Shades of Love in the Time of Cholera

These are strange times we are living in. In the last few weeks since Covid-19 has escalated from dominating the news cycle to directly impacting our lives, I keep hearing that phrase over and over. And while the media have focused on the number of deaths, the lack of a cohesive Federal response, school closings, and potential loss of income, nobody seems to be addressing the effect the Corona virus has had on love and dating.

I remarked to my friend, Adam, that this reminds me of “Love in the Time of Cholera,” the wonderful novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, about older people in love, coping with a plague-like epidemic of cholera in a series of vignettes. Adam and I share a place in the suburbs, but Adam has a boyfriend in the city, and travels there every weekend to see Ken, and take in the latest theater shows. Now that Broadway has gone dark, it’s not clear to me that Adam will ever leave the house again. Mindful of this, I told him that if things get bad in the city Ken is welcome to come stay with us. But then we just looked at each other and sighed, knowing that it would take a full blown zombie apocalypse to get Ken on a train to (Gasp!) the suburbs.

I have another friend, Rachel, divorced and in her 50s, who has recently gotten back onto Match.com and JDate. She says that she has seen a real acceleration in the usual progress from initial coffee meet, to first date, to physical contact. Rachel said, “I suddenly understand all those soldiers and women who got married in a rush during World War II or Vietnam. None of us are teenagers anymore, but I get it because the feeling of urgency is real. At the same time, I’m thinking, boy, we really have picked a weird time to start kissing strangers.”

Then there’s my son’s friends, Josh and Kristi, who live in Oakland, California. They spent last weekend calling or texting over 100 people to tell them that they were postponing their April 4th wedding indefinitely. They were too concerned about their own elderly parents and other at-risk guests to take a chance. Two days later the CDC recommended avoiding gatherings of more than 50 people, and the state issued a “remain in place” order affecting six counties, including Alameda, where they live. Right now, no one can even guess when Josh and Kristi will be able to set a new date.

As for me, I’ve been seeing a nice guy, too. It’s early days, but Peter has earned bonus points already for his sense of humor and compassionate response to these unfolding events. Peter works as a respiratory therapist at a Senior Center. Along with his usual duties, he spent last week taking inventory of face masks and other protective gear, and this week explaining to the residents and their relatives why there can be no visitors from outside. These are the kinds of topics we discussed over that initial coffee and first few dates. Oh yes, we also talked about how the local amateur theater company, for which he was doing lights, had to shut down their production after the first week. No gatherings allowed of more than (at the time) 100 people.  I’m glad I got to see it while it was still running.

Tonight I’m going to his place for the first time and bringing anti-pasta and ravioli to cook there, because all the restaurants are closed. He’ll tell me about his day: his concern for his patients and fear that the protective measures taken are too little, too late. I’ll tell him how I’m now working from home for the foreseeable future, and that I will not be traveling to California for a wedding in two weeks. There is a profound comfort in having someone with whom one can share one’s day – the fears, the joyful moments, the annoyances. There is a profound desire for physical contact and intimacy – of all varieties – in times of stress. And there is a profound need for kindness when the world seems particularly harsh. These things endure: sharing, intimacy, kindness. These things are what get us through these strange times.

 


The Seeds of Our Dreams

| by Cheryl Shainmark

For the smallest month on the calendar, February looms large in my mind. It is, on the East Coast anyway, the deepest, darkest, bitterest part of winter. The Scandinavian side of me, wise to seasonal depression long before there was a named disorder for it, wants to stay in and drink glogg and distract myself from putting my head in the oven. I count down the days until pitchers and catchers report, so I can imagine them playing on warm green fields in spring training. I plan trips to deserts or beaches or anyplace more equatorial than New York…

Read More.
Filed Under:

How to Help Australia Right Now

| by Cheryl Shainmark

If you’re like me, your heart has been breaking over the wave of images coming from fire stricken Australia: the burning homes, the loss of life, the destruction of habitat affecting millions of animals, and finally, the disturbing peril of the animals themselves. While the death toll for humans is 25 at this time,  estimates place the loss of animal life at over half a million victims. As reported on PBS, thousands of Australians are in need of assistance as massive wildfires continue to tear across the continent.

