It sure has been some weird times, huh? Unprecedented is the word of 2020, and thus far, 2020 has indeed been one of a kind. Even as we get through these times together, I hope that all of you reading this are staying safe and being well - including loved ones. Wash your hands. Don't touch your face. Stay away from others.
Despite being several weeks into this quarantine-time that is now the new norm, life still feels all sorts of chaotic, unpredictable, and quite frankly, like a huge WTF.
I myself have not been tested for the virus. Neither has anyone that I know (that I know of). However, for the past week, I've had flu-like symptoms that very much make me wonder if, in fact, I've been dealing with it. The biggest symptom of them all have been intense headaches and dizziness that have made routine living much more challenging, even in a quarantined-at-home-lifestyle.
At first, I thought the headaches were migraines coming off a pretty stressful and sleep-lacking week that was in burying my father. However, the headaches have continued. I've shaken most of the cold-like symptoms - your usual congestion, runny nose, etc... Nonetheless, I'm still dealing with the headaches, lack of energy, and the occasional remaining congestion.
Of course, my wife also has been dealing with it as well.
Naturally, we haven't been outside in five days. We've left our apartment only to place the garbage down the chute.
Again, it very well could be a common cold as mentioned by our doctor, but really, who knows? Part of the hysteria of all of this is indeed the randomity and unknown of this entire ordeal - who gets it? symptomatic illness, or not? who gets testing? - and so much more.
Nonetheless, I still thank the good Lord, that each day we've been feeling incrementally better. It's not the significant changes you typically see or feel in recovering, but each day is better. There are many out there, especially in this city, who are experiencing and going through much more. So much more.
GOTHAM WITH NO BATMAN
It was this past Tuesday, in the height of some ailments, lack of energy, and of course, dealing with an ever-exploring toddler who is home every day (parents, you feel me, right?), that I decided to take a quick drive to get us some food. We were in no shape to be cooking.
In slowly cruising around looking for a few spots that I believed would be open at this time, I eventually made my way to McDonald's. In my short 10 minute drive around southern Brooklyn, what I saw was so entirely eerie. It's not a direct correlation, but what it reminded me of was what the city felt like following 9/11. That overlay of a city hit with sadness and worry, and still in the depths of what comes next.
On probably the busiest street here, Flatbush Avenue, all shops and businesses were closed. Many of the city's streetlights are off at dark (probably in hopes of keeping people inside), and there were just nonstop sirens - ambulances and fire trucks - roaming and buzzing everywhere. Even as I write this on a weekend afternoon near a window in my apartment, I am engulfed in constant sirens happening outside.
Adding to the scene are the faceless bodies walking emotionlessly apart from one another in a way that is so not Brooklyn, so not New York City. Of course, all were wearing clothing that completely wrapped up their appearance - typically hoodies, jackets with hoods, medical masks, ski masks, or scarves wrapped around their faces, almost looking like lifeless creatures in and of themselves among the shadows, and within the dark of the streets.
Again, it was all so...so eerie. And really, I'm sure it is, every night if one were to venture out.
But it's no secret - New York City has been hit extremely hard during this time. My city is crying.
The entire ordeal has felt like a scene from one of Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. However, at least for now, Batman isn't saving us.
Sitting at home, especially when you're sick, gives you a lot of time to
My first thought is this: Us Americans have an almost arrogant attitude about the idea that things like this - pandemics - do not happen to us. In our response, governmental (more on that in a bit), social, and really, just inherently intrinsic, we often believe these are things that happen elsewhere. Not here.
It was absolutely shameful to watch video clips and interviews of all types of people offering the incompetent and insufficient rationale for their large mass gathering, or, in completely ignoring expert advice.
I truly believe, like 9/11, our world will change after this. How we react, digest, and understand a world in which public health isn't guaranteed. The way we always assumed life elsewhere - or over there - has always presented itself on our TV screens.
The other thoughts were this: COVID-19 has exposed just how flawed all of our systems are.
