COVID19 Diaries – Less Cars, Less Jobs, Less News

Bike rides during shelter in place have been fun and fascinating. As this shot of Lyon St. shows, blocks and blocks of the City can be car-free, allowing for longer gazes at views and architecture, swerving around, and jumping empty red lights.

Monday, March 23

Six days into the shelter in place order and things are hard to comprehend beyond the WFH situation. I am in good spirits, but a strange spectacle happened outside my window today. The DPT stopped traffic on our block while several workers sprayed the parked cars with a kind of backpack pump. None of the workers were keeping a safe distance from one another, and I didn’t want to open my door to ask them what they were doing. Later in the day, my partner went on NextDoor to see if anyone knew what they were doing. There were only questions (and still no answers over a week later).

The economic fallout is starting to feel closer to my own situation. I have friends that have been laid off, artists I know who have lost all their work, and a niece who was sent home from medical school. My other niece has lost all her contract photography work and my sister’s new business has been shut down in South Carolina. Other friends are already stressing about the upcoming rent and mortgage payments, while one friend is surely freaking out in his jail cell in New Jersey. My elderly uncle is now stuck in his room in a care home and two of my cousins have developed COVID-19 symptoms in the UK. Their daughter is currently stuck in the US since she cannot fly home to London.

I’ve been obsessively looking at the news up until now, marveling at the dramatic historical swings of the stock market and not surprised at all with the federal government’s slow and sad response regarding testing, bailing out the people, and all the other balls they’ve dropped. Democracy Now has been giving cold, hard facts about the growing curve in the US and in New York, while those in the front lines are starting to feel the wave as it pushes into every state. Twitter feeds cover the rising rent strikes and worker walk outs that are starting to happen across the country.

In normal times, there is too much information to follow. Now I’m overwhelmed. I promise myself that I’ll back off on the news streams while I settle in to the shelter in place routines and now wait until the afternoon to click the news feeds.

Tuesday, March 24 (Week Two of Shelter In Place Begins)

Car free…. Masonic? Today was a long work day that ended around 11pm with an important amicus brief filing for one of the lawsuits that Monsanto lost regarding glyphosate. Needing to move, and slip a service copy of the amicus in a mailbox, I went on a midnight bike ride over to the Upper Haight (Haight-Ashbury). I decided to go to the Clayton St. post office, and wandered through NoPa to get there. Masonic Street was empty and I ran a red at Fell, usually an unthinkable action.

Meandering up Page, over to Stanyan, and onto Haight, I passed one runner, one walker, one Vespa rider, one cyclist, six empty buses, and a handful of cars. At Haight and Ashbury, I saw clusters of homeless sleeping in the shadows. The City seems to be moving to put the homeless into empty hotels, but I’m not sure if they’re being serious about helping this already vulnerable group of folks.

Looked like the Haight Street improvements continued to be worked on, and I had the whole street to weave in while looking at the different projects. Heading back to Divisadero on Page, I looked down at the sight of empty blocks stretching North above the Panhandle. Car-free streets allows for long gazes, and I felt safe not really paying attention to where I was riding. Down on Divisadero, the street lights were out, making the empty street all the more eerie as I headed home. Turns out there must have been an accident where one light got taken down. Cars will be cars; they eventually hit something.