We're at War, But Winning is a Lot of Mind Over Mind
Wednesday, March 18, 2020 • Paris, France
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
A deserted rue de Saintonge, Adrian's street
Monday I wrote about the yin and the yang of this pandemic...how there is always an equal and bright side to the very dark side of such a crisis. It reminds me how "if there is no solution, then there must be no problem." No matter how disastrous the Coronavirus pandemic is to our health, our lives, our economy, etc., etc., etc., it gives rise to a host of positive changes in our perspective.
Here in Paris, and in all of France, we're in total lockdown. They don't want us going out of our homes unless we're headed to the market or the pharmacy, work or to walk our dogs. If we're out on the streets, we must have with us an "ATTESTATION DE DÉPLACEMENT DÉROGATOIRE" — a travel certificate, decreed on March 16th, 2020 under Article 1 to deter travel as part of the fight against the spread of the Covid-19 virus — a document that certifies that your moving about is related to one of the following patterns:
* travel between home and your work place, only when the activities cannot be organized by teleworking (with proof of that) or travel professionals who cannot be deferred; * travel to make basic purchases in authorized establishments (see the list on gouvernement.fr); * travel for health reasons * travel for family reasons — for assistance to "vulnerable" people or child care; * short trips, close to home, related to individual physical activity, excluding all sports, but for the needs of individuals' pets
The document must be printed out, completed and signed and carried with you, should you dare to be on the streets for anything at all. Fines of up to 135€ will be doled out to those who don't comply. Everything, everything, everything else is closed. The streets are deader than they are on August 15th — the height of the summer vacation season and a national holiday when you could shoot a cannon down rue de Rivoli.
Hence, I've been at home alone with my phone, computer and TV, a fridge full of food for sustenance, more toilet paper than I've had in the apartment at any one time and after 24 hours, I already felt terribly isolated. Another 24 hours later, and I've become more accustomed to the "prison" I'm in, albeit my own home with everything I could need or want. It "ain't" actually so bad. I'm waking up without an alarm, taking long bubbly baths, doing yoga and hula-hooping like mad to keep my body in shape.
What saddens me most is that my daughter and I would prefer being together and wish we were not 5,642 miles apart (Los Angeles to Paris). Normally, that's just a flight away and we wouldn't think much of it, but today, with air travel greatly restricted, it would be near to impossible for us to get together. She and I Skype or FaceTime to commiserate and catch up.
The lockdown started at 12 noon on Tuesday. Patty Sadauskas was able to get seats on two trains to arrive shortly after the deadline in Nîmes where she has an apartment. Instead of the usual one TGV/three-hour ride, she found a way to get there via Lyon with A 15-minute change. The trains were packed to the gills with all those fleeing the city. Being the urbanite I am, I never thought I'd live to see the day I might prefer to be in the countryside, but right this moment, I'd give my eye teeth to be free to roam the outdoors.
France has gotten very, very serious about stopping the pandemic. President Emmanuel Macron made a powerful speech Monday night (watch it here, with English VO) declaring that "We're at war" with the coronavirus, limiting our activity for at least 15 days. He saw how we were out at the parks, enjoying the beautiful weather on Sunday, hanging out together and doing exactly what he had advised against. (I was among them, if you read Monday's Parler Paris Nouvellettre®). This prompted him to take it into his own hands to lay down the law to minimize the risk of the virus spreading even further. Those who fail to respect the new laws will face heavy penalties.
He wasn't joking. Screw the Schengen agreement. (He didn't exactly say it that way, but that's what he meant!) Europe's borders will be closed for the next 30 days. But, realizing the economic impact this will have, he declared that the French government will make €300 billion available to companies to prevent them from defaulting on their bank loans. Rent and utility bills owed by small companies would also be suspended. No company will risk collapse at the hands of the crisis, he promised. The reform of the pension system has been deferred TFN...that which led to the Gilets Jaunes riots! The second round of the municipal elections have been postponed. The army was deployed to enforce the lockdown and assist the health workers. A military hospital will be set up near Alsace to deal with the outbreak in the region, the worst hit, etc., etc, etc. His list of positive measures was boundless.
I loved his speech on many levels — serious, compassionate, intelligent, thoughtful, mature, honest and open, asking us all to join together to fight this war.
"We're not up against another army or another nation. But the enemy is right there: invisible, elusive, but it is making progress," is what he said. "Stay at home!"
The downside to the streets being empty has already reared its ugly head. One of my staff was out to the market yesterday. She warned me not to venture out alone, that she had witnessed two muggings — something that rarely happens in France, but with the streets deserted, it presented a perfect opportunity for those less honorable. This really upsets me, but I can see how the economics might create a new level of crime.