Of course, many have been saying this for years in opposition to many of our systems. Healthcare is a disaster. COVID-19 has not only shown us that in order to get access to the to immediate help, you need money and power (just keep tabs on who immediately gets tests, even without showing signs), but it has exposed just how overwhelmed, underfunded, and poorly structured our healthcare system is, has been, and will continue to be if more these pandemic threat happens in the future.
Our economic system is jacked. I think we've known that. When 1% owns roughly more than half of the combined wealth of the rest of America, that in itself is a great starting point.
However, watching major corporations, many with inequities of themselves, or those who pay no taxes into our system, already lining up for bailouts, is all too maddening.
Our prison system needs and deserves empathy. I think of the many individuals during this time who have been wrongly placed in solitary confinement because of our nation's obsession with filling prisons for profit. I've found myself struggling to stay home in my New York City apartment - and that is with privileged entertainment and abilities. Of course, that isn't a direct comparison, but even several days in an apartment with food, comfort, and entertainment, pushes my mental health to limits of exhaustion.
I cannot imagine the toll taken on those placed in rooms without sunlight for weeks, months, years. We need to do better.
I think of benefits, such as health insurance, which is head-scratching. We somehow tie these important benefits, and the extent and far-reaching coverages of these benefits, to employment status. I think of the many people who either have lost or will lose their jobs in the coming days. With that, their health insurance and various other benefits that give their family much-needed aide.
Our perception of hard work, and who "works hard" is privileged. I think of the many people who are often stigmatized in our society for the jobs they have, and the poor (if any) paid sick leave they receive. Immediately, I think of my recent trip to McDonalds. I went there to purchase food for my family in a time to which we needed it. I think about how those workers were there when no one else was and provide a service in a time of crisis that is more essential than anything else we value with high wages, perks, benefits, and social acceptance. Why aren't those workers afforded the same rights as an executive currently enjoying their "WFH" experience?
Ditto for the amazon workers, the food delivers, and so much more.
Obviously, I can go on, and on, and on. Because well, as mentioned, there is plenty of time to think on poorly structured we are as a nation.
We're built on inequality and have since been unable to remove ourselves from it. And thus, a total shutdown is illuminating much of it.
New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has really impressed me through this whole ordeal thus far. His ability to communicate where we are, where we need to be, and where we are going has been the only leadership from our elected officials I've truly cared for. Which says plenty, because its times like these can show the metal of an individual.
I really feel that a lot of people are driven to fear in these times because our government has given us very little from the very beginning.
NYC Mayor, Bill DeBlasio, might as well just hand everything over to Cuomo. DeBlasio has been absolutely pointless.
Our President? Well, I try not to pile on Trump the way many do who aren't fond of him. After all, I will admit, at times it seems far-reaching (at times, very far), and many times, counter-productive.
However, his handling of COVID-19 is one that I would co-sign any criticism of the President. His late response to this has been negligible. His inability to communicate anything concrete during this entire ordeal has been laughable. And his weakness - handling social matters or times of crisis - is very much coming through.
There hasn't been one moment, in any of his briefings, where I've felt like I've had a takeaway that has been productive for dealing with this as an American. Every presser, for me as a viewer, has been about him get his nonsense out of the way so we can hear Dr. Fauci's remarks.
Ironically...it's all been so sad. The clear lack of leadership from our elective officials has been so incredibly sad.
But once again, major props to Governor Cuomo.
I do want to end by giving a tremendous amount of love to our healthcare professionals who are literally on the front lines battling this pandemic. Besides the obvious, there are so many underlying stories and articles I've read of the many who have sacrificed so much - even caring for their own spouses and parents infected by the virus - to engage and follow through on the Hippocratic oath.
Also, much recognition to the great number of medical professionals in other disciplines who are and have been taking the time to learn the practices and care of nurses in order to help in real ways on those same lines.
It's a crazy, odd, scary, newer world we're now living in.
And these have been, and will always be, our heroes.
Corona Times, y'all.
Again, stay safe and be well out there, everyone.