I belong to a not-for-profit women’s organization intended for women over 50 who have retired or are retiring. TTN has chapters in many cities in the country. One of them is in New York City. It’s called the Transition Network (https://ttnwomen.org). One of the programs offered to TTN members is the Caring Collaborative, whose goal is to support the well-being and healthy independence of its members, who are in many neighborhood groups around the city.
My particular neighborhood group, whose members range in age from the 60’s to the 80’s, met monthly in someone’s living room before the pandemic, and then regularly on Zoom during the pandemic. Those Zoom meetings for our 18 members helped enormously to counter the isolation and anxiety we all felt.
With the pandemic seemingly ending, we have begun to meet monthly for lunch at a neighborhood restaurant on the Upper West Side. For the time being, we’re continuing to also meet on our monthly Zoom meetings, that are organized around a topic pertaining to health and well-being. That makes it easier for people to join the meeting who have mobility issues. But the monthly lunches are new and very nice.
I’m a big fan of both TTN and the Caring Collaborative. As we all know, New York City can be teeming with people. But if you live alone, as many members do, you can be lonely, especially if your family lives far away. As we all know, it’s extremely important to have strong social ties as well as a community of friends who can help if medical issues arise (think about the need to have someone pick you up from a colonoscopy).
Thank you TTN and the Caring Collaborative for helping us age gracefully.
Even before everything in this country became so polarized, I think NYC was a place you either loved or hated. That dichotomy is certainly not any better as I write this. Well, let me go on record now that despite all its many shortcomings and flaws, I love NYC. I love it it because of its diversity, its generosity toward strangers, its no-nonsense humor, its rawness and that doesn’t even begin to include its hundreds and hundreds of things to do, see and experience. The museums, the libraries, the theaters, the parks are unparalleled offerings. Many of them are free or you can pay what you want.
Can NYC become a better place to live? Of course. I send Mayor Adams many online messages asking his administration to improve pedestrian safety, the housing situation, homelessness, crime and filthy streets. So far, I’m not sure my complaints have had much of an impact.
But then I read about other places in the country (or sometimes in the world) and I’m reminded how grateful I am to live here.
My spirits have improved immensely since I’ve decided that it’s time for me to resume as much normalcy as possible with my NYC activities. I’ve started to ride the subway again. I’m meeting family and friends indoors in restaurants. That activity, by itself, would have significantly raised my endorphins, since being together with people in person is so much better than seeing them on a Zoom screen. I did previously visit museums and pulled down my mask in uncrowded exhibit spaces. So that, at least, has been an ongoing activity.
The only pre-pandemic activity I still haven’t resumed is going to the theater or to a movie. Seats are close together in many NYC theaters and I’d want to wear a mask. Unfortunately, I get very uncomfortable wearing a mask indoors for more than about 60 minutes. I’m sure I’ll attempt that eventually, but I’m not quite ready to be maskless in theaters just yet.
I really and truly love experiencing New York City again. And, for whatever it’s worth, the subway does look cleaner. Unfortunately, homelessness persists. As does the presence, occasionally, of someone who seems a bit mentally unhinged. The good news is that there does seem to be a heightened police presence. So, at least for now, I feel relatively safe. Fingers crossed, NYC continues to improve and I can completely resume the life I (and maybe many of us) took for granted before March 2020.
For almost 3 years now, I’ve been in the demographic for “high risk” for Covid and now, it appears, for the flu and RSV. I don’t have an underlying condition; I’m just over the age of 65. I know plenty of people in my high-risk age category who have simply chosen to ‘get on with life.’ They don’t want to avoid large public indoor settings and have gone to the theater, the opera and movies. However, in those places, they can continue to wear a mask. Where mask-wearing in an indoor public setting is difficult is, obviously, in restaurants. I’m not sure if anyone has invented the mask that permits the wearer to keep it on and still eat. Even a nasogastric tube requires access through your nose.
It was one thing to be able to meet people for meals outdoors when the weather here in New York City was warm. Today, December 13, 2022, the temperature is averaging the mid-to-high 30’s. The forecast has wind chills getting it down, at times, to the 20’s. Dining outdoors at restaurants, even with well-positioned heat lamps, requires fortitude.
So the existential dilemma is whether to throw caution to the wind and eat indoors. Obviously, that decision comes with hoping for the best.
I’m eating with my family indoors in a restaurant this evening. I’ll keep you posted.
It appears there are many ways people are navigating the Covid world now. I’m not talking about the under 65 crowd, many of whom appear to be socializing and returning to work, largely unmasked. I’m focused more on the 65-and-older demographic, where I belong. Based on many conversations with friends and family, there is still a decent percentage of us who are fearful enough of long Covid that we’re trying to minimize our Covid risks.
