So Hurricane Sandy is on her way, and for the first time in about two months, I’m spending the day in. I guess its times like this that provide a perfect opportunity to update one’s blog- especially when I haven’t REALLY done so in about two months (save my midnight musing on time last week). I’ll start by telling you that yes, I’m safe, prepared and comfortable. All of these things are the direct result of supplying myself with plenty of merlot, bagels, water , and literature.
I’m currently alone in my friend’s apartment on the Upper West Side with her cat Kilo as we await more rain and wind. I can see the neighbor’s rooftop garden from the window and already pots have started to fall over. I’d feel bad for her, but there is a reason she’s been dubbed Buddha Bitch by many.
Somehow, this is all too fitting. I’m supposed to move into my new apartment out in Astoria, Queens with my best friend Rachel this week, but of course, there’s a hurricane on it’s way. This will mark my first NY residence off the island of Manhattan, and I feel like in many ways, it marks my acceptance of adulthood. New York City makes it so easy for many of us to ignore the advancement of time and the responsibilities attached. There is always yet another Club Kid art show, a friend’s drag performance, and a million and one Groupons to entertain the inner dysfunctional child in you. I don’t know anywhere in the world where so many adults have turned cupcakes into a weekly necessity. My mother would shake her head if she knew the myriad of sweets I encounter on a daily basis… and by encounter, I mean devour.
So while I await the coming of the pseudo-apocolyptic Frankenstorm, I invite you to check back here for more narratives. That is.. until the power shuts off.
THOUGHTS: Well, let me start off by telling you that this is the gym that made me want to start posting this project TODAY, and not in a good way. Also- a little reminder that for two blissful years I belonged to the Upper West Side Equinox at 92nd Street and Broadway. During that time I lived at 122nd Street and Broadway, 162nd Street and Broadway, and 102nd Street and Amsterdam, and I still went all the way to that gym. BOOM offers a free 3 day trial on it’s main page, and to be honest, this club definitely sits in my current price range. After Ford Model James Collins suggested I try this location out, I thought “why not?” Well, when I went in for my free trial, the general manager Antonio Del Giudice flat out told me that he didn’t want to give me a 3 day pass because I didn’t live in the 10028 zip code, but would gladly register me for a membership and refund my money if I was dissatisfied in three days. Okay… WHAT? Currently I live clear across the park at a 10024 zip code, and since I’m newly in this residence I gave them my old 102nd street address. The lovely Antonio Del Giudice also made the assumption out loud “there’s no way you’re going to come all the way here for a gym.” Excuse me? Did I mention I went to a 92nd Street gym while living at 162nd Street? Not to mention, I’m ALWAYS in that neighborhood. Between Brandy’s Piano Bar and Trinity Pub on East 84th Street… well I’ve practically made a second residence on the Upper East Side. He then went on to say “isn’t there another gym closer to you that you can go to instead? I just have to be thoughtful of the people who actually live in this area.” He eventually gave me the trial anyway after huffing and puffing about the “annoying people from The Bronx” who come in for a trial session. To top it all off, I wouldn’t have included all this if, when I was getting dressed at the end of my workout, I hadn’t heard him tell an employee in the locker room “… and then I had this fucking guy from the West Side come in for a free trial.” Oh… I’m sorry, but save your customer service woes for the bar, you know- when you aren’t working. So thank you Antonio Del Giudice for the delicious content, I actually appreciate it. And yes, I’m still going to rate this location
Equipment (* * * * Four Stars) The equipment at BOOM was actually pretty good, save the leg press that wouldn’t lock in properly without some severe effort… not the safest experience. I did appreciate the kettle bells.
Staff (* One Star) The only person who gets a star is the girl who sold me my energy drink- you all know why.
Amenities (* * * Three Stars) Sure there’s towel service and the basic steam/ sauna combo I usually seek out, but I don’t like that you have to get your towels at the gym’s entrance- this makes it difficult if you decide use the steam room or sauna while you’re taking a shower. Then what? Get dressed, grab another towel, undress, go in the steam room and shower again? Too much work- unless there is actually space in the locker room that wasn’t being kept up properly with the necessity… then that’s a staffing fail.
Cleanliness (* * * * Four Stars) The gym was pretty clean save the towels all over the floor in the men’s locker room… dislike!
OVERALL RATING (* * * Three Stars)
Who BOOM is for? Not me… and if you don’t live inside the 10028 zip code, they don’t want you either.
