Friday, July 18, 2014

#33 Life - I plan to comment on this word

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an
attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, bourbon in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"     "after" Hunter S Thompson

Now, I don't read the above mentioned Mr. Thompson, he was a bit too drunken and hateful
towards women for my taste, but that amended quote is pretty damn good. As Elaine Stritch died yesterday and my brother passed away a few months ago, quite unexpectedly, death has been on my mind. I was on a marathon car trip the other day and there was time to ponder at 70 mph.

I often say that you should live every day to the fullest, because a house could fall on your head tomorrow. Well, it happens! Hug those you like and tell the ones you love that, too. You just never know and every day really is an adventure. Well, it's up to you to find the magic in the day. I had a topsy turvy week (and it's only Friday), and I refuse to have it turn out terrible. I will, however, accept it as a learning experience and squeeze some joy out of those crushed lemons. 

So, Elaine Stritch, let's start there. I've seen her shows, talked with her afterwards and at StageDoors, but I did have one truly special encounter with her. On a very pleasant Sunday, 2 years ago, I think, I was walking down Madison Avenue with my bestie Jill. We were on the tail end of a marathon walk through CentralPark and beyond. It was around 4ish.  The legs were giving out. We are waiting for the light to change, to cross at 79th, and I see, standing on the far corner that very familiar face and those long skinny legs. The light changes. Halfway across, I call out, "Hi, Stritchie, how'ya been?" All action stops as we have a brief but cheerful exchange in the middle of the intersection. She is on the arm of a tall blonde young man. She thinks she knows me because I was so friendly. Huge smiles on all parts, and we wonder where we all are walking and how great the day had been in the city we both love. The light goes yellow. Not wanting to be responsible for her possibly being hit by a car & having the world hate me, toodeloos are said and off we go. She away from The Carlyle and we towards. All the tiredness has gone. Her vivacity and radiance boosted our energy. The woman exuded life. Jill and I happily talked about her from what we knew from living in TheCity. Isn't it funny how New Yorkers think any other New Yorker, even the famous ones, are family? Tonight they dim the lights on Broadway. She really was one of the top tiered Divas.

So, truth be told, I'm not over my brother's death from last April. Perhaps I am a bit angry with him, as well. He and I were a team; as kids, the two of us against the world of adults and as adults, against the idiots we encountered. The guy was smart. Really, he was much smarter than I am, and I'm not too dumb if I passed the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" test 7 times! (not selected, I think because I am unphotogenic and hide under my hat, but that's for another conversation.) So, I need to say this about my brother. He is a hero to me. He went through life on his own terms. Got everything he wanted with his own dime. While our parents did give him a top notch education, they didn't help him one bit out of college, because he dropped out of Law School. You know, I think it was brave and wise to leave a path that was not suited to your personality. He would have been a terrible lawyer. No bullshit in that man and he hated to compromise his values. He had lovely friends and they miss him, but none more than I. I still think of thousands of things I need to call him up about every week. He NEVER called me. That's the truth. He was just funny that way. The other thing he did that was hero worthy was to break away from the toxic relationship that my mother fostered. She was ruthlessly mean to him because he didn't conform to her standards of dress and association. While I dutifully kept dealing with an aging parent who just couldn't stop mean things from coming out of her mouth, he said, "ENOUGH!" He is hero for that in my eyes. Someday, get me drunk enough and I will tell you some of the ugly words that were spewed. I am an easy drunk. It will only take 2 Cosmos and I will tell all the family secrets.

So we come back to the quote at the top. Love life to the max and do it in your own style. Both of these people did that. Both will be missed for that reason, because most of us give in and secretly long to be braver and freer. I wish my cel phone could reach Heaven. I could ask Uncle Bob some things and get his perspective on history. As to Elaine, she may not be there. I do believe she was a bit on the bawdier side. Wherever she is, I am sure she is laughing and drinking her own Cosmo (but only one a day).






