Rural Luck, Privilege Guilt

Another day and I wake up early to make coffee. After skimming some news and Twitter about what happened after I went to sleep, I get dressed and unlock the front door to hear the birds singing and feel the morning early spring sun. Alqo and I always go to the monte in the morning and today is no different. But it is.

We are under lockdown, quarantine, social distance, whatever word comes out first. I haven’t been to town since Thursday or really interacted with anyone besides Patricia, aside from the morning mobile panadería or bombona delivery guy. The reality of the last four or five days hasn’t changed drastically for us. We’re not in Madrid, where we are isolated to an apartment without a small patch of yard, where we are densely populated, where the mortality rate doubles in 24 hours. And for this I feel lucky and guilty.

I feel lucky that all the experiences I’ve had led me to my interest in distancing myself from urban centers anyway, to be closer to nature, for a simpler, quiet life. I feel lucky for having found a partner in the strangest of places who shares my values, who I’ve watched grow and who has watched me grow, to the people we are now. I feel lucky to have Alqo to stretch out and pass gas at silly times when we feel overwhelmed by the news of places much more dire.

But I feel guilty for that privilege of mobility, of freedom, of having a remote job that for the time being, I still have. I feel guilty that I can’t be there for my family in California and I’m reduced to sending borderline hysterical warnings and preparation advice to my parents. I feel guilty for being closer to the catastrophe for practically untouched by it as of writing this.

This is the beginning long period of uncertainty. I bristle when I hear of people not taking decisive action now to socially distance themselves, choosing fun over preparedness. But perhaps I would think differently; if I lived in a city, if my friends were all within close proximity, if my loved ones were pressuring me for being ridiculous. All of this could be so different.

Either way, I’m lucky and guilty. To assuage that, I want to activate the things I’ve been thinking and talking about for so long.

  • My theosophical views give me comfort in that whatever happens, this is not the end, and as God says in the Qur’ān that we must change the condition of our souls before our material is changed, and to bring about a new positive life for all humanity, we must find each other, and call to give each other our very best.
  • Our new normal demands new ways of living, new frameworks to allow us and our earth to survive and thrive. We are at a crossroads. We have been here before and we will be again. But how we respond collectively; politically, socially, economically matters. This is only a time for physical isolation but not to close ourselves off and erect barriers, real or imagined.

I don’t have power or capital, here in Spain nor back in America. But I have a blog, some silly words, a brain, and a deep empathy and solidarity for things far outside myself, my family, and my surroundings. So, I’ll continue in the only way I can. Sharing things here, calling friends, writing, reading, and learning. These are still early days. Thanks for reading and please, if you can, stay the fuck home.

Isolated, Day 3

The national government took steps to restrict all nonessential movement. Patricia and I are a few days ahead, staying in our village since Friday, only interacting with friends and family through our phones and our elderly neighbors from a safe distance.

We both work from home but it’s still mentally and spiritually taxing to realize self-isolation will probably be for many weeks. Obviously there was never a choice, but yesterday countless hashtags and videos popped up of people treating this as a vacation or others going to meet friends at the bar for one last night together. Excuse while I remove my palm from my face.

The future is very uncertain. But we have to continue on in different ways. Our governments will fail us to protect markets. Loss of life at a higher rate is practically inevitable. We must rely on each other for support and we must learn from this after we make it through.

I’m taking the self-isolation to actually get serious about a few things. I’ve often said this and then I get lazy or too caught up in some other thing, but now it’s not optional. There is time and no social activities to distract myself.

  1. Write as much as possible. That includes trying to post something here and actually write my West African Islamo-fantasy project.
  2. Read Marx’s Capital with the help of a friend’s husband’s project MARXdown, the Penguin Classics Ben Fowkes translation, and David Harvey’s lectures.
  3. Continue helping build a network of DSA members who live abroad to leverage our internationalist socialist perspectives for progress and solidarity back home.

If you’re interested in hearing Brace and Liz from TrueAnon talk about what’s coming, I really recommend this episode. Liz made the point of being there for people, in her case, on Twitter, as a way of coping with it herself and that is so important right now.

So if you’re reading this, reach out if you want. Even if we’ve never met. Thanks for reading.

Temporary New Normal

Every morning brings more news from the United States or other parts Europe and the measures put in place to control COVID-19. It’s changing rapidly. Madrid and País Vasco are the worst. The regional newspaper La Voz de Galicia says “Spain is now Italy and Madrid is Wuhan”.

A few weeks ago, authorities in Galicia thought we could avoid the worst of it. There were only a few cases, mostly in A Coruña area. Now however, we have many confirmed cases, 15 confirmed in our province and perhaps a few in our town.

The Xunta has closed everything except supermarkets, gas stations, and pharmacies. We haven’t stocked up on anything and probably won’t panic buy, especially not toilet paper (Muslim pro tip: use a lota, look it up 👍🏼). We have three markets in town, one on the edge closest to our village. I don’t think panic will set in like it might in larger, denser cities.

And so, we isolate ourselves, continue to work from home (which is an unbelievable privilege), and try keep ourselves entertained. We have the woods and our monte very close. I’ve already FaceTimed more friends back home than in the last month. I also started a Twitter account and Telegram group of Democratic Socialists of America members who live abroad and want to start organizing. For what yet, it’s unclear, but there’s

I try to keep up on happenings, and check GCiencia for a good map of cases in the Galicia.

Be safe, everyone. Keep your distance, but reach out to neighbors, family, and friends. We need to support each other and all we have is each other.