Victoria Jelinek


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.

Individualism_VS_Collectivism-530x300

(image courtesy of The Borgen Project)


Covid-19 5 Avril, 2020

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Cher Monsieur President Macron,

J’étais fier et soulagé quand la France a commencé rapidement et avec fermeté le 16 mars. J’ai félicité le gouvernement français à chaque occasion de «prendre de l’avance» sur la courbe. Je me sentais protégé. Depuis, j’ai changé incommensurablement «mon air».

Hier, je suis sorti (dans la voiture) chercher des cigarettes. C’était la première fois que je conduisais en trois semaines ou parcourais plus d’un kilomètre. À mon grand étonnement, les gens étaient rassemblés en groupes dans les coins, le long des routes, à bicyclette, profitant de la journée ensoleillée 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 dernière semaine, j’ai remarqué depuis notre véranda arrière, qui surplombe une petite route, des groupes de personnes qui n’ont pas l’air liées (sont en fait similaires en âge) à faire du jogging, de la marche et du vélo ensemble.

C’est très inquiétant. Au magasin de cigarettes, l’homme derrière 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 scanné chacun manuellement, comme il l’a également fait avec chaque paquet de cigarettes. Il a touché chacun de mes objets à fond. J’étais mortifié. Je lui ai demandé pourquoi il n’avait aucune protection pour lui-même et pour les autres, comme un masque ou des gants, et il a bêtement répondu: “Je me sens bien.” Mes voisins partent chaque jour, avec leur famille et leurs chiens, deux ou trois heures à la fois, puis reviennent, puis repartent encore deux ou trois heures, tout au long de la journée, chaque jour. J’ai deux amis qui m’ont demandé séparément de les rencontrer pour boire un verre chez eux, me disant qu’ils le font avec d’autres amis.

Pas étonnant que la France soit si riche en infections et en décès consécutifs. Le confinement DOIT être appliqué ou il n’a tout simplement aucun.

Hier, j’ai regardé un extrait de nouvelles (étrangère) 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 décès, 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 infectée a été en contact au cours des deux semaines précédentes, puis les mettant en quarantaine pour une obligation deux semaines, souvent trois. Coûteux? Est-ce moins cher d’avoir un confinement dans un pays où les gens le traitent avec une attitude cavalière?

Au Vietnam, en Corée du Sud et à Taïwan (juste en face d’un petit canal en provenance de Chine), ils ont maintenu la propagation en vérifiant les personnes qui arrivent par avion pour la fièvre, 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 précédentes. De plus, ils publient qui est infecté afin que les gens puissent voir s’ils ont été en contact avec la personne infectée. De cette façon, tout le monde AILLEURS n’est pas en lock-out et le pays n’est pas fermé et souffre d’une catastrophe financière ET le virus ne se propage pas. Est-ce une violation des libertés civiles? Est-ce moins le cas pour nous dire que nous devons avoir un morceau de papier justifiant pourquoi nous sommes à l’extérieur, ainsi que notre carte d’identité, ne devrait être à l’extérieur que pendant une heure, et la création d’une situation dans laquelle les voisins s’espionnent les uns les autres avec suspicion et la colère dans leur cœur?

L’Organisation mondiale de la santé a déclaré dès le début que le moyen le plus efficace de lutter contre la nature infectieuse du virus Corona est de procéder à des tests massifs de la population, d’isoler les personnes atteintes de la maladie, puis de rechercher «de manière agressive» toutes les personnes dans lesquelles elles se trouvaient. Les contacter et les isoler également. Oui, cela coûte cher et cela nécessite un grand effort coordonné, mais est-ce plus cher que de fermer l’économie pour «endiguer le flux» de patients vers les hôpitaux?

En parcourant le nombre de personnes infectées par pays et par État sur le site Web de l’Université John Hopkins, je note que même si certains États des États-Unis, la Suède, la Suisse, par exemple, N’ONT PAS de confinement en vigueur, ils ONT instillé des mesures de sécurité ( pas de place dans les restaurants, tous assis à six pieds de distance, nombre limité dans une réunion, travail à domicile si vous le pouvez, fermetures d’écoles, etc.), qui SONT appliquées et qui sont par conséquent respectées 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 Suède, au Luxembourg, en Suisse, en Belgique, etc. qu’en France (ou en Italie ou en Espagne) et même moins de décès, alors que la France, l’Italie et l’Espagne sont confinement total?

