Happiness in a pandemic




Manila—I’m wearing lipstick as I’m writing this. It’s a Sunday afternoon and I just finished discussing health journalism during this time of the pandemic with two radio anchors who invited me on their show, which was live-streamed online.


These virtual events are rare occasions when I put on a face, which means just lipstick and face powder to conceal the shiny nose and forehead, and some eyebrow pencil.


My lipstick shade is called cinnamon toast, my face powder honey nude, my eyebrow pencil dark brown. I have forgotten about shades and colors and all that stuff but I happened to check them again on the cosmetics that remained unused, but only for the first time in a very long time. The last time I put on lipstick was a few months ago when I spoke in a media webinar.


Why am I fussing over lipstick? Apart from making me remove my face mask to reveal my face before an audience, it disturbed my routine. Yes, I don’t wear lipstick anymore (and I haven’t bought a new one for more than a year now) because I’ve gotten used to wearing the face mask.


I have read about people’s negative feelings about work-from-home and virtual activities. But what I’m loving about the situation, and especially my country’s all-year lockdown in 2020 that continues till today, is the routine that has fostered my personal space, my peace and happiness. Part of it entails washing my face a few times during the day and whether or not I came from an outside errand or was home the whole day. No lipstick required, just the comfort of a bare face.


I’m totally aware that people are fighting for their health and safety, for their lives; and have lost loved ones. Many don’t have the resources to maintain a good internet connection to be able to work and study. Still, many people lost jobs and can’t put food on their tables.


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My thoughts are on them every time I turn my attention to the news — one thing I can’t avoid doing as I’m in the news business. And for some time now, it has all been about deaths, grief, suffering, chronic fatigue, stress and mental disorders.


I share with a few friends the love for the lockdown and of hopes that the pandemic will stop but the peace brought by the world on standstill will stay.


I hope we are allowed to say that we are feeling better and that there are things that make us happy during this unprecedented and difficult time. I believe it is undeniably acceptable to be happy and to be fond of the enforced months of lockdown and isolation because at some point, the world will be noisy and stressful again.


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My routine has never been this remarkable, and I don’t need any more thrill than what I’m having now. It is my normal, and I won’t exchange it for anything in the world. It let me see that in the most trying times, there are beautiful things that can happen and that I can fully embrace.


Every day, I pray that the world will put itself back together again, but better this time. And as I do this, I forget about what’s going on outside as I trim my peppermint and basil and put the leaves in a jar near my work table so I can smell their minty scent, or as I stay longer in bed in the morning and dream because I don’t remember the one I had last night.


Diana Mendoza is a journalist based in Manila. Send feedback to soltera2044@gmail.com




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