Friday, June 27, 2014

#32 Hot Time/Summer in TheCity .........and a PS

"Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity?
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head"


You know the song, or you should know the song. I am musing about summer in NYC and it makes me happy. I noticed today that I was walking down the street with a big grin on my face. That needs to be discussed.
I have frequently said, to anyone who will listen, that I love summer in NY. BitchFaceLandlord (she from the first apartment, ThePowderBlue Palace) once asked me, "Will you go to The Hamptons for the summer?" You can guess my response and it was not without swear words.
Discounting the tourist hoards and the steamy subway stations, I love June to September.
First and foremost, there are tons and tons of FREE events everywhere. The concerts, movies, yoga classes, juggling lessons, Broadway events, museum days, street closures, kayaking on The Hudson, parades, outdoor cafes...the list goes on and THERE IS MUSIC EVERYWHERE.
The theater madness of the Tonys is over and there are lots of new shows to see and off Broadway plays to go to. Walking home from them at night is fun because the sidewalks cool off, and I can ensure to log-in my 6 to 7 miles a day. That's important, because I do go to The Big Gay Ice Cream Store on 7th Street more frequently in the summer. I also eat outside a lot: Shake Shack Chicago Hot Dogs are more fun sitting on the grass, watching people taking pictures of The Flatiron Building in Madison Sq Park.
Next, of course, there is the physical side of summer. Sandals are an everyday item and tank tops come out of the back of the closet (if I had a closet). By the end of September I will have zebra feet from the suntan on my tootsies, and I will have seen far too many naked body parts of my fellow New Yorkers. I refer to the tattoos which all those tank tops and short shorts reveal. Some are gorgeous. Well, the pretty bodies usually have pretty ink. Then there are the soft flabby bodies which are a bit harder on the eyes and can sometimes cause retching. "People, some of you need to not be so brazen in your flaunting of arms, legs, bellies and butts! I know it's hot out there, but COME ON HAVE SOME DIGNITY!"
I never have to pay for a Spa Sauna in NYC. I just spend quality time on the Subway Platform and sweat to death. True, the trains are air conditioned perfectly, but sometimes you have to wait up to half an hour in DeathValleylike heat (factor in 98% humidity) for one to come along. Breathing becomes an issue. OH, NEVER BREATHE THROUGH YOUR NOSE IN THE SUBWAY. That is a given, for the entire year.
Also, walking & stair climbing is wonderful exercise anytime, but during the summer there is the added joy of music and movies; tons of free movies in parks, vacant lots (still some in Brooklyn),  beaches and rooftops. The colorful humanity of TheCity gathers to relax and laugh, cry, scream or swoon. Folks are friendly and sometimes share in the picnic goodies. I can have a nice conversation with almost anyone while waiting for a film to start. I'll even bring something to nosh.
The music venues are found everywhere, too. Office buildings open up their atriums. LincolnCenter and CentralPark have free operas and performances. You are only limited by the creativity of your computer's e-mail listings in locating things. I could manage none of this without my computer! That's a fact!
I will mention 2 unpleasant summer factors: tourists walking 4 abreast and bums sleeping on my street in their underwear, but if I say if quickly, perhaps it will leave my brain without doing any damage. (nope, didn't work)
So, forget all you have ever heard about NYC in the summer. Come and visit. June isn't even over yet. There is still time. It might rain, true, but that will be a blessing, as I always walk around in the rain and cool off.

Now, the most important part of today's blog.....
PS: Last week, my son wrote in an email to his wife and also said to me out loud, "I miss New York."
My work here is done.