Last summer, I was with my friends Whitney and Megan when Whitney asked us to accompany her to a bar near her Upper West Side apartment. Whitney was new to online dating and wanted us to join her in loosening up over libations, then leave shortly after her date arrived. We obliged.
We found a nook at Gin Mill when Megan asked “So, what does he look like?”
“I don’t know” confessed Whitney.
We both snapped at her “what!?”
“He didn’t have a picture… but I figured, he’s 6’5″ so…”
I nearly choked on my drink. “Whitney! Always make sure they have pictures, or ask them for their Facebook profile so you can at least make sure they aren’t trying to hide something.”
Megan shook her head with disapproval “Well do YOU have your pictures up?” Whitney not only had put pictures of herself on the website, but gorgeous ones from a recent, professional photo shoot she had just taken with Canadian photographer, Phil Crozier. “Well,” she continued “let’s just hope he doesn’t look like Shrek.”
“Stop it!” yelled Whitney “…and guys? Please pretend to be laughing at some hysterical joke I just told when he comes in. I want him to think I’m funny.”
“But you ARE funny” said Megan. “I’m sure we can fake a good laugh for you.”
“So… what does he do?” I asked.
Whitney’s eyes slowly scanned to the floor. “He’s currently unemployed, but he volunteers at a hostel for housing…”
Megan nearly choked on her cocktail. “WHITNEY!”
“What!? He wrote me and asked me out. What was I supposed to say… no?”
We both stared at her for a second before yelling “YES!”
“Ugh… okay,” said Megan while staring out the window at the line of arriving patrons. “Let’s guess which one he is.” We had fun for a few minutes guessing the most awkward of dates for Whitney. Megan then spotted an unsightly fellow walking on the sidewalk with unkempt hair , severely weathered clothes, and a quality I used to bestow upon children’s book characters I like to call cheese mouth. Again, I was a strange child, and found that nearly all illustrated characters in my books who weren’t the antagonist looked like they ate pounds and pounds of cheese without ever brushing their teeth. “Oh My! Whitney… can you imagine if thats him!?” We all laughed and teased her at the thought.
Whitney rolled her eyes. “Stop that! Thats mean…” We realized the man was now making his way for the bar, and, he was significantly taller than everyone else in the line to get in. “Oh. My. Goodness… thats my date.”
The reaction Megan and I shared, while wholly inappropriate, was luckily just what Whitney had asked of us before her “gentleman caller” arrived.
“Hi, I’m Earl.”
Megan and I both had tears streaming down our faces while we made our introductions between laughing spasms over our friend’s unfortunate online date choice. Whitney was not laughing.
My attempt at salvaging the moment would probably have failed with anyone else. “She’s just… so funny! This girl!”
“Well,” Megan gulped the remaining three quarters of her cocktail “Jacob was JUST going to walk me home. Nice meeting you! BYE!” Megan and I ran out of the bar faster than a herd of antelope trying to avoid being eaten for dinner. I looked at Megan”What!?” We slowed our pace “we would have stayed laughing like that all night and you know it!”
“True.” I turned back to see Whitney looking out the window like a family pet being left in the kennel while we went for a vacation some place exotic. Megan and I stopped for deli sandwiches
“Note to self…” Megan unwrapped her Philly Cheesesteak. ”Whitney is not allowed to set me up on blind dates.”
With a whirlwind schedule taking her from Seattle to Hong Kong to NYC and back again, Lindsay Russell is heading full steam ahead toward a bright career in opera. I caught up with the effervescent coloratura soprano this week in New York City to catch up on life, music, and of course… food.
I found the petite, blonde soprano sitting amongst a sea of people at Columbus Circle’s Bouchon Bakery. “I think we might be better somewhere else?” hinted Lindsay politely before we headed to the Le Pain Qoutidien on 7th Ave “this is so much better!”
When talking about music Lindsay’s face immediately lights up; when it comes to other singers, the soprano admires the skilled pyrotechnics of those whose repertoire she is currently tackling. ”I go through singer phases, where I can’t listen to enough of them, but there are a few who have stood the test of time. I’ll pretty much always pick a Joan Sutherland recording over the others. I’m a big fan of Diana Damrau, and also love watching Natalie Dessay’s videos on youtube. Hmmm, I also love Edita Gruberova, Barbara Bonney, and Renata Scotto… I could go on but I won’t.”
