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CHRONICLES OF COVID, episode 500

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unionsqCHRONICLES OF COVID, episode 500

Hot time…summer in the city. Those lyrics used to make me think about a different city, at a different time. Today with demonstrations in every major city, many peaceful intentions are being compromised by raging looters, possibly racist troublemakers. Not at Union Square on Saturday afternoon. The crowd was masked and calm, strong and determined. I spoke to a woman who said she reported for WBAI radio complaining that the sound system was much better in Harlem. Of course.  Another journalist from France was confounded by the movement of the movement. She didn’t know where they heading off to. “In Europe, the demonstrations swell in one place, so you can make a statement. All of these smaller groups do not coalesce” she said. She was completely exhausted from chasing the crowd with her heavy gear.  The protest is complicated. Years of racism mixed with economic injustice, and all of it punched up with this pandemic. I wondered if the protesters took the subway from Harlem downtown and felt safe.

Walking down Broadway I couldn’t miss the overwhelming smell of urine overwhelming in front of all the closed businesses doorways. So grim. Two separate angry men, screamed a lifetime of pain into the air, but people were mostly cool, engaged but not enraged.

Neighbors are moving away. There’s lot of great furniture for grabs on the streets. I held a gate for two guys struggling to carry out a Swedish modern bureau. When someone suggested it might be lighter by removing the drawers, they grunted and began again.

One sad looking man was sweeping the floor of one of the historic old bars of Astor Place, now closed for good along with Gem Spa and its infamous egg creams on the other corner.

My mood stayed strong thanks to breath work with Michael Stone and a good report from my vet. I’m working hard to balance the mac and microcosms of daily life.

Life matters…every color, every form. The day was so beautiful… more birds, flowers springing up. Nature there to remind us of the beauty if we can remember to look, though all the injustice. Third degree charges instead of first.

I sat on the roof for a bit listening to the noisy evening sky…helicopters hovering and whirling, almost blocking out the bell ringing for the essential workers   Still the grey clouds were beautiful and the air clear.

Later, I experimented with reality. I needed to be somewhere else completely and Irving Berlin provided it with Roundabout Theatre’s presentation of his musical Holiday Inn. Berlin, a refugee to this country, has been considered American’s greatest composer…he loved this country and you feel his joy in every tune. After all, he wrote “God Bless America”. What would he think now?

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Written by nancykoan

May 31, 2020 at 3:20 pm

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, episode 202

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, episode 202

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I have truly stepped into an Orwellian nightmare with a smattering of Hitchcock. As if it’s not enough that Minneapolis is burning, demonstrators are being gassed and the president’s still saying cruel and embarrassing things — an old fashioned ice cream truck has been parked on my street playing over and over again that tingly, happy little tune that used to get my six year old self terribly excited, but my much older self finds a bit too ironic to swallow. Not too ironic, however, to keep me from heading down there for a small chocolate cone dip. Hey, you gotta eat.

My sister asked me if I were going to the demonstration. It was dark when she inquired and for the last three months I have never ventured out after sunset. In the early days of Covid isolation, I found the few hooded creatures on the street intimidating. So, I started to wear a hood, but intimidated no one. Nervous, I just stayed home. Now with summer almost here and the longer nights, I may stick my nose out, but not to a demonstration.. My cotton mask is not strong enough to withstand gas and I certainly don’t want to get into a brawl with someone wearing no mask at all.  But that’s only part of it. Last night there were fire engines on my block and the colored lights were spinning in my apartment like I was at Studio 54. I raced down to check it out because tenements are quite vulnerable and I was relieved that a certain movie star’s house and my own were ok. Still. Lots of tension. Then about five hours later, as I was preparing for Amanpour’s news show, I heard something that at first sounded like a car doing whatever cars do that actually sounds like a firecracker or more in fact like a gun. I do believe it was a gun. I have no idea how close it was or if they were blanks (yes, I watch CSI). Darling is losing her hearing, so I was left bearing the burden of barking for both of us. As soon as I heard the first shot, I wanted to hit the deck, but made the decision to simply sit still on the sofa and squeeze the remote control. If someone were blowing off steam, he was heard

Sleeping was crazy after a night like that. Today, I felt it incumbent to rest alfresco and support the Amazon by going to the closest piece of grass and sun I could find. A lot of other people must have had a bad night as the area filled up fast; still Darling and I were able to find a tiny patch of green where she could rub her body and I could lift my mask to breathe. I never take the trees for granted, even more now as the lungs of the world are being so threatened by big money. All the beauty and potential at risk along with the indigenous population facing Covid on top of everything else.

