d and i recently went to one of the most moving performances at joe’s pub. martha redbone (singer, songwriter, performer, and all around talent) brought to life her family tree on a brightly lit stage. the story unfolds with her thirteen year old great grandmother liza of the choctaw indian tribe being sent to work at a british home in kentucky. martha redbone rightly defines what the forty five year old british man of that household did to her great grandmother — child rape. her great grandmother liza bore ten children. only four survived. when the british man died, the british mrs. threw liza and liza’s four children out onto the streets. redbone guides the audience along her family tree, tracing her roots down to the present day. through redbone’s mesmerizing performance, we learn of her mixed heritage and the day to day struggles (not to mention layers of prejudice) her family faced deep in the mining town of harlan county, kentucky. redbone artfully injects humor and surprise throughout for one of the best performances i’ve seen in a long time.
i would not do well in a war zone. or riot. as in, if a war or riot were to break out and i were to have to get from point a to point b, i would fail (miserably).
i was to meet D in dumbo to see the brooklyn festival of lights. meet, we did. see, we saw. but survive? barely. (D survived just fine, by the way. by barely, i’m referring to yours truly).
i don’t have a pic to post alongside this entry. if ever i were to get stuck in a war or riot, there would be no pictures of the experience. you see where this is going.
the “war/riot” starts at the york street F train. as i step off the train and onto the platform, throngs of tourists approach out of nowhere. they’re apparently here to see the same lights. police buzz about, announcing that this train stop has reached maximum capacity. undeterred, the tourists keep pushing ahead.
finally emerging from the subway tunnel and into the night, i dash towards our meeting place. i run smack into what must be the center of this light festival. it is surreal. instead of pretty colored lights or lanterns draped around this part of town, i see crazy flashing lights and people screaming for more (of what, i don’t know). this is what a war or riot must feel like.
somehow, i make it to D.
“how in the world were you able to get here?” i ask. “oh, i didn’t have much trouble at all. it was quiet the way i came.” he says.
i’ve recently started prancing to (and in) adult ballet classes.
i love the names of the different movements – pas da bourree, demi-plie, and even fondu(e). that last one makes me laugh (and actually goes with this whole ballerina mouse concept).
despite smelling like some giant puked all over it this time of year, nyc does have a super high density of neat exhibits. like this children’s books exhibit at the nypl that i recently waltzed through. i say waltzed because i love all things related to children’s books (except for actual children, maybe. okay, that was a joke. a semi-joke).
this one was nicely curated. you’d recognize that shape pictured above anywhere – one of the wild things leaping off of maurice sendak’s pages. its life like size made me smile. they also had a section on lewis carroll’s alice, with a giant alice figurine whose mechanical neck stretched to the sky and stretched back down (somewhat creepy). and of course harold with his purple crayon scribbling across one of the walls.
nyc, you do have some redeeming qualities, after all.
so this is really a thing. like, i was stuck in one the other night. with davey.
only in new york, in my experience.
giant gusts of wind will lift pieces of trash – from tiny, sharp bits to larger, random objects (one time it was a sock, another time it was a styrofoam container from some food truck) – high up into the air and hurl em right at you. like, it actually hurts when you’re stuck in one.
i started shrieking when the wind screeched and shot tiny shards of god knows what at us. davey couldn’t stop laughing. it wasn’t funny. it’s actually pretty scary. like, you can’t open your eyes for fear of trash flying right in.
when i pull up the weather on my iphone, i expect this to be an actual icon. like, they need to have a tiny trashcan spinning in gusts of wind icon so i can know to NOT go outside.
being sick is generally awful, but being sick in new york adds a whole new kick to the stomach.
to be sick in a city that is already awful this time of year is well, just sickening.
there is nothing more deflating than shivering and coughing through a city that has been gray and dreary since january. you don’t even have the energy to be annoyed at this winteriest of winters. now that’s scary.
the mta becomes that much more overwhelming, the steeliness of the streets that much more surreal. and you wonder: when the hell will spring get here?
even after seven going on eight years in new york, i’m still shocked to feel the seasons change. sure, i’m aware that new york has four very distinct seasons (well, three and a half since much of spring is muscled out by the unrelenting winters). the first signs of fall, though (such as the much less overwhelming smell of trash on the streets), still come as a surprise. i’m always sad to see summer go. parting with my flip flops, without fail, reminds me of leaving california.
well, on this first day of fall (or what felt like the first day of fall), as i was strolling along 17th street, a shop called pippin appeared, harry potter-like, out of nowhere. no, it wasn’t one of those “pop up shops.” its “appearing out of nowhere-ness” was attributable more to my never having seen it before even though i’d walked down that stretch of 17th countless times.