Lindsay describes a recent trip to China for a concert with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra as one filled with pleasant surprises. “I am definitely not used to that kind of treatment!” laughs Lindsay. “Everything about it was so amazing, I just can’t believe how well they took care of me, from the work visa to transportation, they were just incredible.” Miss Russell was the only soloist invited for an 11-11-11 concert themed “2011- A Space Odyssey” with the HKPO. “The funny thing is, they already had the program selected for the concert, but wanted to include an aria from Haydn’s Il Mondo Della Luna and the Queen Of The Night arias from The Magic Flute…” The current Chief Executive Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is none other than Michael MacLeod, the former General and Artistic Director of Glimmerglass Opera, where Lindsay made her debut as Laurie in Aaron Copland’s “The Tender Land”, which garnered her praise by Opera News and The New York Times. It was Michael MacLeod who suggested the talented singer make her debut in front of a crowd no less than 20,000 people.
About that. ”The actual concert was such a great experience and what a production! They managed to actually sync fireworks to go off while the Orchestra played Johan Strauss II’s The Blue Danube. I’ve never experienced anything like that! Also, its such a different culture… I was really surprised how many YOUNG people were there. Whole groups of teenagers just hanging out at the classical music concert like it was the cool thing to do. They were even asking for my autograph after, again, not something I’m used to!”
Miss Russell, a foodie in the making, also has no qualms over trying new and unusual things. “Oh, I’ll try anything once!” she exclaims. When discussing her favorite place to eat in New York City, Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown, Lindsay loves to explain her initial thoughts and eventual love affair with the local eatery. “I really wanted to hate it there, because it’s just always so busy, but I can’t stay away! The food is so so good, I’m actually meeting my roommates there tonight for dinner. And FYI – the one in Chinatown is clearly superior to the one in midtown, and it’s also significantly cheaper. Plus, only in Chinatown do you get the experience of sharing your table with six other strangers. ” The Chinatown favorite features one of the soprano’s favorite eats. Soup Dumplings. The tasty treats almost always require a tutorial for newcomers, that is, unless you WANT to spill out all of the delicious filling.
When it comes to what composers the soprano loves singing, and those she wishes she could just get more of, the response is immediate and almost obvious. “Strauss! Once I conquer a Strauss piece, it is incredibly rewarding to sing. I just sang Zerbinetta for the first time in public this week, for an audition, and it was so much fun. I never tire of Mozart, which is good, because hopefully I’ll be singing that repertoire for the rest of my life. I also am completely obsessed with singing Bach. I wish someone would hire me to sing Bach all day long.”
Of her summers at Glimmerglass, Lindsay definitely has an abundance of great things to say about her time with the company. ”My last two summers there were a lot of fun. I love sitting on the back porch of the Otesaga Hotel, sipping a cocktail and eating snack mix in a wooden rocking chair. I love “wrong rep night,” where everyone in the program sings and performs the most inappropriate things we can imagine.
“Some of my truly favorite moments happened backstage” she continues. ”My first year there, I sang Laurie in the Tender Land, and at the end of every performance, Andrew Stenson, Mark Diamond and I had a big group hug right before we went on for bows.”
You may call her sentimental, but don’t underestimate Lindsay’s preparedness on keeping a box of Kleenex nearby. “One of my favorite moments from last summer was during the first orchestra rehearsal for Annie Get Your Gun.” (The Francesca Zambello directed production starred operatic superstar Debbie Voigt.) “Most broadway orchestras are small – no more than twenty or so people – so hearing wonderful Glimmerglass Orchestra performing the overture brought me to tears.”
Currently, Miss Russell is spending the year as a young artist with Seattle Opera. And though the soprano admits that being away from loved ones can be difficult, its evident that living with two of her best friends, tenor Andrew Stenson and mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen definitely helps. “There is rarely a dull moment in our house!”
And Seattle Opera itself? “I love the coaching staff! I’m learning so much from them, I feel like I should be paying them, and not the other way around! I also adore my colleagues. With a program this small (nine people), it could be a bad experience if we didn’t all get along. Luckily, everyone there is not only ridiculously talented, but also kind and humble.”
Miss Russell will be spending the 2012 summer season as an apprentice singer with the Santa Fe Opera covering the Fiakermilli in Strauss’s Arabella. You can watch Lindsay sing “I Could Have Danced All Night” from Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady by CLICKING HERE!
