The operation will take only a few minutes. I don my mask and slip the gloves and pruning shears into my back pocket and take to the streets.
Walking briskly, I pass a row of 1900s brownstones, each with a small garden plot in front. On this block the specialty is roses, and every home seems to have a different variety growing. Towards the corner, there is a house with its iron gate ajar, and an overstuffed mailbox by the front door. I had already removed two small bags of garbage and moldering cardboard and a crushed toy fire helmet from the front yard, and also ripped out a row of mugwort that was blocking the big rosebush.
I don’t know what variety they are – a peach-colored hybrid, with massive blooms that bent the rose stalks down. I deadhead the big old roses and the stalks spring up, attempting to gash my face. One does nick my arm, and I wipe the blood off on my mask, not thinking that I have left a red splotch of blood in its center, like a tiny pair of lips.
Pretty soon I have collected about thirty roses – all massive and past their prime and bring them home in a plastic bag I brought with me. I don’t think anyone would mind, and I am sure the person who planted these roses doesn’t mind. A hybrid rose plant like this needs a lot of tending, but the blooms are enormous.
As part of my quarantine routine, I take walks in the early morning. After a while, I got tired of seeing weeds hiding the “nice” plants and began reflexively pulling them. It was fun! Especially after a rainfall, when the weeds pulled out so effortlessly. After a few minutes work I would have a sheaf of shepherd’s purse, lambsquarter and mugwort under my arm. Fortunately, there is always an empty construction yard in our rapidly developing neighborhood, and that’s where most of my weeding crop ends up, lobbed over the green construction fence.
Nobody has ever bothered me, except for the times older women will ask if I eat the weeds. Since the trees planted by the city have little tags on them that give tips on how to take care of them, including one that instructs citizens to keep the tree pits free of weeds, I consider that my carte blanche. “I work for Bette Midler!” I want to tell somebody, but nobody asks.
Some houses show evidence that they were owned by gardeners that took a lot of pride in their plants but abandoned them this year. I see mugwort and lambsquarter cropping up in beds of well-tended plants –gardens that might have received some care earlier in the season but, for some reason, have been untouched these past few months. I reach over and – yank –problem solved. I know they would do it, if they were able.
One home I pass by regularly had an infestation of mugwort that covered some nice lilies and other shrubs. After a few days I had cleared all the mugwort out, and stopped by every so often to rip the tiny mugwort sprouts that persisted – some of the roots are tough, baseball-sized clumps that live for years, and you often find odd things wound up in them like bottle caps and corks.
This past week, our local news had the notice of the death a Haitian doctor in our neighborhood of longstanding repute, who had died of COVID-19. For the obituary, they showed not a photo of the man, but of his doctor’s office, which was the old house where I had been waging my war against mugwort.
So many have died in our neighborhood – so many gentle people who once sunned themselves in front of their houses and apartment buildings and maintained the cheery tradition of saying hello to all neighbors. When they moved here, Flatbush was cheap, and a family from Trinidad or Guyana could buy decent homes for an affordable price, in what was then a highly unfashionable neighborhood. The untended gardens of my older neighbors are hard to miss, when you know what to look for.
“Maybe they just went out of state, you don’t know,” say my kids, when I showed them the peach-colored rose bush I had been surreptitiously tending. They were horrified, and nervous that I was breaking a law. My daughter even closed and latched the small iron gate, while sternly looking at me, warning that I could get arrested, or worse.
But I’ll be back. Those roses need me.
This short piece shares the struggles and experiences of choosing between working as an essential worker and worrying about my family's health during the peak of the pandemic.
During this pandemic, being in quarantine in my house made me realize that life is really short and that you you cherish every moment you have, especially with your loved one. This showed that you should enjoy life and share it with the people around you.
December 2019, I moved to my cousin apartment in the city of New York I had just given birth to my son in September of 2019 and had my daughter who was eleven at the time. I was suppose to stay two weeks upon waiting for an apartment, however it didn't work out the way I had hope and I stayed at my cousin home three months prior to the covid -19 pandemic. My cousin and her mother decided since it's the pandemic and I can't go anywhere dur to the stay at home orders I had no other choice but to stay and pay rent. It wasn't easy because I felt that I wasn't in my own element and I felt like I was a teenager again. My own family talked to me like I was a kid and I was told what to do and what not to do. I had to sleep on my cousin pull out chair for several months during the pandemic. I questioned myself why did I came here. I consistently kept looking for an apartment, which It had turn into a year living with my cousin. Apartment hunting became very frustrating because of the demands which requires getting an apartment and no renters wanted anyone who was receiving unemployment. it's the year 2021 and I still live at my cousin apartment which is frustrating because I need my own. I ask everyone I know to keep an eye and ear open for me to get an apartment. My friend call me one day in March of 2021 and said he found an apartment for me and if I'm still interested? I am currently moving out of my cousin apartment, Thank God.
Coping with pandemic anxiety as an asthmatic residing in the Bronx.
It is quite obvious that the Class of 2020 all share a collective disappointment with graduating via zoom but I personally had no problem with it. I honestly believed that it was a blessing in disguise, I didn’t have to sit in the hot sun and wait for my name to be called, wait there awkwardly as the teachers give an mediocre speech about me, and lie to all my classmates face when I claim that’ll I miss them and promise to keep in touch. In the beginning of Virtual Learning, I was the happiest I’ve ever been, which was due to the majority of my teachers teachers that were having a difficult time adjusting to online learning and were only able to assign one work sheet per week. During the first week of the pandemic, I was able to actually find my true self, my dislikes and likes, my ambitions, and my fashion sense. Although it got tiring staying home for the majority of my time, I still preferred to stay home and keep my safe from this deadly virus compared to actually having a social life, I learned that I appreciate my company and being alone more than I thought.
