Posts Tagged ‘Central Park’

How To Break Your Ankle

April 13, 2015

FrozenPathCPGo for an early morning walk in Central Park on the first warmish morning of almost-Spring weather (low 40’s on February 21st).

Gingerly walking along a dirty frozen path (with just a hint of melt) will imbue you with the false sense of invincibility.

Life is beautiful (or soon will be).

GeesePoliceWave to the Geese Police in his van. He will wave back and hide his face (with shame). Not a good omen, crossing his path,  especially with respect to the warning on the back fender: Get the Flock Out.


Rejoice on March 21st over what will be the final snowfall of winter in Jackson Heights. Extoll the wondrous snow covered trees, their enchanting beauty. Believe with cautious optimism you will not likely witness this snow globe for at least another 6 or 7 months (and that the use of a shovel in order to move your car will be banished for same).

Celebrate by taking a drive to the east end of Long Island with your S.O. Specifically, to Watermill.

View the work of east end artists at the Parish Museum, as in the work of the wonderful Fairfield Porter, an artist with a deep understanding of color.

Ooh and aah. Love life.




Prolong the feeling of unfettered bliss that viewing art invokes. Enjoy the escape into nature so far from the city. Traverse the snow-covered grounds of the museum (where sirens;  honking horns and thumping car stereos are long out of earshot).

Regard a tree standing upright before  a deep blue sky of puffy clouds. Take a photo.


Notice the quartet of misshapen trees.

CrookedTrees(Take note of the red arrow on the left, above)

Heed the scrawny Charlie Brown tree beckoning to you (“culprit”).  Scale a low guard rail with your right foot to photograph sad little tree. Lose your footing. Skid down backwards into a ditch at a 45-degree angle. Try to brake the fall with your heel. Wrench your foot severely. Sharply descend toward the inverted point of a triangular trough, deceptively masked by snow cover.

Twist your ankle unnaturally. Succumb to immobilizing pain.

Break your ankle in not 1, but 2, places. Proceed to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead (ominously, where S.O. and I were transported by ambulance after a car accident in September 2012).

Welcome with gratitude the splint administered to foot and leg by caring staff; accept a gift of crutches and excellent pain killers. Elevate bad foot on the dashboard of car on the ride home.

Stop at Starbucks for chai latte and much needed sugar fix. Request to your S.O. for no sudden stops is duly noted.

Visit orthopedist in Manhattan on March 23. No plaster cast for you! Instead, foot is installed in heavy black foam and plastic boot (lint magnet), misnomered as “walking cast.” (Due to sharp pain when boot touches ground; legs now at unequal lengths due to heavy, thick unstable rocker sole rendering boot impossible to “walk” in).

Secure boot to leg with 5 strips of velcro threaded through their respective rectangular hardware.

You must sleep in this boot. It weighs a ton. You must elevate your leg all day. You must remove boot for intermittent icing of the ankle and foot. You must continue this regimen at daily intervals until next doctor visit.

You must continue navigating the apartment on crutches.

Das Boot


Revisit orthopedist on April 6. Continue with daily regimen. Plan on 6-8 weeks to heal.

To stave off cabin fever:

You will read cover-to-cover January, February and March back issues of The New Yorker  (N.B., in March 9th issue – powerful story by Toni Morrison).

You will read Skeletons of the Zahara a tome by Dean King (unputdownable, true story of survival that ends well for the main character).

You will continue with obsessively readable essay collection called Loitering by Charles D’Ambrosio.

You will begin reading We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (set in your current environs of Woodside and Jackson Heights).

You will finish reading back issues of Poets & Writers magazine.

You will watch art films lasting over 3 hours (mostly Russian, Turkish and Scandinavian). You will watch Trip to Italy twice.

You will re-watch Swan Lake ballet DVD for the umpteenth time.

You will plan a to visit orthopedist on April 27 for a new x-ray.

Fingers crossed.

