Victoria Jelinek

Covid-19, May 4, 2020

“All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” Blaise Pascal

France decided to open up the schools in phases starting May 11th. The first to go back are elementary school kids. Our son is in the equivalent to third grade.

We received a form from our son’s teacher to fill out on Friday stating whether we’d return our child to school or not so that they could submit it to the Mayor’s office on Monday – today – to begin making plans for the rentrĂ©e. I opted to speak to the teacher about it to see what she thought (she rose exponentially in my estimation since quarantine). She said that not only are spaces limited, the same principles of the confinement remain: the objective is still to keep infection down in order to permit hospitals to tend to those who need help. That there are small children being left at home because they have a single parent who needs to work, or both parents work, or there are children whose parents can’t, or won’t, help the kids with their schoolwork. Reopening the school for little ones is an effort to help these kids and their parents. This sealed the deal for me. Yes, I’m anxious about working with a precocious single child at home. I’m worried about being able to work, and I also need time alone to replenish myself. With a small child at home, who doesn’t seem to be able to be autonomous unless he’s on a screen (watching TV, or a film, or playing an electronic game), which is, perhaps, normal, I don’t know, it’s incredibly disruptive for both my husband and me. We consequently argue about who does what and who has done more. (I often end up working after the boy and the man are in bed, going to bed very late, then waking up early when they wake up – I’m very tired…zzz…).

‘Kvetch’ aside, I feel relieved with our decision to keep our son home for the ‘bigger picture’ (in addition to what seems to be an unnecessary risk for the moment). I think the interesting element to this corona experience – the whole social phenomena’s we’re witnessing will be, I believe, written about sociologically for a long time to come (or until we humans make ourselves extinct), is that at the same time we’re isolated from each other, forced to distance physically from each other, we’re thinking about each other now more than ever. Or MUST think about each other now more than ever. We must work together to ensure the survival of our species, and the way to do that is to distance ourselves from others when possible. It’s not just ourselves and our own interests we’re thinking about for the first time in a long time. We’re being asked to consider everyone when limiting contacts, our potential exposure to the virus (with outings, errands, plans, etc.), washing hands. Even wearing a mask is a sign of consideration, a, “I’m helping YOU keep safe” sort-of-thing. It’s quite lovely, actually, when you think of it this way. It makes one feel less alone, more purposeful, and, arguably, reinforces the argument that humans are worth saving (perhaps).


“Toutes les misĂšres des hommes dĂ©rivent de ne pas pouvoir s’asseoir seuls dans une piĂšce calme.” Blaise Pascal

La France a dĂ©cidĂ© d’ouvrir les Ă©coles par phases Ă  partir du 11 mai. Les premiers Ă  y retourner sont les enfants des Ă©coles Ă©lĂ©mentaires. Notre fils est dans l’Ă©quivalent de la troisiĂšme annĂ©e.

Vendredi, nous avons reçu un formulaire de l’enseignant de notre fils indiquant si nous devions retourner notre enfant Ă  l’Ă©cole ou non afin qu’il puisse le soumettre au bureau du maire lundi – aujourd’hui – pour commencer Ă  planifier la rentrĂ©e. J’ai choisi d’en parler au enseignante pour voir ce qu’elle en pensait (elle a augmentĂ© de façon exponentielle Ă  mon avis depuis la confinement). Elle a dit que non seulement les espaces sont limitĂ©s, mais les mĂȘmes principes de confinement demeurent: l’objectif est toujours de limiter l’infection afin de permettre aux hĂŽpitaux de soigner ceux qui ont besoin d’aide. Qu’il y a des petits enfants Ă  la maison parce qu’ils ont un parent seul qui doit travailler, ou les deux parents travaillent, ou qu’il y a des enfants dont les parents ne peuvent pas, oĂč ne vont pas, aider les enfants dans leurs devoirs. La rĂ©ouverture de l’Ă©cole pour les tout-petits est un effort pour aider ces enfants et leurs parents. Cela a scellĂ© l’accord pour moi. Oui, je suis impatient de travailler avec un enfant cĂ©libataire prĂ©coce Ă  la maison. Je suis inquiet de pouvoir travailler et j’ai aussi besoin des temps tout seul pour me reconstituer. Avec un petit enfant Ă  la maison, qui ne semble pas capable d’ĂȘtre autonome Ă  moins d’ĂȘtre sur un Ă©cran (regarder la tĂ©lĂ©vision, un film ou jouer Ă  un jeu Ă©lectronique), ce qui est peut-ĂȘtre normal, je ne sais pas , c’est incroyablement perturbant pour mon mari et moi. Par consĂ©quent, nous discutons de qui fait quoi et qui a fait plus. (Je finis souvent par travailler aprĂšs que le garçon et l’homme soient au lit, se couchant trĂšs tard, puis se rĂ©veillant tĂŽt quand ils se rĂ©veillent – je suis trĂšs fatiguĂ© … zzz …).

