Community Palette

Continuing to Stay Safe, Healthy and Sane ...

April 29, 2020

It is easy to lose count of how long we have been quarantined as the days just drift into one another especially if you live alone and don’t have a full-time job you are doing from home.  Yesterday one of my morning Java House Zoom companions said, “I woke today and my nine-year-old petulant self was saying, “Open the damn country.”

(Photo by: Peter Rosenstein)

It occurred to me my nine-year-old self has said the same adding, “Dammit I want to go eat out, go play on the beach, walk the boardwalk, see my friends and hug them. Enough of staying at home mostly alone.” But after a couple of moments it sunk in I am no longer a nine-year-old and getting over my little sulk accepted why we are quarantined and why we can’t yet open the county. Then it dawned on me listening to Trump say dumb things like we should consider drinking or injecting Lysol or bleach, we have a President who is not only a moron but in his rush to try to reopen the nation is still acting like a petulant nine-year-old. Now, that is criminal. 

As a senior I know I am more susceptible to this virus. Having had some health issues, though now fine, being careful has been important. It means never going into a store without my mask and wearing one on my afternoon walks. Washing my hands so often they are getting chapped. It means wearing the mask and gloves when going to the basement in my condo to do the wash, something I haven’t done in years since there was someone who came to clean every two weeks and did that. For my safety and hers that won’t happen again till this is over. Since I am fortunate and can afford to, she is still being paid. 

(Photo by: Peter Rosenstein)

Like so many of us during the first few weeks of this quarantine I would immerse myself in the TV news watching the moron in the White House every evening during his press conference/political rally and watching an impressive Andrew Cuomo every afternoon. Would have cable news on much of the day, yelling back at the TV and being inundated with reports of what is happening around the world. I have stopped that now because it was just too depressing. Found myself tearing up regularly every time I heard about another death, about another child not having food, about another family torn apart from a loved one who was sick but they couldn’t be with them. I cried when I heard my good friend and political mentor Arlene Stringer-Cuevas, mother of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, died from the virus. Teared up every time another FB friend told of a friend or relative who died from the virus. Then found myself tearing up thinking about all those dying of other causes and knowing their families can’t hold funerals. I think of my parent’s funerals and wonder what it would have been like to not be able to honor them and get the closure they brought with family and friends around when each of them passed. 

So I have found each day how important it is to find something to enjoy, something to smile about, and something to be hopeful about in these difficult times. To hear funny stories about my friends' kids, to continue to enjoy the flowers and beauty around me on every afternoon walk which I share daily on FB. Amazing how many things I notice on my walks around the city that never registered before. Plaques on buildings I once just passed. Remembering how great it feels to be able to help someone else. Small things like finding paper towels in the local Safeway for my ninety-two year old neighbor. 

(Photo by: Peter Rosenstein)

There is always a feeling of guilt when avoiding people on the street. When someone walks towards me and I walk into the street to make sure I am keeping six feet of separation. Avoiding a street person who comes toward me without a mask. So to make up for that and in some way assuage my guilt each afternoon I sit at my computer and find a charity to which I can make a small donation. Realizing with each click of the donate button how fortunate I am knowing I will never go without a home or without food. So it makes me feel good to give a donation to Casa Ruby in DC; or to an organization like Martha’s Table.  While I have no particular talent I love the theater, am a theater reviewer, and want to make sure it will return and all those talented artists can continue to provide us with joy. Some doing it now online like Michael Urie who raised over $200,000, including my small donation, for Actors Equity with his brilliant online performance of Buyer & Cellar. Lady Gaga who helped coordinate the One World Together spectacular raising $128 million, including my small donation.  Giving a small donation to the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Phoenix Fund to help keep that brilliant DC Treasure alive when this is all over and life can return to whatever our new normal is. 

Each of us is dealing with this pandemic in our own way. Many of my friends on FB are cooking and baking and sharing pictures of the incredible delicacies they are making. Guess I could have put a picture of last night’s Lean Cuisine dinner online, lol. No matter what you are doing to pass the time and keep yourself safe, healthy and sane remember we are all in this together. Reach out to friends, check on your neighbor, and keep busy. This will eventually pass and hopefully we will all be here to celebrate together. Those of you who are young remember you will be telling stories to your grandkids about, “What I did during the Coronavirus pandemic back in 2020.” Make sure those will be really good stories. 

Click here to share your thoughts.

Staying Safe, Healthy and Sane and Seeing Beauty in the World

April 9, 2020

As a senior living alone in DC this crisis brings with it some interesting thoughts and feelings. One is how important it is to remain connected to friends, and second to have a schedule to keep my sanity and remain positive. I have found taking walks around DC, keeping safe social distance from others, is wonderful. I take pictures of the incredible array of spring flowers to remind me there is still beauty in the world and life goes on despite this pandemic.

(Photo by: Peter Rosenstein)

Friends know in normal times I am up each day at 6:30 am and start my day at Java House for coffee. Our coffee group has been meeting for over twenty years, rain or shine for whoever is in town, except Thanksgiving and Christmas when Java is closed. There are about twenty-five of us each occasionally bringing friends. Inside in winter the rest of the year on the patio. Bebee, the mainstay of the Java staff, knows what each of us drinks and eats and as soon as she sees us we are served. For me it has become family.

While not a very diverse group, all are liberal Democrats, we do argue politics and everything else. Some are sports fanatics others into the theater. Over the twenty years the group has aged but we try to invite newbies and there are a fair number of youngsters (I consider youngsters anyone from twenty-one to forty-five) to join us. Some in the group work for the State Department, some like me had government and non-profit experience, two former members of Congress, a Dean at American University, some techies and of course some lawyers one a former Solicitor General and another a Cabinet Secretary.  As you can imagine it is a group with a lot of opinions and no one is hesitant to voice theirs. A few years ago someone wrote on YELP “I love Java House in the mornings except for Peter Rosenstein and his bloviating pensioners”. We took offense only at the term pensioners as many in the group were still working full time. We accepted bloviating which at times is appropriate. 

