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04/21/2020 02:17:19 PM


Judith Gutman

Day 1,547 of Quarantine. 

It probably isn't. It just feels like it’s been an unending stretch of lazy Sundays since Operation Lockdown began in our little part near the biggest city in the world.
Great time to learn a language. Get fit. Plant a vegetable garden. Organize the house. You know, all those things you normally push off for 'Next Sunday'. 

Except there's Netflix. Love Is Blind, Unorthodox, Fauda. A rabbit hole of endless mindlessness that eases your anxiety only temporarily until you realize those people on the screen are going places and doing things you can only dream of right now. 

And there’s homeschool. Each of your nine children (did you really have nine or does it just seem that way when you’re sorting laundry?) have different schedules for Zoom classes and online learning – schedules that seem to change every day depending on whether the teacher can figure out how to log on that morning or whether a certain well-heeled member of the school board decides that second grade doesn't really need more than 1.5 hours of school a day. And G-d forbid if each child doesn't have at least one if not two electronic devices with apps open and ready for 'school' to begin at the hours assigned on that ever-changing schedule. You yell (nicely) at your kids to sit through zoom classes, to do their homework, to get off YouTube. You can barely remember what time it is let alone what time Virtual Gym starts.  

Your school sends out an e-mail with guidelines that are supposed to help you navigate your new circumstance. But guidelines such as 'have your child dressed' or ‘have your child eat breakfast’ before coordinating three 9 am Zooms are about as helpful as a pair of jeans right now. 

So currently you’re the teacher's assistant, the school tech department (nerd?), the cafeteria lady, the nurse, the librarian, the school secretary – and of course, the janitor. But don’t worry – you’re still expected to send in your tuition checks. (Thankful to President Trump for helping pay one week’s worth of yeshiva day school.)

And if you’re lucky enough to still have a job, and luckier even if both you and your spouse still have your jobs, well I don’t have to tell you how hard it is to Zoom with your co-workers while your toddler is screaming ‘Mommy wipe my tushy’ from the bathroom. 

But this new life of quarantine isn’t all that bad. It’s a nuisance, sure. But it’s all #firstworldproblems. 

It's Yom Hashoah. I think about my grandparents. Each one of them survived the Holocaust albeit in very different ways. My father’s father survived by enlisting in the Hungarian army. My father’s mother survived Auschwitz where her job was to stack bodies. My mother's father also survived concentration camps where he said people were so starved that they would eat blades of grass and rats. My mother's mother survived by hiding in a forest where she saw mountains of dirt moving with people buried alive underneath. 

All of our grandparents, great-grandparents, fellow Jews had it worse.  They hid in forests, in basements, in attics. They barely survived on 100 calories a day, doing backbreaking labor, wearing threadbare rags, sleeping in cramped freezing barracks. 

And we’re worried about a toilet paper shortage. About gaining 15 lbs. About whether our next cruise vacation will be canceled. 

These aren't real problems. These are the kinds of problems that Larry David writes about. 

So buy a bidet. Enjoy the elastic waist on that new loungewear set. Move that cruise to 2022. 

Hug your children even (and maybe especially) when they are driving you up the wall. Because they’re here with you. You may not ever get to organizing your garage or acing even basic Spanish on Duolingo, but be happy you have your family, your health (even if you aren’t feeling 100, you will get through this!) and somewhere to live with a decent number of square footage. 

Yes, people are dying of this virus. Yes, it's serious. 

But we know what to do. 

Stay home. 

Stop socializing.

Wear a mask. Wear gloves. Wash your hands. 

We’ve been given such simple instructions. 

This is easy. 

This should be the worst that we will ever know. IYH.

By: Judith Gutman

Wed, May 25 2022 24 Iyyar 5782