Today: A woman who’s trying to prioritize mental and physical health in a pandemic, while also protesting, juggling a busy work schedule with a move, and working through an illness in the family.
Location: New York, NY
Occupation: Media relations
Location: New York, NY
Occupation: Media relations
9 a.m. — It’s Saturday, so I start my morning with a Barry’s At Home workout ($20 per class). I’m pretty tired, but my instructor is upbeat without being annoying, and he gets me pumped for the day. We do a lot of lunges, some plank jacks, and dreaded bear crawls. By the time it’s over 45 minutes later, there are little droplets of sweat covering my Manduka yoga mat ($78). It’s not the same as being in the “red room” in person, which is how I got exercise in before the coronavirus pandemic, but it gets the job done. It’s also nice to start the day feeling I've already accomplished something.
To prepare, I pack a bag with some extra face masks in case others need them, sunglasses, extra water in my HidrateSpark bottle ($60), wipes, and hand sanitizer — the things you need to protest in a pandemic. I meet up with a few of my pals who I haven’t seen in awhile in Central Park, and we begin to walk downtown towards where the protest will take place.
4:30 p.m. — We get to Columbus Circle, where we thought the protest was starting, but can’t find the demonstrators, just a few scattered, socially distanced folks and police officers. We end up walking through Times Square. It’s usually bustling and chaotic but today it feels like a ghost town with only a few people. It’s the first time I’ve been here since the pandemic began, so the emptiness is stunning and eerie. They’re running a giant Black Lives Matter campaign across the colossal screens under the Ball. It’s inspiring to see, but it’s ultimately disheartening when the screen flashes away and instead we see some corporate hellscape T Mobile ad.
We eventually end up wandering South down 6th Avenue. After about 10 blocks, we look to our left, and see the tail end of the protest marching north an avenue over. We run to catch up, and finally we’ve joined the ranks of this important movement.
We see signs that say “There is no pride for some of us without liberation for all of us” and “Sex is good but have you ever fucked the system?” I also see someone who paperclipped a sheet of printer paper onto his backpack that reads “We have masks. If you need, just ask!” It’s great to see that protesters have each others’ backs. Ever since I watched the video of George Floyd being pinned to the ground for about 8 minutes by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and heard him calling for his mother, I've had a lump in my throat. The video was heart-shattering. So I was glad I had an opportunity to stand with others and raise our voices about the injustice Black folks face in our country.
Daily Total: $158
9 a.m. — I wake up and begin packing because I’m moving apartments soon. Sadly, my roommate who I’ve been friends with for years was laid off, and so I’m moving into a new place with another friend. It feels bittersweet, like I’m starting a new chapter in my life. I’m terribly cheesy, so I always think of the song “Seasons of Love” from Rent when I have a major life change. I drink too many cups of coffee to “measure a year” that way, but I certainly do measure my life in moves, and this feels like a major one.
I’m a terrible packer because I get sentimental about every item I come across. I have to stop to hug the teddy bear I won at a booth at the state fair I went to with all my best friends in 2017. I debate getting rid of a shirt I never wear anymore for five full minutes, because I recall it was part of an outfit I wore on a great date I had seven years ago (there was a Cinderella carriage ride involved, okay!?).
To distract myself from all the packing, I decide to turn on Hollywood, the Ryan Murphy miniseries on Netflix ($8.99 per month). I love having it on in the background. It’s about Black and LGBTQ+ actors breaking barriers in Hollywood’s golden age.
5 p.m. — I take a break from packing and go on a run through Central Park. I’m still figuring out the best way to jog while masked. I have decided it’s safest to just keep it on when I’m on the streets and in crowded areas of the park, and then I pull it down under my chin when I’m in an open area. After I’ve gone about three miles, I stop and call my parents to catch up. I used to talk to them on the phone every day when I was walking to and from the subway on my work commute, but now that I do my job from home full time, I make sure to call them when I’m out on daily errands, walks, and runs. We talk about the news, and what it means to be a good ally during this time.
