Rebekah’s (New) Pandemic Diary, Entry #2: The Case of the Money Tree

19 Jan
Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

Wow. It has been a year and we are only 19 days in. In other news…

My plants are dying. Not all of them, of course, but we have had a few high-profile casualties in the house recently. First, there was the small aloe and the burro’s tail that succumbed to some sort of powdery mildew that, try as I might, I couldn’t cure them of. They didn’t actually perish, as much as we had to do a pre-emptive disposal to save other plants from their same ill fate. (RIP, pals.) Then, we had a jumper. A high-shelf Dracaena trifasciata, or snake plant that, unbeknownst to us due to its altitudinal location, was running low on soil. A little bit of water and – TIMBER! – the larger portion of the plant disconnected from its roots and tumbled dramatically to the ground, it’s beautiful, stiff leaves lying there, all of the plant’s hard work over the previous months undone as a result of caretaker oversight. And finally, the Money Tree. Holding on by the tiniest of threads. Part of me feels like maybe I should part with it, seeing as how sparse its leaves are, but the other part of me feels immense guilt giving up on the poor thing. After all, it’s my fault it is faring so poorly. It’s current state due to some sort of err in water, sunlight or nutrients. It seems only right that I stick it out and try to bring it back from the brink, right?

The answer to that question might seem simple to you. Of course I should stick it out. I can’t just give up on a plant because it isn’t as beautiful and full as it once was. I can’t throw it out – abandoned like so many plants before it, doomed to rot in a dumpster. You might go so far as to remind me of the aloe (not the powdery mildew one, but it’s parent plant) that I rescued from beside a mailbox, barely alive. The aloe which now is so large that one can hardly see the pot in which it lives. The aloe that I am certain would take over the entire house if it got the chance. That aloe would have perished had I not seen through to its potential and carted it home. The Money Tree, however, is a more complicated case. Because, and I know this might sound crazy to you, I have long feared that the Money Tree is cursed.

The origin of the Money Tree goes back quite some time, to the summer of 2016. It was before the ill-fated election and the horrors that followed; before I packed up my bags and moved myself to New Orleans for the better part of a year. It was while I was still toiling away on the weekends at a bar too lucrative to quit, but too soul-crushing not to. I was, I will now say, at an impasse. An impasse that in true Rebekah fashion could only be dealt with by embarking on a weeks or months long change of locale. The Money Tree was a gift from my bar back which, on its face, seems like a really nice thing until I tell you that he was legitimately the worst bar back I have ever worked with. He wasn’t a bad dude, per se. But he did used to split during a busy night, take the train into Manhattan to do who knows what and then return, fully expecting to be paid in full. In hindsight, this was more an issue of poor management, something this guy was just taking full advantage of, but still. It grinded my gears. Which, also in true Rebekah fashion, I made a point of telling him.

So imagine my surprise when one day, after I told him how rude it was for him to take a 45 minute cigarette break when he was supposed to be restocking liquor and changing the overflowing trashcan so we could continue serving drinks uninterrupted, he appeared in the bar with a brand new bodega-bought Money Tree, complete with a small bow. It was for me. Ever a sucker for plants I accepted, making a point of telling him, with a slight smile, that no amount of Money Trees would erase his reputation as the shittiest bar back of all times. He had won me over, at least a small bit. I took the Money Tree home, gave it a new pot, and we co-habitated (minus the time it was watered by roommates in my absence) for the next 4 1/2 years.

This Money Tree flourished! It grew so healthy and strong I was forced to upgrade its pot, affording it ever more room. All the while, I was stymied by all manner of things. Life, the administration, myself, this god damn pandemic. Always a money saver, I found myself in a precarious financial situation. My time in New Orleans, however mentally restorative, was not exactly economically sound. Month by month I depleted the money I had put away ever so slowly since college and in June of 2017 I returned to New York City, months later than planned, vowing to never work a night shift again and, maybe, to get out of bartending all together. The former was relatively easy, though financially precarious. The latter took a damn pandemic. This past November, I got a new job. And wouldn’t you know it, coinciding with my acceptance of this new position, the Money Tree, previously unstoppable in its expanse, began dropping leaves. My fortune reflecting its misfortune, and vice versa. I look at it now, struggling to hang on, growing new, puny branches in an effort to exhibit some hope in an otherwise arid existence. And so I wonder, was this Money Tree the embodiment of my misfortune all along?

So I ask again, what am I to do with it? Can it be rehabilitated? Will its premature disposal tie me to it for all of eternity? Or am I putting too much meaning onto this gift that was, perhaps, simply meant as a friendly gesture from a misguided kid? Am I thinking too deeply into it? Most likely. So in the meantime, I gave it some water and angled it more towards the light in hopes that we can achieve prosperity together – it in the form of leaves and me, well, in the hope that we all have brighter days ahead. Tomorrow morning, barring another violent insurrection, we will have a peaceful transition of power and it is then that we can truly get to work. Perhaps this change in fortune will be the final death knell of my Money Tree, or maybe it will turn things around as well, day by pain staking day.

Rebekah’s (New) Pandemic Diary, Entry #1 – The Salt on My Windows

3 Jan

This is entry one of, I hope, many. None of them planned. They will each represent where I am at in a given moment with the goal of sharing my feelings, rather than suffering in them alone. I hope you start documenting, too. Whether to share, or for just yourself. I am always open to read your thoughts so comment or feel free to email them to franklyrebekah@gmail.com. They will be safe with me.

If reading this is too much for you, please skip. The last thing I want to do is make anyone feel more overwhelmed than you undoubtedly already do. I am just hopeful that by sharing my honest feelings, some people feeling similarly will feel a little less alone. And, in turn, so will I.

And with that, let us begin.


It is Sunday, January 3rd and I have hardly left my house since the New Year. The sky has largely been overcast and honestly, walking outside and knowing that we are still in the crush of this feels like too much to bear. It feels better to stay inside, pacing back and forth between the two rooms of my apartment, petting my cats and pretending that when the calendar went from 2020 to 2021 everything magically changed. Since I’ve been inside here quite a bit, I am going to tell you a little bit about my house so it feels as though you are here with me, hanging out. (Thinking about that makes me a little sad – because I miss you – but also smile, because wouldn’t it be so magical if you could just….come over?)

