Photographer Stuck In Quarantine With His Ex-Wife And Mother Documents Daily Life In Hilarious Pictures (57 Pics)

In what he calls “a bizarre confluence of coincidences”, photographer Neil Kramer ended up quarantining with his mother and his ex-wife. This shared experience has inspired Kramer to produce a comedy photo series, documenting the chaotic reality of his new everyday life.

So, a two-bedroom New York City apartment transformed into a studio and its three occupants became models of what eventually has turned out to be a funny yet accurate representation of this stressful and confusing period in our lives.

More info: neilkramerphotography.com | Instagram

#1 November 20, Quarantine In Queens, Day 247pandemic 2.0 Is Here In Queens. And This Time, We’re Ready! Nothing Can Go Wrong

Image credits: neilochka

#2 March 23, Quarantine In Queens, Day 11

We’ve never ordered delivery from a supermarket before, but one of my friends told us about instacart. We’re worried about giving anything to my mother, so we decided to use the service, despite there being three supermarkets down the block. Still, half of what we wanted was out of stock. When the shopper rang the doorbell with the groceries, my mother and I went to open the door, and Sophia yelled at us and told her to just thank her through the door and have her leave the groceries in the hall. My mother and I thought this was rude. Sophia said we’d rather appear nice than stay alive. The shopper didn’t seem to care. She didn’t want to interact with us either. We left an envelope with an extra tip taped to the door. Sophia hear Sanja Gupta say that you should spray every grocery before bringing it into the house. So I did that, and then had to figure out where to put all these cans of tuna. Super stressful. I then took a nap.

Image credits: neilochka

#3 March 24, Quarantine In Queens, Day 12. Tensions Are Already Rising

Image credits: neilochka

#4 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.

Image credits: neilochka

#5 June 24, Quarantine In Queens, Day 102

I’m worried about my mother and others of her age. Most of us who are younger will probably be able to create a somewhat semi-normal life until the world finds a vaccine for Covid-19, even if there will be limits to what we can do and where we can go. My mother is over 80, but even just four months ago, she was more social than I was, with a full calendar. Now where can she safely go? How can she see her friends? Can she go on public transportation? Every time she leaves the house, it is now a risk. She’s been thrust into living like an old woman before she was ready. And is there anyone more irresponsible to her than our own President who throws rallies in the middle of a pandemic, so younger people without masks can get sick and spread it around to those who are my mother’s age. Trump just makes it harder and scarier for the vulnerable to leave the house. Every time Trump appears without a mask on television, he is telling our parents and grandparents that he doesn’t really give a sh*t whether they live or die.

Image credits: neilochka

#6 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.

Image credits: neilochka

#7 March 20, Quarantine In Queens, Day 8. All Of Us Together, Watching The News

Image credits: neilochka

#8 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

Image credits: neilochka

#9 Sophia Has Been Experimenting With Different Types Of Effective Masks So I Could Go Outside, And She Tried This Combination Of Plastic, Paper Towels, And An Cut Piece Of An Air-Conditioning Filter That She Bought On Amazon After Reading That The Virus Can’t Penetrate It. I Went Downstairs Wearing This Mask And It Really Worked Well, Almost Too Well, Because Within Minutes I Felt Myself Hyperventilating. So, Back To The Drawing Board. #nyc

Image credits: neilochka

#10 April 12, Quarantine In Queens, Day 31. A Beautiful Friend From Colorado Finally Mailed Us Toilet Paper And We Are Celebrating And In Tears.

Image credits: neilochka

#11 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.

Image credits: neilochka

#12 April 19, Quarantine In Queens, Day 38.

we’re Tired Of Each Other, But We Need Each Other.

Image credits: neilochka

#13 April 17, Quarantine In Queens, Day 36

Sophia had her car shipped from Los Angeles, but we haven’t used it in a month since the lockdown. Even if we wanted to go anywhere, it’s too risky because you would never get a parking spot on the street when you returned, because so few people are going someplace, and it would be too much of a hassle. But we’ve found a new use of Sophia’s Prius – as a temporary retreat! Almost like an imaginary home in the Hamptons. I used it first, as a way to escape three people in a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment. It was enjoyable to just sit there in a parked car, playing some music alone, finally understanding the lyrics of The Talking Heads “Road to Nowhere.” Today was Sophia’s turn to use the vacation house for awhile. We’re working on a schedule.

