Notes From the City: March 2020

^^ In our house, it’s impolite to let anyone have an afternoon nap alone. ^^

This past month has certainly taken a different turn from the last. Instead of being able to share adventures from the city, this month I can only share the adventure of hunkering down in my apartment and using my dishwasher as a drying rack for all my hand washed socks.

I’ve been trying to journal everyday during self-isolation to document the ways the world, and I, are navigating the pandemic. I know it’s something I will look back on in the future and say, wow, remember that? I am looking forward to those days of looking back — of eating pasta on open patios in the sun, laughing with friends as our sunglasses become slightly askew from our second glass of rosé, and saying, “Remember when we were all in New York for the pandemic?” Those days might be very far away from this moment and while tempting with their siren songs, I’ve been trying to stay focused on the present and what I can control in this moment. Easier said than done of course.

^^ Outside the closed Brooklyn Library on a Saturday evening waiting to celebrate a friend’s birthday with a socially distanced walk in the park. This was much earlier in March, now we’re all self-isolating separately.  ^^

^^ This was said socially distanced birthday party which was a sweet reminder that the little things can actually mean the most. ^^

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Productivity in the time of Coronavirus

I had originally planned to write this blog last night, along with filing my taxes, spring cleaning my closets, building a blog business plan, calling 127 people, and baking a pumpkin loaf. Not to spoil anything, but what I actually accomplished was finishing Tenements, Towers and Trash by Julia Wurtz and the Netflix original series Alta Mar — two things that hold zero productivity points on paper but in reality, gave me a much needed respite from the constant intake of pandemic news.

The first day of self-isolation, when we were asked to officially work from home, I found myself hyperaware of my sudden need to lean into productivity and almost guiltily, have something to show for my time at home. “Uncertain about a situation? Make a list about it!” my brain yelled at me while playing a carnival organ. “There is no anxiety to see here behind this curtain! Just focus on these good ole’ fashion, unrealistic to do lists that will  eventually bring you anxiety but until then, will distract you from the anxiety already brewing over the pandemic!” My brain is very theatrical in times of crisis. Bless it, it’s like an ever running production of The Cursed Child and Moulin Rouge combined.

Productivity, for better or worse, has always been my coping mechanism through uncertain times, giving me a fake sense of control in times when I really had very little. It should work wonderfully in theory, but then again so should MC Hammer pants. What my productivity coping mechanism almost always fails to take into account is that sometimes what my body actually needs is to slow down, acknowledge the uncertainty, and just be.

Going into week two of self-isolation, as cases of coronavirus ramp up by the thousands in New York City, I’ve been trying to avoid as best I can the social media posts displaying all the things one can accomplish during their time at home. Work out everyday and get a six pack, learn a new hobby, learn a language, clean out your entire house, write a novel — this is your time to make all your dreams come true! At times it has felt like every voice is yelling to be a part of the conversation that we all need to be making the most of our time at home.

And this conversation is driving me absolutely crazy.

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Swimming Through the Currents of Uncertainty

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.

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Notes from the City: February 2020

I’ve officially hit that point in winter called the dregs. It’s that point where the novelty of comfy knitted sweaters and layering up and freshly fallen snow have worn off and now everything feels just borderline annoying.

The 15 minutes it takes to layer up and leave the house, the constant battle of choosing to keep my snow coat on while on the subway and potentially develop heat stroke rather than have to carry an extra layer. The lack of sunshine for days at a time and the constant damp rain. The lack of snow but the rotation of the same snow jacket everyday. The constant hand washing of my favorite sweaters because they’re filled with subway sweat by the end of the day. Not being able to go on long walks due to the wind peeling off the first layer of my facial skin with its ferocity and the intense indoor heaters turning every other bit of exposed skin into a raisin.

Whew, even just reading that back you can tell, we are in the DREGS! 

And yet, five years after moving to New York City, I’m still here, much more prepared than when I arrived as a Southern California native, and somehow, even more in love with living here. I know it’s hard to tell after reading through the paragraph above, but that’s the thing about New York, the complaining often comes from the deepest places of affection — much like when you’re talking about your loved ones.

So how much do I love New York City? I love it enough to own two snow jackets that make me look like giant raspberry-colored sleeping bags every day. I love it enough to learn how to endure wearing a snow jacket inside so I don’t have to carry it around when shopping (the key is to take off your scarf and unzip the jacket, it will change your entire game!). And I love it enough to still try and find the silver lining in the deep dregs of winter.

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Notes on a Home

^^ Please excuse the couch cover that needs to be mailed back in the middle of the room. ^^

A week before Thanksgiving, encouraged by a friend to just do it, I spontaneously booked an appointment on TaskRabbit to have my apartment painted. I had been casually flirting with the idea since the summer when, during a rough mental health patch, I had looked up from my couch — which had become my new favorite companion — and realized my walls were gray. Had they always been like that, I wondered, or were they just reflecting my own current state of being? Painting felt like a fresh start and coupled, with a large clear out of my belongings, a way of truly claiming it as my own. I went with yellow and cream, both which I hoped would fill the space with cozy warmth, and since then I’ve been on a mission to make this space into a home.

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Falling in Love With my City Over One Million Steps

Ever since moving here, I’m frequently asked the top things that shouldn’t be missed when someone visits the city. And to be honest, that list is infinite because anything that makes your heart beat wild with anticipation can be found on this island at the highest level. Musicals, soup dumplings, pizza, bookstores, exhibits, concerts — you name it, it’s here and it’s dope.

You could say yes to something every night of the week (or numerous things a night, if you are a super extroverted and not me) and still never do or see everything you want in this city. Which at times can be intimidating and makes me feel guilty for setting up a routine that often keeps me in Brooklyn most weekends. But what I’ve learned in the last four years of living in New York is that there is no one right way to fall in love with this city. In fact, my way involved hundreds of miles of pavement, my Nikes, and a couple of ice tea pit stops.

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