted up the waves of the sea.

They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths;

their courage melted away in their calamity;

they reeled and staggered like drunkards,

and were at their wits’ end.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,

and he brought them out from their distress;

he made the storm be still,

and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Then they were glad because they had quiet,

and he brought them to their desired haven.

Psalm 107: 23-30

Virginia Carlson sent me this:

An Imagined Letter from Covid-19 to Humans

- Kristin Flyntz via the internet  [via Wayne Heupl ]

Stop. Just stop.
It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.
We will help you.
We will bring the supersonic, high speed merry-go-round to a halt
We will stop
the planes
the trains
the schools
the malls
the meetings
the frenetic, frantic rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our single and shared beating heart,
the way we breathe together, in unison.
Our obligation is to each other, as it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.
We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,
to bring you this long-breaking news:
We are not well.
None of us; all of us are suffering.
Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth
did not give you pause.
Nor the typhoons in Africa,China, Japan.
Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.
You have not been listening.

It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.

But the foundation is giving way, buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.
We will help you.
We will bring the firestorms to your body
We will bring the fever to your body.
We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs
that you might hear:
We are not well.
Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.
We are Messenger. We are an Ally. We are a balancing force.
We are asking you:
To stop, to be still, to listen;
To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;
To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;

To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition:

Clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?

To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition.

How does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?

To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition.

Clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?

How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, that contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?

Many are afraid now.

Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you.

Instead, let it speak to you—in your stillness, listen for its wisdom.

What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?
As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you?

Stop.

Notice if you are resisting.
Notice what you are resisting.
Ask why.
Stop. Just stop.

Be still.

Listen.
Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.

We will help you, if you listen.

Gregg and I talked about it a lot on our call.



Day Nine 3/23

Very dark and cold and rainy all day. It’s just after 5 now and I feel like I have been a blob all day. I did take Chilkwell to the printer and ordered more copies, then took an hour-long rainy walk down to Marquand Park and back. I found a coffee shop serving out of a window up on Nassau St so I had my first hot cappuccino in over a week. It felt good to walk along sipping my coffee, getting wet.

Unfortunately, the good feeling didn’t carry me through the afternoon. I hit a wall as far as “doing” anything. Many people would say, well just enjoy the time…blah…blah. But I stalled out.

As of right now I am watching another press conference with our drooling Leader Supreme, who wants to end the lockdown after 15 days. I’m afraid. Very afraid. Back to the human apocalypse in Zombieland.



Day 10  3/24

I felt like I wasted the day yesterday. The high (and only) point was walking to the park in the rain, drinking that coffee. I woke up dreaming that we were to look up something in Habakkuk—odd so I got up and looked it up. Write the vision it says so I get up determined to write. The odd malaise, combination of uncertainty, untruths, isolation must be confronted, I think. I do my studies, forget that its Tuesday and so miss my Centered Prayer group time. I eat breakfast and think about writing for two hours before I go out. I rinse out my cup. For some reason unbeknownst to me I look under the sink. Disaster again. Sink malfunction for the 4th time since I got home Jan 3. I call Mr. Bunting. I call him again. I am pissed off. I call Marty Stockman, the realtor that signed me into this place. I bitch and complain. She gives my Mr. Bunting’s “secret number.” I call and he answers. He’ll send a plumber within an hour he says.

I put on my shoes and walk up to the printer and pick up my copies I had made, go to UPS and mail one to Lucy. Start to send Gregg a birthday gift and she says it’ll cost 26 bucks, I should go to the Post Office. I go home to wait for the plumber.

A van pulls up. I go downstairs and out to the porch. Two guys are unloading their stuff. I’m a bit nervous about this, I say. So are we, they say. Are either of you sick? No, are you? No. Anybody in your house sick? No, in yours? No. We are wearing masks and gloves, don’t worry we won’t bring it in. Watcha gonna do? They come upstairs and put new pipes under the sink. Nice guys. I’m still nervous.

