March 27th, 2020
It is 12:45 AM. I wrote my last entry exactly two weeks ago. Back then, I couldn’t have imagined that we would have another break, that my wife would have been right about students’ access to the technology they need to complete their semester. Unfortunately, this happens to be the case. Beginning today, the classes are suspended until April 2nd. This is called the “recalibration” period. This is supposedly to make some time for the students who do not have the right technology to secure it. I believe CUNY will buy additional laptops and tablets to ensure that all the students who need them can borrow them. Now, this may sound like a whole lot of time, but with essays to provide feedback on, the time will go by really fast.
On a personal level, life has changed, not dramatically, but changed all the same. Leaving the house is not exactly a problem, but you have to constantly be aware of what you touch when you’re out there. You need to wash your hands as soon as you’re back in the house or whenever you get a chance because you don’t know what’s on the surfaces that you touched outside. This Coronavirus has taken many lives already, but it is very far from over. Its destruction curve is still on the rise, as New York City has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. The chief of the White House Coronavirus task force even suggested that people who travel from New York to other states self-quarantine for at least two weeks. This is as serious as it gets.
Around the world, Italy has been hit the worst of all! Dozens of dead people, sometimes hundreds in a single day. Watching the cortege of military trucks carrying the bodies of the dead to be cremated without their loved ones to pay their final respects is heart-wrenching! But this is the world we live in today. All we can do is outsmart this virus by hunkering down for as long as it takes to vanish, to go away. In the meantime, we pray for Italy, for ourselves, and the rest of the world. The invisible enemy has taken over! How much longer will it endure?
Coronavirus is more powerful than the most powerful of this world. It has affected people in the highest echelon of society in more than one country: Canada’s First Lady, top professional athletes, senators, and congresspeople. Nobody is spared! But in the midst of all this, life must continue. Many everyday activities or routines like exercising have mostly transitioned to the virtual world. Karate classes offered by instructors using their cell phone cameras or other live cast platforms, distance education for all students from pre-K to college. Even my wife has been working from home.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It feels good to see my wife still at home when I wake up in the morning. She works on the desktop computer in the living room while I sit in a little corner of our bedroom to teach my classes, two of which happen on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Obviously, I have my Hostos CLIP class, which normally meets five days a week from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM. But because of the current situation, I teach synchronously for two hours Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and reserve the remaining two weekdays for independent, self-regulated assignments. Life under the Coronavirus regime is different, to say the least. Walk into the supermarket to buy groceries. At the checkout line, all the cashiers have their masks on. These are unusual times. We all need to be careful. No more handshakes, no interactions at close proximity. It has even become problematic to visit family and friends. We’re all struggling to keep afloat and alive when this is all over.
April 25th, 2020
Mr. Coronavirus is still reigning like sovereign! My wife dragged me out of bed at 6:00 this morning. I was snuggling under my cover when I heard, “Honey, time to get up!” For what? I said. It’s too early! She said we’re going to the meat market. I labored out of bed, brushed my teeth, pulled on some jean, my sneaker, a hoodie, and we were gone. Off to Casablanca Meat Market on 110th Street in Harlem.
Casablanca is typically jam packed on a normal day, but since the beginning of this crisis, and because of the social distancing rules, most customer line up extra early so they can be the first in and out. We pulled up in front of the store at 6:45 a.m. strangely, the was nobody in line. The line typically form on the sidewalk and customers would be allowed in a small group at a time. We sat in the car, waiting. But soon I decided to step out to see the signs on the door. They said nothing about a potential closing. Normally, they would open at 8:00 a.m. By 7:30, there were two or three other customers ambling around, no doubt waiting for the place to open. About 15 minutes later, we saw a woman gesturing at us. We lowered the can window to hear her inform us that the store would remain closed for the next month.
Back at home, I sat down at my computer to try to figure out whether something had happened, maybe a death in the owner’s family or something. This little search led me to discover Casablanca’s Facebook page. It turns out they had been closed for a while. A message dated March 20th already mentioned social distancing and advising customers to stay safe and healthy. Then there was the “online orders only” message, and then “We will remain closed for the foreseeable future.” The stated reasons: “to keep our employees and customers safe.”
We are in this together, this was the essence of the message I posted on their Facebook page after taking the time to thank them for their service to the community and wishing them well.