Life After Lockdown: One Week In

©Lisa Anselmo

It’s Music Monday! (See track at bottom of post.)

Coucou! as they say in France—or as we’d say, “Yoo-hoo!” I’m checking in with my regulars today, who seem to have disappeared since lockdown ended in France. I’m still here, everyone. Coucou! Drop me a comment on this post so I know you’re okay.

And “coucou” to you, too, my new followers. Welcome! So happy to have you aboard this crazy train. If you’re just joining me, you can catch up on my diary here. If you’re totally new to my blog, well, curl up with your iPad and start here.

We’re one week into “déconfinement” here in France, and there is definitely a profound shift in attitude. Maybe too much of a shift, and too fast. There is a sense among the populace that the virus is over, and social distancing seems to have been thrown to the wind.

A graffiti message popped up in my neighborhood that is fairly apt for post-lockdown Paris: Reveillez-vous!—Wake up!—it shouted. Scrawled underneath: Bordel de merde! That’s one of those colorful expressions only the French could cook up, like “putain!”, which means prostitute but is used as an expletive: “Putain! It’s raining again.” “My putain of a car won’t start.” (There is a whole series of swears around prostitutes.) Bordel de merde literally means “whorehouse of sh*t,” but its meaning is the rough equivalent of a “sh*t show.”

Wake up, people! We are in the sh*t!

“Warning. Don’t shop at Auchan Velizy,” someone posted in an expat Facebook group. “It’s out of control.” There were photos of huge crowds of shoppers milling about in the superstore, similar to Costco. “I can confirm this,” someone commented, noting that while the store had been previously controlling the flow of people going in, he was “surprised today when it was a free-for-all.”

“Free-for-all” is not exactly what you want to hear when you’re dealing with controlling the spread of a deadly disease. Auchan is a major chain; if they’re not going to ensure the safety of their customers and their employees, it leaves one bereft of hope, and quite frankly, enraged. But where is government oversight?

Another friend posted photos of the Marais, of mask-less people ganged up outside an ice cream shop. She was equally anxiety-riddled since the streets in that neighborhood are very narrow. France has relaxed confinement, opened shops, and soon beaches—yet it seems a ball has been dropped in terms of regulation. We’re ending lockdown, folks. Good luck with that. In a country were the pervasive attitude toward law and civic order is “don’t tread on me,” a hands-off approach is a risky game.

We’re all sitting around, tight-shouldered, waiting for that other shoe to drop. That shoe, of course, could mean more lives.

Or maybe not? Does any of this make any difference? We all locked down way too late compared to some countries in Asia. Is this thing going to run its course, no matter what? And if so, do we just slap on a mask and go about our lives?

Are we being cautious or paranoid?

I want to be in the carefree head of those people in the Marais who were crowding on line at the ice cream shop. I’m touched by the humanity of wanting to enjoy ice cream on a beautiful Sunday, to feel normal again, if for only a moment. And maybe they will be fine, waiting outside in the fresh air where the wind moves microbes up and away.

I want to believe that, because I’m among those having a hard time reconciling “normal” life with an active pandemic—the boom overhead. How and when do you re-enter the world at large? I don’t want to become a paranoid hermit, but it’s hard to go out with confidence when others seem to be oblivious to the realities of the day, shirking even the simplest civic responsibility of wearing a mask or keeping their distance.

I am not oblivious to the realities. I have a friend who is a nurse here in Paris, dealing with those realities on a daily basis—still. Yet, people have even stopped applauding the healthcare workers at 8 p.m. There are just a few of us diehards leaning out our windows, clapping.

Coucou? We’re still very much in this thing. We must learn to live with the virus in a responsible way. Read the graffiti on the wall: “Wake up!” The only way through this is to start seeing ourselves as part of the solution, and part of the greater world. If not now, when?


Music Monday is here!

This song has nothing to do with the post I just wrote. So, think of it as a pick-me-up after the heavy message. You can’t have dark without light, right? This song is a staple in my arsenal.

The Man that Got Away. Music: Harold Arlen; words: Ira Gershwin; vocals and arrangement: Lisa Anselmo

Miss last week’s song? Click here.
Listen to all the Music Monday offerings here.


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On the bookshelf

Audiobook recorded by the author. 4.5 stars on Amazon. Click book to buy.


33 responses to “Life After Lockdown: One Week In

  1. i’m reading you everyday from irvine, california. you have put a lot of effort into your daily posts, and i’m sure i’m not the only reader who appreciates it.

