Since I wrote my last “Coronavirus Journal,” humanity has re-emerged from its self-imposed isolation, though sadly not enough to prevent new outbreaks of COVID-19.
Some states, like New York, reopened slowly but surely while others, like Florida, burst out of their collective shells without regard for the consequences. Like everything else, our response to the pandemic has become a political issue, with progressives advising caution and Trump and his devotees rejecting face masks as signs of weakness.
As for me, I always make sure to have a face mask with me and wear it whenever I go into a public place. This is a small sacrifice to make so I may enjoy the things that I took for granted in the old days; like shopping, eating out or going to the gym.
The media have been busy posting stories of people doing things that they would not have done before the world went into lockdown; things like learning to play the trombone or building play areas for their children. Though I never took up anything so technical, I began to do things that I had to do, if only because there was no one around to do them for me.
Once I started doing them, I found out that I was good at it. One such task was house cleaning. Before the pandemic, I would hire someone to come in and clean my condo while I was out doing other things. When this became impractical, I began to do my own cleaning and found out that it wasn’t as onerous as I thought it would be. Working for myself, I realized that I didn’t have to clean the whole unit in one day, as people who clean other people’s homes for a living must do. I can spread my cleaning over one or two weeks, doing the kitchen the first day, cleaning the bathroom the second day, vacuuming the rug the third day and so on.
I have since devised a plan to clean my whole condo in a fortnight, doing the same task every other week (except the kitchen, which needs to be cleaned weekly). Cleaning my own home, something that most women and some men have done for years, turned out to be a very satisfying task. And it saved me money.
Another necessary task that I learned during the pandemic was cooking. Though I have fixed food before, it was limited to simple items like boiling water, making a sandwich or a salad. For years I depended on the cooking skills of my partner, the late Michael Greenspan, who was an excellent cook (and we had the extra pounds to prove it).
After Michael got sick and died, I ate out more often, but I couldn’t do so forever (and it was expensive). With the new reality staring at me in the face I had to learn to make my own food, and fast. As time went by and boredom set in, I learned to cook certain items, recipes I found online. (You can find everything online, including some activities no human being should ever be allowed to do.) I did nothing too complicated, simple items like baked potatoes, omelets, cheese grits, coleslaw, pasta with marinara sauce, sautéed spinach, and key lime pie, among others. Now every time I want to eat something I go online, see if making it is worth the effort and, if it is so, buy the ingredients and do it. This hasn’t stopped me from ordering takeout and even dining out now that restaurants are open again.
Another thing I discovered during my so-called quarantine was Facebook. Though Mark Zuckerberg’s invention is something that the rest of humanity has used for over a decade, I have been trying my best to avoid it, considering it to be a nuisance.
One day, having grown tired of watching television documentaries about Bigfoot, I decided to give Facebook a try. I signed up, created my own page, posted some photos, and waited to see what happens. The rest is history. I soon discovered that Facebook can be addictive. I also discovered that it was easy to gather a bunch of friends, some of who I have known for years and some of who I only met through Facebook.
Living alone without a partner or a pet, I found it delightful to go online and join a community of people who shared a wide range of interests, or at least were kind enough to put up with me. Though Facebook might eventually bore me (like Bigfoot) for the time being it keeps me entertained.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and journalist. He has been an active member of South Florida's LGBT community for more than four decades and has served in various community organizations.