Things in New York City are still really strange. As we've passed the half-way point in May, we are approaching 200,000 confirmed cases and more than 14,000 people have now died in this City from Covid-19 - staggering statistics.
Every time I continue to get complacent and develop an "I'm done with this" attitude, I think about some of those individual losses, and it's an easy reminder to throw my mask on if I'm leaving the house.
While daily deaths in New York State are down under 200, after being in the 700s a few weeks ago, there is still no sign of this city getting back to any sort of normalcy anytime soon. However, that seems to be at odds with its residents, who are clearly restless and frustrated after spending the better part of two months inside their apartments. I count myself in this group.
This weekend provided the nicest weather of 2020 and the crowds couldn't resist from taking in some of the sunshine. On Friday evening after work, I took a stroll through the East Village and my local park was fairly packed with people. I'm not going to say social distancing wasn't in place - any group sitting on the lawn was clearly distanced from the next group on the lawn - but it's hard to determine if all of those groups of 5-10 people should really have been together.
Nobody was meaning any harm, and you could see how much joy it brought folks to be outside, among nature and other humans, sipping a cold cocktail in the park in 29C weather.
One of the very cool "New York" things that has developed is the "to-go" windows adapted by bars that surround the parks. You can buy a cheap beer or cocktail through their manufactured windows and take it into the park in the plastic container in which it's served. Of course that's not legal normally, but I commend the NYPD for sort of picking their battles. They are working on controlling crowds and ensuring social distancing rules are met, but understand that people need to be outside to stay sane, and this also allows those corner bars to start bringing in some desperately needed revenue again.
So while it seems like I won't be leaving the city for a while, I thought it would be cool to document a bit of a checklist on my blog for items I want to cross-off while in quarantine in the epicenter. I'm not a huge believer of "you need to be productive all the time, and this is a great opportunity to bake bread, learn Japanese, and renovate the basement" because this quarantine is tough. Whatever you're doing, it's helping you get through it, then keep doing it.
And to be honest, a good portion of my life in New York isn't that disrupted (unless I want to be dramatic). Sure, I miss restaurants and sports bars, and I would attend the odd sporting event, go shopping every once in a while, and my Rage Against the Machine concert scheduled for August has now been pushed to 2021. But for the most part, my favourite things to do in the city are run, go to parks, and walk around - all of which I can still do. However, just knowing I'll be here for the foreseeable number of weekends, made me think of some things I can work towards:
Go to Staten Island. It's sort of the black sheep of the 5 boroughs of this city, but it's the only one I've never stepped foot on. The general route to get there is by taking the free Staten Island ferry from lower Manhattan. I'm not sure I want to get on a ferry at the moment, so I may attempt to run there over the Verrazzano Bridge in Brooklyn. They've got some really solid pizza joints in Staten Island, so maybe that can fuel what would be a very long run.
Volunteer in the city. Kind of sad that I haven't set this up yet in my new home, but I've enjoyed being a very small part of this giant community so far, that if I can give back through education or helping with Covid-related tasks, I'd like to.
Blog every week. Even if my weeks continue to be boring: work from home. Cook plants. Go for runs. Zoom with friends. Buy groceries. Repeat... I can still update everyone on my latest work projects, the Covid scene in NYC, and the updates to my checklist!
Hang some art/photos. It was very clear, the improvement in my mood and attitude towards working from home changed when I ordered and built my new desk. Placing it near natural light and adding a plant to the workspace has put a smile on my face every morning I sit down to crush tasks. Your surroundings matter, and now that mine aren't changing every three days from one Marriott room to another, I need to start treating my apartment like a home. I'd like to get some photos hung up, and some art ordered. Any suggestions would help, since my mind usually reverts to Arsenal or Foo Fighters posters which doesn't exactly scream "confident, successful, 34 year-old".
Run a marathon. I ran 20 miles on Saturday and it actually felt really good. I did an out and back, running from the East Village, up the East River path, then into Central Park, out the north end of Central Park, through Harlem, and up over the Macombs Dam Bridge to Yankee Stadium. That was a perfect ten miles, so I turned around, and ran back to Central Park, then down the west side of the Park loop, and all the way back down 3rd Avenue until I hit the 20 mile mark. I was happy with the run, but since races aren't happening anytime soon, why not try and run a marathon at some point on my own? I'm not really in race shape so wouldn't do it for time, but just to run 26.2 miles around Manhattan, I think that would be a fun story.
So that's the list - for now. I'm going to keep on reading, writing, meeting up virtually with friends, and trying to extract as much good from this shitty situation as possible. As I think of more checklist items, I'll be sure to keep you posted, and as I check an item off, I'll DEFINITELY keep you posted!
Thanks for reading,
P.S. After my run on Saturday, I went back up to Central Park and it was the first time I had been in there during sunset. It's pretty amazing: