I originally sat down to write a piece about the time one of my best friends and I went to a 6 a.m. sober rave on a boat that circled lower Manhattan for two hours. But then the past week happened and with it, a sudden shift into feeling like the U.S. was crawling towards the beginning chapters of “Station Eleven.” By now, you’ve received probably hundreds of emails from friends, family, organizations, your own workplace, companies, and brands talking about the coronavirus. In New York, it was at first hard to believe that a pandemic was happening when the spring sunshine was burning deliciously bright overhead, but then the streets began to empty out and almost all NYC institutions temporarily closed — the most personally alarming being the NYPL. When the NYPL (and later, Disneyland!) closes, you know it’s the real deal here.
On Friday morning, I thought I would do a last minute Trader Joe’s run before leaning completely into my new socially distanced life. Hundreds of other people must have had the same idea as I spent 45 minutes waiting in line to get into the store where employees ran around trying to restock as quickly as possible. When I finally left at 11:30am, having waited in line to check out for over an hour as we snaked through every single aisle (which on the plus side, meant a second round of grocery shopping), the store had already been depleted to bare bones. I felt grateful to how calm and kind everyone was throughout the process, all of us stuffed together like sardines trying to fill our tote bags with food as the store quickly ran out of carts, but in that moment it was an alarming reality of what was to come.
Precautions around the coronavirus went into overdrive last week in New York and on Wednesday, we were officially asked to work from home for the month in order to help slow the spread of the virus. It takes a major incident to slow down the city that never sleeps, but practically overnight it has all but come to a halt. And perhaps the hardest part, it’s all still a bit unknown with all of us just waiting in the wings to see what happens.
We’re all in a bit of TBD limbo right now, a place that isn’t easy to navigate on the best days of days, but add in a pandemic and I find myself feeling constantly on edge. Maybe you are feeling the same way right now. It’s a feeling that is subtle at times, lurking in the background until you find yourself wondering, “Why do I want to cry right now over something as simple as my spreadsheet not working?” If that has been you this week, I am right there with you, holding on and appreciating the little moments of joy when I can and breathing through the moments when the uncertainty of it all gets a bit too overwhelming.
At the moment, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for past Carly for painting the apartment yellow in November and hanging all this new artwork, making home a space I find deeply comforting to spend so many hours within. The cats have been excellent coworkers as work has done anything but slow down, and I’m making a point of learning what does and does not work in my WFH routine. I treated myself to a couple candles I can burn during the workday, and when I remember to take a minute and listen, I can hear the cooing of the doves nesting above my window, a sound that makes me think nostalgically of my grandma’s house in Burbank.
In these moments of anxiety, when there are more questions than answers, I try and hold onto the basics: This will not be forever, and the best way I can help right now is by social distancing, an enormous privilege in itself as I can still get paid and work from home.
We all cope in our own ways. For me, I originally took to this in my own productive, crazed sort of way — Deep cleaning my apartment, saving new baking recipes to try during the week, making lists of things I’d like to accomplish during the next month working from home. You know, all those things one puts off because they’re just not fun. Updating my LinkedIn, deleting all the duplicate photos in my iPhoto library, steaming my skirts — to name a few.
But even though lists serve as the compass keeping my life moving North, I’ve myself looking at them and feeling … not comforted. I could write all the pitch letters and learn how to embroider all my shirts, but there would still be a pandemic happening outside. I had forgotten that there is no perfect, preplanned roadmap to entirely through the tough moments, so instead, I scrapped the list and decided that this time is to simply care for myself, care for others, and see where that leads.
I imagine somedays it will mean hours of writing and blogging, finding comfort in getting tangible tasks accomplished, and appreciating trying new recipes. Sometimes will be Facetiming with friends and loved ones or watching three episodes of a show that’s lived on my Netflix queue for months (I’m coming for you “Alta Mar,” don’t you worry!). Or I might just find myself reading for hours at a time or journaling or taking a walk through my very quiet neighborhood or watching videos from my favorite YouTubers (or her, or her, or her, her, and her!) as I plan future trips I hope to take when this is all over. The needs change daily and I’m learning be support and encourage wherever they’re leading.
Should you be looking for some new, creative and engaging content, here is a list of my favorite YouTubers who make my life brighter with their uploads. Over on my blog’s Instagram, I’m continually sharing book reviews of the things I’m reading, and in my past blog archives you can find book recommendations should you be looking for a new literary companion. And if you’re interested, I’d love to curate for you a YouTube playlist of things you love. Just shoot me a message of what you enjoy watching or want to learn about or are interested in and I’ll send you a playlist back to enjoy in your quarantine time.
Take care of yourself sweet friends and listen to your own needs. Hug a pet, rest when you need, and don’t pressure yourself to be somewhere you just aren’t today. I will see you out in the world soon and until then, I will be experimenting with a handful of lemon bar recipes and making a dent in my the 96 TBR books currently living in my apartment.