Coming to California from Mexico was going to be a family reunion. All that changed in a flash. I arrived at my son’s in Huntington Beach after diligently sanitizing every airplane surface I could touch. My hands are raw from washing and sanitizer. Small sacrifices. Every sniffle and cough is alarming. I’m hoping it’s allergies. One site I read says, if you can hold your breath for 10 seconds without coughing or chest tightness, you don’t have it.
Hard to know what to believe.
Meanwhile, the party we were all going to was cancelled and we decided to stay put, institute social distancing and flatten the curve: sister and brother-in-law in Santa Cruz, and brother in Thousand Oaks. I’m here chilling and cooking with my boy. I’m sure we all have similar stories.
Meanwhile, I brought four rolls of toilet paper from Mexico and eight bottles of hand sanitizer. There is no TP to be found in Southern California. I’m getting photos from friends in Denver, Santa Fe and Chicago that shelves are bare. We have resorted to paper napkins as back-up. I’m rationing as I wipe.
Now for the Comic Relief. I received an email from my friend Ellen Benson. I suggested after reading this that she become a Stand Up Comic. She said her only gig was the Oaxaca Lending Library presentation she gave in February when she mistook the podium lamp for a microphone. She gave me permission to share this with you:
“Hi all! I came home from Oaxaca on Wednesday, March 4, which now seems like many weeks ago! No one on the plane or at the airport had on masks or gloves and i saw very little wiping down of surfaces. So, in the face of a potentially lethal worldwide epidemic, i did what i was born to do, and a few days later i went to Marshall’s!! Actually i was on my way to Target, and i have to confess that i grabbed a shopping cart without a second thought. I also grabbed a 4 pack bundle of kleenex, paper towels, liquid hand soap, granola bars, peanut butter crackers and purified water. Later, at the food co-op where i toted the shopping basket without wiping it down, i added mango popsicles, tomato sauce, chocolate chip cookies and canned string beans (which i rarely eat, but this time may be different!) and i went to the ATM and then pumped gas, without wearing gloves! And of course i’ve had no guidance from any authorities on whether plucking a beard hair, fiddling with my hair and putting in earplugs to mask zak’s snoring, count as touching my face!
“I had lunch with Rita, at highpoint Cafe WHERE I TOUCHED THE BATHROOM DOOR HANDLE ON THE WAY IN, but used a paper towel to grab it on the way out, thank goddess. Of course i leaned on the counter and then pulled out my chair—but that was just for a few seconds. The real problem is that Harin joined us and SHE HAD JUST RETURNED FROM SEATTLE THE NIGHT BEFORE! So—this may be the last newsletter i ever write. I just called the Phila Health Dept hotline to find out what it means for me that my husband is still going to work at a senior citizen health care facility, but the voicemail message that told me to stay on the line, also said i was 67th in the order of calls!
“So now i have reverted to what i was born to do in an emergency if i can’t go to Marshall’s: i am stuffing myself with starches, fats and sugars. I had planned to go back to Weight Watchers when i got back from Mexico but hey, it’s NOT MY FAULT THEY MEET IN GROUPS IN SMALL SPACES!! I do wash my hands a lot. however i know it’s supposed to be big lathers and long enough to say the whole alphahebt, but i keep getting stuck at “P” and the lather is pretty weak. I guess i should not have bought the hand soap at DOLLAR GENERAL. None of this is as bad as the reporter who actually asked if we should stay away from Chinese food! As everyone knows, you should only stay away from Chinese food that uses recipes from Wuhan!
“So now it’s days later and i’m wearing rubber gloves (but only to brush my teeth), have wipes and purell everywhere, have bought the last 3,000 rolls of toilet paper in the city (no logical explanation except other people felt it was important), and am at home because everything’s cancelled and i hate taking walks in nature. I would love to use a 50% off coupon at MICHAEL’S but have to keep telling myself it’s not worth it, even if the Lord and Taylor shoe department is right next door. My plan is to clean out my studio, make art, try cooking something, talk on the phone a lot, give myself a pedicure, and of course, to write to YOU!!
Are we having fun yet? love, ellen”
As for Mexico, the minister of public health says the virus will hit in full force between March 20 and March 30.
Anyone traveling from Mexico to the USA should bring a suitcase filled with TP and hand-sanitizer and distribute it to family and friends upon arrival, and before Mexico goes crazy about tushie hygiene, too.
Stay healthy, everyone. I’m trying my best.
Next big question: Should we eat out at a restaurant tonight? What do you think?