As I have posted previously, we listen to a lot of Pepys in this house, especially on lengthy car rides (though it has been a while since one of those). A quote from the diaries seems a propos in 2020:
On hearing ill rumour that Londoners may soon be urged into their lodgings by Her Majesty’s men, I looked upon the street to see a gaggle of striplings making fair merry, and no doubt spreading the plague well about. Not a care had these rogues for the health of their elders!
Until last autumn, I was never much of an audiobook fan. Now, I most definitely am. I started listening to audiobooks during my commutes to and from work in the fall – prior to that I had always read either paper or ebooks while in transit, or occasionally listened to music. Not sure what made me switch, but it has been a great discovery, all the more so because of the coronavirus situation. Each day, I try to get out and walk my 10,000 steps (yes, I know there is nothing magical about that number) and it helps to have something interesting to listen to during my trek.
One of those interesting books was this story of a French Resistance network led by a woman. The person reading the book (and who does the reading makes a big difference) was terrific in so many ways – clear, well-paced, with a voice that responded/changed appropriately with what was being read – but for one. A big one, in my view: this reader had a terrible French accent. She pronounced so many French words and names incorrectly.
Now, I certainly don’t expect the pronunciation to be perfect – I speak fluent French and mine isn’t perfect – as one is well aware while listening to audiobooks that the reader has a mother tongue that will, of course, dominate. But hell, pronouncing “Saint” as “Son” and “Lazare” as “Laz[long a]are,” for example, is unacceptable. And don’t get me started on so many of the proper names and how they were mangled. The woman reading would have been better off just using English pronunciations and not trying to sound French.
Since I don’t want to end on a negative note, having Alfred Molina read this biography of Leonardo was pure genius.
My friend John Palmer has written a post about “Covid19 Despondency.” It is well worth a read and he outlines many of the concerns I have.
I worry about and for everyone. I see no way out of this for at least a few months, and meanwhile so many people will have been pushed to the edge. I try to control my despondency by thought-blocking and thinking about positive things, but every once it awhile it hits.
Same here. I am in my 50s and Significant Other is older (he would kill me if I wrote his age), so we don’t feel immortal or immune, by any stretch. John writes that he and his wife have become borderline paranoid, and I fear I have, as well. I do go out – to walk and shop (though I keep the latter to a minimum) – and I have noticed that I hold my breath if people are walking within, say, three metres of me. Like everyone else, I wash my hands like a fiend, carry sanitizer and disposable gloves, attempt to not touch my face (not so easy, folks, especially given my seasonal allergies) and try to cover my mouth and nose with a scarf if I am in a store.
I do my best to get my 10,000 steps in each day – not so easy – but thanks to my many years of tending feral cat colonies in this city I do know a lot of laneways and backstreets that are unpopulated by humans (but for the odd drug dealer or purchaser). So that has come in handy. I am also attempting to finish writing projects that are long overdue, but I find it difficult to focus and really have to fight to not lapse into procrastination. A commenter on John’s post said she found it hard to get motivated and I feel the same way.
Since I am extremely introverted, I don’t really miss other humans that much, with the exception of some friends and family (it would have been nice to have been able to visit Significant Other’s family for Easter). It is a delight to not take the TTC and, above all, to not spend. It reminds me a bit of when I went to Italy for three months and only brought a carry-on bag. I discovered just how little one needs. Fittingly, I am MarieKondoing the heck out of my clothes. When this is over (will it ever truly be over?) and places like the Salvation Army are accepting donations again, they will be thrilled with my haul.
What I do miss: my students and colleagues at my day job; the possibility of travel (I had two trips cancelled in March/April – one for pleasure, one for business); my gym; not crossing the street or walking in the middle of the road when I see another human approaching; going to a park and taking photos of birds, squirrels and such (in theory, one can still do that, but parks tend to be busy these days); sitting in a nice coffee shop with a latte and a vegan treat, either by myself or with a friend or my honeybunch. Oh yes, this can be done at home, but going out to a nice spot can provide uplift. Plus, then you don’t have to do dishes.
Looking at the reasons to be grateful: I have a roof over my head; I am with someone I love and not just love but with whom I get along and with whom I feel safe. I can’t help but thinking not only about adults in violent homes who now cannot get out, but about children in a similar spot. When I was a kid, school was my respite. I had a terrible homelife. What of the kids right now who can’t escape, even for a few hours?
More reasons to be grateful: we live in a time/place where delivery is possible; I am baking a lot; we have wine; the wonderful Italian series “My Brilliant Friend/L’Amica Geniale” is on HBO into May; the new season of “Fauda” starts this week.
I hope you, dear readers, are all (relatively) well and finding positives in this odd new world.
This is magnificent. I have been lucky enough to see it in person – in the Magdalena Chapel of the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi. Detail from Giotto’s Scenes from the Life of Mary Magdalene: Mary Magdalene sees the risen Christ.