Image credits: neilochka

#14 April 21, Quarantine In Queens, Day 40

Never in my life has food become so central to my existence. 3/4 of our conversations revolve around grocery stores, grocery lines, delivery times, what to eat at our next meal, snacking, and our weight. Most of our family fights even revolve around food, like who selfishly ate the last bag of pretzel sticks. Every night, we play cards where the winner doesn’t get money, but exclusive rights to the fancy Belgian strawberry jam. It’s all ridiculous, but true. ⁣

Last night we received a long-awaited delivery from Amazon Fresh. More accurately, it wasn’t night but 5AM in the morning! The delivery person rang the lobby buzzer and we all woke up and waited by the closed front door, protected from any potential viral danger. We waited but we didn’t hear any shuffling in the hall. I slid the door ajar, expecting our groceries to be sitting on our welcome mat, but nothing. My mother suggested that they left our groceries in the lobby by the mailbox, along with the other Amazon boxes.

I took the stairs downstairs to the lobby to discover another lost soul, some guy from the sixth floor, perusing the delivery boxes from Amazon and Walmart, searching for his name. He was wearing a homemade mask that matched the colors of his pajamas. We nodded to each other and he ran off. ⁣

I looked by the mailboxes and found our three big shopping bags of perishable groceries sitting on the floor. They only delivered half of what we ordered. There still was no way I could carry all these bags up the stairs, so for the first time in over a month, I decided it was time to enter the dreaded and dangerous ELEVATOR!⁣ ⁣I entered the elevator, which we had previously nicknamed “the death trap,” and pressed the close button with my elbow, schlepping the groceries at my side. When I made it to my front door, I proceeded to go through my now-frequent ritual of spraying every product with Lysol and then wiping it down in the hallway before I brought it into the apartment. By 6 AM, I was asleep on the living room couch, snuggling a package of Thomas’s English Muffins in my arms. We ate them at breakfast. They were delicious.

Image credits: neilochka

#15

Went for a half hour walk with Sophia, the most time we’ve been outside in over a month. We asked my mother to join us but she didn’t want to wear a mask yet, so we told her she can’t go. Once outside, we were surprised by how many people weren’t wearing masks in my neighborhood. At least 25%, and mostly younger people. I understand it’s a pain in the ass, but it’s a necessity to protect each other, and an order by our governor. In NYC, it’s difficult to pass by and stay six feet away. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
We were walking by Queens College, and saw an elderly couple taking groceries home, both wearing masks. And then this big healthy young guy approached, He was jogging, huffing and puffing, and not wearing a mask. He passed the old couple, and then passed within one foot of us. Sophia yelled after him, “You should wear a mask!” The guy stopped and put up his middle finger. I turned white and told Sophia to leave it be, mostly because I didn’t want to pee in my pants.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
I’m like, “Holy shit, Sophia. He’s a huge guy. We were taking a walk to relax. This is NOT relaxing.”⁣⁣
⁣⁣
“Wear a fucking mask, dude.” Sophia said defiantly to the guy showing the middle finger. “It’s not just about you.”⁣⁣
⁣⁣
“What are you going to do about it?” he asked, approaching us.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
“Uh-oh,” I said.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
“Stay calm,” Sophia to me. “I can handle him!”⁣⁣
⁣⁣
And she just stood there, staring at him. He mumbled something else and then the young guy suddenly looked scared and ran off. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
“Jesus,” I said.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
“I saw this documentary on a nature channel last week that when a bear comes at you, you just stand still and look big,” she said.

Image credits: neilochka

#16 April 20, Quarantine In Queens, Day 39.

i Felt A Growing Sense Of Sadness In The House Last Week, And I Think We Need To Call For A Family Meeting About Ways To Fight This.