«Kvetch» ​​mis Ă  part, je me sens soulagĂ© de notre dĂ©cision de garder notre fils Ă  la maison pour la «vue d’ensemble» (en plus de ce qui semble ĂȘtre un risque inutile pour le moment). Je pense que l’Ă©lĂ©ment intĂ©ressant de cette expĂ©rience corona – l’ensemble des phĂ©nomĂšnes sociaux auxquels nous assistons sera, je crois, Ă©crit sur le plan sociologique pendant longtemps Ă  venir (ou jusqu’Ă  ce que nous, les humains, nous nous Ă©teignions), c’est qu’en mĂȘme temps nous ‘nous sommes isolĂ©s les uns des autres, forcĂ©s de s’Ă©loigner physiquement les uns des autres, nous pensons plus que jamais les uns aux autres. Ou DOIT penser les uns aux autres maintenant plus que jamais. Nous devons travailler ensemble pour assurer la survie de notre espĂšce, et la façon de le faire est de nous Ă©loigner des autres lorsque cela est possible. Ce n’est pas seulement nous-mĂȘmes et nos propres intĂ©rĂȘts auxquels nous pensons pour la premiĂšre fois depuis longtemps. On nous demande de tenir compte de tout le monde lors de la limitation des contacts, de notre exposition potentielle au virus (avec sorties, courses, projets, etc.), du lavage des mains. MĂȘme le port d’un masque est un signe de considĂ©ration, une sorte de chose «je t’aide Ă  rester en sĂ©curité». C’est plutĂŽt joli, en fait, quand on y pense de cette façon. Cela fait que l’on se sent moins seul, plus rĂ©solu et, sans doute, renforce l’argument selon lequel les humains valent la peine d’ĂȘtre sauvĂ©s (peut-ĂȘtre).


British Writer Pens The Best Description Of Trump I’ve Read

This post was published by Michael Stevenson*, aka Dai Bando, Johnny Foreigner, Monsieur Pas De Merde, a blogger of French and British culture. It was some time ago, but I feel that as Trump becomes increasingly dangerous and cruel, and the world – a veritable mess – longs for (reasonable) American leadership, it’s worth looking at this piece again in order to both appreciate great writing as well as to consider, yet again, how fundamentally distasteful Trump is as a human being.


British Writer Pens The Best Description Of Trump I’ve Read


Someone on Quora asked “Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?” Nate White, an articulate and witty writer from England wrote the following response:

A few things spring to mind.   Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem. For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed. So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever. I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.   And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.   Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront. Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.   And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist. Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that. He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.   He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully. That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.   There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all. He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think ‘Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:
‱ Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
‱ You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss. After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum. God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.   He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart. In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish: ‘My God
 created? If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.



RentrĂ©e scolaire…

Une lettre a un ami concernant l’ouverture d’ecoles en France dans quelque semaines…

unnamedMerci pour le «heads up» de Facebook sur le retour des enfants Ă  l’Ă©cole (dates, groupes annuels, etc.). Je dois dire que je suis d’accord avec mon mari ici (quelle surprise!): nous allons attendre les notes officielles et voir quels sont leurs plans concrets et quelles mesures tangibles pour protĂ©ger les enfants contre le virus seront dĂšs le premier jour, et faire un dĂ©cision Ă©clairĂ©e Ă  ce stade.

Pour moi, me sentir bien Ă  l’idĂ©e de retourner mon tout-petit Ă  l’Ă©cole, un plan pour dĂ©placer les enfants Ă  l’extĂ©rieur – Ă  la “Forest School” et au danois – comme le note le mari, serait un trĂšs bon dĂ©but pour amĂ©liorer mon niveau de confort.

