The World My Grandchildren Will Inherit

Hard to watch a 3rd grade graduation through my tears.

My grandson recently graduated from 3rd grade and I was invited to watch the morning ceremony which the school managed to stream online. I’d just had breakfast and read a number of the articles in the New York Time’s news section. I read articles about Ukraine, and its desperate fight for its independence. There were articles about 2020 election deniers and their success in several states to control voting procedures along with articles about primary wins by Trump supporters. There were articles about the Supreme Court and its impending decisions, including the reversal of Roe v. Wade. One article I just managed to finish before the time of the graduation ceremony was about Poland and the absence of women’s rights to any decisions regarding abortions, which are completely illegal. I didn’t get to read the articles on climate change, which didn’t look encouraging at all.

So when those high voices of the third graders in my grandson’s school sang an optimistic song about “always learning” and “always growing,” my eyes just welled up with tears. At least they were able to reach their graduation, I thought. Unlike all those kids, including the children about the same age in Uvalde, who got shot. It should be enough to bring any grandparent –or parent– to tears as well.

Subway Jitters

I have the subway jitters.

Before the pandemic, I took the subway in NYC all the time. It was always my first choice for transportation. Then there was the pandemic. If I needed to leave my neighborhood during the pandemic (usually only for a doctor’s appointment or the occasional Covid shot), I would resort to a bus or, sometimes, a taxi. Taxis have a very reassuring plastic barrier between the front seat and the backseat. As a senior citizen, I really appreciated that. It wasn’t that I was that concerned about Covid transmission on the train, since I knew ridership would be way down. I was much more concerned about crime. Fewer riders to me meant more possibilities for criminal behavior.

Since March 2020, and with all the dramatic news stories involving subway incidents, that concern hasn’t dissipated at all. I’ve spoken to some friends and acquaintances, who are also senior citizens, who don’t have any problem riding the subway. Although some said they’d seen passengers on the trains and platforms who looked a bit “unstable,” they said they were “harmless”.

I’m not sure I can summon the courage to see for myself and am wondering what it’s going to take to get me to go down those subway stairs again.

So Much Bad News!

I’m feeling numb.

I don’t know about you but the past few months seem to me to have been full of even more bad news than usual. I was, and am, devastated by the stories and photographs coming out of Ukraine and this senseless war brought on by an autocrat. Add to that, there have been some extremely disturbing stories of New Yorkers who’ve been shot or knifed for no reason at all. And now we have the horrific news of the racist shooting at the supermarket in Buffalo and the unbelievable shooting at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. It’s interesting that Covid has been pushed out of the front part of my brain now, where it occupied a center seat for the past 2 years. I suppose that’s one benefit from all this otherwise gutting news.

I think often of how my parents must have felt watching the world spin out of control during the Great Depression and, later, Hitler’s advance through Europe. I suppose they did not have the relentless 24-hour news cycle and all the devices which keep us in constant touch with the headlines.

I have a group of friends who recently shared how they cope with all this. The answers were interesting. One person said she only listens to one newscast a day, the evening news at 11:00 pm. Another said she takes very long walks. A third said she cries. At this time, none of those remedies are ones I’ll adopt. But I don’t have any others. So my fate is simply to be very upset and wonder how this gets better.

Volunteering! So Many Choices!

How do I pick some good volunteer options?

There are, unquestionably, many benefits to volunteering. Some of the ones that are most often mentioned are: it provides you with a sense of purpose; it provides a sense of community; it teaches you valuable skills (including social skills). As a senior citizen, it helps you meet new friends and provides a bulwark against loneliness. That’s especially important during this pandemic, as many of us who are senior citizens are spending more time, isolated, at home.

I live in NYC and I’ve had various volunteer jobs over the years. Some lasted longer than others because some I enjoyed more than others.

I decided at the end of last year that I wanted to add a new volunteer commitment to my schedule so I Googled “volunteer opportunities”. I could search in countless ways for volunteer work (in NYC, in my neighborhood, by type of work, etc.). It was somewhat overwhelming.

After much noodling around online, I found a site for AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP, https://www.rsvpnyc.org. Given my concerns about being in a higher risk category for Covid, I was only looking for virtual assignments. AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP partners with over 200 organizations in all 5 boroughs so I could easily narrow my focus to only virtual assignments and readily see descriptions of the job. I chose one such assignment and have been pleased with the choice. Just as an example, here’s one page of their NYC virtual assignments: https://www.rsvpnyc.org/need/index?q=&age=&agency_id=&county=&min_available_slots=&dateOn=&distance=&zip=&need_impact_area=&need_init_id=&qualification_id=&meta%5B%5D=&meta%5B%5D=&meta%5B%5D=virtual_need&meta%5B%5D=&allowTeams=&ug_id=&s=1

Good luck finding your volunteer job! I hope you find a keeper.

Trying to Live with Covid Variants

I think I’m living in an alternate reality.

I’ve been on several Zoom calls recently during which some of my Zoom-mates (isn’t that what we are?) shared their travel plans. Many people seem to be planning trips, and to some faraway places.

