I don’t know who needs to read this, but – you are loved, and all that jazz.
And yet, it’s fucking cold here in Lisbon. Plus, there’s no central heating. Also, it turns out Whatsapp is spying on you or something. Oh, and people are getting sick. And dying. Like, more and more. For many, including us here at Atlas, the pandemic is starting to hit too close to home. Meanwhile, more and more people are coming to the realization that no one really knows anything about the Coronavirus. In short, loved or not, the beginning of this new decade kind of sucks balls for most involved.
However, most involved do know one thing – that time isn’t linear. For example, if you ever find yourself in a Queens, NY police precinct holding cell, on a cold December Saturday night circa the year 2000, detained but not under arrest, and the cop bringing you your fifth bologna sandwich says, for the seventh time in two days, “Shut the fuck up!… You’ll be out in 15 minutes,” – don’t believe him or her. Or if any given drug dealer in any part of the world ever texts you back “5 minutes” – practice patience, meditation, and keep an eye out for cops. Or if, finally (and god forbid), you happen to find yourself “innocent but detained indefinitely” in a holding cell in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba circa the last two decades – well, you get the idea.
Similarly – albeit a lot less dramatically – experience from the last decade shows that when the Portuguese government says “two weeks” – practice patience and meditation, and take that with a grain of salt too.
Like it or not, another thing we do know is that as of Jan 15, 2021, another full-blown lockdown hit Portugal. The government says it’s for two weeks, whereas word on the street is until mid-March at least (which would mark a full year since the first time this happened). So, as we flock to stock up on toilet paper and copy/paste “#flattenthecurve” all over our social media, it’s important to, again, not lose your shit or your sense of humor, and to stay positive. No pun intended.
First off – remember – if you are reading this, then you are by definition a certified member of the first world, which means that, as far as problems go, yours are minor. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to feel bored, scared, trapped, anxious, depressed, angry, lonely, alone, or all of the above. Because if you are reading this, you are also a certified member of the human race, and the human race is not doing so well lately. Plus, another thing no one really knows is if everything actually will be ok.
That said, there are ways to distract yourself from the not-so-pleasant “here and now” the world keeps finding itself in indefinitely. You’ve made it this far, so might as well keep going. Because the alternatives kind of suck too.
Cooking, cleaning, redecorating (or “Marie Kondo-ing,” if you insist, which we don’t), dancing, reading, writing, making art, music, singing, exercise, drinking, eating – these are all activities that require no internet or social interaction.
However, if you are, again, reading this, then you likely do have internet. In which case, for social interaction – much like a year ago – this can be a good time to reconnect with friends and family near and far. Isolation can be a bitch, for all involved, and someone might need you more than you need them. If it gets too heavy, you can always blame said internet for abruptly hanging up. There are plenty of free ways to connect virtually, although I strongly advise against Microsoft Teams whenever possible. Then there’s Tinder and the likes, which experience shows (and for obvious reasons) get a spike in “matches” whenever there’s a lockdown anywhere. You might not fall in love and/or get laid, indefinitely, but at least you can find someone seemingly hot to talk to if you can’t afford a therapist.
There’s also TV and stuff. Netflix somehow keeps churning out dozens of dramas, documentaries, docuseries, nature, health, and murder porn – that is, years upon years of new and old footage you can binge-watch and sometimes even not regret (i.e., personally and in retrospect, I’d take Tiger King over Queen’s Gambit any day of the week, but to each their own, and only one way to find out). And, of course, there are hundreds of free, legally questionable alternatives that you are likely aware of. Not to mention the wonderful free rabbit holes that Youtube takes you down from time to time.
For more local happenings, the news outlet SAPO 24 has daily events – from concerts to movies to football games – to keep you tuned into Lisbon while locked down. A lot of the city’s museums and art galleries have free virtual tours, like the exhibit Deep down Portugal is the Sea at CCB. Or the entire Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and The Museu Nacional do Azulejo on Google Arts and Culture. Or online workshops at the Museu do Oriente, or videos for kids (and adults) at the Museu Coleção Berardo. In other words, Lisbon is adapting, fast, and a bit of Googling around can have you entertained from home for months or years to come.
Finally, there’s the great city of Lisbon itself, with its river, beaches, parks, gardens, bike paths, staircases, graffiti walls, miradouros, churches, alleyways, cats, geese, ducks, pigeons, character, and minimal rainfall for now, inshallah. The new restrictions allow going out solo for air and exercise, so, if your four walls and the cold therein start getting to you bad, just leave the house and wander in any given direction – within minutes you’re bound to be reminded of the magic that brought you here in the first place.
Meanwhile, we here at Atlas will be updating our events calendar with all sorts of online weirdness for you to do indefinitely as well, plus whatever else might be going on around town. So keep your head up, stay sane, stay healthy, stay safe, stay civil, and stay tuned. As this Atlas correspondent was reminded by a good friend in a Queens jail cell where he thought he would spend the rest of his life some two decades ago – you are loved, time isn’t linear, and this too shall pass.