This morning’s reading from Thomas Merton:

We are heading for a ‘new era’ or we are heading for destruction. What do such judgements mean? Little or nothing. Things are as they are in an immense whole of which I am a part and which I cannot pretend to grasp. To say I grasp it is immediately to put myself in a false position, as if I were ‘outside’ it. Whereas to be ‘in’ it is to seek truth in my own life and action, moving where movement is possible and keeping still when movement is unnecessary, realizing that things will continue to define themselves and that the judgements and mercies of God will clarify themselves and will be more clear to me if I am silent and attentive, obedient to His will, rather than constantly formulating statements in this age which is smothered in language, in meaningless and inconclusive debate in which, in the last analysis, nobody listens to anything except what agrees with their own prejudices.

Thank you, Father Louis. I found myself standing in my room wondering if I should go to the PO to mail Gregg’s package or pay the outrageous fees at the UPS, whether the plumbers have fixed my sink but cooked my goose, whether….etc, etc. etc. All my “plans” for the day shattered—so little resilience!

I put my shoes back on and take Gregg’s little piece of wood from Loch Ness and spend 16 bucks to send it to him and start walking. I walk down through the campus residences, down Harrison to the tow path, along the tow path, up Washington. When I get home I’m tired and my head is a little clearer. Merton is right, I cannot pretend to grasp.

So I talk to a new friend on FT, eat crackers, lie on the bed and read for a while. Never did write—unless this counts.



Day 11 3/25

That’s me, standing in the rain just outside the labyrinth, as Ruth, then Julianna and Dick walk the stones. Ruth is confused, I can tell, she keeps stepping over the stones from one path to another, turning around, starting again midway. Eventually she comes out; she is cold so Juianna puts her in their car that is parked just next to the labyrinth with the stereo playing a beautiful piece of organ and pan pipe music they once heard in Chartres Cathedral. I’m feeling like a guardian stone out here. The rain pocks my down jacket. I’m crying. For my country, for my friends, for our immense fragility (oxymoron, huh). Every thing could be the last time for this thing. I feel pierced. When it’s my turn to walk the stone path I say ‘I am discarding fear’ and I picture a poot of bad air coming off my body, like Pigpen in the comics. On the way out I hear the gospel tune “God Don’t Need No Coward Soldiers” running in my head and I smile. I think of me being here, in Princeton, and I think I made it. I made it here. That’s something in the middle of all this, right?

I come home and make soup. It seems like I am always making soup.



Day 12  3/26

That’s me, at a total and complete standstill in the middle of the vegetable section of Whole Foods. Again, I am pierced. I love this place. I love the colors of the food, the displays set to bring on fantasies of possible delicious meals. Tears are running down my eyes. I think about maybe one day there won’t be a Whole Foods. I think of Glenn and how he too loved Whole Foods. I push on.

I’m turning up the cereal aisle and I hear my name called. One of the fellas from the writing group—Ken, the mastermind of the 69-chapter Civil War story. We stand in the aisle, 4 feet apart, him holding his homemade mask up to his face, and talk for a few minutes. Again I get an affirmation that I am here. I am known here. This is home now.

I push on in tears again, pierced with the anguish of this moment in time.

I come home and wash my veggies and fruit. I think of Marie Howe’s poem:

I’ve been thinking. This is what the living do.

We want the spring to come and the winter

to pass. We want

whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and

then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself

in the window glass,

say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing

so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m

speechless:

I am living. I remember you.

I called it ‘anguish.’ She calls it a ‘cherishing so deep.’ God bless all poets



Day 13 3/27

One month ago—one month! The esteemed Leader of the Greatest Country in the World told us the number wouldn’t go higher than 15, especially if we didn’t let that infected cruise ship dock. This morning the number is over 83,000. One month.

Some of my more positive friends are calling this the Correction. Well I can believe that, certainly I can see the necessity of it. But the governments at all levels seem to have missed the memo. Today one of them suggested that all the “old people” go back to work in order to “save the economy.” Boggles what is left of my cotton-pickin’ mind.



