Tag Archives: sickness

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. 

Sick Brain

3 Oct

So this past Monday I came down with a cold.  It started as exhaustion, turned into a massive earache, and ended with crazy sinus pressure and a stuffed nose.  This illness is not the result of a change in weather.  It is not due to the germs that have been running rampant through my bar and beyond for the past few weeks.  And it certainly has nothing to do with the fact that, even though I was aware of said germs and the crazy weather, I drank a little too much after working really hard at the Atlantic Antic.  No, it is not because of any of those things.  I blame my sickness entirely on the government shut down.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, I would like to talk to you all a little about the past few days.  The first thing I did on Tuesday upon waking up with a nose that was so full of snot that it felt like it weighed about 50 pounds was to make myself a big cup of coffee.  Obviously that is the smart thing to do.  So, I went into the kitchen, scooped out a ridiculous amount of ground coffee, and filled my pot up with the correct amount of water for the million cups of coffee that I planned on drinking.  I then pressed the button to turn it on and went to take a shower.  After the shower, I walked back into the kitchen to pour myself a cup when I noticed that my coffee was clear.  It was so clear that it looked just like water.  How could that be?  After a close and in depth investigation I realized that, due to the government shutdown, I neglected to pour the water into the coffee machine and therefore only succeeded in creating mildly warm water.  But the government doesn’t control me or my coffee intake so I quickly remedied the situation.  I then proceeded to drink All Of The Coffee and gave myself a stomach ache.  I blamed my stomach ache on the government shutdown

The rest of my week was spent trying to understand how in the world the government was shut down.  When I think about the jobs of our elected officials, and I think about writing a list of their responsibilities, the first thing I would write would be to keep the government running.  But hey, what do I know.

That last paragraph was actually inaccurate.  Well, not the whole thing.  I do think that if I were to write our lawmakers a list of responsibilities the number one item on the list would be to keep the government running, but I did not spend the rest of the week thinking about why the government shut down.  I spent the rest of the week intermittently feeling sorry for myself for being sick (while cursing my lady bits because obviously my period started in the middle of the cold — thanks, government) and watching episode after episode of The Good Wife because it is so good and I am literally obsessed with Dan Rydell.  Dan Rydell is not a real person, you say?  (By the way, for this I also blame the government shutdown.)  Well then, fine, I am obsessed with Josh Charles who played Dan Rydell in Sports Night and now plays Will Gardner in The Good Wife, who I also love because he is really just Dan Rydell pretending to be a lawyer.  I love Dan Rydell, I mean Will Gardner, I mean Josh Charles so much that I had the following text conversation with my friend Kendra just yesterday:

Me: I’ve been watching a marathon of The Good Wife for the last two days.
Kendra:  My mom is obsessed.
Me: You have to watch it. I’m in love with the guy who plays Will Gardner.  Literally obsessed.
Kendra:  He’s a hottie.
Me: Right? I almost cried when I saw he was recently married.  I thought I had a shot.
Kendra:  Ha.  You never know.  People get pushed in front of a bus every day 😉

And that is one of the many reasons why I love Kendra.  I do not blame Kendra for the government shut down.

Another thing that I have been doing during my self-prescribed quarantine has been to start making videotapes of myself hanging out with my kittys in the room.  My boyfriend tells me that I should make a YouTube channel and that probably my videos would go viral.  So I put one of my videos on YouTube last night and then subsequently lost it because I am terrible at the internet (which, surprise surprise, I blame on the government shut down even though my lack of internet abilities predated it).  But then I had this great idea!  I looked on my phone where I had tried to link the video for one of my friends to see, something I failed at because I had inadvertently made it private which mostly wasn’t inadvertent at all and was more an attempt to shield myself from embarrassment because in this video I sort of look like an alien.  So before you watch the video I need to make some things clear:  (a) I know that I look like an alien; (b) I am just as bad at technology as this video makes it appear; (c) If you watch this video and are like “Rebekah, what are you talking about you don’t look like an alien at all that is what you actually look like” then please don’t tell me because if you do I will either cry or respond with the following thing:  how the hell did you let me go through life looking like an alien without ever telling me?  That’s like letting someone go to a job interview with a huge herb in her front tooth because you are too embarrassed about the ensuing conversation to save her from embarrassment.  If I do, in fact, look like an alien in real life I am aware there is nothing I can do about it but it would be nice at least to know.  Then I would at least know why Dan Rydell chose to marry Sophie Flack instead of me.  Also I would have another thing to blame on the government shutdown.

Anyway, without further adieu, my video.

So, that’s it.  For a recap of my week thus far.

1. I have successfully made it through the entire first season of The Good Wife.

2. I have made three videos, only one of which I have managed to upload onto YouTube because I tried to create a channel but now I can’t find it so I made another channel and my video isn’t on that channel but I don’t know how to upload it to the correct channel using my phone.  None of this would ever have happened if it weren’t for the government shutdown.

3. I have blamed a few things not mentioned here on the government shut down but not nearly enough things so please excuse me while I get back to work.

4.  I have spent an awkward amount of time watching this government shut down-inspired PandaCam and feeling sad that I am not the person who thought of it and also not friends with the person (people?) who thought of it.  Thanks a lot, government shutdown.