As some may find quarantine completely damaging to their mental health and are unable to spend their days inside, it did the opposite for me, It improved my mental health drastically and gave me time to begin my journey of self-love and because of this I honestly would not mind if New York implemented yet another lockdown. I believe it would be beneficial to everyone because it would not only flatten the curve but it could potentially allow us to have less restrictions during the summer.
My covid experience this year is probably a lot like others. I've lost family members to this pandemic my close friends lost loved ones as well. There are a plethora of people I know who have lost their jobs, gained severe diagnosis of anxiety and also depression. Being stuck in the house for all those months with family was a very strenuous task and it was also very debilitating as well. While the covid outbreak started my family and I were sent into a frenzy mentally and physically. My mother lost her job due to the pandemic and I had to pick up more hours at work and do other side jobs to somewhat help with the expenses as well also during this pandemic i was also in school. Attending Brooklyn College during the pandemic was a very difficult thing to do especially due to the fact that we had transitioned to online learning, something I or my teachers haven't really done in some time. The social distance learning that was implemented was a very difficult concept to grasp because one day we go from attending class everyday to the bombardment of information being thrown at us and us as students expected to keep up and also the teachers having to make sure they kept up with the requirements. School, going to work and worrying about the well being of others and myself put me into a state of worry at all times sort've giving me mild ptsd. I hope that this time next year this covid situation will be gone and we can go back to living the way we were.
I caught COVID-19 in January 2021 after being around a family member who was positive. The trail of transmission could’ve been my aunt to my cousins to my mother then to me and my brother but it is still unclear. I firstly got a headache one night then went to bed. I woke and felt my throat feeling tight and dry and had a very bad headache, with congestion, fever and body aches/pain all over. I did not want to eat, just wanted to stay in bed and sleep. It was very difficult because it was also my brother and mother who were sick with the virus as well. I tried to make as many herbal remedies as possible for me and my family. I made teas that helped expel mucus from the lungs and throat as well as garlic, honey, elderberry, zinc and vitamin C, B-12 & D. The first two days that I was sick, my fever was over 100 degrees and I had to take Ibuprofen. To help with my body pains I tried to stay out of the bed and keep my body moving. I lost a lot of weight from not eating as much and my body working hard and using energy to recover. What was very interesting about this experience was that I would feel empty even after I ate food. This strange feeling lasted few days after my COVID symptoms were over. It was discouraging because I got my regular appetite back and could not smell or taste at 100%. Everything tasted very plain no matter the amount of flavor.
During this experience I was not very worried. I just knew I would get better quickly and remained positive.
This is a story about how my life was during the pandemic in 2020. It tells the story of how isolated everyone was because of social distancing. A whole year just went by but I still felt like my life was a standing still. It was my first time being in the city since the lock down and it was scary to see how empty Times Square was.
I am sharing a video I took at the beginning of the quarantine period. People were panic buying food and other necessities while leaving empty shelves for others. I remember entering whole foods to pick up some bread, pasta, beans, and non-dairy milk because I can't have dairy. As soon as my cousin and I entered Whole Foods— the baked goods were fully stocked but the non-perishable foods were almost gone. I remember turning to my cousin in shock because the fresh fruits and vegetables in the lower level were fully stocked. I asked an employee where the bread and non-dairy milk was and they said, "I don't think we have any more bread. I stocked it a couple of hours ago and when I went back o check there were a few bags left". The employee guided us to the bread section and it was indeed empty. I thanked them and decided to look through the other aisles and the aisle that was the most apparent was the one I recorded. There were people with professional cameras taking pictures of this aisle and others (such as myself) with our phones recording. So many people were just as taken aback by the lack of food in many of these aisles. I already knew that this virus was serious but when I saw the number of people buying food and toilet paper and paper towels in bulk, I felt worried and nervous. I knew from the media that people were stocking up on non-perishable foods and that supermarket lines were really long. But seeing it first hand and seeing people coming to the aisle expecting to see a can of beans available or a bag of bread, only for it to be empty. This is a moment that I won't forget and the overwhelming feeling that this virus could affect anyone.
This pandemic has been one of the hardest things I ever had to go through. I think its safe to say that most individuals across the world have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. I personally found it very hard to eat healthy & remain fit. When COVID-19 began to grow to pandemic proportions, the world shut down. Communities full of small business that were once booming began to close down temporarily while others dissipated as the pandemic continued throughout the entire year. As the gym’s began to close and supermarkets became congested to apocalyptic proportions, I found myself inactive at home for weeks trying to eat whatever was most convenient at the time. This meant heavily modified and processed foods like cup noodles and mcdonalds through a delivery app. Overall, I found myself weighing about 20 plus in less than 3 months. As I looked at my body in the mirror, a fire lit inside of me and motivated me to do something about my current living situation before its too late. I began to workout at home shadow boxing while lifting a 60lbs sack of rice as well as cooking some of that same rice soon after. If there was no rice left, i’d use a huge cat litter sack. I believe that home cooked meals and home workouts has temporarily caused me to go back to the BMI I had before this pandemic took a toll on me as well as millions around the world. I look forward to becoming a Phys-Ed and Health teacher in the future because this pandemic has thought me how important being healthy is as well as how it may impact the wellbeing of millions around the world. If I can promote healthy behaviors that my potential students can follow for the rest of their lives, then I feel like my job is done.
I support the idea that in 2020, In specific COVID-19 will go down in history as a tragic event much like the Spanish-flu. Millions were left without a job fighting to pay rent while balancing school as well as the wellbeing of their children. The homeless population and obesity increased. To me this is a crazy time we are living through but I will keep my head up and bare for what may come soon after since I'm confident this is not the last time we will go through a pandemic.
Losing opportunities and losing family makes us think about many emotions and things that should be cherished.