Update from guest writer Janyne Hodder: Week 3 of voluntary isolation is now complete. Week 4 began yesterday, a week in which self-isolation is less and less voluntary, at least in a country that does not think preserving life only matters before you are born (as a clever journalist in The Washington Post put it). I don’t really mind the less and less voluntary. Indeed, I find myself wondering whether the nice-looking man walking on my road with ski poles to better manage the ice covering the ground might be a super-spreader (another word to add to our rapidly expanding pandemic vocabulary). Worse still, I am disconcerted at the thought that the reason he crossed the road so rapidly has less to do with the ice patches than with him thinking the same of me.
No, I am okay with my self-isolation. If I am to ‘shelter in place’, this is a very nice place to do so. I live in a house that has grand views of a lake surrounded by mountains, one with stunning sunrises and very good heating. Also, my shelves are filled with books I ought to read. The grocery store delivers and the SAQ has not closed; in a pinch, my younger brother might be willing to make a run for a case of Pinot Grigio.
I am not only self-isolating and physical distancing, I am self-regulating the amount of news I read. I allow myself an early morning hour of reading The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Atlantic and La Presse. You will have guessed I don’t watch Fox News. In fact, I don’t watch any breaking news, happy to read my news after it’s broken.
Once I’ve had my fill of bad, and very bad, news, I plan to declutter. And then I don’t actually do anything. Mostly, I work on my Miro jigsaw puzzle.
I try to watch the Prime Minister at 11 am, but it irritates me that he reads his text and oozes empathy, so sometimes I don’t turn him on. Don’t get me wrong; he is doing a fine job. He also has some very fine ministers. I am grateful for all of them. And for Dr. Tam.
Showtime is 1 pm as Premier Legault provides clear facts and sets clear directions. He is accompanied by the Minister of Health and the Chief Medical Officer in Quebec, a man whose intelligence and competence shine. When asked how he relaxed, he said he listened to music and baked Portuguese tarts. Now we all want to know the contents of his playlist and his recipe for ‘pastel de nata’.
Then I make a momentous decision. Shall I take Daisy for a walk and meet my 10,000 steps Fitbit goal or not? If you have a dog, you already know how hard it is to ignore the pleading eyes of your dog. I have a treadmill, but it seems heartless to leave Daisy moping while I complete a treadmill workout.
Later in the afternoon I try to connect with family and friends on Zoom.
Given the misery that has overtaken the world, I am one of the lucky ones, facing mortality certainly, but not imminently, although all the hand-washing has left mine severely chapped.
I feel as though I have been bumped into a category or class of people without my consent: the elderly. I chafe at Premier Legault’s use of ‘our’ when referring to ‘seniors’ (nos aînés). I don’t consider anyone should claim ownership of me. It’s annoying. I am okay with our parents, our children, our pets, but the use of ‘our’ in this context suggests a difference in autonomy and personal power which I refute. He most often uses the expression when he wants to convey the following message: some people, excluding me, have to do something to protect some other people, namely people like me. I am much more comfortable when he simply tells me to stay home.
I know the older one gets, the more likely one is to be vulnerable to all manner of woes and to this disease in particular. However, unless I show signs of dementia, I prefer to be spoken to rather than spoken about.
My favourite new word for today: covidiots. I read it somewhere and understand it to have a wide range of meanings. We could start a list of meanings. Here’s mine: people who think The Age of Enlightenment was a song their hippy parents played back in the day. •
P.S. Please add your meaning of ‘covidiot’ in the comments below.