Archive for April, 2020

Service of New Traditions

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

Photo: facebook.com

I wonder how many new personal traditions have begun as a result of sheltering at home and how many will remain when the worst blows over. The most obvious: families connecting weekly via video conference companies such as Zoom.

I had to figure out a way to exercise without exercising, which I despise. New York, like many cities, is a place to walk–and I did in the normal course of a day–but I have cut down on my outdoor time. My solution has been to reserve an hour a day to dance. I say dance but more accurately I walk/march briskly with intermittent stretches in the compact space of my apartment. My first target is 10,000 steps. So far I’m at 9,400+–3.9 miles according to my iPhone. It’s quite a trick, weaving in and out of chairs and tables and down a short, skinny hallway, but when my hour starts, I don’t stop.

Photo: pinterest.com

A friend shared another example: “After breakfast my 3 & 5 year old grandchildren hug their father good bye and wish him a good day as he climbs the stairs to his office.  This helps the separation and they know he’s not available during business hours.”

Another wrote: “Two of my Beagle grandsons visited yesterday. My son brought a hot lunch.  He left my portion on the fender of my car. I picked it up with a disinfectant wipe and cleaned the  container.  He sat more than 10 feet away and I sat in my car. This is having lunch with a loved one in the new normal.”

I’ve begun to make French toast every Sunday as my mother did when I was a kid. Because it took me forever to wake up in the day, my pieces became hard as rocks without a hint of egg. That’s the only way I’ll eat French toast today.

Have you launched any traditions? Do you think any will outlast sheltering at home?

Photo: technologyreview.com

Service of Waking Up in the Middle of the Night: Different Today?

Monday, April 27th, 2020

Photo: bustle.com

I followed for years a ritual to help me go back to sleep should I wake up in the middle of the night but it doesn’t work these days. That’s because I’d listen to the radio allowing me to keep the lights off and my eyes shut. But now news stations unsettle me with death, illness and financial stats; call-in shows disturb me for similar reasons plus rehashed political punditry is not calming. Music doesn’t distract me: my mind wanders to what is troubling me. It becomes the background to my nightmare thoughts.

Photo: inc.com

When I turn on an engaging Netflix series I watch for hours, which defeats the purpose. Plus my eyes are open. They wince at the bright smartphone light if I check texts, emails, twitter and Facebook updates. I can’t respond to texts for fear of waking someone with the telltale ping. Reading a book or attacking my pile of New Yorker magazines are possibilities but they too involve lights and open eyes.

Has your foolproof solution to falling back to sleep deserted you?  What techniques do you use to quiet your mind and keep yourself from thinking negative thoughts in the middle of the night?

Photo: theguardian.com

Service of Panic Purchases

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

A friend offered to stay overnight in my apartment just in case so I bought an inflatable mattress before scheduled surgery early this year. Turned out I was fine, she went home that night so the mattress remains in its box and with the pandemic it will remain there for a good long time. I didn’t need to buy it after all.

When sheltering in place was new I bought a few bags of rigatoni, a big jar of tomato and apple sauce, two cans of corn and boxes of crackers just in case. I’ve not yet touched them as I’ve been able to get fresh potatoes, fettuccine alfredo, farmer’s market apples, frozen corn and peas and fresh bread. I also have a giant bottle of cranberry juice in case I can’t get out for fresh OJ and cider.

Some would define these as panic purchases because I wouldn’t normally buy them.

Have you bought things just in case that you may never use or might take a long time to? Are you continuing to do so or have you calmed down in this regard?

Service of Time Was Like Closet Space, You Made it Fit–But No Longer, At Least Yet

Monday, April 20th, 2020

Photo: nationalpost.com

I’ve previously written about time in a few contexts such as “Service of Respecting Other People’s Time,” and “Service of Time vs. Result: Is it Worth It?

Time reminded me of the closets I’ve had in my various homes. Whether large or small, many or few, I’ve adjusted my stuff to fit. I was similarly good at triaging my time to meet deadlines whether long-term or bolt from the blue. I’ve come close but never missed one and I don’t plan to do so while sheltering at home. But since I’ve been home, I don’t yet have a handle on my new time. Some days I’m the Jeanne-productive juggler I’ve always been but others float by and I wonder, “Where did the day go?” My time melts like an air-filled Christmas peppermint and my “to do” list stares back at me with few strikeouts.

Photo: franticbutfabulou

It’s clear what happened: My time benchmarks have changed. I always marked weekdays by dressing for work, leaving for the office, taking a lunch break and returning home. I now start out the same: I won’t sit at my laptop until I’m clean and dressed, though my clothes are far more casual. Next I break to hear Governor Cuomo’s press conference–he usually starts between 11:30 a.m. and noon ET. Between 4:00 and 5:00 pm I dance around the apartment for exercise and at 7 p.m. I stop what I’m doing to clap my thanks for the medical community from my balcony.

