Yesterday was in many ways an ordinary day. It was off to Marin, a visit to my magnificent hair stylist Kim, then lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (outside of course), then to Nordstrom’s to buy underwear, also scouting out the building where the MRI and ultrasound will be preformed on Thursday. So, in many ways perfectly ordinary. But, I was awoken by a text from Qatar:
She: Hey Queen Alya, how are you?
Me: Fine thank you. You are such a good girl! I love the print out of your exercise regime.
By the way, Alya is my Muslim name – it means Queen. So that is not exactly ordinary. Then later, on the trip to Marin there were two telephone calls from Qatar, from someone I had not heard from in weeks. That is not ordinary either – never been to Qatar but met several individuals from Qatar at my humble hotel in London in December of 2019. So that is not exactly ordinary either. Attached to this blog will be a photograph of a face masked me and my fantastic hair, living proof of my veracity. Synonyms of veracity are truthfulness, truth, accuracy, accurateness, correctness, exactness, precision, preciseness, realism, authenticity, faithfulness, fidelity; reputability, honesty, sincerity, trustworthiness, reliability, dependability, scrupulousness, ethics, morality, righteousness, virtuousness, decency, goodness, probity. Antonym: falsity.
The New Yorker is known for is authenticity, trustworthiness and honesty. There were two recent articles about the mess that exists here in San Francisco. The articles were written by Anna Wiener. . “Two years ago, during the 2018 wildfires, I wrote a short dispatch in which I recounted watching a woman in a P100 respirator select salad dressing at a Safeway. At the time, the image struck me as unusual; now, during the coronavirus pandemic, it seems almost quaint. In the past month, new rituals have emerged, some more ceremonial than others, first in response to the pandemic—using masks, gloves, wipes, alcoholic gels and tonics—and now to the fires. The rituals have begun converging. We now monitor the air-quality index, consulting it like the weather, multiple times a day. A.Q.I.—a measurement, established by the Environmental Protection Agency, that denotes the level of air pollution, using a scale from zero to five hundred—has become the determining factor for pandemic-safe social gatherings, telling us whether it’s safe to walk our dogs, exercise, or talk outside. The Web site of PurpleAir, a manufacturer of air-quality sensors, displays a color-coded map of the world studded with A.Q.I. data. A healthy A.Q.I., of between zero and fifty, is denoted by circles of yellow and green; orange and red indicate air that carries some risk. For A.Q.I. levels between two hundred and five hundred, the circles run from eggplant to maroon. Their presence usually coincides with text messages from the city’s Department of Emergency Management, warning that outdoor activity should be avoided.
On Thursday, the A.Q.I. map looked like a cluster of ripening grapes; the nearest clear air was in Nevada. The orange light receded; instead, the city was a dull white. Friends in Portland packed go bags. Group text messages fluttered around the question of whether those with small children should leave and where they might go. People noted their headaches, sore throats, and itchy eyes. By Friday, towns and communities up and down the West Coast had been incinerated. Twelve people in California were reported dead. Fires in Oregon had consumed nearly a million acres, and thousands had been evacuated, with a half million more awaiting the order.
In San Francisco, the crisis remained confined to the air and the light. Even indoors, a thin haze hovered. Glancing through the windows, one saw what looked like heavy fog. It was a thick, suspended ash, which clung to the glass. It is hard not to sound histrionic when considering the source: what looks like a dusting from a mild snowfall is the particulate remains of people’s homes, their personal histories.
Some are saying that these crises are too much to bear; that the collision of public-health issues is unsustainable; that California will soon become uninhabitable; that people will flee. But the state has always offered its residents reasons to leave: earthquakes, drought, heat, fires; political and economic cruelties. A certain degree of volatility is part of the pact. It seems just as likely that people will adapt, as they always do, until adaptation, by will or necessity, turns into retreat.”
Anna also wrote an article An Apocalyptic August in California on August 24,2020. This paragraph is most telling:
“It’s hard not to see all this in terms of a cascading series of national failures: the chaotic, politicized, fabulist response to the virus; the political influence of oil and gas conglomerates; the fecklessness of private utility companies; cruel immigration policies and weakened labor protections; environmental rollbacks; a weakened social safety net. Some failures, like global warming, are bigger than any one country’s, although the United States has failed here, too. According to meteorologists, last week’s dry lightning was connected to the heat wave, which was generated by winds from Tropical Storm Fausto. Colorado is also experiencing a spate of wildfires, one of which is the second-largest in its history. These are the conditions for secondary environmental and public-health crises. Smoke from the fires in California and Colorado is uncoiling across the country. Plumes have already drifted as far as Kansas.”
But here is something amazing. Last week met with Wise Man.
He: You are happier and more at peace than I have ever seen you. We first met five years ago.
Me: You are so right! It is all because of the coronavirus.
He: Well, that is true in part. But you have been doing so much work – reflecting on your life, analyzing your dreams, coming to grips with your past.
Me; True and the other stabilizing and good news is that there are no men in my life. Being of self isolation does rather cramp my style.
He: That is a very acute insight!
Me: And even when this pandemic ends there will be no man without marriage – the dictates of the Islamic faith and all.
He: Anyone in particular in mind for that coveted role?
Me: I am not talking! Hahahaha
This conversation was the equivalent of receiving a million gold stars for good behaviour.
Today is Monday – it is an IN day. Tomorrow will be a massage and then the MRI and ultrasound on Thursday with a haircut scheduled for next Sunday. Patience is required for many reasons and patience is not one of my virtues.
Life is rather strange in other ways. I am watching Borgen on Netflix. She, the Prime Minister is facing a crisis due to the deaths of Dane soldiers in Afghanistan. Just learned from Al Jazeera that Qatar is hosting settlement talks between the Taliban and the Afghans. That Emir of Qatar is making good things happen. The opposite of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the Ruler of Dubai.
I do look rather cute in my face mask and hairdo – you do have to admit.