The coronavirus may have New Yorkers on lockdown, but it can’t keep their spirits down.

In cramped apartments across the city, locals are doing everything they can to stay active and connected as the pandemic turns their professional and personal lives upside down. It’s helping them keep their minds off the scary realities of the COVID-19 illness — and it’s also force of habit: You can’t stop New York hustlers from hustling.

One erudite local is tackling Leo Tolstoy’s lengthy “War and Peace” and participating in a Twitter-based book group. A concerned Harlem nanny is cooking meals for single mothers in need of help. Other New Yorkers are brushing up on foreign-language skills, dusting off long-ignored musical instruments or taking up new hobbies, such as baking.

Whatever it is, they’re determined to get to the other side of the viral spread — without losing their minds. Here, locals let us peek inside their windows during lockdown.


“My new place to do yoga is the bathroom . . . No joke. Our bathroom is huge, but still. I have a newborn and toddler — the newborn is sleeping in the master bedroom, the toddler is in her room, and my husband is watching TV in the family room. So the bathroom is my place of solace.” Christine Pepe, 45, Upper West Side, attorney

My heart goes out to all the healthcare professionals and those on the front line leaving their families to serve and take care of ours. I want to say thank you! Self- quarantining has been difficult, but I’m very lucky that I’m able to work from home. I’m trying to focus on the small wins. Alysa Browne, Astoria, @alysabrowne

Alysa Browne's illustration.
Alysa Browne’s illustration.Alysa Browne

“My dad, who’s 72, my son and I are working out virtually every day — including a grandpa-grandson push-up challenge. Jagger, who’s 10, syncs the phone to the TV so Grandpa is on the TV. It’s a pretty good bonding experience.” Liza Maltz, 46, Chelsea, doula

“My 4-year-old is the No. 1 fan of the ‘Frozen’ movies, so my husband and I are writing parody songs about ‘Frozen’ and the coronavirus and posting one a day on YouTube. Creativity in captivity!” Teresa Chi, 39, UWS, teacher

“I got a puppy. I’ve always loved dogs, but I never had the time to devote to raising a puppy. Now that I’ve been spending so much time at home, I decided to commit. She’s a girl named Lilly.” Christopher Rim, 24, Tribeca, CEO and founder, Command Education

“I made these T-shirts. It’s a good reminder for people to keep their social distance.” Sara Marcus, 40-something, Park Slope, mom to Gabriel, 9

Sara Marcus’ son, Gabriel, shows off one of his mom’s T-shirts.Courtesy of Sara Marcus

“My husband and I are watching ‘Love Is Blind’ on Netflix and following up with intense discussion and analysis. Like, doing a Ph.D. on it. We’re obsessed with Jessica and Mark.” Atara Neuer, UWS, mom of 5-month-old

“We had a contest to see who could make the funniest coronavirus poster.” Eileen Rappaport, 49, UWS, and daughter Lily Kate, 9

“I haven’t played the French horn in two years. But I picked it back up again last week, and I’m posting my practice on Instagram. The hashtag was too good to pass up — #horn4quarn.” Rebecca Milzoff, 37, UWS, editor

My husband owns a butcher shop, so he’s still working outside the house and I’m working from home full time while also parenting our 21-month-old daughter, Indiana. I bought Play-Doh as a fun activity for her, but then started making my own food creations. It’s been a nice creative outlet. Jessica Austerlitz, Greenpoint

Jessica Austerlitz's creation.
Jessica Austerlitz’s creation.Jessica Austerlitz

“My toddler and I are creating a baking Instagram . . . but I’m a professional pastry chef and I really can’t stand the mess. It’s rough going.” Katie A. Rosello, 33, UWS (Instagram @ameliakaybakes)

“I am reading ‘War and Peace’ with all kinds of people, including famous authors, on Twitter. It makes me feel more connected to the world to share this great big reading experience of a book considered the literary version of Mount Everest.” Fran Bigman, 40, East Village, writer

“Worked on this the other day because I was very bored. I haven’t been able to go to my studio because of the situation. On the bright side, I’m trying to recycle old drawings for works like this. I’m just trying to find as many things as possible to keep myself busy during this time..” David Huang, Cobble Hill, @omguac

David Huang's artwork.
David Huang’s artwork.David Huang

“I’m cooking for single moms in need of immediate food assistance. Last night was a delivery of vegetable ziti, tamale pie, sauteed cabbage and roasted maple sweet potatoes to a single mom of a 5-year-old on the Upper East Side, who has been surviving on cans of tuna fish.” Diana Kimber Leary, 38, Harlem, chef and nanny (Instagram @iriefoodienyc)

“I have four kids under 8, and we’ve been doing everything to keep busy — from musical chairs to using the the legs of chairs for ‘horseshoes’ with hats, to races with tape on the ground, reading parties, puzzle parties, ‘Ninja Warrior’ competitions, obstacle courses . . .” Nava Silton, 38, UWS, professor of psychology