Et / ou il y a des tests pour chaque enfant, enseignant et membre du personnel de l’Ă©cole pour vĂ©rifier s’ils sont infectĂ©s (pas uniquement  lorsqu’ils prĂ©sentent des symptĂŽmes et / ou se rendent Ă  l’hĂŽpital pour obtenir de l’aide, comme l’a dit Macron dans son discours – et , aussi, pour l’instant, les tests sont dĂ©fectueux). OU, peut-etre, quelqu’un prend la tempĂ©rature de chaque enfant et membre du personnel tous les jours quand ils entrent dans les portes (comme le fait l’Asie du Sud-Est pour entrer dans les lieux publics), puis les interdire de l’Ă©cole, appliquer cela serait essentiel, mettre en quarantaine ceux qui sont malades et retrouver leurs contacts — il peut s’agir d’une application facultative, comme le font les Allemands, les Autrichiens et les Suisses, par opposition Ă  obligatoire, comme les CorĂ©ens et les Singapouriens pour protĂ©ger les idĂ©aux de la libertĂ© civile. (Cependant, je ne vois pas cela se produire parce que je connais parents qui envoient rĂ©guliĂšrement leurs enfants Ă  l’Ă©cole et qui soulĂšveraient l’enfer sacrĂ© s’ils perdaient leur droit de faire ce qui leur convient le mieux).

Et, comme le dit le chef du syndicat des enseignants en France, en alliance avec le chef des services de santĂ© et des services mĂ©dicaux en France, ALORS ils doivent embaucher des personnes supplĂ©mentaires pour surveiller les enfants dans leurs petits groupes (Ă©loignement social, apprentissage du matĂ©riel, lavage des mains – etc. et afin d’aider les enseignants respectifs). Encore une fois, je ne vois pas cela se produire parce que c’est trop cher et que dieu sait que l’Ă©ducation publique connaĂźt des difficultĂ©s exponentielles. (Les gens – in general – ne rĂ©alisent pas que c’est un investissement collectif dans la sociĂ©tĂ© de l’avenir et une assurance pour la survie de la dĂ©mocratie). ET, enfin, ils doivent distribuer des masques Ă  chaque personne (puis imposer le port de ceux-ci).

À l’exception de ces mesures de sĂ©curitĂ©, que je pense que ce serait un miracle de voir se produire dans ce dĂ©lai, SI du tout, j’aimerais qu’il y ait quelques mois au cours desquels le taux d’infections se soit stabilisĂ©, du moins pas augmentĂ©. En l’Ă©tat, il y a encore beaucoup de nouvelles infections chaque jour en France (ainsi qu’une nouvelle rĂ©surgence Ă  Singapour et en Chine, et les dieux savent que le Royaume-Uni et les États-Unis n’ont pas encore atteint leur “crest”) et cela malgrĂ© un confinement strict.

De plus, pour qu’une «immunitĂ© collective» se produise, il faudrait laisser beaucoup plus de gens tomber malades (ce qui est peut-ĂȘtre POURQUOI ils veulent envoyer nos enfants en premier – des cobayes au nom du plus grand bien) et puis testez l’hypothĂšse que cela fonctionnera pour crĂ©er une sorte d’immunitĂ©, comme nous l’espĂ©rons / comme il l’a fait avec d’autres virus …il y a un certain sens a cela. Et, nous devons sortire a un moment donne…


Mon fils me dĂ©range, nous sommes en hĂ©morragie d’argent (la saison de mon mari a Ă©tĂ© perdue, je n’ai pas travaillĂ© l’annĂ©e derniĂšre, donc je ne peux pas rĂ©clamer d’aide malgrĂ© les annĂ©es de taxes payĂ©es) et j’ai une tonne de travail pour me prĂ©parer Ă  entrer dans le Ă  nouveau Ă  plein temps en septembre (pour essayer de «keeping the wolves at bay»). MAIS, je ne veux pas prendre un “risque inutile” (comme l’a dit le chef de l’association mĂ©dicale France) en ce moment. (Mais, c’est encore dans quelques semaines…).

Je comprends les raisons de l’ouverture des Ă©coles. Lancez l’Ă©conomie. Cela va ĂȘtre une sacrĂ©e rĂ©cession telle qu’elle est (en particulier si les gens continuent de rĂ©sister Ă  une augmentation de l’ñge de la retraite pour aider Ă  payer les avantages que beaucoup reçoivent!). Et beaucoup – y compris nous, comme mentionnĂ© – sont hĂ©morragiques et n’ont pas d’épargne, je comprends donc le dĂ©sir de continuer. Je lĂšve mon chapeau Ă  ceux qui envoient leurs petits courageux (ou inconscients) Ă  l’Ă©cole, malgrĂ© les risques. And, maybe, we will also send our beloved junior to school shortly…

(Je suppose que cela doit ĂȘtre similaire Ă  la façon dont les parents se sentent envoyer leurs enfants Ă  l’Ă©cole aux États-Unis? Mon enfant ou mes enfants iront probablement bien. Les statistiques soutiennent que tel est le cas. Cependant, avec la prolifĂ©ration des armes Ă  feu et la violence armĂ©e dans les Ă©coles et les espaces publics, il y a toujours une chance qu’ils soient blessĂ©s…).