If ever a time were more rife with the number of horrible things that need to be changed, this is it.  We need so much more than recovery; we need discovery. Creating a world that protects first. Yes.

My lungs are whispering to me.

               They cry for their cousins in the south, knowing that we need to Breathe together.

                                            And keep our green skies below.

 

 

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Written by nancykoan

May 30, 2020 at 4:00 am

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, episode 200

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, episode 20020200525_152940

 

Clouds have taken on a new importance during this Covid chapter of my life. I look to them to be assured that everything changes, sometimes within a matter of seconds. Shapes that shift from spaceships to Lincoln’s profile are a reminder  that nothing is static, even during virus time. With that I go through my days knowing that even my darkest moods will lift and turn their focus towards something lighter and hopeful.

But before I reach that point, I am compelled to keep my eyes open and look at what’s going on, outside my own personal issues. It would be inhuman to ignore the realities of this country and pretend that things are decent. Black men are being slaughtered by the very people our taxes pay to protect us. Churches are being burned by ‘god-fearing racists. Families of undocumented workers live in daily fear. Anti-Semitism escalates weekly and Nature, our Mother, is fighting for her very existence.

Where are we? Who are we? It would be too facile to put blame for this imbalance only on our so-called leadership… much of this havoc has been brewing well before the ascent of these unloving, non- responsive robots.  We either have been too busy, too distracted or have felt too powerless to stop it.

During the weekly dharma talk yesterday, Peter Coyote spoke to one of the bottom lines…the need to vote the better people into office. And the only way to do this, without the influence of corporations and favor makers, is to push for campaign finance reform. As long as a candidate owes something beyond her moral compass, we are all prisoners to big money, guns and bias.

Why does this country hold so much hate in its collective heart? It’s time we look in the mirror and face this responsibility to be better human beings and heal this amazing country. No amount of money or church or temple going can shift that fact if we are not willing to look deeply into our own eyes, face the truth  and say enough.

After George Floyd’s murder, Christian Cooper’s attack and  UK’s Dominic Cummings’ deceit, it’s hard to find a lighter ending note. But there is one, of course. Friends and good will. Still unwilling to travel by subway, Amy and Skip, artist and poet ferry their way to my neighborhood to share a cookie and and gossip…integral ingredients to a normal social life, one we will hopefully all be participating in soon.

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Written by nancykoan

May 28, 2020 at 9:03 pm

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, episode 120

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, Episode 120

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Time is so out of whack these days. I can’t recall if it were yesterday or a month ago, I made a spectacular trek out of the neighborhood. I had heard through the grapevine that Clorox wipes were available at a grocery store near Gramercy Park. Leaving my dog at home, I geared up with mask and gloves for the expedition. I had only seen newsreels of how quiet New York was and may have only seen ten people in all on my journey back and forth. Once there, I raced to the back of the store hunting down the precious wipes. Nothing was on the shelf. Bare.  So, it wouldn’t be a complete waste, I bought some exotic food items unavailable at my local bodega and went to the front of the store to inquire as to why they gave me false hope re the wipes. Apparently, I didn’t know the rules, the secret code, or the handshake—the cashier told me I had to ask at the manager’s booth and only one per customer. I was thrilled but felt suddenly like I was in East Berlin getting my monthly ration of kasha.

 

The mix up of time also produces strange improprieties. Buying an actual ticket, I watched a live comedy benefit fora local candidate. One of the comedians performed from inside a parked car; apparently the car being the only privacy available to her. Cool. She could have been on a space shuttle the way her hair seemed to float around her head. Usually on a zoom, you see thumbnails of the other participants but on this one, the zoom meister kept revealing the audience on a rotating basis, probably looking for smiley faces to help nurture the comedians along.  It was fun seeing people in their smelly t shirts dribbling food down their fronts while seemingly enjoying the stand-up comics. I, for one, donned my usual lampshade disguise so as not to be recognized. I can’t fake laughter. The rotation, however, worked well giving us all a sense of community, that was until a latecomer showed up, naked in a bathtub, apparently enjoying watching and being watched. Ah, decency out the window.