So when Covid-19 arrived in DC and Java House was limited to take-out coffee and bagels, it was tough.  Then one of our group set up a Zoom Kaffeklatch each morning which has been a godsend for me during this stressful time. I can walk to Java at 7:30am, get my coffee to go, and then get on zoom for an hour and chat with everyone. We have had guests join us from as far away as Mexico and Paris. Occasionally inviting an expert on some topic to join us.  It has been the social outlet I need. Some have used zoom for virtual cocktail hours and dinners. Friends did a virtual Passover Seder. I had a zoom appointment with my dermatologist. 

(Photo by: Peter Rosenstein)

For me having a schedule has been important. It has included exercise hours, and regular mealtimes now that meals have become solo events usually in front of the TV. I have tried to keep to a healthy diet but cheated recently with ice cream.  I am always impressed how the cookie section of my local Safeway is always restocked but have stayed away from it thus far. By-the-way can’t say thank-you enough to the great people working at Safeway and all the grocery stored in DC for their work during these difficult times. They are truly on the front lines along with our first responders; healthcare workers, police, EMS, and fire. My friends share pictures on FB of all the things they have baked but since the only kitchen appliance I am familiar with is a microwave I unfortunately have no pictures to share. 

The rest of my day is occupied with reading everything from The Georgetown Dish, New York Times, Washington Post and junk novels. Thanks to Kindle there are an endless supply of those. I spend too much time on FB and have called friends around the world some of whom I haven’t talked with in years. Remember we are all in this together. 

I continue to write my regular columns for the Washington Blade but now do them for free. It’s part of my donation to the Blade which is one of those small but crucial news sources. The Blade serves the LGBTQ+ community across the nation and I believe its survival is crucial.  As a founding board member of the Blade Foundation I urge anyone who can to make a small donation.

(Photo by: Peter Rosenstein)

It is my hope you are all finding a way to stay safe and healthy in both mind and body. Those of you with families, lovers or friends quarantined with you surely have all kinds of other things to do. My good friends are making sure their triplets are keeping up with their school work. 

Wherever you are it is important to check in with your neighbors by phone, email and any other way you can. We will get through this crisis if we stick together (just with that six foot separation and a mask) and just maybe it will bring a lasting understanding of the importance of community. Only together will we survive and thrive and I know we will.  

Click here to share your thoughts.

Will Sanders Do the Right Thing in 2020?

March 31, 2020

In 2016, when it was clear Hillary Clinton had the required number of delegates to win the nomination and Sen. Bernie Sanders had lost he refused to accept the result and pushed on to the convention continuing to incite his supporters against Clinton. Let’s hope he will not do the same in 2020 to Joe Biden.


There were times before when a losing candidate’s supporters threatened not to work for the nominee but in 2016 it was the candidate himself who made things worse. In 2020, let’s hope Sanders will talk to his supporters and convince them how important it will be to unite behind the nominee of the party in the general election.


In 2008, I was an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton and was an elected delegate for her to the convention in Denver. It had been a hard fought campaign and contrary to the 2016 primary campaign, which Hillary won by four million votes, the vote count was about equal between she and Barack Obama. Nevertheless he won the delegates needed for the nomination. Hillary called a meeting of her delegates at the convention and told us what she would do and asked that we enthusiastically support her when she stood on the floor to ask the convention to make the Obama nomination unanimous.


Just prior to the convention when it was clear Obama would have the needed delegates for the nomination I wrote a column for the Washington Blade pledging my support for him and urged everyone to do the same. I was pilloried by a large group of Hillary supporters who called themselves PUMAs, which stood for ‘Party Unity my Ass.’ The difference between 2008 and 2016 was Hillary not only spoke to unity, she and Bill campaigned enthusiastically with and for Obama across the nation. In 2016, Sanders did the opposite. He kept Hillary waiting for 30 days leading into the convention refusing to endorse her and actually kept inciting his supporters against her. Then after the convention, when Sanders did travel the country to ostensibly support Hillary, you only had to listen to realize all his speeches were about him. We later learned he was already taking notes for his book, which would make him one of the millionaires he had spent his campaign railing against.


Now with the Democratic primary in 2020 all but over, Sanders has a chance to make up for that. As I write this column, it is already clear Biden will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. If the results of the Tuesday primaries match the polling in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona (Ohio postponed due to coronavirus) and prove anywhere near to being correct they will have been the nail in the coffin of Sanders’s campaign. So Sanders will have the opportunity to make a quick endorsement and pledge to truly campaign for the nominee and move to unify the party.

His role must focus on urging his supporters, particularly those who stayed home or voted for a third party in 2016 in a protest against Clinton to understand if they do that again they are helping to reelect Trump. After four years of Trump they now know how dangerous that will be to any of their dreams and aspirations and to democracy as we know it.

Sanders can remind them if Democrats don’t take back the presidency and the Senate, Trump will continue to nominate, and the Senate will confirm, lifetime ultra-conservative judges who will rule against all they believe in for generations. In 2020, Sanders has to control his ego and accept he will never be president of the United States. If he is able to do that he will have that major role in electing a Democratic president and defeating Trump. While he and Biden may differ on many things I do believe Sanders will fight for our country and fight to protect the Constitution. Defeating Trump may just depend on his doing that.

1 Comment   Click here to share your thoughts.