Day 14 3/28/20

Rainy dark day. I do my studies—Psalm 82, as I read them one a day, this being the second time through. God had taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgement. I sorta like the idea of God sitting at a seat in the Situation Room deciding what to do next. The President of the Greatest Nation on Earth most likely wishes he could be at the table, maybe thinks he is at the table. No, he is in Virginia, blessing the good ship USS Mercy as she sails for New York to act as a hospital. (112,000+ today, but who’s counting?) While on the deck of the Great Ship of State, flags flying behind his gorgeous orange head, he proclaims a quarantine for the states of NY, NJ and Connecticut. A semi-permeable membrane, I hope, since all the “essential workers” (the Black and brown people) travel freely between in their garbage trucks and ambulances and all. Everybody else, STAY HOME, he glows except me of course because it is important for the President of the Greatest Nation on Earth to be here for this photo op, I mean opportunity to celebrate our brave first responders. Why am I thinking of Dubbya on the aircraft carrier in San Diego harbor, declaring victory in Afghanistan? Anyway, I digress.

After a long walk in the rain to fill a prescription, I ate a take-away donut at Lillipies to fuel the wet walk home. I gave up pastries and bread for Lent back when the world was still the world and not an intergalactic petri dish. At the time, I figured that in Lent 2018 I gave up my husband and in Lent 2019 I gave up my house and home, things I loved most, what could be the equivalent? Pastries. After this there is nothing left. But the world is ending anyhow, and God’s busy in the Situation Room, so one little chocolate donut can’t hurt. (I think of Eve in the Garden; if it hadda been a chocolate donut hanging in the tree, she wouldna needed the snake.)

I talked to Ed for a long time later in the afternoon while my soggy jeans, sweatshirt, gloves, hat, socks and jacket were in the dryer. I told him I am lonely. I felt like a whiner, and a needyperson, but there you have it. I told him I have not touched or been touched by a human being for a month; I have not had a conversation that has not involved electronic media—phone, text, email. Me, who writes best in a crowded library, who reads by the hour in packed coffee shops, me who is happiest tuning in to my own work amidst the clatter and bang and cacophony of others at work. I asked if we could set up a Zoom happy hour with gin & tonics sometime. Not that I know how to use Zoom or have any gin on hand, but conviviality for chrissake.

I talked to Philip and Stephanie for about an hour on FaceTime after that.  We laughed and bitched about international politics. The Mastermind of 10 Downing Street has tested positive for the virus. And Prince Philip. OMG, the Queen! God save the Queen. We don’t want Kate Middleton to be the Queen, do we? Glack! Philip asks me if I were God, wouldn’t I think that a little virus would be just the thing to stop the madness of our civilization? I throw up my hands—eek! I don’t want to be God, I say. I remind Philip that the Psalms and the Prophets tell us that God is on the field, has always been. Ends the discussion. I think Philip thinks I’m a closet evangelical, funny coming from the Chosen Chief, eh?

I hear the swish of rain on the streets. I’m sad tonight. Must be somethin I ate.



Day 15 3/29/2020

Spoiling an otherwise good day by watching the President of the Greatest Nation on Earth lie his way through another press conference. Why did you do that? you ask. Well, the fact is my life depends on this—it comes home to me when he predicts that 100,000 more deaths would be a “good number,” why if it haddna been for him it would have been 2.2 million people dying. He rolls that number by us several times. Let’s us know that he alone has just saved 2.1 million lives all by his own brilliant and brilliantined self.  It comes home to me when they extend this isolation for at least another month… OK I started to go on a rant here and so I’ve turned off the TV.

This morning I got up early. It was grey and misty. I poured a cup of coffee into an old re-used Starbucks cup, pulled a sweatshirt on over my pajamas—no need to dress anymore, really— and walked out. The birdsong was so intense and loud and beautiful that it was like being inside a CD of “Dawn Chorus, British Woodland.” The streets and sidewalks were absolutely empty; I could have been walking in a dream. Eventually I turned into the silent University and wandered to the Chapel. The doors were not locked; the little gentleman who was there the last time nodded sweetly when I entered. I suppose he is a custodian or something—if he is real. You don’t know these days. The chapel was so huge and beautiful and still that I was again overcome by a feeling that I had fallen into a dream or alternate universe. I prayed. I knelt and prayed, I sat and prayed, I stood and prayed. I don’t know how long I was there. Long enough to start thinking about food, which pretty much destroyed the dreaminess, so I came home for breakfast, stealing daffodils from the gardens along the way.

