Update from Italy: Day 20 in Quarantine

Photo by Savannah Bennett on Unsplash

Eleanor (5) is dressed today in her Rapunzel costume, complete with long faux braid twined with silk flowers, blissfully unaware of the irony here on the fourth floor of our apartment. I appreciate her penchant to don fancy dress at the drop of a hat. It gives a true period feel to our palazzo storico when she zips into a satin dress, with latticework on the bodice and striped cap sleeves. Even better is her winter habit of putting on the flimsy dress over multiple layers of clothes when indoors, true to the medieval custom, made requisite by the lack of insulation and single-glaze, wooden window frames. Our apartment in a cold winter feels very vintage. Vintage as in 1350.

The world right now is ramping up to Peak Stress as country after country locks down and goes into lockdown and quarantine. For people who are still in the “let’s wear masks, wash hands, observe some version of social distancing, and using Instacart,” I would say enjoy your time, but what I really want to say is, you are still contributing to the spread of contagion in this pandemic. On a jealous and personal note, I wish I had a day like that. But I don’t, and there’s not going to be one outside in the near future. I am prepping for April April Inside, April Inside, every single one of us spending April inside….

Peak Stress. Let’s talk about that. Farm Wife has a few things to say. She’s earthy and direct. (She made smashed avocado toast for lunch, heaven!) No matter where you are, in what stage of distancing, isolation, and lock down. We’re going to compassionately mute Miss Anxiety for now.

So we’re all stressed. What happens with stress? Communication suffers. People are working with about 5% of the bandwidth they normally have. People are going to say things they don’t normally say. They are not going to be able to respond in the way they would normally respond. They are not going to be able to hear and process input because processing bandwidth is full. It’s not going to come back anytime soon, people. I estimate the return to something closer to normal at June 2021, after it rips through the planet and we have a safe vaccine.

I am sure I have said less than kind things and responded inappropriately to questions or jokes. For that I am truly sorry (and humbly repent). I am sure I have misunderstood people, and often. Stress and online communication strip out context. It takes a lot to remain calm and compassion, it takes a lot to take a breath when the whole world is going through the stones as in Outlander, or down that tunnel like in Being John Malkovich. It’s a rough ride and you come out on another side, unsure how of this new reality. You must navigate, observe. You’re going to get some of it wrong. You will misunderstand. You might spread false news reports or unverified facts. You might be talking about theories relative to 5G, the fortieth anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, an oil war, Saudis and Russians, Nostradamus, that uncle at Stanford. I have had to delete racist vitriol posted on my page. I have been surprised by the responses of many, but none more than myself. I have had distant acquaintances get in touch, and I am trying to understand if they are internet rubbernecking, or not? Because if they weren’t, wouldn’t they ask how we are doing, and then stick around for one minute to hear? If not, I am going to go with internet rubberneckers, and CRTL+ALT+DELETE.

You don’t owe anyone communication. You don’t have to listen or to hear, if you don’t want, in this new landscape post-standing-stones, post alt-reality tunnel. But you do need to rustle up what compassion you can, and distribute it generously to yourself and others, if you can, whenever you can, whatever that looks like. It’s an NPI (non-pharma intervention) that we can all access (along with isolation and quarantine).

I am now crowned with my own silk flower garland, and here on the fourth floor, glued to a sunny window, I’ll take it.

Sincerely, Rapunzel’s Mother in the Tower