See – One of my favorite pastimes is going to the Museums. Living in NYC, you are surrounded by great Museums. With the suggested entrance fees being raised every year it can get to be a bit expensive, so I have found it helpful to know when each Museum has “free” days. I enjoy going to Museums to do research for roles I am learning, the restored historical rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are very inspiring. I also have certain paintings I just must visit, such as Madame X. Brooklyn Museum of Art has free Saturdays, which include curator talks and live music. I would also suggest checking out the wine bar on the roof at the Met. Museum of Art. It has one of the most beautiful views on Central Park. http://gonyc.about.com/cs/museums/a/museumdeals.htm
Break the fast – Food in NYC can be expensive. Brunch is one of my favorite activities to do with friends. It can easily run you $30 if you to places like Alice’s Teacup (a favorite). For those weekends you want to splurge that is perfect, but if you are worried about your wallet (who isn’t these days) Whole foods is a great alternative. Last time I had breakfast there I had oatmeal from the bar which has tons of add-in options for free and hot tea for $3.00! I love to get breakfast (or any meal really) at the Wholefoods at Columbus Circle and then take it to Central Park.
Spa – Spa days are some of the best days! NYC has a lot of options when it comes to pampering. One of NYC best features if that you can be in any neighborhood and find a $20 mani/pedi place! If you are looking for more the internet is your bestfriend. Groupon tends to offer a lot of discounts, but one of the best sites is http://www.spaweek.com/deals/#Manhattan. You can always find great deals on this site. There are also twice annual (on in the fall and on in the spring) spa weeks where you can get just about anything for $50.
Shop – Macy’s… how I love thee! I always find what I need here. A lot of the time you can find the same clothes Saks, or some of the other more expensive dept. stores, carry for less here. Macy’s has crazy sales often. Last time I went to Macy’s I needed a lot of clothes because I was leaving for the summer and needed a lot of new things. I bought $975 worth of clothes for $400. I have found that Calvin Klein looks good on everyone. Also if you have a out of state drivers liscense you can go to the customer service desk and receive a 15% discount coupon for your entire purchase.
Tourist – When friends come to town it is fun to see the city, but friends are always coming to NYC and to go out and pay for tourist locations becomes too expensive. One of my favorite things to do with friends from out of town is pack a snack and take the Staten Island Ferry at sunset. The ferry is FREE and your friends can get great photos of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
Enjoy – The Metropolitan Opera has a free outdoor festival of HD broadcasts. Enjoy the past Hd videos free from Lincoln Center! This is made possible by the Metropolitan Opera Guild. http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/broadcast/hd_events_template.aspx?id=16260&hpgraphic
If you prefer live opera the Met offers $20 rush tickets to some shows.
The very best and cheapest thing in New York are the friendships you make. Those are truly priceless!
- Do You Have A Friend That Embarrasses You? (fresh1027.radio.com)
- New York City: Metropolitan Museum of Art (alainsojourner.com)
- New York City Mothers Day City Guide (proflowers.com)
- Metropolitan Museum of Art renames Islamic exhibit, returns Mohammed images (creepingsharia.wordpress.com)
- ‘Heroic Africans’ at Metropolitan Museum of Art (africaunchained.blogspot.com)
Alright, it happened. I finally gave in and bought my first Pumpkin Spiced Latte of the season at Starbucks. It seems to me that the purchase of a Pumpkin Spiced Latte, Peppermint Mocha or Frappuccino can immediately spark a person’s willingness to accept the arrival of a new season.
I left my Upper West Side Apartment with a couple of hours to spare and walked through the cool, surprisingly present, autumn air. Fall seems to have done just that, fallen out of nowhere and forced us to let go of our summer city habits. No more tanning in Sheep Meadow for another nine months— that’s enough time for you to have a baby, or not…
As I walked in and out of the various book stores picking out the next self-help book yet another person has told me I JUST HAD TO READ, I caught glimpses of pumpkins in shop windows, and the advertisements of “new fall colors” while the mannequins seemed to add layers right before my eyes. I sipped my warm, sugary drink with delight as I heard a jazz singer through the windows of Cleopatra’s Needle crooning to the accompaniment of piano and Double Bass. Each season in NYC has it’s own unique spirit, and those which Autumn and Spring possess are spirits of change. They gently erase the old and give way to the new— whether you’re ready or not.
“And then she introduced me to the butcher as her driver!” exclaimed Sakura.
