Lockdown: A Week In The Life Of What Is Quickly Becoming My Gap Year

Welcome to what has now turned into the Lockdown Diaries! One blog post each Friday, filled with a week’s worth of observations, discoveries and challenges.

I am trying to make this long-drawn-out transition from PAUSE to REOPEN somewhat fun and exciting. It’s not easy but here goes.

10 Highlights Of The Week. Enjoy!

1. Construction is back? An important first step.
  • On Monday, May 4th, I walked through the Lower East Side to my “medical pedicure” (more on that below). I was amazed to see construction sites that had been dormant for the last six weeks buzzing with activity.
  • My street (see above) was filled with trucks and construction workers. It was a joy to behold.
  • I also noticed the plant and nursery market, across the street from me, doing brisk commercial business (no walk-in retail). Delivery trucks on hand every day, picking up large plant orders for some obviously essential “stay-in-place” balconies, patios, and backyard gardens.
  • While construction is getting an early start on re-opening, offices are not expected to open in NYC until September. Google and Facebook, meanwhile, just told their employees they’ll be working from home through the end of the year. Restaurants and international travel are not expected to be fully operational until 2021.
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2. Faces matter! It’s why FaceTime has been my happiest Lockdown discovery.💕
  • I’ve only been into FaceTime for a few weeks but I am totally blown away by how great it is. It’s added a lot of positivity to my life!
  • Seeing friends’ faces while talking to them makes the experience so much warmer, more personal, and lively. It makes you feel so much more connected to people.
  • And it’s why I adore my standing FaceTime get-togethers with a few besties. I would be remiss if I didn’t send a special thanks to Rodrigo and Elliott for inviting me to be their regular Saturday night FaceTime “date.” Our 2-hour FaceTimes are almost as much fun as we have when we get together in real life (as evidenced by the number of times I’ve woken up with a Sunday morning FaceTime hangover!).

For those of you not on FaceTime:

I recommend scheduling a week’s worth of FaceTimes in advance. I always have 7 days booked (generally one per day but occasionally more). I prefer FaceTime to Zoom or Webex. And I prefer to be calling into just one other device. The more people you have dialing in, the more likely you’ll have connectivity issues and that’s seriously annoying on a video call.

3. Medical Pedicures

If for whatever reason, you are unable to cut your own toenails or take care of your feet during this lockdown, I highly recommend checking out your local podiatrist. Keep in mind that nail salons are expected to be the last category of business to reopen.

Most podiatrists have walk-in clinics and offer “senior foot care” and “medical pedicures” along with their other services. And big thanks to Mary Clarke for putting this on my radar.

If you happen to be in NYC, I recommend TD Podiatry (they have two locations downtown). They also accept health insurance if you have ailments that qualify.

  • Dr. Kamilla Danilova took care of me. She not only clipped my nails, but also took care of an ingrown toenail, corns, and calluses, and tested my feet for diabetic neuropathy (basically checking if any nerves are damaged – they were not!). What you won’t get is a foot massage or nail color.
  • I made another appointment for June.

Note: Besides feet which are considered “essential,” I have heard quite a few people talking about getting “black market” beauty and hair services. I’m desperate for a keratin treatment, and botox can’t wait too much longer either. I will report back.

4. Know what’s selling like hotcakes?

The economy is in a tailspin but some things (besides food) are hot commodities.

  • Gun sales spiked 71% in April with the purchase of more than 1.7 million firearms. March had seen an even bigger spike with 2.5 million firearms sold (85.3% more than the previous year). Note: the photo above is in Culver City, Calif.
  • Online skincare sales are booming. Tula, a New York-based skincare company, posted a 400% increase in April sales compared with the year prior — the best April in its six-year history — and double its sales from March. Sales of its signature skincare bundles have tripled. The brand is benefiting from having a social media-driven demographic with 75% of its customers under the age of 35. (Source: CNBC)
  • Peloton’s bike sales surged 66% from a year ago and it also held its largest class ever last month, with more than 23,000 people streaming it from home. (Source: CNBC)
  • In the UK, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was the top-selling vehicle in April. It’s the first time a van has outsold a passenger car in 30 years. (Source: This Is Money)
  • In India, the most-searched products on Flipkart (owned by Walmart) during the lockdown are hair trimmers (with a 4.5X increase). Other top searches are for gas stoves, fans, and air conditioners. (Source: India TV News)
5. Did you catch the “flower supermoon” this week?
View from the fire escape
  • It was the last full supermoon of 2020 and it turned into a bit of a social occasion for a few of us in our building.
  • I had seen the supermoon earlier in the evening from my fire escape but as it got darker, we gathered up on the roof for a moon photoshoot (all appropriately socially-distanced of course).
  • It was so much fun that we made plans to get together again for a rooftop wine happy hour.
6. Learning & Entertainment

