What…I wouldn’t need to wear a mask?!?

A big change is coming.

It’s taken me 14 months of constantly wearing a mask in New York City (sometimes 2, and sometimes 2 with a face shield over them both) but I consider grabbing my mask as routine as grabbing my keys.

It will be nothing short of unsettling to not wear one in public and I’ll have to build up to that. Perhaps I’ll start by not wearing one when I take out the trash to the cans on my floor. Only twice in 14 months have I encountered another person when I do that. So that’s not really going to raise my pulse rate.

Not wearing one in the elevator, however, will be a giant leap forward. Probably when I graduate to that level of insouciance, I will be just about ready for the street. Imagine seeing peoples’ mouths and noses again. Then I’ll try not to fixate on their exhalations and, God forbid, sneezes or coughs. This will take some getting used to.

No question.

Oh No! He Bumped Into Me!

Being Bumped by a Maskless Stranger!

I was shopping at my local supermarket on the Upper West Side in Manhattan when all of a sudden I felt something hit the right side of my body. I immediately turned away from the bread shelf and looked towards the origins of the impact. And there, within inches from me, was another person! It was close physical contact in the time of Covid 19 and, even worse, the person who bumped into me wasn’t wearing a mask! He immediately apologized and asked if I was OK. But I would happily have done without an apology and preferred that he keep his maskless mouth shut.

I had on a mask, and my 2nd vaccination was 6 weeks before, but that doesn’t mean that I’m comfortable being a breath away from a maskless stranger inside a building.

In my pre-vaccinated days, for the times when I needed to be inside that same supermarket, I wore 2 masks and a face shield. I stopped wearing the face shield 2 weeks after my 2nd vaccine but this incident had me thinking whether that extra layer of the face shield would give me that added comfort level. Then I tried to remember that I’d had the vaccine. I reminded myself that even if I got Covid from this maskless stranger, it would be a mild case.

I’m simply amazed at people who either aren’t sure whether they’ll roll up their sleeves for the shot or have decided that they won’t. I do wonder, though, whether I’d ever again go outside my apartment without a mask.

Getting on a NYC Bus Again!

As many of us come out from our pandemic cocoons, one positive thing to some out of this past year is a heightened appreciation of some of the mundane things we likely took for granted.

Experiencing some of these very basic routines back in the world after I’ve been vaccinated has really been a wonderful experience. I had made very brief forays into a supermarket in Manhattan a number of times this year, but, now vaccinated, I didn’t feel the need to wear a face shield over 2 masks and be finished shopping in under 10 minutes. I actually strolled around the aisles pushing a shopping cart. I didn’t bother with the face shield over my 2 masks. It felt so liberating.

The other re-enactment of my past life came when I got on an M5 bus a few days ago. Once again, the experience was so much nicer than I can ever recall it being.

Friends I know have certainly been freer about going into supermarkets or riding mass transit this past year. But since I hadn’t, revisiting these past basic experiences felt positively delightful.

Like everyone else, it will be incredible when more of New York City is vaccinated and we really do go back to our pre-pandemic lives. Until then, though, I’m savoring the rediscovery of so many of my former routines.

NYC and Covid

Except for a few years spent in England and New Haven, CT, I’ve lived in NYC all my life. I also spent all of the past year during the pandemic here — hunkered down on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. I tried to walk every day, weather permitting, but almost all of my masked walks were within 2 miles of my apartment.

It was truly painful and depressing to see the storefronts becoming vacant on any of my walks along the commercial streets of the Upper West Side. Mercifully, I haven’t seen too many new ones becoming dark in the past few months. The greatest decline seemed to happen in the spring and summer last year, as New York City was struggling with Covid. At times, that struggle almost seemed like a death spiral.

Things definitely seem to be on the upswing now that at least about a quarter of us are vaccinated and there’s the current promise of more vaccines and much expanded vaccination appointments.

The American Rescue Plan Act is also a significant life preserver in many categories, including offering meaningful small business assistance.

I hope that the next Mayor of the City prioritizes its economic revival. It would be nice to have a bustling city again.

My Voting and Covid Vaccination Stickers!

My 5 grandchildren, ages 7 and younger, love stickers. I order ones online these days with animals, superheroes, fruits (you name it), to adorn envelopes for letters I’m sending to them. The letters (and the FaceTime calls) are our only ways of regularly being in touch.

However, this year I have my favorite 2 stickers. I got my “I Voted Today” sticker after I voted, having waited in the freezing cold on an early voting line for an hour and a half. It seemed a small effort for what was a critical election.

