A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 132

Walgreens is always waiting.

Thursday, August 13

By 7 a.m., I could already feel the humidity building up. Some recent days have been uncomfortably hot, but over night it was cool enough to allow sleep.

In the mid-afternoon, Emily takes an inventory of her remaining prescription pills. This is preparation for her chat with her regular doctor, scheduled for Friday afternoon. Emily has received one e-mail alerting her to an upcoming Zoom video chat; another, alerting her to an in-person visit; and a third, of a phone visit. Which will it be?

Emily thinks maybe the video—unnecessary in most doctor chats, hardly a substitute for an in-person pulse-taking or body fondle—has to do with insurance. Maybe doctors need proof that they have truly had a patient visit, and Zoom provides that proof.

I tried to reschedule a phone chat with my NYU neurologist. I got past the reception desk and left a voice-mail message with the doctor’s assistant, requesting that she telephone me. No soap. I may never hear from them again. If they don’t make contact, I can try again in a few months. All I really need is a prescription refill.

Tonight’s dinner: a Greek salad with Kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, red onion and feta cheese, plus Chinese cold noodles with sesame sauce. An international smorgasbord to be sure.

Entertainment: two episodes of Netflix’ Italian series The Trial.

A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 131

Wednesday, August 12

The telephone visit with the NYU neurologist failed. I waited by our phone for an hour—no call. I telephoned the NYU switchboard via a cell phone—so as not to tie up the landline—and gave someone the East Hampton phone number that the neurologist should be using, just in case there was any confusion. That operator seemed to be taking the phone number down very carefully, asking about it more than once. 

No-go. Later I checked with our Manhattan voice mail and found that the doctor had called me there three times. 

Why? I can only guess that this is another software-induced screw-up. No matter what I told the switchboard or the doctor’s assistant, the doctor relied on the “personal information” in the NYU computer system, which has our Manhattan phone number as primary. It’s probably set up so that she only has to push one button and that number is dialed.

Did the switchboard pass on my frantic messages? We’ll never know. 

The Netflix program Wasp Network is interesting on many fronts. It is an account of Cuban spies in the 1990s, posing as refugees and attempting to infiltrate anti-Castro Cuban-expat groups in Florida. One object of their infiltration was the group “Brothers to the Rescue,” which with its fleet of private planes, sometimes helped rafters attempting to escape Cuba. But the Brothers group also enjoyed prankster flyovers of Havana, rubbing Fidel’s nose in it, as it were. According to the movie, Brothers was also closely tied to the right-wing Cuban American National Foundation, to terrorist outfits that planted bombs in Havana hotels, and to Cuban-expat groups that ran drugs into the U.S. from Central America.

It’s rather a wonder that such a film, openly sympathetic to the pro-Castro Cubans, could even be made or shown in America. It’s hardly a low-budget job: directed by Olivier Assayas, the film features such box-office draws as Penelope Cruz and Gael Garcia Bernal. Perhaps the success of the cable-TV show The Americans, which features Soviet spies as its central and sympathetic characters, encouraged Netflix to stream Wasp Network. And like any good spy thriller, the film has a considerable measure of drama, suspense, and human interest. It’s just not anti-Communist. How is that possible?

Our end-of-the-day Peapod grocery delivery went well. There were few “out-of-stock” omissions, and surprisingly we got a large supply of Bounty paper towels. 

Dinner: leftover pork chops, corn on the cob, and a lettuce salad.

Entertainment: Scandinavian film Out Stealing Horses with Stellan Skarsgard.