(I am cross-posting this with The Movie Crash Course.)
Over on my movie blog, I usually only post the above image if the blog is having a technical crisis; but if the current state of the world doesn’t call for the Buster Sign, I don’t know what does. I just wanted to speak to how I was doing and give people space to check in.
….Miraculously, I not only am doing okay, I think I may have lucked into the best of all possible paths through this pandemic. I’d lost a job mid-January, and was spending most of the ensuing few weeks on a job hunt. By mid-February, that job hunt narrowed down to some leads in a business park that’s only three blocks from my house; I live very near a decommissioned Navy shipyard that New York has been turning into an industrial and business park, with about 450 different companies working there – many of them tech companies, media, or food-oriented. Lots of artists have studio space there, there is a distillery and a winery, some movie soundstages, and even some small manufacturing companies. I was hired in late February, and started there the first week of March. I was thrilled about the new commute; instead of dragging myself onto a subway and riding an hour each way to get to work, now I have a pleasant 15-minute walk each way on largely quiet streets. Maybe I pass the occasional jogger.
But then news of the Coronavirus started spreading, and people were realizing just how bad it was going to be. And I realized that I had been taken out of the subway system right before it had become a danger. I thanked my lucky stars and kept walking to work.
Then New York started shutting down. First companies were shutting down of their own volition, encouraging everyone to work from home; Roommate Russ works somewhere where they require everyone to work from home. My new boss also gave me the option to work from home if I wanted. I thought about it; but I’ve decided to keep going in, partly to give Roommate Russ a quiet apartment during the day, and partly because my work space is actually a decently safe distance from other people even when everyone’s there. And a week ago most of the other people in my office did start working from home; there were probably several dozen people in the office when I started there my first day, but now it’s down to about ten. Most people are working from home, but there are a couple of people who have to head in – and a couple of stubborn folk like me who prefer going there. I’m actually less exposed to people at my office at this stage than I am if I stayed home. And even more miraculous – the company is considered an “essential business”. So it will stay open.
My biggest worry was that I went to New Orleans in late February, right before starting work (when your 50th Birthday is the same day as Mardi Gras there’s really only one thing you can do about that). The day after I got back, I felt something like the beginnings of a cold, but I dealt with that by horsing down several zinc lozenges and willing myself out of it; I didn’t want to call in sick my first day at work. A couple friends joined me in New Orleans, and one of them said he also had a bit of a cold too; so I probably caught something there. But it passed within only a day. And I am now past the window where anything stronger I may have caught in New Orleans would have shown up – and I continue to be fine.
This doesn’t mean I’m totally unaffected, of course. Other than going to work, I’m hunkering down as much as possible; grocery runs and park excursions, and that’s it. I try to keep a good healthy distance from people even at work, and my grocery runs have been for oddball things like coriander seed, so I stay well clear of the whole toilet paper scrum. I went for a bigger shopping run yesterday, and noticed that the store had set up barricades around most of the meat department and were letting people in one by one, like it was a velvet-rope nightclub; however, one section was left open. I discovered that that’s where the store had funky sausages and more exotic meats like duck breast, wild boar, and rabbit. I took a look at the big line of people waiting for ground beef and chicken cutlets, then at the nearly-empty sausage-and-exotic-meat section, and then picked up a pack of merguez sausage and was on my way. When the meat runs low in the house I may be back for the ground bison. Roommate Russ and I have joked that Anthony Bourdain may be guiding our food choices from the afterlife.
Good thing, too, because cooking has been one of the ways I’ve been coping. I’ve got an overstuffed pantry even at the best of times, and a huge collection of cookbooks. I also promised myself that I would be using a lot of the things I have this year, if only to clean them out and make room for new things. So social isolation has turned into an excuse to amp up the cooking and baking like whoa. ….We’re just about done with the pumpkin bread, brownies, and lentils de puy salad I made last weekend, and today’s menu includes three totally different curries, chickpea-flour crepes, chocolate cookies with cacao nibs, and an amazing mocha cake (to which I’m going to add some espresso chocolate chips I’ve been wondering how to use).
And I am still going to keep on with the movies. I’m working on my latest review on that blog, and am exploring a couple of special events which those of you out there could join in. (I need to explore the technical angle first; check there for any developments.)
I’ve realized that I’m very, very, very fortunate. I’m very aware that others are not so lucky and are struggling; I’m trying to think of ways to help, above and beyond just being a responsible citizen by staying home as much as necessary. I’ve been blessed, but I’m still in the fight with everyone else. Mrs. Miniver was about England’s reaction to war instead of disease, but I think the last scene still speaks to what we’re all going through.
Be well, all.