“Oh no she didn’t!” I was shocked. My close friend, pianist Sakura Myers had been looking forward to a summer stay in the Berkshires. She would act as a “travel companion” to a seemingly nice elderly couple from The Upper West Side of Manhattan, and had instead been reduced to a role as a live-in servant.
“I mean the deal was, I would ‘help’ with the occasional household chore, drive them to the store, accompany them to classical music events and practice piano all day… those were literally the terms of our agreement.” Sakura, while wonderfully giving, is also a no nonsense, no holds barred woman who will let you know when you are treating her wrong.
“I don’t know what to say Sakura, I mean… you were so excited about all this, but in a selfish way, I’m really glad you’re back in the city for the summer.” I tried to reassure my utterly overwhelmed friend that she had made the right decision. After driving down from The Berkshires, my apartment was literally the first stop she made after dropping the elderly couple off at their penthouse palace.
“I know, in a way I’m glad about that, I’m just sad at how this situation turned out.” She went on to tell me about how the couple began commanding her to change and wash their sheets, drive them around and cook full gourmet meals for them. Sakura’s cooking is delightfully comparable to the cuisine found at Caravaggio and Cipriani… REALLY. “And then they began giving me orders ‘go fetch me the paper’… like I was a dog! I mean, I’m not usually one to play the race card, but I just felt like their servant! The funny thing is, they TOLD me that the young pianist who helped them out last year didn’t last… I should have known.”
“I can’t believe you drove them all the way back.” I was amused by the prospect of telling my employers that they’re treating me like a servant, quitting my job, and then having to drive Miss Daisy and her husband 155 miles. “You have a lot of chutzpah girl!”
“I just had to get out!” She cried. “Never, NEVER in my life have I been treated like that, and all I could think of was that story you told me about the wealthy Upper East Side couple dining with their nurse. I felt like that, I wasn’t their companion, I was their servant. Their servant who was allowed the luxury to be seen with them in public.”
Sakura was referencing an incident I experienced when an Upper East Side couple took me to dinner at an exclusive restaurant where our bill literally tripled what I pay in monthly rent. Before dinner the couple actually had me dress in a dinner coat and a French cuff shirt so I might “blend in”. After snickering with the maitre d’ about an ongoing incident one of my dinner hosts was experiencing with Barbara Walters, the conversation quickly turned to a young black woman who was dining with a wheelchair-bound elderly couple. “It’s a shame that SHE gets to eat this food” my dinner host scoffed. “I mean, it isn’t like she can actually enjoy it in the we all can.” This was probably one of the more uncomfortable moments in my life, and after three hours of pretentious snickering, I felt physically ill. I can assure you I am no longer in contact with this couple.
“But you’re not that Sakura, you’re a beautiful and talented person who deserves to be treated with respect” I reassured.
“Thank you, but I’m just really shaken” she said sadly. “Oh and the bathrooms! Their bathtub was leaking into my bathroom, and after a week of being told ‘the handyman is coming tomorrow’ they finally told me the truth that they didn’t want to fix anything in the house because they were trying to sell it.”
“Why are they so cheap?”
“Who knows! All I can say is that when I dropped them off, the doorman told me that he sees the same thing happen every summer and that he was proud of me for cutting the trip short.”
“So this happens a lot?”
“Apparently! And when I asked him why he didn’t tell me sooner he simply replied that it wasn’t his place because he was just the help.”
What is it about the thought of an impending snow day that sends everyone into a flurry? Yesterday, I decided for whatever reason that it would be smart to take a cab home from school. I know- traveling by car is exactly the type of thing you don’t want to do in a weather-induced state of emergency. Hey now, I was tired, and I was really missing a friend of mine I’ve been neglecting lately… Sleep.
Anyways, I hailed a taxi from the corner of 122nd and Broadway, from where my driver decided to turn right/ uphill so we could take Riverside Drive. We almost made it to Claremont when the vehicle started sliding all over the place and inevitably backward towards Broadway. I nervously pattered a catalogue of four letter words as the taxi’s rear bumper neared our starting point with impressive haste. When my driver finally, and thankfully regained control of the vehicle I asked him if he could take a different route, to which he replied “Get out, we’re going to die… please take a snow mobile!”
Its moments like these that make me miss New Mexico, and also make wonder why my friends ever question my desire to stay inside when the white stuff pays a visit. Luckily for me, my good friend Danielle (see Vampire Jacob? for pic) was able to do the impossible this afternoon in making me join her and several of our friends for a snow day visit to Central Park.
Initially intended to be a sledding adventure, my friends and I decided to wait for our friend Adele in an untouched snowy patch of awesome near the West 72nd street entrance to Central Park. While she made her way to join us, we began building snow men, and of all things, a fort. After about an hour of sculpting (and laughs from passersby), a group of elementary school children enthused by our architectural efforts ran inside our fort.
The children quickly suggested a snowball war against the female members of our group. In retaliation, our girls unsuccessfully tried to claim a giant evergreen to hide under as the munchkins attacked them fiercely with impeccable aim. Mind you, my group totaled 6- Lindsey, Adele, Nicole, Danielle, Tyler and me. This left me and Tyler to deal with about 10 children setting up camp in our fort while charging after the girls.
After watching what seemed like a mash-up gone wrong between Lord of The Flies and Gossip Girl, we convinced the children that, since they worked so well together, to be on their own team, with the understanding they were free to take our fort when we abandoned ship. With a wicked smile, the self-proclaimed leader, and Jacob-proclaimed Lord of The Flies agreed.
Now that the girls were safe behind our fortress walls, we were able to rightfully declare a snow war. Hey now, I know what you’re thinking… six college students against a group of seven year olds seems highly unfair, but I must impress upon you the old adage that dynamite comes in small packages.
We must have lasted about five minutes while the children feverishly attacked us. Each of us was targeted and successfully hit in the head with several snowballs as onlookers laughed and added sports commentary while taking pictures and video. After we realized that we had clearly been beaten… and pummeled, we retreated, and gave up our fort for the children to occupy. Before we took to the yellow stained road, several of the munchkin’s parents and babysitters thanked us for playing with their kids as well as entertaining them.
As we were about to head back toward the street, we all decided on an impulse to continue with our initial plan to go sledding. After about fifteen minutes of wandering about the beautiful winter wonderland that I wish Christmas could be, we found ourselves at the Bethesda Terrace cheering a group of daredevils (and eventually Tyler) as they raced down a makeshift hill and ramp on the steps which lead down to the famous fountain. Finally, just east of the terrace, we found ourselves claiming an empty pathway to sled on.
After about thirty minutes of laughs, failures and screams, we slowly meandered back to Central Park Park West where I bid my friends goodbye out of sheer necessity to thaw. I’m happy to report that my toes still number ten and they are indeed now warm and dry
Sometimes I wonder if dying is a little bit like taking the subway home alone in zero degree weather after a late night out. No, I’m not talking about about the morbidity of freezing among the day’s lingering grunge, but rather, that the journey seems likely to be similar. Think about it, you’re celebrating at a bar or restaurant… you could be with people you love, people you hardly know, or you could be alone; this represents your life. Suddenly, for whatever reason, the celebration ends and you’re really alone. You walk by yourself to the subway station, and after you swipe your metro card, you hope the train comes quickly because, well, it’s cold. You wait and wait, and even though your genius playlist is shuffling through your favorite songs, you start likening the train to Samuel Beckett’s Godot… will it ever come? Then, in sporadic intervals, people start to pass by. No one of course will stand near you because for all they know you’re the next Craigslist killer. These people are like Pozzo and Lucky in Waiting for Godot; for some reason and by the sheer fact they exist, they offer you sustenance… that is, the satisfaction of knowing that you aren’t alone.
After what seems like an eternity and several trains that pass by because they’re too full, your train comes for you. You realize after taking a seat that it is no warmer in this subway car than it was on the platform, and that your breath is still forming clouds in front of you. After looking around, you realize that the people in your current surroundings are a little more extraverted than those on the platform; some are drunk, some are really drunk, and some are just staring into the abyss. These people are like Joseph, Inès and Estelle in Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. You feel as if you’re in purgatory and will never be rid of them because the train is now running local, and home, although approaching, seems to be getting farther and farther away.
Finally, your stop arrives and you step onto the dimly lit platform and make your way upstairs. It seems the closer you arrive to your doorstep, the colder it gets and therefore the longer it seems be to be taking you to reach your final destination. When you at last make it to your apartment and ultimately your bed… heaven. Sleep after the hour that has just passed is like the eternal rest that we find in classical German poetry. No need however to run into the woods in the blistering cold to find peace, because now you’re fast asleep and hopefully you have nowhere important to be the next day.