Image credits: neilochka

#17 May 5, Quarantine In Queens, Day 55.

need A Haircut? The Quarantine Salon Is Now Open. By Appointment Only.

Image credits: neilochka

#18 May 1, Quarantine In Queens, Day 50.

the Queen Has Spoken. NYC Is Her Home. We’re Not Running Away Like Some Other Families. Maine Wouldn’t Want Us Anyway. You Can Keep Your Lobsters. We’re Going To Redecorate The Dinette Instead.

Image credits: neilochka

#19 June 13, Quarantine In Queens, Day 91

I’ve now spend three months alone with little outside contact other than these two women. You would think that this femininity would be rubbing off on me. Maybe it has. I mean, in many of my photos, I’ve been the one either undressed or wearing a dress. But in reality, over the last three months, I’ve never felt a stronger sense of masculinity and responsibility for these two people, probably the two most important women of my life – my mother and ex-wife.

Image credits: neilochka

#20 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…

Image credits: neilochka

#21 July 22. Quarantine In Queens, Day 130

Five months of isolation have not been good for my mental health. I seem to spend half the day looking out the window, like a cat. And the other half eating, also like a cat. Yesterday, I signed up for a free text therapy session that is offered by New York City. I’m not sure how much it helped me, but it was nice chatting with an anonymous stranger, rather than boring all my friends with my problems. It seems like every other friend now uses the lame excuse “I can’t talk right now. I’m in the middle of a Covid test” every time I call them up. Today, I tried a new approach. I thought to myself, “Is there anyone who knows me better than my own family? Why not just talk with them as my therapists rather than a stranger? They surely will get to the bottom of it, right?”

Image credits: neilochka

#22 July 4, Quarantine In Queens, Day 112.

Independence Day.

Image credits: neilochka

#23 June 26, Quarantine In Queens, Day 104

My mother had an appointment with a pulmonologist today. I went with her, and figured the doctor wouldn’t let us into the office until the exact appointment time. But from the moment we arrived, it was clear this doctor took no effort to change any of his practices on account of the pandemic.⁣ There were no hand sanitizers on the front desk. The waiting room was tiny, and the only concession to social distancing was to flip every other chair towards the wall. The space between each patient was a foot and a half. ⁣

The waiting room filled up with seniors with respiratory issues and/or wheeling oxygen. Patients fiddled with their masks. I wouldn’t have noticed these details a few months ago, but now I saw these red flags This type of medical office was acceptable a few months ago, but now it seemed dangerous. We waited for twenty minutes. I’m usually patient, but I thought back at how you scolded me on Monday for not speaking up when there was a woman without a mask in the laundry room. I asked the receptionist how long before seeing the doctor. She said the doctor was on a conference call. ⁣ “We’ve been waiting a half hour,” I said. “I know you’re busy but I’m not sure it is healthy to have all these patients sitting here for so long in an enclosed room, so close to each other.”⁣

“The doctor just got off the conference call,” she said. “He’ll see you soon.” ⁣

“Ok,” I answered.⁣

I was about to walk away, when I channeled my ex-wife, Sophia. I was the one in charge today. What would Sophia do? She would not walk away. ⁣

“OK, how soon?” I asked the receptionist. “When will the doctor sees my mother?”⁣

“Everything is backed up, so it will be another 15 minutes.”

Something snapped in me. “We’re going to be leaving now,” I told the receptionist. “I don’t feel safe here. I think you guys need to set up a protocol where patients wait outside and there is more social distancing and hand sanitizers, or your patients will get sick by coming here. If YOU were here with your 86 year old mother, would you wait 45 minutes in this waiting room?”⁣

“Probably not,” said the receptionist. So my mother and I left.

Image credits: neilochka

#24 August 3. Quarantine In Queens, Day 142

The pandemic has been unkind to my mother’s once weekly mahjong group. Since March, one player passed away, another got sick and went to an assisted living, and the third moved in with her daughter in Texas. And she’s lonely without the mahjong group.