De plus, des articles paraissent soudainement dans les journaux français et anglais sur un enfant de neuf ans (peut-ĂȘtre le mĂȘme enfant) qui a eu Covid-19, de nombreux contacts et n’a infectĂ© personne. L’hypothĂšse est qu’ils ne «shed» pas beaucoup de virus et sont moins susceptibles d’ĂȘtre infectĂ©s or to infect.

Cependant, je soupçonne qu’il y a des machinations en place (publicite, propaganda?) pour nous mettre Ă  l’aise d’envoyer nos juniors Ă  l’Ă©cole, parce que ce que j’ai lu dans une variĂ©tĂ© de journaux – viables aussi – est qu’il est “probable” que les enfants iront bien, et le taux d’infection augmentera, mais il sera «gĂ©rable» pour les hĂŽpitaux, etc. Les mots clĂ©s Ă©tant «probable» et «gĂ©rable». (Mais, imaginez si tous les enseignants et educateurs tombent malades! J’ai aimĂ© chacun des professeurs de mon fils des ans, et j’apprĂ©cie excessivement son professeur actuel! Perdre l’un d’eux serait une vraie perte.).

Donc, nous allons attendre et voir ce que les fonctionnaires proposent sous peu, et prendre alors une decision eclairee…


Covid-19, April 14, 2020

The following came to me, a teacher, from my mother, who is a retired teacher, and she received it from another teacher. It’s not written very well, but the concept is wonderful!

Just maybe this could happen because of our crisis…

Education and the worldWHAT IF

If they cancel the rest of the school year, students would miss 2.5 months of education. Many people are concerned about students falling behind because of this. Yes, they may fall behind when it comes to classroom education…

But what if…

What if instead of falling “behind,” this group of kids are AHEAD because of this? 

What if they have more empathy, perspective, enjoy family connection, can be more creative and entertain themselves, love to read, love to express themselves in writing? 

What if they enjoy the simple things, like their own backyard and sitting near a window in the quiet?

What if they notice the birds and the different flowers emerge, and the calming renewal of a gentle rain shower? 

What if this generation is the one to learn to cook, organize their space, do their laundry, and keep a well-run home? 

What if they learn to stretch a dollar and to live with less? 

What if they learn the value of eating together as a family and finding the good to share in the small delights of the everyday? 

What if they are the ones to place great value on our teachers and educational professionals, librarians, public servants and the previously invisible essential support workers like truck drivers, grocers, cashiers, custodians, logistics, and health care workers and their supporting staff, just to name a few of the millions taking care of us right now while we are sheltered in place? 

What if among these children, a great leader emerges who had the benefit of a slower pace and a simpler life to truly learn what really matters in this life?

What if they are…”AHEAD?”

*image courtesy of UNICAF.ORG

Covid-19, April 12, 2020
April 12, 2020, 10:38 am
Filed under: Corona 2020 | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Because it’s Easter, a holiday associated with life, light, nature, and possibility –
And because “Hope,” here, is symbolized as a bird –
And, because, it’s Emily Dickinson –
I offer up this poem to remember…

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –


I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Covid 19, April 9, 2020

Humorous, from a friend in Wales (Believe “Wankspangles” and
“clunge puffins” will be my new favorite words):


The Government has announced today that, for the Easter break only, certain groups will be allowed to go to parks and beaches and invite friends round for BBQ’s.


While the majority of the population will remain in lock down the following groups will be allowed to gather together at parks and beaches throughout the Country.

Half wits
Clunge puffins

Anyone not in those groups must follow the guidelines set out by the Governments regarding social distancing.

Thank you.

Covid-19 7 April 2020

I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self-contain’d,

I stand and look at them long and long,

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not like awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

Walt Whitman

At this time (medical professionals goes without saying) it’s the low paid workers – street sweepers, refuse collectors, supermarket workers, delivery drivers, and farmers that are keeping the country going, not big businesses, over paid footballers, you tubers, etc.

I would love to believe people will change their perspective a little when this is over, but I doubt it. Given the conversations I have with adolescents I teach and know, and from what I see from those around me who have huge houses and fancy cars they work all of the time to pay for, I think most people still see “success” as material, and most adolescents want to be big corporate executives or celebrities of some sort (sports, you tubers, those new online “change makers” or “it” folks). With little effort to boot.

