We went walking in Riverside Park yesterday afternoon on a much needed trip outdoors - between all the rain this past week and an inconsolable depression that's descended upon me, I didn't go out much. I had purchased enough groceries for the week that I didn't really have to and work was super busy with many virtual meetings popping up which kept me tethered to the kitchen table too.
So yesterday, as the sun came out and the temp went up to 60, we couldn't wait to get out (with our homemade face masks securely tied to our heads, of course).
Going to the Park is usually the highlight of my week. There is a specific bench I sit at to watch the sunset over Jersey and I sometimes go there to read, write, and listen to music when I need a little break. During the summer, when the empanada truck is there, I enjoy a snack and a soda. I've spent some truly meaningful and beautiful times there over the past 16 years. I hope to do so again.
These days, there is, of course, no empanada truck, and the Park isn't a place of respite but a place of potential doom: only about 50% of the people there were wearing masks (runners and cyclists, mostly, but not only) And social distancing? If people truly believe that "that" is 6 feet, then that solves some of the mystery of why our country ranks 30th (out of 37) in math. (Source: US News and World Report, 2019. )
Still, it was a beautiful day and once we found a part of the Park with few other people, I could breathe a sign of relief.
And then we saw this graffiti painted on a stone staircase leading up from the Park to the street. It hit me cold. How many times have we all seen the MAD Magazine cartoons with the hippie guy carrying an "The end is near" signs? I suddenly thought - are we actually 'here'?
Well, upfront, no, I don't think so. If I did, I think I'd be worse off. But the graffiti did make me wonder - maybe, just maybe, this isn't the end of the human race, but maybe, just maybe, it could be the end of whatever it was that we were doing before this happened - because that sure was a sh*tshow wasn’t it? I mean, I'm not even really specifically referring only to the lack of leadership in this country in general, but in, well, everything. If you need me to spell it out, I'm happy to do so, but I think all of us have been aware that something just isn't right. Haven't we?
I kind of need to believe that something really transformative could come from this. That we could figure a few things out - what's important, what's not; what's essential and what's not. Maybe this is an opportunity to stare down the bullshit and tell it that it has no power here. Because it only has power if we let it have power.
Now I know that this is probably too new agey/gooey for many. But for those of us who are hopeful for better days ahead, well, I can only speak for me when I say that 'hoping' for this is what is helping me get through this. That it will be all for something.
But each of us have to do our part to make that happen.
What is something that's not in your life right now that you don't miss? Write it down and get rid of it when it's offered again.
What is something you have now that you didn't realize you've been missing? Write it down and do more of that when you can.
Don't wait for the 'right' time; the time, is here.
I made some grub in our tiny place today - skinless chicken breasts in a crockpot of BBQ sauce, a spoonful of brown sugar and a splash (or so) of Jack Daniels for several hours before being teased apart to make pulled chicken on fresh buns.
It was delicious.
I have officially given up trying to get buff in quarantine. I will continue to do sit ups and push ups whenever I get around to it. You know, just like always.
I've also just accepted the fact that my nervous energy about all of this makes me eat. And eat. You know, just like everyone else right now.
I hadn't been sleeping that well, but I have started sleeping more or less through the night. I mean, besides the times I'm woken up around in the middle of the night because I hear the ambulance sirens on Amsterdam Ave. I haven't blocked them out entirely during the day time hours, but they rattle me a little less than they used to.
Probably what's worse than the sirens (and my neighbor's daily internet show where he plays guitar and SINGS REAL LOUD) are those moments when there is complete silence. Did everybody die? I ask myself.
Now before you get worried, I am at work during the day and if it gets really bad, it's at this point I usually go to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or I will call or email someone.
But sometimes that silence creeps up on me.
It's not that I don't go out, well, sometimes I do, but when I do, the number of people treating this as though this is any normal day disturbs me. And I live on the Upper West Side in NYC. I can't imagine what it's like in a place where ones own Governor or Minister thinks this is no big deal. I truly feel for those people. Ministers in particular - your job is to protect and nurture your flock, not harm them. But don't get me started on this because I could talk all night about this.... but that's not really going to help.
So I'm having all the thoughts. As always. Like we all have. Especially now.
I cry every day but I also laugh every day. So it does balance out.
I just need to breathe. Like all of us do.
Day by day, sometimes hour by hour.
Minute by minute.
Second by second.
It's Day Eight Million and Twenty Seven of this thing and today's lesson is: I appreciate that the universe has a sense of humor - about two weeks ago, the key on my laptop that controls the letter between W and Y stopped working.