6:30 p.m. — I come home and make some Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi, which is about $3 a bag. I’ve been trying to live off what I have in my freezer since I’m moving soon. This is one of my favorite millennial-as-hell, quick meals to prepare. I use olive oil and douse it in Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, a cult-favorite TJ’s staple I have on hand.
Daily Total: $11.99
7 a.m. — It’s Monday, so I get up early to start my workday. I make some scrambled eggs, coffee, and pop some heirloom tomatoes into my mouth. I have all these lying around from my last grocery trip. Working from home is a drag as I love being in the office with my coworkers, but at least I can do it in my pajamas.
7 p.m. — I do a workout from the Kayla Itsines app, Sweat ($120 a year). I do the BBG program designed to help you build strength, which I desperately need because I have the upper body strength of a cockroach. Today I do an arms and abs workout involving mountain climber push-ups, tricep dips, and shoulder presses. I’m panting and sweaty afterwards, so I hop in the shower and wash my hair with Aveda dry remedy shampoo and conditioner ($64 for both bottles).
8:45 p.m. — I’m planning to stay up late working, but first I go for a walk in the park, while talking to one of my best friends (the roommate I lived with in the apartment I’m moving out of) on the phone. We talk about what we’ll do first when the pandemic is over, and how to make the best use of our time as allies and activists during this moment in history. On my way home, I pick up a Strawberry Banana BodyArmor sports drink and a Starbucks cold brew in a can, my favorite combo for staying hydrated and energized when I have a lot to do ($6).
Daily Total: $190
8 a.m. — My bestie, who I’m moving into my new apartment with, comes over for the day so we can work together without getting lonely. I despise being alone, so it’s nice to have someone nearby even if we’re mostly just hunched over our laptops silently the whole day. I miss my coworkers so much and all the funny conversations we used to have in our cluster of desks, so it’s great for my home “office morale” to have another human around.
7:30 p.m. — I do a 30-minute online therapy session with a therapist I recently started working with through the app Talkspace ($316 per month). I decided to try therapy because I was having more anxiety than usual during my COVID-19 quarantine, but, honestly, I’m not sure if I’m really “growing” or if it’s making me feel much better. The app is mostly chatting with a therapist via texts, but includes one short video call a month. It’s a lot of money to pay for what feels like a fairly impersonal program. I wonder if I’d do better if I worked with someone in person after the pandemic is over. Mental health is definitely a priority for me, so I’ll probably stick with it for another month, and then quit if I still don’t feel fulfilled.
9 p.m — I talk to my mom on the phone and discover my dad went to the emergency room. He’s been sick with a virus (not the coronavirus — he was tested) for a few weeks, and it sounds like he got dizzy and passed out. I feel totally helpless because they live far away and there’s not much I can do from where I am. Even if I went home tomorrow to help take care of my parents, I’d need to quarantine due to the coronavirus for, what, 14 days? I tell my mom to keep me updated. I can’t fall asleep, so I listen to guided meditations on my Fitbit app. Fitbit Premium allows you to access tons of meditations for stress and sleep, but I’ve only done the sleep ones for when my mind is racing at night. Premium is generally $9.99 a month, but I’ve been doing the free three month trial period.
Daily Total: $316
7:30 a.m. — I haven’t been doing much in terms of makeup over the course of the pandemic, but one thing I always do is slap some Dr. Jart Premium BB Beauty Balm ($31) on my face every day to give me a little glow. I feel more confident when it’s on, even though it’s really just a bit of concealer and it’s not like I’m seeing tons of people. But it makes me feel like me, and, as an added perk, it’s SPF 45.
12 p.m. — I order in my favorite Sweetgreen salad for lunch ($16), and give my dad a quick call to see how he’s doing while I scarf it down. He says he’s home and doing much better thankfully. I’m so relieved.
7 p.m. — One of my best guy friends comes over with his mom to pick up my old roommate’s desk since she decided to leave it here when she moved out. I help him carry it down the stairs and lift it into their Jeep, which I consider my workout for the day.
