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.

Rebekah’s Pandemic Diary: Who Am I In This Moment?

1 Jun

Along with other Jewish Americans, I grew up learning about the plight of my ancestors. It’s interesting, having that early education, that knowledge that there was a point in the not-so-distant past when a movement of hate sought to prevent your existence. It’s scary to know that they almost succeeded. I think often of the lives snuffed out, all of the possibilities that never came to pass. What would this world be like if those 11 million people, Jewish folks and the other hated and marginalized groups, had been allowed to live, to flourish? I often joke that the story of the Jewish people is much like our music – it exists only in the minor scale. Full of loss, sadness and pain. Even still, some way, some how, our knuckles are white as we cling to hopefulness, to our right to live unencumbered, not hunted, not hated. I walk with this knowledge daily, the knowledge that there were, there are, folks who would have me, my family, my friends and all the Jewish folks I don’t yet know wiped off the Earth. They came close last time, why not give it another go? Our demise, in certain ways, always feels imminent.

There is something about carrying a collective trauma. It gets into your blood, your DNA. When Richard Spencer gave a hitler salute on national television in the fall of 2016, I came as close to throwing up from fear as I ever have in my life. It felt like something had shifted. They weren’t afraid anymore, they were out in the open, and the media was giving them a free platform for recruitment. Still, to this day, hearing people quote the nazis marching through Charlottesville – “Jews will not replace us,” “blood and soil” – brings tears to my eyes and makes me feel light-headed. It is a horrible thing to feel like your life, your very existence, is repulsive to so many. And yet that is a feeling that so many Americans have every single day. That is what we are seeing borne out in the streets in cities and towns across the country.

In religious school on Saturday mornings when we talked about our expulsion from Egypt, the pogroms, the Holocaust, I wondered how there could be so many people throughout history that were filled with such hate. What had we done? Why were we so repulsive? How could people march in the streets in favor of the extermination of a people? How did they find enough people to guard the camps, to starve, torture and kill innocent and helpless people? How could hate run so deep that it could corrupt a person to the core, and make them capable of such evil? On the other side, how were there people who matched that hatred with bravery, and hid Jews and members of other hunted groups in their attics and under their floor boards? How – when we hear people say that we are all the same – could what we are built of make us so incredibly different?

How do some see human filth where others see incredible value?

I’ve been asking myself these questions a lot recently. I try to educate myself about structural inequality, institutional racism, a country built on looted labor, a militarized state that takes its might out on Black bodies, knowing that at one time it was our bodies the state sought to control, to destroy. That was different, I know. Maybe it’s some deeply rooted feeling of survivors guilt, the fact that it’s been us so many times. The reality is that in this country it’s been Black people always. Even now, today, while people take to the streets to fight police brutality and our militarized police the violence is being taken out on, centered on, Black bodies. I see it. But I don’t fucking understand it.

How? How does someone have so much hate that he can place his knee on a person’s neck and remain there, hand cooly in his pocket, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds? And how do we have a country where we all know that if that video hadn’t been captured, he would have gotten away with it? And even with the video he still might? And even if he doesn’t get away with it, even if he gets convicted of these strategically watered down charges, what does that really change? In the large sense? Will those of us whose bodies aren’t on the line pat ourselves on the back and think, job well done? Or will we keep fighting? Because whether there are people on the streets protesting or not, this is still happening. It’s been happening.

I have been thinking a lot about my role. About who I am. Who I need to be. And I keep thinking back to religious school, wondering how many people refused to help the hunted? How many slammed their doors and turned their backs in the Jews’ moment of need? I remember wondering how they could be so cruel? How they couldn’t see the people before them, frightened, begging?

Right now, we are watching a militarized police force occupy cities across the country. We are seeing armored vehicles patrol the streets. Witnessing “officers of the law” violently suppress non-violent protests. Watching police forces arrest and shoot tear gas and rubber bullets at the media. It’s terrifying. But these forces have been operating in, and against, Black communities for generations. So many of us have the privilege to ignore it, to pretend it isn’t there. But that is why George Floyd and so many others are dead. White privilege killed them. And regardless of being Jewish, I benefit from white privilege. Their blood is on my hands. I have a lot of work to do.

