Operation Oysterhood: 5 January

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

Just before lockdown began, Mom told me to stock up on a few things – “to strengthen your immune system”. I did. And then I read in Howard Philips’s In a Time of Plague: Memories of the ‘Spanish’ Flu Epidemic of 1918 in South Africa that the local survivors of the 1918 influenza pandemic repeatedly swore by my Mom’s recommendations (lemons, ginger and garlic) as what had kept them alive during the ‘Spanish’ flu. They also added brandy to the mix, wise people. As far as I know, my unusually non-drinking Polish mother had never even had a taste of brandy, so she is forgiven for not knowing about its immune-system-boosting properties, but she was spot-on in her list of survival ingredients otherwise.

I again have lemons, garlic and ginger and there is a little bit of cognac left in my kitchen. I am not sure about my immune system, but just having these fruits and veggies in the house makes me feel better, although they probably protect me from the coronavirus as effectively as they protect me from vampires. What definitely counts for the psychosomatic part of confronting the pandemic is the idea of care, care for oneself and for others. Wearing a mask, social distancing, hand washing are also part of the protective layers we can easily put around ourselves and others in order to at least attempt to keep safe from this horrible virus. With care.

It has been rough, especially when facing the maskless carelessness of others. We are all paying a horrendous price.

And now the vaccines are exposing another kind of carelessness that I find highly disturbing. I also want to get a vaccine against this virus and the disease it causes. But I want it because I want the pandemic and the suffering that it causes to end. What worries me is that there are many people who want it simply because they want to continue being careless, and they will, of course, do whatever it takes to get their shot. The selfishness and greed and yes, carelessness, involved are staggering.

The day began with a headache that wouldn’t go away. I drank water, had coffee, went for a walk, but the headache would not lift. Tension, I assume, although, of course, there’s always that other possibility that causes much of the tension in the first place. But I have no other symptoms, so I am not too worried. Salieri told me to get back into bed and be lazy with her, but eventually, I took a painkiller and was dazed for most of the rest of the day, yet could at least do my work – which was really lovely today because I returned to my editing job that I am really enjoying. There was also some admin, but nothing major. I did not accomplish everything that I wanted to, but a lot got done. At the end of the day, I even managed a swim before lighting a fire and braaing steaks for our dinner. And over lunch, I skyped with Mom and Krystian. They are also experiencing all sorts of tension symptoms. That’s the nature of a pandemic – even when you are not ill yourself, you are dealing with so much stress that it has to manifest somehow.

A fire always soothes me.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


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