Giving In. Giving Hell. Giving Up. Giving Back.
There is an Elizabeth Kubler Ross element to the situation we find ourselves in these days.
There was the beginning where we just gave in and went in. I don’t think any of us knew what we were in for. And in many ways, we still don’t.
In the beginning, there was a novelty to it. And some time inside with nothing to do has its merits. You binge the shows you’ve been queuing. You can master every cupcake in The Magnolia cookbook and work your way through Alison Roman’s latest recipes. You can finish that book that’s been on your nightstand for months.
Working out at home as a certain advantage to it.
I’m not saying it’s all fun and games not getting to leave the house. But it takes a sort of pressure off of one. No more competing. We are all doing the same thing – nothing.
And I guess for those who escaped to their second homes there is a summer came early vibe if your summers are spent in Greenland where the daily temperature is the high thirties or low forties.
Then ten days in it gets old. The toilet paper jokes get old. The news cycle gets old. The food shortages are old. The not getting to live your life gets really old, so you give the world hell.
You’re pissed. You moan and groan. And depending on your political affiliation, you scream at the TV. You get mad at Fresh Direct. CVS. Some days anyone who comes into your line of vision, which in quarantine are the same people day in day out, which is part of the problem.
But fuming around the house also gets old. And when you watch the people who have to line up for hours to hopefully get to the front of the line before the Food Bank runs out of food, your heartbreaks. When you watch the endlessly brave people on the front lines, who are yelling Code Blue all day while you are yelling, “what do you mean they ran out of vegan mint chip” – you feel like shit.
When you hear the stories of the people who die alone and their relatives who can’t be there to say good-bye or even bury them properly, the fact it feels like you’ve seen everything on Netflix three times doesn’t matter anymore.
And as you watch, the numbers of the dead multiply even though they are supposedly plateauing. When you hear about the tens upon tens upon tens of millions who lost their jobs, you just give up your anger at your piddly little problems and invoke gratitude. You give up on giving hell, you give up on your own issues, and you try and give up worrying as there is so little control you have over any of this.
And then hopefully – you give back.
At least that is the place I try and reach. Not always with success.
I’m funnier when angry and frustrated. One of the reasons I sometimes cling to my anger and frustration longer than I need to. But I am a better person when I give up the fight, and I give back.
There is so much this country needs right now. There is a lot we can do with this extra time and any extra change or dollars we can spare.
I have been trying each day to give something back to someone. And I instantly feel better.
Andrew Cuomo, in his daily briefing, recounted this story today.
A couple in Kansas had five masks leftover from the man’s days as a farmer. Although the wife has diabetes and one lung. The couple sent one of the life-saving masks to Cuomo.
“If you could please give it to one of the doctors or nurses in your city.”
It does make you stop and realize what is important. And we are at our best when we dig deep and behave as unselfishly as humanly possible.
I’m not saying it’s not hard. I’m not saying we don’t have reasons to complain. And sometimes complaining is required to blow off steam.
But when I get upset at Instacart for not having Oat Milk. Or when I get fearful about our future or my kid’s health. I just go and do something for someone else. It is the best therapy.
There are so many ways we can do it.
My friend Sheldon’s wife Annette bakes cookies for the staff at St. John’s hospital in LA. He sent me a photo of all these smiling frontline workers with their cookies. It’s so easy to make a difference.
I know others who are helping to make meals and deliver them to the EMS workers and anyone taking care of the frontlines.
I wasn’t able to get any more PPE. But I am sending off the ones I have this week. Some are going to the State, and I have offered some to New York Cares as they are doing a lot of food bank work.
And then the food banks – god do they need help.
If you can walk in and open your fridge and make dinner for your family, then you have to give up and give back.
It can be small. It can be five dollars if that is all you have. It can be one mask if that is all you have. I tally up how much I’m saving my staying home, and just giving it away.
You can log onto GOFUNDME and find a million ways to help.
Our Post Office, yes, that one through rain, or snow or sleet they deliver your mail. Well, they have gotten through every adverse condition imaginable, with the exception of Donald Trump who refuses to help them out and fund them.
I am going to try and not be political here, though one does not need to be Mensa to figure out why.
But we can help them, all you need to do is go online and buy one sheet of stamps. USPS.com – one sheet of stamps. We all need stamps. We really need our Postal Service. For our letters, for mail-in voting and so 600,000 postal workers don’t lose their jobs.
Don’t forget these people are on the front lines. And many are getting sick. At this writing, 259 have come down with COVID 19.
And then there is the restaurant business. The job loss numbers are so staggering, and here in New York, we hear 75% may not ever be able to open again.
GOFUNDME will likely have your favorite restaurant or some in your town and a way to help the workers. These people are often left without a final paycheck, have no savings, and no way of filing for unemployment.
Latinos make up a huge percentage of the food services industry. And they are getting sicker at a higher rate than most groups.
Every story is universal, and every story is personal. There is/was a wonderful small restaurant here in New York called Prune. It’s fairly well known. The owner wrote a best-selling book, did an Emmy winning TV show, and won a James Beard award.
But restaurants are a hard way to make money these days. Especially if they are small and personal. And like most families not having more than four hundred in the bank for an emergency, most restaurants survive week to week.
Gabriella Hamilton has written a heartbreakingly beautiful story of her iconic restaurant Prune in this week’s New York Times Magazine. It’s online now.
At the end of all this, perhaps we will be better people. That is the life raft I hold onto in my darker hours. Because we have not been our best selves for a long time.
So, I will leave it there for now and leave you with a paragraph from Hamilton’s breathtaking piece.
For the past 10 years, I’ve been staring wide-eyed and with alarm as the sweet, gentle citizen restaurant transformed into a kind of unruly colossal beast. The food world got stranger and weirder to me right while I was deep in it. The “waiter” became the “server,” the “restaurant business” became the “hospitality industry,” what used to be the “customer” became the “guest,” what was once your “personality” became your “brand,” the small acts of kindness and the way you always used to have of sharing your talents and looking out for others became things to “monetize.”