Rebekah’s Pandemic Diary: Nightmare Edition

8 May

As if every day isn’t its own sort of scary dream, I have been blessed with some pretty fantastic nightmares recently. After each one of these I sit awake in my bed, trying to stay up long enough to reset my brain so I won’t fall back into whatever hell my brain had dropped me. Here are three I can remember.


The Man in the Doorway:

A few weeks ago, just as the stay at home order was put into place and my financial viability was thrown into question, I had my first of a series of increasingly terrifying dreams. In that first one, I was in bed when my phone rang. It was my dad who has, in real life, been in a habit of calling me and giving me sometimes daily updates on Cuomo’s press conferences which I find helpful because then I don’t have to watch them. I shuffled into the living space so as to not wake up my boyfriend or any of our pets and I realized that our front door was wide open, with just the screen door protecting me from the outside. And there in the doorway stood a man, staring in at me from our small fenced-in patio. I didn’t know if he had been standing there long, spying, or whether I happened to catch him just as he arrived. I think I was still holding the phone as I walked towards him to close and lock the door, hoping I was making the best bet and he was just a creep, but not dangerous. I awoke with a start as he reached forward and let himself inside the house.


The Women with Scythes:

This is a nightmare I think I have had before.

I was at a gymnastics meet, or so I think. I was there with a group of women and we were all wearing matching outfits. Red with some sort of writing on the front. I think maybe we were gymnastics cheerleaders which feels pretty on brand for me. I was carrying a balloon that I think was supposed to be a letter L – maybe I was supporting LSU? – but somehow I blew it up weird and it ended up all folded in on itself. I didn’t care though. I carried that fucked up L-shaped balloon up and down the hallway surrounding an arena with pride, cheering my head off. Apparently, though, we were only allowed to cheer a certain amount of times for each competitor. I got a little carried away and as I cheered I saw little boxes tick off, one after the other, sort of as a warning. As I ticked off my last box, I was approached by the other women in red, all of whom were now carrying scythes in their hands rather than balloons. They walked slowly and steadily behind me. No matter how fast I went, they were always there, walking, until one of them laid the point of her scythe on the middle of my scalp. I grabbed the handle of the weapon and tried to stop her. I looked in her eyes and knew nothing I could do would spare me. Behind her, dozens of identically dressed women, holding identical scythes, stared. She pressed the tip of her weapon onto my head and I woke up.


The Fire War

I was sitting in my car inside of a garage of a house that is not mine but in which I was staying. The car was facing the front of the garage, the garage door behind me was still open. I was sitting there in the front seat, I’m not sure why, when I noticed some blinking lights reflecting off my rearview mirror and onto my face. I opened the car door and looked and there, over the Hudson River, were planes dropping balls of fire. There were so many planes, so much fire. Rather than running and hiding I called my friend on the phone because, why not.

Friend: Oh hey, you okay?

Me: Well, there is some sort of a battle happening over the river so, you know, I could be better I guess.

Friend: Yeah, I just got an alert about that on my phone but it seems pretty harmless. Just some people dropping fire bombs in the river.

(?!?!?!?!?!??!!)

Me: Why now though? With everything else happening?

Friend: I think that’s exactly why they chose now.

As we were talking, a man who I had not seen enter the garage fled on my right side wearing dark clothes and a backpack. He left the building and, running, made a sharp right turn into the darkness. Mere seconds later, the planes appeared to be moving away from the water towards where all the houses were, where I was. One flew close to the garage and dropped something that looked like a suitcase. It fell and as it struck the ground it exploded into fireball that appeared to be moving in slow motion, directly towards me. I turned and fled back towards the car, knowing full well that it, me and the entire garage would be entirely incinerated. I could actually see clearly what the aftermath of the attack would look like. The last thing I remember before waking up was me saying into the phone,

“Please, please, please.”


So, that’s a glimpse as to how I have been sleeping. Needless to say I’m exhausted. How are you all holding up?


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. 