I am sitting at the table in my kitchen, sometimes glancing to the side and out some windows which, I have been noticing over the past few days, are dirty with the salt that was kicked up after the recent snowstorm. It gives the impression that it is always raining – the salt stains are reminiscent of the raindrops that accumulate during a light spring rain, or the proof left over from a summer storm. I can look at it and think about how dreary it is – the overcast sky, some windows that look like they’re always in the midst of some inclement weather – or I can focus on hope, on rain as a rejuvenating force. It really depends on where my mind is at whether I land on despair or promise. What doesn’t change is that a few times I day I meander over to the front door, flip the lock and swing it open to see if it is rain on the window after all, and that the salt is just distorting reality. Sometimes it is.

I then let my eyes wander to my side of the glass, to the plants that clamber and grow towards the light of the sun, however uncommon its appearance has been recently. For them, the pandemic never happened. They continue to grow, undeterred. One of them even has a flower, a red, waxy kind of thing that won’t die until a new one has grown to take its place. I find a lot of comfort in its longevity and predictability – I know a flower’s time is nearing its end when a new stalk starts springing up, eager to inherit the spotlight. Then I get treated with a new splash of red, holding space until the next one appears.

It makes me think of last spring; back when this thing was just starting to truly alter our reality, back when we didn’t know what the next months would hold. We were full of fear for what our city was enduring but also, in my case at least, a bit of hope – hope that the rest of the country would take our plight as an example and do what they could to avoid our fate. We now know that didn’t happen, not even close. But back then, on those first warm days, Eric and I washed the windows to let the light pour in. I stood, rag and cleaning solution in hand, face covered, and cleaned all the grime from the previous year. It’s amazing how much filth can gather, how it can trick the eye. We think we are looking through something crystal clear but it is somehow distorted – it is our eyes and our brains that let us see beyond all that. I remember feeling as though I had cleansed my little corner of the world only to see my work undone over time by countless cars and street cleaners. The hours spent inside gazing longingly out the windows eventually turned into gazing at the glass itself. And noticing, for the first time ever, these salt deposits that probably spend winter perched on the windows every year. I can’t wait to wash it off.

And now, sharing this with you, I feel anticipation for the warm weather and the hopefulness of spring – however far away that might feel right now. I’m excited for our little potted maple tree to grow new leaves that, ultimately, will get burned by the sun. I am reminded that I want to buy an umbrella for our small “patio,” to provide the tree, and myself, some respite from the unyielding light. I hope that our rosemary bush, finally established, will last through the winter – I choose to ignore the climate implications of this. And I so badly wish that when the crocuses and tulips start pushing through the dirt in early spring, that we too enter into a season of rebirth, rather than the unnecessary sickness, pain and death that continued with the arrival of spring last year.

But for now, I am going to force myself outside for some fresh air. These windows will be here when I get back.

Are You Mad At Me?

1 Nov

Oh, hello everyone. How have you been? Feeling the crushing anxiety of the upcoming election? Did you cast your vote yet? If not, do you have a plan to do so? Are you worried that the hope you have allowed to creep in over recent days and weeks might be dashed yet again by the electoral college? That perhaps this President will get another 4 years, only this time with even less of the popular vote? Are you tired of being stuck inside, protecting yourself and others from a virus that seems entirely uncontrollable? Are you sick of wearing a mask but also, now that the temperature is dropping, feeling slightly thankful that what was once so oppressive during the summer months is a much more welcome face hat? Are you worried about your economic future? What will become of you in the coming months and years? Have you been noticing more wrinkles and grey hairs? But also…

Are you mad at me?

At the beginning of this pandemic I felt connected, albeit virtually. I was on the phone hours every day. Zooming, FaceTiming, Netflix Parties, regular audio-only phone calls. Constant contact. But then as the days turned to weeks, the weeks to months, these daily conversations became fewer and farther between. Part of it is that we have all settled into some sort of pattern. We have become accustomed to working from home or, in my case, working sporadically from behind a thick piece of plexiglass. We have gotten used to only seeing other members of our household – many of whom have four legs – and feeling wracked with guilt if we venture out to hang with family and friends, regardless of the safety precautions we take. (Truly, those early days of Heavy Internet Shame on anyone who dared leave the house really did a number.) And now the weather is dropping which means no safe backyard bar hangs with friends; no appropriately spaced blankets set out on a patch of grass in the park. Almost 8 months into this isolation. I am tired. I am sick of the phone. I want to give you a hug. But also…

Are you mad at me?

I have found myself texting people less and less often. The calling has become even more infrequent. It’s not that I am upset with anyone or that I love them any less, but for some reason it just feels like a lot to reach out and text, it feels even harder to call. How do we cover all the time that has lapsed? How do we talk about the world and what has happened? How do each of us have space in the midst of this emotionally and psychologically exhausting period to open ourselves up to hold other people’s experiences? I want to help you hold your pain and your worries, but have my own anxieties left me with the extra room? I worry that right now, in the midst of all of this, I cannot be the friend I have always prided myself in being. The one who is always there, who can always listen, who maybe interrupts a little too often (I’m working on it!) but tries to give advice and to understand the gravity of what you are going through. I feel as though right now, I am not a great version of myself and I don’t want you to know me this way. Is that okay? Are we okay? But also…

Are you mad at me?

This worry has been creeping into my mind more and more often. The friends who I text or respond to online who just….don’t reply. I take it personally. I feel as though I have done something wrong. Like somehow I neglected to show up for an important moment or said something unintentionally cruel. The reality is that I also have let texts slip by, have become a little less communicative. And I am sorry for that. I am sorry for how that might have made you feel. I am sorry if you felt I loved you less; cared about you or your family less; was thinking about you less. None of that is true. I am just anxious and sad and lonely and fearful of the coming winter. Probably the same as you. I am afraid of being a less supportive version of myself, less fun, more tearful. I want to go places being the best version of myself and right now that version simply doesn’t exist. And that is really hard.

I hope that’s okay. I hope you’re not mad.

In two days maybe we’ll have a road map for relief. Maybe. Maybe. But until then…

I love you.

(But also….?

….if you are mad at me please tell me so I can fix it.)

Fuck You, Donald.

6 Oct

I have found myself dealing with a fair amount of anger over these past few years. An anger that has grown stronger, in equal parts productive and self-defeating. I have felt anger for and at myself, yes, but for and at others as well. I have felt at times ready for the battle that wages on in every corner and at others wanting to hide inside my apartment, coloring, reading, drinking wine, literally anything to distract me from reality. And then I find myself angry that there is no way to actually distract, there is no reset button, no unplugging, no avoidance. And then, very, very early Friday morning a small reprieve. Finally, some comeuppance: Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. I felt a small surge of glee, that finally, finally, this man who has led us maskless into the fire got burned by a pandemic he himself claimed was no big deal, a deadly pandemic that “affects virtually nobody.” And then the old anger seeped back in. Anger that this man, this absolute piece of shit, had the power to make me rejoice in the pain and suffering of another human being. That has never been who I am, but now? I am hoping the change isn’t permanent.