Such a shame. There is great integrity in those listed above, and those who can do a trade (carpenters, plumbers, electricians, hairdressers, teachers, artists, sowers, farmers). The world needs people who are educated, absolutely, but who are also modest. Kindness, usefulness, collectivism should be promoted by our societies, not individualism, competition, and avarice. My guess is that if these alternative ideas were promoted, you would find that the grave numbers of loneliness, depression, and suicide would be vastly reduced. Purposefulness and a sense of “other” are reasons to be and give one self confidence.

Bertrand Russell wrote in his book “The Conquest of Happiness,” that the most direct path to true contentment is altruism.


(image courtesy of The Borgen Project)

Covid-19 5 Avril, 2020


Cher Monsieur President Macron,

J’Ă©tais fier et soulagĂ© quand la France a commencĂ© rapidement et avec fermetĂ© le 16 mars. J’ai fĂ©licitĂ© le gouvernement français Ă  chaque occasion de «prendre de l’avance» sur la courbe. Je me sentais protĂ©gĂ©. Depuis, j’ai changĂ© incommensurablement «mon air».

Hier, je suis sorti (dans la voiture) chercher des cigarettes. C’Ă©tait la premiĂšre fois que je conduisais en trois semaines ou parcourais plus d’un kilomĂštre. À mon grand Ă©tonnement, les gens Ă©taient rassemblĂ©s en groupes dans les coins, le long des routes, Ă  bicyclette, profitant de la journĂ©e ensoleillĂ©e et se tenant proche de l’autre, parlant en groupes et en groupes. Comme s’il n’y avait pas de virus infectant les deux chiffres en France seulement. De plus, au cours de la derniĂšre semaine, j’ai remarquĂ© depuis notre vĂ©randa arriĂšre, qui surplombe une petite route, des groupes de personnes qui n’ont pas l’air liĂ©es (sont en fait similaires en Ăąge) Ă  faire du jogging, de la marche et du vĂ©lo ensemble.

C’est trĂšs inquiĂ©tant. Au magasin de cigarettes, l’homme derriĂšre le comptoir ne portait pas de masque ni de gants, et ne m’a pas simplement fait effectuer un paiement «tactile», mais a pris ma carte et saisi les informations manuellement, et a pris chacun des magazines que j’achetais et les scannĂ© chacun manuellement, comme il l’a Ă©galement fait avec chaque paquet de cigarettes. Il a touchĂ© chacun de mes objets Ă  fond. J’Ă©tais mortifiĂ©. Je lui ai demandĂ© pourquoi il n’avait aucune protection pour lui-mĂȘme et pour les autres, comme un masque ou des gants, et il a bĂȘtement rĂ©pondu: “Je me sens bien.” Mes voisins partent chaque jour, avec leur famille et leurs chiens, deux ou trois heures Ă  la fois, puis reviennent, puis repartent encore deux ou trois heures, tout au long de la journĂ©e, chaque jour. J’ai deux amis qui m’ont demandĂ© sĂ©parĂ©ment de les rencontrer pour boire un verre chez eux, me disant qu’ils le font avec d’autres amis.

Pas Ă©tonnant que la France soit si riche en infections et en dĂ©cĂšs consĂ©cutifs. Le confinement DOIT ĂȘtre appliquĂ© ou il n’a tout simplement aucun.

Hier, j’ai regardĂ© un extrait de nouvelles (Ă©trangĂšre) expliquant pourquoi il y a des endroits dans le monde qui ont le virus corona, mais qui ne voient PAS les infections rapides OU les dĂ©cĂšs, comme en France, en Italie et en Espagne. En Islande, ils testent activement la population, puis ils ont des DETECTIVES, des forces de police, trouvant TOUTES les personnes possibles avec lesquelles une personne infectĂ©e a Ă©tĂ© en contact au cours des deux semaines prĂ©cĂ©dentes, puis les mettant en quarantaine pour une obligation deux semaines, souvent trois. CoĂ»teux? Est-ce moins cher d’avoir un confinement dans un pays oĂč les gens le traitent avec une attitude cavaliĂšre?