My Lunchtime Escape Into Fantasy

September 25, 2013

BirGirdTextingBig Bird texting in Central Park

Big Bird was sitting on my favorite lunchtime-reading bench the other day so I had to keep walking.

I didn’t want to sit down next to him. I thought: What if Big Bird starts talking to me.

You never know what kind of lunatic might be residing inside those feathers.

Instead, I circled around the bend to my second favorite bench. Farther away from the Bird — and the hordes of people clogging other parts of the park.

The view from my second favorite bench is the waterfall:


So it was on my second favorite bench that I finished the novel, Orkney by Amy Sackville, a work of such haunting, atmospheric, literary beauty that I continued thinking about it long after I had turned the final page (or “thumbed” the final e-page). The writing and the story left me mesmerized.

Ostensibly, the novel is about a 60-something professor of literature, taking his sabbatical with the intention of working on his book of enchantment narratives, who falls in love with and marries his intellectually precocious 20-something student. She asks him to take her to the sea for their honeymoon. Thinking himself the luckiest man on earth, he will, of course, do anything for her. He leases a small cottage on Orkney. The two of them nestle into its protective warmth, seemingly, at first, content to sit and watch the inclement weather through their window. Yet, gradually, his mysterious young wife is driven to spend less and less time with him and more time on the cold, misty beach gazing longingly into the turbulent sea.

In the course of my reading, I learned exactly what a “selkie” was (a word which, theretofore, I’d recognized only as the name of an English folk singing group from the 1960s). A selkie (or silkie) is a mythical creature that looks like a seal in water but assumes human form on land…

If that doesn’t whet your appetite to pick up this novel, have a listen to the intro to “Song of the Silkie” by the Scottish folk group, The Corries:

Finally, here are a few lovely writing samples from Sackville’s novel, vis a vis the setting:

“…The wide-winged grey-white birds all about us, soaring over, rising on the air and rounding, crying and dipping for a flash of silver, the bright, crisp sunshine, the shush of the waves, and our blanket between us and the scoured grass.”

“…The sea-mist was thickening, it was getting dark, and cold with the dampness; the masked sun was already setting, casting a squeamish, greenish light through the pewter clouds.”

“…An overcast, lowering sky this morning; the clouds have clotted through the night. Something gathering, brooding, out on the sea. A darkness spreading. The edges of my wife blue against the sky.”


The isles of Scotland (in particular, the Orkneys and the Hebrides) have held me in their thrall for a very long time. As far back as high school, when I listened regularly to the music of singer/songwriter Donovan.

One song of his, Isle of Islay (in the Hebrides), is a favorite of mine. In my imagination, it perfectly captures the essence of the place:

As it happens, Donovan named his daughter, actress Iona Skye, after two isles in the Hebrides. Lucky her!

On the map below, the Orkneys are colored “red” above the northern coast of Scotland, between the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea. The Hebrides are located midway down the west coast, slightly south of the one-short and one-long blue “dashes” of lake dividing the mainland.


It is the remote natural beauty of the Scottish isles that captures my fancy. Reading Sackville’s novel, I was right THERE with her characters. I got to take the much longed-for vacation I’ve dreamed about.

I would wager, if you loved the John Sayles’ film, The Secret of Roan Inish, as I did, you will likely love this novel.

I am now looking forward to reading Sackville’s first novel, The Still Point. She is a writer I intend to follow. A new literary discovery is just so exciting.

Alas, on my way back to work, I spotted a forlorn-looking Big Bird on a gray brick road to nowhere, his break time over and back on the job.

BigBird2I feel your pain, Big Guy.

Feed Your Head

September 1, 2013


Now that everything is quiet and relatively stress free on the Day Job front and the DODO BIRD is located a football field length away from me, at lunchtime I am throughly comfortable sitting at my desk and catching up on my reading.