I have had two therapy sessions during these early months. Since I wasn’t able to find the Mayor’s Office of Loneliness on line, I thought it best to speak to a pro on occasion just to stay on top of the burgeoning madness. I liked the woman a great deal, though I was concerned at her concern over my PayPal account. At this juncture, I require speaking to someone without money issues, as they are one of my major roadblocks. Still, it was good to know that everything I’m feeling is normal and that the stretch of unknown time ahead of me is being felt by one and all. I mean I know its spring because it’s so green and the mice are spending more time outside my apartment. But other than that, I have little sense of time except when the 7 pm bells ring out for the essential workers.

I wish I still menstruated. Women are blessed with a natural internal calendar and depending on one’s regularity, can count on misery every 28 days with pre-bloating a week before. The chocolate stash empties out and you know where you are. Can any old sun dial top that?

 

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Written by nancykoan

May 26, 2020 at 12:06 am

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, episode 622

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Chronicles of Covid, episode 622 (memorial day)

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Some days I wake up so crabby that even my dog stays away (till she needs feeding). This day started out in such a manner. i don’t know if it’s a follow up from nightmares, but I believe they do affect the rest of my waking dream state. I had read that astrologically this was a period of reviewing past relationships, live and dead, and that they will come in different ways.

I seem to be stuck on one ex in particular and it always leaves me feeling empty, guilty and full of remorse. In last night’s dream, I found myself moving from an abode. It was very specific what with unscrewing little door plates and keeping the hardware, wrapping up glass figurines, and other similar minutiae. While  packing up one small box, I found a tiny ring and said to my friend to give to my ex when she would next see him. Her advice was sharp and quick. “No, don’t.” As if I might need it for someone else? The abruptness of her response woke me up and all over again I felt a sense of missing in action… my heart primarily.

The Sunday morning news show did little to life my spirits.  I hope that all those enjoying this holiday weekend aren’t being too careless. It’s understandable that folks want to run and play but this urgent need to go to shopping malls eludes me. At this point, I, like every dog I ‘ve ever lived with, would just be happy enough to go for a ride in a car with my head hanging out the rolled down window.

Nostalgia naturally is playing a big role in this moment. My sister and I are most comfortable when speaking about our childhood days and she reminds me of toys we loved. There was one tin comic book rack that I mused about and she insisted it had been hers first. How many times do you have to remind an older sibling that everything was theirs  first by order of birth. Still, I had inherited it and now it is long gone. With that theme we moved on to Winky Dink. I recalled the little star fellow and the kit that came with the brand. It was some type of film that you could put right on the television screen and draw on. How fun. Except that once I remembering drawing with heavy crayons, having forgotten to put up the Winky Dink screen first. It must have been really hard for my mother to wash off.

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In honor of Memorial Day Weekend, I went on e-bay and found a slightly battered Winky Dink and bid on it. This is madness, of course, but if I win, I’ll send it to my sister on her next birthday. That is, after trying it on a flat  screen television. I want to see how Stephen Colbert looks with a bright Winky star on his head.

So along with fallen soldiers, today I am mourning the people who died from Covid 19.  My wonderful pharmacist Ali with the heart of gold and Bill Wolf, a friend, film critic and teacher. Good-bye little Winky Dinks… you were  and are loved.

 

 

Written by nancykoan

May 24, 2020 at 9:39 pm

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, Episode 421

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, Episode 421

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There are many wonderful things to enjoy during this pandemic. Stretch waist bands for one. I have never worn one style of pants as often in my life. These K Mart, side striped step in pants have proved a god send, what with too little exercise, IBS and fluid retention from late night taco chips. It’s so easy to go right from sleepwear to day wear and sometimes it’s one in the same.

Darling, the young woman I share my life with, had an appointment at the vet today. We went out and as. soon as she made her daily contribution to the sidewalk (yes, I scooped), she refused to walk another step. She has a sixth sense, this little schnoodle How did she know? Did she read my email? I carried her over to the vet’s office where she shook like a leaf until she was taken in, blood tested and brought out again. She was so relieved that the ordeal was over that she ran jauntily up the street where for a reward, I stopped and bought her chicken bone broth. For me, the cheap stuff is ok, but for her, organic bone broth without sodium.