Rebekah’s Pandemic Diary: This is Not “The New Normal”

29 Apr

The other day I was talking to my friend Ben about whatever it is we talk about these days. We have had an ongoing conversation over the years about the sayings that really just drive us crazy. One of the mainstays is Oprah’s “aha! moment.” We’ve also discussed Rachel Ray’s shortening of extra-virgin olive oil to “EEOO” which really seems unnecessary. It’s not as if it rolls off the tongue which, in my opinion, is what a good acronym accomplishes. Additionally, and I don’t think Ben and I have discussed this particular thing, I’m going to offer up the phrase “nothing burger.” I honestly don’t know how anyone can expect to be taken seriously when they say that something is a “big nothing burger” and yet I hear correspondents for news organizations use it on air without a hint of irony. In our chat the other day, Ben added another phrase to our ever-growing list, one that we have all been hearing quite often over the past few weeks. It will sound familiar to you.  “The new normal.”

I agreed with him without really examining why. This virus has been unkind to all of us to varying degrees (except maybe Jeff Bezos – I always gotta get those Bezos jabs in), but it has been especially unkind to Ben. I could understand why he wouldn’t want to think of this as the new normal, but how about me? Sure, I hate the masks and social distancing from my friends and family. I hate being out of work and having the days and weeks stretch out endlessly in front of me. I hate this feeling of uncertainty that looms over everything. Will my job be here when this is over? What will the city be like? Will my loved ones remain healthy? The more I thought about this idea of the new normal, though, the more and more I agreed with Ben. I had something of an aha! moment myself, if I had to really distill it down for you. I can not speak for Ben but this is what I came up with, this is where I landed on “the new normal.”

If we start to describe this as the new normal, we are resigning ourselves to that reality. And what is this normal, really. We are currently living in a state that is failing its population. And no, I don’t mean New York State, although there are of course plenty of issues here. I mean the United States as a whole. Over the past few years we have watched as Donald Trump and his feckless administration has dismantled our government piece by piece. All of the norms – those standards that are not codified in law but are instead just an accepted matter of course – have been destroyed. And even as we have watched this happen, have taken note of it, we have been unable to stop relying on the consistency of those standardized practices. This pandemic is the perfect example. I know that there are limits to what state governments can do without federal approval, but we lost precious time in fighting this virus because we all waited for a sign from the feds to tell us how serious this really was. And even as state and local governments started sounding the alarm, still far too late, Trump was using his Twitter account and the Office of the Presidency to spread the lies – not the misinformation, not the alternative facts, the lies – that this virus was nothing to worry about. That it was and would be, in the words of so many prognosticators, a big, old nothing burger. And yet here we are.

Accepting this time as “the new normal” means accepting that our government turns a blind eye to the suffering and deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. It means accepting that the President of the United States as well as tons of other (mostly Republican) politicians acted against the best interest of the population of this country. I refuse to say that there was inaction, because there wasn’t inaction. There was action. It was intentionally callous, cruel, short-sighted and tragically incorrect but it was action. The action taken to prioritize the economy over human health and well-being has been directly responsible for a much higher death toll than we ever should have seen. There are people arguing that sacrificing tens of thousands of lives is all well and good if it saves the economy. An economy that would have been in much better shape had this disease been taken seriously in the first place. An economy that was failing the majority of the population while enriching a few. An economy that, for the sake of low overhead costs and a little convenience, left millions of people vulnerable.

Accepting this time as “the now normal” means allowing demonstrations of military might to replace actual real, meaningful policy work to protect essential workers and all of us doing our best to contain the spread.  Just yesterday, in the middle of a fucking pandemic that calls for staying home, our government decided to fly a bunch of military planes over New York City, the epicenter of illness, death and suffering, to celebrate the first responders and demonstrate the strength of the United States military. We are supposed to stay inside. And so I ask: what is the purpose of flying military jets above the city if not to encourage people to go outside to ooh and aah as they fly overhead? And people did just that. Against their better judgement, against the directive to stay indoors and socially distance, people gathered in groups to watch something truly incredible, truly unnecessary, and incredibly dangerous. Will we have an uptick in infections in the next few weeks? Probably. And why? Because our government is callous and cruel. In an attempt to appear magnanimous in celebrating the frontline workers, the nurses, the firefighters, the mail carriers, the grocery store clerks, all the essential workers, our government made their jobs potentially more dangerous. Our government made us all less safe.

