2020

Virus Lists

About three months ago I woke up with a slight toothache. Oh, oh, I thought! I had not been out of the house since the end of February. Do I even dare to make an appointment? I had to before I got a horrible infection! I did. Tooth entailed two visits and all was fine. However, before making the appointment and as I was looking through my agenda (I still have a paper appointment book, not the computer version) from one year ago and to date in order to find out when I had my last dental visit, I became somewhat depressed. My entries before February of this year were many! Lunch here, coffee there, mall expedition – sometimes just to walk and look around – book club meeting, haircut salon, BBQ party, going here and there and every day. After February? Dismal Emptiness! Nothingness! Virus Lockdown and Confinement! Empty pages!

Confinement, though, prompts some of us to invent tasks. One of those on my list was dusting a small closet in which I keep my winter coats, boots, and other stuff that I don’t use daily/seasonally. That’s when I saw my Travel Pouch with all my tiny bottles of shampoo, deodorant, moisturizer, toothpaste etc. etc. No, no traveling this year! None of the usual excited planning, coordinating visits with out-of-state relatives and friends, or enjoying the majesty of the ocean. I took out all the bottles and decided to use them. No sense keeping them until . . . Virus is no more life-threatening? I felt quite sad while doing this, actually!

That same afternoon, my cousin called and while we were chatting about how she’s going bananas due to being at home, she said: “Can you imagine that I now make To-Do Lists every day with Nonsense Tasks such as: Water the Plants just to remain relevant to myself!? I laughed, because I had been doing that too! I later found out that other friends – especially old ones like myself – were doing the same just to remain motivated and sane! It is sad and funny at the same time, since during our busy Non-Virus days these To-Do items would have had no need for written reminders! Hereunder, is a sampling of these entries some of which were on my list, others solicited from friends (names have been substituted). The parenthetical comments are mine.

Virus Lists

  1. Wash and Put Away Washing
  2. Change Sheets.
  3. Wipe down Fridge/Reorganize Freezer
  4. Reorganize Closet and Air out (Sad-looking nice clothes are moved to the back since I have no use for them these days (nor for bras!), house clothes and very casual stuff kept within reach)
  5. Make Salad (Seriously? That needs a written reminder?)
  6. Reorganize Pantry (Not that it needs it, really, but it’s something to do and a good exercise for stretching my arms in order to reach all the stuff. Household Cleaning has become my “gym exercise” to stretch, bend, squat, scrub! (No gym is killing me! That’s my friend Siham, who used to spend every morning swimming, exercising and indulging herself with a long shower and lots of gabbing at her facility)
  7. Dust Bookshelves (And remind myself of all those delightful books that I have read!)
  8. Check email and FB (Apparently FB is now for “Old People” since the younger set have moved on to more exciting platforms! Ah well!)
  9. Sauté Cilantro and freeze (Suggested by Janet who says: It always comes in handy for that dish, or soup that needs it)
  10. Remind my Granddaughter to take a picture of limping squirrel (Why is it limping, I wonder? A fight with another Alpha Male, or if it’s Female duking it out over a Male? Running away from the fox, the snake, or any of the other forest denizens? Who knows? Sad looking, though!)
  11. Tell my Daughter . . . Blah! Blah! Blah!
  12. Remind my Son of when he . . . Yada! Yada! Yada! (For the above two, I am always talking to my children in my head, so by the time I am actually talking to them I don’t “tell my daughter,” or “remind my son” because I really believe that I had already done so! Huh?)
  13. Shampoo dog (that’s my friend Annie)
  14. Order cat food (that’s my other friend Samar)
  15. Tweeze eyebrows (it seems that the older I get the more facial hair I grow, and the more men age, the more their ears grow! What’s up with that?)
  16. Call Randa and check on her (I feel the need to check on my friends more often than I used to pre-Virus, and they feel the same. (Loneliness? The sound of a friendly voice?)
  17. Prepare Menu/Shopping List for next week (that’s always a fun task and I found out that most of my friends think so too, especially since food has become more of a focal point, an “event” than it ever used to be. Even my daughter says the same thing as her husband and children, unlike pre-Virus, look forward with excitement and anticipation to their meals. For some of my younger friends with children, preparing the meal has become a fun joint venture where everyone has a task. For others, it is a ritual in which they relate what were their thoughts that day and how they were feeling)
  18. Take Auto for a drive (otherwise it might get mad at me for just being parked and idle and might conk out my batteries, or something, just to piss me off!)
  19. Order Prescriptions by mail (Olga says that we have to do this quite in advance these days since the mail is taking much longer to be delivered)
  20. Order Gift Certificates (that’s from Jill who always thinks ahead about special occasions)
  21. Clean bathroom (almost on everyone’s list!)
  22. Request Absentee Ballot!!!! (Vital!)
  23. Wash Masks!!!
  24. Another No Makeup Day! Yay! (that’s from Naila, who is usually very fastidious about her looks)
  25. Virtual Chat with granddaughter (that’s from Helen in Maryland who teaches her granddaughter in Nebraska Italian language by remote)

Nonsense stuff that otherwise gets automatically done, without Lists! How pathetic is this? What has happened to us? It makes us feel in control, since there is so much we cannot control? Perhaps it’s one of the things that have changed in our lives, and that help with our coping strategies and with keeping our heads above water until . . . who knows?

The Virtual Razzmatazz Conventions were quite interesting from a Virtual Production (mostly) point of view, and for all political junkies, myself included. I must say, that for a debut production they were both quite well done. However, it seems to be so easy for politicians to spew their usual gilded talk and profess an elusive universal morality that seems to exist only in speeches. If we had ever applied those Values that they all talk about so fervently then we wouldn’t be where we are, would we?! There would not be such glaring Inequality, Injustice and Absence of Peace! All in all, there were no Aha! moments in either Convention! Same old empty promises in a newer Virus-propelled format and with a backdrop of disease, raging fires, hurricanes, joblessness, poverty, homelessness, insecurity, and peaceful protests. Malevolent Vigilantes and Infiltrators are only there to sow chaos. Moreover, we all know that this upcoming election can go either way, same as all previous elections. The dangers in this election, though, are very obvious, terrifying and dangerous for the whole notion of Democracy! We are only one small step away from being totally engulfed in Dark Ages! I am just praying for people’s common sense and hoping that they won’t succumb to their base emotions, zealous instincts, or tribalism. Sadly, our World hasn’t changed fundamentally despite two catastrophic World Wars, as well as many other wars, and very little has changed in the human character that still suffers from all the ailments that our Prophets, Philosophers, Poets and all other Social Observers have been telling us about for centuries. Dare I hope now? Dare I even imagine that we will correct course, straighten up? I have to keep hoping, no? Add to Virus List:

  1. Hope! Hope! Hope!

1 thought on “Virus Lists”

  1. Another thoughtful post, Hala. You are right, the nature of my lists has changed since lockdown. Still, I my lists help me to keep focused. And indeed. This is the election of our lives. Add to list. : 27. Download application and request mail ballot. Give applications to other voters in my household.

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