That is, until this sticky and disgusting heatwave grinds to a halt. With fall just around the corner (hurray!!), and today being the first day of September, I am so much looking forward to resuming reading in Central Park:


Or at Lincoln Center Plaza, below (and partaking of the special seating seemingly designed for introverts and New Yorkers desperately in need of a little personal space):

SeatedIntrovertsSeats with Walls!

Currently, I’m reading 3 books at once, all on my iPhone with the Kindle app. Not unusual for me to read several books at once when the subject matter is non-fiction. The option of choosing to read what suits my present mood pleases me the most.

My head is always hungry. I try to feed it daily.

Novels hook me in a different and deeper way than non-fiction. Fiction reading for me is a one-book-at-at-a-time experience. And when a story is that good, I bury myself in it.

I’m finishing up Quiet — the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” by Susan Cain.  I’m understanding quite a bit about myself from this book and from others who share a temperament similar to mine.  Introverts, it seems, have a heightened sensitivity to their environment. I’ve learned that introverts possess a more reactive, excitable amygdala — which is the  fight or flight response center of the brain. The emotions.

According to Cain, studies show that unfamiliar, new and stimulating experiences in the environment increase the introvert’s: 1) heart rate; 2) dilation of the eyes; 3) tightening of the vocal cords; and 4) the production of cortisol (stress hormone) in their saliva. Incredible stuff.

Franz Kafka, a purported introvert, had a temperament that couldn’t bear to be near even his adoring fiancee while he worked.”

These are Kafka’s words on the subject of solitude and its importance during the creative process (excerpted from the book):

“You once said that you would like to sit beside me while I write. Listen, in that case I could not write at all. For writing means revealing oneself to excess; that utmost of self-revelation and surrender, in which a human being, when involved with others, would feel he was losing himself, and from which, therefore, he will always shrink as long as he is in his right mind.

That is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around one when one writes, why even night is not night enough.”

I can relate, Franz.


I’m also finishing up: “Why Birds Sing: A Journey Into the Mystery of Bird Song” by David Rothenberg. Admittedly, I’ve been skipping passages here and there that don’t interest me, but have gleaned a lot from this book. The following is from a section on songbirds:

“…the ability to create music happens on the same side of the brain that creates language, but the ability to listen to and love it is retained somewhere else.”

Which might suggest that the appreciation of music uses the right side of the brain while making music requires the left.

From my own personal experience, I’ve noticed that words do flow from me more easily if I have been keeping up with my fiddle practice. Words don’t flow as easily if I haven’t plinked the piano in a while.

Of course, words flow best of all if you write every day. But listening to music you love (which I do most days) has no real bearing on the creation of  language — but it does make me feel wonderful. And it’s good for my amygdala!


The third book I’m reading is “Joseph Anton: A Memoirby Salman Rushdie.

Joseph Anton is the pseudonym used by Rushdie when the Ayatollah Khomeini issued the fatwa on him after “The Satanic Verses” was published back in 1988 (I can’t believe it was that long ago). The fatwa forced him into hiding.

His ordeal of constantly having to move to different dwellings; threats on his life and the lives of his family;  the support vs. non-support of the writing community; bombing of bookstores by the zealots; abandonment of him by publishers; the courage of other publishers to persevere in spite of the threats; the pressure on Rushdie to “apologize” to the Ayatollah (he would not apologize for being innocent of trumped up charges).

The fact that his troubles began when an irresponsible media individual issued a manufactured, incendiary comment regarding his book, something to the effect of: “oh, there are certain people that are going to be very upset by this book” designed to rile up the fanatics (I wish I could remember who Rushdie cited, but I don’t) — based on nothing that was true. Based on probably not even reading the book. Those (with no minds of their own) who decreed the fatwa against Rushdie had latched onto that media person’s throwaway comment and everything snowballed from there.