Image credits: neilochka

#25 August 11. Quarantine In Queens, Day 146⁣⁣

My family doctor, called me after my blood test.

“Your vitamin D is low.”

“Oh no,” I said, “Does this mean I might have Covid?”⁣

“No, it means you have to put your pants on, leave your house, and get some freakin’ sun.”⁣

Image credits: neilochka

#26 August 12. Quarantine In Queens, Day 147

if Photography Is Supposedly About Seeing The Light, The Last Few Months Have Been About Feeling My Shadow.

Image credits: neilochka

#27 August 13. Quarantine In Queens, Day 148

the Biggest Dilemma Of Family During A Pandemic – We Are So Needy For Each Other’s Love But At The Same Time Want To Be Left The Hell Alone.

Image credits: neilochka

#28 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.

Image credits: neilochka

#29 August 15. Quarantine In Queens, Day 150

After getting positive reviews of my legs in a photo I showed on social media, 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.

Image credits: neilochka

#30 August 17. Quarantine In Queens, Day 152

The days of women doing all the household chores in marriage has changed in the last two generations, but not completely. Most American men now pitch in, but I doubt the divisions are equal. Maybe this pandemic will now be the final nail in this unequal gender allotment of household duty. Suddenly, we have all become house wives and house husbands. There are no excuses for someone not participating in domestic chores. Most men are home. I’m not trying to be a feminist hero here. I curse and complain everytime I do the dishes, vacuum, clean the bathroom, or do the laundry. It even makes me petty because once you start doing a chore, your “roommates” start to expect you to do it every time, as if it is your role, when you never chose it as a permanent job. I hate that. Is this the resentment my mother and grandmother felt in their marriages? I would say 90% of all fights here during the last five months have been about cooking, cleaning or organizing the house. This is nothing new in cohabitation, but it is intensified during a pandemic, because there is nowhere to hide after the argument, other than maybe your car. Maybe the rich are happier because they can afford hired help. If one positive thing comes out of this pandemic it is that everyone now sees that domestic work is real work, even if unpaid. Excuse me, but I have to go now. I have clothes in the dryer.

Image credits: neilochka

#31 August 23. Quarantine In Queens, Day 158

i Asked My Ex-Wife If She Would Hold Me.

Image credits: neilochka

#32 September 7, Quarantine In Queens, Day 173.

labor Day 2020. The Family. Alone Together.

Image credits: neilochka

#33 September 11, Quarantine In Queens, Day 177

Today we wondered what fall and winter will bring for our unusual family. It’s been six months like this. Had this pandemic never happened, by now, I would be in New York on my own, my mother in Florida, and Sophia back in Los Angeles. But here we are in the park in Queens, Sophia’s feet on my shoulders, my mom hovering behind, only my mother’s blue glove reminding us of the danger still around us. But what next?

Image credits: neilochka

#34 September 13, Quarantine In Queens, Day 179

Neil: “Sophia, look what I found in my closet. It’s the topper from our wedding cake.”

Sophia: “That’s not ours. It looks like it’s from the 19th Century.”

Neil: “Of course it’s ours. Who else’s could it be?”

Sophia: “Maybe it’s your mother’s. Mom! Is this from your wedding cake?!”

Mom: “Who remembers things like that? I barely remember what we ate for lunch. I don’t think it’s mine. Maybe it’s my in-laws?”

Neil: “No, it’s ours. Am I the only sentimental one here?”

Sophia: “You’re the sentimental one?

Neil: “Are you kidding me? When we were moving your stuff into storage, you were going to throw away your wedding dress! I saved it and packed it in the box! It didn’t matter if we were divorced or not. It’s history! I even brought the wedding album back to New York! I keep track of everything.”

Sophia: “We’ll, let’s look at our wedding album and we’ll see if this was on top of our wedding cake.”

I looked for our wedding album in my closet, my mother’s closet, the bookshelves, the drawer chest.

Three hours later.

Sophia: So, where’s the album?

Neil: “Uh…”

To be continued. Maybe.