Quel est le but de paralyser l’économie et de faire en sorte que CERTAINS d’entre nous adhèrent au confinement, alors qu’il y a évidemment BEAUCOUP de personnes qui ne respectent pas les règles? Dans l’état actuel des choses, les gens voient évidemment l’amende potentielle de 135e pour ne pas avoir adhéré 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, même une fois depuis que nous nous sommes isolés le 14 mars.

Je suis sceptique que mon pays fera ce qui est dans le meilleur intérêt de la nation. En fait, je crains que la France ne mette un terme au confinement – pour tout ce qu’il vaut – trop tôt en raison de l’adhésion aux arguments «économiques» des mêmes personnes à courte vue et égoïstes qui n’adhèrent pas au confinement, renvoient nos enfants à l’école (mettre en danger parce qu’il y aura eu beaucoup de divergences dans la façon dont les familles respectives se sont «auto-isolées») et puis il y aura encore une nouvelle augmentation terrible des infections et des décès, et un autre confinement inefficace, et ainsi de suite.

Le gouvernement français a bien commencé – de manière décisive et rapide – puis a échoué par la désorganisation. Pour remédier à 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 été en contact (ou publier les données publiquement), et les isoler également.

Merci pour votre considération.

Sincères 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 “liberté, egalite, fraternité” 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 République.”

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).



Covid 19 – March 16, 2020

Aperol in Les Bossons 2020A friend wrote this to me when I responded, simply, to her text about what I was doing in my self isolation, « Drinking in the sun : »

« I take the opinion that if washing your hands with a hydro-alcoholic solution keeps germs away, then filling your body with alcohol will do the same…’Tis a noble sacrifice you are doing for the greater good of la république! »

Indeed. Vive la République! Yes, I’m a regular a dame de la résistance when one considers my coping strategies…

(Though I did write a note to both Emmanuel Macron and Édouard Philippe about what I saw today going in to vote and at the voting station, so that’s something (she tells herself)…).



Covid – 19 March 15, 2020

The Ides of March…

Self InterestJust went to vote. No one taking legal closures and governmental advice seriously…folks were kissing, standing in small, tight-knit groups. The high street pedestrian area was teeming. Two restaurants (of two) in the one km stretch from my home and the voting location open and folks inside eating.

A ski area was open in Morzine and there were lines snaking around the lift station.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what Édouard Philippe said: people are ignoring safety procedures and thus things will get more serious and we’ll end up locked down like Italy! What is wrong with people?!

Went to the local grocery store and saw folks with TWO grocery carts stockpiling. THAT will cause a problem for everyone, but “fuck it! I’m (me, mine, etc.) sorted.”

Now, they’re talking about rationing on the news – not because like the war there was a shortage of food, but, quite simply, because of the mine, mine, mine attitude of people.

This selfish, individualistic, greedy behavior is so stupidly shortsighted and individualistic I could scream. It is, arguably, the source for all the problems in the world today (climate change – overpopulation, habitat destruction, consumer orientation, airplane travel, etc., PM of UK, “prez” of USA, poor public education, evasion of taxes for the welfare of all, etc.).

If I spoke better French, or was a confrontational person, I would have said something to the twats at the voting site, and in the grocery store, “Shame on you!” As it is, I’ll do as the boys sang in “The Book of Mormon” and suppress all the pain of it.

 

 

 

 

 



Covid-19 March 14, 2020
March 16, 2020, 10:06 am
Filed under: Corona 2020 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
ClaustrophobiaÉdouard Philippe, the Prime Minister of France, has declared that as of midnight, France will shut down everything non essential. Only grocer, newsagents, petrol, chemists, banks will remain open. We are told to only go out for supplies, light exercise, and to vote in the municipal elections tomorrow. The closures are “indefinite.”
They will pay businesses to pay their employees if they must shut, otherwise they must work remotely, taxes due in march will be delayed. (Nothing mentioned about we freelancers who aren’t paid when we don’t work).
This is when the gravity of the situation hits me. They wouldn’t do this unless it was truly serious. This will be a huge, financial hit for the French economy – an economy already drained of its coffers, with an aging population, a lot of social benefits provided to its citizens and not enough tax income.
This is when panic sets in.
I’m claustrophobic – always sit on the end of a theater or movie row, or the outside of a bench in a restaurant, or the side of the bed not against the wall, etc.
We can’t leave.
There is nowhere in the world we could go to avoid this.