I am not someone who particularly believes in karma. I don’t think that doing good things means that good things will automatically happen to you just as I don’t think that doing bad things mean that bad things will automatically happen to you. Case in point: our stupid fucking President who has been a terrible human being for his entire life and has mostly gotten his way. I try to do good things not for what it might give back to me down the line, not for the ways in which I might be repaid later, but because doing good things, regardless of how you do or do not benefit from them, is just part of being a member of a community. It is what adds to the overall well-being of yourself and those around you. And one of the good things that we can do is to wear a mask during a goddamn pandemic. At the very least, wearing a mask shows that you have respect for the health and well-being of those around you. At the most, it could save lives.


Let me rewind for a second. Back in February of 2016 I was sitting on the ground in a park in Austin, Texas with a friend of mine, watching her dog run around when an alert came in on my phone. Antonin Scalia had died. A modicum of hope for the future of our society crept in. Surely Obama would be able to appoint a new justice and every single Supreme Court decision wouldn’t feel like we were teetering on the edge of some group or another losing a good portion of their basic rights. (Oh, what a fool I was!) I remember that feeling of relief being immediately followed by a feeling of guilt: how could I be happy about the death of another human being, regardless of how I reviled his damaging interpretation of the Constitution and the law? As I thought deeper into it, it wasn’t his death that I was happy about. It was his leaving the Supreme Court and the huge opportunities for advancement that presented for all kinds of marginalized people. To think one man could so use his power to disenfranchise millions and convince himself that he, somehow, was upholding some sort of Constitutional, if not moral, right? To think that people are so unimaginative that they would whole-heartedly believe that the rights we were granted (or not granted, depending) upon the establishment of our nation would be largely unchanged over the course of hundreds of years? That the words of men long since deceased should be upheld and largely unchallenged? It’s maddening. Antonin Scalia was a terrible justice and maybe a terrible man. I don’t know, I never met him. But his death was a loss to his friends and family and it felt wrong to me to celebrate the pain they were undoubtedly experiencing. I felt sad for their loss and even though I saw his death as a potential gain for the court and, subsequently, our rights, I did not see his death as good. He could have left the court due to health reasons and still been alive. His simply living didn’t strike me as a threat. Death is a horribly permanent thing.


Now let us travel back to current day. To this President, this man. When he was diagnosed with coronavirus, I felt a certain amount of relief and happiness. Like now maybe, just maybe, he would take this thing that has killed 209,000+ Americans seriously. Maybe his base would start to realize the err of their ways; that if their great leader could catch this virus then anyone can. (And again, what a fool I was!) And then he went to the hospital and I felt a whole mess of emotions. Fear for our political future; questions of the accuracy of the information we were getting; curiosity about the information we undoubtedly weren’t getting; worry about the steps of governance should he be incapacitated in some way; concern about the stunts he and his Administration might play to stay in power. I never hoped he would die.

Well, until now.

There is a part of me that wants him to live so that he can face justice for all that he has done. I want people to bring murder charges against him for the wrongful deaths of their loved ones. I want civil suits to make up for loss of income, loss of business, loss of home. I want criminal cases for…well, everything. But a big part of me knows he will never pay for his crimes, regardless of what cases the Southern District of New York tries to bring, because you know it’ll be them. He will ride it all out with his pal Bill Barr by his side, either from the White House or, hopefully, from outside of it. But in the past few days something in me has shifted. I have realized something that many others realized far earlier. But, what? What is different? What has changed? Over the past few months I have watched as Trump has overseen the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans, many of them attributable to his intentionally shitty handling of the pandemic. He has enacted policies and made countless statements that are in clear opposition to public health advice and I believe that thousands upon thousands of sick or dead Americans can be directly linked back to those lies. Not that “false information,” mind you, the fucking lies. Even then I felt ugly in my soul for hoping for his demise. (I did not at any point, however, begrudge anyone else wishing for his death because I totally get it. He’s very clearly a monster.) At this point, this mother fucker, this viral time-bomb, has left Walter Reed Hospital and, maskfree (!), entered the White House and the orbits of hundreds of people and their families. And I am not even talking about aides and government officials, although of course them too. I mean the cooks, the janitorial staff, the Secret Service agents. All of the people who are simply doing their jobs and whose lives the President has decided he can threaten. Because he is doing exactly that – he is threatening people’s lives with a deadly infectious disease because he doesn’t want to appear weak to his base. He is not causing death by incorrect action, or inaction, he is causing death by breathing on or around people. It feels to me that the only way we will truly be safe from his carnage is if he is dead and gone. Let his family and his closest allies and advisors pay for the crimes he committed, crimes they enabled him to carry out. That’s okay with me. This man is a menace and a murderer. He must be stopped.

I never thought I would say such a thing but I would not only not be sad if he died, I would be actively happy. I would raise a drink and toast whomever was near. I would hope that he was alone and afraid, that his loved ones, if he actually has any, could say goodbye to him via Zoom. As an American citizen, as someone who cares about her community, this is the very least I can do.

Rebekah’s Pandemic Diary: Indoor Dining, WEEEEE!!!!!

26 Sep
Getty Images Stock Photo

Good news, everyone! New York City is about to restart indoor dining at 25% capacity just 6 hellacious months after we were abruptly, and belatedly, shutdown due to the spread of the coronavirus. Since that day in March, those of us who remained here in New York City watched horrified as our overwhelmed hospitals teetered on the brink of collapse; as our frontline workers lacked proper PPE and sufficient medical equipment; as refrigerated trucks parked outside hospitals to house the pileup of 23,792 (and counting!) deceased New Yorkers whose deaths were officially attributed to the coronavirus. We listened to silence punctuated by ambulance wales, never-ending fireworks displays and calls for defunding the police. Thinking back to those earlier days of the pandemic – to the desperate pleas by a governor I usually despise, the empty streets and the feeling of impending doom that hung heavily over every exit of my apartment – I can’t help but think of our collective trauma but also how far we have come from the worst days. By and large those of us who stayed behind followed the ever-changing directives given to us by Governor Cuomo and Dr. Fauci, even as they oftentimes came in direct opposition to the bullshit seeping daily from the White House. (Coulda used those tapes earlier, Woodward!) But remember: we are not out of the woods yet.