Dogs are funny during Covid. They know things are strange and they try and conform accordingly, but when they catch a whiff of a passing dog, they can’t help but want to get socially undistanced. So, it’s up to the parent to fathom the expression in the eyes of the other dog’s masked owner. Do they think it’s safe? Are they too frightened to engage?  If the other human is indifferent or more likely on the mobile, I let the dogs decide.  Their dance doesn’t take very long as many New York dogs are fixed.

After zooming a writing class from Sundance and a talk back with activist filmmaker Fisher Stevens through the Woodstock Film Festival site, it was time to manage a pre- fabbed food kit that would invariably be too salty. But how do you suck the salt out of food in a microwave? Adding a potato doesn’t help.

Several glasses of budget filtered water later, it felt like time to make a call. One of the great things about Covid is that heroes are not in short supply. At seven we bang for the essential workers, but one of the news shows turned me on to someone I just had to meet. Pat ‘Mother Blues’ Cohen (no relation) was found in North Carolina singing the most incredible blues outside of the senior home where her brother was sequestered. This incredible woman traveled an hour by car to provide entertainment through the windows to these folks who are truly isolated and especially for her baby brother.

I found her number through a service that helps older blues singers and there we were, talking about her career, life as a card dealer in Atlantic City, singing on Bourbon Street before surviving Katrina and now giving pleasure to a smaller but equally thrilled audience. I guessed she was a Taurus when she talked about her fascination with studying online catalogs and dreaming of the ideal home where she could house all her treasures. I also have way too much stuff in a small space and study Wayfair likes it’s the Torah.

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photo courtesy of Music Maker Relief Foundation

I wrote a song for a film I hope to finish someday that I’d love to hear her sing. She’s got the chops so who knows what might happen when life goes back to something more recognizable than this moment. I’m keeping this hero’s number just in case.

Written by nancykoan

May 23, 2020 at 1:34 am

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CHRONICLES of COVID, episode 367

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Chronicles of Covid, episode 367CHRONICLES OF COVID Episode 367

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Clearly my goal of doing one of these revelatory reports every day during isolation has gone asunder, what with the more pressing obligation of avoiding noticing my weight gain while at the same time, making sure I have plenty of Panda’s Australian licorice (both noir and strawberry) in stock.

So why do I feel compelled to write today? I’m certainly not bored, what with not one, but two zoom classes on how to perform Shakespeare for your dog. I’ve also mastered the art of making Rice Crispies soak up the milk really fast so that the white stuff doesn’t spill out of the bowl while eating in bed (did I mention that it’s so quiet you can actually hear the snap, crackle and pop?) And best … I even made it through a birthday without the usual fanfare of insisting my friends show up for what I often think of as the Last Supper.  I’m learning to become my best friend.

All in all, a successful week or whatever we call this stretch of endless days. I’m feeling so good about myself that I defended Donald Trump’s refusal to wear a mask. Clearly, he does not want to create more tan lines on his face and we all know how hard it is to get Maybelline’s Sunkiss Glow off a N95.

So, with renewed spirit I took a walk. My mask was one of my looser ones; having stretched out the ear elastic I had to bobby pin it to my hood. Luckily, in my neighborhood most people wear their pajamas on the street until about 330 pm, so I wasn’t the least embarrassed.

It was windy on the east river and when I got far enough away from other potential disease carriers, I lifted the side of my mask and let some of that good New York air into my nasal fortress. Ah it was nice.

I noticed one fellow in the baseball field doing an exercise with two long strands of black rubber. He shook it endlessly until it looked like a dancing infinity symbol and I was impressed with his strength, despite having skinny white arms.

Taking a rest, I sat on a bench for 20 minutes unfriending people I disagreed with on Facebook and then decided to meditate before I’d have no friends left. The British voice on the meditation told me to appreciate this time by slowly looking at the sky and noticing everything slowly. An opportunity was being afforded all of us to see things anew. With those thoughts I started back home when I spotted a tiny rose bush. I bent down, adjusted my mask and breathed in the little pink bud. To my delight, it smelled like a real flower. I don’t know when I smelled such an aroma last other than at Bed Bath and Beyond. This was how flowers always used to smell before they were harvested by the slave trade. Just to be certain I wasn’t hallucinating; I took another whiff and and then tightened up my mask. I really needed that rose scent.

 

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My lesson for the day was twofold. Always try to remember to look up at the sky and just as important, brush the teeth before going out for a walk with a mask. The exhales can be quite rough, but only your best friend will tell you the truth.