- Existential Tooth Trinkets – The ‘Waiting for Godot’ Jewelry is Inspired by the Absurdist Play (GALLERY) (trendhunter.com)
- raiding for godot (righteousorbs.com)
- The Cowardly Lion Waits for Godot (online.wsj.com)
So guess what!? I didn’t win the Mega Millions jackpot after all, and instead of sleeping so I can get up early and spend some quality time with my father in Santa Fe (believe me, my alarm is still set for 8 am), I’m sitting writing to all of you about my now over-caffeinated nostalgic thoughts, that is, whoever YOU are.
Shortly after I compared the numbers on my multiple losing tickets, to the Mega Millions website, I started going through an old photo album of mine from my senior year of high school. You know, those things we documented our memories in before Facebook ..? What I found were not just memories, but dozens of little promises I had made to myself. No, I’m not talking about anything like curing cancer or single-handedly battling world hunger, I’m talking about all those little “maybes” we had whirling about our seventeen year old heads.
I have spent my life on the verge of becoming a hoarder, prevented only by an obsessively clean mother and stern roommates. While going through my photo album, I came across the graduation announcement of a classmate of mine who I had never really been friends with. I opened the invitation and realized that I had graduated high school and gone about the last five years without even realizing what our class song was. Apparently we had voted “Our Lives” by The Calling as the musical representation of our various public school careers and relationships. I do remember however, that our student body president had been disgruntled by the selection and decided to play another song over the stadium speakers, which I was too distracted to pay attention to, thanks to the beach balls, silly string, and alcohol that were exhanging hands and pockets around me. I decided to Youtube (or rather VEVO) the song originally intended to be played at my high school graduation, and out of nowhere, that sickening and uninvited nostalgia started creeping in.
As the video played, I continued to go through the pages of my photo album, and out fell various business cards of people I had met at local, state and national student retreats and conventions… again, this was before you could just Facebook somebody and decide from their wall and photos if you actually wanted to extend your friendship beyond “liking” the occasional status. I was also amazed that within my mounting piles of scrap was actually a little map that pointed out the location of my favorite gelateria in Florence, Italy ”Perche’ no!” (why not!? in Italian). I have been telling every friend and acquiantance of mine who has since traveled there to try the pistacchio gelato at this fantastic little gem of a shop.
Still looking through photographs of my senior trip to Italy, I kept seeing pictures of myself with other students from another school. At the time, I was convinced I would become lifelong friends with these randoms… I haven’t spoken to any of them since. I also found photographs of places and things I promised that I would someday take the time to enjoy, like Venice’s Cafe Florian in the piazza di San Marco or the Rialto Bridge, which (due to an annoyingly short city tour) I never got the chance to walk on.
I also promised myself when I graduated, that I would one day live in New York City. I thought that by virtue of making it to Manhattan, I would somehow have it all figured out. I’m realizing now that while my location has changed, I’m still trying trying to get to point B… although point A+/9, or wherever it is I currently am is giving me more life lessons than a book of soul food chicken soup or Oprah power secrets could possibly manage. What I have gained is the ability to realize that family is not bound by blood, that people can come into your life and somehow present more value than an aunt, cousin, or in some cases as equally as a parent or sibling. I am so lucky to have gained this type of family in both old and new friends.
In closing, I am giving my resolutions and promises to myself- not for the new year, but for the next five yeats by using the lessons I’ve learned from the last five.
1. In the last five years I have gained and lost fifty pounds. I am promising myself to continually strive to improve my health so that I may not only fit into those amazing $19.99 jeans they sell at Uniqlo, but also so I can be around for as long as possible.
2. I have continually made excuses to myself as to why I couldn’t be in a serious relationship “yet”. I keep telling myself that I’ll be ready for commitment when I get to a specific point in my life, but honestly, I don’t even know what that is! I’m not saying that I am going to move in with the next guy I date, but I do promise to stop making excuses and to let whatever happens in that area of my life take it’s course. What I do know, is that I have definitely been on at least 50 first dates in the last five years, and I am exhausted.
3. Since I have five years, I do promise to order lunch at Cafe Florian… after a walk on the Rialto.
4. I promise to try and think more positively about others when my first, second or even third impression of them is not so savory. I am saying this because when I first got to New York, there was a group of people who I strongly disliked, and finally after years of mutual distaste, we realized that both parties were to blame. I was the new kid, they were trying to protect the fort, and since we were all dealing with our own various insecurities, years of whispering, rumors and REALLY dirty looks ensued. Needless to say, we are all now friends and I can’t believe that I have missed out on having these folks in my life. But as they say… better late than never.