These notes seem boring to me as I write them. I talked to several people during the day and mentioned the sense of lassitude and/or a crankiness that comes over me, reminiscent of a young child: I don’t want to watch TV; No! I don’t wantto paint; I don’t like the book I’m reading; I don’t, I won’t, you can’t make me! Nothing pleases me and I feel like I can’t get up any energy to do anything about it. My friends tell me that they—we all—feel the same way. I can’t imagine what families are going through. I did paint for a while, I did work with Ed to learn how to Zoom, I paid the bills and transferred some cash into my account. I went for another walk. I cooked a rather tasteless dinner. I made the colossal mistake of turning on the press conference.

I write this as if someday someone will read it, or I will. By that time things should have become immeasurably worse or immeasurably better—I just want to convey today’s reality: beginning of day, it’s beautiful and musical and almost holy; end of day, I’m sad and cranky and bored and boring.



Day 16 3/30/2020

Hail guest, we ask not what thou art;

If friend, we great the, hand and heart;

If stranger, such no longer be;

If foe, our love shall conquer thee.

Ancient Celtic welcome. CDPII 1210

Would it be possible to greet the virus in this way? Some are saying that it is a she; some say she is bringing about the Correction; some are saying that she is an enemy, bent on destroying us. Could we believe that our love shall conquer her?

Oh, what a world, what a world! How could a little kid like you destroy my beautiful wickedness?

Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard of Oz.

I’m wondering if we are going about this all wrong. Western medicine, war metaphors, xenophobia, nationalism, state-ism. What if we were to use another approach? Tend and Befriend instead of Fight or Flight or Freeze? I have no idea how to do this, mind you. I’m thinking natural medicine, acupuncture, holistic healing, compassionate death.

Just as I am wondering if I am doing the right thing “sheltering in place” when the need is so great. Am I better able to serve by staying here and writing a blog, or should I call up Princeton Medical and volunteer as a Chaplain? (The morning bells ring just as I finish that sentence.)



Day 17 3/31

Mid-day I received a text from a friend: ‘I’m going for a walk. Do you want to meet me on the corner of Wiggins and Jefferson? We could talk.’ This is how we live now. We stand on street corners 10 feet apart and we say hello, I miss you. We walk for a bit, maintaining ‘social distancing’ that doesn’t seem all that social. I go to turn back and ask if I go down this street will I end up on Witherspoon? Sure, this street ends in a path, follow the path all the way through, it will cross one more street but continue on to Witherspoon.

Thus I enter the magic kingdom. The path leads through a forest along a burbling stream. I almost do not believe this. Have I entered Tir Na Nog? I feel an ecstasy walking along, keep looking at the water, yes it is real, yes it is moving, yes this is a path, yes this is me on the path. I cross another street where an old man sits on a bench alone. Hello, I say. Beautiful day, I say. If he answers I can’t hear it. Once again, the path leads through the forest by the stream. A dad and three girls pass on bicycles as I stand aside. Thanks, he says. I go on. When I get to Witherspoon I get my bearings, just the other day I walked down the other side of this street. So, I’ll go on this side. I come to a magnificent magnolia in brilliant pink bloom, take a selfie to prove to myself that I exist embodied and send it to Gregg for confirmation. Two houses down I see a sign out front: Buddhist Center. Labyrinth in the rear. All welcome.

Can this be? I walk around the house and there is a perfect labyrinth made of shining white stones. I walk the path to the center where I call the quarters and chant Awen, then walk back out. I feel like I have been led to a wondrous place.

I come home and watch the briefing: now expected 100,000 deaths in the US. The President of the Greatest Nation on Earth crows that if he hadn’t acted there would have been 2.2 million. 2.2 million, he repeats—in a single sentence he has claimed to have saved 2.1 million lives. Jesus, if you are watching, turn off the set, we don’t want you to give up on our sorry asses.



