My dear readers!
Merry Christmas, Happy New Years, Happy birthday to me, and last but not least, Happy bubonic plague!! A lot sure has happened in the last three months… I’ll put the kettle on. 😉
First of all, I hope you all are safe and mentally sound in the midst of this global panic and making the most of your temporary “time-outs” delegated by our mother earth. It’s both a scary and exciting time that we are witnessing from inside our homes. On my end, it’s been quite the sociological experience to be in Germany during this crisis. I am realizing from a new perspective just how flawed the U.S. health-care system really is. People here are worried, but not nearly on the level of Americans, so many of whom are without health insurance. As an American I’m realizing that as I compare myself to my German peers, I’ve always lived with this sense of self-dependency as the result of the absence of a safety net. Of course I’m privileged and I’m not living on the streets, but if I were to get into an accident that affected my ability to work and I didn’t have health insurance, I would be in way bigger trouble than any working class German. Oh to be able to fall back on your government in a time of crisis! Here, people mostly still gather in parks and bend the quarantine guidelines to fit their preferences. Neighbors wave sweetly to each other from their fenced in gardens, and children have been spotted getting ice creams with their Au-Pairs (since the weekend however we have put the brakes on this tradition). Point is that people here do not seem to be panicking the same way I’ve seen panic sweep through North America. As of Monday, Berlin is on a general lockdown until further notice and I am quarantined with my Au-Pair family in Zehlendorf. We are allowed to travel to work, go to the grocery store, go out for exercise as long as we stay six feet apart from others, and visit loved ones to bring them necessities.
Although I already miss my friends and social life with people in my age group, I got really lucky to be quarantined here with a family I’ve bonded with in a nice big house with a big backyard, a fully stocked fridge, and a beautiful quiet neighborhood. Day one of my official quarantine began Monday at 8:30am when the father of the kids picked me and all of my things up from my old apartment in Neukölln and whisked me away to Zehlendorf just in time for the crackdown. Lucky for me, I wasn’t on a contract in this last apartment and I only paid the security deposit and one months rent. Regardless of this quarantine business, I was planning on moving out in the beginning of April anyway as I found myself in an unfortunate roommate situation. This nearly 40 year old woman wigged out when I did a much needed dusting and cleaning of the bathroom and then moved some of her cleaning supplies from a shelf to a bucket without her permission. After this incident I was informed that the apartment was not my space to make myself at home, as I was merely a “subletter”, and I was not allowed to have friends over. To top all of this off, I received the news after moving in that the bathtub does not work, which for those of you who know me know is a deal breaker. Needless to say, I am relieved to be outside the limits of her bad juju again and temporarily cradled in the comforting arms of wealthy family life.
Despite the outside world coming to an end as we all know it, to quote R.E.M., I feel fine. 🙂 My days are filled with leisurely sun dappled mornings curled on the edge of an enormous couch with a cappuccino and a toddler on my either side, afternoons of collecting acorns, sticks and daffodil pedals for fairy houses, and nights that smell of sweet chamomile and bath-bubbles. Now more than ever, my sanity is needed. Everything I learned from growing up in a caring Quaker community, the hours I spent in meditative walks in the woods as a teenager, pouring over spiritual self-help books and performing my own little rituals, everything I learned from my month volunteering at the Omega Institute, and everything I learned in my months traveling in India; everything I learned is needed now. I haven’t just spent years of my life training my mind and spiritual self to mentally crumble when the world outside grapples with western mortality and hardship. Our world needs our sanity now more than ever. What our world does not need are toilet paper and milk panic buyers and upper middle class wookies thinking only of themselves and their families.So that’s enough apocalypse talk for now. Obviously I can’t write a blog during this time and not offer my personal reflections. But there are plenty of other things going on in the world that are being totally swept under a giant rug right now and deserve to be talked about and explored. For example the not so insignificant asteroid that ignored social distancing policy and zoomed by us 50 times closer than what is considered the standard safe distance according to astronomers. And the fact that Miley Cyrus told Hilary Duff that the only reason she wanted the Hannah Montana role was to copy her, and honestly who can blame her?
So with that I’m going to leave you until next time and go for a jog around the neighborhood, making great care not to pop anyone’s 6 foot bubble or make eye contact with any police officers looking for an excuse to hand out a fine. Stay safe, smart and mentally sound my friends!
All the best,