|One of our first experiences with Zoom in the early days of Coronavirus.|
Today is Commencement Day for the Yale School of Management's Class of 2020, making it nine years since I graduated from their MBA program, and one year since last I posted an annual update.
|Preparing to buy groceries|
in Queens, March 2020.
Obviously the biggest development from a year ago is that the COVID-19 pandemic has infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands of people, disrupting societies and devastating economies around the world. Here in New York City, as of this writing, we've had 340,000+ confirmed cases, 22,000+ deaths and inestimable job losses. I am healthy and employed, so the impact on my life is tiny next to the suffering of so many. Still, I'm affected. If you look at my update from a year ago
, you'll read how excited I was to be enjoying a bunch of stuff I'm now prohibited from doing.
|It feels like a lifetime ago,|
but James and I won an
exhibition "cage match"
at our tennis club in August.
My partner, James, and I both believe he (and therefore I) had the virus in March, although we didn't qualify to be tested at the time, so we can't know for sure. But James had the standard symptoms, including complete loss of smell and taste despite no congestion. I had no symptoms aside, perhaps, from a brief fever one evening. Our antibody tests in early May came back negative, but that doesn't definitively tell us whether we were ever infected, it only tells us that when we took the test, we didn't have the antibodies -- and even that conclusion assumes the test was accurate, which is debatable.
|Visiting my parents in December.|
My small family is fine. My parents live in a South Florida senior living community that's been duly cautious given the facility's risk profile. Meanwhile the biggest challenge for my brother and his brood in Upstate New York has been maintaining therapies for my autistic nephew. My niece in Michigan turned 16 in April, so it was a bummer that she had to celebrate that milestone during this time, but overall she and her mom are fine too. And James' family, primarily based in California, are all healthy.
|My friend Lori, whom I hadn't |
seen in almost 20 years, and I in
Chapel Hill, February 2020.
I've been working at home since December 2017, as an internal consultant for BASF, so I didn't need to adjust to a "new normal" in that sense. Uncharacteristically, though, last winter I was traveling regularly to Durham, which happens to be where I went to college, for a project, but of course those trips were suspended and replaced by virtual workarounds. My company seems to be doing fine overall. Some business units have been disrupted, but others have actually been stimulated, so the overall impact is somewhat neutral, and for me there's been no material change. James earned his New York real estate license just days before this all started, so he's had to delay starting that career journey for now.
|Hard to say no to that face!|
We live in a two-bedroom apartment with a balcony, and our building has a gated courtyard, so we have some semi-private outdoor space. The playground next to our building, though, was closed by city mandate, so we lost the place we used to surreptitiously take our dog for off-the-leash fetching after sundown. We don't have human children, so there was no extra caregiving to take on due to school closures. And with James here with me, I haven't gone stir-crazy from solitary confinement. (If anything, as an introvert, I've had to carve out my "me" time.) So, overall, we're certainly fortunate.
|Live-streaming a recital |
for about 50 fellow tennis
club members in April.
The big changes for us have been the suspension of all our leisure pursuits. Before Coronavirus, my typical week included a tennis game or two, community musical rehearsals on Sunday and Monday evenings, Tuesday evening choir practice and performance at Sunday Mass, a yoga class, and perhaps a swim and a steam at the Yale Club next to Grand Central. For the past two months, all that's been replaced by an infinite loop of Backgammon, karaoke on Smule, long walks with my dog, Zooms, dishwashing, piano playing, iPhone games and hitting tennis balls against whatever walls I can find. But we just got good news the other day -- Gov. Cuomo announced that a few low-risk recreational activities could resume, including tennis. So our club reopened about half its courts as of Saturday. We just had a gorgeous weekend, and I got to play twice. It was wonderful to be back there and to see people, if only to wave from afar.
|Toasting after our choir's|
As per tradition, I'd given up drinking for Lent (starting Feb. 26). But breaking tradition, I've been abstaining ever since. It hasn't been too hard because I see it as a reward rather than a sacrifice, thanks to a persuasive book I read called This Naked Mind
(Annie Grace), which I'd recommend for anyone interested in cutting down on their drinking. Many of our friends have interpreteded the lockdown as permission to drink. That's their choice. (Or not, actually. This Naked Mind
would argue that satiating a subconscious craving to a highly addictive drug is not a choice.) For me, in this time of boredom, stress and fear, I believe I'm better off having the benefit of my full wits, avoiding hangovers and potentially hazardous decisions, and building more of a cushion in my checking account. So our home bar has been collecting dust, and I feel good. Cheers!
|"Hey where's everybody?"|
I asked myself facetiously
during a fall 2019 visit to
Yale SOM's former building.
When I was in business school in 2009-2011, stories were still circulating about the mess that the previous few classes had faced hunting for jobs during the Great Recession. Subsequent studies have suggested that those who graduated in 2008-09 continue to experience lower incomes and less advancement, even 10+ years later. I assume that the Class of 2020 will experience even more significant long-term consequences. Of course, there are worse situations to be in than having just earned an MBA. But, relatively speaking, it's unfortunate that some students' experiences are being shortchanged, and that their nontrivial investment in their education may not have the return it should.
|Celebrating our friend Pablo's |
50th birthday in Cartagena,
Colombia, in November 2019.
Putting the Coronavirus aside for a moment, over the past year, we managed a few getaways, the most exotic of which was last fall to Cartagena, Colombia. James and I were among about 20 people invited to celebrate our friend Pablo's 50th birthday. He and his partner, John, took wonderful care of us, and we had a fantastic time exploring the area. It was my first time in South America, so now I've been on four continents (minus Africa, Asia and Antarctica). We also went to L.A. for James' sister's wedding, took a trip to Vermont to stay with friends who'd recently moved there, and visited my parents a couple times in Florida. We had some spring and summer travel plans that were postponed, of course, but c'est la vie
Here's hoping things go back to normal, and perhaps even better than normal, very soon, and that my 2021 update doesn't need to address global despair! See you next year.