Read More.
Filed Under:

Visions of the Future

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Several years ago I had a vision of the future that transformed my life and helped me to determine what new career path to pursue. Leading into that moment was the fact that, at the age of 40, after years of working in computers, I was back at school. I was an adult returnee in my “senior” year at college and my three most favorite professors had each approached me about entering into their field of expertise: Asian Studies, the School of Journalism, and Psychology. What a wonderful compliment! — each thought that I would excel in their profession and offered me mentoring, contacts and references for further graduate work. I was both flattered and immobilized with indecision

Read More.

If Plants Are Consciousness, What Happens When We Eat Them?

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Not too long ago The New York Times ran an article, Sedate a Plant, and It Seems to Lose Consciousness. Is It Conscious? The new evidence that plants have a type of “conscious,” joins a host of other research indicating that plants are intelligent, understand where they are in space, respond to threats and obstacles, and communicate with each other. We’ve known for years that plants grow faster and lusher when you play the right music or speak nicely to them, but now there is evidence that plants form memories. Does that mean they remember that you were kind to them? And what does it mean now to eat them? What, if any, are the moral or ethical implications?

Read More.

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I just finished reading “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It,” by Kamal Ravikant. I have to say that this slim volume completely jumpstarted a whole new spiritual practice for me. I don’t usually rave (in print, at least)… but this is one of the most accessible, transformative books I have ever read — and at 57 pages, you’d have to be in a coma not to get through it. Actually, if you are in a coma I will come and sit by your side and read it to you, because I want “Love Yourself” to be the earworm that gets stuck in your head. You’ll thank me later.

Read More.
Filed Under:

Ghosts in the Genes: Cellular Memory

| by Cheryl Shainmark

We’re having good friends over for dinner in a few weeks and my husband and I are discussing what to serve: I’m thinking Italian and I tell him that I want to try my hand at making homemade pasta. A few minutes later, after proposing and rejecting various menu items, I close my eyes to organize my thoughts and it happens — I see my hands as clear as day making pasta in front of me. In reality, one hand is holding a cup of coffee and the other is resting on my lap — but in my minds-eye I can feel the smooth dough against my fingers as I roll little orrechiete “ears” over my thumb….

Read More.
Filed Under:

Tell Me A Story: Stirring Up Cellular Memories with Meditation

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I have been meditating for over twenty years now and find it an essential part of my life. Many have written about the substantial physical and emotional benefits, and while I’ve certainly found that to be the case, too, I’ve also noticed that there is a component of releasing “cellular memories” that is rarely addressed. People shy away from phenomena that are not so easily explained, but whether you call it “cellular memories,” “past lives,” or releasing “old patterns,” I have found that there is something extraordinary happening that also brings welcome relief to the body and the spirit.

Read More.
Filed Under: ·

The Voice of Your Higher Self

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I learned over time that this is the sound of my higher self. Sometimes it’s barely there in the background, pointing me in the right direction with a nudge or a song lyric, or a bit of humor and love. Other times she comes through loud and clear with precise instructions or suggestions. No topic is too large or too small to engage my higher self, and the range of comments over the years have both startled and amused me.

Read More.
Filed Under:

The Booming Market for Meat Alternatives

| by Cheryl Shainmark

White Castle and Fat Burger now feature Impossible Burgers, Del Taco has Beyond Meat on the menu, and Burger King is about to roll out a Beyond Meat Whopper. Hard Rock Cafes in Europe carry a veggie burger now, (though you’d have to skip the cheese to make it a vegan meal), and they expect to offer it in their US locations next year. As Phil Shainmark, our columnist for The Unlikely Vegan noted recently, “It’s quite possibly the best time to be a Vegan. There are so many amazing choices and places to go.” Even if you’re not a vegan or a fast food fan, the variety of meat alternatives is great news as many grocery stores and regular restaurants have also added plant based options to meet growing customer demand. According to Market Insider, the $14 billion dollar meat alternative industry is expected to grow to $140 billion over the next decade.

Read More.
Filed Under: ·