WFH? Give me another 4 weeks.

Week 2, Work-From-Home, which today in work parlance is WFH.

No early commutes in, or exhausting rides home. No hiding your iPhone to play Words-With-Friends during slow meetings. Had enough? Just turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’, close your eyes, lean back in your chair, and drift away for a few moments.  Or turn to your Kindle app and read a few pages from Yiyun Li’s Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. “Can one live without what one cannot have,” she asks. I pause at this, and Wonder. Can I?

And WFH here, involves Father and his 26-year Son.

Both suffer from immune deficiency disorders of differing severity levels. Both hunkered down to stay out of the path of COVID-19.

Father in his make-shift office. Anchored to his chair, desktop computer, internet phone, headset and a notepad to scribble. Many days, not more than 1300 steps all day, most to run down to the Fridge. Potato Chips. A fix (or two) of Talenti Gelato. A handful of pistachios. Then, a short run back upstairs to calls. Up 6 lbs since WFH has commenced, and unfazed. Could be worse.

Son prefers to work from his bed. Two laptops running, iPhone on his bed, playstation cued up, ear buds to take his calls. He’s sipping from a tall glass of water. No junk food here. He’s lean, fit, a full head of hair and sits in his shorts and tee-shirt, sock-less, while the morning sun beams in. When did I get so old?

I sit next to him on his bed. Nudge him over. “Come on, give me a little room.” He grunts, and moves over. I lean into him while we check messages on our iPhones.  Illya Kaminsky, that word magician, describes the moments. “…but something silent in us strengthens

And then we have lunch.

And then we sit and have dinner, and we argue over the madness in the 6pm White House Briefings.

And the next day, we repeat.

COVID-19? Give me another 4 weeks. I’m going to remember this.


Art: Kendall Kessler, Clyde and Alan

A rupture in our constructed realities

I know this pandemic is a big deal. But it is really only now sinking in how much of a bigger deal this will be for our social consciousness than 9/11. Maybe even more significant than WW2, since it is effecting everyone. Every society on earth is having to adjust and respond. And, more than any other event in my lifetime or my father’s lifetime, it is exposing the problems of our society and, perhaps, creating space in our collective capacity to imagine a better world…This pandemic is a sharper reminder of human fragility, the utter incapacity for us to solve these natural crises within our capitalist framework…But this is a rupture. A rupture in our constructed realities, exposing what lies underneath. May we discern, together, the movement of the Spirit of Life so that we might create a new, more compassionate world, with one another.“

— Mark Van Steenwyk


Notes:

  • Quote via Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: David Ramos in NY Times
  • Inspired by a passage Keith shared with me: “There are certain things that happen to you as a human being that you cannot control or command, that will come to you at really inconvenient times and where you have to bow in the human humility to the fact that there’s something running through you that’s bigger than you …” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert (The TED Interview podcast, October 19, 2018)

Home, James. Home.

 

Midtown Manhattan – 5:20 PM Today. Lock Down.


Photos: Eric Kanigan – Midtown Manhattan today at 5:20 pm on 6th Ave, 1 block from Times Square

Riding Metro North. With El ConVirus.

El ConVirus.

Platforms sparse.

Wide berth between waiting commuters.

Subways with empty seats during Peak hours.

Hands tentatively reaching for hand rails, door handles.

Hand shakes replaced with knuckle bumps and elbow touches. Followed by Smirks. The new greeting code.  Disquiet.

Travel curtailed, discontinued. Conferences cancelled.  Large meetings shifted to conference calls.

Corporates scrambling to pull together Business Continuity Plans. First one, then two, then more work from home, with sniffles, with flu, with Something.

Fear spreading like Bay Area fog.

I twist in my earbuds, fire up Audible Books on Tape, and settle in for the commute home.

75% through Colum McCann’s Apeirogon.  “Apeirogon, a polygon having an infinite number of sides...Combing the signals like moisture from the air.”

A cough. A sneeze. Duck for cover.

Combing the signals like moisture from the air.

 


Photo: Pierre Bacus via Aberrant Beauty

Running. With Howie.

Stop-your-Sweaty-Palms


8:24 am. 74F. 66% humidity. Late jump. Two capsules of Nyquil Flu & Cold down the gullet the night before. Slept like a baby. This morning, I’m woozy. After five consecutive days of 96F+ scorchers and too much in-doors time, I needed to get out.

I’m off. Head in a fog. How is it possible to have a head cold in the middle of a July heat wave?

Mind whirrs to Howie Mandel. Comic. Actor. Host of NBC’s “Deal or No Deal.” Howie’s fear of germs. His fist bumps instead of hand shakes. His book titled: “Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me.”

I’m at Mile 1. I start sizing the GERM opportunity. A quick week in review:

  • Grand Central Station: 750,000 commuters a day. 1000’s of hands touching my exit door, all spilling out into Manhattan.
  • MetroNorth: 1000’s of touches on each stainless steel handrail we grip to hold steady while the train lurches to and fro.
  • Lunch. Food particles in the cracks on table. Water spots (one hopes) on spoon. Table top has a light sheen from being wiped with dish towel, after 7 other tables. Grab water glass, warm to touch, soap smell mixed with heavy chlorinated water. Rapid table turnover = > cash flow.
  • Bathroom. Hundreds of touches on the door handle a day. (Did your Mamma teach you to wash your hands after going to potty?)
  • Taxi cab doors and window handles. Office door handles. Elevator buttons. Conference room tables. Arm rests on chairs.

Do I grab the handle high, or grab it low, as most grab the middle? Or lean on door with shoulder? Or slide jacket sleeve over hand? Or, do I surreptitiously slow my pace to let another open the door in front of me?

And from these touches, a frictionless hand-off to my pen, my blackberry, my phone and my computer keyboard. Hand to nose to face to mouth. The germ baton is passed on; a leaf in the wind, a feather in the air, all silently and deadly landing on yet another unsuspecting prey.

But the moment that sticks is a split second decision to shake a hand prior to the kick-off of a meeting. A natural reflex. A custom. A greeting. A courtesy.
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