Friday, April 25, 2014

#31 I'm Fine...The Muse Is Back

After many pleading e-mails, my blog continues, not because of the requests & inquiries as to my well being, but because I feel the need to write. I miss putting my thoughts down and real life will just have to slow down for 1 day, so I can do so.
I have been busy: trudging through the drifts of snow and slush for months, finding ways to keep the cold out of my adorable tiny tenement studio, reconnecting with friends from my last stay here, figuring out the Off & OffOff Broadway Theaters, seeing almost all of the Spring "shows" (except Hedwig - I WILL win that lottery!) and tooling around town with visitors from the other side of the Hudson River.
Yes, busy!
Yesterday was the PERFECT example of why I love this city. 5 days ago, I was planning my week. I am a good planner. I was a City Planner for the Real Mayor Daley, after all. There was an event I wanted to go to: Meryl Streep, Julianna Margulies, Kevin Kline, Patrick Stewart, Parker Posey, Rosie Perez Billy Crudup, Tina Fey and other artsy fartsy people, reading their selected poems on National Poetry Day at Lincoln Center. Tickets were $75. Pooh, I decided, too expensive, even for La Streep! So what happens at 10AM yesterday? I get an e-mail offering tix for $25. Bought one in 2 nano seconds!
The event lived up to everything I had hoped for. All the "celebs" were present, as advertised, and were outstanding. The crowd was elegant. The Hall was resplendent with "posh", but there were 3 people who were clueless dolts. When Julianna M. was reading a perfect poem about loss, her face was wet with tears (and mine, too, because my brother had passed away 2 weeks before), someone's phone went off. She paused, waited for the damn thing to stop, and then beautifully continued. Next Meryl steps to the podium. She is speaking. Another phone rings. She smiles wryly, then continues. She begins her second reading and ANOTHER phone blares. She stops, waits and when silence returns, repeats the poem from where she was interrupted. Well done Meryl. As she starts her next poem, she says so sweetly, but with all her acting chops blaring down on the offenders, "This will be the final poem. Please silence your phones, NOW." Of course, there was pandemonium in the audience. Patti LuPone would have handled it differently, but no less dramatically. It was "live theater" heaven.
I was so energized, that I walked all the way home from 68th to 5th Street and over 9 Avenues East. Took about an hour. I was really pumped.
That's all...more sooner, rather than later.

Monday, December 30, 2013

#30 Remember me?

Please don't look at Blog #29. If you do, you will see that it has been over a year since I have sat down to write. Well, I write. E-mails and FaceBook and the occasional real letter on paper, that is not what I mean. My muse has been AWOL. I would like to think that she has been having a wild fling somewhere in London or Barcelona. Perhaps she was exploring in Namibia or Patagonia? Where ever she was, it wasn't with me in Alameda/Oakland or driving back and forth 3 times (and 9 thousand miles) to NYC. She is a brat...read that as it rhymes with itch.
So I am back in New York. 2 more years! I volunteered to return, in order that my fully capable and very smart son would have a reliable Subway Guide. Natalie, I was never worried about. She will navigate this city, to and from NYU and to all points far and wide, without a problem. Given that Richard would get lost in Berkeley, you get my drift.
Not that I am with them that much at all, anyway. They lead their own lives. We pass in the very narrow hallway which holds our kitchen (if you can call a mini fridge, a sink and a very small gas stovetop/oven a kitchen), chat about what's going on and then go and do our "thing". They are night people, and I am very much a day person. No one is underfoot. As far as I am concerned...it is all perfectly choreographed.
Speaking of choreography, I am branching out as far as the "theatre" is concerned. I am doing lots more off Broadway and even off off shows. I still haven't seen Matilda or Kinky Boots, those big blockbusters. I am going to improv, dance and comedy shows. I saw an all girl production of Julius Caesar and an all male production of 12th Night. Readings and concerts done by My Divas are still high on my list. Lots to do and not enough time or money to do them all. 2 years is not long enough...which brings me to my real point......there never is enough time.
Two weeks ago, I got a kick in the gut that has not, nor ever will be mended. Someone so close to me I consider a sister has told me that she has Alzheimer's. I can't really talk about where my head and heart go when I get close to that last sentence. It's too soon, and I am too close to her to be able to stand back and think. I just react. Been doing that for 2 weeks now and it's not getting easier. I just need to say one thing out loud and large....live each day well, by telling those you care about, they are loved. I was going to say something about being healthy and exercise, but in this case, she did all that and that fucking disease found her anyway. I'm so angry!
It has been my humorous diversion to say that my life is a Soap Opera that no one would even bother to watch. We all have aggravations and emotions that fill our lives, but in the great scheme of things, all that drama is just background noise. Nothing matters more than friendship and love, and I am very angry that some monstrous disease is taking that away from me. I fully intend to be a glass half full person to my friends and my family. Please join me in that quest.
Someone sing TheBeatles "All We Need Is Love" now. Please don't ask me to start it. I have an "only in the car...alone" kind of voice!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

