Covid City 2: Diaries of a New York During the Coronavirus

3/14/2020 12:05 pm

It’s hitting me now: COVID-19 took my husband’s job! Like everyone else in the entertainment industry, we knew it was coming. And, like everyone else, we also know there’s very little to do about it. Dave and I have some savings. We’re experienced budgeters. I have a reliable job. We’ll be okay. It feels like I shouldn’t be complaining given how much worse it is for others. Still, an indefinite future of two kids on one income feels intense.

Meanwhile, CUNY finally rolled out a remote-work option for us staffers but then decided it doesn’t go into effect until March 18th. All day yesterday upper management and HR kept insisting that we have to show up Monday and Tuesday while they process our at-home proposals. They seem more concerned about our output, about feeling 100% sure that we’re actually going to get our work done, than they are about our own safety. 

Or maybe they actually believe this response is appropriate? I was in a meeting yesterday where a manager said that we should still host events for up to 25 people. Others were scheduling in-person meetings and interviews (interviews!) for Monday. I was like, “Nope, I’m packing up, my husband’s picking me and all my stuff up in the car, I’ll check in from home on Monday at nine, see you maybe next month?”

The worst part – today we received an email from the dean stating that there’s a confirmed coronavirus case on the 15th floor of the building our school is located in. We work on the 10th, 18th, and 19th floors, sharing elevators and lobbies with everyone who works across all 22 floors. As a school focused on strengthening the labor movement and supporting worker’s rights, guess what our dean’s response was? That there will be a deep cleaning over the weekend and we are all expected to report on Monday morning. I am not joking. It seems as if my school is leading a revolution for everyone except those who work for the school itself.

Across the board, America has botched all aspects of containing this thing. So many don’t seem to understand the severity of it, which is baffling considering the amount of time we’ve had to prepare. Did people think America was immune? Or maybe they weren’t following the news. Or maybe they were but it was the wrong news. Years ago, back under Obama’s first term, I did an experiment where I compared the New York Times’s reporting to The Guardian’s reporting on the same issues, and I was blown away. Now, I only read The Guardian.

On my end, having an anxiety disorder has finally paid off: for three weeks now, I’ve been making quarantine plans and stockpiling goods. Hell, I even bought crafting supplies! That being said, I got nervous yesterday that three cans of formula won’t be enough for my nine month old, and so I went to Whole Foods on my lunch break, the one by Bryant Park that’s always packed, and I gotta admit, I was a little disturbed by how deserted it was (see above).

This is serious, y’all. And very, very weird. The surreality of it makes it hard to accept. I think that’s probably why management scheduled interviews for Monday and expects us to take the subway into the office midst a confirmed case in the building. These actions feel normal in a very not normal time. Denial is easier for some.

But seriously, screw them. Last night I came home to a husband––pissed off as he may be––cooking pancakes for dinner. To a chunky baby with huge toothless grin reserved just for me. To a four year old running around the living room, arms spread wide as he flew like a dragon. To a dog wagging his tail so hard it thumped against his body. To a cat meowing from her roost on the couch. 

We are so full over here. I could get lost in fear over how we’ll provide for all of these creatures, how we’ll keep them healthy, how we’ll keep ourselves healthy enough to be what they need us to be. Or I could get lost in the love, the joy, the life of it all.

Right now, I’m choosing the love.


Check back this evening for a post about ways to stay positive plus fun things to do at home. My post about talking to and meditating with older kids will come tomorrow.

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