This is why the opening of indoor dining causes me such alarm. Back in March, in the long days leading up to the slowdown, I saw on Twitter an uptick of people berating those still going out to bars and restaurants. As a person who makes her living off working in a bar, it was really hard for me to stomach. There they were, people in office jobs with the option for remote work and a continued paycheck, citing the selfishness of people going to bars without engaging with the very real financial catastrophe service industry professionals were facing. Remember, this was before the CARES Act passed, and there was no guarantee that a Senate run by Mitch McConnell and an Administration staffed by Donald Trump would acknowledge the very steep cliff we were all about to tumble over. Let us not forget that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, worth $300 million, thought $1,200 would last people 10 weeks. HA. But even with the threat of impending financial ruin, many of us urged the city to close bars and restaurants. We all knew that if the bars remained open people would continue to go out; and that if people continued to go out, the death toll would rise precipitously.

It took people weeks, some months, to get through to the New York Department of Labor to register for unemployment and to get that additional weekly benefit of $600 that for many of us was an absolute life saver. And then, just like that, the benefit ended. Many of us, myself included, returned to work once the state deemed it “safe.” We projected our voices through masks and plastic sneeze guards, over the noise of fans and music, while we figured out what it meant to leave our homes again and how to interact in this new world. We were tasked with policing the behavior of our customers (and this, remember, is on top of the regular policing of behavior that we have to do in normal times which is made considerably more difficult when half of each person’s face is obscured by a mask):

  1. Make sure they are wearing their masks indoors
  2. Masks must be worn unless the customer is seated
  3. An item of food must be sold to each customer in a party with the purchase of the first round and no, I don’t understand why so please don’t ask.

Bars and restaurants spent money trying to get their outdoor seating in order and hustled to get their staff back to work. Some of us, myself happily included, are fortunate enough to work for people who seriously care about our well-being and have bent over backwards to make sure the conditions are as safe as possible for us and for our customers. Some other folks are not so lucky. But even the most careful among us cannot guarantee 100% safety against a deadly airborne illness. With a return to indoor dining – even at 25% capacity – there are dangers, and those of us who remain in a room for hours on end with unmasked revelers are particularly at risk. You’ve all been to bars – the drunker people get, the more they yell, and laugh loudly, and project tiny potentially infected aerosols out into the air. And, in the opinion of someone who has been in the industry for well over a decade (yes, those are quiet sobs that you hear in the distance), the people who are most likely to want to return to indoor eating and drinking are those who are less risk-averse, and those are the people I am least excited to share recycled air with.

So I guess here’s where I am. Throughout this whole pandemic, if you were to listen to people (gestures widely), you would think that the bar and restaurant industry was somehow guilty of manufacturing and spreading the virus. It was bars – not lies from the White House – that was responsible for the surge in deaths here in New York City. Those of us who worked in the service industry before the shutdown were selfish for wanting to try and make money before we were catapulted into the unknown. Some people returned as “essential workers” to their previous places of employment, putting themselves at risk to give their fellow New Yorkers some semblance of normalcy in an otherwise upside-down reality. Then, the government closed the coffers, cutting off the unemployment extension and throwing small businesses to the wolves. The choice was clear: stay closed and go out of business or find a way to operate. The early rhetoric spewed by people like Dan Patrick about how old people should essentially volunteer to die in order to save the economy, a thing that we were all horrified by, is spreading, albeit in less direct terminology. The current administration did the calculation of economy versus safety and decided that the economy is more important. They cut New Yorkers off and we are forced to fend for ourselves, even while the pandemic rages across the country and people continue to travel into and out of our city.

It’s a hard pill to swallow. Bars were super spreader locations but now all of a sudden, right when it starts getting chilly and New York City remains at 16% unemployment, it’s safe for them to open indoors. Maybe I’m being cynical but it feels as though this decision was made out of financial desperation as opposed to solid public health advice. We’ve been told for the past few months that wearing masks and avoiding spending time indoors with people was a great way to slow the spread. So what changed? I know that our infection rate has remained low but isn’t that more because people and businesses have been abiding by public health guidelines and less because we are actually safe now? And what does this mean for those of us who continue to go to work because, essentially, our financial reality tells us we have no choice? Do we stop seeing the few friends we have met up with, safely, in recent months? Do we stop having dinner with our parents? Do we essentially quarantine between shifts because we have no real way to guarantee that the people we are spending time with indoors have been making good choices? (I would venture to bet that they have not been.) I just feel like the federal government’s lack of swift, concrete, across-the-board action has made it so that we – small business owners and those of us who work for them – don’t really have much of a choice between financial survival and, well, survival.

I don’t know what the answers are to any of this. What I do know is that I feel pretty damn expendable and, in turn, that makes me feel like I am losing my mind. Is it actually unsafe to return to indoor dining or is that the March-May trauma speaking? I know the economy has to get moving, but how do we in good conscience decide when the risk is low enough to try, and whose health is most important? Why did the 643 richest billionaires amass $845 billion in the last 6 months while the rest of us don’t know how we will pay rent? (Elon Musk’s wealth 273% increased to $92 billion over the course of the pandemic. Good for him!) How can the Senate start pushing a judicial confirmation days after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death but they couldn’t bother to pass another legitimate aid package to keep us above water? And how THE FUCK is it possible that this murderous white supremacist might get another four-year term?

It’s true, I am just a bartender, not a public health expert. But I have spent quite a lot of time around drunk people to know that, very often, drunk people make poor choices. So why are we trusting them with the most valuable thing of all – our health? I don’t know, but I guess we’re all about to find out.

Rebekah’s Pandemic Diary: What Happened to Time?

8 Sep

The other day I sat out in a backyard drinking wine out of plastic cups with a few friends. We were appropriately distanced, masked-up when we couldn’t be, grasping for some semblance of normalcy. We tried to talk about everything other than our current reality but, inevitably, reality crept back in. It is a constant companion these days. It has ripped so much from us. Friends, loved ones, idols, jobs, vacations, mental health, time. I know that in the grand scheme of things floating in a time warp for 5 months isn’t the biggest deal, but right now it feels like everything. I mean, it’s the 8th of September and it could just as easily be May…or August…or March. I am afraid that if I blink we will be back again at March 15th, the anniversary of when our world shut down and nothing about our battle with the virus will be substantively different, except that we have lost every single day since we acknowledged it’s existence. It feels like we are all on a hamster wheel and the only way to orient ourselves in time is to make connections with the past.

