Scaring off the Monday Blues

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Spring in full bloom in Central Park. Photo: JH.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Yesterday was a blue Monday here in New York with the same remarkably quiet city. It started out as moist if not rainy, grey overhead, temps in the high 40s, low 50s. There was a song I remember hearing on the radio when I was a kid: “April Showers brings the flowers that bloom in May.” It actually used to be that like, so I’ve decided to hold that thought.

Everything is on Hold here. I haven’t seen anyone (friend) face to face for the past three weeks and I can see it might take weeks before we’ll return to half-way normal if we’re lucky.  Man’s inhumanity to Man.

I don’t mind the alone part of this exercise, as I always spend most of my time by myself (working). I have the four little ones who require attention outside myself. I’m lucky in that I like this part of town where I live. I have a terrace which I often go out on to watch the activity that passes by. And I live right next to the Park next to the mayor’s mansion, and down the block from the East River.

I take the dogs out a couple times a day. There are always a few people out, mostly with their dogs, as well as those pushing their strollers and carriages. So it’s a quiet, really peaceful neighborhood, not the harsh-citified New York of the clamoring crowds. But it is still very odd right now.

Looking south along Madison Avenue from 94th Street. 4:15 PM.

I do go out to buy my food. I have a car, a little Mini convertible which I love to drive. I had to get gas. The station at 96th Street and First Avenue has places for 14 cars and there is usually a waiting line. This time there were only three cars at the pumps. Price was $2.09 a gallon. Last time I filled her up about four or five weeks ago, ir was $4.80! I drove across town to Zabar’s. What would ordinarily be a twenty to thirty minute drive with tons of traffic was ten minutes door to door. The town’s empty. No cars on the road (and I mean NO cars!).

Zabar’s had a number of customers, but where there might be scores moving about on a Saturday, this Saturday there were probably 25 or 30. The check-outs now have a thick piece of Plexi covering the checker and the bags. Like the tellers in a bank. Staff were all wearing masks and plastic gloves. In the past week more and more people are wearing masks everywhere.

A friend of mine told me she thought she might have “it” though she has no symptoms. I understand the notion for the emotion. And so does everybody else. Myself, I don’t go quite as far.  But my imagination is more vivid of the days passing, and the general atmosphere that surrounds all of us. It is mildly oddly hostile; people not looking at each other, catching someone’s glance, anything … nada. It’s like we’re all blank (except for those with the cellphones).

Looking south along Fifth Avenue from 91st Street.

Earlier this month on March 5th, just before all the quarantining began, much community activity had begun to postpone and even cancel. The UN Women For Peace Association, however vigilant, held a Panel Discussion: What More Can We Do To End Sex Trafficking? at the Permanent Mission of Monaco at 866 United Nations Plaza. The Association gathered key experts in the global effort to end sex trafficking. This is a crisis that’s not going away, a crisis  in which 94% of all victims are women and girls.

The Discussion was moderated by Belinda Goldsmith, Award winning journalist and Editor-in-Chief, Thomson Reuters Foundation. Panelists were: Ambassador Jeroen Cooreman, Deputy Permanent Representative of Belgium at the UN; Ms. Mira Sorvino, Goodwill Ambassador to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime; Ms. Eirliani Abdul Rahman, Global COO of the Reed Dot Foundation Global, Child Sexual Abuse Survivor and Child Rights Activist; Ms. Alethia Jimenez, Policy Specialist for the End Sex Trafficking Division at UN Women.

Mira Sorvino, Ambassador Jeroen Cooreman, Eirliani Abdul Rahman, Alethia Jimenez, and Belinda Goldsmith.
Valbona Neritani, Eirliani Abdul Rahman, Belinda Goldsmith, Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, Her Excellency Isabelle F. Picco, Mira Sorvino, Ambassador Jeroen Cooreman, Barbara Winston, and Alethia Jimenez.

Our friend Paige Peterson is out in Belvedere, California staying with her mother who is 94 and could use her daughter’s company during this national alert. We were talking about animals and how smart they are, or rather how much smarter than we are, and Paige brought up her mother’s recently deceased pet cat, Crackers. Paige later sent me this video with a story about Crackers:

“My mother Connie loved Crackers, her orange tabby cat, for 16 years. He was a character, my mother’s mostly companion, and also friend to Black Bart, her neighbor’s cat. A few years back I had bought her a stuffed animal that was a dead ringer for Crackers from William-Wayne & Co. on Lexington and 65th Street. She used it as a door stopper. Crackers never gave his stuffed twin a glance. Last fall, however, Connie had to put Crackers down which made her very sad. Yesterday, I happened to move the stuffed animal to the living room window. As Connie and I were having our morning coffee, we were stunned to see that Black Bart had leapt several feet up onto a two-inch board to see if it was his pal Crackers. Heartbreaking.”

My friend Jane Stanton Hitchcock, whose latest best-selling thriller “Bluff” has been optioned for films, loves her dog. Jane and I share similar thoughts about the creatures of the animal world that we are only a part of. She sent me this video which astounds, delights, and touches your heart …

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