Everyone is similarly impacted. Retired people are cut off from their second jobs, classes, libraries, friends, shopping patterns, charity work, activities, restaurants, fitness centers, participation in religious services and so forth.

Speaking of closets, one of the things I hope to do while home is to reorganize each closet but so far, I haven’t had the time.

Have you been thrown off kilter as your time points of reference have changed and you’ve adjusted to sheltering at home? Are you easily distracted? Are your “to do” lists in good shape?

Photo: fluentu.com

Service of Changing Taste: Is it the Pandemic?

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

Photo: store.usps.com

Photo: pinterest.com

I have always loved to shop or at least to look, but that has changed.

One new piece of clothing for summer and winter–a new blouse, sweater, pair of slacks, handbag or skirt–would make my season and me happy. I’m very good at finding bargains. A favorite pair of slacks cost $19 at TJ Maxx a year ago. Uniqlo has fun items to spruce up a mood for little more. And an online store, stylewe.com, was once a joy to peruse. It sends frequent emails all unopened.

These days I’m not tempted to look even if a store I like promotes drastic discounts. How could a lifelong passion disappear? Is it because I don’t foresee an occasion in which to wear something new, my savings have evaporated, I don’t want to face sanitizing another package–or what? A friend wrote: “When I open a package or letter I feel like I’m preparing for surgery.”

Have you noticed a similar drastic change in behavior?

Photo: theupsstore.com

Service of Irritations that Irk Now and Maybe Not Before

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Photo: houseplansandmore.com

Photo: nakedapartments.com

The pandemic has created a new set of frustrations that didn’t occur or rile as much or at all before.

Living as I do in Manhattan I listen carefully to advice to protect myself from the virus and gripe when many suggestions depend on a person’s living in a house or fully equipped apartment without alternates. “Leave an Amazon package in your garage or in the trunk of your car for a few days,” is one or “when you return home immediately wash your fabric face mask in your washing machine.” I can count on one hand the number of NYC apartments I’ve visited or lived in that have their own washer-dryer. It’s not always a question of money or space: Some co-ops don’t allow them.

Photo: homedepot.com

The reason I love Bounty paper towel is how strong it is. Drives me nuts that after the many times I wash my hands I must toss the paper towel that dries them instead of subsequently wiping a counter or not wasting one at all as before. I formerly wiped my hands with a linen kitchen towel.  Insult to injury: finding replacement towels is still a challenge in NYC.

A Manhattan friend’s recent late night Tweet: “The streets are eerily quiet these days. So when a car with a CAR ALARM is parked nearby and blares for hours on end, it’s more infuriating than usual. Dude, how old is your car, and could you park it in NJ please?”

Another friend placed an online supermarket order for her suburban mom so her mom had only to swoop by in her car for pick up and run. Friend was disappointed to hear that there was only one box of tissues–they’d run out of the less expensive brand she’d chosen–and that the market didn’t automatically provide a substitute even if costlier. The whole idea was to cut down the number of trips for supplies. There should be an opt in box to check that clears the store to make substitutes.

Photo: twitter.com

In “Service of My Space: Am I Invisible?” I’ve written about the disrespect many pedestrians show others on NYC streets. Some shove in front of the elderly or disabled and cut them off not always because they are studying their phones–but because they can or don’t care. The streets in midtown are empty now yet there are those who walk in the middle of a sidewalk forcing anyone coming towards them to walk in the street or hide in a building entrance to keep six feet away. Have they not heard about the advice to social distance?

Because I must don a mask and gloves to leave my apartment–my building asks tenants to protect others and themselves in public spaces–I try to plan trips to the garbage room to coincide with a visit to the lobby for mail or a grocery store for supplies. Did I ever imagine I’d have to strategize tossing garbage?

What little irritations have you noticed that never came up before the pandemic and/or didn’t irk you? Am I even more thin-skinned than usual? Are you?

Photo: fluentin3months.com

Service of Give Me My Money Back

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

Photo: money.cnn.com

Under what conditions should people ask for their money back these days and when should a company, person or organization comply?

A friend’s summer tenant at a weekend home tried to wiggle out of his commitment saying he didn’t know, with quarantines and shelter at home ordinances, if he’d be able to get there for the time he’d reserved. She isn’t giving him his money back and her contract backs her.

Joffrey Ballet Class
Photo: Youtube.com

I heard of a person who asked for a deep discount on her rent–which her landlord granted because there were no washing machines on premises and the local laundry businesses closed–after she left NYC for a family member’s weekend home.

