Br(u)no: Life Continues Through Self-Quarantine Week 2, Alcohol Helps

The landmarks of Brno are close, yet so still so far away during the days of self-quarantine. Photo credit: Bruno Zalubil.

The stars are so far away that, when you look at them, you are actually looking back in time. One of them might have exploded, but the sheer distance and the (finite) speed of light would delay our knowing about it until the dot disappeared from our observable night sky.

That is how this coronavirus pandemic feels, except we know that the explosion has already happened.

Now we just wait to see what it will look like when the full impact reaches us.

Saturday, March 21 — Day 8

My family started in voluntary self-quarantine on Saturday, March 14, two weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was officially documented in the Czech Republic. Last Saturday was Day 8. The date that this column will be published is Day 15. Nobody knows how many more days are yet to come.

We ordered pizza for the family and it created a dilemma: How do you eat pizza without drinking beer? I hadn’t drunk a beer since the start of the self-quarantine. We keep emergency beer in the house. But is getting pizza on Day 8 an emergency? The wife and I decided that it was more of a quality of life issue. Therefore: one beer for each of us. The last time that I had not had at least one beer in a week was, literally, decades ago.

Sunday, March 22 — Day 9

Springtime is the best time of the year and Brno looks to be beautiful this year.

It is agonizing to be stuck inside and it is even harder to know that traditional events have been affected. Opening Day of the baseball season has been pushed forward. The Kentucky Derby will not be run on the first Saturday of May. Sports leagues around the world have been cancelled or delayed. As a sports fan, I want to watch games and follow the steady progression of scores from day to day.

I had plans to go to Scotland to meet my sister and her son, and to watch the Czech Republic play in Euro 2020. Not anymore. Even the Tokyo Olympics have been postponed.

At least PBS in America has posted online the 18½-hour “Baseball” documentary by Ken Burns. I’ve been binge-watching it while sipping slivovice. It is hard to not get weepy over the nostalgia of American history and my youth. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to take my son to a ballgame.

The first COVID-19 related death was reported when a 95-year-old man passed away in Prague.

Monday, March 23 — Day 10

Reading about and watching news about an illness that is infecting people around the world has a way of creeping into your brain. Do I have a fever? Is that a sore throat coming on? Or is it just a hangover.

Brno is known as the Silicon Valley of Central Europe. That makes it easy for many to work from home. It’s not so bad. It is, however, surprisingly busy. Somehow I thought that I would be able to organize myself and do a lot of forward planning. Instead I am dealing with more than my normal workload.

Tuesday, March 24 — Day 11

Self-quarantine, in some ways, can be a game of efficiency. The wife and I have become creative with cooking. We found a frozen package of shrimp in the back of the freezer and made it into two surprisingly good meals. Random frozen meat was made into a delicious meatloaf. I’ve found books that I haven’t seen for a long time and photos albums of forgotten trips.

I also have a lot of liquor that I have collected over the years. It’s time for spring cleaning. The wife and I enjoyed several double Whiskey Sours throughout this evening. Perhaps it was a bit much. Sometimes you just need to blow off some steam and relax.

Wednesday, March 25 — Day 12

It is easy to complain about always-in-motion toddlers. But the fact is that their constant screaming and incessant laughter means that they are having fun and enjoying their lives.

There have been many minor milestones during these two weeks. The girl, 5, has started to count in her head. She can now easily open the child locks on the refrigerator and the desk drawer where I hide nuts and candy. And she’s getting good at creating bedtime stories for her brother.

The boy, 3, is now able to stretch enough to reach the handle on the door to the attic, and he is quick to remind me that I promised that he can drink a beer when he is taller than me. He is starting to push boundaries with the things that he says and the words that he uses. And he suddenly doesn’t want to take afternoon naps.

More often than not, the kids play nicely with each other. When they don’t, it is a fair fight.

Thursday, March 26 — Day 13

I have written “Be Safe” or “Be Well” at the bottom of all of my email communication (and articles) for the past few weeks. It seems like a balanced way to continue with business as usual and still acknowledge our extraordinary circumstances. Yet, for whatever reason, when I communicated with a colleague on this day, I neglected to add one of these sign offs. I noticed it on a subsequent email and added: “Hope you’re doing okay. Some strange times these.”

Then came a response email that was not expecting: The colleague wrote that they had only recently recovered from the coronavirus. They had been one of the first in the country to show signs. Their symptoms had been mild, but not everyone they knew had recovered as quickly.

I knew of no one who was sick. Not anymore. We had shared sushi in early February.

Friday, March 27 — Day 14

It was reported that that Czech Republic had 1,775 confirmed coronavirus cases through the end of Wednesday. The one-day increase of 291 was the highest so far.

It is hard not to think that we will all see and feel the full impact soon.

* * *

How are you holding up? Are you worried about your finances? Are you drinking too much alcohol? Do you feel safe in the Czech Republic or, if you are an expat, would you prefer to be in your home country?

Please share your ideas for coping with the ongoing repercussions of COVID-19 in the comments below or on Facebook.

Be safe. Be well.

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