Interwoven throughout the memoir is the backstory of Rushdie’s educational path (though not a religious person by any common standards, Rushdie is a religious scholar in his own right ). In The S.V. he explores the plight of his (Pakistani) countrymen, the disorientation of the immigrants, their Islamic faith and difficulty in assimilating themselves and it in Britain. He also writes about his own personal life, which I knew little of before reading this book.  How he struggled with his conscience over the ethics and integrity of his writing, which he puts forth succinctly by quoting Yeats:

“The intellect of man is forced to choose / Perfection of the life or of the work.”

That said, I confess that I tried reading his novel Midnight’s Children years ago but wound up abandoning it midway. For me, it was a style issue. I found the writing too dense. Too much like a fable. Excessively cluttered with details. To my taste, anyway. The book is 670+ pages. I knew I would never make it to the end, but not because of the length. Because of the style.

His non-fiction writing I’m finding more readable. Still, I detect an air of entitlement in Rushdie’s personality, which makes me uncomfortable. The British government, and, hence, the British police force, protected him for years, providing personal body guards; specially assigned cars to move him to new ground whenever danger threatened — which was quite often; transportation for his wife and child; picked his child up from school and more…all so he could remain living in London.

Rushdie could have hidden away safely in Scotland, for example, and relocated near the coast (residences were offered to him) — but, as he is a self-proclaimed urbanite, he declined the offers. He insisted on remaining in London. At the cost of the British people, which, eventually, caused resentment.

You can’t blame them. Doesn’t Britain has enough on their plate having to support the royal family?

Anyway, I’m about half way through the book. I’m beginning to doubt — perhaps because I already know Rushdie has made it through the fatwa alive and am questioning if I care to read about more of his real estate problems — if I will make through to the end of the book.

Besides, I am missing fiction. When (and if) I finish Joseph Anton, next on my list is: Orkney by Amy Sackville. I’ve read the first 57 pages for free on Amazon’s “LOOK INSIDE” feature. I’d like to read the rest of it.

I’m also curious about reading the memoir: Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill (a writer who is in her 90’s).

So many books. My head will never starve!


July 27, 2013

EgretReflectionsEarly Friday Morning in Central Park

Birdwatching at Work

June 26, 2013

My recent foray into birdwatching in Central Park failed for one reason alone. Trying to peer through binoculars while wearing glasses proved to be an impossibility. Given the rate of speed and unpredictable movement of birds in trees, I could not keep up with them, as earnestly as I tried.  I wear eyeglasses 15/7. Not while sleeping or showering, of course, but during every other minute of every day because  seeing the world clearly is important to me.

In Central Park, for the time being, I’m destined to watch robins, sparrows, bluejays, grackles (they hop right up to park dwellers looking for bits of their hamburger, pasta or bologna — and turn up their beaks at sunflower seeds and whole wheat bread and anything resembling bird food).

Not that there’s anything wrong with those birds. But it would be nice to add a few more colors to my palette.

However…after my failed attempt at birdwatching, a funny thing happened. I found myself attributing to my coworkers’ specific behaviors and traits of birds I’m familiar with. Call it overcompensating.

For example, one individual (who was once my enemy at work but is no longer as we’ve reached a weird sort in-denial detente — for survival purposes) is most definitely a Bowerbird.

Its cubicle is cluttered with cheesy souvenirs picked up from just about everywhere; gewgaws other gifted to him from vacationers; a tiny American flag waving from his monitor; empty souvenir coke cans from parties he’s attended; photos push-pinned to his cubicle wall after running them through the B/W printer. Its screensaver changes with each Hallmark-created holiday. He holds an “unveiling” on that particular day by summoning anyone who happens to be passing by to stop, gaze at and praise his cornball taste. For instance, his most recent desktop-wallpapered homage was to Iced Tea Day (June 11th).


Another who shall remain unnamed that inhabits the space behind the high cubicle wall backing my desk (I like to think of it as my very own “Berlin”), and who played the starring role in our office’s most recent dramatic meltdown (see blog post dated:  June 14th) is absolutely a Hummingbird.

