Call No. 1219

Monday, April 13, 2020 at 3:56:24 PM EDT

Good afternoon. I am calling from the village of Harlem in New York city, and to my surprise, it’s 2:34 PM and I’m just waking up. I don’t need this calendar that’s in front of me on my wall that reads March 20th, 2020. I’m in the process of losing weight, and every day I write down what my current weight is. I haven’t done that since… Last date I marked was, looks like March 21st. Because the quarantine has me eating around the clock. And as you can see, I wake up whenever my eyelids choose open. I have no job to go to.

My son is here. He’s 20, so he can cook for himself. He is enrolled in college. So he has a schedule where he goes to virtual classes, but I don’t.

I’m a tour guide. So tourism is shut. It went from being the number one tourist location in the world to being completely obsolete. I love research and history, so I have plenty of time to gather and notate information for tours in the future. But only God knows when those tours will come to fruition.

I’m sitting in my bedroom right now. Every now and then you may hear my wind chime that I gave to my mother a couple of years ago before she passed away, and it always calms me to hear a wind chime, so I put it on my fire escape, because that’s my new front yard, my backyard. That’s my imaginary deck, my imaginary terrace.

And I’m originally from Chattanooga and there on top of everything else are tornadoes. So when I count my blessings, I do include electricity, because I have family and friends that are all quarantined with several children out of school with no power. With no iPad, with no music, with no food, I mean, no stove to cook.

When it rains, it pours. Literally, it is raining in New York City. I can hear the water on the tires. New York has become very, very quiet these days. The only sounds I seem to hear are ambulance sirens. I hear a lot of birds chirping, surprisingly. And I think the birds are even confused, because they’re chirping at 6:00 pm like it’s 6:00 am. I noticed that yesterday as I watched the wonderful movie about the Clark Sisters for the third time. Gospel music has really gotten me through this.

I’m slightly handicapped because I have become obsessive about food preparation. So I’ve been chopping celery and onions and I sliced my thumb. Now all of the wiping and cleaning and sanitizing I’m doing is with one hand. I’m right handed, so at least it’s my left hand, my left thumb that’s injured. But my son helped to wash the dishes, but out of nervous energy and anxiety I just have a little bottle of 10% Clorox and I go around the house every three or four hours wiping down and spraying.

I haven’t left this apartment, it’s two bedroom apartment, in over a month. Thank goodness my husband goes to the grocery store and will make one family trip a week. And he’ll do the laundry and he’s taken on the domestic, I guess, engineering department. And he’s considered essential, so he goes out every day. But it is a 45 minute ritual, as soon as he comes into the door, we’re in the shower. And he calls maybe five minutes before he’s home, we turn the shower on, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, fill it up, make a makeshift steam room, and he goes straight in, clothed. But he changes clothes at work. So he has his work clothes. He puts on his home clothes, he goes into the shower, sits for at least 28 minutes, and then he comes out, puts his clothes in a plastic bag. And that goes to the laundry the next day, not the next day, the next that he goes to wash, which is usually Saturday. So that’s our normal activity.

I just saw Cuomo who has become my savior. I got a little crush on him. He just did a wonderful interview with all of the governors. From Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, Jersey, Connecticut, and it’s just like this, we got this energy, every time he’s on CNN. And I’m reading the newspaper because I want to know how many new cases. That’s what I’m personally interested in. I know the death toll is grim. 700, 740, 750, 780, 790 people die every day. Unfathomable. I was here on 9/11. This is as if 9/11 is happening every day. For six weeks straight. And I see now we have new cases. I saw a story about a maternity ward, where almost all of the women have coronavirus and it’s not a happy time. It’s usually filled with balloons and joy. No.

My childhood best friend’s sister died. She lost her battle with cancer two days ago. So planning a funeral in the middle of this coronavirus, where you could only have ten people present, and some of them are employees of the funeral home. Thank goodness her son is… He just graduated. What is it when you go to school to be a funeral director? He just graduated. So of course her service is going to be beautiful, but who’s going to see it?

Oh, sounds like someone is outside having an episode. I’m on the fifth floor, so I can’t even see out the window what that is. Sorry.

Planning a funeral in the middle of coronavirus is awful cause you never ever planned to bury your baby sister. She’s the oldest sister, my friend. So, I did see that in Tennessee, they may even have drive-by funerals, which means the body would be maybe out and the cars can drive around, roll down the window, and view the body, and drive off. This is reality.

How do I feel most of the time? Sad. Not myself. Very short tempered. I got to the point where I just don’t even answer the phone anymore. Cause I would learn about ten deaths a day. I would learn about.. I know I got ten minutes. Oh, it’s time to go. Yeah. Not good, very grim, but I’m fighting to stay alive. I’m fighting to stay healthy with all my heart and I will prevail and so will the rest of us. 2020 came in with a bang.


Call No. 1263

Monday, April 13, 2020 at 3:56:07 PM EDT

Last Wednesday my family and I had a zoom Seder. From  St Louis, from Atlanta, and from New York City.

And one of the more poignant things that happened was that my sons, one is in his late twenties the other in his early thirty’s, introduced their partners to each other who they had never met, because a trip had been planned in March for the 2 couples to meet and it never quite happened.

So during the Seder my son Ben introduced Sarah, and my son Daniel introduced Sam. It was a lovely, very bittersweet moment.


Call No. 1108

Sunday, April 12, 2020 at 11:35:35 PM EDT

Okay. So, I’m in a room in small room. Given like the situation in New York City, I left and I came up to Beacon, New York, to my cousin’s place. And we’ve hunkered down here and made it quite the creative experience, I guess, when you have that privilege.

And at first I was sort of very anxious about it all. And by now have settled. And I know that I don’t have to like create something magnificent during the quarantine. I should just stay healthy and alive. But. Creating something would be ideal. So I’ve been working on my next book and so far it’s coming out shit. But the idea is good.

The process for it to be good includes writing out the shitty. Then the good will come through. I hope.

But we’re healthy. We’re alive. And honestly for the writer’s life that I’ve lived so far, quarantine seems pretty much the way I used to live my life, except now I have permission to dive really deep into the things I love creating. So, can’t really complain. It could be much worse.



Message No. 335

Friday, April 10, 2020 at 2:53:40 PM EDT

There is a constant howling of emergency vehicles outside my home. Just like the virus, I can’t see them. It is an invisible battle for the life of fellow New Yorkers that is going on out there. And I can only hope that I won’t get caught up in the middle of it.