Image credits: neilochka

#35 September 19, Quarantine In Queens, Day 185

We didn’t plan on it, but we decided after dinner to put on a zoom synagogue service to watch for Rosh Hashanah, mostly because it was easy to do, and we didn’t have to wear shoes. And we turned on the zoom just as they started doing the memorial part of the service, and suddenly the rabbi started to cry and said that Ruth Bader Ginsburg just died.

I was up all night sad about the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I also couldn’t help notice that the late Chief Justice and my mother were both born in NYC in 1933. Completely different people, with way dissimilar career achievements, but I bet they would have hit it off. Sometimes I get pissed when I hear people say they don’t need to wear masks during a pandemic because the virus mostly kills old people, and they are sitting at home anyway. I think RGB is a testament that you can be a worthy force in society even in your late eighties, and it’s worthwhile for society to help protect this vulnerable population as they contribute their wisdom and experience, just like the rest of us. A person’s importance doesn’t end because of the slowing down of the aging body.

Image credits: neilochka

#36 November 26, Quarantine In Queens, Day 253

Thanksgiving, 2020. If there is one public event that I love in New York it’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. So, we were disappointed when we found out that this year was going to be a TV-only parade because of Covid-19. But then Sophia had an idea. We could buy some big animal balloons on Amazon and then parade around our living room, making our own special Thanksgiving Day event! We received the balloons from Amazon, and this morning, all we had to do was blow them up. We saw online that the Party Store would inflate balloons not bought in the store for a fee, but when we got there, we were told that the new policy was prohibiting them from touching any balloons not bought at the store, because of the pandemic. We called the dollar store, the florist, the stationery store, and the hookah store, but they all refused for the same reason. Our plans were falling apart. Who wants to do a parade with droopy balloons without any helium? Was this another casualty of the pandemic? This is when Sophia remembered the Halal supermarket where she bought “loosies,” when no one else would sell us anything but a $20 full pack of cigarettes for a photo shoot we did recently. Would they also be able to blow up our balloons during this parade crisis of ours?

Thank you, Halal Supermarket, for making our Thanksgiving Day a special one. You just made America great again!

Image credits: neilochka

#37 December 21, Quarantine In Queens, Day 279

This is a photo of us from right before the pandemic hit Queens. You can tell it was taken in February 2020 because we all look ten years younger. No one knew yet what the year would bring. We had recently started sharing the apartment on a temporary basis. Sophia had just shipped her car over from Los Angeles. The weatherman on the local news predicted snow later in the week. I never drove in New York, and Sophia only knew Southern California, so we bought this shovel at a hardware store, in case we need to shovel it from the snow. We did a silly selfie together for Facebook. Our very first snow shovel! The weatherman was wrong, and it never did snow. The shovel languished in the car trunk all spring, summer, and fall.

It snowed on Thursday, nine months later, on the day before we were interviewed about our quarantine photos on the Today Show. We were so focused on setting up our new ring light that we forgot about shoveling the car. On the Today Show, we joked with Al Roker. He was touched about how our quarantine experience has made us love each other as a family even more.

The next morning, we discovered that the city had plowed snow all over Sophia’s car. The snow had turned to ice. There was no way to move the car. Our shovel we bought was trapped in the trunk. We blamed each other for the situation. A neighbor approached to congratulate us for being on TV. We were now local celebrities and couldn’t argue in public anymore!

For three days now, we have been chipping away at the ice surrounding the car. It’s still trapped. I have spent my time doing two more interviews about how much our family loves each other, while arguing with Sophia about her Toyota Prius rusting in the streets of Queens.

It’s nice that we have been getting some media attention for my photos. But I’d trade it all in a second to go back to the family in the photo from February 2020, when we weren’t so stressed after ten months living together during a pandemic.