A sugar freak, each morning, with a pop and a hiss, imbibes a can of Coke for breakfast. Then orders out for pancakes, eats them like a bird, never finishes anything, is as skinny as a twig. Beware if something about the breakfast order is slightly wrong, the restaurant is called. An obnoxious harangue into the receiver before slamming down the phone and ruining someone’s day. Shortly after that, it’s back to giggling at nothing in particular and hopping up and down out of the swivel chair. Either that, or a lot of speeding and buzzing around corners and narrowly crashing into others who are walking at a normal pace. Unable to sit still for more than 2 minutes.


Then there’s the Dodo Bird (extinct).

A bird seed muncher (mentioned in blog post dated: June 10th); hates change; knows everything; is bitter.

* * *

Lastly, the Red Hen.

Never leaves the chair; perennially on the phone. Rolls to any destination via the office chair. Never gets up, not even to retrieve papers queued in the printer. Waits and waits (all the time in the world) until someone else walks to the printer to get her own material; at which time the Red Hen extends her hand to accept the printed matter — but only after an insignificant other has separated the stack of paper into mine and yours


So what kind of bird does that make me? What else…

Lunchtime Walks in the City: A Leisurely Stroll Up Park Avenue

April 30, 2013

I’d heard about some interesting sculptures installed on Park Avenue so I head east today at lunchtime. What a glorious day it is! 67 degrees, sunny, breezy…blissful.

Park Ave. is a riot of tulips.


And, oh, the intoxicating perfume from that blossoming tree…

The thing about Park Avenue’s tulips is that they don’t  fade or droop or turn brown. All of them are perfect. After dark, some stealth gardener must dig up the ones going bad and replace them by daybreak.

It’s a beautiful day for a walk. I’m in no rush. The first sculpture I encounter is near 60th St. I think the artist’s name is Alexandre Arrachea. I think..because I typed the name into my phone and I’m not sure if it auto-corrected. But I’m pretty sure that’s the name.


At close inspection, it looks to be a sleek skyscraper curled, snakelike, and eating it’s own tail. Hmmm.

Here’s another by the same artist:


Kind of looks like this skyscraper is giving New York the finger.

This one is my favorite. It’s kundalini-like squiggle reminds me of some of Andy Goldworthy’s nature installations:


From living for a while in Los Angeles, my eye is trained to spot a photo shoot at fifty paces. The familiar glare of the spotlights, the RV parked at the curb, the unfolded table topped with chafing dishes ready to feed the crew…all at the corner of 71st and Park.

Whenever I see models in person (which isn’t often), I’m always astonished at just how good looking they are.


Like Charlie’s Angels…alien beings, but captivating…

Hey, here’s a van that must feel right at home on Park Avenue:

AggressiveIn a million years, I would never have put window shades and aggression in the same sentence.


Only on the upper east side (and maybe L.A.) will you find a children’s birthday party doing stroller valet:


I’ll bet no kid goes diaper-less at this party…

The proliferation of foreign consulates and plastic surgery practices on Park has reached critical mass and I am in need of trees and benches and cobblestones and nature gone a bit wilder. I turn up 71th Street and walk toward Fifth Avenue.

Just beyond the corner of 71st, a few construction workers are tooling around up on the scaffolding. One of them is reminiscing aloud about a woman he knows.


“Yvonne…Yvonne…,” he says, dreamily. “Now that’s a first class name. Yvonne…my little croissant…my little croissant with cheese…”


StrandoutpostAs I get closer to my office building, the Strand outpost (always a welcome reappearance with the advent of Spring) comes into view. I love that little book nook but feel guilty because now that I do most of my reading on my iPhone, I don’t buy many paper books.

But, guilt be gone, when I get distracted by two men in conversation standing next to the park. One of them says:

“Dude! I’m trying to help you because I know how it sucks when you have something in your head and you can’t describe it!”

(He’s right, that does kind of suck).

Alas, it’s time to return to work. I cross over Fifth. At 58th Street, I see a bride and groom heading toward the plaza hotel.


