This beautiful anthology came out in March of 2018 and won The Eisner Award for best anthology in 2019. Please order your copy today. All proceeds still go to Disaster Relief in Puerto Rico.
This is the new normal. I feel like I’m watching the world from inside a box and everything outside of it is on fire. I don’t want to think about the doom and gloom of it all but for the second time in my life, I’m witnessing a paradigm shift as its happening. I remember what life was like before 9/11 and it was a different world. Once this whole thing is over, we will say that we remember the pre-COVID-19 world.
Honestly, this is almost equivalent to Thanos snapping his fingers. We cannot get back to the time before and fix this. We will look back and hopefully see what it was that got us here. Sure, we can go into the political nature of our government being ill-equipped but this seems like something more. Our world is in crisis and has been for some time. As humans, we have abused resources and taken advantage of the environment.
I’m not an environmentalist in any way so I won’t get into Climate Change even though I believe in the science. I also won’t get into the biblical implications of what might be happening right now but I will say that God probably did not intend for the Garden of Eden to abused by Adam. What I do believe is that we are a part of a larger universe filled with heavenly bodies called planets. Those bodies, like everything else, live and die. Even stars, much like our Sun, are born and will eventually die.
Our Earth is a heavenly body that is alive and we have abused her quite like a virus. Like most organisms that get sick, their bodies create defenses that cure the virus. Look, I know that I have quite the active imagination but it is not far fetched for me to believe that humans are a virus to this planet and she will defend herself accordingly.
This is not me saying that we deserve this. I am sure that there are enough God-fearing folks around reciting Revelations 6:7-8 or Ezekiel 38:22. What I do believe is that humans do not care enough about each other to realize that we can all be taken out by the same things. It doesn’t matter how rich you are or how much political clout you have. However, what matters are the actions of those who can make a difference and we are seeing systems fail due to political loyalty. What good is that loyalty up against the coronavirus?
I’m also not a medical expert and I cannot say that I know the origins of all viruses. I know that they attack the human body and if we are lucky enough, over time, we gain some immunity to it. This whole ordeal is terrible and is only getting worse but I would love to think that in a post-COVID-19 world that we are kinder and more cognizant of how we treat each other and the environment. I know better but that is my hope.
I will be honest and say that I wasn’t really sure if I was ever going to post another blog on this platform. It has been such a long time and a part of me felt that the history of this blog and everything that I wrote about just came to its natural conclusion in 2018. But now we are here in the midst of a Global Pandemic and the only thing I can do is write.
This isn’t a Random Thoughts Thursday post that I do on Facebook. I just need to get my thoughts together because I am scared. I don’t want to get sick and I don’t want anyone I know to get sick. While I am extremely lucky not to be living in New York City anymore, living in New Jersey only postpones the type of things we are seeing on television. Don’t get me wrong, I am staying at home and I am doing the social distancing thing but what I cannot stop doing is feeding my anxiety.
There was a period of about 8 or 9 days in which I never left the apartment at all. I worked from home, I did some podcasts, binged shows, played with my cats, did Zoom calls, and spent a lot of a great time with my fiancée. All this time, still washing my hands and watching the numbers on the news go up and up. Every morning I get up and thank God that I do not have any symptoms.
When I have gone outside, I have been super careful. We did a run last Thursday because I have to be honest, she is baking all the time and I need to run all this chocolate off. We made sure to pick a route where no one else used. We live in Harrison, New Jersey, which is a small township right outside of Newark so it seemed easy to avoid people. Of course, there weren’t that many people outside so it was fine. The following day was so beautiful that we decided to walk to the liquor store (it’s an essential business). I bought a case fo Stella and that was my working out on Friday. The next day we ordered take out from a local place because we have to help the community during this rough time. It rained all day so there was really no one around. It was easy to grab the food and go. Today, I had to throw out the garbage and recycling and my angst kicked in so much. A fourth straight day out of the apartment and while I can say it was no more than 15 minutes. I thought to myself, I really trust no one. I passed by a guy in the hall and I thought about him being asymptomatic and now I got the Rona.
Let me just back up for a second. I am 45 years old that suffers from migraines if I do not hydrate enough. We have a Peloton bike to keep us fit. I am more of a runner so while the bike is great, I would rather be running. Here is the thing, I have been so busy at work even before the stay at home order that I wasn’t exercising as much as I should be. So now, I try my best to do that on the bike. Why am I telling you this? Because I am sore all the time now which is funny because my mind automatically thinks that perhaps I am fatigued so I must have the Rona.
Furthermore, when we come in from the outside we go into full decontamination mode. Hands are washed. Phones, keys, and credit cards that were used are all wiped down with Clorox wipes. Clothes are thrown into the hamper for laundry that was done today. Always. Washing. Hands.
So why am I so fucking shook? I am not one of these heroes in the hospitals that are seeing this up close. I am not a doctor, nurse, or paramedic who charges into this pandemic because they have to. I am just a guy who does not want to get sick then passes it on to the love of life who has asthma because some jerk is out here not taking any of this shit seriously.
This is our reality and just hope that once again tomorrow morning I will wake up thanking God because I may not have the Rona i.e. COVID-19 (the coronavirus).
This story starts in May of 2017. My girlfriend was set to go to Denver for a conference and I knew that I had a limited window in order to buy a ring. This was during a time where graduation has just happened at Barnard College and I was contemplating my life. I had goals that I wanted to achieve both inside and outside my job and, to be honest, I’m not getting any younger. So the question in my head was, “what am I really doing?”