Accepting this time as “the new normal” means accepting a mounting death toll as a part of our day. It means seeing today, seeing right now, as a line stretching before us for eternity. It means saying that science, that ingenuity, that medical advancements will not help us become safer moving forward. Accepting this as the new normal means growing accustomed to this lose and not fighting to remember that each and every one of the people who have sickened, suffered and died was an individual with a life, with memories, with knowledge. To me, accepting this time as “the new normal” means not learning from the mistakes we have made and not realizing that this country is not the best country on earth, not realizing that our country is failing, because it is. A failure that also is not normal.

So, I agree with Ben. This is not the new normal. This is a painful, terrible time that is going to change all of us forever. We will not be who we were when this is all over. We will fight to regain some of what we lost and we will work to improve upon what was not working, what got us to where we are right now. Because right now? Right now is everything but normal.


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. 

Smiling During The Times

23 Apr

Just so we’re all on the same page, I am calling this current period of our communal lives “The Times.” There were “The Before Times,” there will be “The After Times” but The After Times won’t be the same as The Before Times because of what we are living through right now. The Times. With me? Great.


I know that there is this idea that people in New York City don’t make eye contact, that we don’t smile at each other. But that is simply not true. That might partially be the story of those of us who, over the years, have tired of the throngs of tourists making the city so crowded that we cannot enjoy some of the amazing things it has to offer. Try walking, running, cycling or driving across the Brooklyn Bridge at any time that isn’t a pandemic and you’ll see what I mean. But more than that it is the story told by the many visitors to this city who have, over their lifetimes, been told countless stories about the coldness that will greet them when they visit here. The people who have not realized that New York City is one of the safest big cities in the country. Those who somehow don’t understand that there is a symbiotic relationship between a city and the people who live within it. People visit New York because the city is amazing. The city is amazing because the people who live here have made it so.

In The Before Times, I would walk around the city and make eye contact with people and then I would smile at them. Not a smile that would invite conversation, mind you. I didn’t have time for that because I was for sure running 5 minutes late for something. But a small smile that said,

Hey, I see you.

In a crowded place sometimes we struggle to be seen.

But now it is The Times. And during The Times people are wearing all manner of face coverings. Surgical masks, N95s, scarves, bandanas, homemade things, those creepy ones that I think maybe are gas masks – Eric says respirators – but either way they make people look like they are either underwater explorers or serial killers. I hate the masks. I hate all of them. I hate wearing them and I hate seeing them. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why they are needed and I wear one because it is the only option if you give a shit about anyone other than yourself, but I still don’t like them. They make it hard to breath, they make it look like we are at war (which I suppose we are) and, perhaps most troubling for me, they make it hard to smile at people.

Today, for example, Eric and I took Goose for a walk and got the things we need for the next few days at the store. Eric did the shopping and I stood outside on the sidewalk with Goose, mask firmly in place. For those of you who are making all the wrong choices and have never met Goose, here is her Instagram page. You’re welcome. Point being, Goose is very cute. People LOVE Goose. Usually, in The Before Times they would smile at her when they walked by and then I’d smile at them and then Goose would wag her tail and everyone would be happy. But now they walk by and I look at them and try to figure out if they are smiling and in the meantime I smile behind my mask and then maybe they are trying to figure out if I am smiling and maybe they also are smiling behind their mask and so there we are, blankly staring at each other, smiles completely obscured, not knowing what the fuck to do. We just make a lot of really intense and confused eye contact. So I wonder, Should we all just print out pictures of ourselves smiling in The Before Times, laminate them, wear them around our necks and then hold them up in front of ourselves at the time when we normally would be smiling? And maybe actually are smiling but no one can tell? Do we force everyone to watch America’s Next Top Model and spend their time standing in front of a mirror practicing their smize? Do we use the Defense Production Act to force companies to create see-through masks so that we can be safe out in public and also be able to communicate nonverbally? Do we walk by people and just say “I am smiling at you right now?” I don’t know. I am truly at a loss.

