Daily Dispatch #1

I decided on March 7th, Saturday, that I was beginning my self-quarantine. I had a couple of reasons I’ll tell you in a bit.

My last public act was to gather up books and DVDs due soon from the Denver Public Library, and walked the one mile to my branch library, Virginia Village. At Dahlia Street and Florida Avenue. I didn’t go inside the library, though it broke my heart not to.

I dropped the items in the outside slot. Then sat in the cool sunshine on a bench next to the front door, and thought about the books I’d just returned. And then the librarians and shelvers inside I knew so well.

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I wish now I’d gone inside one last time. The next week the library closed that branch and about four others. Two weeks later, the City Librarian, Michelle Jeske, a friend, decided with her team they needed to shutter all 26 locations to protect the staff and all the patrons – and all the library materials. My favorite library of all is the Central Library in downtown Denver because of its grand beauty and simplicity, displays of changing artworks.

Going to Central Library is a sacred experience for this word and book freak. I used to spend half a day in the low 800s pulling out one poetry collection after another, taking them to a desk, read. Then I returned each to their exact home.

I consider this library more sacred and more of a sanctuary than any church I’ve been inside (except maybe Ste. Eustache Cathedral with all its stained glass and pigeons freely flying in and out, set in Paris).

I also had to give up riding buses. Bus, Light Rail, commuter train. I rode short distances and all the way across the Denver Metro area to distant suburbs to visit friends and my hairdresser. But now the transit system has announced that only necessary trips (like to grocery stores, pharmacies) are allowed – but, I ask you, how will they know (I can lie easily).

Why am I isolating myself? I’m a liver transplant recipient and must take anti-rejection drugs to suppress my immune system — so it doesn’t try to reject my new, precious liver. Since May 22, 2016, I’ve been learning and doing this drill we’re all being asked to do. Old habits: Scrubbing hands with generous soap for 20-25 seconds – each time before I fix food or eat, use the bathroom, go outside to a public setting and return home. When I’m out anywhere, NEVER touching my face. Showering daily no matter what. Habits ingrained, and don’t even notice.

But now if I go to a pharmacy (inside a grocery store) to pick up prescriptions, I wear the N95 mask I bought in September 2019 (long before Covid-19) at a gift shop inside Mayo Clinic. I’d been looking at them online for a long time, but could never decide on The One. This one I could see and read all the fine print. It’s kinda special – it doesn’t come with removable filters. It will stop both viruses and bacteria from entry – a bit more than an N95.

I’ve only gotten one growly comment and several looks while shopping. Then I take what I’ve bought, and Uber home. I take out all my groceries and rub down the containers with a weak bleach solution. Even though I wore latex gloves in the store, shelvers touched everything, not to mention in the warehouse, and on. Produce (very little now) gets soaked in fresh water.

Yesterday a friend shopped for me. She offered. I felt guilty because she wasn’t wearing a mask or gloves – most people are not. But she wanted to and I’m extremely grateful to Amy. She brought me a bunch of pussy willows, too.

The advice to wear masks “if you’re infected” is totally wrong. Some people never have symptoms; most people have no idea if someone else is infected (because they don’t know either). Or could be infected and incubating the virus, still able to pass it around, and symptoms may not show for 14 days – two whole weeks. The people in Hong Kong ALL wore masks everywhere they went, and they flattened the infection curve radically. (I heard it came back anyway. Don’t mess with viruses!)

Anyway, those are my thoughts for today. Please comment and give me your tips. You “can” tell me to shut up and sit down. But I’m not gonna!

Hasta mañana, mi amigas y amigos!