How are you? Hanging in, I hope, whether confined, or liberated, under serious lockdown, or finally easing out of it, depending on your country, city or state. I hope you’re finding ways to keep busy and keep your spirits up. These are challenging times. We will get through it, but there are definitely better and worse days.
And particularly now, as some places start to de-confine, the difference in rules, even between neighboring counties, is REALLY confusing, often contradictory and in conflict. My closest knowledge is about San Francisco, and France. San Francisco, which confined the earliest of many states and cities in the US has done the best, and gets a gold star, with incredibly low numbers of sick people and deaths (fewer than 100 deaths). And they seem to be planning to de-confine slowly, starting on June 1st on some subjects, if all goes well.
I chose the title on the blog today, because I think we are all dazed by the whole situation, worldwide, and how quickly it happened. 3 months ago our life was entirely normal, with vague distant rumors of some unknown flu ravaging China (which couldn’t affect us, right? Now they say it was already in the US in November and we didn’t know it, and thought it was just regular flu season) Less than 3 months ago, I was dancing at my son’s wedding and having fun. And there were vague rumors too a few weeks later, that people in Italy had the flu. And then ZAP!!!Fast forward a few weeks, and Holy Sh—!!!! What the hell happened? Two months later, we’re locked up, and it’s a pandemic. I never even knew that word 3 months ago. And I think we’re all confused by the constantly contradictory information we hear, some of it real, some of it well meant but inaccurate, and some of it just rumors that people spread, scare you to death, and turn out not to be true. The truth is scary enough, and I absolutely detest the people who spread rumors with delight, just to upset us. “Have you heard THAT…..”and then they tell you some horror, and you/I can’t sleep all night. What’s the point of that??? It’s irresponsible and vicious.
But even if you try to stay informed through allegedly reliable sources, newspapers, online, doctors, etc, what you hear is confusing. There are rules, laws and suggestions, not to be confused!!! In France, the chain of command is simple. You get the word from the President, with solemn pronouncements on TV, telling us we’re locked up for X number more weeks. For slightly less solemn announcements, the Prime Minister delivers that message. Until now, the rules have been the same for the entire country. Simple. You may not like the message, but you know what it is. Now, in France, we have red zones and green zones, the green zones don’t have Covid, the red do. About 2/3 of France is green, without Covid 19.The US has 6 times the population of France, the country is huge, and the ‘rules’ are made city by city, county by county, state by state, by mayors, governors, and in some cases, the President. And many of the rules conflict and are contradictory, about the disease itself, and about what you’re allowed to do. From what I know, more than half the states are not under lockdown, some cities aren’t, others are locked down tight. Some cities are beginning to loosen up, others (like LA this week) are tightening up and slamming shut. Who is right? What’s the rule? In some places masks are required, in other places they aren’t, in some places they don’t wear them at all. What is safest for us, not to get sick? Wear a mask or not? Where and when and with whom? The directives between some of the US and France on that are completely opposite. Who’s right?
Hairdressers were forbidden in the beginning in France, now they’re allowed. All hairdressing salons are open. But in San Francisco, they are strictly forbidden. BUT in San Francisco anyone who does cosmetic procedures on your face is allowed: like Botox and all those shots and procedures that are so popular now. So it’s okay to mess with your face, at VERY close range with the person doing it—-but don’t touch your hair. (Personally, I’d rather get my hair done!!!). That makes NO sense to me at all. Gardening was forbidden in SF (Am I really going to get Covid 19 from my gardener, when they work out doors, usually far from people, and work alone?). Gardening is okay in France, and the ban on gardening has just been lifted in SF. (To me that seemed an unnecessary economic cruelty to gardeners who couldn’t work and make a living, weren’t dangerous, and were harming no one). One doctor in France told me to always wear a mask when you leave the house now. Another doctor in France told me don’t bother, not necessary. And I believe they are required in San Francisco now—-or ‘suggested’. There’s a difference. I think the root of a lot of the confusing directives is that they really don’t know. ‘Take your shoes off when you get home’ or, ‘Take off all your clothes and disinfect them and shower the minute you get home.’ (in the East of the US), don’t bother (in France), ‘the ventilation system will kill you and the air conditioning’ (said in the US), I haven’t heard anything about it in France. And why will seeing the hairdresser almost surely kill you in San Francisco, when it won’t hurt me in Paris? Who’s right? Hair salons are open now in France, but my hairdresser came to the house, he was wearing a doctor’s surgical gown over his clothes, something to cover his own hair, he wore a mask, a plastic visor over his face, eye guards, and rubber surgical gloves, and he insisted that I wear a mask and gloves too (he looked like an astronaut ready for a walk on the moon). So they’re not casual about it, although he may be more careful than most. In French stores at the moment, sales people are wearing masks and gloves, but clients don’t have to wear a mask. Why not? If they are, I should be too. I wore a mask on a walk yesterday, but almost no one else did (I saw 3 masks in all), and I looked like I was going to rob a convenience store. I don’t mind the rules, and I’m willing to follow them, but I wish they made more sense and were more consistent, and that you had the feeling that the people making the rules really know what’s best for us. And then there are whole countries doing things differently. Sweden has no confinement, Switzerland and Austria have reopened. France is starting to. I wish I knew what is really right and safest, so we can protect ourselves intelligently, wherever we are. Our world is confusing right now. And I don’t object to rules, and will follow them, but I wish they were more consistent and made more sense. (Several people I know in the US spend 2 hours washing their groceries when they come home from the store, they remove wrappings, take everything out of cartons, it’s a big production. But no one does that in France).
Some people say our world has changed forever (I sure hope not), others say it is temporary. No one knows the time duration. Maybe it will disappear as suddenly as it arrived, or maybe it will linger. I think it’s the uncertainty, of what will happen, what we should do, and how long it will last that is so anxiety producing. Some people love video conferencing, others say that their video meetings are lifeless and dead and much less productive. I find it MUCH harder to write, and to concentrate, in the constantly stressful atmosphere. But I hope and believe that our world will return to normal again. Some countries are almost there. It just feels like a very long time, but in the scheme of life, this has not been so long, only 3 months. And maybe 3 months from now, things will be immeasurably better, or even nearly normal again. It will certainly have been a very strange time. And in some ways it forces us to reconsider what matters to us, what is really important, and who we care about most.
Things are loosening up, or will soon in some places, the death tolls and numbers of sick are coming down in most places, after months of confinement, the curve is flattening….what lies in store beyond that, we just don’t know yet. We just have to keep plodding on, and hope that the rules and directives and laws and suggestions are the right ones to keep us safe. And that people follow them.
So if you’re dazed and confused, me too. We all are. And hopefully, we will come out of this unscathed. With no major losses. The light is there at the end of the tunnel, if I squint I can just barely see it up ahead. I’m not complaining, Paris is de-confining, and I went for walks in the fresh air this week, I saw a friend, and will see a few more next week, confinement in isolation for so long was really tough. The sun is shining, I’ll go out later for a walk….and when I do, do I wear a mask?? Hang in, and have a great week!!!