#29 Friends, Gott'a Love'm

It's the season to be thankful. I've been thinking about such things lately. Being back in the bosom of my family, and catching up with and visiting friends I haven't seen in 2 years, will make a person thank her lucky stars for the people who populate her Venn diagram. There have been some that got lost from my view, and some I wish never to see again, but I do count myself very fortunate on the friend front.
I have often thought that I should have been more aware of "the friend factor" long ago. A person who has 1 friend in their world should probably be avoided (and that shouldn't include their mother), along with those who have so many that they flit from one to another. I've got a friend who went to nursery school with me. I care not to count how many years that represents. Don't let me get on the subject of my SummerCamp buds. We even have reunions, and I remember all the words to the songs. When I drove back from New York I saw pals I had in college, and when we sat down together the conversations and laughs started right off from where we had left them.  God, I am blessed with good luck. Well, I will take some credit for these blessings. I do have a delightful personality (if you can't poke fun at yourself, you are doomed).
When I left for NYC, there were parties and dinners and get togethers to speed me away and to wish me well. Had I been blogging then, you wouldn't have seen words about loss. There would have been little worry on my part about not seeing those faces again. I love my friends. Frankly, also, I never even gave one nano second of thought to the fact that I really only had 1 friend when I landed at Kennedy Airport in October of 2010. I did know that I wasn't going to hang on my friend Susan's coat tails and rely on her for my introduction to real life in The City. That's an ugly way to treat people.  She wasn't going to baby me. I did, however, rely on her for restaurant tips. SHE NEVER GAVE ME A BAD  RECOMMENDATION. The girl knows her food!
Anyway, back to having zero friends in a new town...Rush Lines! Yes, that was where I started to build up my friend base. I talk. I talk a lot, and it proved to be very useful. I made pals in Rush Lines and at Stage Doors all over. Downtown, Midtown, even in Queens, wherever there were theater people, we talked. I actually started the process the previous September in LA, at the Leap of Faith SD, where I casually said to this nice young woman standing around waiting for Raul E, while I was waiting for Kendra K, "I'm moving to New York to do this very thing 24/7." That was Elisa, and we have been best buds ever since. Oh, have we been around the town, and does she know EVERYBODY! (some adventures to tell another time)
WICKED lottery was another place where conversations led to friendships. People of all ages, waiting in Schwartz Alley, trying to please the Lottery Gods and smile at Joel, the tight lipped man who pulls the names. By the end of my 2 years, we were on first name basis, and I can guarantee you, he NEVER gave me a break. (insert bad word here that rhymes with truck) I even have a picture of him smiling with my daughter, a major win!
Then there was the magic of having visitors. When people came to stay with me, they introduced me to other people and actors and singers who broadened my world. Jacqueline (queen of the TWickies) dragged me to a fund raising concert early on in my adventure, and that's where I got into the world of the sweet singer/songwriters. The list of these Divas is too long to include. I have mentioned them before. I can truthfully say that in following these gifted women, they have been appreciative of the support and  nice friendships have evolved. I'm not stupid enough to think these stars are my close friends, but they know I care and a friendliness has resulted. You see how fast I get a group together when they venture out to California in the near future. Morgan James is coming to Modesto in December...we will be there!
Can't leave out my Internet pals. There is a group of women I hang with on-line, who come to NYC to gather a few times a year to celebrate certain extraordinary actors from TV. Great fun. Great dinners and great times wandering New York. A few of them have welcomed me into their homes, and we are like family. Long walks around Central Park or visiting hometowns, a mere bus ride away, make for great conversations and resultant closeness. I cherish these new friends. They are solid gold to me, and I like that they value me. They didn't have to befriend me. Their lives were already full. How lucky am I? Very.
The culmination of the friendship circle was the Welcome Back Party the TWickies had for me 2 weeks ago. Did we laugh? Did we eat? Did we embody the true spirit of friendship? Yes, indeed!
None of these people knew each other before February of 2009. Total strangers. Yet we have bonded and are friends. We worry about each other. We are happy when someone succeeds. We rejoice in the evolution of this group. That they wanted to have a party for me was a bit overwhelming, but I got over that real fast. It wasn't really about me. It was about the group and it was beautiful. They are beautiful. Life is beautiful. You are beautiful. "Thank you for being my friend!"

