A good exhaustion

So my friend who visited from NY is on a plane on his way home as we speak. I miss him. But I’ll see him in a couple of months when I go to NY so that will be fun.

But let me tell you something. If you haven’t gotten back to your after-pandemic routine, you know – back to normal, you may be in for a rude awakening.

I like to think I am in good shape, but after not doing much for the past year and not going to the gym, let me tell you – I am beat after everything we’ve done. It’s almost as if I need a day off in between our outings.

He said to me yesterday that I seemed very low-key, not down, but very quiet, “low energy” are the words he used. He said I wasn’t like my usual lively self. He was right. I was exhausted from all the walking and site seeing and other things we did. We had a cool/cold winter here and now the heat and humidity is starting to kick in so that takes a lot out of you. And not having done much exercise or walking in the past year makes a difference when you walk nine miles a day in the heat and humidity!

But it feels good. It’s a good exhaustion, like when you do a hard day’s work and you feel you’ve accomplished something. That’s how I feel.

The after effects of the vaccine

So I got the side effects from the Moderna vaccine, which sort of makes me happy I didn’t go up north for the funeral. But I am also surprised, as I never seem to feel pain. What I mean is that I have a high tolerance for pain, a high threshold.

I’ve had a tooth pulled and gotten pain killers, but never needed the pain killers. I have had other things where I got pain killers but never needed them. So I didn’t think I would feel the side effects.

I didn’t get chills, but I did feel cold all day and I wore a sweater. I didn’t feel feverish, but I did feel drained. I was weak and every muscle in my body hurt. I was totally out of it. I didn’t leave the house and tried to sleep a lot of the day.

The good part is that this is an indication that the vaccine is working.

I have a friend in town from New York. Luckily he is at a hotel and not staying with me so he is off doing his own thing today and did yesterday. We hung out the other days before that. But at least I’m not putting a drain on his vacation and he’s finding his way around to the beach, Everglades, etc. He tells me he is like a kid in a candy story while visiting Miami for his first time.

Tomorrow we are going to do some touristy things together.

Traveling in the time of covid vaccines

My aunt passed away in New York the other day and I am unable to attend her wake and funeral, and ironically it’s because of her! She is a second mother to me and my cousins are brothers and sisters to me, so it really hurts not to go.

But I got my second vaccine shot yesterday and the nurse suggested I don’t travel in case of side effects. My aunt insisted, she called it nagging, that I get the shots. I said I was not old enough yet, but she insisted and I managed to go. She kept checking up on me – “Did you go yet?” “Which shot did you get?” When is your follow-up shot?” She was so instant.

She just couldn’t deal with being cooped up in the house for a year, so she was so looking forward to normalcy.

So when I mentioned at the vaccine site that I was trying to get a flight to NY, the nurse suggested I don’t. She said, “There may be side effects with the second shot and I don’t think you want to be up in the air or away from home if this should happen.”

I normally would ignore this, but a few years back I had kidney problems, which ended up being kidney failure, only I didn’t know a the time. And the night before I was to leave New York and head home, I really got sick. The next morning, I don’t know how I made it to the airport and onto that plane. I remember waking up and not knowing how I was going to get out of bed, I still don’t remember getting to the airport, but I remember feeling like death on the plane, wishing we were home already. So that thought creeped into my head when the nurse mentioned the issue and I decided I don’t want a repeat, even though they would only be side effects.

I ended up in the hospital for eight days with kidney failure, but that was a few years back and I’m perfect now – that’s another story.

But back to that trip. When I got to the airport, I ran into a friend Jerry, who was on my flight. So we sat together at the terminal waiting for the plane and as he was talking, it was going right through me. Everything bothered me – voices, the light, etc. There were two or three nuns sitting nearby who were talking and their voices were driving me crazy, too. I always remember that – and they were nuns – how loud could they be chatting?

A couple of years later, I told Jerry about it. I don’t think he knew I was sick at the time. I said, “Jerry, remember that time we were at the airport together?” And I went on to tell him how everything he did and said went right through me.

He laughed and said, “Well, I thought you were in trouble. You looked so bad and you smelled awful! I could barely be around you.” He went on, “I thought you had gone to NY for a week or two to do drugs or something! That’s how bad you looked and smelled!”

I said, “That’s funny, because why would I leave Miami, the drug capital, to go to NY to do drugs?”

Then when I read up on it, I saw that if you have kidney failure or problems, your urine and other toxins excrete from your pores. So I really must have smelled awful at the time! I was too out of it to notice others on the plane, but they must have been shunning me. Which reminds me of another story.

Years ago, when you could actually move around the plane, I was sitting next to a guy who smelled so awful, I couldn’t stay next to him. I got up and moved my seat back some rows. I left my carry-on bag under the seat but I just picked myself up and moved. He kept looking back, wondering where I had gotten off to, but I just couldn’t stay near him. I was young and nervy then and had the gumption to move, I don’t think I would do that now, or even be allowed to do that now.

But anyway, I won’t be going to NY for the funeral. I am sure my aunt would understand. I did send a big thing of flowers and I sent sympathy cards to everyone separately, rather than just one for the family and I’ve been in touch with my cousins and uncle via phone, text and email. It is going to be a tough thing when I visit in the summer, though.

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The menace of the ocean

Today’s cartoon is more editorial or commentary than funny. It’s about the scourge of our oceans – the jet ski.

Since the pandemic started, I have seen more and more activity on the water, including jet skis. The calm, pretty kayaks and paddle boarders are sometimes menaced by jet ski riders.

I know, I know, I sound like an old man, “Get off my lawn!” “Get out of my water!”

But seriously, I have always been against them. They tear up the ocean bottom in shallow areas and are not good for the sea life. The noise, interruption and chaos is not healthy for them.

I can hear them coming from a mile away. And usually they are racing across the sea, in pairs or more.

I remember years ago, I used to go to a quite beach, where there were hardly any people and one guy would always pull up in his jet ski. I didn’t like it then, I don’t like it now.

Today with all those Spring Break fools, spreading covid and disaster all over the city, jet skis only add to this mess. And it’s never the locals, I guess locals have a respect for the environment. It’s always visitors, tourists. You can sometimes see them pulling the jet skis behind their cars, looking for a dock to accost so they can then attack the water, the fish and the whole environment.

Ok, there’s my rant for the day. I’ll go back to being a happy cartoonist tomorrow.

Shots are coming

This is yesterday’s cartoon. I wasn’t sure how it would be received, would people like it? And lo and behold, people seemed to like it.

I overheard someone say this the other day and thought it was funny, and for some reason, whenever I read it or hear it, it makes me laugh.

But perhaps this is a good idea for those who are hesitant to get the vaccine – a jello shot in exchange for an arm shot. In this case, many people may opt for the two shots, rather than the single Johnson & Johnson shot.

It is an exciting time, just the thought of travel has me excited.

Be an Arts Hero

This cartoon from earlier in the pandemic is being rerun today as part of the Be An Arts Hero campaign, which is Monday, March 15. Cartoonists from all over the world are participating to bring awareness to the arts. Cartoons will start spreading across social media at 9 am eastern time.

The AAEC (Association of American Editorial Cartoonists) has been asked to spread the word about Be An Arts Hero, a push by the arts and cultures sector for direct government support of creatives during the time of coronavirus.

Be An #ArtsHero is joining a national effort of Arts Workers, urging the Biden/Harris administration to support the Arts and Culture sector. Together, cartoonists contributed to this political cartoon initiative.

An original cartoon (or a repurposed or existing cartoon on the subject), is to illustrate a unique point of view on the particular struggles of editorial cartoonists during this crisis.

I chose to repurpose the one shown above, which was first published towards the beginning of the pandemic.

Hashtags and tags include: #ArtsWorkersUnite, #ArtsHero #First100Days, and @JoeBiden, @KamalaHarris, @WhiteHouse, and @BeAnArtsHero. So if you look for them after today, you’ll see the cartoons all over social media and at BeAnArtsHero.com.

The arts and culture stats sheet can be seen here. You’ll see the large economic impact the arts have on our country.

The new normal?

Today’s cartoon reflects something that may be happening in the country; maybe the world. I haven’t seen it personally, but they started talking about it on tv. People who have been vaccinated have an air of arrogance and superiority. And maybe they should.

I got vaccinated yesterday! I hadn’t planned it, I’m not of age yet and I’m not a front line worker, but I got a note from my doctor and I made an appointment at Publix. I tried other places; hospitals and such, but I ended up at Publix. Ironically, I ended up at my family’s Publix. What I mean is the one where I grew up and went to as a kid and where my parents still go. It’s only four blocks from their house! The appointment just popped up and I grabbed it when I had the chance.

I got there early and there only ended up being three of us there – a lady and a man and me. We were in and out fast and it went well. We joked about seeing each other in a month for our next shot. “See you, same place, same time.”

Publix didn’t ask for ID or the doctor’s note or insurance card or anything, which seemed strange, but I guess it’s all about getting people vaccinated more than the paperwork and other stuff. I heard they are opening it to almost everyone now and it’s really going well. When President Biden said there would be 100 million vaccines in 100 days, I doubted that, but it’s happening, we are almost there!

I stopped at my parents’ house for breakfast after my first shot and I’ll do it again after my second shot. Happy that I am on my way to normalcy.

A good friend of mine is against vaccines, I don’t think she has ever been vaccinated in her life. I mentioned that I had seen articles that said in the future if you don’t have a vaccine, you may not be able to fly. I think some airlines in Europe started that rule already. My friend is not happy about this, but that could be the new normal. There is talk of digital “travel passports” now, for domestic and international travel.

I didn’t mind last year, I am glad I experienced it – all the changes in the world, etc. But I think it’s time to get back to normal now. The new normal. Whatever that is.

No one cares anymore

I saw this cartoon by Steve McGinn on Facebook yesterday. It made me laugh because it’s true and funny, but it reminded me of a guy who lives here in town. I wrote about him back in May.

There’s this guy who rides his bike around town naked. Or almost naked. For maybe 25 or 30 years, he has been riding from one end of the city to the next, all over Miami, in a flesh colored thong, so he appears naked and basically is. He’s about 65 now, so picture it. And no, I don’t have a picture. But if you ask anyone in Miami about the naked guy on the bike, they’ll know who you mean. And just recently I saw him all dressed up in a top hat and tails and learned that he is an undertaker and the top hat and tails are his work clothes! Such a juxtaposition.

I’m thinking of this cartoon because toward the beginning of the pandemic, last May, I was with a friend at a bar, which was closed, but had an open pick-up window for food pick-up, and my friend was talking to the naked guy who was the only person on the street with a mask! He wasn’t naked at the time, he was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. But I found it funny that about 12 people where there and the only person wearing the mask was the usually naked guy – all covered up – on his face that is.

Today and for most of the year, they have been strict and everyone must wear a mask if not eating or drinking. I’ve been admonished more than once by the bar/restaurant staff when my mask slipped.

As for the naked guy, the gym won’t allow him in wearing a thong anymore, he has to have a shirt and shorts and whenever I see him at the bike shop in town he is in a t-shirt and shorts.

But just as the cartoon above says, “no one cares anymore,” I guess after 30 years of seeing this guy ride around all of Miami in a flesh-colored thong, no one cares anymore. But it was a funny thing to see him being the only one with a mask. I haven’t seen him riding his bike lately, but I wonder if in his thong he is actually wearing a mask while riding.

Looking forward to normalcy

I made a bunch of travel plans and reservations for later in the year – from the summer on. Hopefully things will be great then and we can travel without concern.