Under the heading of ‘reducing risky behavior’ would be eating outside at restaurants.
In New York City, in which I and this blog are based, there appear to be some interesting ways restaurants have created outdoor eating space. Many have the traditional outdoor cafes, where you sit at tables situated on the restaurant’s adjacent sidewalk in the open air.
A number of others have taken those outdoor cafes and put panels around them. Some of the panels are left open at one or 2 ends. That same configuration of mostly-closed-but-a-few-open-panels has been applied to sheds, usually located in the street adjacent to the restaurant.
And then there are the cafes and sheds that are completely closed with panels to form, in effect, another room of the restaurant. I would argue that the ventilation in those closed spaces could be worse than in the restaurant itself, which might have a central HVAC system to help move around the air (and Covid germ particles). Many of the outdoor restaurant sheds I’ve seen in Manhattan, where I live, have no HVAC. So when you close them all up, your air quality might not be so good.
So, folks, if you’re interested in safely eating outdoors, choose wisely.
Three days ago, on September 8, 2022, at 3:10 pm, I got my “New Covid-19 Booster.” That’s the new “bivalent” one that targets BOTH the original Covid-19 virus as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants. So, possibly…maybe…perhaps, in approximately 11 days from now, I can stop wearing a mask indoors! That.will.be.big.
That might mean when I’ll feel comfortable eating indoors in a restaurant again! It might also mean when I’d feel OK going to see a play or a movie.
I know many people have moved on from the pandemic, but I haven’t. I know people who are still getting Omicron and who are currently dealing with quarantining, stubborn positive test results and lingering side effects. I really don’t want to get Covid and so I’ve been wearing a well-fitted mask every time I go indoors to shop, or visit a museum or take a city bus or subway. I don’t love wearing the mask for long intervals so I haven’t gone to see a play or a movie for 2-1/2 years. And since eating requires removing a mask, I won’t eat indoors.
But, perhaps…maybe…hopefully…on September 22, 2022, the pandemic ends for me–at least until the next Covid variant comes along.
As part of my return to museums, I recently visited the New York Historical Society. I went primarily to see the small exhibit of media efforts undertaken by the American Jewish Committee to combat anti-Semitism between 1937-1952: https://www.nyhistory.org/exhibitions/confronting-hate-1937-1952. It’s an excellent, and sobering exhibit, and I highly recommend it.
On my way out, I stopped into their auditorium to watch the 18-minute film called “New York Story”, narrated by Liev Schreiber. It’s the story of New York City from early outpost to vibrant center of the world. But it underscores the energy, resilience (especially after 9/11) and tolerance of the city toward migrants. After all, the Statue of Liberty is in the harbor here. It’s a stark reminder, especially now, as busloads of migrants are sent daily from less tolerant American places, of the values that permeate the city. I’ve never loved it more.
I’d like to emphasize the word “living” in my title for this post. Despite the fact that NYC’s Covid positivity rate this first week of August is showing up at 13.5%, I decided it was time for me to visit a museum again. I’m not sure why it took this long to make that decision. It just did. In one word, it was wonderful.
Based on my conversations with friends, many of whom are over 65, we seem to be crawling out from under our pandemic rocks at our own speeds. As we all know too well, the pandemic and the variants are constantly changing. So what might have seemed safe a few months ago, may not now. For me, personally, I just don’t like wearing a mask indoors for the time it would take to watch a play or a movie. So that has eliminated those options from my return to any semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy. As with most of us who have been double-vaccinated and boosted, we’re reassured that even while our vaccinations have likely worn down in efficacy, they’re still useful enough to keep us out of ER’s and off ventilators. Frankly, that’s pretty reassuring.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was crowded when I got there Monday afternoon. The Met no longer requires proof of vaccination or even a face mask. Many people weren’t wearing one. However, I had my KN95 one on and, if I got to a place in the museum that wasn’t too crowded, I pulled mine down.
Walking around some of the featured exhibitions and seeing some of the magnificent art was simply wonderful and reminded me why New York is such an incredible place to live. It was one of the best afternoons I’ve had in a long time.
I witnessed this scene recently on a sidewalk in Manhattan. It was very disturbing, and it seemed to be a small enactment of a much larger trend happening in this country. We simply can’t seem to be civil to each other.
We have become so divisive nationally and are about to become even more so. As a country, we’ve never not had divisive and painful cultural issues but, somehow, there was some dialogue, agreement to respectfully disagree (without name calling) and, occasionally, compromise.
I don’t know how we get back to those values and that willingness to treat each other as human beings again.
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.