EAST WIND: The New Normal

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By MIYA IWATAKI

Haiku is a Japanese poem consisting of 17 syllables in three lines of 5-7-5. During this coronavirus meeting hiatus, Amy Uyematsu suggested our writing group devote time to conjuring up:

Homebound Haiku

Covid 19 has

Decreed social distancing

It’s the new normal

 

A brisk morning walk

Gone are cheerful “Good Mornings”

It’s the new normal

 

Oncoming walkers!!

Step to the street, veer 6 feet

It’s the new normal

 

Self isolation

Mutual evacuation

It’s the new normal

 

What has your new normal been? This was my new normal today. It was the rare occasion where I chose to leave my safely disinfected home to drive my disinfected lipstick red Honda to Pavilions’ Pharmacy to pick up a prescription.

Yes, I know they now deliver prescriptions – but who is the delivery person? What other homes have they delivered to before my stop? And to be honest, I really needed to get some grocery items.

One of the only good things emerging from this pandemic are the caring, younger friends and relatives who have called and texted offering to pick up groceries for me. I am so humbled and grateful for their thoughtfulness…but I feel hazukashii about asking people to buy stuff like Liquid Plumr for my clogged kitchen drain, or icky items like toilet bowl cleaners. (TP is okay, though.)

It was an interesting trip. Pavilions had painted a red lane a few feet off the curb to their parking lot, which was sectioned off in 6-foot increments, where we obediently stood in line. As 5-10 shoppers exited the east door, the guard at the waiting line west door would take his keys out and unlock the door for incoming shoppers.

Once I got in, I actually felt almost safe. Since they allowed very few shoppers in each time, the aisles were not at all crowded – maybe one or two shoppers at the most. The line to the cashier was marked off in 6-foot increments with a store employee calling up the next shopper when a cashier was open. The new normal.

Next I went to Gus’ Barbecue on Fair Oaks to pick up a to-go order of their country-fried chicken and gravy. I know, I know – the gyms are closed and I should be eating more thoughtfully. But how many dang salads can you eat before you need something deep- fried and crispy? With gravy. And sweet potato fries.

Gus’ had it down! They had chairs set 6 feet apart on the sidewalk for folks waiting to pick up their orders. They had a 6-foot table set up inside, across the front entrance. When I went up, I wanted to pay by credit card. They pointed to a box with plastic bags, which I put my credit card into, and handed off to the gloved employee.

When he came back with my order and my card, he pointed to two jars of pens. “You can use the pen from the left jar to sign your receipt, and then put your used pen into the right jar.” They also wiped down the table after each customer pick up (which was more than I saw at the pharmacy or Pavilion cashier). The new normal.

Later that day, I successfully hosted my first Zoom meeting! It’s a wonderful, user-friendly, free audio and video computer meeting app that can accommodate a large number of participants…that I now wish I had purchased stock in. Thank you Caroline Calderon and Scott Oshima for virtually holding my sweaty palms while I navigated this and subsequent meetings. Although they were not part of those particular committee(s), they were my “lifeline,” just one text away in case of a snafu.

Yes, I’m one of those technophobic Baby Boomers; but I am stepping up! Stepping up to the new normal.

Puccini’s “Turandot”

That night I thoroughly enjoyed “Turandot,” Puccini’s greatest opera, which was performed at the Met, and directed by Franco Zefferilli. It’s a story of love, of cruelty and of sacrifice. Set in an ancient fictional China, a highly sought-after beautiful but cruel princess challenges her suitors to answer three riddles or suffer the pain of death. It is a fantastically opulent opera, and the highlight is, of course, the soaring aria “Nessun Dorma.”

“Turandot” rather than “NCIS” and Shemar Moore in “S.W.A.T.”?

I watched Turandot

Not NCIS or SWAT

Hmm. My new normal?

More to come. GAMBARE!

———-

Miya Iwataki has been an advocate for communities of color for many years, from the JACS Asian Involvement Office in Little Tokyo in the ’70s, through the JA redress/reparations struggle with NCRR while working for Congressman Mervyn Dymally, to statewide health rights advocacy. She also worked in public media at KCET-TV, then KPFK Pacifica Radio as host for a weekly radio program, “East Wind.” She can be reached at [email protected]. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

 

 

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