For those outside of New York, ‘Pause’ is what the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo insists calling our lockdown.
As we push through into our 8th week, and as an expat living alone in New York I thought I would document my week, my feelings and observations. I know there are a lot of posts written about working from home whilst juggling children. I hope this post reaches out to those who are own their own, perhaps far away from their family and find my scenario a little bit more relatable.
Please note, I do have a 6-month-old puppy, Fred, who has helped tremendously through this time and I talk about him A LOT.
*Fred is not a Covid19 adoption
A bit about me; I live in the Financial District of Manhattan. Not where I expected to reside during my first year of living in the Big Apple, but after finally getting my visa, I wanted to settle quickly and move in ASAP. Fidi’s choice of apartments accommodated this. Notable tourist attractions include Wall street, NYC Stock Exchange, 9/11 Memorial + Museum, the Charging Bull, Fearless Girl Statue (see picture of Fred with Fearless Girl) and Battery Park. Pre Covid19, during the weekends, as you can imagine, it is quiet. With a lot of residents fleeing the city 8 weeks ago… it is eerily quiet. With limited interactions and conversations, except from the usual suspects such as my doorman Richard, other dog parents and the security guard at the local parking lot, life is repetitive.
(Picture taken by David Plakke, a photographer we met on one of our walks. If you want a picture, he will send you one for free and as a memento. Doing his bit to pay it forward. Please check out his link: http://www.tribesnyc.com
Ok, week 8. Here we go….
I try and muster up some motivation, but today I know is going to be a hard for me.
I take Fred for his morning walk and walk past the parking lot where my new friend, the security guard is standing. We exchange hellos and smiles. Well, I think he smiles, I can only see half of his face (with mask) so it’s tricky to know. Wait, is it the person I think it is? Not sure. I walk awkwardly on by.
I do my daily workout video. The choice of online workout video’s is frankly overwhelming for me. I had to stick to one which was a low impact, high intensity. I went through a few weeks of having constant FOMO (‘Fear Of Missing Out’ for those who don’t know) from all the blogs people have been writing and notifications from Instagram. A reason why I don’t personally have an IG account, but Fred does (for the family mainly….and secretly hoping he would become a dog influencer so I could get some free products). This hasn’t happened yet.
My nieces, Amelia (8) and Anabelle (10), who are ‘Sheltering in Place’ in San Francisco, facetime me at 3pm EST. This has become our daily routine. They call me and tell me what they have made for lunch. This is their 30min break from their packed day which includes 3 zoom lessons amongst homework and other activities. Despite growing up with facetime they haven’t quite grasped how to hold the phone still and I’m starting to feel sick. I tell them I will speak to them same time tomorrow.
I get a message from an IG group of other dog mums saying we are jumping the fence and taking our puppies for a little run around after work in Battery Park. An ‘underground dog park’. Hell yes, I’m in.
It’s the simple things these days that give you that ‘ummph’ to get you through.
Feeling much better today. My brother facetimes me. Neither of us have much to say. California is starting to move into ‘Phase two’. I ask him what that means for him. Not much. Maybe some childcare for my 4-year-old nephew, Jack. He calls me most days to see how I am doing.
I facetime my mum and dad. My mum tells me she has posted me some handmade masks that I tasked her with last week. She talks through the material, elastic she has used and washing instructions. In true British style, we talk about the weather in NYC and London and how we are both finding it hard to get an online grocery delivery spot. We discuss when we think this is going to end so we can see each other again, both unsure and we will have to ‘wait and see’.
Along with work I sign up for a free course online developed by Yale called ‘The Science of Well-Being’ that my friend Lisa recommended to me. I watch a few of the introductory video’s and move on to a Facebook Live Q&A by Dr Laurie Santos, who runs the course. She discusses a few topics on how to boost our wellbeing during this time and answers some interesting questions but the few that resonates with me most are ‘Remaining positive when living alone’ and ‘Staying productive at work’ (whilst facing the elephant in the room of being laid off….let’s not kid ourselves, this has crossed all of our minds).
Main takeaway: Allow yourself some self-compassion and if you focus on your mental health and reduce your anxiety it will allow you to be more productive at work.
Link below if anyone else is interested.
Wednesday is our ‘company quiz day’. I join the UK office quiz considering there are only a few of us in NY and time zones work well. It’s fun and nice to see my colleagues faces, although it’s wine o’clock for them and noon here. I stick to coffee. I don’t want to go down that slippery slope of drinking midday, mid week. No judgement though.
I collect another Amazon package from the Valet (this what gets me through some days. I don’t order expensive things but items like floor wipes that have vanished from the supermarket shelves are the type of deliveries that I get excited about). I also drop off my laundry. I don’t have a washing machine in my unit (luxury for NYC) so I either do it myself in the laundry room or drop it off. With most tenants escaping NYC, I want to help local businesses in any way I can, so I hand it over to Peter.
7pm - I open the windows and I’m greeted by kitchen pans being banged, claps and whoops bouncing off the skyscrapers to show gratitude to our front line workers. This has happened every evening for the past 8 weeks. This time of day hits me emotionally and I thank god that my family dotted around the world are healthy and safe.
I lived in Hong Kong for 6 years prior to New York so I catch up with a few friends based there and hear how they are doing during these times. They are through the worst of it as they were prepared having gone through SARS in 2002. They tell me they have their temperature taken before you go into a restaurant and in some shops. This is their new normal.
I watch the news and listen to how some states are opening. I have mixed emotions of being excited, happy with a pinch of jealously. When will NY City be back and bustling again?
With my working week being reduced to 4 days I take this day to clean, bake and shop for groceries.
We made it through Week 8. We will make it through week 9, 10, 11, and how many other weeks that we need to. In the meantime, Facetime your family, friends, colleagues as much as possible.
Science suggests that the act of intentionally connecting in real time, is almost as good as a regular social connection (I learnt that on my new course 😉).
Watch this space.
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