March 24, Quarantine in Queens, Day 12.  
Tensions are already rising.
March 30, Quarantine in Queens, Day 18. 
Unexpected Family Closeness.  We all were looking terrible, so we decided to help each other look presentable in case we have to FaceTime with someone.
April 7, Quarantine in Queens, Day 26. 
A Facebook friend recommended a gentle bubble bath as a great way to relieve stress during a lockdown in my one bathroom apartment in Queens.  Not sure the plan worked.
April 12, Quarantine in Queens, Day 31. 
A beautiful friend from Colorado finally mailed us toilet paper and we are celebrating and in tears.
April 16, Quarantine in Queens, Day 35.
All the hard-working health-care and essential workers out there help me see the light at the end of the tunnel.
⁣April 23, Quarantine in Queens, Day 42. 
Friends have asked about the sleeping arrangement in my apartment in Queens. My mom has her own bedroom.  My ex-wife, Sophia, sleeps in my bedroom.  And I sleep on the pullout couch in the living room. But we're still human and need intimacy and touch, even if it is not sexual.  No matter the relationship, Sophia and I have been connected in some way for over twenty years.  There are some nights where one of us is crying, exhausted and unhappy.  We watch the news on TV in the bedroom at 3AM, and we are filled with fear and sadness for the thousands who have died.  Our government has failed us.  We hug for an hour, almost too tightly, because we need to remember what love feels like, and then we go back to our separate beds.
April 27, Quarantine in Queens, Day 46. 
Sophia and my mother have always had a very  good relationship, with few of the stereotypical mother-in-law/daughter-in-law conflicts you always hear about.  Their good relationship  continued even after our divorce.  But the last forty-odd days have put a slight strain on their relationship. It is difficult to be in lockdown during a pandemic, especially while having a lunatic in the White House.  Someone needs to take charge in this house, and it's been Sophia who has been the rock of the family during this - she is basically keeping us alive.  She does all the Instacart shopping, she cooks, she makes us wear masks, and she coordinates what needs to be done to protect the family.  But my mother doesn't like being told she can't go shopping or do the laundry downstairs.  Her role as matriarch has been upended. I'm a good mama's boy and don't like to go against my mother's wishes, but during these stressful times, I often have to take Sophia's side to protect my mother from herself.  This shift has caused some tension, and like all men worldwide who find themselves caught between two women, the only solution is to hide in the bathroom.  It makes me happy when I see Sophia and my mother connecting with each other with love, remembering that these are not normal times.
May 5, Quarantine in Queens, Day 55. 
Need a haircut?  The Quarantine Salon is now open. By appointment only
⁣May 14, Quarantine in Queens, Day 64. ⁣⁣
One of the inconveniences of the last two months has been doing the laundry.  We don't have a washer and dryer in the apartment, so we usually use the laundry room in the lobby of the building.  The last time I was in our laundry room, in early March, it seemed scary - too crowded and too many surfaces shared by others.  That's when we started washing our clothes every other day in the bathtub. We used a clothing rack in the bathtub to dry the clothes, but because of poor ventilation and poor hand-wringing, it would take twelve hours to dry one sock.  I suggested we dry the laundry on our outdoor terrace by the dinette, but my mother adamantly refused. ⁣⁣⁣
"I'm not going to have all our neighbors look at our laundry," she said.⁣⁣⁣⁣
It became an ongoing conversation.  I didn't understand why my mother was being so paranoid about hanging the laundry on the terrace.  Did it remind her of her childhood in a poorer section of the Bronx?  Was it considered low class?  She insisted that our apartment building had an expressed law "in the books" that no one should hang their laundry on the terrace. ⁣⁣⁣⁣
"That's ridiculous," I said. "It's a pandemic.  The rules are out the window.  No one cares if we hang the laundry on the terrace."⁣⁣⁣⁣
But she didn't want to have anything to do with it ⁣⁣⁣⁣
I was washing the laundry in the bathtub today when I saw that my mother was napping.  I told Sophia that this was a good idea to dry the laundry on the terrace and prove to my mother that it is a good idea.  I hung some wet sheets on the terrace railing, and the wind almost made my mother's fitted sheet sail away off the terrace towards LaGuardia Airport.  People waiting on the line downstairs at the Key Food Supermarket looked up at our terrace with disapproving looks, almost as if saying "What is this - the Bronx?"⁣⁣  The laundry dried quickly and ended up smelling  terrific, and my mother gave limited approval to drying small amounts of laundry on the terrace, as long as she is never seen doing it.
