After a cautious fall social season, the New York charity circuit went into hiatus in December because of the Omicron surge. Here is how some philanthropists and society figures spent the past month.
Occupation: fashion designer
Where have you been hunkered down?
I am firmly planted in New York, in an apartment near Washington Square Park. Right after the Black Lives Matter movement started, I knew I was witnessing a historical moment. I wanted to add my body to the protests. I also got to see the city come alive in the most glorious ways — people vogueing and dancing in the streets. I do miss traveling, I won’t lie, but I’m happy I decided to stay.
Do you have a daily routine?
By 6 a.m., I’m up. I meditate for 15 to 20 minutes, have my apple cider and vinegar, and make my bed — a habit from my boarding school training. I have breakfast with my mother every day. I listen to a lot of music: English, Hindi, Balinese. I have a karaoke machine at home. I sing.
Will the start of New York Fashion Week on Feb. 11, pose special challenges?
After 12 years in the business, you know the rigors, the hours it’s going to take. You get to a place where anxiety is just a given. There is always a crescendo. It’s like you’re an athlete prepping for this moment.
So, it’s business as usual?
Not at all. Our factories have shrunk. We’re dependent on the supply chain, but everything is delayed. Maybe the lesson is that we can slightly slow down.
Have there been deeper lessons?
The pandemic makes us realize how closely connected we are. Everything that happens in a far-off country happens here too. Socially and psychologically, we need to be there for each other.
Have you found other outlets for your creativity?
During the pandemic my friends and I launched “House of Slay,” a web comic book series with superheroes. It’s all about empowerment, inclusivity and fun. Our goal is to expand it into television and film.
Are you a fan of New Year’s resolutions?
One of my favorite books is “Things Fall Apart,” a good reminder of our impermanence. It’s been my New Year’s resolution to finish it. My other resolution is to fall in love this year. I’ve been working on myself a lot to meet someone who has similar values to mine. In life and work, I think, there should be depth and levity.
Favorite charity: North Shore Animal League America
Where have you been sheltering?
I’ve been in my apartment on the Upper East Side. I’m looking out on a row of trees in the middle of my block. It’s very quiet here.
Is that a blessing or bane?
I’ve been basically isolating for many years. In the old days, quarantining used to be self-imposed. Now, taking precautions and limiting social contact is rather easy for me. Seeing people may be all well and good, but I’ve learned it’s OK to have fewer friends around.
How are you staying connected?
I like to talk on the phone. And I’ve turned to Instagram to connect with old friends in a way that I hadn’t before the pandemic.
Have some of them surprised you?
On Instagram I came across a photo from last year around this time. I thought “Oh, my, what’s my boyfriend from 1992 doing at the insurrection?” I think how easily people we used to have things in common with have moved to the other side.
What irks you these days?
I’m mystified by the number of people who say they cannot be vaccinated because of their immunocompromised position. As someone who has been dealing with multiple sclerosis for 25 years, that makes no sense to me.
What lifts you?
I’m one of those people who bakes. I wanted to perfect my pumpkin and my cherry pie. I’ve enjoyed watching “The Greatest Events of WWII in Colour” on Netflix. It puts things in perspective.
Your 1993 novel, “Gatherings,” sparked a lot of interest in its time. Is a new book in the works?
Yes. Its working title is “Pre-existing Conditions,” a collection of essays that examines the past, present and future — the future of the next few months, that is.
Have you kept up any New Year’s resolutions?
I do find that I’m paring down. If I don’t have to go to a baby shower, I don’t need a pastel skirt suit.
Have you turned to a pandemic uniform?
I outgrew all my clothes when I started baking. I’ve replaced my Frances Valentine caftan from 2020 with a white or camel tunic from CO, and wide leg jeans from Uniqlo. I still buy a few pretty pieces, one size up, and often secondhand. I’ve been stowing those like a squirrel storing nuts in a tree. If my waist expands again, I’m in trouble. I’ll need a heads up of two months, so I can do situps before I start going out again.
Occupation: writer, actress, radio and television personality
Where have you been sheltering?
I’ve stayed in my apartment in Harlem. I have an outdoor space. I call it my smoking alcove. When my dad passed away of Covid in April, so many people came to visit me at the alcove. We would have cocktails and conversation. I’m never going to leave this place. They’ll have to cart me out. This is my community.
What surrounds you at home?
I collect art, definitely African American art. Some of my favorite pieces are by Mickalene Thomas, Derek Adams and, of course, Kehinde. I just bought a beautiful piece of African art from Sotheby’s in London, and a Kerry James Marshall print.
What keeps you balanced?
I wake up every morning and get to decide what my day is going to look like. I started acting on a new television show called “Harlem.” My character is Aunt Tammy. She made her debut in December. The thing I’m committed to four days a week is “Bevelations,” my talk show on SiriusXM. Otherwise, I take time to sit in my backyard and write in my journals. I’m determined to take a step back and really enjoy my life.
I will definitely write another memoir. But the book that I want to work on in the next couple of years is a children’s book about Little Brown Bevy. She is a world traveler. Everywhere she goes, she makes friends.
Is she an alter ego, crafted from your experience?
I like to travel alone when I’m going to important cities. If you’ve ever sat in Notre Dame by yourself, you just want to take it all in. You want to have your quiet time to pursue your nerdy pursuits.
Would you like to share a New Year’s “Bevolution”?
My mantra is “It gets greater later.” I’m cooking with gas at 55. I am fully dedicated to going with the flow this year. I am chasing absolutely nothing. I’ve done the work. Now I’m going to count all the blessings that come my way.