  2. Still following you, Lisa! I think I’m being addict to your post/blog now! Here in Quebec City, we try to keep in mind that the virus is still among us even If we gained a certain « freedom ». J’aime la France, j’aime Paris et j’espère que de meilleurs jours nous attendent!

  3. Bonjour Lisa- I 100% agree with your post. It seems the same way where I live (central VA). We started phase 1 last Friday with a slight easing of restrictions. I will do my part by wearing a mask whenever I do go out not only to protect myself but for pubic safety.
    The virus is still here. Stay safe and thank you for your post and beautiful singing!

  4. What a beautiful song ! I luv your voice. So excited to read your posts everyday in this crazy time.

    Thank you so much

  5. Lisa, I completely agree. You’re not being a paranoid hermit if you avoid these crowds! You’re just a prudent person. I’m seeing the same carefree approach here in Royan today and it worries me. Stay safe and keep singing! Sara

  6. Salut Lisa,
    I’m here too in Southern CA. Things have started opening including my tennis club and people have started playing doubles which seems hard to believe considering distancing and not touching each other’s tennis balls will be next to impossible. I declined to take part and play as I don’t think the virus has taken a break yet. Not sure when I’ll feel comfortable. For now, I’m the only one I see around my house wearing a mask in public while walking the neighborhood. Beaches are open, and as in France people flock as though we are over this. Very frustrating.
    Thanks for your blog, I read it daily. Keep it up….

  7. Paris is, unsurprisingly, not that different from NYC in this instance. This past weekend-in which the weather was gorgeous-saw hoards of people crowding the sidewalks outside of bars on the UES, in particular…drinking and standing, mask-less, shoulder to shoulder. It’s provoked quite the (outraged) reaction. I do wear a mask when outdoors (hate it!), just ordered one with a photo of my favorite view of Notre Dame on it to make it more “palatable”…I’m not neurotic about things but I won’t take idiotic chances at the moment either, tempting as it is….guess people are people. Wish I’d be queing up for glaces in the Marais yesterday, as well!

    • Did you order that mask from my friend Patty? I’m stunned to hear this about NYC. I had heard reports everyone there was really following protocol. Are bars open? Why are people gathering in front? Did you call 311? We have the same nonsense here in rue des Archives. Do people have a death wish?

      • I actually ordered it from a site called “Redbubble”- I’d Googled “French masks-corona virus” and that came up; what’s your friend’s site? People here in the city are being pretty good about following protocol-police are handing out masks at the entrance to Central Park, etc. But there are always selfish idiots-I don’t live on the UES and only saw the pix online and via social media. Others contacted 311. It’s incredible-people seem to thing they’re impervious to this virus. The second wave is going to be a kick in the derriere! It’s infuriating, n’est-ce pas?

      • Yes, she sells on Red Bubble as Genuine France. That’s great you found her! I’m glad things are fairly civil in NYC. I do miss my other home and my neighbors—and my doormen! Like family after 20 years.

  8. We are still here! Just all getting bored and exhausted with lockdown. I’m in Ann Arbor, Mich. Just curious — why did you decide to brave confinement in Paris instead of NYC?

    • I didn’t make a decision. I was already here, and the window to leave was closing. It was an agonizing 48 hours. Should I stay? Should I go? My heart wanted to be “home” close to family, but I knew that was an emotional choice since I wouldn’t even be able to see family. Plus, it was chaos trying to get out; I heard about the crush of crowds at customs in JFK in New York and thought, Do I want to put myself through that, take that risk? I hesitated, and the door closed. It’s that simple. I have residency here, so I’m able to stay. I’ll let you know in a few months if it was the better choice. I think I’ll write about this.

    • What a cool coincidence! I’m glad I could support her endeavor…she’s got really fun things on her site. I hear you re. doormen-mine are like my fathers/brothers. Truly like family, je vous d’accord!

  9. I too live in Southern California and am watching things unfold with disbelief and disgust as lockdown is easing. Some people here as well as in the rest of the U.S. seem to think the virus is over. You are not being overly paranoid; you are being smart.

    • I keep feeling like I’m in a movie that is set in the Middle Ages where the ignorant masses are storming the castle. The castle being logic and humanity.

  10. Lisa I haven’t missed a blog yet! My favorites are your photos/videos of the area and your singing. So – how do you practice in your little place? Do you sing into your closed to warm up or do scales, etc? That’s what I used to do in my apartment. Our SoCal neighborhood is also starting to re-open and too many people are out and about as if nothing happened. We are required to wear masks as of last week but I have seen no enforcement. I guess people are willing to take these chances because they have had no first hand experience with the illness, or how could one explain it? Keep posting please, and on my next trip to Paris I am going to explore your quartier with your guides!