Sunday, October 14, 2012

#28 Happiness Of The Long Distance Driver

I've been back a week. It's time I face reality, write perhaps the final entry with this blog name and move on to what proves to be the next step in my journey. Lots of thoughts are whirling around in my head. I have been practically inert for 7 days (except for a thorough cleaning of the loft's refrigerator, which was necessary for my health). I am delighted to be back in the warm arms of my family. This week I jump back into seeing friends and tending to business, but I need to say a few words about the therapeutic aspects of long distance driving.
My Cali friends already know of my penchant for driving. For years, I would hop into my car at the mere mention of a show or Diva appearing in LA or SD, and hit Highway 5 running. Well, perhaps that's the wrong word, but my speeds were legendary, as were the number of tickets I acquired. The acquisition of my Prius made the decision to drive all over the region even easier, with the almost 60 mpg gas tank. I expanded to Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma, but the joy never wained. Pack a ton of CDs, some snacks and a bag of TootsiePops, and I was gone!
So, with 2 years of not even entering an auto (oh, one taxi, but I didn't pay), my recurring visits to Traffic School were a blip in my memory. Would I be even able to remember how to start a car? Would I get a ticket in New Jersey (or worse Texas, where they take you to the slammer)? Would I get killed by some crazed person when I stopped in a rest area or talked to a stranger? Would I run out of money as the gas prices rose as I got closer and closer to California? Would I make it to my appointed stops on time? So much to factor in.
I drove, rather than "leaving on a jet plane", because of "stuff", and I had a relative who works for Hertz.  Loved the huge discount, and I easily packed up that mini-van with the 20 boxes, 2 appliances, a huge duffel, and even had a snooze space in the back row of seats for those long haul days. I am a genius when it comes to packing and configuring, if I do say so myself, and why not...it's true. Not one inch of wasted space. Of course, there was no room for passengers. No hitchhikers would be picked up along the way. JUST KIDDING I only did that once, in Chicago and boy was that a good story, but I digress.
So, at 7, Sunday evening, I gave my apartment keys to the mean Russian "Super" Mary, and drove over the GWBridge into New Jersey, following the sun. Not much daylight left, but I did give a wistful glance over my left shoulder, back over the Hudson River and bid NYC good-by.....for a while.
First, let me complain about tolls! Damn, I hated shelling out money every new highway system. I need to total up the fees, but they were certainly eating away at my food cash. I had clever remarks to make to the tollbooth takers. Some even laughed and asked why I was so cheerful. Guess that's unheard of on long haul drives, but I was in a good frame of mind. I had already cried my eyes out on 6th Avenue and Minetta Lane on Thursday, so I was over that emotional hurdle. Dinner and Brunch with friends only served to strengthen my relationships. Oh, I hesitate to mention my drunken Subway ride home Saturday night, but it was a glorious send off at Junior's, so never mind.
