A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 14

Trump soul mate and likely infectee Jair Bolsonaro.

Sunday, March 22

A beautiful day, although still cold. I’m definitely in a rut here, with coffee, oatmeal, this journal, and the Times for morning companions. Still, habits can be comforting: The citizens in Camus’ plague city found the epidemic’s destruction of their usual ways to be unsettling. Of the pre-pestilence times, the author says, “everyone is bored and devotes himself to cultivating habits.” I am using this occasion to cultivate new ones.

More woeful economic news: Jobless claims jumped 30% week before last, and Goldman Sachs foresees new claims rising to over 2 million. I drive to the town dump to get rid of a week’s collected garbage. The number of reported cases in New York State doubled overnight, says the car radio.

In a daily journal published online by The New York Review of Books (https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/03/21/pandemic-journal/), Sao Paulo-based Vanessa Barbara says that 15 members of Jair Bolsonaro’s recent entourage at Mar-a-Lago have now tested positive for the coronavirus. Like his soul mate Trump, Bolsonaro’s approach has mixed denial and sowing of confusion; he recently attended a street rally in Brasilia, taking selfies and shaking the hands of supporters.

I telephone a friend who lives a few doors down the hallway in our NYC apartment building, asking him to water our plants. He says the city is emptied out, like some major holiday weekend, but that the grocery stores have plenty of stuff to sell. He has to teach an online class this week…in sculpting! Students won’t do any projects, just watch him sculpt from his studio in Williamsburg. He thinks this is absurd but, still, the school will pay him and the students will get their needed credit.

A retired judge who also lives in our building, says via e-mail that he is sick. His doctor thinks it’s allergies or a cold, but he also has had a low fever. Rick is staying upstate, having returned to New York City only once since the epidemic broke out. His bronchial problems are exacerbated by 9-11 exposure to the fall of the World Trade Center.

Emily, who speaks very good Spanish, is reviewing her skills via the online program Duolingo. Seems like I should teach myself how to play chess or something. But I will probably just return to reading The Wind in the Willows or maybe looking at the Wikipedia entry on the 1950s polio epidemic or 1918 influenza epidemic.

Tonight’s dinner will be cold soba noodles with sesame sauce and a salad.

Tonight’s entertainment: more episodes of Netflix’ The Crown (just how many episodes are there?) and, from Britbox, the edgy comedy Inside No. 9.

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