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Day twenty-three of the quarantine: an experience

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After yesterday’s disaster with the paint I considered calling my boss and asking for an exception to start going into the office again. The apartment is a mess, the walls are half painted and we are exhausted from each other.

On the positive side of things, the kids woke up without any recollection of what happened, no negative emotions from yesterday’s catastrophe. My helper son actually came into my room this morning, walked up to my sleeping face, and at point blank rage said “Pap, can we painting pap, pleeeeese.”

I had a lot of work to do today because yesterday’s failed endeavor drew me away from my livelihood. I announced today that I was working all day and was not to be disturbed. My wife asked “you mean after my scheduled yoga class?” I didn’t remember, but apparently she was citing a conversation that took place yesterday, a day which I was trying to block from my memory. The latest craze is an upgrade of an old business model: instead of paying for a gym membership you never use, you can buy online yoga classes that you never attend. The bonus is that the lock-down does not affect business and the owner has no rent to pay. The show must go on!

No problem, I turned on the television and on came the cartoons. Cartoons are the ultimate lazy parenting but sometimes they are a godsend. I remember growing up in Canada in the 80’s and 90’s. You had to wait for hours for your scheduled cartoons to come on, just to be bumped off by your older sibling or parent. We had one television and it was ruled by seniority. Nowadays I see screens in people’s cars, toilets, kitchens, playrooms, and bedrooms. I’ve even seen televisions in pubs, which is ridiculous. I believe that life without glowing squares builds character and those trips we took during my youth, with the five of us packed into a 1985 Ford Tempo travelling to Florida each Christmas, made us who we are!

But principles aside, I needed to work. I went to my office and left the door open, my wife doing her yoga in the playroom, kids watching cartoons in the destroyed living room that they could not really make worse. I sat there thinking about the preposterous situation we are in. How my oldest, finally starting to speak Czech a couple of months ago, has not heard it for five weeks; he was sick for two before lock-down. How we have a storage room full of stuff we will never want to eat, a year’s supply of toilet paper, and a fear of going out into the uncontrolled world. Will life ever return to anything resembling normal? I quickly searched the news and found our Czech epidemiologist Roman Prymula, who has guided our response and reactions, having switched sides and now believing in the “herd immunity” method as our way forward. This was quickly revoked by the Prime Minister, but similar news is out there. The Chinese have apparently lied and in fact millions are thought to have had contact with the virus with no problems. I read that perhaps ten million have already been infected in Italy and the deaths are dropping because they are gaining immunity. How can anyone believe anything now? Thirty years ago we believed what was on the news, today we have a 24/7 onslaught of viewpoints and opinions.

I returned to work and dreamed about a return to the life of the past. Lunches with no cooking or cleaning involved, dry cleaners, haircuts and a long walk around the city just because its spring. How about those afternoon coffees with friends, a concert on a Thursday evening, or a night at the opera? All dreams at the moment, just like a draught beer. I worked away and was impressed by my efficiency. Maybe I have finally found my rhythm. Then it hit me, it was awfully quiet in the living room.

I ran out of my bedroom and into the living room. There on the couch were my wife and children, all cuddled up to each other, watching some silly little talking pigs with English accents. I told them I had just ducked in to check up on everyone and ran back to work.

A nice uneventful day, with a beautiful evening sunset, clear skies and good mood. I could use a few more of these, and then return to our normal life. Now if I had just bought one bottle of wine during that last store run.

Paul Lysek – The idea of writing a daily update came to me by seeing, hearing and trying to understand all the things that are happening around us at this time. This story is a combination of all those sources, including friends, relatives, and experiences with attempts to bring out the satire, emotion and changing environment of the situation. It is entirely fictional, with the exception of my sarcasm.

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