Day 18 4/1/2020

Over 200,000 now. Complete chaos and Fuckup City over supplies and shipments of supplies. Bumblebutt, the President of the Greatest Nation on Earth gloats that his daily lie-fests get better ratings than the Bachelor. Imagine. He’s having his miracle, alright, just as he predicted in what seems like a century ago.

I have my list of people.  I look at it every day and mark down who I have talked to or written. I talk to Pat for over an hour. A long circuitous conversation: she names and claims her dementia, I co-remember with her. She tells a story, interrupts to ask me, You remember Bunky, don’t you? Yes. Another story, You remember Jackie, don’t you? Yes. Another story, You remember Bunky, right? Yes. Another story, You remember the house we used to live in on Angeles Crest, right? Yes. Do you remember Jackie? Did I tell you this before? I think I must have told you when you were here. I putter about, dusting the living room, folding the laundry. I remember, I remember, I remember.

Adam calls from England. We talk for another hour. About writing in coffee shops. About the obsessive need for caution. About how he loves dogs, how dogs come up to him but he can’t touch them.  About how he’s training to be a Celebrant (in Druidry). Meandering through topics, as if we were in that coffee shop in Lewes.

I paint a geometric theme-less picture while listening to Teri Gross and some scientist talking about how unprepared we are for the pandemic, what we coulda, shoulda done. Everybody reacting to Fumbledore, the Greatest President of the Greatest Nation on Earth who has the Greatest Ratings, better than the Bachelor.

I walk, back up to the little creek. Walk the little Buddhist labyrinth. Make a dinner that looks better than it tastes, but at least it has fresh vegetables. Try to find a movie on Netflix, no go. Gregg calls for a Happy Hour. I pour the second -to-last jigger of Scapa into a cuppa tea. He gets a little drunk, laughs, bursts into tears, sobs.

We are lonely, we people.



Day 19 4/2/2020

Today, like every other day we wake up empty

and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study

and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Rumi

I send this out to Adam and Gregg.

I walk the labyrinth in the forest with Juliana and Dick. They are both well in their 80’s—Julianna has a walking stick, Dick is frail, waiting for heart surgery that keeps getting postponed. Their hair blows in the wind as they walk the winding stone path. I am struck by their beauty that seems holy to me. The breeze blows pink and white petals down; the noon sun casts shadows of their branches that look like brain maps on the ground.

When it’s my turn I walk in casting out fear. In the center I cast the quarters and chant Awen under my breath. There’s a tree stump next to the labyrinth of a VERY old tree that had three trunks. A triple goddess figure. I come to know that the virus is female. Maybe Mother Gaia, maybe Mother Kali, pure yin, rescuing the earth from our madness. I bless her at the triple tree and vow to make friends with this time we’re in, however strange and long. I get lost going out, end up in the center again and thus have to walk out twice.

When I meditate this week I have a recurring vision of myself kneeling on hot sand before a very old woman—brown and skeletal, wizened, bald, with thousands of wrinkles and long, long fingers. A Desert Mother. Abba, I say to her, teach ,me forgive me. She gathers me to herself and places one hand on my head. I am not worthy.

Abba Theodora said, ‘Let us strive to enter by the narrow gate. Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter’s storms, cannot bear fruit, so it is with us: this present age is a storm and it is only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of God.’

Celtic Daily Prayer II, p 1433

Teach us. Forgive us.



Day 20 4/3/2020

We are each and all afraid. I feel tired the moment I get up, check myself—Do I have the chills? Do I have a fever? Am I nauseated? Have I coughed? The virus is a snake made out of smoke; she writhes her way around our feet and hands and enters with a breath. Has she entered me? I lay on the couch all day, drinking turmeric tea, so much that it seems I have to pee every 20 minutes. Is this it? All kinds of fantasies play out, I hesitate to give them voice. So I won’t.

We are not utterly alone.

Someone has inhabited this risky place.

We are alone together.

CDP II, 1457



Day 21 4/4/2020

I down an occillolococcinum before I go to bed and lay all night wrapped up in pajamas and socks and sweatshirt and layers of covers. I worry—is this the beginning? I wake up this morning and check again: do I have a sore throat, do I have a headache, am I nauseous? I think of the lepers on Kauai, checking their bodies every day. I take my temperature: normal!!!!! So I declare myself well and go to the Elder Hour at the grocery store.