5. Finally, I will try my hardest to keep the excitement and curiousity that I had when I graduated high school. Since life is a journey, I promise to never be disappointed in where I currently am in life, because even if I’m not there yet, I’m on my way to something, and I’ll tell you what that is when I get there.
Last Spring, I was out and about in Manhattan with my best friend Rachel, when, as usual, we decided that we were hungry. It was a Saturday evening, and we had a few hours to kill until Star Trek began at the AMC Loews Theatre. There was a cute little place on Columbus called Empire Szechuan that seemed fairly appealing, and with all my recent sushi intake, I had forgotten a childhood favorite… the Pu Pu Platter.
As we sat on the patio, Rachel indicated that a familiar looking woman was walking our way from the direction of Lincoln Center. I turned around briefly to spot a sharp featured blond woman wearing a disgustingly flamboyant pant suit that seemed to resemble burning leapord print.
“Who is she?” asked Rachel.
“Not sure… maybe you can get a closer look.”
When the woman finally came closer Rachel sported a brief aha look when the mystery woman pointed at Rachel and sharply spit out “DON’T” to my now disappointed friend.
“Wow” I said.
“That fucking real house hoe just scolded me!” exclaimed Rachel.
As it turned out, our mystery woman was Alex McCord van Kempen from The Real Housewives of New York City. Not only was her ensemble devastatingly ugly, but she was also with out her favorite accessory- mangina husband Simon.
Now, I understand completely when “celebrities” or whoever want to walk around in peace and enjoy a night out like everyone else, but seriously, when you’re a demi-celebrity like Alex, don’t expect anonymity when you’re out and about on a beautiful spring weekend in a place as heavily populated like Manhattan. If you’re that concerned… stay in Brooklyn.
“That was rude” I said.
“I wasn’t THAT obvious, I just couldn’t figure out who the hell she was” replied Rachel “I mean, we’re in Lincoln Center… she could have been an opera singer or whoever.”
“Maybe that’s where she was coming from.”
“Maybe… but that pisses me off” said Rachel.
“Because, you know on the show how they got ready for the Opening Night Gala at the Met, and they brag about how great it is to own a hotel in Manhattan so they don’t have to go to Brooklyn to get ready…”
“I mean they spend so much time talking about the fucking clothes they want to wear and how important it is to be seen, and to be viewed as cultured, but neither of them in all their grand little show of ‘the importance of being well-educated’ ever fucking mention the music!”
“NO! They can’t actually love it the way people like you and me do” replied Rachel “it pisses me off… almost more than it does that they want to write a parenting book when they can’t even get their kids into private school in Manhattan.”
“What’s the book going to be called?”
“Who knows” replied Rachel “Probably something like ‘How to teach your children useless phrases in Latin, French and Portuguese all while avoiding to teach your child in English what day of the week it is.”
“No… not harsh. You know, if that were Jill Zarin, she would have probably smiled or something.”
“God I love her” I replied “I love her and Bethenny Frankel…”
“Me too! At least they’re sort of experts at what they do- fabric, healthy cooking…” said Rachel “I doubt Alex even knows what the hell she’s listening to when she goes to the opera.”
“Umm… probably not, they just go so they can take a photograph, show the world they have some taste, and then disappear from the rest of the season whereas you and me were scrounging for seats like idiots outside at Fordham University to try to get to watch… again OUTSIDE.”
Rachel had a point. Renee Fleming had opened the 125th anniversary season at the Metropolitan, not with an opera, but with fully staged, fully orchestrated scenes from three different operas and was costumed by three different designers and was even given her own spread in Vogue for the event. It was indeed an unprecedented historical event, but one has to wonder whether or not Kanye, the Olson twins or even Alex McCord van Kempen were truly moved at all by Renee Fleming’s voice and prowess while singing some of the most heartfelt music by Verdi, Massenet and Strauss.
While we were eating, my mind went back to the night of the Metropolitan Opera‘s 125th anniversary gala. After act 1, my friends and I had decided to cross the street to buy a blanket at Bed, Bath and Beyond so that we could keep warm while watching the rest of the event. In the hustle and bustle that is Manhattan, I accidently collided with a woman in a gown who was leaving the event… she also looked familiar. I turned to my friend Megan, and before I could open my mouth, she said “that was Jane Fonda… photo op is over, she’s leaving.”