Au Vietnam, en CorĂ©e du Sud et Ă  TaĂŻwan (juste en face d’un petit canal en provenance de Chine), ils ont maintenu la propagation en vĂ©rifiant les personnes qui arrivent par avion pour la fiĂšvre, puis en les ramenant chez eux dans une voiture gouvernementale (seule!) Et en les mettant en quarantaine. Encore une fois, ils effectuent des tests massifs sur la population, mettent en quarantaine ceux qui sont positifs, puis recherchent activement leurs contacts potentiels au cours des deux semaines prĂ©cĂ©dentes. De plus, ils publient qui est infectĂ© afin que les gens puissent voir s’ils ont Ă©tĂ© en contact avec la personne infectĂ©e. De cette façon, tout le monde AILLEURS n’est pas en lock-out et le pays n’est pas fermĂ© et souffre d’une catastrophe financiĂšre ET le virus ne se propage pas. Est-ce une violation des libertĂ©s civiles? Est-ce moins le cas pour nous dire que nous devons avoir un morceau de papier justifiant pourquoi nous sommes Ă  l’extĂ©rieur, ainsi que notre carte d’identitĂ©, ne devrait ĂȘtre Ă  l’extĂ©rieur que pendant une heure, et la crĂ©ation d’une situation dans laquelle les voisins s’espionnent les uns les autres avec suspicion et la colĂšre dans leur cƓur?

L’Organisation mondiale de la santĂ© a dĂ©clarĂ© dĂšs le dĂ©but que le moyen le plus efficace de lutter contre la nature infectieuse du virus Corona est de procĂ©der Ă  des tests massifs de la population, d’isoler les personnes atteintes de la maladie, puis de rechercher «de maniĂšre agressive» toutes les personnes dans lesquelles elles se trouvaient. Les contacter et les isoler Ă©galement. Oui, cela coĂ»te cher et cela nĂ©cessite un grand effort coordonnĂ©, mais est-ce plus cher que de fermer l’économie pour «endiguer le flux» de patients vers les hĂŽpitaux?

En parcourant le nombre de personnes infectĂ©es par pays et par État sur le site Web de l’UniversitĂ© John Hopkins, je note que mĂȘme si certains États des États-Unis, la SuĂšde, la Suisse, par exemple, N’ONT PAS de confinement en vigueur, ils ONT instillĂ© des mesures de sĂ©curitĂ© ( pas de place dans les restaurants, tous assis Ă  six pieds de distance, nombre limitĂ© dans une rĂ©union, travail Ă  domicile si vous le pouvez, fermetures d’Ă©coles, etc.), qui SONT appliquĂ©es et qui sont par consĂ©quent respectĂ©es par les gens, et le virus ne se propage pas! Pourquoi y a-t-il beaucoup moins de cas d’infection dans ces États des États-Unis, en SuĂšde, au Luxembourg, en Suisse, en Belgique, etc. qu’en France (ou en Italie ou en Espagne) et mĂȘme moins de dĂ©cĂšs, alors que la France, l’Italie et l’Espagne sont confinement total?

Quel est le but de paralyser l’Ă©conomie et de faire en sorte que CERTAINS d’entre nous adhĂšrent au confinement, alors qu’il y a Ă©videmment BEAUCOUP de personnes qui ne respectent pas les rĂšgles? Dans l’Ă©tat actuel des choses, les gens voient Ă©videmment l’amende potentielle de 135e pour ne pas avoir adhĂ©rĂ© aux mesures de confinement comme une menace vide. Alors que je remplis chaque jour le journal pour moi et ma famille avec notre raison de sortir, je n’ai pas vu un seul officier de police, mĂȘme une fois depuis que nous nous sommes isolĂ©s le 14 mars.

Je suis sceptique que mon pays fera ce qui est dans le meilleur intĂ©rĂȘt de la nation. En fait, je crains que la France ne mette un terme au confinement – pour tout ce qu’il vaut – trop tĂŽt en raison de l’adhĂ©sion aux arguments «économiques» des mĂȘmes personnes Ă  courte vue et Ă©goĂŻstes qui n’adhĂšrent pas au confinement, renvoient nos enfants Ă  l’Ă©cole (mettre en danger parce qu’il y aura eu beaucoup de divergences dans la façon dont les familles respectives se sont «auto-isolĂ©es») et puis il y aura encore une nouvelle augmentation terrible des infections et des dĂ©cĂšs, et un autre confinement inefficace, et ainsi de suite.

Le gouvernement français a bien commencĂ© – de maniĂšre dĂ©cisive et rapide – puis a Ă©chouĂ© par la dĂ©sorganisation. Pour remĂ©dier Ă  cela, veuillez soit appliquer activement le confinement, OU tester la population, mettre en quarantaine les personnes malades et rechercher activement celles avec lesquelles elles ont Ă©tĂ© en contact (ou publier les donnĂ©es publiquement), et les isoler Ă©galement.