It was brought to my attention by a friend in that yard that I am coming up on the year anniversary of the death of my last grandparent. I am grateful that she went before the virus took hold. I am certain that her death was scary enough without her lungs turning to crystal in the process. And selfishly, I am thankful that we were spared what so many people have been suffering through – the loneliness of a grief spent isolated from loved ones, of funerals broadcast via livestream, of the obvious absence of the hugs and closeness that sustain us through painful times. I wonder how many people went earlier than they should have – not just due to coronavirus but other things as well – without the lifeblood that is love, company and human contact. We used to hear uplifting stories of people hanging on to life because of connection, so where do those stories go in our present? How differently do they end? I worry about what this will mean for the thousands of people having to navigate their way through grief, through recovery from illness, through the trauma of working on the frontlines during this crisis. Do virtual support groups work as well as in-person? How about online therapy sessions? Or therapeutic happy hours with friends over zoom?

I guess time will tell. If that’s what we are calling it these days.

As I reflected on the privilege my family didn’t know we had in being able to gather in close quarters at the cemetery, in having hundreds of people through the house, in debating about the whereabouts of a missing chocolate babka, I realized something.

*This is going to sound really weird, so be prepared.*

What I realized is that I long to return to those two days of shiva where people roamed through my parents house, concerned about sadness and remembering, but not concerned about contamination. I want us all to take food from communal plates and stand close to one another talking, regardless of whether we knew who the other person was or just pretended to. I want to put down my wine glass and pick up…maybe my wine glass? – or perhaps it was my mom’s or my sister’s – and not worry about one of us falling ill from anything other than a mild hangover. I want that feeling of unquestioned, non-threatening community that I fear we won’t have again in the same way. I want those two days of time-dragging, exhausting, grief-stricken company back.

Or maybe it’s just that I want time itself back. I want to know what time feels like, what it means. I don’t know about you but I’ve been grieving the loss of a lot of things these past few months (are we still measuring “time” this way or…?) but I haven’t grieved the loss of the concept and feeling of time. So, I guess I’ll add that to the list. It’s a long one but…I guess I’ve got time. Or something.


If you are enjoying my writing, and since a lot of the cafes are currently closed, consider buying me a coffee on ko-fi! It only costs $3 (or a multiple of 3 if you’re feeling frisky!) and would make my house-bound, under-socialized heart sing. To those of you who caffeinated me, I send you so much gratitude. And I send gratitude to all of you who took the time to read this piece and helped me hold some of these thoughts. 

No, James, New York City is NOT Dead.

19 Aug

Whelp, I just finished reading that whiny article by James Altucher: Hedge-Fund Manager and ooooooh lordy, where to begin? At the very beginning, I suppose.

I have lived in New York City for over 15 years and grew up going to sleep with a view of the sky line from my bedroom in suburban New Jersey. When I moved here right after college, I moved to a city that was very different from the one I had always known. Roughly four years out of the “law and order, kill all the fun” mayoralty of Rudy Giuliani, and about three years into the “make NYC into a playground for the rich” rule of Michael Bloomberg (which lasted at least 4 years longer than it should have), New York City was, I would say, losing a little bit of its obvious grit. And that is not to say that life wasn’t a hustle for the vast majority of New Yorkers, because it was. But the stories and experiences of the work-a-day and struggling New Yorkers who always gave New York City that “personality” that Altucher longs to regain were lost under the layers of tales told by, and about, the wealthiest few, and those striving to become them. They were ignored in exchange for stories about pent house living, a proliferation of expensive restaurants, shiny sky scrapers full of empty apartments bought with overseas cash and chain stores taking over previously awesome places like the Fulton Mall in downtown Brooklyn. Neighborhoods like Crown Heights that have a rich history of Black homeownership have changed tremendously, and not for the better. Helped along by gentrification and deed theft, this has paved the way for places like Dwell, which offers communal living at the low, low price of….$1350 a month. But don’t worry, living at Dwell comes with a weekly professional cleaning service, grocery deliveries and a built-in washer dryer so you never have to learn to live on your own or leave your compound and spend money at local businesses. Another awesome perk: you don’t need to become part of the community when it is created for you inside your own home! What a steal!

Altucher moves on to lament the grab-bag of business opportunities that used to fall from the sky in his pre-COVID NYC. Maybe I was frequenting the wrong neighborhoods and paling around with the wrong sort, but that was certainly not my experience, nor was it the experience of any of the dozens and dozens of people I know who also live here in New York. Opportunities didn’t come to them. They fought like hell to make space in an increasingly expensive and hostile market friendly only to those with deep pockets. I know people who have started bars, helped form the Gotham Girls Roller Derby League, created dance troupes and theater companies, and founded podcast networks. These people all achieved their dreams without large amounts of hedge-fund money. They created things against all odds. Sometimes, they lost money on it but, despite what some people might think, money isn’t the only motivator. They saw an opening where something needed to be made, they had friends willing to help, and so they made it. Those people are still here. They never left during the lockdown because this is their home for better or worse, and guess what, they are still making things. Heard of Roger Corman’s Quarantine Film Festival? I have friends who filmed a 2-minute short on a Samsung Galaxy X10 phone using an iPhone7 for light and it’s going all the way to the Coney Island Film Festival. These people may not become millionaires, but they are making the world, and New York City, better every single fucking day. And my group of friends and acquaintances are not unique. We are all over this damn town. From all backgrounds, with all sorts of different interests, talents, personalities and, yes, stories to tell that are well worth hearing. And, PS, those stories have been here all along, you were just too busy “living the dream” to notice.

One thing this pandemic shut down has taught me is that when the going gets tough, the rich pack up and move to their second homes. Altucher makes a point to say that he was not among the many people who left New York in early March when some “felt it would provide safety from the virus and they no longer needed to go to work and all the restaurants were closed.” (No mention at this point of the people who worked in or owned the restaurants, but I digress). He was big and strong and brace. He stayed here. He did, however, leave when in June the “rioting and looting” started. “Nothing wrong with the protests but…” he has kids. And it is at this point more than ever that I let out a resounding

GO FUCK YOURSELF JAMES ALTUCHER.

New York City is not dead, not even close. Your money can just no longer insulate you from the lives that the rest of us are living. The Black Lives Matter marches over the past few months made New York City the most alive I have seen it in years. You think a few nights of looting is worth more of a consideration than weeks upon weeks of meaningful protests? Get out of here. No I’m serious, just leave. Tens of thousands of people – even some children! – marched in lockstep through city streets carrying signs and chanting, demanding justice, police accountability, the end of 50A and that Black Lives fucking Matter. In New York City and everywhere else.

