Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Goodbye, New York

So it's about an hour before I get a ride to the airport. I'm so glad I took two extra days off before the trip, allegedly to pack, but really to relax and enjoy the last of summer. My place is still pretty clean from the party on Sunday, and I've dealt with most of the leftovers so there shouldn't be too many green fuzzy things to greet me when I return. Yesterday afternoon I did a load of laundry and went for a quick rollerblading jaunt (7 miles, with hills). I've started reading Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen (and prominently featured by Rev. Purdue this past Sunday). I've packed about twice as much as I'll actually need, and it all fits. I know where to go in Edinburgh and which trains/buses to take. I have things to read and listen to on the plane. My inner thigh hurts (and looks ugly as heck) where the incision was made, but I'm on antibiotics and OTC painkillers so that should be fine. My brother and his family have sold their old place and are almost completely moved into the new place; they can hear crickets at night (!) and LC is happily playing every day in the back yard. I'm hoping to see them the weekend of 9/21. And I've signed up for a very cool rafting trip in July 2008. Sunshine streaming in. Life is good.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Surgery (with Ogden Nashery)

My cyst
will not be missed.
But now I must endure a 10-day regimen
of antibiotics and other medicine
to knock the last vestiges of the stinking pustule out
as I begin my Scottish walkabout.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


A sign on my way to my first outdoor soccer game, Saturday of last week:
It turned out to be eerily appropriate when applied to some of my fellow soccer-players.

An image from Psycho at Bryant Park (or, rather, if you look closely, two cartoon cats lurking on opposite sides of a tree trunk during the Looney Tunes warm-up):
The sporadic cool drizzle throughout the film helped set an appropriate gloomy tone for Psycho. The movie was less grisly than I expected, a nice side benefit to watching vintage films. But from a modern perspective it was risible to have a heavy exposition scene at the end to explain what we just saw. For some reason, Hitchcock apparently found it advisable to have a police psychologist inform us that Norman Bates killed his mother (duh) but now one of his personalities thinks he IS her (yeah, we got that the first time) and dresses up like her to kill other people who might come between mother and son (check). The psychologist-expositor also explains the difference between a transvestite and a psychopath/schizophrenic who thinks he is his own mother. I'm not sure what it says about our society, but this explanation is really no longer necessary.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Pivotal Time

May 2006 was very significant for me; a new beginning. Not everything has panned out as I hoped or imagined, but life has been good nonetheless.

As I was trying to clean up a few of my 3000+ images in iPhoto, three images from that era caught my eye - they each capture something of people and places from that time, and they each have become poignant to me in retrospect.

A visit to my friend's home in Long Island:

A trip to Yankee Stadium with FOCUS, for a game against the Rangers:

I have not seen my sister in some time, so I treasure this picture of P against the tiers of Yankees fans.

Late afternoon in Prospect Park with some friends who were, and remain, very dear to me:

To me, this picture captures something of U's spirit. And while that's an unusual mode for S - to be relaxed, smiling, no cell phone at his ear - it is very much him.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My First Tattoo

I made some strategic errors in requesting an ahnkh tattoo on my palm just before yoga class, not least of which is the fact that the tattoo is upside down. Also - a word to the wise - you actually use your palms a lot in yoga. Wrist or shoulder, ankle or neck, would be a better pre-yoga choice.

But it's still pretty cool, if you ask me.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Thoughts on Blogging

I was never able to keep a journal, though I tried sporadically as an adolescent and beyond. The few entries I made (each in a different notebook, most long since jettisoned) catalogued my angst and insecurities for my hypothetical future biographers. Why biographers would take an interest in my life at all was a question I seldom confronted head-on, though I had some vague idea that my greatness would eventually be recognized on some spectacular scale (nationally, internationally) and then people would look through my early writings for signs of said greatness. Looking back on this, I can only be grateful that I managed not to record all of my self-conscious twaddle. My hypothetical future biographers may or may not be able to track down my voluminous correspondence from my junior high school years, but even a small taste of that correspondence would be more than enough to convince them (if they need any convincing) that either my abilities were vastly overrated, or I was a very late bloomer.

Which brings me to letter-writing. I was much more successful at writing letters to friends than at keeping a diary. Perhaps it was the certainty of having an audience; unlike the hypothetical future biographers, my elementary school friends regularly wrote me back. Our letters got longer and longer over time. At the peak, we were writing 20-page letters to each other filled with reflections on the most trivial details of our lives. (Future biographers of my elementary school friends should take note; I've kept most of their letters. For what it's worth, the bulk of this correspondence was on paper; only one of those friends regularly kept in touch via email.) Yet at some point after my family moved back to the States, my motivation to write long letters to absent friends cooled and died. I think this was very closely aligned with my development of a local network of friends in my town, and thus a healthy social life.

