The Golden Courgette

17 April 2020

I went to Noa’s today to do her shopping. She’s in France stuck with the virus and because of the virus and she’s coming back today.

With the virus, because she caught it during the rehearsals of an opera, in Strasbourg, along with half of the production. The premiere was supposed to be this past Saturday, but it was cancelled, of course, like everything else.

And, because of the virus, once she got sick, she had to stay in France in the Airbnb apartment she had rented to be there during the rehearsals. She had planned to fly back from Basel on Saturday, but that was also cancelled.

I saw her on video on Saturday when I went to water her plants. She looked emaciated, exhausted. You could tell by her face that she hadn’t been well. I didn’t know then when she was coming back. She told me that it had been difficult getting a doctor to see her. The first time she called, they told her she didn’t need to see a doctor, that she only needed to stay home and take paracetamol. The second time, after almost a week of fever, aches, pains and coughing, when they heard her say that no one had seen her yet, they were horrified and sent her a doctor.

The doctor came late at night, and she was surprised when he greeted her in Hebrew, Shalom, she is from Israel. He came with a mask, eye protection, gloves, totally covered up, and told her it was probably the virus, but that it hadn’t reached her lungs yet. He said that it takes 3 or 4 days for the virus to pass from the throat to the lungs. He prescribed salt gargles. And rest.

Two days ago, she wrote me in Whatsapp that she was coming back on Wednesday, today, that his agent had got her a ticket. And she asked if I could run her errands before she arrived to avoid contact. I have the key to her apartment. She thinks she’s no longer contagious because her fever has broken a few days ago. But she had a hard time.

This morning she told me that the direct flight was cancelled, that she was on the train to Paris, and that she had a flight from Paris, which she hoped would not be cancelled this time because otherwise she was fucked.

I went shopping at the EkoPlaza because she likes bio. With the list she gave me, I filled the cart, but there was no toilet paper. When I arrived at the checkout, I realized that I hadn’t weighed the vegetables, so I went to the scale and pressed the drawing of a courgette, or zucchini, and pressed the 1 for the amount. The price came back, 4 euros. I do it again, again, 4 euros. What? A courgette is 4 euros?

I went to the checkout and asked the guy, is it really 4 euros? He goes, weighs it, it’s the same: 4 euros. It comes from Italy …

I left it. Then I went to the other supermarket, the regular one, and found courgettes at 2 x 1, for 0.75 cents. I took two. I went to the toilet paper section, and I couldn’t find it. I asked a woman who was stuffing the shelves, and she said, over there, but there’s no more, she said. I went to the shelf, and I saw 1 big package and 2 small ones. I took the big one.

It’s true, it’s like Rutte says, the prime minister here: We have enough toilet paper to shit for the next ten years.

Ten years of shitting. And eating courgettes at 4 euros a piece.

So, it’s true, we’re in deep shit.

Before and After

22/5/20

I have noticed that, since the beginning of the quarantine, every time I watch a movie or a series, I have this strange feeling when I see people hugging, or kissing, or chatting in a group in a restaurant,

or, basically,

ignoring the rules imposed by the coronavirus

– 1.5 meters distance.

And I soon realize,

Ah! Of course!

What an idiot!

This was filmed BEFORE the coronavirus!

In my mind, there’s already a Before and After.

For example, we’re already starting to see POST-corona advertisement

where you see people videoconferencing with colleagues and family in ZOOM

– Zoom, another symbol of the pandemic.

You feel identified when you see people with masks, isolated grandpas behind the windows, smiles from the other side of computers’ screens…

And that’s it, they sold you something.

To watch pre-coronavirus series

it’s like diving into the world of the past,

a dive into the warm, comforting waters of nostalgia.

It helps to forget about the present,

this totally absurd present.

(Like “the past” was not already pretty absurd…)

Notes from the Teacher’s Notebook: Online lessons in this half-ass quarantine

3-4-20

Sorry for the absence, but I think I’ve reached a saturation point with this pandemic. Quarantine has lost its novelty, and now it becomes tedious and irritating, especially in relation to the person you are living with. You begin, little by little, to notice more the things he fails at than the things he gets right; if he does one little thing, in your opinion, wrong, you shout at him, without patience but with exasperation, tired already of everything and everyone and yourself.