now, i’m not one for jewelry. i admire it on others, but like long hair, don’t know what to do with it if it’s mine. but with a name like pippin, i couldn’t not go in. despite a batty lady dressed in some turn of the century outfit eyeing me like a hawk (well, maybe more pigeon than hawk like), i stayed to look at what the shop held (other than her). the actual vintage pieces (i didn’t count her among them) were charming.
as i scanned the brightly colored rings, i recognized one. i had seen it (not one like it, but that exact one) in a dream months ago. it had been one of those dreams where i had slipped in and out of sleep – and so i remembered the ring vividly, as if i had actually seen it outside of my dream. and here it was – nestled among other rings in a shop run by a batty lady on 17th street.
i hardly remembered most of my dreams or gave them another thought. this one though, had stuck with me. i’d had that dream after i’d seen someone who i hadn’t seen in six months (the longest we’d gone without seeing each other). in my dream, when he tried to lift my hand to slip on the ring, as much as i’d wanted to, my hand (my entire arm, in fact), refused to budge. it stayed frozen. and he gave up. and put the ring back into its case and into his drawer. no words were exchanged. i remembered the ring vividly though – a twisted, curving gold band with a pearl embedded in the middle.
flash forward to pippin on 17th. i didn’t know whether to be happy, suspicious, or check my sanity. i hesitated. then with a “oh, what the hell,” i plucked the ring from its display case and tried it on. okay, now i was suspicious. it fit. it didn’t fall off. the other rings in this shop had been too large for my korean fingers. okay, now i was really suspicious. it was supposed to fall off. i shook my hand, waving it around. the ring stayed on. the batty lady had had enough by this point. she swooped down from her perch – did i need help?
looking at this ring stay put on my finger (and looking comfortably at home there), i couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened had i been able to have more faith that we’d fit; if i had chosen differently; if i’d been able to say yes (in life, not just in my dream). but hey, it’s not every first day of fall that something you’d seen in a dream decides to pop up in front of you, albeit in the presence of a batty lady instead of the guy who had been a part of not just your dream, but your life.
i hear these three words way too many times as an excuse, explanation and/or answer to way too many things.
“why is it so loud outside?” – “it’s new york.”
“why is someone yelling right outside my apartment?” – “it’s new york.”
“why are there so many drunk people running around?” – “it’s new york.”
“why are there bags of garbage just rotting on the streets?” – “it’s new york.”
“why does my money not go very far?” – “it’s new york.”
“why are my neighbors so weird?” – “it’s new york.”
“why do girls wear a pound of makeup when they’re jogging?” – “it’s new york.”
“what is going on over there?” – “it’s new york.”
“why did that pigeon almost attack me?” – “it’s new york.”
the list goes on.
when i lived in california, no one ever responded with “it’s california” to anything i or anyone else said.
somehow, new york itself – its very being – seems to suffice as an explanation for most everything.
i detest the mta [see earlier post]. part of moving to my new neighborhood [which lies safely below 14th st. but well above the wasteland of the financial district and tribeca], was to minimize my reliance on the mta. in other words – avoid hopping on the mta at all costs unless it is to commute to work [that part’s unavoidable].
everything i could possibly need, want or desire lies beneath 14th street [and above spring st.] and within walking distance of my new dwelling.
some reactions i’ve gotten:
“wow, 14th street – that’s really specific. what about 15th or 16th? why 14th?”
“what’s wrong with tribeca? why above tribeca? i live in tribeca!”
“you should start a second blog about fun activities to do below 14th st. wait – i’ve changed my mind – fun things to do *above* 14th st.”
seriously, people. is any explanation necessary?
once you cross the 14th st. border, all cuteness vanishes.
and if you venture even further north, God forbid … you may run into baby strollers and children too large to be sitting in them [but nevertheless squashed into them].
i intend to stay within a mile radius of where i live, venturing only within that safe orb.
… i am moving to a walk-up on a beautiful tree-lined street in ___ [insert preferred neighborhood that i’ve been talking about for months]. and i’ve avoided the stroke inducing broker’s fee.
bee: what floor is it on?
me: want to guess? it’s on the fifth floor. of a six story walk-up. no elevator.
bee: omg, you’re never going to leave your apartment, are you?
[note to reader: my friend bee has a history of making fun of me for being “lazy” – that started when she saw me walking my bike 1L year down escondido road. i put “lazy” in quotes because really, i am not lazy – she is just the busiest bee]
me: of course not – cuz that would mean i have to climb five flights of stairs to get back into my apt.
[we both throw our heads back and laugh]
bee: but seriously, congratulations – that’s awesome.
me: what, you mean the five flights of stairs?
bee: no, you’re moving to the _____ [insert cute neighborhood].
me: yeah, and the place is adorable. i’ll blog from the fifth floor.
bee: i read your blog you know. it’s funny.
[throw our heads back again and laugh]
let’s see how many visitors i get to this fifth floor walk up.