I also want to touch on your Facebook group, and all those friends you have who are currently fleeing the city in fear of a “homeless person losing his mind” and “parents with a child asking for money for food.” The unfortunate truth, and something we need to work hard to address, is that the mentally ill and the housing and food insecure have always been on the streets here because New York City and this country at large refuses to take mental illness seriously, refuses to deal with poverty, homelessness and chronic hunger in any real way. People have been hurting since long before this pandemic struck, your wealth just insulated you from them. Folks need help and people like you and your friend Derek who demonize the mentally ill and who demonize the poor to make some bullshit point about a city in decline are, quite honestly, privileged assholes who probably quietly supported Giuliani’s ban on the squeegee men because they were an “annoyance” or a “scourge,” rather than seeing them as people trying to create opportunities to feed themselves and their families.

I know you think of yourself as some sort of cultural guru, who “owns” a comedy club that famous people used to perform at. And I know you are upset that the police shut down your outdoor show in May – when, btw, we were still in the middle of a coronavirus shit storm. And I’m glad that you think you get why places are closed, because there was a pandemic. Hate to break it to you, Jimbo, but we are not out of the woods yet. You and Andrew Cuomo might be the only people who think they can write a true telling of this crisis. Maybe you’ll get a book deal too if you’re lucky. Truth is if a couple super spreaders make their way back into the city we could, heaven forbid, have another outbreak which means a lot more pain for those of us who never left, who aren’t leaving now and who don’t plan on leaving any time soon. It’s true, those retail chain stores might never come back and with that their deep pockets exit as well. But you know what? Most of those huge companies stopped paying rent the second the city shut down. They will cut and run as soon as they don’t predict endless profit. Sound familiar? They do not care about New York City. They care about making money and enabling the wealthy to trounce around cities, towns and islands with careless abandon. Well I say good riddance to them, and good riddance to you. I truly hope that when we crawl out on the other side of this terrible time we don’t see this city as a shell of its former self but instead as the holder of opportunities and as a place where those of us who didn’t have the option to leave or decided to stick it out can have a go at something. Lowering rents isn’t New York City’s death knell. It means people can afford reasonable housing and reasonable prices. It means maybe we can get some families back on their feet in the city they love. And while I don’t give a shit about places like Barney’s moving out, I am sad about all the small mom-and-pops who weren’t able to weather this horror show. Those were the places that really made New York special. And I am hopeful with corporate-backed businesses moving out and rents going down, people with small bank accounts and big dreams can move in. I don’t think New York is dying, not by any stretch. I think this is hard, it is tragic, it fucking hurts and it shouldn’t have happened the way it did but instead of lighting the funeral pyre on my home, I choose to look forward to the upcoming renaissance. I look forward to when, in the hopefully not-to-distance future, New York City says fuck you to the rich folks who made it their playground on the backs of low income workers and hightailed it out of here when the going got tough. There are so many people here with big dreams and awesome stories who simply never got a real chance. They’ve always been here. We’ve always been here. I’m thinking it’s our time now. I guess the point is, go ahead and leave if you want. That’s your choice. But spare us this nonsense about how the city won’t survive without you and your money. Save the conversations about your exceptionalism for your dinner parties with other self-proclaimed exceptional people. Us normals will just be here rebuilding what your money destroyed. So, James? We will be fine without you. And I’m sorry in advance if you don’t get a welcome home party upon your return.

Rebekah’s Pandemic Diary: Eat The Rich and Steal Their Houses

29 Jul

Just two small pieces of housekeeping before we get started:

  1. Thank you to my very good friend Carrie for helping me come up with my new mantra, “Eat The Rich and Steal Their Houses.” I am currently accepting t-shirts with this slogan.
  2. I have a Ko-Fi account where you can buy me coffee AKA give me some money for writing this blog so I can go out and buy coffee or get beans from the store to make coffee myself because it is more cost effective. If you want, and if you have the ablity, the link is here.

And now without further ado, the latest meandering post.


As many of us are very aware, the extra pandemic aid, which has been a lifeline for a lot of people these past few months is about to end. That means a lot of folks who have been kept afloat since March are about to be shoved off the end of a fucking cliff. (I would like to take this moment to say that I hope Mitch McConnell develops a never ending itch somewhere deep in his anus from which he can never achieve relief.) For his part, Steve Mnuchin, the US Secretary of the Treasury and also a colossal dirtbag, when asked about whether or not there would be a continuation of the unemployment extension said, “it wouldn’t be fair to use taxpayer dollars to pay more people to sit home.” So, just before I get into the other things I want to write about I would like to direct a few questions to Mnuchin, if I may.

Steve. You are aware that people receiving unemployment payments are themselves taxpayers? And that those same people pay taxes on the money they receive from the government? And that those people use the money they have received to buy other things which often are taxed? And that an economy cannot function if people don’t have money to spend so by giving people money you are staving off a much deeper and more painful economic downturn?

Yes? No? Maybe?

Listen, I’m not an economist. I was never all that good with things that involve numbers. But what I do know is that in March my job disappeared for 4 entire months. Because of the nature of my job, I don’t receive the maximum amount allowed in NY State ($504). If it weren’t for the additional funding, I would not have brought in enough money over the course of one month to pay my half the rent on our reasonably affordable (by NY standards) one-bedroom apartment. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to pay rent and also feed myself. As far as I am concerned, the length of this shutdown lies squarely on the shoulders of our elected officials and they owe it to the American public to continue helping us pay our bills until they can remove their heads from their asses and stop the spread. I do place the vast majority of the blame on the federal government, but the states have done their fair share of botching things up as well. Before everyone twists themselves into pretzels to tell me what a great job Cuomo and(?) de Blasio have done consider this. In an article in ProPublica, it was asserted that the 6-day time lapse between when San Francisco shut down and when New York City shut down goes a long way in explaining why NYC was ravaged in a way no other area has been (so far). And I know, I am saying this and basing it on articles that were written with the benefit of hindsight. We know now what we didn’t know then. But, government officials knew more than us. And while I do believe that Cuomo did a better job than basically any other state leader in terms of hitting the gas on a shutdown and communicating with the residents of this state, I also believe that if he and de Blasio weren’t so engaged in their damn pissing contest we would have had a far better outcome. But, I digress.