Yesterday, I went for a drive in my car. I was the only person in the car so I wasn’t wearing my mask. When I stopped at stop signs and people crossed in front of me, I would smile at them and they would know. And even though they were wearing masks, I believe they were smiling at me because they could see my smile and read my nonverbal message of

Hey! I see you!

Honestly, I felt so free just being able to interact with the world in a way I was accustomed. I was able to speak the language of facial expressions that involved more than my overly expressive eyebrows for which I currently am more grateful for than ever before. And it was weird because never in my life, in all the time I have spent thinking about the privilege I have, did it ever occur to me that smiling is a privilege. That smiling at someone, and being smiled at in return, is a gift to be treasured. I have caught myself a few times, while wearing the mask, not smiling when normally I would. I have caught myself wondering what the point is. But there is a point. Because there will be The After Times. And even though The After Times will be so different than The Before Times, at least we will be able to smile at one another on the street and in the store.  I am really looking forward to that. Because for all the things I feel sad about, I feel most sad when I smile at someone and they don’t know. I feel sad for the smiles I haven’t knowingly exchanged. The ones I haven’t received and returned in kind. Or the ones I just didn’t know I was given because I couldn’t read what was happening underneath the mask. I deeply feel the loss of those random moments of brightness. I miss strangers. But more than that, I miss their smiles. I can’t wait to see them again.


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. 

Welcome to A Post-Apocalyptic Hellscape Nightmare, A Comedy

14 Apr

We are living through a very strange and terrible time. Shit is awful. And even while coronavirus is ravaging us, other annoying things are happening. For example, I am still getting my very heavy period which feels like a huge injustice. Just an FYI, this post is going to be about stupid shit like that. It’s for laughs. A vacation from the insanity. A small reminder that even though everything is especially terrible now, life is still as annoying and stupid as ever! Like, yesterday one of my cats threw up her entire breakfast all over my carpet and it was a nightmare trying to clean it up. I almost vomited. Lesson learned: there is value in consistency.

 

Okay, so, I lost my job on Monday, March 16th, same day as all the other restaurant folks here in the city. Two days later, on Wednesday, March 18th it rained really hard. Like really hard. Side note. If you’ve spoken to me much in the past 3 years or so you would know that we have a bit of a leaking problem here at the old homestead. And by “little” I actually mean that one night the ceiling opened and it rained all over our bed and we had to be moved into a vacant apartment for about 6 weeks while our entire bedroom was ripped apart and rebuilt. Well. The problem was never entirely solved. Random mostly minor leaking has just become a way of life for us. Fast forward to about 2 months ago, my neighbors toilets stopped working and all their plumbing exists in our basement so we had a bunch of plumbers as roommates for a few days while they traipsed around the apartment with tools and muddy boots and jokes. I kind of loved them if I’m being completely honest. I STOPPED loving them when they ran a sewage pipe along the beam in our bedroom ceiling, resulting in us being able to hear every time our neighbors flush their (now working) toilets. Eric and I lie in bed and whenever we hear the poop water running above our heads we both shake our fists at the ceiling and say “WHYYYYYY?!” Literally every time. It’s basically tradition at this point.

 

Okay. So. That’s where we were at until Wednesday, March 18th. The day when it rained really hard.

 

There I was, in the bed, sleeping. It was like 3am. I had my sound machine going to try and drown out the noise of my cats meowing for food at an ungodly hour. I know they think they are starving but I can assure you, they are not. I have had these cats for 9 years and never once in all that time have they not been fed. But I digress. Sound machine. That particular night I happened to be listening to the soothing sounds of the rainforest. You know, some light thunder, big, melodious rain drops landing on over-sized leaves, birds chirping. And then, in my sleep, I heard a sound. Click. Click. Click. I thought Goose, my dog, was standing by the side of the bed, needing to be taken out, whacking her tail against the wall. Click. Click. Click. I looked over. No Goose.  And then I realized. It was the <click, click, click> of dripping water. Shit. I woke up Eric. We assembled an arsenal of pots, buckets and beach coolers to collect the water dripping, in some cases even spewing, out of the ever-growing number of breaches in our ceiling. At one point I stood on the bed, pot held high above my head, while Eric ran for more reinforcements. In that moment another hole appeared, right above me. Brackish water started falling on my hair and running down my face. Ugh. We set out pots as best we could, blew up the air mattress and slept in the living room. By the middle of the following day, we had collected at least two gallons of gross ceiling water.