So many great discoveries while in lockdown. From books (and I only read them if available on Blinkist) to streaming video to music (Alexa is my best friend these days), and I must admit that corona has turned me into a comedy fiend. Since the lockdown, I’ve come to view comedy as an “essential” service.

Most important tip: Disconnect from corona negativity by keeping your news intake to 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night.

Here are my entertainment recommendations this week
Books (all read on Blinkist)

I usually read one book a day, generally biographies or memoirs. Two standouts this week are both interestingly rooted in Silicon Valley: Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and Bad Blood by John Carreyrou which is about the rise and epic fail of Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes.

A big personal takeaway from Lean In is the line below about honesty, a trait I tend to take too far most times.

“…be delicately honest not brutally honest”

Sheryl Sandberg
Music: I’m on a serious Jazz kick

And I have to thank my Stockholm friends Larry and Ann for putting jazz back into rotation for me. Larry does a daily Instagram of their dinner prep complete with accompanying soundtrack and album cover. Recently he showcased Bill Evans (who I adored back in the day) and that triggered this new jazz phase. It’s all I want to listen to at the moment. It soothes and relaxes me.

Here’s what’s in heavy rotation at my house:
  • Sarah Vaughan
  • Billy Eckstine
  • Nancy Wilson (jazz, not Heart)
  • Billie Holiday
  • Stan Getz /Gilberto
  • Bill Evans Trio
Comedy: Did we ever need a laugh more than now?

“Comedy has always offered swift relief in times of stress. A good laugh can be good therapy, can lift us out of sadness and depression. Our sense of humor can restore us to high spirits and renew our sense of hope.”

William V. Costanzo, Author, SUNY Professor of English and Film

I’ve noticed many more funny posts on Facebook lately.

And I am ever so grateful for the levity. It’s also fun to discover who has a great sense of humor (big shout out to Cheryl Dwyer – it turns out Jamie’s mom has a wicked sense of humor!).

And, of course, comedy has gone online.

Dave Konig, the “groom” of my good friend Susan Konig, was a trailblazer in this area.

  • Dave was one of the first, if not THE first, “pandemic comedian” to hit Facebook Live. He does a short stand-up skit every weekday at 6 pm. It remains a highlight of my day – although I’m pretty sure he’s getting tired of doing it. Who knew the lockdown would last this long he asks every day.
  • But Dave does have competition these days. Two of my favorites are Stephen Colbert and James Corden’s Late Late Show.

And this Saturday, let’s all make sure we catch the SNL At Home Season Finale. I wasn’t a fan of their first attempt but the 2nd was fantastic and I have high hopes for this one.

Last, but not least, social media photos documenting the best and the worst of the pandemic.

I just came across the ArtWaves Festival (out of the UK) which has put out this request:

The festival is seeking to build an online gallery of submitted imagery from those in self isolation, lockdown, key workers and any other experiences that could be shared to create a snapshot of East Yorkshire life during this time.

Art Waves Festival, Yorkshire
Somebody should do this in the States. It’s a great idea, no?
  • And in the spirit of the ArtWaves Lockdown Festival, I’m sharing my top Instagram photo from April (it happens to be of my loft where I’ve been self-isolating).
  • But my most viewed and liked IG post is of MethFountain and his friend, Armando Nin (a fabulous photographer) hanging out on Rivington Street, skateboarding, and chatting with my neighbor and me on our fire escapes. Click on the icon below to play.
My #1 photo for “likes” on Instagram in April.
7. Can we talk about how COVID has turned many of us into Foggy Thinkers?

I can’t be the only one baffled by how the pandemic has made people not only forgetful but downright illogical?

Let’s start with the lovefest everyone is suddenly having with the USPS.

