The list

I’m heading to New York and environs soon for a bit. Don’t worry, I’ll take you along.

Since the 1990s, I think, I’ve had a “travel list.” It’s a list of things I need to pack for my trips. I’ve always taken a carry-on bag, even in the winter, I am able to manage that in some way and I guess the list helps me from over-packing.

Anyway, I was getting the list out, to check it before I pack and I noticed there is something I have to add to the list. Face masks!

I’ve added and subtracted things to the list over the years, but it felt weird adding masks. I know I can easily purchase some in NY if need be, but I will need one for the airport and plane, so I don’t want to forget them.

Another thing I have added to the list are the workout/resistance bands I’ve been using. I haven’t been to the gym for almost a year and a half, but the workout bands are a great replacement.

I had bought a few different ones until I got what I liked. I use them all the time. They work. And they are so easy to throw into the luggage for traveling.

I should have saved the lists over the years, just to see what was on it in the past, which I have changed out over time.

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What a difference a year makes

A recent cartoon made me laugh before I even drew it. It wasn’t the cartoon or subject matter itself. It’s the fact that as I sat down to draw, I said out loud, “Let’s get this scene done!” I guess I think I’m shooting a movie or something these days. And possibly I am. I am the writer, director, cameraman and so on. So maybe it is a scene being shot.

I like the juxtaposition of this cartoon with one I did about a year ago, around the beginning of the pandemic. This one below.

They are both confusing due to the masks. In the last case above, masks are becoming a thing of the past, but the bank robber wants to keep his on. In the earlier one below, the bank robber is sort of infringed upon by everyone wearing masks, which struck me quite funny the first time I walked into a bank and saw everyone, including myself, wearing masks.

Here’s a little secret – they were both done around the same time – a year or so ago. The top one originally was the lady banker telling the man banker, to “calm down, it’s ok to wear masks in the bank today.” And the customer didn’t have a gun. He was just a customer with a mask. But it sat for a year and eventually, I changed the wording, added a gun and there you have it.

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No more touching

The pandemic will have us doing all sorts of new things; you know, changes in our behavior and customs.

I noticed yesterday that I automatically DIDN’T shake hands. And now that I think about it, I don’t shake anyone’s hand anymore. At the beginning of the pandemic, we had to think about it and then pull back, now it just comes naturally – don’t touch each other.

Yesterday, I was with a friend and he said, “Tom, this is so-and-so” and he introduced me to some new guy in town. I said, “Hi, nice to meet you,” and that was that. We were a few feet away, shaking distance, but neither of us attempted to shake hands. All three of us talked for about half an hour and then parted, but no one shook hands then either.

I think I mentioned this before – I don’t like to shake hands, although in the past I would do it, and I don’t like to hug or kiss, which in the past, I did. But I guess this is a thing of the past. No more of this touching each other when meeting and greeting.

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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.