 

**Important detail: this water does not contain poop. I did not have poop water in my hair or on my face. It was a separate leak from the pipe in the ceiling.**

 

The next morning, the ceiling of our bedroom was still DRIP DRIP DRIPPING. Eric, being the problem solver that he is, came up with a plan to affix some intense plastic to the ceiling to create a sort of funnel situation, so if the ceiling were to leak we could at the very least direct it into a vessel. And boy howdy did it leak! The next day, a day in which it was not raining, we collected yet another gallon of gross ceiling water in the cooler that we had precariously balanced on top of a wooden Ikea room divider. What. The. F. Where could this water be coming from? Is it trapped somewhere? Did someone forget to turn a hose off? And then it hit me like a bucket full of dirty ceiling drippings: our neighbors washing machine. Could it be? It could. And it was. Somehow in all their pipe fixin’, tool carryin’ and joke makin’ the plumbers had somehow fucked something up so royally that our neighbors’ washing machine was draining through the beams, the light sockets and also just some random other spots in our bedroom ceiling. During a pandemic. Cool. The solution? Whelp, since having plumbers come through doesn’t quite match the social distancing requirement, our landlord is paying for our neighbors to do laundry pick-up service and we have some unsightly plastic duct taped to our bedroom ceiling. Good thing we’re not having guests over any time soon, am I right?

 

But it’s fine. Really. We are doing great. Until last night.

 

It was about 11 pm. We were sitting on the sofa, marveling over the fact that one of our cats was actually sitting ON TOP OF Goose. Goose, at that moment, was covered in a blanket and so it is entirely likely that Grete did not in fact know that she was perched atop a dog but instead thought she was relaxing on an exceptionally warm pile of…rhythmically breathing pillows…? It was like a dream come true. And then, all of a sudden, in the middle of an especially funny episode of Schitt’s Creek there was a loud

 

BANG!!!

 

And everything shut off. And then, just as quickly, turned back on again. (Or so we at first thought.) The cats retreated underneath various things, Goose looked around confused, Eric ran to the door to see what had happened and I sat there, shocked, useless and probably stammering something involving a ton of swear words. It turns out a transformer had exploded and almost the entire block was left in complete darkness. While I waited on hold with ConEd, fire trucks, police cars and ambulances came racing down the street. I assume someone reported an explosion which, there was. It was so loud I basically thought someone had dropped a dumpster from 1,000 feet up. People in PJs and half-full glasses of wine stepped onto their front stoops, bleary eyed and confused. Firefighters in full regalia walked from door to door, documenting who had power and who, like us, had some weird patchwork of electricity that made absolutely no logical sense. Folks in masks wandered the through the darkness. With everything going on, and everyone distrustful of the health of those around them, it felt like we had been attacked by something. Which, of course, we have been but the power outage was a completely separate incident. Once I knew the explosion was a mere inconvenience and not a danger, all I could think about was everyone’s fridges, now not working, stocked with slowly warming food. A literal nightmare at this current moment when going to the grocery store has become incredibly stressful. Our refrigerator was spared, unlike our oven, and so obviously Eric was busying himself doing electricity things with a drill and “grounding wires?” which was making me extremely nervous. I don’t know about you all but playing around with electrical wires after an actual electrical explosion seemed like an unnecessary risk given the circumstances but, what do I know.

 

Once Eric was done swearing at some screws in the wall, we headed to bed. We brushed our teeth by flashlight and wondered whether our hot water would be on by morning. I personally wished I hadn’t taken a vacation from showering for the day. And then, at about 1:30 am we heard a small <beep, beep, beep> and a slight rush of poop water above our heads. For once, we did not raise our fists in the air and yell. The electricity was back. One crisis averted.


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.