Some of the restaurants in New York are starting to open their outdoor seating, so my friend, his mom, and I decide to go eat at a local Indian restaurant. (His mom generously pays.) It feels like such a normal thing to do during these strange times, and I almost forget we’re in the middle of a global crisis for a second. It’s nice catching up with an old friend, and I leave the dinner feeling full (of food and joy).
Daily Total: $47
6 p.m. — A guy I was seeing during quarantine asks me to come over and have “a few drinks” on his patio. Part of me wants to go because I know it could lead to a steamy hookup — but I’m also exhausted because I haven’t been sleeping much this week, and I’m not sure how safe he’s been during the outbreak. I think about flipping a coin to make my decision about going, but ultimately decide I’m too tired for both flipping and fucking.
I feel a little bad putting it off because we went on two really amazing dates in early March before COVID-19 really hit the U.S. We did biweekly Google Hangouts video chats throughout the spring when we were both staying with our families. I know I’ll need to see him sometime next week if I have any hope of further nurturing this weird, quarantine quasi-relationship.
9 p.m. — Instead of my date, I treat myself to an early bedtime. I do my nightly skincare routine. I use Neutrogena grapefruit cleanser ($9), Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Lift & Firm Moisturizer ($78), and Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970 ($68). I put some lavender essential oils in my Vitruvi diffuser ($119). I snuggle into my covers, and read an article from New York Magazine about Joe Biden’s presidential campaign strategy (my monthly digital subscription is $5 a month), and then I read my latest library book — Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed — until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $279
5:30 p.m. — It’s Friday, and I finish work a little early and head out for a nice run in the park. I’m relieved it’s the weekend. As I sprint along the park path, I listen to a scattershot playlist that includes hits from Ben Platt and the Disney’s Greatest Hits soundtrack. I enjoy soaking up nature and watching for cute pups out for their walks. I feel out of breath, yet relaxed and ready to take on the weekend by the time I’m done with my three miles. I’ve been having some knee issues after jogs lately, so I used some Cause + Medic CBD Pain Cream on my left knee ($40) when I get home. It makes my knee feel cool and tingly, and provides temporary relief. But I can’t say it’s all-healing.
7 p.m. — I get together with my best friend who I’m moving in with. We’ve been wanting to start a Zoom book club, and decide that now’s an important time to invite a few friends to join us as we read Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy: A 28-Day Challenge to Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor ($25), which was written to help white people to understand their privilege and how they’re often unconsciously perpetuating a world that treats people of color unfairly. We make a Facebook group, and a few of our friends are interested in joining. I hope the book club will help us educate ourselves, though I know in order to spark actual change, I need to focus on taking real action, too. Still, I think it will be a way to spread awareness among our friends, and to keep creating change at the top of our consciousness.
8 p.m. — We make plans for our move, and go look at our new apartment with a tape measure.
Then, we go pick up a tub of sangria from a local bar (it comes to about $15 a person). We get it to-go, and have a wine night in on the couch. We talk about our crazy weeks at work, and how tricky it is trying to date amid a pandemic. It’s so nice to have wonderful friends to lean on during these unique times.
Daily Total: $80
Weekly Total: $1,082
Reflection: As I wrote this diary, a part of me felt like a hypocrite. In one entry, I was sitting in my bathroom lathering fancy creams on my face and spinning my wheels about my own petty problems. The next, I was focusing on protesting for positive change and trying to become a better ally. I know that this juxtaposition means that I have privilege. I’m still figuring out the best ways to use it for good. Sometimes I think that means speaking out for those who can't but, other times, I think it’s better to just listen.
Overall, it was a stressful and troubling week (and last few months, let’s be honest). But I think I did think I personally did a good job of prioritizing my wellness routine and mental health while also getting shit done. Talking on the phone and in person with my friends, coworkers, and family are always the best parts of my weeks by far. I get a lot of my joy and energy from being with others, so I’m incredibly thankful to have such a wonderful support system (even if it's mostly virtual). Working out and eating right is also important to me, but I think of doing those things more as tangential personal “upkeep” activities that I need to do to survive and feel good, rather than things that actually feed my soul.
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