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Pandemic Week, Day One

Monday of Pandemic Week: I’ll be teaching the Ryerson class tonight, some 12 to 15 people, via Zoom. That will be interesting. They’ve been emailing their pieces and we’ll discuss virtually; will do the same with the U of T class Thursday. I can teach wearing a respectable top and pyjama bottoms.

At 11 today, a real treat – my neighbour and friend Gina, who works at the Y which is now shut down – yes, hear Beth howl to the moon – wrote to say she is bringing her boombox to the Sprucecourt school grounds today at 11 and will teach a line dancing class. We can stay as far apart as we want, but we’ll move. Hooray!

With all this crisis, the absurdities of hoarding and toilet paper shortages, human nature rises to the challenge; people are talking, open, laughing, helping. Jason wrote that he and his truck would be happy to deliver anything I need. We are going to take care of each other and get through. Those cheerful Italians, singing and exercising on their balconies!

For me, I figure that if I’m going to get it, I have it now, after a weekend with my grandsons, who touch everything in sight. I did my best to get them to wash their hands and to keep my own clean or to wear gloves. Just not possible sometimes. While they were here, Bruce sent an advisory for seniors issued by the NYTimes, including “Visits with grandchildren are not advisable.” Too late. Anna will be on the front lines from today for the foreseeable future; she is babysitting a family of three this week and after that has offered to take the kids of two single mothers who have to go to work. So she’ll have eight or nine children from 18 months to 7. With every resource in the city closed, except playgrounds. So there will be a lot of time at the beach by the lake and at playgrounds. What if it rains? She will cope.

But I wanted to give her a day off beforehand, so the boys were here overnight. Nearly killed me. “Glamma, you’re it!”; they wanted to play tag, as we went from playground to playground. In desperation, I accosted a mother at one and got the names of her babysitters for next time. They’re too much for me to handle alone, even just for 24 hours – nonstop relentless energy. I need back up.

We watched most of Lego Movie 2, which managed to have lots of action for them but also a complex existential plot with very funny bits for me – a rest break for us all. But I was happy to hand them back to Anna yesterday afternoon, her apartment spotless, her freezer jammed.

My fridge also is now full; I went with Gretchen to the market on Saturday morning and loaded up with veg, nuts, bread, coffee beans. The lineup at the Mennonite butchers was insanely long so I gave up, went to Mark’s, also very busy. We’re all planning for the apocalypse, in case we can’t get out; I will be cooking a lot. Sam is preparing for his bar to shut down, though it has not yet. Tenant Robin will be working from home. My hairdresser Ingrid has cancelled this week’s appointments including mine; my ex’s theatre in Washington is closed. This city is closed. None of us has experienced anything like this; SARS was scary but over there, at a distance. This is everywhere.

Thank God for the internet, and books. Luckily I’d just bought the excellent Parisian Lives by Deirdre Bair, about how she wrote the biographies of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir. So I’m in Paris now, in a way, with 400 books waiting, not to mention what’s on the other side of this little screen. And the good news is: they say his appalling handling of this means the end of the orange blowhole. It took that level of criminal incompetence for America to wake up.

In the midst of all this, I got word from her daughter Patti that my father’s cousin Lola died yesterday, at 98, in her own home. When we spoke last month, she was angry, ready to go, so it was time. But still, it makes me sad – she is almost the last of that generation. A big empty space on my next visit to New York.

Okay, off into this strangely quiet isolated day. Be safe, dear readers. Be well. Be well. Be well.

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2 Responses to “Pandemic Week, Day One”

  1. theresa says:

    I've loved your posts about Lola. Sorry to hear the news. Stay well.
    t

  2. beth says:

    Yes, I will miss her, one of the last links to my father, and a fierce creative spirit. Thanks, Theresa. Stay well there too. The quiet isolation of your life looks pretty wonderful from here.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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