Chronicling the Days – Marian Rebeiro

Welcome to QWF series ‘Chronicling the Days’, specifically for this strange uneasy time of coronavirus and pandemic, of social distancing and self isolation, of lockdown and quarantine.

In April 2020, we invited writers in Quebec to submit a story – of a single day at this time, because while we’re all living through this time, we know that we’re not all living through it in the same way. To stay connected – to know how we’re getting on. Every story valid.

Submissions have now closed for the series but we’ll be continuing to publish the pieces throughout May. Keep an eye for them here, or join us on the QWF FB Community page, and let the authors know if their words resonated.

This piece is one of our final two pieces, written by Marian Rebeiro in May 2020.

Image: Bruce Springsteen (Getty Images)

The Perils and Parallels of Listening to Bruce Springsteen’s “Human Touch” in the Time of Pandemic

It might sound a bit crazy to some, but I love a commute. A passive commute, mind you, where I can sit down on the bus or metro, and “check out” for a half hour, listen to music, read a book, or people watch. I love people watching. My morning commute gives me a moment to shift gears, and “get in the zone” (whatever “zone” I need to be in that day) after rushing to get myself ready and out of the house. It’s a moment of stillness, even though I’m still technically moving as I get from point A to point B, and I love it. It’s mine.

Not so during a pandemic lockdown.

Offices and public buildings are closed, and public transportation is (in my mind) out of bounds now to everyone except essential and front-line workers. I’m extremely grateful that I’m among those whose job situation merely shifted to “work from home” status. It might’ve taken a couple weeks of adjusting and some furniture rearranging in the middle of the night, but it’s certainly better than the alternatives that many others are facing right now. But no more commute means no more morning stillness, and suddenly I don’t know how to transition from “at home” mode to “at work” mode.

Add that to the growing list of global concerns, and all my Big Plans for the spring and summer being foiled across the board, and my brain was overindulging in work to fill the sudden void where my friends and family normally fit in.

In a pandemic lockdown, my brain is in constant work mode.

So, to remedy this in my isolation, I have manufactured a commute by waking up and immediately putting on music to get “in the zone.” I usually listen to an entire album, or a short Spotify playlist, from start to finish. I know I could read a book or an article or listen to a short podcast, but, as I work for a writers’ federation, I feel that’s too close to my job. So music it is.

This morning I woke up with Bruce Springsteen’s “Human Touch” in my head. I don’t really know why, I haven’t listened to Bruce in a while, but I figure why not give in to my subconscious mind and put that record on. The plight of the everyman works in a pandemic, too, right?

I think it worked a little *too* well, in this new, quarantined world where human touch has become the ultimate taboo.

You might need somethin’ to hold on to

When all the answers, they don’t amount to much

Somebody that you could just to talk to

And a little of that human touch

What was my subconscious thinking?

Suddenly, my new “commute” is reminding me of the very thing I’m trying to forget.


[Straight from the Boss…]

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