Siege Diaries 5/3/2020


I notice in my Facebook feed there’s a thing going around where people are posting a rundown of where we are as of today in the pandemic – in terms of how long the lockdown has been going on, how many cases, how many dead, how long school has been out, what’s closed, and the like, to remember one year from now where we were.  Meanwhile, historians are urging people to write about their feelings and reactions “for posterity.”  I have no idea whether “posterity” – or even I – will be reading this in a year’s time.  But it’s been fifty days since I started the process of writing daily, and it’s helping to keep me grounded and sane, so here we are.

I have the ability to stick fairly closely to self-isolation guidelines.  The last time I was in a store was nearly two weeks ago, when I stopped in a Shopper’s Drug Mark to mail my Scribal Challenge entry to the States.  I did stop into a Swiss Chalet location a couple of days later for takeout.  I’ve been out to walk a few times in the nearby park, and also drove our second car for about an hour to keep it running well.  It’s been my husband who’s been doing the shopping.

Where I live, community transmission cases are continuing at a trickle, but the situation is more dire in long term care homes, and deaths are continuing.  Guidelines have been issued for how to get to the first stage of gradual reopening of some businesses.  We’re not there yet, but a few tentative things are starting to happen, such as allowing landscapers to work, permitting community gardens to be open, and allowing car dealerships to show cars by appointment (service centres had never closed).   We’re in a slow decline of new daily cases, meaning the infection rate is headed in the right direction.   With the exception of small groups of who Doug Ford has called “yahoos” demonstrating about the severity of the lockdown, the public seems largely onside with the measures–although there still seem to be a lot of people who don’t think physical distancing applies to them.  Masks are becoming more common in stores, and may be part of the plan to emerge from the strict measures.

That’s here.  I can barely look at the shitshow that is the US response now.  It is not only worrying from a compassionate standpoint, it also is astounding to see how the federal government–and many state governments that are in lockstep with the Trump administration–are willing to sacrifice individual lives for “the economy.”  There is a portion of Trump’s supporters that clearly see that their “liberties” override those of everyone else.  They say those liberties are more important than the lives of others.

I truly am an exile now.  Perhaps refugee is a better term.  It was thirty years ago, just about this time of year, that I made my decision to come to Canada for grad school.  I was not a refugee then–in fact, I did not expect to make this country my home.  But I did, and for years I simply enjoyed the fact that the Canadian outlook seemed more in line with my own thinking than that in my own country.  But it wasn’t until after I had lived there again in the early 2000s and moved back to Canada that I knew I had come to definie myself as Canadian.   And I didn’t know until the pandemic hit that I realized that this decision might well save my life some day.

I have learned that I cannot be an insatiable news junkie any more.  I have learned over the past few years to avoid clickbait headlines, even to laugh at them.  Clickbait headlines these days are often yet another panic-inducing article listing in awful detail how people die from COVID-19, or something about yet another state deciding to reopen despite their first wave outbreaks not having even peaked yet.

About me?  I am up and down.  I have a medical concern I’d like to see a doctor about, but I’m still trying to wait a bit longer. I’ve worked full time from home, without a vacation day so far. I often wake up down, rather than refreshed, but improve through the day. I look forward to hearing the Prime Minister speak around 11 am daily.  I light a candle every night.

I’ve done a few creative projects, including having filmed two bits for SCA dance videos and working on another group video project. I’ve done a Toastmasters speech.  I’ve moderated a large video meeting.  I’ve watched about 12 concerts on the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall.  I’ve watched two versions of King Lear,  Deutschland 83 and Deutschland 86, and watched the first season of M*A*S*H*.  I’ve made it through my first viola book and am halfway through the second. I still haven’t quite gotten any further on making YouTube videos.  Some days I love seeing friends on video chat;  others, I’d really rather not.

Lockdown is tiring, but I’m becoming used to it.  I’m learning not to have outsized expectations about the future, to be skeptical but realistic about both doomsaying and good news alike.  I’ve learned that little of this has any impact on my daily life.  I have no itch to push the limits of isolation.  It’s not worth it.  But I want it to be over.  I want the world to begin to heal, and to learn, before it is too late.  And I fervently pray that when–if–I read this next year, the worst will be in the past–even as I know it very well might still be raging–if not the virus itself, then the long-term aftereffects that we know will come, for better or worse.

Today, I went for a walk.  The temperature was finally warm enough for shirt sleeves.  The calls of red-winged blackbirds were everywhere, and in the pond behind my development, frogs were singing.  Buds are emerging on trees, families on bikes rode th trails, and in the neighbourhood, people were out working in their gardens.  It felt almost normal there for a minute.  It’s hard to tell right now how badly our social fabric has been rent, and I know many nerves are frayed, but I still feel an overall sense of concern for each other and for doing all we can to lose as few lives as possible.   Many feel that these next few weeks may be the hardest, as we tire of isolation, but I do think it will have been worth it.  And every time I look at the US in comparison, I firmly believe even more that it will have been.

Ah, the future perfect.  May it be so.