Of course I can't take this laptop to the Apple store so I am currently forced to write around that letter. We don't use it that much, do we, but when we do there aren't a lot of substitutes. So I get creative.
When I asked the mister what he thought the message was that the universe was trying to send me, he replied: "that letter represents 'no'. So it's asking you to just say 'yes' to things now".
Not a bad bit of advice, pandemic or no and not a bad way to start the week. Happy Monday, all!
I've been sitting here in a chair at a table in my living room since March 10. That's now 33 days as of this writing. I've worked from here, written letters from here, eaten from here, socialized from here, and spent the last 33 days wondering - am I coming out of this alive?
I understand that the odds are in my favor especially when I have spent about 95% of those last 33 days indoors. When I have gone out, I'm wearing a mask and staying away from others - especially those that are clearly not taking this at all seriously. As a side note, I was mad at first at these types of people that are literally treating this as if it's any other time of their lives, and now I just go way out of my way to avoid them, calmly and cooly.
So here I sit.
I was thinking of this today, of all days, on Easter - how strange it is to be so beautiful out this spring and we can't be out in it as much as we'd like to be..... but I also look at it this way - how much worse would this be if was raining/snowing all the time?
Having the sunshine flow through my apartment and going out into it for the brief trip I take every day wouldn't be as valued - it would be something to 'get through'.
Yes. It's funny that it's this way, but I appreciate it. It makes it bearable.
... one last thought - seeing last year's plants still growing, and thriving in this weather has also given me a sense of hope, that life continues while go through this terrible time. I can't imagine how much worse it'd be if I looked out at my window and only saw dirt in the planters.
But there is mint that's growing crazy big. There's ivy that thrived throughout the mild winter. And yesterday, we walked to a plant store and along the way noticed, appreciated and photographed spring flowers erupting with new life. Then, we purchased and planted a little lavender 'tree' in the planter nearest to where I sit. Yes, spring is here and renewal is right around the corner.
I must hold on to that. We all must.
It's understandable to get depressed and be emotional these days - my God, I would be worried for someone if they WEREN'T flipping out. Between the news and the panic as well as the indifference to a certain segment of the human community, I have been beside myself for days. There will be better days ahead but right now we're staying at home. I'm now on Day 18.
But yesterday I logged on to Mark Kanemura's Instagram feed (I'd been hearing about it for days) - he throws an amazing dance party starting at 2pm PT / 5pm ET and the positivity and joy that emanate from him is infectious (in the not lethal way, of course!) :)
I needed this emotional injection of positivity, energy, and joy, more than I can say. This man is provided the best source of healing for the grieving I am going through (click here for a great article about the grief we're all going through).
It's 30 minutes of aerobic fun but frankly I was having a late afternoon nap when I logged on and didn't even get up at all. It threw me back to the mid 90s gay bar/club scene here in NYC - the same fun energy that kept me going back to Splash, Paladium, Limelight and more is present here....
Log on. Enjoy it. Move with Mark. Or just listen. I can't promise your life will be changed, but mine was. And I thank you, Mark for this.
And remember: You Are Loved.
These days that simple question takes on a deeper meaning - because it's really about: how's your physical health? and how's your mental health?
So, long story short - two weeks ago I was with someone who had been with someone who tested positive. OK so that IS a few degrees away but the person I was with had a cold and I thought it not unreasonable that I could have picked something up. I didn't and after 14 days I am still feeling 100% fine physically (although I have been sneezing a LOT - I suppose it could be allergies - they flare up so infrequently that I sometimes forget year to year that I even have them).
Like many of us, I am feeling the pinch mentally. I swing wildly from one emotion to the other. You know. The same way you're feeling.
It's not that I'm feeling it when it comes to working from home - I've done that most of the 16 years I've lived in my NYC apartment - but from my imagination dreaming up super scary outcomes to this.
I try to stay present but my mind keeps drifting towards possible futures.
As you are probably also feeling, containing those emotions is a lot of work.
Thankfully I had planned on taking this week off, and although our travel plans got called off and my partner, a medical professional, had his vacation time revoked, I decided to keep mine. I had waffled about this but my boss was insistent and perhaps that was a good call.
So I'm at home but unable to sit still. I made a list of a dozen projects but I am struggling to muster up the energy to do much on any of them... and then I kick myself for not making better use of this time 'off'.
I'm doing my best to breathe, be grateful, and laugh. And there are some crazy/funny memes out there. So, in the spirit of mental health, here's one of my favorites: Girl With the Purell Earring. I hate that I didn't think of that!! :)
What are YOU doing to take care of you - and most importantly, how's it goin'?