So blogging is much more like letter writing than diary keeping, in terms of motivation - there exists a small audience of friends, plus the distinct possibility of strangers stumbling across it from time to time (despite the G-rated subject matter), and the thrill of occasional feedback in the form of comments.

But I have noticed some strange side effects of blogging. Although I do not shape my social life based on blogability, to some extent events and incidents that I do not take pictures of, or write about, seem not to exist. Many chance encounters (funny remarks made in passing on the subway or elsewhere) quickly fade from memory if I do not memorialize them here. And yet when I do memorialize events, the "spin" I have given them on the blog frequently infects any future retelling of the story. Even worse, events that I have written about frequently get tagged with the "I have already told this story" category in my mind and thus are dropped from conversation -- even with people who (as far as I know) do not know about or read the blog.

Friday, August 17, 2007

"Don't you people have homes?"

This evening, I had the opportunity to use one of my favorite catch-phrases from college.

Ah yes, those were the days. At 9 pm, or 10 pm, or 11 pm on any given night, the Stamp Union Program Council President, Tom Meixner, might swing by the "office" (aka hangout central for our 150+ members) and find anywhere from 5 to 20 people chatting, flirting, debating, playing catch, or what have you. He always acted astonished to see us, and he always made the same sarcastic remark. We always responded by laughing, or smiling, or playing along with a deadpan sarcastic response. Because of course we had homes (or at least dorm rooms). It's just that those homes generally lacked what we found in abundance at our program office - members of the opposite sex.

FREE LOVE Part II: Summer Shakespeare Round-Up

8/11/07 Midsummer Night's Dream (Delacorte): Ugh. What a disappointment. One of the worst MMD performances I've seen. Overacted and incoherent. For me, the one genuinely funny and unforced scene was early on, when the "working-class actors" first get together to plan their play-within-the-play. But overall, sad to say, no character won my sympathy during this performance. Even though it was advertised under the rubric of "FREE LOVE" (like the much more successful production of Romeo and Juliet in the first half of the summer), I felt pure apathy for the lot of them.

To make matters worse, the Athenians were dolled up in Victorian garb for no apparent reason. Or maybe the clothing style was chosen so the ridiculous bustles could be torn off of the lead female characters in pieces - but even so, why??!

At least I had fun waiting for tickets with my friends, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner beforehand at a new (to us) restaurant very near the park.

8/1/07 The Tempest (Abrons Amphitheater): I was looking forward to this, because I am relatively unfamiliar with The Tempest. Unfortunately, my friend and I lingered over dinner in Chinatown, so we were pretty late. And then the seats (shallow stone steps) were so uncomfortable, it was hard to concentrate. So we didn't get the most out of it that we could. But I thought it was interesting to have Ariel played simultaneously by three women - it gives a sense of a spirit that is larger than life and ethereal (especially when the actresses are not standing next to each other).

7/26/07 Henry V (Riverside Park, Gorilla Rep): I was supposed to see Henry V on the 27th, but with a "scattered t-storms" forecast, I ended up going a day early. It was a good production, although some of the actors/characters were better than others. (For instance, I found Nell Quickly overacted, and also the King of France, but those are minor characters.) The scenes with Nym and Pistol tended to be unduly audience-interactive, meaning that the actors tended to go among the audience and directly talk to, or even touch, a spectator or two. I suppose they were attempting to engage us during comic scenes that have not, perhaps, aged as well as the rest of the piece.

One thing that worked well was that the actor playing King Henry seemed to grow into the role as he played it. I think this is deliberate, and it was really effective. In the first scene, I was thinking Oh no, he doesn't know what he's doing, the reaction to the Dauphin's gift is all wrong... But soon, as he gains experience leading troops in battle, he is more confident and more convincing and by the end - wow.

I recognized a few of the actors/actresses from the production of Hamlet back in May. The actress who played Ophelia (unconvincingly, to my mind) is much better as the French princess, Kate.

6/23/07 Love's Labour's Lost (Central Park, New York Classical Theatre): I saw this twice, and enjoyed it. The first time was especially fun, because there were some little kids there, maybe 2nd graders, who seemed to be getting their first taste of Shakespeare. They loved it when characters made funny faces or used funny voices!

