NYC Journal #4 – Speculations – Tuesday 4/7/2020
I’m feeling pretty good.
I’m feeling well enough to speculate.
First: Why is it so easy to have food delivered and so hard to have groceries delivered?
I know it is easy to have food delivered because I put in an order for a Mexican feast at Noon and a short young man in a purple and green windbreaker, a white bicycle helmet, and a light-colored sheer scarf wrapped several times around his face rang my doorbell before 12:30. He came up the steps and when I half-opened the door and yelled, “just set it on the ground — I won’t breathe on ya”, he put the paper bag, tall and stapled into a barnhouse, on a step about five down from the landing, gave a little nick, and disappeared.
NYC Journal #2 explains why I know ordering groceries is difficult / imossible.
It’s no surprise! New Yorkers have been eating way too much take out for years and years, so the economy is already geared up for that. And they also used to eat out way too much, but now they can’t do that at all, so the entire restaurant business has to put all its hope and dreams and the staff it can yet support into preparing and delivering take outs; oh, and there’s some pick-ups I guess. Grocery deliveries, in contrast, though by no means negligible, were comparatively rare. And now suddenly everyone wants more groceries delivered than they used to go get themselves.
If we were to continue living alone in our apartments without ever going out and mixing it up with our fellow citizens — which actually is kind of peaceful and relaxing and has much to recommend it (kidding! Well, nothing’s all bad; see Speculation #4) — the economy would evolve pretty quickly to meet the needs of that new and pathetic society.
Second: How many people who are sure they’ve had it are wrong?
Hmmm. That’s tricky. I personally know that I have it, and presumably, if all goes well and I’m back in the world next week after three weeks enjoying my quarantine away from the loud and clanking in-your-face world, I will know that I have had it.
But now comes the question: Within a couple months, they’ll be how many people likewise certain? How many never-tested New Yorkers are dutifully staying home with the symptoms, convalescing, preparing for a future in which they are 100% sure they’ve had the novel coronavirus that everyone’s talking about? Some percentage of them must be wrong. Some of these individuals will be wrong. I know I am not one of the mistaken; but of course it follows axiomatically that I, who am certain I have the coronavirus, would believe it impossible for me to be mistaken about having the coronavirus. Some of us who are certain we are right will be wrong. Gives me vertigo.
But I guess there’s going to be a test to tell each of us whether or not we have the antibodies. So that’ll let me know that I’m right. Unless somehow I’m wrong, which of course is impossible, and yet we know that it is in the general case possible and indeed inevitable, and that there’s no real reason to exempt me from the large folds of the general case, from it follows that it is in fact possible that I don’t have the coronavirus, but only a sort of madness that gives one the appearance of having the coronavirus.
Third: How could anyone ever vote for a Republican again?
I’m talking about the Wisconsin Republican legislature refusing to postpone today’s election, and then the five conservative members of the Supreme Court refusing to extend absentee voting in Wisconsin.
What is that but blatant cynical evil?
Particularly the Wisconsin legislature. It’s been clear a long time that more voting equals less Republican victories. And Republicans unsurprisingly are often behind legislation that makes it harder to vote. That’s pretty crappy; but to force an election to go forward in a pandemic when the wise thing to do is not going into a place full of other people — this takes the anti-Democratic impulse to a new level. Literally: “Let us win, or maybe die” (since the places with polls that are likely to be less impacted are outside of large urban areas and thus less Republican).
As to the SC, well, they have their arguments, they give their reasons; but in the end, presidents know what they are buying anymore. So if you vote for Republicans, you get legislatures more interested in winning elections than protecting the lives of their constituents, and you get Supreme Court justices whose minds usually find a route to give Republican politicians what they want, which is things like voter suppression and endangering lives for political gain (note what the SC would have to themselves note: if people were allowed to mail in their votes for another few weeks, most would stay home now, which would be the safe thing for them to do).
At some point, enough is just enough.
Stop voting for Republicans until they get the message that you don’t want assholes representing you, which will force different sorts of Republicans to run and get elected and make decisions for the collective.
Stop voting for Republicans until they start pursuing policies and making decisions that work for all US citizens, thereby earning the votes of all US Americans.
Because, just come on! This goes too far.
Fourth: Why is it kind of pleasant to spend three weeks inside your apartment? I have now left this apartment three times in three weeks: twice to take out garbage and get the mail; once to grab a food delivery from a step a few stairs down from my landing. And I’ve worked 9AM-5PM every day. And, though these last few days especially I am feeling better and better, I’ve felt poorly the whole time. So why do I feel like I’ve had a nice break?
In the world that you walk in, everywhere there’s effort. Moving is effort. Physically interacting with others, even if it is no more than adjusting your walk to circumvent then, requires effort, a little stress, a tiny bit of putting yourself out there. To speak nothing of eye contact here and there or short office conversations, which are often enjoyable, but also always a tiny bit denuding, exposing, emotionally risky. All these microaggressions that the even the most peace-loving surroundings exact on one’s mind/body add up, especially in New York, where he have to stand so close to one another in the subway, the elevator, the food co-op. And New York also is designed to explode men’s minds with too many beautiful women all around all the time, part of you, no matter how much evidence you’ve gathered to the contrary, always kinds of thinks something is maybe kind of afoot with this girl or that one, but of course, you’re just passing one another, perhaps stuck momentarily near one another on a platform or in a train car, but that glance she throws — even if you aren’t fully inventing it as you must be doing most of the time — can’t go anywhere, and it knows full well it can’t, it relaxes in that security and comfort just as your glances do. All this largely-imagined, back-of-the-mind courting is also stressful. A fine dust of loneliness and frustration builds up on your heart- and loin-strings.
Here I’m all alone. I talk to people on the phone and through email and text. I get excited and annoyed at people I’m interacting with at work. I get the little tickle and thrill of comradery with people I’m interacting with at work. But all these inputs are “lite”, and at the end of the day, I never had to leave my apartment, I never had to get out the door by 8:15AM so I could be at the office by 9AM. I didn’t notice my boss staying past 5PM as I considered whether or not I should. And even on those days when I worked for any amount of time after the quitting bell, at the end I did not have to go down into the grimy subway corridors to wait for a grimy train, surrounded by people for whom I felt tiny little tugs of hope and fear. None of that! On the days when I was feeling weak and 9-5 was about my limit, I went and rested. On the other days, more of them as time goes on, I sat down to write, still safe in my cocoon.
It’s nice to have some time alone.
It’s also been wonderful to have no alcohol around. And no white bread. And no dairy. I’ve felt worse because of the coronavirus, but better because of the lack of these drags on my mind/body. Especially no alcohol.
Fifth: What about people who aren’t getting better?
There’s a great exaltation in the final stages of convalescence. You’ve made it! You’re out! You’re stronger and wiser for the struggle! You’re proud to have been there! You’re excited to start fresh! You’re ready!
But some people are dying of this.
Many of them are quite old; but they might’ve had another decade or two enjoying their grandchildren, garden, reflections, journaling, volunteering, singing in the church choir.
And many of them are not that old. Whether because of individual genetic weaknesses and/or extreme exposure (high viral load), some people who a few months ago had every reason to suppose themselves fit and robust and ready for another 40+ years of living, loving, growing, sharing — some of these people find themselves terribly sick and not getting better, or a little better, but then relapsing after that false hope. Suddenly the whole trajectory’s altered.
We’re all in this together and cannot escape one another in this life or the next.
We pray that we grow together in wisdom, so we can better enjoy and benefit from our irrevocable eternal interconnection.
Author: Johnny Onnda Spott
Editorial Team: A. Whistletown / B. Willard
Copyright: AM Watson