Written by nancykoan

May 20, 2020 at 6:38 am

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Chronicles of Covid, Episode 42

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20200424_140918Chronicles of Covid, Episode. 42

Day 135, feels like 2030

Blue today, blue Friday. Grey morning riding on the heels of nightmares. Most of my dreams involve dead friends. Are they trying to tell me something? I’m wondering if it has something to do with forgiveness…forgive myself for not having lived enough in the world on offer for so long, now that the offerings are so different, so internal. Even dreaming about old ex-friends who are still alive and with Whom, if I were a forgiving type, I would call and say “what was that fight about anyway?”

I had a thrill yesterday. Being poetry month, the radio was giving prompts for a poem. I dashed one off to the tune of “after this is over, what is the first thing you would want to hear?” A producer emailed me that she liked mine so with Shakespeare on my shoulder, I imagined the red carpet of my radio poetry debut and all the joys that would follow. What if they read it aloud? It was really meant for my therapist.

I didn’t hear the live radio as I must have been foraging for balsamic vinegar… but email said I had made the LIST. Alas, too late to start a poetry career  and besides, I had tried it once with the Unbearables, a rough and tumble group of lovable refugees from the normative. Mike Golden died this year, he had inched me in to the group. I’m glad he’s missing this messy time… he never ever would have worn a mask unless he was in the getaway car.

Earth Day came and I hugged my dog who was peeing next to a tree. No pee. Then she went up to a guy sitting on a bench  reading with a muffin and looked like she would pee on his long leg. He was such a gentlemen. He suggested that he had often been mistaken for a tree and wasn’t bothered in the least. Now that’s what I call humanity and nature in synch.

Note to self: Please  don’t forgive the US neglect of the Native Americans, esp. the Navajo Nation at this time/don’t  forgive the jerks trying to abolish abortion rights as non-essential/ and don’t forgive the potential damage to the working poor with the re-opening of American life

Written by nancykoan

April 25, 2020 at 1:01 am

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, #37

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Chronicles of Covid. #37

Day 37, feels like 400

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LOW HUNG FRUIT

I’ve demoted my bras to the bottom drawer.

Swing hi, swing lo.

The mascara’s run dry,

Say good bye, say good bye.

The tooth paste must stay,

but the hair, what can I say?

I’ve grown accustomed to this look,

Locked in but free, to be to be to be.

A version of Me!

Written by nancykoan

April 13, 2020 at 10:18 pm

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COVID CHRONICLES, day 35

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DAY 35, FEELS LIKE 2054

Another day in resilience. On a Passover zoom seder last night, a lovely fellow from Namibia ended our conversation by suggesting that I try and not be too angry. He’s right of course. Anger does nothing for one’s immune system. But still, how can it be ignored…all the greed and betrayals by those at the helm. Spring, a time of renewal has been turned into a death march.  Even with meditation, listening to the newly discovered bird chirping and internet tai chi classes, I remain angry.

I wonder why life has been so devalued in this country. It didn’t just start with the epidemic. Just ask Black Lives Matter. And people thrown in prison for years. And guns, and lack of education and inefficient health care. Why don’t we care for each other and fight for life affirming legislation…for everyone? When did the American dream become defined by money, power and fame?

I hear the ambulance sirens and I think of Germany ’41, imagining it’s a neighbor caught by the Gestapo, saddened but relieved it’s not me, this time.

My new therapist said it was ok to feel anger, that I’m part of a large group feeling this kind of anger, even hate at this time.  I don’t want to hate. I’ve spent a fortune on vitamins and don’t care to dilute their power with hate. But I am reflecting and re-evaluating and it’s good to know I’m not alone in this.

There is richness in this time. We’re temporarily free to jump off the capital choo choo and muse on other things. And if there’s meaning in everything, that life is not haphazard, then I look for meaning also in this.

The tenth plague which finally pushes Pharaoh to give the Israelites their freedom was a doozy. Slaying of the first-born son. Horrific. This is the story of Passover and the exodus to a promised land, a new way of living. We are making cruel sacrifices every day. Is that what it will take for our country to wake up and learn to care for each other. Can we get through that narrow place to freedom? And if so, can we get there fast…it seems like it’s been 40 years already

Written by nancykoan

April 10, 2020 at 3:52 am

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