Updated: May 10, 2020
"Coronalone". It's like "Home Alone", but without Macaulay Culkin. And without the burglars (we hope). It's our ridiculous name for the surreal and strange circumstances in which we currently find ourselves. And we currently find ourselves rapidly approaching May 4th, the original projected end date of Governor Sununu’s “stay-at-home” order. We are keenly aware of the economic impact of the order, but we find ourselves unsure whether wantonly “reopening” the state is the right course of action given how much we still have to learn about this virus, and given what we have seen in other states with much higher rates of contagion, such as New York and New Jersey. We’ve just watched the season of “Downton Abbey” (yes, I know, we are a bit late to the party) that dealt with the Spanish Flu, and it is hard not to draw parallels. I’ve done a little outside research about the Spanish Flu pandemic and the polio outbreaks of the early half of the 20th century, and it makes me wonder whether it wouldn’t be wise to err on the side of caution. My father had a “polio leg” due to his infection by the virus in the 1950s, and he knew of people who had to spend the rest of their lives in iron lungs. My research and his stories have made me cautious about the idea of simply “reopening” and letting the chips fall where they may… especially when those chips are people’s lives. I will leave it at that, rather than devolve into any sort of political statement or argument, but I do urge you to read up on the 1918 flu pandemic and how social distancing affected the spread of the virus. I will provide a link to a very informative National Geographic article at the end of this blog entry, for anyone interested in learning more.
Here, then, are this week’s thoughts on self-isolation and the current state of affairs: Lesson 1: I have kept my promise to myself to continue to wear “real clothes” (and a little makeup, because it makes me feel more professional) for the weekday hours during which I am working from home but, I must admit, I may never want to wear a bra again. Ever. It’s not a political statement, it’s certainly not a fashion statement, but it’s completely true that I’m not sure I will ever again want to subject myself to one. This may be TMI for some of you, but let me try to explain a little more clinically. I have costochondritis, which Wikipedia defines as, “acute and often temporary inflammation of the costal cartilage, the structure that connects each rib to the sternum at the costosternal joint”. Anything constricting—which really is the definition of a bra, isn’t it?— makes the pain even worse, so this “liberation of the chest” during isolation has been a welcome respite. Hey, we take our small pleasures where we can, right? What have been your small pleasures in this surreal and chaotic time? I hope you’ll consider leaving a comment and sharing the “little things” that have made you grateful in the midst of uncertainty. Even in the darkest night, we must search for that little spark to remind us that light will come again.
Lesson 2: You’re never too old to play Pooh Sticks. If you don’t know the game, you must never have read A.A. Milne’s “The House at Pooh Corner”. I remember being a young Girl Scout on an overnight camping trip, and lying in my sleeping bag in an Adirondack shelter, being read an excerpt from the book by our counselor as our bedtime story. That was my introduction to Pooh Sticks, and I played throughout my childhood whenever I came upon a bridge suitable for the game… and had a friend beside me against whom I could play. And then, sadly, I apparently “grew up” and neglected to play Pooh Sticks for many years. Recently, Michael and I have been taking midday walks to get me up and away from my desk on my lunch breaks, and we usually walk to a spot where a large culvert runs under the road. One day the water was really rushing due to an overnight rainstorm, and it occurred to me that even though it isn’t a bridge, it was still an ideal spot for Pooh Sticks. So Mike and I carefully chose our sticks, making sure they were different enough to be recognizable, and considering the best characteristics for speed and safe passage, and dropped them into the water on the upstream side. We ran across the road and watched for them to emerge, and—thankfully—no one had to proclaim, “Pooh! My stick’s stuck!” as Piglet does in the book. Both sticks emerged, and I was victorious. Here’s a video of Mike re-enacting the game so that we could share it with you. Of course, if it was a real game then we would both be throwing our sticks in and rushing to see whose emerges first, but someone had to hold the camera.
The thing about Pooh Sticks, though, is that winning is not really the important thing; it is the act of sharing time and companionship with a friend that is the true value of this game… and most games, if you ask me. I’ve included a link to the Wikipedia page for Pooh Sticks at the end of this blog entry, in case any of you care to look for a suitable bridge—or culvert—and give it a try with one of your friends—socially-distanced, of course, if you don’t live in the same household. And if by chance your stick doesn’t emerge, be sure to cry out in a Piglet-like voice, “Pooh! My stick’s stuck!”, and then share a big laugh and try again. Resources:
~Article on the Spanish Flu pandemic and social distancing: www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/03/how-cities-flattened-curve-1918-spanish-flu-pandemic-coronavirus/
~Wikipedia entry for Pooh Sticks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poohsticks