Merci pour votre considération.

SincÚres amitiés,

Covid-19 March 17, 2020

President Macron addresses the nation for the second time in a week

To my family,

TelecommuteWe allowed S to watch the address too. This virus is a huge thing
the first of its kind in a century (Spanish Flu 1918), and President Macron notes this (like the Humanities and Classics man he is).

It was a beautiful and sad speech. He candidly says that it is the beginning of the “onslaught” of this virus, that it will accelerate in the coming weeks and months, with a “second wave” that will effect younger people.

He calls on us to prepare for this. He calls for solidarity. He calls for “brotherhood” (the whole “libertĂ©, egalite, fraternitĂ©â€ reference to the French Revolution that is noted on the side of every mayor’s office in every village and city throughout France)

He says that we must trust the experts who are guiding the decision for a lockdown – scientists and healthcare professionals who are on the front line of this crisis.

However, he notes, despite this context and the seriousness of the threat, the protocol to help first responders (healthcare professionals, police) by slowing down the spread of this disease enacted last Thursday, the public has not respected the guidelines. So, 100k army and extra police will be deployed across the country to enforce the ban on our movement as of tomorrow at midday. From then, we must have a written explanation downloaded from the government’s site (or handwritten for those without printers) explaining why we are out. We are only allowed to get food, medicine
to exercise, walk our dog, but not to meet with friends and extended family, “in the streets” or in our homes, or we will be fined 38e and “there will be repercussions.” I’m not clear what the repercussions would be. Perhaps it’s the 38e? (it was in French after all).

Borders across Europe/the Schengen Area have now collectively been closed to all foreign nationals for 30 days as of midday tomorrow also, with extension after that if needed. There seems to be some lenience with UK citizens, though I’m not sure exactly how this works given that they are now out of the EU, but it’s, perhaps, because it’s a recent ‘divorce’ that there is this allowance? I’m not clear on this to be honest

President Macron referred to what French citizens must now face as “life in slow-motion,” but he called on us to spend this time “reading, reflecting on what is essential,” and said the nation would “prevail” in this “war.”

(I hope Netflix and our internet doesn’t somehow go down. That would TRULY leave me desperate).

There are many measures to help businesses and the economically vulnerable, and there is (subsidized by the government as usual) childcare for those who are first responders and necessary governmental workers.

He called for solidarity and courage.

He closed his address with the classical, “Vive la France. Vive la RĂ©publique.”

Which S kept saying afterwards to himself as he was brushing his teeth and getting ready for bed. After he went to bed, I heard him ask his father, who was was sitting with him, “Daddy, what will happen if you or mommy get the virus?” To which M said, “We’ll be fine honey
we’re strong.” He then asked why we have to stay indoors and not see friends if we’re not sick. To which M said, “To protect others, honey
to protect those that aren’t so strong
to make sure that we help the nurses and doctors who are dealing with this each day by not spreading the disease further
”  It was quiet after that. He was probably asleep after that long winded response (as you might be now with my long missive – I type quickly. Perhaps, M, you can use it for your morning ‘private time’ reading?).

Gods hope all of us we will be protected and fine. Particularly as we can’t get to one another easily if there is a personal crisis.

We have been and will continue to, respect the guidelines. But, I have been appalled by the numbers who have not (the weather has been extraordinary, but it’s rather surreal to see so many over the last three days not taking this seriously despite national directives). I’ve also been perplexed and hurt by friends who have castigated me for self isolating: “I wouldn’t have thought YOU would be like this!” and “It’s a bit mad, don’t you think, to just stay at home when the weather is so gorgeous?!” and, “Drop by for a coffee – don’t be like that.” And, “I feel as though you’re judging me for continuing to live my life!” And, “It’s hysterical behavior if you ask me.” And, “It’s no worse than a really bad flu for most of us, stop being such a worry wart,” sorts-of-things. (The fact that I am a worry wart isn’t the point).

I suppose crisis brings out a variety of responses in people. I, too, didn’t take it seriously till last Thursday and had been mystified, incredulous, and somewhat disdainful when a couple of my friends were ‘banging the drum’ that it was time to lockdown everywhere asap. Then it hit me. I read something the other day about coming to terms with this virus socially is akin to the six stages of grief, so, perhaps, we are at different stages in this, just like the outbreak is in different stages of development in different countries?