Until a few weeks ago, all I ever heard people say about the post office is how much it sucked. And if you don’t believe me, google reviews for the post office. Over 155 million examples pop up and each one of them lists a long saga of how the post office has let them down. And yet, mid-pandemic, the USPS is suddenly the best thing since sliced bread. What gives, people?

And then there’s the brouhaha about Adele getting healthy and losing weight.
Before and after

How can anyone complain about a woman working out (cross-fit and pilates) and getting healthy?

An expert told Business Insider that a pandemic might be a particularly bad time to focus on weight.

Business Insider

I cannot believe that “an expert” would say this when all the signs point to obesity as a leading risk factor for COVID-19 fatalities.

“As part of the COVID-19 response team at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, Calif., Nivedita Lakhera wasn’t prepared to see her intensive care unit filled with so many young patients. Many of those patients had no medical condition other than obesity.
“They are young and coming to the ER and just dropping dead,” she says.
Age, particularly those over 65, is still a major risk factor for being hospitalized with, and dying from, COVID-19. But doctors say that some of their sickest patients are those under 60 who are obese. “

Science News, April 22, 2020

And finally, and most baffling of all. How did everybody suddenly forget about Joe Biden’s long history of creepy hair sniffing?

I get it. A lot is at stake with the presidential election but to pretend this isn’t an issue is pretty weird.

  • What particularly irked me and got me to dig into this further was an interview last week on the PBS Newshour with Mark Shields and David Brooks, about Tara Reade.
  • On the show, Mark Shields says, with a straight face, that in his 45 years of knowing Biden, he has never once heard even a hint of impropriety, absolutely nothing that would suggest Biden had some kind of creepy, hair sniffing problem.
  • I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. There have been numerous reports of this over the years. It’s been widely documented. There’s even a hard-to-watch youtube video showing years and years of this behavior.
8. Follow the science – but be prepared for science to change its mind!

Worth watching the FAREED’S TAKE video below. He’s good at unearthing discrepancies and uncomfortable truths. Link to the video here.

This 5-minute video is worth watching. Link here.
9. For those of you who say nothing will ever be the same, not so fast!

No amount of police enforcement will keep the crowds socially-distanced once the weather gets hot and steamy. The lockdown gets more and more frayed with each sunny day.

All photos from the last 2 weeks.

I highly recommend watching this video (link below) by a CNBC reporter in Hong Kong of how restaurants and other businesses are opening in that city.

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2020/05/05/what-life-after-lockdown-might-look-like.html

And for those who wonder if anybody will ever go to a crowded club or bar again. Check this out. SOUND ON!!
10. And finally, YES, I’m Still dreaming of Sweden

And no need to send me any more articles on how the death rate in Sweden is higher than in neighboring Scandinavian countries. I get it.

  • But I also believe Sweden is onto something much more sustainable than what we have in NY or in many of the European countries.
  • From what I can tell, a total lockdown only postpones inevitable deaths UNLESS a society agrees to be shut down for several years or as long as it takes to get an approved vaccine. Otherwise, what is the plan? I have yet to hear one from anyone, least of all Cuomo.

And for those of you who are curious about the latest data from Sweden:

Statistics from the National Board of Health and Welfare published on May 6th showed that 90% of the total victims are aged above 70 and around half lived in some form of special housing, while a quarter had home carers.”

The Local Sweden (May 6, 2020)
In other words:

The Swedes believe having younger, healthier people go to work and school is a less risky and more sustainable solution than shutting down society and the economy for years and years until there is a vaccine.

Which brings me to my planned Swedish escape

Here are the 3 main considerations before I start packing my bags:

  1. The status of the lockdown in America, NYC in particular. If by later this year everything is still shut down or so inconvenient and weird as to be untenable, e.g., restaurants more focused on social distancing than conviviality.
  2. How Sweden is coping, e.g., if the virus has peaked and things are reasonably “normal.” And, of course, whether they are open to tourism from America.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, what is their mandate about the over-70’s? At the moment, they are instructing over-70s to avoid public transport and shops and basically suggesting all people my age shelter-in-place. That would be zero fun. So Sweden it’s up to you whether I come over for a few months later this year!
And that’s it for this week.

Have a good weekend everyone!

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