Now we all wear masks (The CDC requires it, the President of the Greatest Nation in the World proclaims it from his lectern, adding that he won’t wear one himself. Acourse not.) and gloves. Outside Whole Foods we stand in marked-off lines. Only a certain number are allowed in the store at a time; a staff member stands at the exit door and radios “Two Out” to the staff member at the entrance door who says “Two In.” Neither is wearing a mask or gloves. The checkout line is long, since everybody is shopping for multiple weeks or multiple people or both. I put my cart and I in my little taped-off square and do yoga for half an hour. Feels good.

The checker is a woman about my age. I say, How’s your family? Lazy, she says. We share a laugh. She tells me that one of her kin is a musician and is making videos at home. Her husband likes to watch Hallmark movies over and over again. I spend $200; I could have saved if I hadn’t bought the little green frog candle. On my way out, she thanks me for “being nice.” Shouldn’t that be the fucking norm?

I come home and wash all my fruits and vegetables, wipe down all the boxes, make myself a coffee and start washing everything in sight. Outdoor clothes, indoor clothes, socks, slippers, towels, sheets. If it isn’t nailed down I wash it. Covid OCD. Also contagious.



Day 22 4/5/2020

Palm Sunday. I have a picture in my mind of Jesus on his donkey riding into Jerusalem for holy week, Jerusalem in lock down… Hey, wait a minute, where is everybody?

300,000+ but who’s counting?

The Other

There are nights that are so still

that I can hear the small owl calling

far off and a fox barking

miles away. It is then that I lie

in the lean hours awake, listening

to the swell born somewhere in the Atlantic

rising and falling, rising and falling

wave on wave on the long shore

by the village, that is without light

and companionless. And the thought comes

of that other being who is awake, too,

letting our prayers break on him,

not like this for a few hours

but for days, years, for eternity.

RL Thomas, Etched in Silence

I walk to the bank and put some $ in. I walk to the University Chapel and sit in silence for a long while until the phone finds me—James, Glenn’s uncle, who got me through the darkest days, now on duty again. I walk to the drugstore, I walk to the liquor store. I feel dis-oriented, disconnected. Gregg calls and we talk for a long time. Ed and Jacqueline call and we have a Zoom happy hour.

Now I have reached the time of day where I lose my bearings. I think I should not have tried to write at this time.

I think we all feel this way. Sort of lost.



Day 23 4/6/2020

On the 27 of March (Day 13 of this journal) we had, what did I say, 83,000? Today, 10 days later we are at 364,000 cases, 171,000 of which are in New York and New Jersey. A few things to do here, a long walk with Eliane. She says she thinks she should make a schedule for herself because “the days are just slipping by.” I am not so sure that a schedule will help. I think we are all just unmoored, or to use another analogy, our rootball has come un-entangled. We are like an ecosystem that is broken. We are not connected in the same way. Geez. Three weeks into “social distancing” with at least 6 weeks to go. Eliane says she keeps hearing from people she knows who have died, some years ago. I tell her I have the same experience—people I didn’t even remember coming in close. Maybe they want to watch the show, I say. I can sorta see the old aunts and uncles and 4th grade teachers and cousins and lovers all pulling up chairs like the Ecumenical Thanksgiving service in Ashland. Peering over the ledge between heaven and here, nudging each other, jostling for a better view. I spose they don’t know what’s going to happen next either. Maybe?

I have decided to write a note to all the people on my “daily” list and give my credentials and say, If you know anybody that needs to talk to somebody, I am here. No proselytizing, no advice, no fee, just listening, just connecting. Tell them I will listen to them, communicate with them. I told Nic about this idea and she said I’d be swamped immediately. Well, we’ll see. I want to set something like this up when I do my website and blog, but between WordPress being overuitilized and the RoMa Johnson Patented Procrastination Machine, that may take a while. Why not put it out there now?

Tomorrow, I tell myself. (See what I mean?)

 © 2020 by RoMa Johnson. Web design by E. Hoyt Design