Is this thing on? Hello? Can you see me? How does this even work?
Welcome to Week 2 of Total Confinement in France. What, exactly, does that mean anyway? It means when friends elsewhere post about going running in the park or sitting six feet apart chatting in a beer garden, you say "Oh, I remember doing that last week." View this Carpetblog post as the ghost of your Total Confinement future.
As in Italy, in France you have to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus. This applies to the entire country, and everything that's not "essential" is closed. You can leave your home under the following circumstances: to go food shopping or to the pharmacy, to go to your essential job that cannot be done from home, to take care of children or the elderly, to walk the dog, or get exercise (not cycling) within 2 kms of your house. You must have with you an extremely on-brand for France signed document attesting who you are, where you live and that you are doing one of those things, alone. You must show it to one of the multitudes of uniformed and plainclothes cops standing around who will fine you 135 euro if you don't have the paper or if they don't agree that you are complying with the terms of "le confinement total." All parks, beaches, trails and even the seaside Promenade des Anglais are closed because people were not conforming. We used to have nice things. Now we don't. Nice is a ghost town.
The situation here at Carpetblog world headquarters is grim. However, having been confined to compounds in less salubrious locations with a lot less wine, I already have some coping skills. Also, when I'm not travelling, I'm at home, and I mean HOME. On the couch. A day of not leaving the house is called "Tuesday." Still, opting not to leave the house and being chased back to it by a drone that shouts at you in French are not the same thing.
Here are some tips. You're going to want to digest them because Total Confinement is coming to you, whether you believe in science or not.
1. Wash your Windows, You will have a much clearer view of all the things you cannot do.
2. Rearrange Your Space. Is your living space optimized for socializing? You're not going to be doing any of that. Here's what you are going to be doing: exercising indoors. My bike is on a trainer in the center of my living room now and the chairs are in my office where I won't be doing any work because I haven't got any.
3. Go Rogue. Ignore people who tell you you should shower every day and maintain a routine. Society is breaking down. There are no rules.
4. Beans are your friends. Friends that you have to soak first before you can play with them. You can't be picky.
5. Clean your couch, for crying out loud. Vacuum up the crumbs and skin flakes and scrub the coffee and wine stains. You change your sheets (don't you??), you should clean your couch.
7. Offer to Entertain Children: Maybe your friends* have children and, having been confronted 24/7 with what they've created, have come to regret some of their life choices. Help them out by suggesting games like "fun with knives," "three-legged scissor relays," and "best horror movies of the 80s" that you can play with their kids. *This is actually a trick to find out who your real friends are. Your real friends would never, in a million years, ask you to entertain their children, even for 10 minutes. During a plague.
8. Resist the Siren Call of the Video Chat. I've failed at this because everyone is insisting on it but it is nice to see your friends and family. Don't fool yourself. It's not the same as a pleasant apéro on the beach, but we live in difficult times and sacrifices must be made.
9. Find something To Look Forward To: "OMG It's 8:00 pm! Time to clap!" Every night at 8pm France opens its doors and applauds the health workers. If that is literally the only thing on your schedule, it becomes something you look forward to participating in. You'll see neighbors you've never seen before. It's up to you if you want to go to bed after that, but don't try to chat with me if you wake up at 3am and you have nothing to do.
10. Rethink Foundational Assumptions About Your Life: For example, do you have a "no drinking at lunch because you're old and need a nap afterwards" policy? No better time than now to revise policies that no longer serve your interests or contribute meaningfully to your lifestyle.
The most disorienting dynamic of the last week has been how fast ordinary daily activities became unthinkable, and how quickly things that were once unthinkable (two weeks locked in the house omg) became quite ordinary when compared to things that are really unthinkable (omg six weeks locked in the house). It was just over week ago we were enjoying each others' company at a lively apéro. Now it's completely unbelievable we did that. Earlier this week we thought cycling would still be an option. Now, it seems foolishly naive.
Seriously, take it from France, Spain and Italy, countries with modern well-funded health care systems where doctors and nurses are dying and those still alive are deciding how to ration lifesaving ventilators. Restez chez vous. State a casa. Stay the fuck home. Whatever language you understand, stop putting others at risk because you want to play outside.
If you still don't get it, watch this.