Image credits: neilochka

#38 December 28, Quarantine In Queens, Day 286

My mother has always been more of a canned vegetables type of cook. She also makes a great tuna fish sandwich. Sophia is a gourmet cook and has been spoiling us for months with delicious exotic meals and freshly baked bread. My mother also found a new kitchen-related passion — she has become obsessed with keeping the kitchen clean, even constantly checking the oven to see if anything was left behind. Maybe this pandemic turns everyone OCD. This has created some tension in the house lately between the two women. This kitchen is not big enough for both of them Luckily, I know how to diffuse any situation. When our old fridge finally died last week, I ordered a new one, not realizing that I bought a model where the door handles were on the wrong side. So now, no one can open the fridge or the oven! Problem solved.

Image credits: neilochka

#39 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 ago 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 out 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.

Image credits: neilochka

#40 March 27, Quarantine In Queens, Day 15. The Imaginary Opening Day Of The 2020 Baseball Season. And The Mets Are Already Doing Better Than Last Year

Image credits: neilochka

#41 April 3, Quarantine In Queens, Day 22. The Family That Self-Medicates Together, Stays Together

Image credits: neilochka

#42 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 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.

Image credits: neilochka

#43 April 22, Quarantine In Queens, Day 41

People are protesting because they want to get a haircut. I want a haircut too, but I’m accepting the limits of the monent. ⁣

We keep the printer in the dining room because there is no room anywhere else. We were in the living room when we heard a loud BANG. A picture hanging in the dining room fell off the wall fell off and landed on the printer. ⁣

“I’ll fix it later,” I said.⁣

That was three days ago. And no one has noticed that I haven’t fixed it. And no one seems to care. We’re accepting the limits of the moment.

Image credits: neilochka

#44 April 30, Quarantine In Queens, Day 49

Sophia came to me in the middle of the day with a printout of a Google Docs that she created.⁣

“Maine. It’s Maine. I made a list of which state in the East Coast has been least affected by the pandemic, and it’s Maine.”⁣

“So what?”⁣

“I think things are going to get worse, not better. I think we should go to Maine for three months. I’ve already found a rental on Zillow. We can walk to the water there and get the f*ck out of Queens!”⁣

“We can’t afford to go to Maine for three months. We’re not like Alec Baldwin with a second house in the Hamptons.”⁣

“We can split it three ways. You, me, and your mother A lot of people are leaving the city.”⁣

“I’m not leaving the city for three months.”⁣

“Why not? It will be good for your mother. We will have more space. We’ll stop killing each other.”⁣

“I”m in the middle of a photo project getting attention about us living in Queens during a pandemic! No one wants to see us running away to Maine and eating lobsters by the shore. It will ruin the project.”⁣

“You’re worried about your photography project more than our lives? That’s the most selfish thing I ever heard.”⁣

“And by the way, I don’t even think my mother eats lobster because it’s not kosher.”⁣

“Yeah, but she loves Murder She Wrote. That’s in Maine.”⁣

“Besides, I hear that some states don’t even want you there if you have a New York license. We’ll be ostracized and even beaten up by the locals the minute we drive into Maine.”⁣

“We have that covered. I have a California license on my car.”⁣

And last night, I was up all night, thinking about this this crazy idea while I heard sirens in the background. I’ve never been to Maine. But I doubt that we will do it. Just a fantasy.

Image credits: neilochka

#45 May 11, Quarantine In Queens, Day 61

We’ve Passed The Two Month Mark. ⁣ ⁣ we’ve All Been Sleeping Way Too Much, Even In The Afternoon. You Don’t Need To Be Freud To Know It’s Depression. There’s A Limit To How Long Someone Can Be Quarantined With The Same People All The Time Without It Affecting Your Mental Health. ⁣ ⁣ “We Need To Exercise,” I Said. We Need To Move Around. We Need To Dance, For Our Mental Health.”⁣ ⁣ i Put A Disco Radio Station On Pandora. “Stayin’ Alive” From Saturday Night Fever Was On.⁣ ⁣ “Stayin’ Alive… Stayin’ Alive…”⁣ ⁣ the Song Seemed Appropriate For A Pandemic. ⁣ “Ooh, I Love The Bee Jays,” Said My Mother.⁣ ⁣ “It’s The Bee Gees, Not The Bee Jays,” Said Sophia, Laughing. “Do You Know What Bjs Are?”⁣ ⁣ “No,” Answered My Mother.⁣ ⁣ “Blowjobs.”⁣ ⁣ “Oh.”⁣ ⁣ i Was Getting Uncomfortable With My Ex-Wife And My Mother Discussing Blowjobs.⁣ ⁣ “Let’s Dance,” I Said. “For Our Mental Health.”⁣ ⁣

Image credits: neilochka

#46 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 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.

