Monthly Archives: April 2020
It’s the final day of my spring break, and now it feels like it went by as quickly as it always does. We’re still on lockdown. It’s been extended to May 3, our travel ban (from work) has been extended to June 30, with the statement that it could change for better or worse. Some restrictions are lifting: more stores are allowed to open, provided distancing measures are taken, and work is discussing post-lockdown strategies, but, of course, none of us knows how long any of this will last. What we do know is it’s not ending tomorrow.
Belgium’s daily hospital admittance numbers are going down (whew!), but people are still dying. As of noon today, our numbers are: 38,496 confirmed cases, 5,683 dead. That’s a lot more than where we were just a month ago, but for the past few days more Coronavirus patients have left the hospital (healed) than have entered, so that’s a very good sign — one we all want to see continue.
I post those numbers for posterity’s sake — one day I’ll look back at this and either go whew! we did okay (relatively speaking; I’m sure those left mourning disagree), or shit that was just phase one. Only time will tell. It’s a waste for me to bitch about what frustrates me most about where things are today, but I do want to say to those people at home who are protesting stay-at-home measures or flocking to beaches — stay the eff away from my loved ones. I totally get your frustrations, and I type this knowing I’m lucky that financially I have not yet been bit by this bug (except for my retirement savings plans), but for God’s sake rallying in a crowd isn’t going to help anyone. Oh I so badly want to vent about the politics of our pandemic, but that is where we are at this phase in our evolution and you guys don’t need me adding any more frustrated venting to it all. May we all (idiots included) get through this.
Okay enough on what I cannot control. Let’s get back to Spring and pretty things. This is my happy place, so poof away to the uglies.
I’ve been a productive little beaver and a total couch potato at the same time. In the past two weeks, I’ve polished off two three credit literature courses. I’ve read Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, Theodore Sizer’s Horace’s Compromise (an education reform book), Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Jenette Winterson’s Written on the Body, completed a massive amount of reading comprehension questions, written a few essays and completed a week’s worth of lessons for a book I will not teach this year (maybe next year). I am done with being a student, and my students will be spared essays for the next week or two — but poor babies will get work. Well, I’m not completely done because I’ve also joined an online class for teachers going online (see the different layers this corona world is taking us!).
I thought Easter would be a bit of a bummer, but it turned out to be a nice day. We baked a ham, roasted garlic potatoes, made cornbread and ate in the balcony room. Afterwards we watched Andrea Bocelli’s Easter concert on Youtube, and to keep things classy we watched the Tiger King extra episode — no way near as touching as Bocelli’s music to the backdrop of empty cities around the world, but I’m glad to see the characters I liked seemed to all be doing well, but ahem so were the losers (well except for Mr. Fancy Pants whose still in jail). To top it all off we got to video conference with all three of my kids, and I got to see Torin tearing up his parents living room. I am so bummed I won’t get to chase that little monster around the pool this summer, but we’ll play again soon.
We’re also still doing things with friends, but differently. One friend loves to bake and then bring us treats, another loves to barbecue and bring us brisket, others are cooking a Thai feast next weekend, so we walk our little portion of the hood, hang out our windows to yell small talk, and bring each other treats. It’s our own version of Halloween and Hollywood Squares.
A perk to the pandemic is that we’re discovering Mons more. Thanks to friends of ours we’ve found our way to pastoral hills and country walks. A 15-minute walk takes you to a whole other side of the non-city portion, and it’s loaded with trails and trees. It’s been amazing walking and enjoying these trails. We’ve also walked around the nearby lake and canals, which I’ll include in my next blog post. But, for now, I’ll leave with you some pics of the beauty that surrounds the city. Dinner is almost done, so time for me to go and feast. Oh, Badger also had some words to share on his blog. If you’re bored go to BadgerDoesBelgium.
Rue du Onze Novembre applauding the essentials. I don’t know why it’s sideways.
It’s Friday — woo hoo, so what. Yesterday I completed my 10th day of online classes. The kids and I are making the best out of it, but of course it’s not the same. I did get to have a few educator friends join my classes for a fun guest day (so that was cool). Today is a meeting/office day, meaning I catch up on meetings with colleagues and students who need extra help. My front guest room AKA my closet (with a daybed for when I need all 4 bedrooms) is now my classroom. It won’t be next week because it’s cramped and uncomfortable. That was part of my plan, so I’d move around more in between virtual sessions. But, I quickly grew to dread going in there as much as I used to dread waking up Monday mornings.
Oh wait … next week is Spring Break. Normally, I’m so excited for my two-week escape from it all, but now I’m here, in my apartment (thank God it’s a lovely place). We’d escape to the Ardennes or a Belgian beach, but that’s also not allowed (and they have the police and fines to back it up). Technically, I should be writing this from my hotel room in Ireland since I should have landed there late last night. Good news is no hangover for me today, which I’m almost certain would have been the case as well.
Again I’m very well aware that I am one of the lucky ones. Belgium’s numbers are now 16,770 confirmed; 1,143 dead, including a 12-year old girl. As you all know globally there have now been more than one million confirmed cases and more than 54,000 deaths. The U.S. and Europe are racking up some numbers, and it looks like it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.
Joe and I, our loved ones and our friends are all still healthy — a bit more pudgy with less muscle tone, but healthy nonetheless — and we have plenty of food, water, toilet paper and internet to keep us going. I’m also finally working on two online classes I signed up for last school year. I’ll finish one of them this weekend, and then I’ll dive into the other. There’s another course I’ve also signed up for, so I’ll be busy building those last few credits I need for a bit of a bump in my salary. Oh and that’s another thing I’m super grateful for: I’m still getting paid.
My big plans for this weekend are to take more silly pics of Badger, so that I can finally post something new on his blog. A friend is loaning us her car (ours is so lonely at the mechanic’s), so that Joe can go to the commissary to buy more American comfort food. We’re also planning on a long walk around the lake near Mons on Sunday. We’re hoping Badger can do this — he has his good and bad days, so we’ll see. Since we’re not allowed to use park benches anymore (the parks and benches were sealed off with police tape last weekend) there will be no more sit and rest breaks for the poor boy. The weather has been beautiful. This past week was cold, below freezing at night, but oh my goodness the sun has been out every damned day. She just waves at us while we drool on our windows. Our local memes remind us that as soon as the lockdown is over we’ll go back to rainy days.
While it’s awesome that we’re allowed to go for walks and runs, it’s, sadly, not as enjoyable as you would think. It’s good to get out, don’t get me wrong. But, every time we leave the house the threat of coming into contact with the virus is very real. Sometimes strangers just come up too close to you — it’s rare, but it happens. Sometimes we touch things and forget to wash our hands before touching our face. Sometimes we bring the groceries into the house and remember oh shit we should have washed off the packaging before putting food away.
I’d also give anything for a case of lysol disinfectant spray, so that I could de-germinize my couches. Hell, Badger is one big swifty mop every time he goes for a walk. How much is attaching itself to him? He coughed the other day and we were all oh no, did we give him the virus? Turns out the hoover choked on his own hair and doggy biscuits. These are the things we stress over now (again no where near the truly horrible things others must stress over).
On the bright side there are the 8 pm applauses on the street, my teddy lamb is in the window for any kids who might look up to the third floor, happy hour video chats are happening, and I’m reading/philosophizing the fuck out of my reading corner. So all is well, even if one day is beginning to blend into the other — technically that’s always been the case; I was just always too busy to notice before.
And, since I’m eternally optimistic, I do look forward to the fun things I get to do. Speaking of which it’s about time for me to make a refreshing gin and tonic to get ready for our zoom Friday happy hour.