I drove all night on adrenalin. When the sun rose, I was leaving Pennsylvania. Boy, that is a pretty state on it's western side. Lush forests which were turning into the Fall colors. Stunning. I made quick work of Ohio and Indiana and made it to River Forest, Illinois for my first stop. A quick sleep and check-in with a very sick friend and then off again...to Oklahoma; more friends, some cows, a real bed, great dinner and lots of laughing. I pick my friends well. There was the nerve wracking task of driving through Bush2's state, with Texas Rangers hiding at every crossroads. I was very careful about my heavy right foot. No bad occurrences and one great one. I decided to treat myself to a tiny out of the way one horse town BBQ joint in Childress, TX. I mean one horse. I love sampling BBQ on my drives. This place was cooking the brisket outside, in the parking lot, in a ChooChooTrain smoker and had a home made sauce that Bobby Flay would want to serve. I wanted to stay and live with those people, but I had the long haul to Arizona up next. Coming down from the high country at sunrise,  to the basin where Phoenix is was just magnificent. It was a lonely country road for most of the way and was part dessert, part forest/mountain landscape, a very steep windy road and ended in the hot city: 6,700 ft (57 degrees that night) to 1,117 ft (85 degrees that afternoon). Lunch with another friend and then on to Tucson for my first appointed round of MORE THEATER.
Yes, I had tickets to see Kendra Kassebaum in Next To Normal. That was worth all sorts of stress and long hours. She was delighted to see me, and we had a nice talk before I was buckled up again and on the dark and southernmost road in the US to San Diego for another long night drive. Border guards and check points all over the place. You could see the "WALL" to the left trying to keep  people out, but it was a joke. I was worried I'd hit someone who might have wandered on to the highway. Driving that stretch was interesting and as the lonely auto, I had the good sense to follow the truckers and rely on their knowledge of that unfamiliar road. That was the most unpleasant drive of the entire trip. Oh, also aggravating when the Cali Agricultural guard took my oranges. I got them in WholeFoods in Columbus Circle you jerk!
When I got to San Diego, I met up with The TWickies for my next theater event. Yes, I drive 3000 miles to see my Divas. (Kendra got a big kick out of that line). We did a great lunch together, and I also snuck in a wedding reception for a SD friend's daughter before the show. No, I don't ever stop! Teal Wicks was staring in Jekyll & Hyde for my last "theater" in the foreseeable future. I'll be tied to home for a while and that was a great way to end my theatrical indulgence. Perfect, in fact, when you factor in her warmth and the love she generates. Her family was there. My theater family was there. It was a wonderful evening, that I re-lived in my mind as I drove up Highway 5 the next day. No, I did not get a ticket on The Grapevine! I did stop in Fresno to have lunch with a friend. She asked what I was interested in eating...no brainer...Mexican! There are no good Mexican places in NYC. Just ask my Texan friends, who are still searching back there.
I got to Oakland on time. Not even really tired. Delighted to see my pictures up on the wall of the loft where I will be living for the next 6 months for sure. It felt good to be surrounded by loved images. That leads me to think I have one or two more issues to contemplate about my 2 years in New York, so I renege on that threat about no more blog.
Suffice it to say, I loved my cross country trek. It was a wonderful way to transition from coast to coast. I saw friends I hadn't seen in ages (although there were some I missed along the way who are probably miffed with me). Got the chance to think, observe and sing my way through 12 states. Aren't I the luckiest?





Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#27 The 5 Senses Make No Sense At All Here

I have been trying to come to some universal understanding of what this place is like. Truly gifted writers have tackled this city, I do not presume, but I have gotten a sense of the place, and it has been rolling around in my mind and must be expressed.
SIGHT: There is a rhythm, a dance, a sense of movement, when you watch the people walk here. The masses mostly co-exist on the sidewalks. A single person threads oneself around, next to and in front of a myriad of people within a half a block of walking. Of course, the pace exponentially increases in the rush hour time frame, but with all the tourists on the streets, when you are in the TimesSquare area, it is madness most of the time. They stop mid-block and consult their maps, walk 4 abreast, and decide at odd times to pull out the camera and shoot something. Now I love tourists. I talk to them a lot, but they are clueless to the proper way to walk. Then there is the skill of crossing a street. NY'rs know how to look down the street. No one ever obeys the "DoNotWalk Sign" flashing across the street. We look to the left or right (most streets are OneWay), and if no car is seen within 20 feet, we go! I watch people cross the most busy streets all the time, gaging the speed of traffic and their need for speed. Another thing I have noticed is that people walk looking down. I do that because I love to find money and jewelry that has been dropped, but I think most walk to watch the shoes in front of them and mentally plan their next 30 feet of attack. Sort of like skiing down a field of moguls (bumps in the snow). You need watch the terrain, to get there safely. Luckily, the people here don't have to watch out for dog messes. They are very good at being responsible pooper people, but you always have to look out for those steel grates in the rain. They are damn slippery. I fell on my butt a few times on those babies. Last thing about sight is the joy of looking up. I know the joke about how to tell a tourist, but really, the tops of these buildings are amazing to see. Sometimes I find a good corner, nestle in and make myself invisible and just look at the skyline. Architecture here is so interesting, the old buildings in the Bowery to the new ones in MidTown. Sometimes, we go on building walks...so much fun to blend feet and eyes. Mention must be made of the dead bicycles, umbrellas and gloves that litter the streets and lamp posts. I should have done a book of photos. Oh, well. Last: Fireflys! Nuf said.
HEARING: When I was living on the 20th Floor (that much missed apartment owned by BitchFaceLandLord), I would leave the windows open to soak in all the sound. Of course the sirens, trucks and traffic were 24/7, but you could also hear people laughing (mostly the drunks) and the dogs barking all the way up there. Friends from Cali and elsewhere sometimes needed to resort to ear plugs to sleep, but not me. I need to add a note about the local drivers complete disregard to the scream of the siren. If you were in an ambulance and bleeding profusely, you would die on the way to the hospital, because NO ONE moves over. It's terrible, but luckily I have not had to worry about that personally.
So, sounds...the next of course must be the languages. Not one day goes by when I didn't hear a language that I think I have never heard before...and I've been lots of places. Makes no difference in what part of town you are lingering, the profusion of languages is so exciting. In SF you can hear some diversity, but in front of The Plaza Hotel, it is like the Tower of Babel is reborn. A lady just came up to me in Buckies and asked if I spoke Spanish, because she needed some help. Sorry, Senora, but I only got a C in HS Spanish. I was hoping to improve my skill by living in far off Inwood, where the Dominicans roll off Spanish on the stoops and the "Beisbol" fields, but alas, I'm still at the "Donde esta la biblioteca?" stage. While I'm thinking about Inwood, the park here is filled with the music of birds, even late at night. That's pretty strange to me, but I'll take it anyway I can. The other major sound in my neighborhood (or specifically, my apartment) is the music. I have a famous neighbor, and I think she subleases her apartment to musical geniuses: one plays the piano, the other sings soprano. I have listened to their practicing and enjoyed it as much as going to Carnegie Hall. Really, beautiful, and I have no way to tell them other than to yell out the window, and I have resisted that so far. I assume there are 2 different people, but that Diva I mentioned (if I tell you her name, I'd have to kill you) could be gifted in both arts. I will never know. Last but not least, the sounds on the Subway are awful and hurt the ears. The sounds on the Subway platforms are another story. I most remember the 3 elderly men singing harmony one afternoon. No one but me walking by and no hat out for money. They were singing for fun. It was magical. Oh, I forgot the sound of thunder. I love listening to it, while inside, warm and toasty, but have been caught outside and right in the down pour. Scary when you count the seconds from lightening to thunder and you only get to 1.