Parents are asking for their money back for dancing school classes their children can’t attend and organizations worry that annual fee-paying members will want refunds because meetings, networking opportunities and educational events are cancelled.

Photo: proflowers.com

Universities, colleges and private schools might be parrying parent and student demands for reimbursement. Food, book and flowers-of-the-month clubs that can’t meet delivery commitments might be hearing from customers.

Theater owners have given back money to friends with advance tickets.

What about gift card holders for restaurants, hair stylists or gyms that aren’t open and may not reopen? The phone bill for an office you’re not in and the rent for the empty space? The list never ends.

Many have proved that a contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on and that clever lawyers can always find a loophole. Have you run into this if you’re a landlord, business owner or association executive? Do you plan to ask for reimbursement for anything? What about the person or organizations holding the bag–where do they go if they’re not paid? Is everyone being too hasty?

Photo: theactivetimes.com

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot

Monday, April 6th, 2020

Photo: ballooncoach.com

We hear on the news and on social media about the magnificent donations of goods, services and salaries that corporations and billionaires are making to help shoulder the damage and havoc the coronavirus is causing.  Hotel tycoon Sheldon Adelson is paying salaries and estimated tips of almost 10,000 employees at the shuttered Las Vegas Sands; Oprah Winfrey is donating $10 million to relief efforts and Robert Kraft of the Patriots used the team’s jet to bring in almost 2 million N95 masks from China. He shipped 300,000 of them to NYC’s healthcare workers. A Brooklyn landlord–owner of 18 residential buildings–told tenants they didn’t have to pay April rent.

Just as important are less flamboyant unpublicized gifts from friends and family.

Photo: patriotswire.usatoday.com

A friend mailed a face mask to me when she heard I couldn’t find one for love or money and she knew I grocery shop and go for brisk walks in NYC. It was a priceless gift.

I mentioned a futile search to a friend, I’ll call Dorothy, for a thermometer for another friend, I’ll call Donna. I’d stopped in at every pharmacy and drugstore, hardware and health food store between 39th and 56th Streets on First, Second and Third Avenues. There wasn’t one. Dorothy found a thermometer in its original packaging in her apartment and mailed it to Donna. Pay dirt! Another precious gift.

Photo: medscape.com

Another friend who lives alone wrote: “My children decided the delivery service I use needs too many hands touching the food they deliver.  Consequently they will do my shopping.  In my last order I received 4 cucumbers, 5 heads of lettuce, a pint of 1/2 & 1/2 and I can go on. Now I may not die of the virus but I might succumb to overeating. The things we do for love!”

A daughter living in NYC ordered a surprise package filled with goodies from chicken breasts to biscuits for her father and step mother who are sheltering in place in Massachusetts. Another friend took lists of groceries from her mother and landlord and delivered them so the other women didn’t need to venture out.

Why didn’t these people order food online? Those who do report wait time for delivery is almost a week. Good luck if you’ve run out of milk, coffee or juice.

Have you heard of or experienced similar loving, even life-saving gestures by friends and family?

Service of Pets in a Pandemic

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Georgie Rabinovitz. Photo: Helen Rabinovitz

Haisten Willis wrote this article in usnews.com: “Isolated by a Pandemic, People Are Stepping Up to Foster Pets–Shelters have been forced to close by COVID-19, but community support is helping animals find homes.”

He reported that on a standard month the Best Friends Animal Society’s Atlanta shelter finds 10 homes for dogs and cats while 62 were fostered in five days in March. “Elsewhere, its New York shelter placed 67 pets from March 16 to 20, compared with its typical 30; Salt Lake City placed 42 instead of the typical 12; and Los Angeles placed 166, up from about 45 to 50,” according to Willis.

On this blog guest writer Helen Rabinovitz previously reported her daughter’s experience in “Service of What the Public Must Learn About People with Disabilities.” She submitted the inspiration for this post and wrote the following:

Photo: wp.sbcounty.gov

During this time of isolation I find the companionship of my parrot Georgie is the key to my sanity. Georgie is almost 37.  I’ve been his mom since he was around a year old. He’s funny and really, really bad sometimes–but I love him.

Even though you can’t snuggle up with a parrot he’s great company. I’d probably lose what’s left of my mind if it wasn’t for G!

Most of my friends have pets. I’m the only crazy bird lady but there are crazy cat and dog ladies in our group. We talk all the time, mostly about our fluffy kids and how great it is to have them around. It makes me feel needed and gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Someone to talk to…I speak parrot.

So for all of us who feel trapped in our homes, as long as we have our feathered and fluffy companions we will survive.

I miss hugging one of my long-deceased dogs or cats and wholeheartedly agree with Helen. Do you have a love-pet to hug? Do you know someone who adopted a pet at this time?

Photo: ultramodernpet.com

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