My Pandemic Routine & Comfort Levels

Happy autumnal equinox!

seasonal fall GIF

Today marks the first day of (astronomical) fall for the northern hemisphere and we are feeling it in the northeast US. Now that the smoke from the west coast wildfires has mostly cleared, the air is cooler, crisper. We are able to start keeping our windows open during the workday, like we did at the beginning of quarantine.

But it also means that our daylight hours are getting shorter, which we have not really had to experience since before quarantine. We have been taking stock of where New York City stands with coronavirus and trying to determine what level of comfort we have with things like seeing friends, going to reopened gyms, and more.

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Happy autumnal equinox 🍁 Changing things up a little for equinox this year with a selfie I just took in the sunniest corner of my apartment instead of a nature photo for 2 reasons: 1) I wanted to share what it looks like when I go outside with a mask. Right now, this happens once a week, so I haven't seen the need to buy cute, reusable masks yet, since I venture outside so rarely. Wearing a mask is still one of the number one things we should be doing to curb the spread of coronavirus. 2) My extreme resistance to posting selfies stems from a deep fear of my own vanity. I don't even consider selfies vain but I know mine feel rooted in it. I'm really vain and I work actively to suppress that part of myself, among others. I am coming around to the idea that maybe I should try to reduce my vanity rather than just stifle it, since my social media makes clear I'm not actually less vain… I originally was going to make it my monthly challenge this month, to take a selfie every day, but I chickened out when the month suddenly started. But one thought I've had all year is that I should not be so apologetic for who I am, even for the parts of me that I want to change. So here's my face, partially at least. If you're still here, how are you getting ready for the colder months? We haven't spent much of quarantine with fewer daylight hours than nighttime hours, and with both schools reopening and indoor dining resuming next week , I'm really nervous. I also don't know how to mentally prepare not to see my family for peak festive, family gathering season, from Mid-Autumn Festival through to Lunar New Year…

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Schools are set to reopen and indoor dining is set to resume next week in New York. If the city isn’t bracing for another wave of cases, we certainly are here in my household. In fact, we are trying to prepare by making sure we have supplies that we may need, since we were only just able to get through the first wave.

Here’s where we stand right now and what we’re thinking about as the cold months set in:

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Summer Staycation in the City

Since the beginning of the global pandemic, my partner and I have erred on the side of extremely cautious. We stopped going to the office several days before our offices closed, which was already on the early side compared to the rest of New York. We literally did not leave our apartment building for weeks until we finally stepped out to get tested for coronavirus and its antibodies. We didn’t go out again until a few weeks after phase 4 of reopening had begun in the city, and only to pick up food from local restaurants in lieu of asking someone to deliver it to our apartment.

But we have been burning out… pretty hard. I think we have been mentally checked out for over a month, to be honest. Every single day was a huge struggle, and for me, I was sinking into a familiarly bleak place: small pleasures were no longer pleasurable, I wanted to sleep all day but when I finally went to bed I couldn’t fall asleep and then I struggled to get out of bed in the morning, keeping up with conversations was tedious and difficult, I had no appetite for the comfort foods I had stocked up on.

It became obvious that time off was necessary. Many of my coworkers had come to the same conclusion around the same time, and I suspect many of you and yours did as well. We have been living this new reality for months now, and summer brings with it a hazy lethargy during a normal year, but this year it was just exhausting to not experience it as usual.

Actually “getting away” was essentially out of the question for us. We had only just started getting comfortable venturing out of our building on foot, so trying to rent a car or even board a train felt like a really big leap that we weren’t quite prepared to make. This especially factored because we were so mentally depleted that we honestly couldn’t spare the brainpower to think about the risk management with trying to leave the city for our precious week away from our responsibilities.

baked bread
Photo: Stephan Mahlke

At the end of the day, we really only need to get away from the obligations that burden us to make it a successful vacation. Getting away physically is a privilege that most do not have and that we don’t feel comfortable taking advantage of at this time. So, in addition to sleeping on the air mattress in the living room to create that ~away from home~ feeling, here’s how we spent our little staycation in the city.

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