With the pandemic winding down in New York, I thought It time to offer a final list of Pandemic Accomplishments.
Most importantly for me, I completed the final draft of Anori (well, almost).
I applied for 80+ jobs across America (including Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston and New York, Europe (London, Lisbon, Salzburg, Rome, Zurich, Paris and Barcelona to name a few) as well as Kathmandu. Still looking. Hmm.
I travelled to Maine, Oregon, California, Rhode Island and Martha’s Vineyard.
I raised the daily visits for this blog from 30+ views per day to 150+ views per day.
I had both of my knees replaced, had nine Covid-19 tests and was vaccinated.
I have basically kicked my Fishdom addiction after reaching Level 2865. Although I might check in again one of these days.
I finally got out of the city for some exercise and air. Most on the trails were courteous and respectful regarding the mask. They either already had it in place or quickly slipped it on as we passed.
Others not so much.
When asked how I was doing by an older white fellow without his mask, I replied, “I would be doing better if you were wearing a mask.” His reply: “I don’t believe in that stuff.“
Further down the trail, a second man, similar age, ethnicity and lack of mask, replied with a chant, arms in the air, “Vaccinated! Vaccinated! Vaccinated!” I reminded him that I and many others still were not.
2020 was a distinctly bad year and is burned into my memory. It wasn’t just the pandemic, although that sure had a motherfucking big role. Not will I soon forget the dark days of New York’s Covid Spring, the eerie silence punctuated by the banging of pots and pans at dusk.
2020 was a lot of other bad things too.
I was attacked on a Zoom call in front of the entire faculty by an angry woman who claimed that I discriminated against black students. It didn’t matter that none of it was true nor that she knew none of the students nor even that many, including my black colleagues, called immediately afterwards to express their outrage. It was ugly and awful, and I had just been laid off. I was never given the chance to respond nor ever received an apology.
I received a call from my mother’s caretaker with the news of my mother’s death. It wasn’t sudden – it was more of a relief – but the image of the fire escape stairs and the multitude of drinks along with repeated viewing of the climax of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (my mother’s favorite opera) are indelible memories. As was the Zoom funeral that followed.
I had both of my knees replaced and was stuck in a hospital room with no air conditioning, the bedsheet sticking to my back. They didn’t do anything about it until a day later when they noticed that my temperature was high, and I explained the connection.
This Covid Pandemic is carving pieces of people away. In an attempt to maintain a semblance of normalcy through posting images, completing puzzles and asserting that all will be well, a feeling of identity loss dominates instead. Or thinking that anyway.
The need to belong somewhere – friends, family, a team or bar – has been eroded by life being moved onto the screen. This has created a sense of mutation, a half-shell of selves turned sideways into paper-thin abstractions with cartoon broken arms, modules and warts sloping out in disturbing and hopeless directions.
This isn’t a one-dimensional thing, but a sputtering prick into the bubble of self-awareness where one thinks of being half-asleep in a dream, shruggling (shrugging & struggling) with the accusations and denials of one’s most obvious flaws made obscene and dull. And it’s only getting louder.
On a more concrete note, I had my bank account cleaned out by a fraudulent check and await the fire marshal’s clearance to helped my wife salvage what we can be from her office which was destroyed by fire.
On a more positive note, I have applied for jobs in all five New York City boroughs as well as Paris, Helsinki, Lisbon, Lucerne, Lugano, Rome, Newport, Atlanta, Havana, Cayman Islands and Kathmandu. I have also rewritten the first 110 pages of Anori, with some satisfaction.
Covid-19 Exhaustion has set in. The distancing tape is peeling, masks are hanging and the stores and subways are packed again. What is going on?
I guess all of the signs have been up too long, and we need new words to remind us that the pandemic is still here.
Perhaps we should send dead people to walk the street?
Or maybe a sign like this: Do we not remember what happened in March? Do we not remember being stuck in our apartments? Do we not remember the silence of the city? The empty streets? The death tolls? Are we that fucking stupid?
For all the complaining about Trump, maybe we deserved him in the end.
While Trump’s statement that New York is a ghost town is a gross understatement, there are quite a few businesses that have kept their doors closed for the time being.
Along with the surprising closing of a Starbucks, many independent businesses have shut down, including a number of bars and restaurants, the iconic Century 21 store and Amish Market on Park Row.
But let’s be clear, Chicken Little, New York City isn’t close to being dead. As good as that might be for clickbait, it’s bilge water, as my father used to say. Just try to remember that a pandemic is a pandemic, which means that we have to respect the medical authorities, and that there is always something else coming around the corner.
