The sun is out. Outside my window, children are playing in the park. People are walking or running on the street, it feels like a normal day. Except it isn’t. We are just about a week into a global coronavirus pandemic. A lot of us are self-isolating, sheltering in place, schools are closed until April, for now. I feel like Stevie Wonder’s song I listened to yesterday: Love Is In Need of Love Today. Folks are scared, folks are hurting, folks are anxious. The unknown is vast, and the specs organic, and they keep changing.

I almost kept myself awake last night by imagining every possible scenario—and then trying to plan for it.  But when that didn’t work, I wondered if my own droplets (coughs, sneezes, etc.) could infect me. And that’s when I knew I was losing it. At that moment my cousin posted a meme of a scene from Sanford n Son, a 70s sitcom that starred Red Foxx and Demond Wilson, as father and son junk dealers, Fred Sanford and Lamonte. They are sitting at the table during an epidemic or pandemic, not sure which, when Lamonte shares that he’s scared and then coughs. Fred jumps up from the table runs away and says “don’t come near me that stuff is catching,” Lamonte repeats, “I’m really scared I’m your son,” and Fred says, “I don’t care who you are, don’t cough on me, that stuff is catching…” The caption on the meme said, ” Conversations in Black Households This Weekend…”  As the young folks say, “they ain’t neva lie,” I’m sure that’s being played out in a lot of households, especially if you’re holed up with husbands and children that you don’t really spend that much “quality” time with. That’s exactly how I feel, and why I’m social distancing with folks, known and unknown.

So how do we keep our sanity and get to the other side of this pandemic?  By keeping ourselves busy. One way is not procrastinating on doing those things that you always wished you had the time to do, for one. That time is now. I know, I know, this is easier said than done. I am the greatest procrastinator ever—to the degree that I lose out because of procrastinating. See, there’s my control issues again turned inside out. As I was writing this, my eye fell upon a stack of old cell phones. It would be great to get the pictures and videos off of those old phones and organize all my 20,000 photos into albums. Or clean—I got nowhere with that yesterday. Maybe today will be better.

And what does the other side look like, anyway? That depends on each one of us. In the spirit of the African principle of Ubuntu (I am, therefore, we are) caring for our community is just as important as caring for ourselves during this cycle of upheaval—that means as much as possible or practicable, either we all get there or we none get there. That means washing our hands, staying in and keeping our social distancing, not just for ourselves but for those in our community too. It means checking up on folks by calling people who live alone. It means sharing that last package of toilet paper you find in the store. It means not buying all the water on the shelf just because you can. It means not hoarding products labeled WIC because WIC mothers cannot substitute the WIC products for others. What does caring for your community look like from your perch?

It should also mean that corporations and billionaires give back to the people during this time when so many will be in need. Give back in paid leave, bonuses, financial assistance and the myriad ways a small percentage of the funds hidden away in offshore accounts can make this time easier for all vulnerable people. Use some of your spare time to advocate for #billionairesshouldgiveback.

Oh, I got a new mask today. And hand sanitizer, thanks to my great-niece, Ashley, who has been saving it for me. So grateful. My photo is here. This is the N95 mask that I emulated in my T-shirt mask. By the way, I wore my T-shirt mask out this morning for my early morning run to the store, and it worked wonderfully in that it kept people away from me, (hidden benefit) and made me feel more protected from the elements. Take care and I write again soon.

News We Can Use by Leslie Gallagher

300,000 Books may be downloaded from the NYPL.

Infection Protocol is changing. See here.

WHO advises against taking ibuprofen/NSAIDS for Covid 19 Symptoms.

Peace and love, take care of yourselves and your community.

Judy Edwards and Leslie Gallagher

(March 18, 2020)