Getting the New Covid Booster!

Maybe this is the beginning of not wearing a mask!

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.

I Love This City!

The “New York Story” 18-minute film at the NY Historical Society should the required viewing.

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.

Living in the Pandemic

My first visit to a museum in 2-1/2 years.

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.

What Ever Happened to Civility?

When did we become so mean to each other?

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.

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.

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.

Pedestrians and Bicycles

I’m oblivious. Will I get hit?

With all the bicycles and scooters coming at you, from all directions, on city streets and sidewalks, you’d think it’s safer to walk in the park. Think again. It’s apparently the Wild West there, too.

A few days ago, as I was taking a morning walk along the east side of Riverside Drive, adjacent to Riverside Park, I forgot to look behind me when I moved over a few feet to the left to avoid a fallen tree branch. I heard a bicycle bell and and then felt the rush of air of the first bicycle as it whizzed by me, narrowly missing my left side by a few inches. A second bicycle followed, again narrowly missing me. These folks weren’t just leisurely pedaling along. They were going at breakneck speed.

I definitely think there’s a market in New York City for eyeglasses with rear-and-side-view mirrors.

I do worry that pedestrians are losing ground against cyclists here. I heard on the news this morning that Democratic Mayoral candidate Eric Adams is also an avid cyclist. Perhaps we also need full body armor.

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.