May 20, Quarantine in Queens, Day 70 
One of the arguments for not wearing a mask outside is that it is a free country.  To many, asking someone to be inconvenienced is an infringement of personal freedom.  If someone is at risk to the virus, like seniors or those with medical issues, they should just stay home. ⁣⁣
That is easier said than done.  After months at home, it becomes an infringement of personal freedom for seniors and those with medical issues to be stuck at home. ⁣⁣
After our trip to the park last week my mother tasted the flavor of freedom, and she liked it. ⁣⁣
"My mother's friend, Shirley, called.  She used to be the same blouse size as my mother, but because of an illness, had lost a lot of weight.  She had a bunch of brand new outfits from Bloomingdale's that she never wore that were now too large.  Can she drive over and give them to my mother?"⁣⁣
At first, Sophia and I nixed the idea.  My mother bristled at our helicoptering.  We came up with a compromise.  I would go downstairs and pick up the blouses from Shirley as she drove by in her car. ⁣⁣
When it was time for Shirley's arrival, I found myself on an important zoom conference call.  Sophia was about to have a virtual conversation with a doctor at NYU.  We were forced into the inevitable - my mother would have to go downstairs ALONE and pick up the blouses.  It would be the first time she's left the house alone since March. ⁣⁣
"What's the big deal?" some of you might ask.  My mother is active and independent, and can go outside by herself.  She's not a child.  But there are a lot of people out there who don't wear masks, even in our neighborhood with one of the highest Covid-19 infection and death rates in the world. ⁣⁣
We told my mother that if she goes out by herself, she has to wear a mask, gloves, and goggles to protect her eyes. ⁣⁣
"Why don't you just wrap me in the shower curtain?" my mother asked, sarcastically.
June 7, Quarantine in Queens, Day 85. 
Ready or not, the world has reopened.  People are in the streets, protesting for racial justice.  Friends have started to take the subway again.  But here at home, we're still confused and anxious over Covid-19.  Especially my mother.  Because of her age and high risk, does she need to remain isolated from her friends and social activities until there is a vaccine?⁣⁣  A few days ago, she looked depressed so Sophia asked her if she is looking forward to anything when New York reopens. ⁣⁣⁣⁣
"I'd like to go have breakfast at the Blue Bay Diner," answered my mother. ⁣⁣⁣⁣
The Blue Bay Diner is a local diner here in Queens. ⁣⁣⁣⁣
"It's way too soon to talk about diners," I said. ⁣⁣⁣⁣
And then I felt bad for saying that. ⁣⁣⁣⁣
"But I have an idea for this weekend..." said Sophia, looking out the window at our terrace.⁣⁣
July 11, Quarantine in Queens, Day 119. 
We bought a third TV this week, and put it into the bedroom.  55" widescreen.  So now all three of us can retreat into our own spaces and watch whatever show we want.  Ironically, I haven't watched the TV since.  I'm not sure it is what I really wanted.
July 25.  Quarantine in Queens, Day 133.
Everyone is giving up hope. You thought we were as well. But nope, not us. We're the epitome of optimism.  When we saw our local movie theater's marquee promising they were "opening soon," we set up shop to be the first in line. And so we're waiting…
August 15. Quarantine in Queens, Day 150
I decided it was time to improve the upper half of my body during this pandemic. But as much as I tried to get attention from the women in the house, they were more interested in watching Outlander on TV.
August 16. Quarantine in Queens, Day 151
Sophia showed me an article in the Wall Street Journal about the importance of hugging and mentioned that she never sees my mother and me hug.  I said the Kramers have never been a hugging family.  Sophia said that to get through this pandemic we should hug each other every day. My mother and I protested. "But we could be like your favorite TV show," Sophia told my mother.  And so, in our first reenactment  of "The Golden Girls," Sophia plays Blanche.  I'm Rose.  And my mother is definitely Dorothy.  Thank you for being a friend.
September 7, Quarantine in Queens, Day 173.
Labor Day 2020. The family. Alone together.