I ended up texting her sister with one sentence, “You and I need to go shopping”
Her response, “Woohoo that means you’re buying a ring” (she acts like she knows me)
I guess her sister knew, just like I did, that perhaps it was time. I never thought that perhaps I waited too long or that it would never happen, for me it was about universal timing. Without sounding too existential, I was waiting for that moment when the universe would tell me that it was time to do this. At this time, I was going through several personal and familial issues that made it difficult for me to focus on my life. Alas, the time had come and I knew what I needed to do.
The funny thing about the Diamond District in midtown Manhattan is that the hours are not what you would normally expect. I just wanted to look for rings after work hours as if I was shopping normally. Turns out, most shops close at 5pm on week days. Sure, I could have gone a on weekend but she wasn’t gone that long and since we’re living together, I didn’t want to make it obvious that I was up to something. Needless to say, the first time I went to look for a ring, all the stores had just closed and I needed to find another time.
I would have to wait 6 months later before I had another chance (thank God for another conference). This time, I was prepared. There were two important things that I knew and I would tell anyone that needs to know: the type of ring and the ring size. Now, full disclosure, over the years she has sent me types of rings that she wanted. I had bookmarked these pages thinking that I may need these in the future. I had to school myself in diamond cuts and grades. When November came around, I had a different plan. Instead of buying a ring that looked like what she wanted, I went to the source. I went to the a ring distributor of one of the rings she picked (right off of 5th Ave). All I had to do was design the diamond. Yeah, it was expensive but I saved up for it so I wasn’t about to cut corners.
Long story short, I told the guy I would pick up the ring on the first week of December because I didn’t need it hanging around in my apt. I know her well enough to know that she would find it through my negligence. I didn’t even want the receipt. I specifically asked that it be emailed to me. In fact, all our correspondence had to be over email. At this point, once I ordered and paid for the ring, I started telling everyone. Of course, I had to do that thing where I had to ask her parents and they both looked at me like… aren’t you part of the family already? I told my parents, family, and friends. Almost everyone knew, except her.
I picked up the ring on the first Monday of December. It was a typical day in NYC and I knew that I had to be casual about all this. I didn’t let on to her that this was going to be a slightly different day because I never ever go to Midtown…especially on the East Side. Yet, here I was for the second time in two months looking at a purely gorgeous ring. But there was a problem. The Box was too big to hide. Actually, the box for box was enormous. I can’t put this in my pants and I can barely hide in my jacket. Plus, I have to ride on a train back up to Barnard with this thing? I had to think of something fast. So, I went to Midtown Comics (lol) where I bought a graphic novel (Bitch Planet – Book Two, which is a must read) and I put the ring in the bag.
After that, I hid the ring in my office for three weeks. Everyday I slowly counted down in my head what I was going to do. The thing is that I knew I was going to Florida to visit my dad. Back in August, with the help of my step mother, I booked a room at their timeshare at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort for the last week in December. The plan was that we would fly in on 12/27 and I had until that Saturday to pop the question. I didn’t want to settle on a day because anything can happen, right?
So we get to the resort and my dad and stepmom meet us there. They show us around and we have a drink. It was beautiful day in Orlando but we were tired from an early flight and we wanted to nap. Before they leave, my step mom is like, “there is champagne in the fridge…” Thankfully, Zulay thought it was all about celebrating the new year. They leave and we knock out on the bed…
…I wake up and she’s next to me with her iPad playing some show. I get up to use the bathroom and something told me to check my bag that had the ring in it. That is when I noticed that she went through it looking for a charger… gulp
The ring is still there but that doesn’t mean she didn’t see it because, as you know, the box for the box that holds the ring is fucking huge. So, I had to ask the question while playing it off, “Hon, did you go through my bag?”
Her response was what I hoped for, a nonchalant reply about how she left her iPad charger at home and found mine. What she didn’t ask was, why was I asking. She sometimes does that so I guess my question seemed innocent enough. It was at that point I decided I had to do it that night. Who knows how long before some other incident happens?
We get ready to go eat and I remember looking at this huge box for the box. Even if I just use the ring holder box it was still be obvious since I am wearing shorts. I mean, do I really want something sticking our from my shorts? So I took the ring out and put in my pocket where I felt it burning a hole in pocket all through dinner. At one point I almost just gave it to her at dinner. But, I played it cool. She is not one that likes all the attention.
The resort consists of several building and a living areas (including the main hotel) surrounding a lake that had ducks and swans. There were signs about gators which was not cool, but sure. The sun was setting and we decided after dinner to walk the parameter of the lake to see if we can get a better view of the sunset. That proved fruitless, but we did end up sitting on a porch swing underneath a gazebo that overlooked the lake.
We had conversation and all the while I am waiting for the right moment. Underneath this gazebo was another porch swing which was occupied. Once they left I was getting ready. Then some kids and their mom roll up. Fuck, they want to take pictures too? It was getting dark and I was losing light. They finally left and I was like… it is now or never.
She wanted to go to some other swings and was about to get up when I was like, “How long have we been together?”
She paused as if she was thinking how strange that question was but she answered the question and got up to go the swings. Then in my infinite wisdom I say to her… “Hold up, I need to tie my shoe.”
Her back is to me so she had no idea I am on my knee. I take out the ring and I kinda wait.
She still has has her back to me.
“Hey!” I say, but not alarmingly loud.
She turns around and sees me. Her eyes widen and she sees me with ring. “What is happening?” She remarks.
“Will you marry me?” I ask.
“Yes. I will”
I put the ring on her hand and we embrace.