A Day in the life, in the Age of COVID-19, Part 3

Via @InquirerUSA A Day in the life, in the Age of COVID-19, Part 3

4/7/2020 3:06:00 AM

Via InquirerUSA A Day in the life, in the Age of COVID-19, Part 3

NEW YORK—I just learned that the word “quarantine” is derived from the word for “forty”—quarante in French, quaranta in Italian, and cuarenta in Spanish. Forty days was the period

cuarentain Spanish. Forty days was the period during which a ship, arriving at a port and believed to be a carrier of contagion, was prohibited from having anyone disembark. During this pandemic, we’ve seen that scenario with a number of cruise ships, most notably, the

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Diamond Princess.The thing that disturbed me about the media’s coverage of the affected ships was its almost exclusive focus on the passengers—privileged middle to upper-middle class, and, for the most part, white. Virtually nothing was written about the crew, mostly people of color, and their plight.

Theywere most at risk. The paucity of reportage on them made it seem that they were expendable.ADVERTISEMENTThe captain of this ship of state (with sincerest apologies to captains) has that mentality. How else can one interpret his assertion that if the number of deaths due to COVID-19 plateaus at 100,000, then he will consider his administration to have “done a very good job.” To view these deaths as proof of a “good job” is simply obscene and yet another damning proof—as though anymore were needed—of his utter incompetency and a complete and total lack of a moral compass.

Here are more dispatches.Poet Mags Webster in Perth, Australia:The suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, can be quiet at the best of times; and if this extraordinary period proves to be among the worst of them, then these suburbs could have been custom-built for quarantine. Mine borders one of Perth’s two rivers, and is full of 1950s brick and fibro bungalows and twenty-first century concrete castles. I live in one of the 1950s houses; I can hear my next-door neighbour sneeze (loudly), and practise her flute (enjoyably). Goodness knows what she’s been making of the sounds coming from my place lately. Having been regularly tested in times of stress or celebration, my kitchen happens to make a superb disco-for-one. Proximity to the fridge (vodka and beer), non-slip floor, plenty of percussive surfaces, and a festoon of flashing fairy lights, and it’s

Saturday Night Feverforever in the ‘hood. It was my birthday last week, and I was celebrating my 50th(for about the sixth time, give or take) on my own. I cranked the music up loud. Reasons to be thankful for the virus: in self-isolation, nobody can see you do the disco finger or the rolling vine. Unfortunately, however, they may hear you imitate Barry Gibb’s falsetto, but my neighbour

isstill speaking to me (via SMS). Anyway, my Studio 54 moment cheered me up no end. In these times of fever, I’d reckon there’s no better one to catch than Saturday Night (circa 1977).Scholar and professor Cristina Juan in London:The last few days in London have been so sunny that it has been easy to pretend it is summer. In between manic scrolling through news notifications, Face-timing with family and trying to finish a paper with yet another deadline, I have been time-lapsing photos of an iris spiking in my garden, amazed by its will to life, but hoping it won’t bloom before this is all over. Two days ago, I started making summer drinks with Vino Kulafu. It is perfect for my make-shift illusion. Orangey-red, a cross between Pimm’s and Aperol, strong and sweet but, medicinal. And it reminds me of home. I brought a bottle with me from when I was last in Cebu, just a month ago, before all hell broke loose. I am oddly comforted by the fact that one can buy this for 24 pesos in a sari-sari store, and that it is named after a 1930’s comic book hero. It is fifty proof, but with a sobering blend of inscrutable Chinese herbs: Wong Chin to keep my lungs strong, Sock Tee for healthy blood cells, Kam Kuk to give me a good night’s sleep. I am both slightly tipsy and hopefully healthy, while waiting.

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