When is all this going to end? It’s going to end or, slowly is going to transform itself into something else, new, or not, a reinvention of history, some “improved” way of doing things. Version 2.0, 2.1 of Western society, of the human race? What would we call this? Because this is a global experiment, it includes all of us, the more or less fucked up, of the planet.

We’re all fucked up, in one way or another, although some, much more fucked up than others. The culture sector, or entertainment, festivals, for example, are all fucked up. Maybe it’s a good opportunity to get rid of all that, those sectors of society that we’ve been wanting to get rid of for a long time, but we couldn’t find a good excuse. Now there is one: down with the culture, the entertainment industry, the congregations, the physical union of the citizens because the coronavirus demands it. (I’m already going down the hole of conspiracies… too much, let’s leave it there).

And what about the workers who, for a minimum wage, daily risk their lives so that we can have food, so that the city is clean, the garbage is collected, the basic services work? Who takes care of all that? They, the workers at the bottom of the pyramid, those who receive the worst payments, and therefore are the least valued and appreciated by their fellow human beings.

Now we realize how much we value these kids, (how much we need them) these workers who fill the supermarkets for a miserable payment, those who do the jobs that nobody wants to do. We now realize how important they are.

Today I filled out my form to ask for the subsidy for the self-employed, because of the coronavirus. Today I was told that the place where I teach will be closed until June 1. That is, no physical classes, face-to-face, until then. All of a sudden, I and others like me, independent workers, are dependent because, thanks to the coronavirus, we are now hanging from the state’s teat.

I’m giving some classes online, but it’s not the same, it’s harder. There’s a lack of presence.

I see my students there, on the other side of my screen, in that unknown room, alone, and I realize that “presence” is missing. It is as if my presence, when we are in the normal classes, together in a room, makes them feel accompanied, and how strange, but this way, alone, it seems as if they were making more mistakes. In the first class I noticed that, and it seemed to me that my presence was needed, next to her, encouraging her to continue, so that she would feel more confident and make fewer mistakes. 

I think that the presence of the teacher is needed to learn. Because its presence radiates a warm and generous energy, welcoming, like a mother hen with her chicks, and because of that, the children trust them, feel accompanied, and learn.

Oh well, I will have to get used to the distance, and realize that I miss them too.

Crónicas Pandémicas: The Corona Virus and I

From a corner of the world in quarantine

Beginning

3/19/2020

It is weird for me to write about the present, focused as much as I was for many years in the past.

So, it’s a bit of fresh air, a wave of joy

and trepidation

to write about the present,

an exercise in the Be. Here. Now.

So volatile and impossible

possible now because, all of a sudden,

the present

acquires another dimension:

The dimension of fear and the unknown

of the URGENT

of the constant danger of contamination

and confinement to tubes and hospitals.

Because we are in a pandemic time,

this Coronavirus that haunts us

that leaves us stranded in these shallow waters

bogged down

in collective anxiety and uncertainty.

Here we go, Corona Virus,

to battle, to rescue

the present.

(Digo, sitting here in this grandmother’s armchair of postmodern and broken design, cracked and butchered leather, pieces of yellow foam hanging from the exposed wires,

sitting here anyway, dressed in black,

with a black turtleneck, folded in my typical pianistic posture,

back, curved,

I write

on the coffee table

under the window.)

Nuevos Vecinos, de Crónicas Schevingeanas

This is one of the prose poems in the book Crónicas Schevingeanas, which will be published as soon as the quarantine in Spain ends, edited by Valparaiso Ediciones. Long live the new neighbors! This is the Spanish version. I am working on the English translation and as soon as I have something, I’ll put it up!

Cronicas Schevingeanas

My new book of poetry and hybrid texts, Cronicas Schevingeanas, is coming soon! First in Spanish, published by Valparaiso Ediciones, and sometime in the near future, I hope, in English

The animals

Las gaviotas,Juut and Juul,

the greedy bastards

stubborn and grumpy.

The Pigeons’ aunts, hunting each other.

Six fat pigeons

crawling in the ground like female farmers.

Guo guo guo guo.

The Michs, la Micha, the mean looking cat, the golden cat,

and now, the Fluff.

(Drawing by Carla Pezzo)