13 April 2020
6:30 Stretching, inter-locked palms under my head, disjointed thoughts streaming in. Sigh. . . I get up and open the blinds to let in the light and sights from outside my window. Again, it’s a beautiful day!
I have decided to structure my day and to stick to my schedule as closely as possible--to have designated spaces for designated tasks. It keeps me from feeling lethargic. And it helps to wear out the monotony of days punctuated by fear.
7:00 Breakfast of papaya and Danish pastry in my Dining Area—something sweet to awaken my taste buds--and c-o-f-f-e-e! Ah, what would I ever do without coffee? Two glasses of water with my meds.
7:30 Mug of extra coffee in hand, I stare out of the window to watch isolated people on the golf course. A few workers in buggies are doing maintenance work. A lone couple are walking side-by-side on the fairway.
I look for the daily sighting of my white “bird of prey." It's now perched on one of the big trees. This is perhaps one of the birds I hear calling each other towards sundown as I play in the course. Presently, a smaller black bird joins it, and wanting more privacy, it flies out to land on another tree across the fairway.
8:00 Time to watch BBC News. I go back to my bedroom. It’s 1:00a.m. UK time, so this should be a good summary of the events of the past 24 hours. Trump is threatening to withdraw US contribution to WHO as he isn’t satisfied with its work. What bad timing for us. But what perfect timing if you're looking for a scapegoat. I throw up my arms in disgust and promptly tone down the volume, averting my eyes so I don't have to look at his face. . . Perhaps a bit of more promising news: a vaccine is being developed in Australia and if successful, could be ready on a selected basis by the end of the year!
8:30 In my study, I scroll down for early morning messages from my two chat groups whilst glancing at emails on my laptop.
Group member #1: “My little dog is no longer permitted to go to the side of the entrance of our building to make a poop—new policy. Now, he stays in our unit. He hasn’t pooped for the past two days, and this morning, he peed on our carpet!”
Group member #2: “We're fine here in London, although we're also on lockdown: allowed to go to the small park across the street to exercise, but not allowed to loiter there. I wish I were back in Manila with family."
Group member #3: Sends two videos: one shows a man with his face pressed against the windowpane, singing a dirge. Another pans a camera in front of his three-way mirror. Glass of wine in hand, he makes a toast to himself: "chin-chin" times three.
Haha, I congratulate myself. Now is the revenge of the introverts! I have always been called a loner because I spend days on end at home. Now, a neighbour complains of suffocation, another imagines schemes to beat the check-point located nearby, but I still feel comfortable, not even minding an extension of two weeks, added to an almost month-long lockdown. It has become a new normal—not all that much different from my old normal. The only thing I miss is my occasional 9-hole golf exercise.
9:00 Time for the daily chat with my brother and sister-in-law. My brother wails over the waning of American global influence. Relative to other powerful countries, he likes America, warts and all. As a matter of fact, I agree with him. We both share rambling thoughts about possible changes in global leadership.
9:30 Now, to work. Since the publication of WHEN TURTLES COME HOME, I have decided that I would like to collect what still remains of folklore in Negros before they get completely lost to posterity
Currently, I have seven stories—creation myths, origins of place names, etc. (I still need to transcribe and translate one of them). I'm hoping I can find more—have engaged two local researchers but like everybody else, they're on lockdown.
Meantime, I'm reading up on the history of myths, their meanings and functions. I remember during my youth I would have had to go to the library, look under the subject catalogue, and cross-reference items of interest. Worse, often you didn’t even get books, but perhaps some microfiche you would have had to peer down on through some old-fashioned machine. You'd get out of the darkened room all bleary-eyed!
Now, thanks to my smart phone, to Google, and to Wikipedia, I'm spared all those! I'm not a scholar and don’t need all the arcane facts and their citations. Also, I'm given the added bonus of grammar and spell-checks!
The books on my shelves are more dated, but are equally helpful. There are Jung’s classic psychoanalytic theories and Joseph Campbell’s thought-provoking ideas on the nature of myths. No, I am not running out of things to do at home.
11:30 Back on my exercise machine in front of NETFLIX. Now, I'm on a Korean soap opera called Crash Landing on You. Highly recommended by a couple of friends, I'm curious. A beautiful, rich, spoiled young girl accidentally paraglides from South Korea into North Korea and meets a handsome though humourless soldier, and together, they embark on colourful misadventures. Unfortunately, not my taste. The pacing of the show is too slow for someone who likes Marvel comics action films. Characters would tell the audience in a soliloquy what they’re thinking of, instead of a Robert Redford look, and voila, you know what’s in his mind! I get tired of waiting for the next shot, so I fast forward to the end.
12:00 Lunch of paksiw na bangus, rice, tortang talong, and mango. I'm not picky on food—I eat what’s on the table, often sharing whatever my two helpers eat for themselves.
13:00 Back in my bedroom for the Pope’s daily Mass on Sky’s Channel 76--now with daylight saving time in Europe, changed from 14:00 to 13:00. The Pope speaks slowly and I try to register every word he says, especially now that it is Holy Week. He talks of a God who serves, instead of being served; of how we often betray Him and our neighbour for a few pieces of silver; of how Jesus asks for forgiveness for those who have crucified Him; and finally, just like many of us in a moment of extreme suffering, He asks why His Father has deserted Him. Christianity is a religion for this world—it makes us live better lives.
15:00 Change of settings, I go to the Sitting Room to watch the shortened version of Mel Gibson’s Passion of Christ, moved by the graphic rendition of what Christ’s suffering must have been like. Heretofore, the account was only a part of my catechism class. But now, the feeling comes with the visuals.
17:30 Tired and heavy-hearted after the film, I go up my exercise machine but don’t feel much inclined for a NETFLIX show, so I do my 30-minute walking exercise in silence, still contemplating the movie. I realise this is the most meaningful Holy Week I have ever spent.
18:00 Supper consists of pasta with shrimps and veggies, some sliced baguette, a small glass of wine, and a banana.
19:00 Daily calls to and from Paul may last anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes. They used to be about his work, but now they are about his online lessons, or his newfangled cocktail recipes. I tell him if he can’t find a job after this crisis, he can always open a bar.
20:00 Ready for my nightly read—I have found a book from my shelf on Celtic mythology. Stories. I don’t want to think too much at night, or again I won’t be able to sleep.
Wonder what tomorrow will bring.