Thursday, March 19, 2020

Staying In For a While

 The cast of stuffed animal characters keeping K and I company while we socially distance at home. We have a substantial collection! 

We live in strange times, to say the least. This time last week, public schools, restaurants, bars, and gyms in NYC were still open. I was still in Luxembourg, fully expecting to spend another week and a half working on back-to-back depositions in Paris and London. I was still thinking we might be able to take our planned vacation in early April, though admittedly, I was already feeling qualms about whether my recent Western European travel history could mean that I should stay far away from elderly extended family members. Now, NYC public schools, gyms, and bars that don't serve food are all closed, and restaurants are only allowed to remain open for takeout or delivery. It'd be unthinkable to still be in Paris or London working on those depositions. Taiwan has now closed its borders to foreign nationals, so even if K and I hadn't already decided last Friday to cancel our vacation, we could no longer take it, in any case. 

At present, I'm thinking that it's looking increasingly likely that our community would be best-served if K and I were to continue practicing social distancing at home for at least another month going forward, if not longer. Based on all the news I'm reading - particularly articles, and even social media posts, about the experiences of those who work at hospitals - I'm really feeling like it could be two months or more before the public health situation is such that we could even begin to consider resuming normal life.

It's not yet a guarantee that I'd be able to continue working from home that entire time. Officially, my workplace plans to reevaluate the work-from-home policy each week based on current conditions. But I think it's likely they'll maintain the policy so long as public schools remain closed. Fingers crossed!

K and I would still need to leave our apartment building intermittently - likely not more often than once a week, and most likely closer to once every week-and-a-half - in order to stock up on essentials at the grocery store or drugstore. Maybe we'll also take a walk once in a while, doing our best to stay six feet away from everyone else, but that's about it. (Note that actually staying six feet away from everyone else at all times is basically impossible on NYC sidewalks, even now that things are significantly more quiet in many neighborhoods. So I don't expect too many walks.) We don't currently plan to take public transit during this time, provided we're able to continue working from home. 

Essentially, K and I will do our best to live life as if NYC were under the same type of "shelter in place" order that's now in effect in the California Bay Area, where I grew up. And we're so very lucky that we'll be able to do so without too much difficulty, whether financially or logistically, for quite some time. Both sets of our parents and my sister are also in good shape to continue social distancing where they are, for the foreseeable future. I'm very grateful. 

While we're stuck indoors, I'd like to do what I can to help others who are struggling. I've made monetary donations - admittedly very modest ones - to the Food Bank for New York City and to World Central Kitchen. Many of my ideas thus far are admittedly very small things that benefit me at least as much as they benefit whomever I'm trying to help: I plan to support some of my favorite small businesses by shopping online (which benefits me too, of course, by allowing me to indulge a bit in something pretty in this time of uncertainty). I also plan to buy more books or ebooks, rather than solely relying on the public library, in order to support favorite authors. (And on the off chance that anyone has a favorite independent bookstore that's doing online orders right now, I'd love to buy from them.) I'm sort of sheepish about how I don't have more ideas about how to help right now, and  I welcome any suggestions to that end. 

How are you and your families doing? I hope everything is well, as much as they can be in these uncertain times. 

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