This is a play I'm not as familiar with as some of the others, and it is an intriguing premise: three men agree to swear off women and devote themselves entirely to study for a year (or was it three years?), with severe penalties for violators. Of course, the day the edict is proclaimed, guess who comes to town.... By the end of the play, the men have forsworn their oaths and have instead sworn their undying affection for the three ladies (who have teased them mercilessly). And yet the women do not accept them, but instead make them wait a year to see if their love will be constant. Is this wise or foolish? The playwright does not say.

Unlike Gorilla Rep, which tends to keep to a more compact area, I've noticed that NY Classical Theatre often arranges back-to-back scenes that require a bit of a schlep. You might think the scenes could all be within view of each other, considering that there is no scenery to prepare. But this may be a public service to increase the amount of exercise the audience will get. Fight obesity, rah rah rah!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Summer Sunset Rooftop Yoga Fades to Gray

One last time, I ascended to the rooftop playground of Greenwich House for the Monday night sunset rooftop yoga sessions with Laughing Lotus. This prime real estate comes complete with a spongy roof, monkey bars, a colorful slide/tube/bridge apparatus, and water tower.

The walls and the monkey bars were bedecked with flowers, and 40 yogis of varying levels laid out their mats on the spongy roof, closely packed.

Things started slowly as we flowed through pose after pose, repeating with variations. As usual, the practice soon became very challenging. Luckily, after the first hour, we took a break for group inversions. First, we watched the demonstration as the co-teachers helped a volunteer from the audience do a handstand and then arch her back and bend her knees into a scorpion pose.

It looked pretty cool, so I tried it in my group. It was easy because I trusted my fellow yogis not to let me fall. We finished with back bends, twists, and then one of my absolute favorites, the lying-peacefully-on-your-back-letting-the-breezes-waft-over-you pose.

As the days have gotten longer, the sessions have ended in darkness, lit only by the stars of the New York skyline above and the lights of Greenwich Village below.

It is a good workout and very relaxing. Namaste.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Fire Island


A good number of our 15 campers headed off to Patchogue for the 7 o'clock ferry on Friday evening. Those traveling by car were stressed out in traffic, while those traveling by LIRR got to chill out watching geese grazing like bovines at the Watch Hill ferry:

Strangely, the ferry company did not accept reservations, and would not make any advance ticket sales (you pay only as you go on the ferry). But we all (or mostly all) made it, and those who did ascended to the upper deck. Here are Jonathan and Katherine on the ferry:

A starboard view:

A real-life Monet seascape:

The ferry seemed rather patriotic from this angle:

Descent from the Watch Hill ferry:

When we got to the dock, it wasn't immediately obvious where to go, but luckily all boardwalks lead to the campsite. (The group campsite was marked with happy face balloons, a theme for the weekend.) We immediately set to work pitching tents and avoiding ticks. This was another theme of the weekend - alternating layers of DEET and sunscreen.

First glimpse of the camp site:

View from the campsite at sunset:


On Saturday, we awoke early and prepared a full breakfast (blueberry pancakes, eggs, sausages, granola, OJ, coffee, tea). Here are Suzy and Sai-Kit at the breakfast grill:

Later that morning, as the first waves of day-trippers arrived, 11 of us suited up for a canoe adventure with rangers Michael L. and Michael S.

Canoe #3 (Jonathan and Saffiya) is doing just fine, while my canoe zigzags from bank to bank:

The canoers take a break for swimming and chatting and group photos (it's great to be free of those pesky vests!):
Later in the afternoon we go to the beach to jump in the waves and relax on the sannd under several neighboring beach umbrellas. Here we have a study in polka dots: Fiona at the beach.

Another beach scene, late Saturday afternoon as people start leaving the island:

Saturday night Shishkebobs:

Determined to out-wait the mosquitoes:

Laundry time:

Marilyn with happy Redeemer group balloons:

Tents nestled in the group camp site:

Saturday evening sunset:

Stella at the dock:

Stella, Sai-Kit and Patricia by the visitors' center:

Duane, Patricia, Laura, and Stella:

Yum, roasted asparagus:

Beach path in the twilight:

Life guard chair rosy in the twilight:

The sunset gets hazier:

and hazier:
Last glimmers of the setting sun:

Finally, night falls, mosquitoes descend, and a jovial crowd boards the 10 o'clock ferry.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Alas, more rabbits ... and fish?!

People like to talk about the wild nightlife in NYC, but this summer I find the wildlife in New York is really hopping.

Once again, I find rabbits everywhere (even in literature and on vacation). These two were on a corner of Park Avenue in the 50's:

In addition, the fish motif has surfaced on the lower east side:

No wonder S became a pesce-vegetarian, when they're literally around every corner in his 'hood:

This close to the East River, it's a little scary....