In the meantime, it’s time to treasure that Escape from New York feeling. No doubt we will be sentimental about it in the years to come.
It’s eight months since this pandemic got going, and it looks like another few months (eight?) to go? Yikes! Anyway, I am still accomplishing things, still doing the rehab, getting safely out, breathing and still blogging.
I have applied for a few jobs and, although I did not get the job at The Julliard, I had a solid interview for a job in Paris. No final decisions on that, but I did go to the airport to renew my Global On-Line card.
I’ve made significant progress on my latest edit of the first part of Anori: “A lot to take in? Huh.” She sipped the drink. “First of all, I’m supposed to believe that you’re an interstellar pilot? Is that it? I’m having imaginary drinks in a galactic orb with an interstellar pilot? Is that it?” It’s a mentally taxing affair, but it should be complete in a month when I can take it to another editor and get slaughtered again.
I finished Brian Greene’s exhaustive opus Until the End of Time: Survival rests upon amassing information that accurately describes the world. And progress, in the conventional sense of increased control over our surroundings, requires a clear grasp of how these facts integrate into nature’s workings. Such are the raw materials for fashioning practical ends. They are the basis for what we label objective truth and often associate with scientific understanding. I understood about a third of the book, which is good for me.
I just attended Kate Hudson’s interview of Matthew McConaughey which failed to meet my exceedingly low expectations until Ms. Hudson started to get into her wine.
Mr. McConaughey was under the false pretense that I had tuned in to hear him wax philosophical when all I wanted was ribald tales and a modern-day rendering of his definitive “All right, all right, all right!” from Dazed and Confused. (Truth to be told, the best part of the interview was interpreter, Joe Lucas, just hanging in there.)
I continue to slog through Fishdom, having made it to Level 1821 and avoiding my first purchase (of $4.99), even though the ghost squid and bonus lives were incredibly tempting. I will maintain the purist route, diligently feeding my fish and cleaning my aquariums.
I just needed a couple of keys cut, but these guys needed everything. I couldn’t tell if they were drunk, on heavy meds or just done with the whole Covid Thing. They had masks on, although the older guy’s mask barely hung over his disheveled beard while his younger companion pulled his mask down every time he talked. That’s a weird pattern of many people during these trying times. Makes you think they don’t understand what the purpose of the mask is in the first place.
Anyway, drunk, drugged or just weirded out by the Covid days, neither of these guys used an inside voice nor seemed to care about the others in the store.
“I need a chair!” The older guy half yelled, almost like he was in pain. “I got to sit down.”
His companion, maybe in his early 30’s, pulled his mask down and went up to cashier. “I need a chair.”
She frowned. “You need what?”
“You know, one of those folding chairs, for camping. A chair.”
The older guy sat down heavily on the stairs. “I don’t need to buy a chair! I just need to sit!”
“Oh, okay.” The companion wheeled back and forth. “We don’t need a chair then.”
“I need a lock!” The older guy slumped forward, his hoodie cloaking much of his face, an exhausted Obi Wan Kenobi. “Come on!”
“What kind of a lock?”
“You know! A lock!”
“Okay.” He turned back to the cashier. “We need a lock.”
“What kind of lock?” She asked nervously.
“What kind of a lock do you need?” The companion asked the older guy.
“When I get home, I need to lock my stuff up so no one can get in, right?”
“He needs a lock.”
“Do you mean the cylinder?” The woman asked.
The companion looked back. “Do you mean the cylinder?”
“I need the damn lock, man! Get me the best one!”
“The best one you have, all right?” He repeated to the cashier.
The cashier wandered off, unsure of what to do, while another cashier came available for me. I gave him my keys. “Three copies of each, please.”
The other cashier returned. “What kind of lock do you need?”
“I need a damn lock to keep people from taking my stuff, man!” The old man was really yelling now. “Like you have when you come home? I need that!”
“We don’t have that. I’m sorry.”
The younger guy didn’t seem to care about any of it, like it was all a long and winding game. “They don’t have it.”
“What about a pressure cooker? They got that?”
He turned to the cashier. “Do you have a pressure cooker?”
“They don’t have it.”
“Pots and pans. I need pots and pans!”
“Okay.” The young guy was smiling crazily, like he was unsure of where he was and what this was all about. “Do you have any pots and pans?”
My keys were cut. “Thank you.”
“Soups! You got any kind of soups? Jiffy Pop! I need that.” It didn’t look like they were going anywhere soon.