Nice day for a wedding…

Before I know it, I’m seated back at my desk. I feel like I need to debriefed. The juxtaposition of my past hour outdoors and the sterility of my beige cubical — is just too much to take in.

Then the  biggest goofball in the office drops by. He checks out my screensaver.

“What’s that a picture of?” he says.

“The Grand Canyon.” Noticing his look of bewilderment, I add, “In Arizona.”

“Oh, the Grand Canyon! Is that the Canadian side or the American side?”


Lunchtime Walks in the City: Make My Day

April 24, 2013

My lunch hour was abbreviated today due to a compulsory catered lunch in the conference room at work — management’s way of honoring us — even if the sandwich bread was cold and tasteless from over-refrigeration. Being a dutiful employee — i.e., eating from the tasteless spread in full view of the H.R. manager — really cut into my leisure time.

When I exited the building, the weather was so very fine, I nearly gasped. I immediately headed over to the Park for the 35 or so minutes remaining in my lunch hour.


The color red knocks me out. But when it appears in nature and with such flamboyance — as in that flaming tree pictured above — it fills me with joy and truly does “make my day.”

I didn’t expect to see anything that would top the vibrance of that tree. But look what I saw in the pond!!!


Spring is the season to breed. The geese are doing a good job of it.  How heartbreakingly cute this itty bitty baby gosling was. (Click on the photo to enlarge).

Gosling? Hey, there’s an actor called Ryan Gosling. I’ve never thought of him as being part goose. Now, that is all I will think of when I see him.


It’s illegal to fish in Central Park (probably for you own good, i.e., eating the catch). One of the men is fishing. The other seems to be texting.

What could he be typing? In the park. Soooo bored!


If only I could have joined these people on the grass and blown off work. It was such a picture perfect day.

Right before 1:00 PM. on my way back to the office, two of the women who sit next to me, were crossing over Fifth Ave. toward Central Park. What was going on here? We had all eaten lunch at the same time. Yet, they were appending an extra hour onto their lunchtime without giving it a second thought. I guess you are able to get away with that when you hardly work. Or think.

No one will miss them. Especially not me.

Lunchtime Walks in the City: Every Day is Earth Day in Central Park

April 22, 2013


April 22nd – Happy Earth Day!  What better place to spend it than in Central Park. At least, that was my thinking this afternoon.

Especially since there was something akin to an earthquake rattling my cubicle neighborhood this morning at work. Nasty doings by Queen PA (Passive Aggression, and not directed at me — it’s just that I was caught in the crossfire as Q directed her PA at another co-worker, who happened to have brought in a vegetarian quiche she baked yesterday to share with us). So you would think QPA would have cut her some slack, even if she was acting a little manic. I guess QPA isn’t a fan of quiche.

Get me to the Park, was what the voice inside my head was shouting. I cut out of there at noon.

The weather was a tad chilly today. In the mid-ish 50’s with an annoying blustery wind. However, once I descended the steps at Fifth Avenue and climbed down into Central Park, the wind died down somewhat.  And it was really beautiful just to be there.


A couple pushing the Spring envelope by picnicking on the grass…


The entrance to the Central Park Boathouse. Every June, my company holds their annual “Summer Party” at the boathouse. The past two years I dodged the party — either by taking the day off or ducking out on the sly. All these work parties seem like the same wedding reception repeating itself — except there is no bride and groom, no family members, no good friends to toast with, and a lousy DJ — so, who wants to go? Not me. At heart, I’m an introvert. Although I do like parties, I prefer to celebrate with those I truly like and love. I hope I can get out of it this year. Maybe I should go to Europe.


Yes, some brave souls went rowing in the pond, but they were wearing substantial outerwear. Brrrr, really, when the sun slipped behind the clouds.


Look how these tulips just sprang up in the middle of the scrub brushery…


This is Bow Bridge. From the overlook you can see Bethesda Terrace and Fountain and, after you walk across, you are close to Strawberry Fields — my goal (which is at 72nd St. and Central Park West, but inside the Park). I was moseying around on this walk, taking my time to take in the color (and not rushing, as on Friday).

