it’s up to you, New York

I often wonder if people are sick of New Yorkers always talking about New York City. Living here makes up such a part of who we are, that “New Yorker” often becomes a personality trait. And why wouldn’t it? This city has been hyped for years as this international hub of good cuisine, fine entertainment, and a societal grasp on the pulse of the world. Everyone came here, everyone wanted to be here, and everyone always had a fabulous time. The glitz and glamor of a city so packed with people yet remained a shining beacon of America’s heart. You could always find your place here because the opportunities of discovery never once ceased.

That is not the city of today. But many who represent it sure like to think so.

I was born in New York City. I’ve lived in the same apartment for ten years. I’ve grown here, loved here, work here, contribute here. This is my city as much as it is everyone else’s, and I feel my voice is completely lost in the sauce. And a big part of what it boils down to is my status. It’s not the correct one that complies with all of NYC’s insane pandemic-era policies they are for some reason cleaving to like a rat on a New York slice. When a policy is bad, it more often than not leads to bad outcomes. And New York City from the 2010’s onward has been nothing but one step into the proverbial manure pile after another. We cannot seem to get things going because we’re revving a long-dead generator, hoping a bit more juice gets pressed by the pressure. We’re the only city in America with still-in-place vaccine mandates for the public and private sectors, and we’re the only city in the world requiring toddlers ages two and up to mask in schools. The progressivism has seemingly crawled right back up its own behind and it feels like there’s absolutely nothing any of us can do about it. Because, more often than not, this is what the people want.

There’s just something so cruel and malicious plaguing this city. Those in charge treat the citizens like they’re stupid and cannot make choices for themselves. We have a health commissioner, who none of us voted for, threaten the city with reimplementation of vaccine passports and mask mandates, based on a completely arbitrary metric of positive tests for a multi-season virus that has dwindled to nothing more than a seasonal flu. These are protocols that did not work to begin with and would end up with even more devastating outcomes than before. At this point, this is just straight up punishment for the people who have no control in completely eradicating a virus that cannot be gotten rid of. This is not science, this is malice. And I want to know who we have to talk to in order to get our complaints to the manager seriously heard.

And the worst part about this all is the health commissioner has the gall to speak on New Yorkers’ mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. There is not even a whisper of self-reflection or reading the room with these people. The policies in place can be directly connected and correlated to the astronomical rise in crime, worker shortage, and overall holding back of a once-thriving city. When you tell a people their only chance to “end this pandemic” is to get a vaccine, get a test, and wear a mask to prevent the spread, you have failed entirely to pretend like you’re a human. Those are robotic actions to take to feel well and safe in a population-dense city. They are gaslighting us into thinking cases matter and hospitalizations are “rising,” when the numbers are nowhere near pandemic levels of panic. Yet those with celebrity status are treated ‘equal’ while the mayor blows kisses at the dissenters while on his way to another high-profile event.

This city has chosen to remain a joke with clowns at the helm, and they feel content in punishing people for reasons I still don’t understand.

This scrutiny and discrimination has done a number on my private feelings, and there’s no better place for me to get them out. I have never once in my entire thirty-six years felt like this much of a target based on something that didn’t matter then, and certainly doesn’t matter now. I’m honestly not trying to complain about it, as I choose to remain here, but things have felt so obviously wrong lately, and I have nowhere I can turn without someone telling me it’s the right thing to do. My company requires me to get a rapid test every day before entering the building, meaning a swab of unknown origin goes in both nostrils before I even take my first sip of coffee. I have not been able to smell anything since being infected with this virus seven months ago, and I don’t know how much these swabs are deterring it from coming back. I also am required to wear a mask in the control room for three hours a day, while the option is given to my “fully-vaccinated colleagues” to remove it. My status was called into question when I refused to put one on, and I was not given any kind of reassurance that going to Human Resources for a written copy of this policy change would yield any results. So I’m stuck in this strange compliance stage of my life, all because I refused a medical procedure based on concerns about my reproductive health. Which is kind of ironic to think about as many blue states are reaffirming a woman’s right to choose on a completely seperate but equal issue.

It’s all so backwards and cruel and wrong and I honestly think it’s giving me an ulcer. And it’s even more disheartening when people go along with these everyday injustices that show no signs of stopping. I got snapped at at work the other day where I felt it was unwarranted, and it was made all the more ironic considering my face was the one covered up. My mask prevented me from speaking back, to say I didn’t feel that was called for, and it caused me to shut down for the rest of the work day. I felt invisible and all-too visible, and there’s no one in the work world I can speak to about it right now.

This is quite possibly the most miserable time in my life, although I have every comfort I could possibly ask for. I own a home. I make over six figures. I have the world’s cutest cat. I have everything going for me. And yet there’s one thing I’m constantly striving for that these circumstances are taking away from me: a place I can call home.

The rallying cry of the ‘right’ people online has become “Get out of cities.” And I’d love nothing more than to do that right now. But there’s still a fight in me here. Maybe it drives to the point that I really am a New Yorker at heart, though my soul will always be in New Jersey. Either way, I want to make sure this place is at its best quality before I go. I can’t just abandon a place that’s crying out for guidance and proper standards. I can’t just run away from the myriad testing tents I see every day, to which people justify them by saying “We need tests.” I know I alone can’t fix it, but I can at least do something. Maybe just presenting you the reality of what it’s like living as a singular woman in 2022’s New York City is enough for right now. It’s a unique perspective I’m not sure enough people talk about. I’ve been documenting a lot of it as I’m just so incredulous to the moment in time I’m currently living.

I’ll bring you on a tour sometime of my reality here in the city. A city I’ll always love, even if it’s not sure it loves me back.

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