“We were bored, so the four of us — me, my husband, our 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son — all dyed a strip of our hair magenta-ish. It was my daughter’s idea — she said, ‘Who cares? No one is going to see it.’ My son’s and husband’s didn’t work as well.” Andrea Scopp Robbins, 51, UWS

“There’s a lot of people working to keep us safe during these times. As an artist, I’m happy to make sure they are honored and remembered.” Franco Zacharewski, Crown Heights, @francozacha

Franco Zacharewski's illustration.
Franco Zacharewski’s illustration.Franco Zacharewski

“I majored in Russian studies in college, and I’m using my time in self-quarantine to read books and stories I haven’t gotten around to. Right now I’m reading ‘Bobok,’ by Dostoevsky, in Russian. My mom, who’s 61, is reading ‘Anna Karenina’ in English. I want to help her understand some nuances that might have been lost in translation.” Michael Kosowski, 25, Washington Heights, publicist

“My entire family, which is literally eight people, is holed up together and everyone is learning something new. My dad is taking typing lessons, one brother is learning bass guitar, another brother is learning regular guitar, my husband is producing music, my sister is learning how to cook and I’m teaching my year-old son how to walk.” Ariel Moses, 34, Midtown East, publicist

“pandemic meal plan
stretching the pasta and sauce
to last a second day”
Amy Losak, 63, a writer from Teaneck, NJ, has been writing haiku about the pandemic

“I have more time on my hands now that I’m not commuting to work. I have a goal to bike through every street in Brooklyn.” Jackie VanDusen, 31, Williamsburg, designer

Jackie VanDusen
Jackie VanDusenCourtesy of Jackie VanDusen

“I finished a full-length play, loosely based on my father. I wouldn’t have finished it as quickly as I did if it weren’t for the self-isolation.” Jules Feiler, UWS, 67, writer and publicist

“I’ve always baked — cakes, cookies, pies — but this is my first time making sourdough. Feeding the sourdough starter on a specific schedule to keep the yeast active seemed like a big commitment, but I have the time now. I put out a message on Reddit asking for someone nearby to split their starter with me — I had a loaf the next day.” Jon Gottfried, 29, Queens, co-founder, Major League Hacking

“I’ve always played canasta online to calm down. Now I’m playing at least three hours a day with some friends in Florida and Long Island. Over the weekend, I played online with people I didn’t know and we began chatting — I wasn’t playing well because we were mostly talking.” Aimee Fink, 56, Manhattan, real-estate broker

Aimee Fink
Aimee FinkAimee Fink

“I like to entertain and host people. So, every several days, I’m going to broadcast meet-ups with my friends on Zoom and Facebook Live to cheer people up. Last week, Broadway actor Mallory Bechtel, who lives in my building, came over; this week, Zachary Schmahl, from Schmackary’s, will do a cookie-baking demo. I feel like Ellen.” Scott Sobol, 42, Manhattan, real-estate agent

“Cleaning out my bedroom last week, I found an old Japanese textbook from college — and I thought, since I have so much time now, why not do this? I’m spending two to three hours per day relearning the language’s alphabets.” Victoria Tai, 25, Queens, bartender

“Three or four years ago, I got a ukulele, learned two chords, and then it just sat there. In January, for the new decade, I picked it back up. Lately, in moments of anxiety, I find my hands go straight to it.” Becca Blackmore, 35, Manhattan, writer

I’ve had to move a lot of tools and materials from my studio and into my apartment, where I now work between the couch and a small desk. Keeping myself busy with this quilt keeps me from checking the news every ten seconds. It’s hard and it’s going to keep getting harder for artists like me who work as freelancers, but putting labor into this feels positive right now. Emily Oliveira, Flatbush, @emilyoliveirastudio

Emily Oliveira
Emily OliveiraMax Branigan

“I’ve always wanted to learn how to read tarot cards. On a school trip when I was 10, we visited a fortune teller who touched my hand and told me, ‘You have the gift.’ A friend recently gifted me a pack of hers. The first card I drew was the Hangman: having to stop, having no answers and being completely frozen in time.” Sutton Crawford, 35, Queens

“I’m a New Yorker through and through, and I need comfort food now. That means a bacon, egg and cheese — but instead of going to the bodega, I’m making them at home.” Gwendolyn Sinclair, 41, Brooklyn, real-estate agent

“Me and my 9-year-old nephew, who lives outside Miami, have our own book club. We’re reading ‘The Candymakers,’ a very ‘Willy Wonka’-esque book. We agree on what pages to get to, then we FaceTime to discuss the book.” Caesar Samayoa, Brooklyn, actor, “Come From Away”

