When I first moved to New York, almost eighteen (!) years ago, I started a Live Journal account as a way to report back to people in Oregon. I’m not a big phone talker, so it just seemed easier that way. I also knew only one person in NY – my roommate Jackie, and okay, I also knew Monica, who was a good friend of Jackie’s. (wait, should I be using pseudonyms? Not sure…for now I will keep it real I guess). Anyhow, the journal ended up being almost like therapy for me. I didn’t have a big social circle obviously, so it gave me the chance to kind of reflect on my days and work out all of the new things I was experiencing – a new city, a job search, new people, new way of life, etc. from my bedroom. And then it became really great because a small number of people who were reading mine started their own Live Journals, and it became an awesome little community where we all interacted with each other from distances far away. Some of us didn’t even know one another in real life, but it was a treat to open up the computer every day and have that connection, to hear about other people’s days, to talk about the fucked up shit going on in our own lives and commiserate with one another. So I guess I am hoping to achieve something of the same thing here, only PANDEMIC edition! While these are obviously different circumstances, and some people have faded and others have become closer, maybe at least some people will relate and find it to be a bit of a break from the horrible news on TV and print, and I hope people will feel free to chime in on whatever they feel the need to. I expect to have some haters, particularly in this “cancel culture”, and whatever, that’s fine. I’m mainly just entertaining myself here.
As far as the Old Live Journal is concerned, no, it is not up for reading. It became somewhat problematic as time went on because I built a life in NY, but was also using it as a bitch session for the people in Oregon to read. Also, with social media on the rise it just became an outdated format. Nobody wanted to post an essay on their daily life when they could just post a meme instead. Also, I look back at some of those old entries and totally cringe… But now, with plenty of time on my hands (and I’m guessing yours too), I’m starting fresh! Though it might be boring, I won’t be bitching about random roommates, pretty soon I may not have a boss to complain about, I won’t be talking about who I met that day or the places I went. It will probably be a lot more of me sitting around wondering if a stale taco shell is an appropriate vessel for a hot dog. But here goes….
So yeah, to get to this point today, the Covid 19 virus has been around for a few months, but it just seemed more like, ‘oh – some shit is going down in China….that sucks’. It seemed kind of like a far off concept of sorts, or you know, like Swine Flu or Ebola or SARS – very real things, but nothing you really worry about coming up to your front door and knocking to be let in.
Then there was news of quarantining people on cruise ships or coming home from overseas flights, but still just something you hear about on the news. Bummer for them, but life goes on here just the same.
Then the Kirkland Washington nursing home became infected and Seattle started racking up numbers. Not good. Some guy in New Rochelle, NY tested positive. He is an attorney in Manhattan. The New Rochelle community lit up like a fire and people in the city started freaking out, because the guy had been in Manhattan. An Uber driver tested positive. And then people started really thinking about how impossible of a situation it could get in NYC, where the entire working class takes mass transit and are kind of herded like cattle everywhere they go. I work right next door to the stock exchange and am surrounded by mobs of people (particularly tourists who have been travelling) the second I walk out of my building. If you so much as sniffled on the subway about five people would shoot you death rays. You could sense the fear in a lot of Asian people, who were definitely bearing the brunt of people’s paranoia and distrust. People started wearing masks and gloves.
But even then, as of last week, it was still kind of business as usual. The people that could easily work from home started to, and the subway was a lot less crowded. But The virus was also in heavy rotation on watercooler talk. Trump didn’t give a shit and reassured Americans that it was very much under control, and soon there would be no cases. Particularly with warm weather. Don’t let the cruise ship dock on American soil or his numbers would go up, he turned down tests from Germany…. Blah blah blah. I’m going to try to not make this about him right now. Anyway, this was early last week.
Last Wednesday, I believe, reports started coming back that the shit was really hitting the fan in Italy, it was on lockdown, and doctors there were basically having to choose who would live and die because their healthcare system was overwhelmed. The US was pretty much 10 days behind what they were experiencing if drastic measures weren’t taken. The travel bans started. My air BNB guests, almost all of them coming from Europe for summer vacation, started cancelling. The stock market completely fucking plummeted. Fucking Tom Hanks tested positive!
On Thursday, I asked my boss ( I have two bosses, but this is my main one – the other will come into the story shortly) what would happen to my job if we weren’t able to come to work because the office was shut down. He looked at me and laughed nervously. “Do you really think that is going to happen” he asked? “Yes, I think so.”. He seemed a bit dismissive of it, but he said we would talk later. Later that day he said if that were to happen I would work out of his home. My job doesn’t really translate well to work from home. But his girlfriend might need help with her business, so it basically sounded like I was going to get roped into some weird situation where I was their home assistant, and god.. no thanks. I’d have taken unemployment, but then my health insurance would get cancelled. So that’s worrisome.