I came here to write about unemployment. I came here to write about how there needs to be long-lasting aid to those of us who work in industries that have to entirely reimagine themselves to stay above water. What we have now in New York City – outside tables only, no drinks if you’re not seated, limited hours – is a huge strain on business owners and employees. However necessary it is to keep us here in NYC at a point in this pandemic that we worked very hard to arrive at, it is an unsustainable business model for those who work in the hospitality industry and those who own those businesses. I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say that if I feel safe at work – which I do at my place of employment because my boss is going above and beyond to make sure that is the case for us and our customers – I would rather earn my income than receive government assistance. The reality of the situation, however, is that there simply are not enough shifts. Beyond that, the loss of our indoor space and a lot of our outdoor capacity results in a loss of business that cannot be easily replaced. Our incomes rely on asses in seats, but we have less seats now and, therefore, far less asses.

Please do not confuse this with me saying that I think precautions are unnecessary. None of us want to go back to where we were in April. That was, quite honestly, the closest to hell on earth I ever want to experience.* However, it is clear to my through learning about the measures being put in place that the governor has not spoken to enough (if any) people in the hospitality industry in order to ascertain how to keep our covid spread low while also helping to keep businesses afloat. And I know, he is a busy man. But nothing exists in a vacuum. Like I said earlier, if people have money, they will spend it. But if you have an entire industry of people who are struggling to afford rent, food and bills you’ve got a problem. That’s less money spent in other areas of the economy and in my mind that shit runs down stream. Just like the mortgage crisis rippled across the economy, so will this. And don’t get me wrong, the bar/restaurant industry is not the only one in this pickle, it’s just the one I understand best. I truly believe that if nothing substantial is done we are in for a world of hurt and many people in our government simply don’t give a shit.

Here’s what I think. I think we live in a country that not only equates wealth with success, but one which equates wealth with moral purity. That somehow those who have acquired, or, let’s face it, inherited wealth are deserving of it and above any serious reproach. That is simply untrue. What is true is that because of this idea that rich people are morally superior to the rest of us, and because they can afford to pay someone to protect them legally or otherwise, they are not governed by the same laws as the rest of us. It is this line of thinking that tells us that regardless of whatever structural and institutional barriers that we know to exist, that needing government assistance is due to a moral failing of the individual, rather than a structural failing of our economic system, and for that reason that individual is not to be trusted. Because that individual is morally unsound, they will take advantage of the kindness of the state and those in power – those who have received tax breaks, benefitted from ill-gotten government contracts, taken advantage of insider information to play the stock market, paid extra or used nepotism to get their children into elite universities and land them cushy and important jobs – must keep them in check.

Moral superiority my ass. And this disgust that so many (Republican) lawmakers have with the fact that people are earning more on unemployment than they did at their jobs is shameful. We should be disgusted that people are earning more on unemployment than in their jobs. But rather than say they are undeserving of the level of security they currently have, we should figure out how to make sure people are paid a living wage when they are working. It is offensive to me, and should be to everyone else, that we have people, hard-working, good people, struggling to pay rent and feed their families while a few selfish nincompoops hoard mountains of cash. We have a show all about hoarders, and not one episode (that I know of) has focused on people who hoard money. There is this thing in economics called the law of diminishing marginal utility. Basically what it says is that the first unit of consumption of a good or service yields more general utility than subsequent units of consumption. At a certain point, people have so much money that more money simply does not impact quality of life. More money to the super wealthy is absolutely meaningless outside of bragging rights. It’s grotesque. But to people with less, to people living on the edge, a little bit more money means a lot. It means food, it means rent payments, school uniforms, menstrual products, transportation, a fucking social life. This extra $600 is E V E R Y T H I N G.

I guess I’ve kind of gone off the rails here. Super shocking, I know. There is just a lot to think about and it’s hard for me to distill this all down to something narrow and concrete. I know these problems have existed for a long time, way before this pandemic struck. And I know people have been struggling with our economic and political systems since forever. The demonization of the poor is not new. Poverty is not the fault of the impoverished. And success is almost never self-made.

In summation, it is my belief that the only way forward at this point is to eat the rich, (distribute their net worth) and then steal their houses.

*Despite how poorly some other states – and some residents as a response to their local or our federal government – are handling their own outbreaks, I truly, truly hope they do not endure the degree of fear and loss that we did here. I would never wish this on anyone. Except maybe McConnell. Okay, and Jim Jordan. Bill Barr too, actually. OMG I have to stop.

Rebekah’s Pandemic Diary: How are you? Because I am Not Good.

8 Jul

A few months back I got a message from a reader on my Ko-Fi page thanking me for sharing all my feelings and experiences throughout the pandemic. I feel that I owe that reader an apology – I have not written about or documented these past few months nearly enough. In part this comes from not wanting to burden others with my feelings. We are all having our own experiences of grief, loss, confusion, fear, anxiety and, for some, a bit (or a lot) of success and positivity mixed in among all the confusion. It feels as though taking up space – even if that space is my own little corner of the internet that people can choose to engage with or not – is an imposition. And also in part it comes from the specific way in which my particular creativity works. I am someone who has always written with a specific story in mind, or a strong reaction to an ongoing issue or big piece of news. In the years since Trump was elected, I have found myself writing less and less often. There is just so much. And to be completely honest, I have been really struggling to make sense of the world. I have been struggling to find my bearings in an environment and a society that I thought was one thing but is, in fact, something entirely different. It feels like walking up to a structure that I think is made of something sturdy but when I touch it it turns out that it was constructed out of sand and the entire thing just crumbles at my fingertips, blows away in the wind.

People have been saying this since the election, that the modus operandi of this president was to plough ahead with one inhumane statement and policy after another, to overwhelm us to a point that action feels impossible, fruitless. Well, consider it a success because I am overwhelmed. Does anyone even remember what life was like before Trump? I’m having a harder and harder time mentally getting there. It’s like when someone dies and in the months following you can still hear their laughter in your head, feel their touch on you skin. They visit you in your dreams and you get to remember what it was like to have them in your life. But then, over time, they visit less often, their voices fade further and further into the distance, you no longer remember how they smelled. I am having a harder and harder time remembering what pre-November 2016 felt like. I know that this country was still horrible, was an enemy in a lot of ways, but at least it was an enemy that I sort of understood, knew how to fight against. Right now I feel like we are all face-to-face with a shape shifter, a reality that makes no sense, follows no rules, changes the game to suit its ends halfway through the match. And then changes the game again, just for fun. And again and again and again after that.