Xavier Denamur's Les Philosphes
Craig Carlson and Julien Chameroy - having breakfast at BIA2
How is everyone coping? New York Times journalist, Liz Alderman, interviewed one of Paris' premier café owners, Xavier Denamur, to learn how he and his establishments are dealing with their closures. Denamur is famous for his five cafés all on rue Vieille du Temple in Le Marais, one next to the other, each with a different menu and ambiance. Titled "France’s Bistros Close, in a Frenzy of Donated Cheese and Pâté," Liz wrote, "The country’s clampdown on public life has left businesses reeling. As the government pledges support, a restaurateur prepares to hunker down." (Read the entire article)
My favorite restaurant in Nice had another solution. On Whatsapp, they sent a message to their best clients:
Dear customers of Il Vicoletto and Friends,We offer takeaways: -meat lasagna 4€/barquette -roasted veal and accompaniment of potatoes or ratatouille (depending on stocks available) 4€/barquette -fresh minestrone of the day 2€/300g barquette
If you would like to order, contact Mino by sms at +33659391019. We invite you to pick up your orders at the back of the restaurant. Don't hesitate to share this message!
Thank you, good luck to all! Take care of yourself! See you soon!
Take care. Il Vicoletto Mino and Regina 6 rue de France, Nice
But last night, I heard the best story of all that makes the best out of a bad situation. This is exactly what I'm talking about — how there's a positive side to the negative:
Craig Carlson, author of "Pancakes in Paris" and owner of Breakfast in America diners, and his spouse, Julien Chameroy, live a half-block away from me in a top level apartment that is currently under complete renovation by our illustrious designer, Martine di Mattéo. While the apartment is unlivable, Craig and Julien have been sharing a tiny 9 square meter "chambre de bonne" (servants' quarters) they own.
I was worried about how they were going to manage now that they can't even go out on the streets, so I gave him a quick call.
"Did I tell you that Julien and I found really great digs?" he said. "It has three dining rooms, three bathrooms, a big kitchen, an office and a big refrigerator fully stocked with food!"
At first, I thought, "Wow, how did that happen?" and then it dawned on me! OMG, with the restaurants shut tight, he and Julien brilliantly moved into BIA #2, the one at 4, rue Malher near St. Paul in the Marais! They borrowed a blow-up mattress, put a topper on it for more comfort and moved in with their personal belongings and set up shop!
"It's so great," he said. There's more room than we every dreamed of. We have everything we need and guess what? We can make pancakes for breakfast tomorrow morning!"
I laughed until I cried. That's what I call making pancakes out of breadcrumbs!
"I might have to come over for a burger," I joked, knowing of course that wasn't on the President's list of acceptable reasons to be out.
I've been reading the manuscript of Craig's sequel memoir, "Let Them Eat Pancakes: One Man's Personal Revolution in the City of Light" (soon to be out) and loved every word of it. Each chapter stands on its own as a story you can really sink your teeth into. I laughed throughout and then wrote a "blurb" that could be used on the book jacket if the publisher likes it.
This morning, Craig sent me photos of him and Julien enjoying their being the restaurant's only customers, that I share with you today.
"Hi Adrian, here we are at BIA #2! I'm living my story!"
And aren't we jealous? I wish I were holed up with the two of them as I assume many of their regular customers do, too!
Brian Dunhill - Dunhill Financial
Since businesses like theirs are sure to suffer greatly from the crisis, as are all of us who have our savings invested in the stock market, we could easily be freaking out as we watch our savings dwindle. (I'm just not watching. It's easier that way.) There was the biggest market drop in one day after the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to zero percent and offered up $700 billion of quantitative easing.
Financial advisor Brian Dunhill, of Dunhill Financial, issued a letter to all of his clients. He wrote about the two strategies being applied: (1) the laissez-faire strategy of the United States and the United Kingdom vs. (2) the clampdown seen in Europe and Asia. If the US/UK model works, he wrote, "we will have more fatalities but the economy will recover much faster. The opposite will be the case for the European and Asian models."
His prediction is that "We will recover, and we will be stronger for this, we just don't know yet when this bleed will end and where the leadership will come from." And his advice: "Don't sell in a panic just because everyone else does, as this is no excuse for behaving irrationally."
(Anyone who wants sage advice, I advise calling Brian at +44(0)7514 993556 or +1-561-570-5640 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org — he's the best I know.
Here's a poem by Lynn Ungar to help you through these tough times that a friend sent me:
What if you thought of it as the Jews consider the Sabbath — the most sacred of times? Cease from travel. Cease from buying and selling. Give up, just for now, on trying to make the world different than it is. Sing. Pray. Touch only those to whom you commit your life. Center down. And when your body has become still, reach out with your heart. Know that we are connected in ways that are terrifying and beautiful. (You could hardly deny it now.) Know that our lives are in one another’s hands. (Surely, that has come clear.) Do not reach out your hands. Reach out your heart. Reach out your words. Reach out all the tendrils of compassion that move, invisibly, where we cannot touch. Promise this world your love – for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, so long as we all shall live.
– Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
My daughter, who is highly spiritual, wrote, "Channeled spirits are saying this is a major time in the vibrational shift of the planet. Chaos will come, but it will pave the way for a new paradigm. But, it’s very important to keep spreading love and light and not turn somber into fear. It’s all an illusion anyway so we just need to brace ourselves and know it’s for the greater good. Things will change for the best. But it will be a rocky several months."
Duh. I could have told her that! But, she added, "And NOW is the time to be true to ourselves and do the things we always wanted to, tell the people we love that we love them, be who we want to be and rise above." To that, I wholeheartedly agree. As my author friend, Peter Nichols said, "Winning this war will be a lot of mind over mind."
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