Friday, I went to my other boss’s office. I normally work for him on Mondays, but earlier in the week I had made up some bullshit excuse because I didn’t want to come in. I sensed that soon this work might dry up, so I went in for a couple of hours to tie up loose ends. He was in kind of a panic. He’s this multi-millionaire guy who knows all kinds of ‘big wigs’ and said “I heard a credible rumor that they are going to shut down the city. I am fleeing to my second home in the Hampton’s. But you will be here – you can still come into the office and get stuff done if I need you”. Then he took out $10,000.00 cash and off he went. A big fuck you to him. Like I’m going to continue going to his office when he himself is terrified. Whatever.
I took out my equivalent of 10k in cash, $200.00, and went to work for my other boss. I had to pick up some lighting on the Lower East Side and deliver it to a jobsite in the East Village. Normally, this task might not be so much fun because there are so many people on the street and I would worry they would bump into the lights and stuff, but man, Friday was perfect. The sun was shining, the streets were empty, everything seemed calm and peaceful. I was really digging what had just been announced by the WHO as a pandemic. I was still kind of hopeful that my long anticipated vacation, which has already been booked and paid for, would be happening in June. By mid afternoon, this boss also had heard there could be some kind of city wide shutdown, so he informed us we would be working from home. I was greatfull that that meant my own home, and he was allowing me to do so. I looked forward to having a more relaxed schedule for a short time….
Somehow, over the weekend things took a different turn though. The subway was and is still running, but the “social distancing” thing became much more of a focus on the news. People started really taking it seriously. I live in what I would say is kind of a ‘party’ neighborhood. There are a lot of bars and restaurants around, and a lot of young people live here. The streets were totally quiet this weekend – to the point where it took on an almost sinister vibe, and I wondered what the chances were that I would get mugged if I went out. Restaurants were empty, people were starting to worry about their jobs and how they were going to pay rent because it became clear this was not going to be temporary. Businesses will be destroyed, and people will be out of work. (I honestly don’t think my job will survive). I talked to a good friend in Seattle and mentioned how overnight everything just turned kind of sketchy, and she said “ I know, my husband is thinking about buying a gun just to protect our home”.
And so yeah, that’s pretty much up to current. I have spent two days “working” from home, with no word from my boss. I guess I will call him tomorrow. I’m not sure what to do – act like there is a surveillance camera and pretend I’m not just surfing the internet looking at taxidermy and shoes? Make up something to worry about and text my boss to act like I’m doing something worthy? Nah, I guess he knows I’m not doing shit, we just don’t know where to go from here. It looks like there will be a shelter in place rule coming soon where we can only go outside for necessary things like food and medicine. I assume I’m going to miss out on my vacation in June, so maybe I will have to cash in my vacation pay. But also, not going into the office, my boss could actually just up and close and not pay. I don’t think he would do that (whereas the other guy would), but ….?
The good think to come of this, is that I have had a couple of conversations with friends that I wouldn’t have normally, which is weird, because I hate the phone. People with good work from home jobs are concerned about the virus, but know they will ride it out. People with less job security are freaking out for sure. I myself am freaking out about that, but I also realize I’m in a better spot than a lot of people. It is scary though. My friend who happens to be an epidemiologist says she heard from someone in a high position in the medical field that by the time this thing runs it’s course, we will all know someone who has died. That’s fairly chilling.
And now for the portion of the blog where I say something that will make people angry, but it’s still true – from talking with some people (certainly not all), there is this weird, almost…excitement. That is not the best word, because nobody wishes death or hardship on anyone, but – it’s like an apocalyptic movie, only in real life. Like, I don’t want there to be a serial killer in my neighborhood killing people, but you bet your sweet ass I’m going to be absolutely RIVITED while it’s going on. Nobody has seen something like this before. Nobody knows what things are going to look like on the other end. People are getting creative. People are getting bored and turning back to talking to each other and reading books and appreciating the things we do have. So, I dunno – it’s weird and fascinating.
For today, I just wondered what I was supposed to be doing working from home. Then I read a comment on somebody’s facebook thread that said “We are about three weeks from finding out everybody’s natural haircolor”. And I thought to myself, “Holy shit, that’s totally fucking true!”.. So I raced out to Walgreens and bought some dye before the shelves were depleted. I also wondered if my body will change because at work I almost always go to McDonalds because I refuse to spend $10.00 on a lunch I eat at my desk, and they are truly fast. I’ve been enjoying cooking at home and was thinking I preferred the food, but I saw an advertisement for the new line of Big Macs at McDonalds tonight and practically clawed at my screen knowing I wouldn’t see one of those anytime soon.