I live in the East Village with my boyfriend, who has the coronavirus. It has been difficult, but he is recovering. While we’ve been quarantined from each other in our small one-bedroom apartment, I’ve had more time for my art. I find painting relaxing — almost like problem solving. It creates a true escape for me. Emily Palmer, East Village, @emilypalmer.studio

Emily Palmer's art.
Emily Palmer’s art.Emily Palmer

“The nice thing about all this is that me and my wife get our ‘family dinner time’ back. One of us will cook, and then we’ll sit down for a meal and some TV. I finally convinced her to watch ‘The Mandalorian.’ Also looking forward to ‘Westworld’ Season 3 — killer revolutionary robots, y’all.” Nik Walker, actor, “Ain’t Too Proud”

I’ve been spending some of my time sewing masks. Thanks to a local slack group, I coordinated with someone willing to bring this first batch to a nearby nursing home. Today I’ll be making more, for all the women working at my laundromat and for the parents of a dear friend (plus extra). I’m keeping this kitchen table operation super local, hoping any little bit helps. Nicole Light, Greenpoint, @yomissnicole

Nicole Licht
Nicole LichtNicole Licht

“I did every single piece of laundry the other day. I haven’t been able to do that for months!” Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, actor, “Beetlejuice”

“My wife and I have a 6-month-old Aussie shepherd puppy named Graydon. We had been going for puppy classes and completed a beginning course in agility. Now that everything has essentially shut down, Shannon and I are walking him a few times in Central Park daily and are continuing to work with him on our own.” Marc Kudisch, actor, “Girl From the North Country”

“This whole experience is like an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone.’ So my family and I are watching all of the old episodes — there are 156 — in order on Netflix while we live through this one.” Jeremy Tepper, 56, Jackson Heights, radio program director

“We have a lot of extra time on our hands, and a lot of extra boxes from Amazon shipments. So my partner, Sean, suggested we make a maze for our cat, Ina. It took an hour and a half, and has three floors and seven compartments.” Aliya Naumoff, 40, Chinatown, filmmaker

Aliya Naumoff's cat is a-mazed by her Amazon boxes.
Aliya Naumoff’s cat is a-mazed by her Amazon boxes.Aliya Naumoff

“I am giving daily knitting tutorials in my fashion-and-style Facebook group. We’re doing knitting bees on Zoom every Saturday.” Bridgette Raes, 46, Carroll Gardens, personal stylist

“My background is in early childhood education, so starting Thursday, I’m going to do virtual story time with kids pre-K through third grade. For fourth- to sixth-graders, I’ll teach a short musical-theater dance combination — something simple, from a popular musical like ‘Hairspray.’ ” L. Steven Taylor, performer, “The Lion King”

“I’m going to try to drink my weight in whiskey.” Mark Lerner, 56, Kingston, graphic designer and musician

“My daughter, Brynne, who’s 8, and her friend had a movie night through FaceTime. They selected ‘Goosebumps 2,’ started at the same time and chatted throughout. For bathroom breaks the movie was paused.” Debi Deutsch, 48, UWS, advertising executive

I work in a high school here on Long Island and am in week two of being home. I love to crochet and made the rainbow for my friend’s young daughter. What better symbol to cheer myself up than a rainbow. Which often comes at the end of a storm. I am still going and hope to bring some joy to my loved ones. Alicia Masetti, Long Island

Alicia Masetti's rainbow.
Alicia Masetti’s rainbow.Alicia Masetti

“On Monday, I video chatted with my doctor, who confirmed that I am indeed symptomatic. So now I’m spending my days googling herbal remedies, drinking as many hot liquids as possible without burning my throat off, and trying to Rip Van Winkle myself into the future with as many naps as possible. For fun, I am yelling out of my window at anyone I see not practicing social distancing — Seward Park is across the street. Pretty sure when this is all over, my neighbors are gonna tar and feather me.” Osvaldo Jimenez, 44, Lower East Side, artist and writer (Instagram @hilovenewyork)

“I’m cooking at home, keeping in touch with my team. It’s been a very painful week. My kitchen is a galley, only 7-by-10 feet. We made tacos last night. I also have my guitars to keep me company — acoustic and electric. I’ve played guitar since I was a kid. This is kind of an acoustic period.” Michael Lomonaco, 65, Upper East Side, chef, Porter House NY and Hudson Yards Grill

“I’m not a big TV lover, but at night we’re watching ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’ It makes us laugh and we go to bed.” Eric Ripert, 55, Sag Harbor, chef-owner, Le Bernardin

Eric Ripert
Eric RipertAnnie Wermiel/NY Post

“I try to eat healthy, but not a lot of vegetables right now — they’re perishable and I’m not going to the supermarket every day. I’m making things I don’t normally make in my restaurants. I cooked Mexican in our little backyard — sous vide pork shoulders and tomatillo salsa using charcoal from our restaurants.” Leah Cohen, 38, Jersey City, Pig & Khao and Piggyback