Now of course there is the pandemic, which the administration has decided to wish into non-existence. Turns out, viruses don’t take orders from a wannabe authoritarian leader and his morally bankrupt enablers, those people riding his coattails towards the true American Dream: mountains of wealth brought upon through the only method a lot of the powerful know – depraved indifference. And what about the rest of us? Those of us who are not immune to the shockwaves that will run through our economy for years? What are we supposed to do? I put over a decade of my life into an industry that essentially no longer exists, that will never be how it was just a few months back. There is no longer a living to be made there. So, what now? What now for me and millions of other people. The unemployment extension and eviction moratoriums are about to end and people are going to be in free fall. What we have seen these past months has been incomprehensible and I think it’s going to get worse. I think this is only the beginning.

So, I don’t know. I feel pretty fucking sad. How are you?

Rebekah’s Pandemic Diary: Back to Work We Go!

3 Jul

Whelp, it’s official. This country is a fucking disaster. I guess no one told the Trump administration that the narrative of “American Exceptionalism” is a load of bullcrap and that even if it were true, which it most assuredly is not, that no amount of exceptionalism would have made us immune to the spread of this fucking virus. We have, what, 131,000 dead now? That is 131,000 lives lost; 131,000 communities that are now without a loved one; 131,000 families and friends forced to mourn from a distance. And that doesn’t account for whatever long term effects those who were severely stricken by the coronavirus might suffer from down the line. That number also doesn’t account for people who could not get the medical care they needed for other illnesses as a result of the strain this virus placed on our healthcare system, or for the people who were too scared to enter a hospital and put off lifesaving care. And of course, there is the mental health toll this has taken on the entire medical field – specifically those in the hardest hit areas like here in New York City.

For those of us who remained in New York through April, it feels like  we will never be the same. It was a goddamn horror show. Overrun hospitals, people standing in long lines desperate for care, refrigerated trucks parked outside to collect the bodies because there was no more room, funeral homes and cremation centers overutilized, daily coronavirus briefings from Cuomo who documented the seemingly never-ending surge in infections, hospitalizations and death. Going to the grocery store felt like walking into certain death. Leaving the house for things as routine as dog walks and bodega visits was fraught with anxiety. Everyone you passed was a potential super spreader, a lethal germ machine unknowingly spewing droplets to land on what? And for how long? Do you bleach everything you buy from the store? Does it make sense to wear gloves? Does Trump know, or care, that people are dying? Does the CDC have any fucking clue what it is talking about? Are other citizens watching? Do they know what’s happening here? Do they realized it is already in their grocery stores, gyms and restaurants, silently spreading? Do they know they will be here too? That it might already be too late to stop it?

And then it was.

And here we are.

So, what now? What do we do now? The past 3.5 months have been really hard. Us New Yorkers have largely stayed home, stayed safe, masked up. For awhile, it seemed like nothing we did could stem the tide. It felt like those numbers would keep climbing, our loved ones succumbing. And then, one day, those ever-rising numbers stabilized and then started to fall, and fall, and fall.  It felt like a miracle, but it wasn’t. I would like to say it was the result of collective action – millions of New Yorkers staying home to protect themselves and others – and in some ways that is true. We did stay home. But let’s be honest, a lot of people stayed home because there was nothing else to do. No museums, bars, restaurants, salons, gyms, jobs to travel to, schools and after school activities to ferry kids to and from. But now that our numbers have fallen and stayed low, things are starting to open. And as I said back in March when I hoped that bars and restaurants would be forced closed, if things are open people will go to them, regardless the risk. And if people go to them, they have to be staffed.

Listen, I get it. We are stir crazy. People want to see their friends, return to some degree of normalcy. But as far as I am concerned, these decisions to reopen are not about us at all. They aren’t about our happiness, health or well-being. They are about the fact that, as I stated at the offset of this piece, this country is a fucking disaster. The unemployment benefits, with the $600 weekly extension, are set to expire at the end of this month along with the moratorium on evictions. So people’s unemployment and housing security will both be gone at the same time. The House has passed an extension of the federal aid – called The Heroes Act – that was supposed to extend the $600 through January 31, 2021. Mitch McConnell will not allow that to get through the Senate. So these re-openings, in my opinion, are largely being pushed through too early because people need to pay their bills and without continued help at the federal level they will not be able to. So, back to work in the middle of a deadly pandemic we go! But not to worry because the governor has put a travel restriction on people traveling here from…16 states where coronavirus cases are on the rise. People arriving here from

  1. Alabama
  2. Arkansas
  3. Arizona
  4. California
  5. Florida
  6. Georgia
  7. Iowa
  8. Idaho
  9. Louisiana
  10. North Carolina
  11. Mississippi
  12. Nevada
  13. South Carolina
  14. Tennessee
  15. Texas
  16. Utah

are all being informed by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to self-quarantine for 14-days upon arrival. This self-quarantine is “voluntary but compliance is expected.”

I’m sorry, what? Have they watched the news? There are people spitting on people with cancer who ask them to put a mask on because the Constitution apparently gives them the right to be goddamn disease vectors. (I tried to find a link to the article but I couldn’t because there are too many articles about people spitting on other people who ask them to put on a mask or give them space.) People in this country are monsters! Sure, most people will likely cancel travel plans to these states as some of my friends already have but as we have  seen it literally takes one person, one super spreader, to undo all the work we have done. The mantra of individualism that we bow to in the good old U. S. of A. is one that creates a society full of selfish assholes who care more about their own right to go to a fucking swimming pool than the rights of their neighbors to actually survive. This “every state for itself” bullshit doesn’t work when you have porous borders. We either have to shut down the whole country or else just resign ourselves to the fact that this will go on until there is a vaccine, as we swiftly approach flu season, while people’s money runs out. And it seems as though the government has made its choice.

So what does this mean for those of us who work in non-essential businesses that are now basically being forced to reopen during an international health crisis? It means that we don’t matter, that’s what. The federal government has essentially thrown its hands up and said “whelp, we tried!” and sent us all back out into the world. But let me remind you, that we don’t actually know that much more about this disease than we did when it first showed itself. Herd immunity could be a thing or it could not; antibodies could be helpful or they could not; blood type might be indicative of the seriousness of the virus, or it could not; this virus could form another strain and run right back through our area, or not. We know literally nothing except what has already happened – people get sick, really sick, and then they die. And so for all this talk about learning from history, we sure do have a short fucking memory. And for all this talk of American Exceptionalism, we sure are exceptionally stupid.

Maybe I am being nervous about nothing. Maybe we are safe here in New York now. But everything in my being is telling me that is not the case and we are a long, long way from where we need to be to start returning to some semblance of pre-Covid life. But, what does it matter what I think. According to the government I’m expendable. And so are you.