Tel Aviv Diary March 30, 2020, 2020 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - March 30, 2020- Karen Alkalay-Gut

March 30-April 3, 2020

Last night's party is on vimeo

Every time i look at the grey in my hair I think of my hairdresser who may well have gone out of business in the past few weeks. at some point he wrote me that because he has had to close his shop (as all non-essential businesses have) he can come to people's homes. I'm on quarantine so i had to refuse. Then i thought of the woman who washes people's hair there and how she works at least 10 hours a day and now must be without income.

but what's the use of complaining about small businesses when there are far greater problems in the world and on the same block. details seem irrelevant.

March 30, 2020

New rules - greater enforcement:Pharoah Says Stay Home

my prophecy is that after Passover, he'll start opening things up.

March 31, 2020

My friend says that she now understands why, when she's at work, her dog chews on the furniture. Everyone seems to be going a little crazy at home. Me, I've taken on the challenge of getting rid of a wall cupboard full of paper. i do a shelf a day, and discover that I took class notes for every lecture i ever gave. over 45 years of teaching in this country, times an average of 6 courses, and every time i taught wrote at least 5 pages of notes. and in between the pages there is always a poem or two. try sorting all that out.

The thing is, I am allergic to dust - it makes me cough - so i have to go outside. and when i am outside, and i cough, people blocks away react harshly. so i'm keeping my workload down to one shelf a week.

we've losing focus on how to manage the virus - is the lockdown working? will the economic damage be worth it? it drives everyone's blood pressure up - so there is much more to health damage from corona than just corona.

i have been working on the writers' organization, and Ronitte Friedman wrote she uses these hashtags: #israeliassociationofwritersinenglish. just sos you know.

April 1, 2020

Our people are beginning to melt together into shmaltz. We're congratulating each other on how well we're doing, how we work together even though it took us a little time to explain to the Arab and the Haredi population what was going on. And we're going to me a light unto nations. I haven't seen this kind of self-congratulation since the 67 war. All the Israelis who can have come back here to help their parents or whatever, and to take advantage of our outstanding medical organization.

I don't mean to be ironic, because Benny Gantz really did prove the model of Jews sticking together when life or death situations threaten us. But there is still a sense we're having the wool pulled over our eyes. Here we are, jobless, broke, stuck at home, hysterical about egg shortage, unable to fulfill any relationship desires, and we're proud that we're handling it and sticking together.

April 2, 2020

Today was the first day masks are mandatory everywhere. On our little constitutional 100 meters around the block we were suddenly aware of couples with covered faces – people who were obviously neighbors but unidentifiable. The strangeness of it was paired with the sudden awareness of the joy of anonymity. ‘I could go for this,’ I told Ezi, ‘not knowing if I should say hello or not, not giving my feelings away to strangers, not my ironic grin or sneer, not having to respond.’ Of course, it was definitely lonely – there are neighbors I love, and really only one or two I don’t like very much – but it was also much more pure somehow. Certainly I rejoice that we are returning nature to our non-human partners. The birds are singing louder, reminding me of Chaucer’s April, where “small birds maken melodye, that slepen all the night with open eye.” Deer, wild boar, rabbits, and other wild creatures are in the streets of our city. Fish and crab are returning to our beaches, and it seems that the flora is also growing more wild than every other year. There is even a cartoon going around about how a family goes to the zoo and watches the wildlife in cages and now the wildlife watches us in our cages. That's when i remembered the next line of Chaucer when he talks about April 'then longen folk to go on pilgrimages...' Ezi rejoices in the full kinneret and immediately after mourns the fact that we can't go there, step gingerly into the water, and then dine on St. Peter's fish, deep fried. he's missing the gorgeous sites we could have seen on our nature hikes.

i'm missing the animals. we have adopted a street cat that we feed - she must have grown up in the garbage can and had many kittens because her belly hangs like the women my mother would fit into corsets in 1948 when she came to the US. but she has a nick on her ear that shows she's been neutered. and she sleeps on the heating pipes over the bicycle storage shack. i've worried about the cats all over the city, and apparently i'm not alone - because even though the streets are pretty empty the cats seem quite content.

Can it be possible that now that we have been forced to understand that our health is completely dependent upon others' care, that we will understand that, as Alexander Pope wrote, "Man, like the generous vine, supported lives; the strength he gains is from the embrace he gives."

April 3, 2020

Well we have made it to the end of the page. and we have become so engrossed in our little lives that we didn't notice that the co-op board had invited us all to step out of our apartments at 7 and sing a welcome to the sabbath. at 7:15 I remembered when i got off the phone with a friend with whom i reminisced about a mutual friend who passed away. the sharing of grisly secrets about his life was so engrossing that i forgot a real life connection. shame on me.

he did not die of corona but long-term cancer.

in other ways we are managing well with our imprisonment. everything comes to us except people and our cleaner. it is pretty amazing how full our house ...used to be. have no fear - we'll eventually get out and will dance on the streets. i have a hunch that after the holidays some of us will be out

Even though it is clear some communities did not follow the rules, I don't think anyone should be blamed. not at this moment. the rules should have been enforced from the beginning. as well as the economic adjustments. let's get things back to normal and then we can take our accounts.

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