TOUCH: Walking is a contact sport here in New York. You are constantly bumping into people. Sometimes, if you are in a good frame of mind, you will say "excuse me" but more often that not, it will go unnoticed and just be part of the scramble. The touch factor in the Subway is beyond ridiculous. Rush Hour is almost as bad as Tokyo, but I have never seen a uniformed attendant push bodies in the car with white gloved hands. I have seen people half in /half out of the car door and the train is starting to move, because they can't maneuver in either direction. Then there is the "Subway Grind"an obscene act I have thankfully not observed. I have tumbled over as the train lurches and fallen into various people's laps, but I'll not talk about that, children may be reading. While still in the Subway, mention must be made of the heat in the Summer, just god-awful. A person could die down there, and I have no idea why there aren't statistics about such fatalities. Now, in the Winter that heat is a joy, so I'll just shut up, now. I'll call exhaustion at the end of the day a factor of touch. Tired feet and sore backs have made me really glad there is an elevator at the end of my train ride. Man this city can tire you out! It's a good feeling, I suppose. I do like that I average 5 to 6 miles a day on the pedometer, but thank goodness a few hours sleep restores my weary body. I'm not as young as my friends here, but I keep up with them (except for the drinking). Don't forget when I wrote about touching thousands at the Pride Parade. I must have High 5'vd the entire right side of that event. Best of the best...I think I hurt myself. Can a person get Parade Wrist Sprain?
SMELL: Let's think about the nice smells first: Central Park, the flowers on Park Avenue, restaurants around dinner time, the bakeries in the early morning come to mind, as you would expect. I will add the horses in Times Square. I love them, and I will admit to loving the horse droppings that sometimes follow them. They remind me of Camp. I saw some silly teenage girls go absolutely bonkers when they encountered horse manure. It gave me a good giggle (or should I say horse laugh). Sometimes the man hole covers smell like the entire city will blow up from a gas explosion, but I get out of those neighborhoods fast. Greasy food carts and the nut vendors smell terrible, but the WORST smell and one that really can't be described adequately are the homeless dudes on the subway who haven't bathed or seen a bathroom in weeks. If you see an empty Subway car, be wary, it probably is occupied by one of those dudes, who is passed out or perhaps dead. Do Not Enter!
TASTE: Best not to consider taste unless you have paid for it. There are some wonderful things to eat here. I'd need an entire post to get into that, but highlights would be real bagels and real pizza. I am fond of $1 pizza in Times Square from a place called OZ Pizza. I am perhaps biased on that score. I have mastered the art of folding pizza and walking down 8th Avenue in a great hurry. What an accomplishment. Doesn't make the pizza taste better, but it does separate you from the riff raff. Bagels must be eaten slowly. Real bagels are cooked twice and are so heavy you could break your toe if you dropped one. They lighten up with the liberal application of cream cheese and lox if you have the bucks. Not to leave out the corned beef sandwich, but I must, as that also is a long story. Always remember to wash your hands before eating. Lots of germs here. I don''t follow my own advice, because I'm usually so hungry I forget, but perhaps sometimes.
THE 6TH SENSE: There is a sixth sense, you ask? Of course there is and it has nothing to do with seeing dead people. It's ESP. It's the intuition and raw instinct that helps a person to get along here: knowing where not to walk late at night, the feeling of danger when coming around a corner that leads you to go to the middle of the street and avoid dark places. It also is a good force and necessary to enjoy all the above mentioned 5: the sense of joy when standing in the presence of the talent you discover, even the sense of boredom while you wait in a RushLine for hours to see a show, the sense of joy at being witness to the greatness of my Divas. There is also a 6th sense about picking a show to see off off Broadway. Sometimes that is a bonanza.
My instincts have proven to be excellent these past 2 years, and for that, I have a sense of gratitude.