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Journal of a Lockdown No. 65

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Beginning today, the word "modified" is appended at the beginning of Enhanced Community Quarantine. The government is slowly resurrecting the city. The trains will start operating. But other than the opening of Jollibee in the nearest mall, I don't feel much of a difference. I still walk around the neighborhood with caution. Proximity still scares me. In queues or on the sidewalks, I remain conscious of the one-meter distance that I should maintain. I back off or move forward, as in a reflex response, to keep my perimeter clear of other people.

But, by God's grace, I'm still alive. I assume that you are, too, if you're able to read this. Word is out that the medical oncology speciality board exam is cancelled. My momentum for studying is gone.  The cliché describing the unpredictability of life is taking on a new meaning, and it's pointless to dwell on failed plans and unrealized travels. There are bigger problems. A friend is still in the ICU. Some friends are jobless. I have no right to complain but have every reason to be thankful.

I'm tossing my review materials for old films. The Bridge on the River Kwai, Cat on a Hot Tin Room, and Hachi-ko, among them, best watched after a hearty lunch, a prelude to my afternoon siesta. I wonder why I didn't watch more of these in the past. I'm catching up on various TV series. Killing Eve, The Good Fight, and Once Upon a Time are a few examples: enough to numb the mind with a healthy but temporary amnesia of the pandemic. And then, of course, there are my books. I'm still on The Collected Stories of Jessica Zafra (I received a signed copy, in the author's beautiful handwriting in pink ink), The Early Stories by John Updike, Voyager and Other Fictions by Jose Dalisay, Traveler: Poems by Devin Johnston, The Nearest Thing to Life by James Wood, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, and A Divine Cordial by Thomas Watson.

I should terminate this "Journal" by the end of the month. It seems like we're going to on different versions of lockdown for a long time, anyway, as this will be (and I hate to use this phrase, but I'll use it just this once) the "new normal."

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