Things seem to be going back to normal little by little. I can sort of tell by the bay activity. What I mean is, I live on the bay, and I remember seeing so much activity in the water during the early days of the pandemic – people kayaking, paddle boarding and so much more, on a daily basis. Now I don’t see that much anymore. I guess now that people are out and about, they aren’t feeling trapped and bored, although all that fun and healthy activity seemed to do them good when they were feeling trapped and bored.

I did create a lot of cartoons which were covid-based – regarding masks, social distancing, working from home, and so on.

I keep seeing on the news that covid infections are dropping dramatically while vaccines are moving along. Many people I know were vaccinated, almost all getting both shots already, including my parents. I am anxious to get vaccinated. I have friends who are against it. But if the numbers of infections are dropping, something good is happening.

I’ve been asked many times if I got my shots. I am not quite sure how old people think I am. But I am nowhere near the age group that is being vaccinated currently.

I did sign up for a few waiting lists – like at Walgreens and CVS, so that when it opens up for the general public, I can get on the appointment list. My own doctor says he won’t have the vaccine for some reason, even though he always has the yearly flu shot.

Anyway, I am anxious to get on a plane again and get away. While last year seemed to fly by, it still was a long, anxious year. We are coming up on a year from when things started getting bad/serious. I remember watching Gov. Cuomo on tv every day, feeling calmed by his demeanor. I remember being afraid to leave the house for a month or so – getting food deliveries all the time.

I’m glad I blogged and cartooned a lot about it. I have it all recorded here in the archives and hopefully it will only live there and never in real life again.

You can see my comics at TomFalco.com, there are links to social media there, too, if you care to follow on a daily basis.

Eating in the time of pandemic

I put on 15 pounds this year. I attribute it to not going the gym.

When I was at the doctor’s last week, he said to me sort of shyly, “I don’t want to insult you or say anything out of line, but you need to take off some weight. You need to push yourself away from the table.”

I noticed that the doctor likes to throw shade, he does it ever so subtly quite often.

I said to the doc, “I am usually 186 lbs. Never 187 or 185, always 186 for some strange reason.”

That day I am 201 lbs. Which of course freaks me out, as I never thought I would reach 200 lbs in my life!

I explained to the doc, that I am not over-eating, I am just not going to the gym. Since muscle burns fat, I attribute it to that. I’m not big eater and I mostly eat vegetarian. I have a friend that gets annoyed that I always leave food on the plate and don’t basically lick it clean like he does. I attribute that to not over-eating. When I’m full, I stop.

The doc was surprised and said, “Most people don’t know that muscle burns fat.” And I thought that strange since I thought everyone, especially gym people knew that. He said, “People think muscle burns sugar.” Which seemed a strange thing to say.

I’ve been craving getting back to the gym, but I still don’t feel safe.

But alas, I think I lost the 15 pounds in a few days. I threw it all up! That and the fact that I have not eaten much for the past three days.

On Sunday, I was sick all day. I woke up light headed and for the next 8 hours I vomited on and off and had dry heaves because my body was so cleaned out!

At first I thought it was covid, but I didn’t have any of the symptoms – fever, loss of taste, smell, headaches, etc. None of that, just light headedness and nausea.

Anyway, by the next day, I was 90% well, just a bit stuffy in the ears, which made me still a bit light headed but today I am 99% well.

I don’t know what it is, but I think it was something I ate. I think it was mushrooms I bought on Saturday. I got them at the hot bar at Whole Foods with a bunch of other stuff – roasted peppers, broccoli, etc. So it was one of those things and I suspect the mushrooms.

It was a dumb idea to get anything from an open food bar in this time of pandemic but luckily it was just food poisoning and not something worse. I ended up throwing all the rest of the prepared food out from the food bar – a big salad, pizza, etc.

The good news – I took the 15 lbs. off. The doc will be happy.