October 23, Quarantine in Queens, Day 219
I had a dream in which Sophia overslept, and it was just my mother and I at breakfast.  No one was giving us a grim Covid-19 news update and telling us that soon we most likely won't be able to go to the supermarket again. No one was yelling at me to wear a mask when I left the apartment to throw the trash away.  In my dream, my mother and I were like two giddy teenagers on their own, when their parents were out of town.  It's party time!   We did not have to be responsible!   Did we have to wear a mask anymore?   No!   Could we give a big FU to social distancing? Yes!  Should my mother and I go into the East Village and get matching tattoos?  Absolutely!  And who said smoking was bad for you?  Not Dr. Fauci!  Freedom!  I could be as selfish as a Trump supporter at one of his rallies.  Take that, Sophia.  And then I woke up.  I promised to go to the supermarket at 7AM before it got crowded.   I got dressed, and put on my mask.  Sigh.
November 12, Quarantine in Queens, Day 239
I was asked to do my first zoom presentation.  It was on "being creative during the times of Covid." The only good light was in the living room so I told Sophia and my mother to stay out of the living room while I was on video.  In the middle of my presentation, my zoom screen got text-bombed by Sophia asking if I wanted to take a short break and have lunch.  I told her no, and asked, again, that both of them leave me alone.  She said “no problem."
A few minutes later I (and everyone on Zoom) heard the fridge open in the adjacent kitchen, and all sorts of clanking and plastic-opening noises, as my mother made herself a turkey sandwich.  When her sandwich was ready, she couldn't sit in the dinette because she would be seen on-screen, and she couldn't go to her bedroom, because God forbid she would ever eat in her bedroom,  so she went to other side of the living room, away from my webcam, munching on her sandwich as I spoke to the group.
Sophia then text-bombed me again, "I'm going to make you a sandwich.  You have to eat."  I quickly texted back, “ I AM NOT HUNGRY!!! LEAVE ME ALONE!!!” in all caps, like in one of Donald Trump's insane tweets.  She texted back, “No problem.”
A minute later, Sophia appeared crawling on the floor, under the radar of the webcam, to hand me a sandwich.  I guess I was hungry after all.
November 20, Quarantine in Queens, Day 247
Pandemic 2.0 is here in Queens.  And THIS TIME, we're ready!  Nothing can go wrong.
January 4, Quarantine in Queens, Day 293
We found out from the x-ray that my mother didn't break anything from her fall, so that is great.  But the first few days of 2021 have been exhausting as we deal with the pain in my mother's shoulder.   Of course, that doesn't mean that my mother still doesn't stop her from worrying that Mario, the building super, is mad at us because we never gave him his Christmas tip. 
"It's too late to give it to him now," I said.
"If you don't give him a tip tucked into a holiday card, you'll be on his enemy list for the rest of the year," said my mother.  "If the toilet breaks, you'll be waiting three days for help."
So I masked up and went downstairs.  I bumped into Mario as he was putting away the colorful holiday decorations that were just taken down from the lobby.
"Hey, my man," he said to me.   He was unusually friendly today, as if he knew my reason for the visit.   I handed him the envelope.
"I wanted to thank you for everything you've done this year, especially during this pandemic.  Sorry I'm a little late in wishing you happy holidays."
"Thank you, my friend," he responded, and stuck out his hand for a handshake.  I extended my hand as well.  It seemed so natural.  As my arm outstretched at a forty-five degree angle, it hit me that both Dr. Fauci and Sophia wouldn't want me to shake his hand. I was about to shake his hand. He was someone who interacted with dozens of strangers outside of my immediate family.  This was not social distancing.   I could have withdrawn my hand, but I didn't, and while I would like to think the reason was politeness, the truth is I didn't want to stop.  I wanted to shake his hand, to feel his flesh against mine.  I grasped Mario's gruff hand and we squeezed hard.  The handshake only lasted a second, but it felt like forever. I could feel the vibrations of his pulse running through my body.  It was not a sexual feeling, but it was still incredibly intimate.  I felt needy.  I had not touched another person outside my family in ten months, and here I was, during the first week of 2021, remembering what life was like before Covid-19, when we could shake hands with wild abandon.
January 12, Quarantine in Queens, Day 301
It was a hard week as my mother healed from her fall, a new strain of Covid arrived in America, and what else! - oh, our President provoked an insurrection in the United States Capitol. But we're seeing an end to the longest marathon anyone has ever run. We're getting a new President in a week. And my mother gets her first dose of the vaccine this Friday. The finish line is finally in sight. Let's not screw this up.

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