from Susan S. in Washington, DC. USA. April 1, 2020

April 1. Does anyone else feel as if you are living in two different realities at once?   I wake up in the morning and go outside to pick up the newspaper, which has been delivered faithfully by 0600  – the same as always.  On Thursdays the men in the large noisy garbage trucks rumble through the alleys collecting rubbish – as they have for years.   The Post Office is open, and the same clerks who have been there forever, are still as surly as ever.   The coffee machine in my kitchen continues to work. And the cat demands his breakfast as he always does.  I think about whether it is warm enough yet to put vegetable plants in my plot in the nearby community garden.   So, on one hand, the situation seems normal.  But when I turn on the radio for the news, the other reality begins to crowd out normalcy.    

Each morning the new numbers of infected and dead – locally, nationally, and internationally – dominate the news.  The latest usually erroneous  and always self-aggrandizing statements by Trump are repeated (why do news organizations continue to give him oxygen by covering every stupid statement he makes??).  Today I spent a couple of hours on the internet watching videos of how to make a no-sew face mask, because we now anticipate the recommendation will soon be that everyone should wear a mask when leaving the house.   A woman on our community listserv asked if anyone had a sewing machine they don’t use and would give it or lend it to her to sew face masks.  I responded, took my old sewing machine that I haven’t used for years, and dropped it on her front stoop.   A smart woman in our neighborhood put out a call for volunteers who would be willing to run errands from people in the neighborhood who are homebound.  30 of us signed up right away. I’ve only been called on once to pick up and deliver medication from the pharmacy to an elderly widower.  We spoke through the door when I got to his house. He was clearly relieved.  Parks are now being shut down, because young people continue to congregate, play basketball (contact sport!) or sit close together at picnic tables talking and laughing about whatever 15 year olds talk about.   They’ll find somewhere else to gather.  There hasn’t been any flour or yeast in any of the stores.  Is everyone baking bread? 

 Obviously, these are all quite unimportant matters compared to what is going on nationally.  Trump announced at a press conference the other day that he isn’t going to give much-needed medical equipment to certain states unless the governors ‘are nice to him.’  States like New York, which is now the center of the CV in the US.  I watch Gov Cuomo’s press briefing most days.  Today he announced that based on the modeling they’ve done and in one of the worst case scenarios, NY will need 117,000 beds and 37,000 ventilators.  Trump has sent NY 4,000 ventilators.  Florida, on the other hand, which has a Republican governor, got 100% of his request fulfilled.   These are lives at risk, folks.  Unconscionable.  

 So, as to helping to stay sane, I have been gathering web sites that provide some relief and distraction.  Here are a few of them.   Maybe collectively we can continue to add to the list.   Keep well and stay strong!

 The Saint Who Stopped an Epidemic Is on Lockdown at the Met

 Songs of Comfort,

 Virtual garden tours,

 Google arts and culture,

 Coursera – free course on The Science of Well-Being, taught by Yale U psychology professor, Laurie Santos,

 Globe Theater performances,

 10 virtual tours of the world’s most famous landmarks,

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