My other favorite sticker was the one I got Saturday, after I received my first Covid vaccination at the Armory on West 168th Street in Manhattan. If you’re interested, here’s information on eligibility and how to sign up. You would need a Weill Cornell Connect account: https://vaccinetogetherny.org/Pages/default.aspx?utm_source=wcmorg&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=covid19

As I was leaving, a security guard posted at the exit ramp congratulated me and told me to have a nice day. I thanked him and told him that this was the first step in my being able to hug my grandchildren again.

These are definitely 2 stickers I’ll always cherish.

A Zoom New Year’s Eve Dinner

I am joining a bunch of friends for a New Year’s Eve Dinner on Zoom. There are probably countless dinners like this planned with family and friends all over the world. We’ll each be in little squares toasting in what is unquestionably the most bizarre New Year’s any of us can remember. Even those of us whose memories go back many decades, can’t remember any time like the present.

As for me, I plan to light some candles and wear a sparkly necklace –probably with jeans, but no one will be wiser. I’m also looking forward to toasting a new year with the Covid vaccines and a new government. So, welcome 2021!

A Feel-Good Donation

I’m very aware of the critical importance of donating to nonprofit causes now. There is such need everywhere because of the pandemic and especially in places like NYC, where I live. One organization to which I’ve made several donations since this past spring is: foodbanknyc.org. The photos of the long lines of people needing food reminds me of photos I remember seeing of the Great Depression. No one in this country should be hungry. A $1 donation provides 5 meals. A $75 donation provides 375 meals. If you can, please go to their website and make a donation:


“I’m grateful for…”

Thinking about what you’re grateful for helps deal with Covid stresses.

We’re all going through a pretty horrible time. I don’t have to recount here all the ways Covid 19 has affected our lives –assuming we’re even still here to replay those consequences.

So, here’s one thing we can do. Just sit quietly every day and be grateful for anything that’s good. That gives you happiness. That still works well. No matter how inconsequential.

I’m very grateful that, so far, no one in my family has gotten sick. I’m very grateful that the 2020 Presidential election is over. I’m very grateful that at least one Covid vaccine appears to have a 90% efficacy rate.

Some days I’m just grateful that the sun is shining when I go for a walk. A few weeks ago, I spotted a beautiful pink rose in Riverside Park.

You get the idea.

Single pink rose blooming in Riverside Park, NYC.

Coffee and a Muffin for Stress

Just as Charles Dickens said, these are “the worst of times.” Election stress times Covid stress equals Stress squared.

I decided yesterday morning, the day after the 2020 Election, that I needed to do calming things: take a walk and listen to music (and not listen to “The Daily”, which is my usual go-to podcast for walks but which would undoubtedly be discussing the election), start a new book and, last but not least, try going on some virtual tours to museums all around the world.

To accompany me on that tour yesterday morning would be something never allowed in the galleries of The Louvre (or in any other museum, for that matter): a cup of coffee and a muffin. It was a delightful experience all around and for approximately an hour, I totally forgot about the 2020 Election. There’s nothing like coffee, a warm muffin and great art to make you forget about the craziness around us now.

Let me know if you need a good muffin recipe.

The Mask! A New Normal.


I’m very grateful for all the Etsy shops selling masks now.  I’ve bought a few with filter pockets and am inserting cut-up vacuum cleaner bags or Scott Shop towels.  They seem to work just fine, fit snugly and let me continue to breathe through them.

My building requires everyone to mask-up in all public spaces: elevators, hallways, lobby, laundry room, mail room.  So putting on a mask is as much a part of my apartment-leaving routine as taking my keys.

When I venture out for short walks on Riverside Drive, about 90% of the people during this week #8 are wearing masks.  That percentage has certainly increased in the past few weeks, although there are a few people wearing them around their chins.  It’s not clear what they’re thinking since there aren’t that many places in NYC where you’re not 6′ away from another human being.  So having them constantly over your nose and mouth is certainly the way to go.

A stubborn group of non-mask-wearers are the runners who (mostly) don’t have them on.  It’s also hard to stay out of their way when they run in the middle of the walkway.  Maybe they haven’t heard the news that there’s a pandemic, or, as Governor Cuomo said, maybe they’re just selfish.

I’m hoping I’ll get used to the feeling of wearing a mask before those 90 degree high humidity days begin here in the city.  Then wearing a mask on a cool spring day will seem pretty pleasant. No question that, as with most things and this pandemic, it can always be worse.