I had already walked from 57th St. to 72nd St. on windy paths in the park. I checked the time on my phone — it was 12:40 P.M. Hmmm, I was a little behind schedule…


The “crossroads” – I have a notoriously bad sense of direction. I even turned on the GPS app on my phone — and I was still confused as to which way to turn.  So I looked up at the sun – always my last resort when lost.


But my attention was diverted by this rock (above). Wagner Cove? A stone staircase begins a foot or so beyond the rock and descends toward that cute tea-for-two gazebo-like structure (below). Good thing it was occupied because I would have liked to sit on one of the benches — which would have made me hopelessly late getting back to work.


Finally, I arrived at Strawberry Fields (forever)!EntranceStrawberryA quiet zone. Like the quiet car on the Metro North. Speak in your library voice (no one ever does)…


My first Robin sighting of Spring…and more gorgeous tulips!


The Dakota (below) – where John and Yoko lived (she still does) and where Rosemary’s Baby, one of my favorite films, was shot (the exterior shots of the apartment where Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes (and the witches!) lived.


Uh oh, it was 12:50! No way I was going to make it back to work on time. I started a jog down Central Park West. I made it as far as 68th St. when saw this bus stop sign. I looked down CPW. A bus was coming!


I got on.

TheBusThe bus dropped me at 57 St. and Broadway. I trotted from 8th Ave. to 7th to 6th and got to 5th at 1:10 PM. Not bad. Only 9 minutes late today!


Check out this video from the very first Earth Day – 1970. I was there!! In the crowd!! See if you can find me. I was holding a yellow rose…

To Sign or Not To Sign

August 19, 2012

Our lease is up next month and, oh, the ambivalence we’ve been experiencing. Judging from the above New Yorker cartoon, we are not alone. But it feels like we are.

The CONs of signing

  • Given weeks of insufferable heat and humidity here in NYC, most particularly the unbearable conditions underground;
  • Given that I work in the most densely-crowded-with-tourists section of the city (Fifth, between 57th and 59th) and must now walk all the way to Columbus Circle at lunchtime just to find a vacant seat on a (shady) park bench;
  • Given that a poor carriage horse named “Oreo” got spooked last week and broke from his Hansom cab — toppling the carriage and spilling out the driver and two tourists from Oregon onto Central Park South — and galloped westward, where he obediently, poignantly, like a good citizen, came to a stop for a red light at Broadway amid a sea of cars, trucks and buses. Thankfully, a pedestrian seized that opportunity to grab the reins and tie Oreo to a pole with the aid of a police officer arriving on the scene. Summarily felled by a tranquilizer gun, Oreo then sank to the asphalt and was hauled away in a van;

Isn’t this a sad sight?  Oreo, it was reported, had been headed for the stables on 10th Ave., where he resides when not pulling tourists in midtown.

  • Given that our mayor said a carriage horse is no different than a bicycle or car on the streets of NYC and should be regarded as such;
  • Given subway fares are going up again in 2013;
  • Given not much is affordable in the city for the average New Yorker.

THE PROs of signing

  • Our Super has finally removed the disgusting sliding-door shower enclosure from our bathroom, a.k.a.: the mold factory; has re-grouted the tiles that broke loose in the process; installed a shower rod; and re-grouted the rogue tiles on our bathroom floor, which we’ve been kicking into place for two years. We celebrated this makeover on Saturday with a new shower curtain from Target’s and lunch at Umberto’s.

(Full disclosure: I’ve had a morbid fear of mold since elementary school. As a science project, my third grade teacher instructed us to place a piece of white bread in a dark place, covered, and leave it alone undisturbed, no peeking…a week later, the aggressive bluish-green fuzz sprouting on top of the bread freaked me out — where did it come from…and…would it jump from the bread onto me? — thanks for that, Mrs. Haridopolos).