    • Helloooo! It’s nice to hear from people in this isolated world! 😉 I don’t muffle my singing. I sing. I’m very lucky to live on a street full of musicians so we’re all always practicing: the pianist, the opera singer, the guitarist (he’s really good!). The guy across the street plays all kinds of woodwinds, and for a while, after we clapped for the healthcare workers, he’d play a little something. I’m not sure how it is that we have such a concentration of musicians here. There used to be a performing arts school across the street and there are two musical instrument shops on my street, too. Like I say in my book, my mother handpicked this place for me, I think.

      • Well then your mother was of course, right. That sounds ideal for you. The problem with singing into my closet was I had to back up to breath properly! Otherwise it worked ok. I just was very self conscious if I was working on something challenging and did not want to be heard working it out, sounding less thatn great. On my trips to Paris I have only really dug into the Latin quarter (feels like home to me, not too bougey, villagey, great cafe hangouts) an the neighboring Saint Germain area. The right bank has felt more urban and gritty to me so far but I am still a novice with only 3 trips there. I loved what you said about life revolving around the cafes as I felt the same way – I could happily visit and just cafe-hop there and be blissfully happy. What, me worry?

      • I never worried about making mistakes when practicing. I could still sing better than my neighbors even if I didn’t hit that high E every time. LOL. I would be more worried about creating tension by holding back, you know? I used to stay in the Left Bank for many years when I visited Paris 2X a year. But when I went to buy something, I wanted to live near all my friends, who are in the 11th, and I couldn’t afford one square meter of St. Germain, let’s face it. But I do think about migrating back to the 5th at some point in my life. It’s quiet and still feels local (once you get away from the touristy bits, which are quite horrible). I write a bit about my move from Left Bank to Right, here:

  11. Went out on Sunday, I was the *only* one wearing a mask. Sure, we’ve had 8 new cases in Victoria today, not a whole lot, but Wave 2 is on the way, people.

    • I hate to think about that. But people really are brain dead. I can’t fully express how bewildered I am. I find if deeply disturbing that my health and safety, which I guard carefully (as well as my neighbors’), is at the mercy of the mindless masses. The lack of civic responsibility is shocking. This is why governments have to resort to draconian measures. We cannot seem to govern ourselves.

  12. We are still here reading and listening! ❤️ It is the same here in TX, however in our area numbers are low and not climbing as anticipated. I’m still cautious and realize this will still be very much with us for a long while. While I’m for choices and letting people choose for themselves the guidelines still have to be maintained and Respect and patients need to be given in leaps and bounds to people. Choices and Balance is what people need and where I’m at in my thinking. As many have said we are in the same sh*t (border de merde – I think I’m using that correctly) storm but in different boats!🤗
    I going to have to use that phrase More often!

    • Hello! I understand how you feel. I saw stats in in Nat Geo that showed Texas’s numbers are up week-over-week, deaths, too. In my humble opinion, you guys opened up way too soon. (I feel that way about us, too, BTW.) So stay safe. I personally don’t think people can be left up to their own choices, not when I see the choices they are making that put us all at risk. I’m sorely disappointed in my fellow citizens here for sure! 😉

  13. Coucou Lisa
    Just catching up with your last two posts
    I agree with you all the way it is so disturbing how the public are behaving . It is unsettling and I am asking myself if I am paranoid as in Paris canadians are reacting the same my plan is to go slow and stay cautious. I am fortunate and grateful to have a house with a nice size garden looking onto a wooded area so easy for me to stay home. Loved your stroll on Sunday and getting ready to listen to your voice.
    Take care……

  14. I’m in LA and we’re to be locked down until August, I believe. While I’m going slightly nuts from being so isolated, I don’t have much of an issue with this. We can still go out and go to the markets, go for walks, certain businesses are open for curbside pickups, restaurants offer delivery or are doing takeout.

    When something is opened up, like the beaches, people ignore the guidelines on distancing, so things get closed back up. This is why we can’t have nice things.

    I feel badly for so many of these small businesses, for whom these closures are devastating, but at the same time, I am not willing to risk my health. I gave my husband a Corona Cut–which he needed desperately–and it didn’t come out too badly. I dyed my own roots. Again, not a salon-quality job, but good enough, considering the circumstances.

    Stores may open, but I won’t be going there.


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