Tuesday, March 17, 2020 – Live to Blog from My Living Room
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! True confession: I didn’t wear any green today. Green has never been a good color for me. With my complexion it tends to make me look pretty sickly. Except when my face is red but, then, I look like a deranged Christmas elf. Though I am greenless today, I am sending “thoughts and prayers” to those in mourning for the loss of this year’s holiday to COVID-19.
The cool thing about sheltering in place is that you don’t have to change clothes…for days! I told my spouse, Clemencia, that I was going for a new record for continuously wearing the same clothes each day. She smiled sweetly at me and said, “Of course, mi amor.” She disappeared briefly and came back with my jacket, a facemask, a small bottle of hand sanitizer, and said, “Good luck out there, mi amor. See you in two weeks…I hope.” So, I changed my clothes…but not my socks! Ha!
We have two miniature schnauzers (Dolly and Madison) who actually are elderly. As you can see, they LOVE sheltering in place. By social contract they are entitled to at least three walks a day. Today, after work (yes, I do try to keep work hours at home), Clemencia and I took “The Girls” (as we affectionately call them) for their afternoon constitutional. We thought it would be a good time to go out to avoid people. We were wrong.
We ran into a bunch of friendly people…which would be nice under most circumstances, except we are trying to avoid people. Isn’t that the point of sheltering in place and social separation? What is it about the term “pandemic” that some people just don’t understand?!? One friend came directly across the street toward me and was going to come within the appropriate social distancing limit (six to 10 feet). I had to stop her so I said, in a very Midwestern polite way, “Hey, sorry, we can talk but we just need to talk from a distance.” She stopped, looked at me, and for a moment I thought she was going to start screeching at me like Donald Sutherland at the end of the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (You know, that scene where the audience realizes he’s been snatched and all hope is gone. Be sure to click the link and check out the clip – it is about 50 seconds in length.) Happily, she didn’t do a Donald Sutherland on me but I did one her…just for fun. But I don’t think she saw the movie or got the reference so I’m pretty sure we’re not friends anymore.
Speaking of people getting too close, in the tiny town in rural Iowa where I grew up there was a man who was notorious for talking too close, too loud, and too fast in a very high pitched voice (kind of like Donald Sutherland’s screech). For years I never had any idea what he was saying to me when he would come up to me, actually get in my face, and screech, “HITOMMYHOWSTOMMY.” If he had been a step or two away I might have had a chance to read his lips. However, he was so close, I couldn’t even see his lips. His tonsils did look pretty healthy though.
Before I close, two recommendations for the sake of sanity. First, my friends and colleagues at the Tamarack Institute in Ontario, Canada have put out a really great resource for learning or refreshing skills for working remotely. Please check out Guidelines for Working Remotely. Second, to keep your sense of humor fresh, check out 50 Coronavirus Jokes That Should Help You Get Through Quarantine.
Do not be deceived, my friends. I know how serious the coronavirus and COVID-19 outbreak really is. In the words of Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH, “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.” Nobody knows this as well as Clemencia, my incredibly tolerant spouse. Her super hero identity is actually Dr. Clemencia M. Vargas, PhD, DDS, etc., etc. She is an epidemiologist and was a fellow with the Epidemic Intelligence Service (Class of 94). She retired from the University of Maryland last October but she and I have been following this thing very closely since news first broke in early January. She cannot “turn off” her inner epidemiologist and I’m glad. If I’m ever tempted to make too much light of it, she brings me back to reality. I hope this blog lightens your day, but never for one moment believe that I am making light of a very serious situation and none of us should. This is only a momentary diversion for me and, hopefully, for you.
Remember, stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and, still, find ways to virtually reach out to others to stay connected and to share your concern, compassion, and love. In this way we continue to be greater by doing good.