  • In this terrible economy that seems not to be getting any better, we both have full-time jobs and health insurance.
  • Really, in this terrible economy, where would we go? Certainly, not back to “the West” — (the West is too hot, is running out of money and water and is on fire). Not to somewhere “in the middle.” No jobs in the middle, even if housing costs are lower. Honestly, we would probably go crazy “in the middle.”

And, finally…

  • No need to pack up our stuff, if we stay.
  • We can still get Umberto’s pizza.

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I guess we’re staying…for now…

My Love-Hate Relationship with NYC

March 24, 2012


As seen in different spots on Fifth Ave, installed by union guys to protest a building’s employment of non-union laborers. In one of those if only I had my camera photo ops, I walked by this same rat the day after I shot the above photo and the rat was half-deflated.

A burly, no-neck, crew-cut union guy in a sweat suit and lots of bling, along with two sidekicks who were busy pumping air out of the rat, was in a face-to-face with this building’s concierge. The concierge, a business-suited, 20-something, congenial guy was explaining to the beefsteak why the rat had to go.

By his body language, the beefsteak feigned understanding, seemed not to blame the concierge. He demonstrated this sentiment with a succinct , “Yo. Hey. Yo.” And with a final wave of his hand, “Hey.”

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The hordes of humanity I must plow through each and every Monday through Friday at 5:00 p.m. to reach the subway entrance. I have a bicycle bell, a gift from a friend, which I will once again carry undercover now that Spring has sprung. A single jing jing of the bell and the masses part like the Red Sea. It’s amazing.

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Especially anything by author David Vann. When I read his engrossing, critically acclaimed collection of short stories, “Legends of a Suicide,” I couldn’t put it down. It’s the same with this novel. He’s an amazing writer with a brilliant understanding of, and compassion for, the darker side of humanity. Set in a remote region of Alaska, a forbidding place where the lost souls of the world seem to gravitate — or hitchhike — hoping for escape or to find themselves.

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If I am forced to witness one more couple (pick a gender, any gender, or combination of genders — a lack of boundaries does not discriminate) embracing, stroking, tongue-kissing and humping one another on the subway, crowded or empty (or even worse than that — my husband came home one night disgusted at having witnessed a girl popping pimples on her boyfriend’s greasy face on the F train) — I will scream! What is wrong with you people?

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Look how they go bi-level – front feet up on curb, back feet down on asphalt.

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I remember the very first time I saw a No Spitting sign posted on a subway train. What? I thought. Who would spit on the subway? I was so naive. The only thing nastier than spitting is airborne nose-blowing. I know someone victimized by this practice. A glob of snot landed on the cuff of his pants — which he later threw out. Of course, brawling on the subway is the worst:

Welcome to the Jungle well…

Spitting warranted an op ed in The N.Y. Times

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Absolutely breathtaking.

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If you read this blog regularly, you know I’m a music lover. But there is a time a place for everything, especially conga drums and especially at 5:00 p.m., after you’ve just escaped an 8-hour workday with a headache as poundingly intense as those drums.

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What can I say? 47th Street is one of my favorite places to traverse  in the city. I often mosey on down there at lunchtime to soak up the color and energy of the place. Commerce in action!

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Signs are posted all over the city: NO HONKING $350 FINE. Yeah, right. Try and enforce that one, Mr. Policeman.

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Nothing is funnier than the truth.

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Families strolling five abreast on crowded Fifth Ave., holding hands, no less.  Trying to get back to the office when lunch is over is like trying to break through a roller derby jam. But then I’ll feel guilty because one of them will stop dead in his tracks, stretch his head back and peer at the sky, spread out his arms and say out loud, “I’m in New York!” or “!La Quinta Avenida!” — reminding me that, yes, I do live in a great city. It makes me want to thank them – but that’s something I would never do. They might think I was crazy.

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You’vee got to be a little crazy to live here.