Image credits: neilochka

#47 June 10, Quarantine In Queens, Day 88

This month is the birthday of my late father, Arthur Kramer. I wonder how he would have dealt with the last three months with us. He worked at Queens General Hospital, a New York City hospital, and I bet he would have done whatever he could to help the other staff members deal with the Covid crisis in NYC. He certainly would not have approved of the President’s abhorrent behavior during this time when leadership was needed. My dad was not anti-police. For a time, in the 1970’s, he even joined the local “police auxiliary” as a middle-man between the 107th Precinct in Queens and the community. I have funny pictures of him in his ill-fitting volunteer police uniform. But he would be aghast at the thought of any police brutality, and I have a feeling he would have been the first one in my family to support Black Lives Matter. He was active as a community person, way more than I have ever been, going to weekly community board meetings and working with several progressive organizations. His motto was “Be of Good Cheer,” which we put on his tombstone. He also liked Entermann’s donuts and rum raisin ice cream. He was definitely more of a man to admire than Donald Trump, who also has a birthday this month.

Image credits: neilochka

#48 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.⁣⁣

Image credits: neilochka

#49 May 16, Quarantine In Queens, Day 66

We took our first trip as a family to a local park. It was a beautiful day, and it was so nice to finally go outside. But there were so many people not wearing masks. I can understand the reluctance. It is uncomfortable going to the park on a sunny day while wearing a mask. Unfortunately, it is stressful for anxious folks like us, whether the paranoia is warranted or not. Our excursion was exhausting, especially for my mother. Part of it was our own fault, with Sophia and I constantly telling her what she could and couldn’t touch, as if we were helicopter parents. We’ll try it again in a few days, and hopefully we can all be a little more relaxed, and treat this situation as more normal. After two months of hiding indoors, a mild form of PTSD has settled in, and just being outside seems new, strange, and slightly dangerous.

Image credits: neilochka

#50 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.

Image credits: neilochka

#51 July 15. Quarantine In Queens, Day 123

Last month, Sophia and I woke up early each day and walked one of the trails at a nearby park. The trails are green enough to give the illusion that you are in Vermont, not Queens. But we stopped going after two incidents where Sophia confronted others who weren’t wearing masks. Sophia didn’t like that she was the one who always said something, while I hid in the corner. Today we decided to walk in the park again. I promised her that I will be most proactive in any exchange with the maskless.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
With the park being crowded this morning, Sophia suggested we hike the “difficult” of the four trails. We would encounter fewer people. ⁣
⁣⁣
Everything was fine on the trail until we reached an obstacle – a huge tree that had fallen over and blocked the path. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
“OK, we should head back,” I said.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
“No way,” she answered. You should go over it first, and then help me over.”⁣⁣
⁣⁣
“Why should I be going over first?”⁣⁣
⁣⁣
“Because you’re the man.” ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
I hate when she says that, but she knows how to push my buttons. I climbed over the fallen tree, and then reached for her hand.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Sophia lifted up her dress so she wouldn’t dirty it, revealing her underwear. She grabbed my hand and pulled a leg over the tree, but couldn’t make it completely over. She ended up on the tree, her legs dangling from each side of the tree trunk, as if riding a horse. ⁣⁣⁣⁣I pulled her over to the other side. She was still holding her dress up. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
“Now I got my panties all dirty and wet. Make sure there’s no splinters on me.”⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Her dress still up, I crouched down in front of her and started wiping the dirt off her panties. ⁣ A young fit couple approached, wearing matching outfits. But no masks.⁣ Sophia realized that her dress was still up, so she dropped the hem over my head. ⁣From under Sophia’s dress, I could feel the disapproval of the couple as they passed by. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
“Pervs,” muttered the woman under her breath.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
I stuck my head out from under the dress, remembering my promise to Sophia to be more proactive with maskless. ⁣

“Yeah, but at least we’re wearing masks,” I yelled at the couple.