I know for us, like many, we are worried about the future for our son. As M once said, “Having a child is like having your heart outside your body.” I love that. It’s so true. And mine beats heavily now…

And, like many, we are worried about money. Unlike the huge amount of money that is being put out there in France to alleviate the stress on businesses (the French government is paying salaries for workers while businesses are closed, rents and mortgages for those that are “poor” are being paid by the government, taxis, hotels, childcare for first responders, subsidies to hospitals and army tents to be set up in the hardest hit areas in order to support hospitals, all courtesy of our government). We freelancers, however, receive little or nothing. And, we won’t receive regular assistance because we have a bunch of money in our bank account from the sale of our previous house that will be used to build our new house. But, it doesn’t look as though our new house will be built this summer because if things remain, the wood/build will not get here and the workers can’t build it/be on site, and then we’ll be stuck paying our exorbitant rent! But, we’ll see how this all goes.

Things are changing daily.

There are so many in worse positions of course. I was told by a friend who had lived in Nigeria for 15 years, that most people in Africa live with this type of fear and uncertainty all of the time. You ‘just’ learn to cope.

Though, thankfully, in France, our poorest are given help with food, housing, and health, so there are not these types of desperate situations for the most part. Isolation is an issue.

And, of course, we could be ill. The impotence and fear of S’s recent illness is still fresh in our minds (the 40+ fever for five days in which he couldn’t eat and it would not go down! I’m so glad I insisted his blood was tested or I’d have thought it was Covid-19!).

And President Macron suggests that instead of visiting our elderly family members and neighbors, we offer to support these people in our communities by offering to get groceries and do errands for them (he actually said this! Makes me chuckle how he considers everything), and, of course, we would have “justification” for doing this (but we must fill in the form for transit! Goodness knows the French LOVE their paperwork).

Trying, terrible times. My dear friend E (S’s “nou nou” from three months old to three-years-old) who is now a neighbour, and who is normally a stoic, humorous, Welsh woman who regularly chides me to “take off my ‘big girl’s blouse’ and just get on with things,” texted me after the televised address and said she was despondent, that “The future seems bleak.” Rather alarmed, but figuring immediately that it made sense that it’d take something of this magnitude to shake her up, I suggested she bundle up warmly – it gets cold at night here – come over in ten minutes and meets me on the back porch – that I’d make us both very large whisky sours (washing my hands first of course) and, adhering to the security restrictions, we’d sit outside in lawn chairs two meters apart and talk. It was poignant as we sat on our respective sides of the porch quietly talking. The sky was bright with stars. There was a rock slide on the mountain that was SO loud it sounded as though Thor was smashing rocks together. We heard the sound of an owl and foxes (perhaps the owl was caught by the fox?). J chased a big deer away (which I soundly – though softly – scolded her for).

Oh my. What a world we live in.

So, it seems we have no choice but to spend this time at home, “reading and reflecting on what is essential,” as le president advises.

Though tomorrow I start teaching online classes. I’m advised that it’s “very important” that we “model peace and serenity” for the students.

Sleep is best for that.

Bon courage a tout.

Please keep in touch virtually. How lucky we are to have email and cell phones! (They wouldn’t have had those things during the last pandemic!).

Keep safe. 

Love, Tori

Photo is courtesy of the link below (via friend) on Reddit and someone with the handle u/krinosh:

Covid-19–March 12, 2020

Light-07My morning started with an ex colleague of mine at an international school in Geneva sending me a very long article that was ‘end of days’ in theme, with graphs and statistics, about how Covid-19 was going to kill us all unless governments shut societies down and put people over money. She and I got ‘into it’ ’cause I didn’t take it that seriously. I sent her an article from a prominent sociologist discussing the phenomena of social hysteria historically up to today (it’s compelling!), and she flatly told me I was negligent and irresponsible.

Driving up to work that day, the roads were eerily quiet. It was like a Danny Boyle film. But, work was wonderful: my colleagues were calm and informed, the day was sunny, the school did not want to close due to social pressure, life was good. Again, however, driving back to France, I had a foreboding and stopped by the grocery store and bought ingredients for two meals (and wine!), put some money in my bank account, got some cigarettes. President Macron was set to give an address on Covid-19 that evening. I suspected that he would suspend all educational institutions in France. The Italian experience was becoming alarming.

It was a superb speech, as usual. And it was also the beginning of my realization that this was a serious situation. He did, in fact, close all nurseries, schools and universities “indefinitely.” He urged people not to use the virus as an excuse to distrust or hate “other,” because viruses “do not have a passport or a nationality.” It stunned me (and my husband gave me due credit for predicting this next step, even as I wish that I hadn’t been right).