Dispatch from quarantine

On Saturday, Spain joined a host of countries and cities in Europe, North America, and Asia, in urging, mandating, and in some cases, police-enforcing a self-quarantine and confinement to closed, mostly residential, spaces. Here is the first of what I hope will be a few (but who knows?!) daily dispatches of what that’s like.

We only just got back home on Wednesday, so the quarantine is only now real to us. Being all together like this is nice. The neighbors put a kickboxing heavy-bag on their terrace so we can hear them thump-thumping it, keeping fit. Sans the reggaton music today… then, a workout video they were following. My friend Rachel presciently took an offline friends’ group she manages online, so now there’s lightweight entertainment at my Whatsapp fingertips — today, there was a video of a panning shot of candlelight, roses on stems, stacks of toilet paper, and a reclining sunshades-clad yogi-style man in this hamman-style setting, delivering the singular line, “You want to be my Quarantine-Baby?”

It’s so nice to be able to work through this, or to have the prospect to do so. My realization today was, “oh, I can’t take my sewing machine with me from my workspace. However, I’ve been thinking of hand-embroidering the neon-yellow top, so I’ll take that with me. Thankfully, I got the embroidery theads last week, before we all knew that everything would be closed. And I can do a Yonderland issue…” I also thought to myself that since I can’t get models to work over the next few weeks, I can go retro and use some of the film photography I’ve been engaging in over the past year or so; there are definitely emerging themes.

Luckily this thing is not HIV that lasts forever in each person it infects — it has a two-week window to wreak havoc. So getting it under control, or even eradicating it, in a finite period of time, is feasible, if painful.

It’s challenging to try to not get sick when the contactless on my card decided it won’t work and I’d been too non-plussed to get a replacement card in the months before a general advisory told us what we all know, virus or not: use mobile payments and contactless whenever possible, to avoid unneccessary contact with germs. You should see me now, using the butt of my pen to key in my PIN, and almost growling at any taxi driver who tries to get my card out of the PoS himself, that I can do it myself, abeg. Two weeks ago, when the chaos of this was only ballooning in neighboring Italy, a taxi driver had been all touchy-feely with my card (she grabbed it from me to put it in the slot herself), and I had been too docile to protest. Me today would have growled at her :’).

Home is a calm space that it’s nice to be in, and I look forward to seeing what these constraints do to the aesthetics of the output generated by those in creative fields. So, in this case, to my output as well.

Friend visiting us at home before the country was ordered into quarantine. We had got this lovely ancient Moroccan carpet from a nice shop in Raval the day before, and had been airing its vintageness out in the sun, when I figured it’d make a fun backdrop.

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