Clearly, I haven’t been bitten by the travel bug, especially as the BA.2 variant seems to be spreading.

To my knowledge, I haven’t had Covid. I’ve just completed my 3rd week after my 4th shot, when I think my immunity is as good as it’s going to be. However, the thought of possibly getting Covid, and, in particular, long Covid, is keeping me from contemplating potentially maskless experiences and any kind of travel.

The concern I have, however, is what it will take to give me courage to do that again, since all indicators point to this being a disease we’ll be living with forever.

Everyday is a Pandemic Groundhog Day!

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Winter and the pandemic just keep going on and on.

Unquestionably, winter, and especially several days in a row of gray skies and precipitation, seem to make the pandemic worse –at least for me. I’ve felt like Bill Murray in the movie, “Groundhog Day”, more times than I can count. One friend on a Zoom call this afternoon remarked, “I just can’t tell what day of the week it is anymore.” Many others on the screen nodded in agreement.

I’m triple-vaxxed since late October but still haven’t seen a theatrical performance or even been to a museum since before March 2020 (although that may soon change now that Omicron cases in New York City have significantly dropped). I haven’t eaten inside a restaurant.

I’m not sure how one ventures back out into the world. But until I do resume many missing activities of my life, the dreariness of the pandemic, and the winter, make the days all seem the same.

Connecting with Family on Zoom

Connecting with family on Zoom was a pandemic plus.

One of the great discoveries for many of us these past 18 months of the pandemic has to be the marvels of Zoom. For those of us who are retired and not needing to be part of a virtual office, it has allowed us to safely take classes, participate in all sorts of cultural and religious events and, most importantly, stay connected to friends and family.

For me, it has allowed for a get-together with cousins (one of whom I’ve never met and several whom I haven’t seen in years) living all over the country. We live in blue states and red states and pretty much cover all the possible time zones in the country.

Conversing with first cousins who remember some of your most embedded childhood memories, of people and places, is remarkable. Meeting first cousins for the first time is also amazing.

It’s a silver lining of the pandemic and I’m looking forward to it ending, once and for all, to be able to meet or get together again, in person. Finally.

Covid Information Overload?

There’s so much information to figure out.

If, like me, you read a newspaper –or 2, watch or listen to the news, get emails and push notifications from reliable news organizations, listen to news podcasts (also reliable), or get emails or texts from family members or friends, you’re probably getting Covid updates many times in a day. Some may contain new and important information for you personally. Some of it you’ve heard a zillion times before. And some of it, frankly, seems to contradict other disseminated information.

“ENOUGH!”, I mutter, as I yank my ear buds out if I’m listening to a news podcast or slam down the lid of my laptop, if I’m reading a newspaper online. I’m Covided-out!

My news blackout period holds until I receive the next push notification on my phone on, you guessed it, Covid.

Not Wearing a Mask Outside!

I live on the Upper West Side in New York City, near Riverside Park, one of the city’s most beautiful parks. There’s no question that my daily walks through Riverside Park during the pandemic’s lockdown were how I managed to enjoy a regular exercise routine. Those walks also helped keep me from feeling isolated.

However, last spring and summer, like most New Yorkers, I wore two masks outdoors all the time. I’d walk past blooming trees and bushes in the spring and couldn’t smell their fragrance. I remember once taking a walk after a drenching spring rainstorm and, with no one around, briefly removed both masks to inhale the smell of the wet earth and trees. It was truly a memorable moment.

Now, however, since I’m vaccinated, I’m not wearing any mask outside, and the smell of the park’s trees, flowers and earth are everywhere on my walks.

It’s extraordinary how the many deprivations caused by the pandemic cause us to appreciate what we have in ways we may never have before.

Loud Talkers on the Bus!

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I got on the M72 bus last week on Broadway, heading east to York Avenue, pulled out my Kindle, and resumed reading a book I’m really enjoying.  I was looking forward to the long ride and a good read.  I found one of the coveted single seats on the right side of the bus and settled in.  As luck would have it, 2 women sitting a few feet away in the handicapped seats behind the driver, resumed their conversation at a fairly high decibel level as soon as we pulled away from the curb.

I tried to read but it was difficult and I put my Kindle down in my lap.  Mercifully, one of them got off at West 72nd Street and Central Park West.  I was delighted as I swiped the bottom of the reader and resumed reading.  But no sooner did one of the loud talkers get off, then I heard a women get on and immediately begin a conversation with the driver.  “Uh oh,” I thought.  This bodes ill.

She proceeds to swipe her card, sits down and then within seconds she begins a conversation in a very loud voice with a woman in the first single seat right ahead of me.  I’m cooked.  I grab my Kindle, abandon my seat and move further back in the bus.

This second women manages to keep up a loud steady stream of words as it heads all the way to York Avenue,  although in doing so, she forgets to pull the cord to get off the bus at the stop before on First Avenue.  She starts yelling at the driver to stop the bus so she can get off.  The driver can’t and won’t do that.  I chuckle to myself in the back of the bus.

Here’s the moral of this story:  Don’t talk so loudly on the bus so other passengers get annoyed and wish you miss your stop.