Image credits: neilochka

#52 July 17. Quarantine In Queens. Day 125

I couldn’t sleep last night. Out of nowhere, this woman I once dated, who now lives in Boston, was texting me, seeing if I was up. It didn’t surprise me. Over the last four months, this pandemic has reconnected me with so many people. Even former enemies have tried to create bridges, asking for apologies, just in case one of us happens to die. I told this woman about my situation living with my mother and ex-wife. She laughed. She told me that she was living alone, and feeling lonely. I told her she should be out there dating. She reminded me that there is NO DATING during Covid-19. I told her that everyone was feeling lonely now. It wasn’t natural being home so much, isolated from friends, and not meeting new, interesting people. She said she was touching herself. She asked me if I was touching myself. I said yes. I heard my mother leaving her bedroom and going into the bathroom. I revealed to my friend that I wasn’t really touching myself. I just was enjoying saying hello to her and knowing that she was doing OK during this crisis. She said she wasn’t really touching herself either. I told her that I had to wake up early to get to the laundry room before anyone else. She told me how hard it has been finding her favorite brand of laundry detergent in Boston during the pandemic and couldn’t understand why anyone would be hoarding Tide. I laughed. “Crazy times,” I said. And then we hung up and I tried to sleep.

Image credits: neilochka

#53 September 17, Quarantine In Queens, Day 183

On March 7, most of us in America weren’t taking Covid-19 very seriously. It was happening mostly in China, we were told. It was my birthday that day and we decided to have breakfast out in a local diner. Sophia brought along a bottle of Purel, gloves for using the menu, and a mask to wear when the waitress arrived. My mother and I were embarrassed by Sophia, thinking that she insulted the owner of the diner, as if we thought his establishment was contagious. People at the adjacent table were even snickering at us. Oh, well… it’s now almost seven months later, and the three of us are still here, defiant. But the diner where I went for my birthday is gone.

Image credits: neilochka

#54 September 23, Quarantine In Queens, Day 189

3AM. When something is named and defined, either by yourself or other, it immediately changes. It becomes a “thing.” I love how my pandemic experience with Sophia and my mother, shared on social media, has connected with others dealing with their own times of isolation. I’m a firm believer that humor helps us connect to the truth. But I don’t want to use humor to avoid my other feelings, of anxiety or sadness. I’m living this project in real time, and don’t know where it is leading. I can be funny. Moody. Political. Angry. And pretentious. It’s hard to do artsy stuff and not be a little pretentious. Basically, I’m revealing to myself that I don’t know what I’m doing. Do any of us? The hardest part of the last seven months hasn’t been figuring out how to live with my mother and ex-wife in a small apartment in Queens, but how to spend so much time with myself.

Image credits: neilochka

#55 November 4, Quarantine In Queens, Day 231

the Morning After Election Day. Sophia And I Were Up All Night, Even Though We Were Watching The Returns From Separate Rooms Because We Were Making Each Other Too Anxious. I Will Never Forget That Moment When The President Of The United States Tried To Steal The Election By Saying We Should Not Count The Votes Of American Citizens. The Most Unamerican Thing I Have Ever Seen.

Image credits: neilochka

#56 November 6, Quarantine In Queens, Day 233

Months ago, when the pandemic started, I gave my bed to Sophia, and I’ve been mostly sleeping on the old sofabed in the living room. The mattress sucks; it sags and creaks. During the last few weeks, I’ve been having bad dreams at night about the current President of the United States. Today, Sophia surprised me with a new sofabed. It’s a perfect day for it to arrive seeing how the election results are in. I hope to have fewer bad dreams now for two reasons – a better mattress and the end of a national nightmare.

Image credits: neilochka

#57 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.

Image credits: neilochka