Friday, April 28, 2006

In the meantime...

Because I'm frantically trying to assemble this, and assemble that, because I'm figuring out if an out-and-out dream born of insanity and wild speculation can actually be fulfilled, I'm busy compiling papers and perfecting essays. Too busy, in fact, to write a proper post today that you'll enjoy. Instead click on down to one of my first and favorites, and please let me know what you think, since hearing from you is always the brightest part of my day.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

High Noon

It’s a joy to be in Bryant Park at high noon. Debonair and foreign gentlemen toss gleaming silver weights on the Bocce court; over faded gray pebbles at the west end. Before the crushing lunch rush, you can sit under the shade of trees and shadow of Tom Colicchio’s gourmet sandwich stand, ensconced at a painted table and chair, the smooth finish warm against the backs of knees and elbows, sipping ginger beer, turned towards the splash of the fountain and long of the meadowed lawn. A space to breathe; encircled by towers of steel, brick and mortar of banks and shops, and snaking lines of yellow cabs.

Slowly, as the crowds peter in, slim suits morph into separates as jackets are removed, then laid as impromptu picnic blankets, paper bags crunch open, napkins assemble and the seal of designer water bottles crack. The power lunch turns lazy under the sky, loafers and heels kicked off, freeing feet, now tickled by the cool blades. They face the heaving animals of the merry-go-round, the marble lip of the stairs, slipping colors and crawling clouds.

On the south side, flowering plants for sale are vibrant and rich, and priced for the vibrant and rich. On the north, the young and free attempt to continue their path to the library, veering off to lay their bags on sod for catnaps. Once on the field, stillness begins, the shine of light against closed eyelids feels heavy, and it seems as though anyone at all can capture the tranquility of the Far East right here in Midtown West.

An hour under the sun as reward for eight under cheap florescence. For a weekday, it’s not a bad trade at all.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Fader Friday

Our elbows balanced on the low wall, our hands gripping bottle-shaped cans of gifted Bud Select (a sponsor), sparkly adornments swinging heavy from our earlobes.

This was Friday night, and we were ready.

The Fader party was a tribute to Nina Simone, a soulful jazz musician and fixture of the civil rights movement. The first to entertain starred a singer (Tiombe Lockhart) whose honey-coated voice was only matched by the slink of her hips.

“This is for Nina,” she purred as her black dress swished around her thighs. Her bassist bopped his head rhythmically, popping his thumbs along the strings.

The crowd at Joe’s Pub loved her set—the eclectic urban vibe, candle flames licking the table with swoops of light. Behind the stage a slideshow clicked, stills in black and white picturing a legend, emanating blue beyond the screen.

During the change we flipped through the stiff and smooth pages of the magazine, stealing glances at the seemingly-too-young publisher, only thought of because he was hosting the party--we were merely plus-ones--and it was painfully clear that he could wear Pumas to work while we never would.

Next up, Mira Billotte of White Magic took to the piano, accompanied by a man bearing a striking--and in our near stupor, hilarious--resemblance to Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doug Shaw). Her long hair slipped across her Big Love-inspired dress as she sweetly whispered renditions reminiscent of Rainer Maria.

The Budweiser ran out halfway through, but her voice kept us there anyway.

Afterwards everyone headed to Puck Fair for the afterparty. We made plans to meet up with the boys at Bowery Bar, where we would pretend it was still in its heyday and slurp strawberry martinis under the glow of colored bulbed-lit trees.

On the way in, we shook the rain from our trenches and chatted with the bouncer.

Didn’t he get bored out there? We wondered, didn’t he hate just standing there and dodging requests and drunks all night? We insisted he take a magazine, and read the Nina spread. He smiled thanks.

When the boys arrived, they called us frantically from the curb. A torrential downpour, a walk since they first thought we were at McSorely’s, and now, no more guys allowed.

“Stay here,” I pointed to her Lemon Drop, “and keep drinking.” I came to the door, tipping once in my heels, and then to the gatekeeper, still cradling the magazine.

“Hi again!” I said.

“Hey baby. What’s good?” He managed, as three meaty drunks pawed at him (“We got chicks coming, dude. Swear! And like, hot ones!”)

I motioned to my wet friends. And with a nod, they were in.

Note to self: from now on, bring magazines, not bills, for greasing palms on Friday nights on Bowery. And weasel an invite to every Fader party possible.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Branching Out..

After the slick of the weekend's rain dried, we embarked on a mission. We would treat New York as a European city, losing ourselves wherever possible and frequenting the small, the cobbled and quaint.

We slipped into a teahouse we'd been eyeing all week. Once inside, we sipped, china cups endlessly filled with strong, black tea, and marveled at the setup. Knick-knacks, the smell of scones, painted signs, mismatched seats and eclectic patrons. A young bearded man set his tray and hackeysack on the wooden counter, expertly balancing the plates of chocolate crumbs and cups of spiced chai.

"Yo, those brownies were INTENSE." He informed the purveyor, a middle-aged woman--the spitting image of Old Mother Hubbard--complete with kind face, patterned smock-dress, and spectacles.

"Oh, thanks. That's nice to hear." She sang as light streamed, reflecting across her round glasses. She pressed her plump hands onto her apron. "I baked them this morning."

Outside, the air kept fresh and we continued our unexpected day in a fairytale, in the city's version of the shire, moving from tea house to gallery, snapping pictures along the way.

We stopped in a bookshop and pretended we were considering lattes to sit in the cafe, browsing through pages of the greats and not-so-greats, where I came across the dogma upheld by a seventeenth-century samurai warrior.

No fear, no surprise, no hesitation, no doubt.

"Good mantra," I murmured aloud.

Further west we passed brownstones and pillars, painted brick and budding bluebells. After the rain, the city's carpeted parks glowed luminescent. The dog runs were filled with bouncing balls of fur, one white mop jumped on a shaggy puppy in glee.

Children splashed in puddles the moment their parents' backs were turned.

We strolled past storefronts, watering holes, and bistros, early glasses of wine and appetizers eaten at wooden windows stripped of glass, the after-rain breeze billowing inside and across dining tables.

Churches of stone and a beautiful patio set back from the quiet streets and blooming trees. A man played a bagpipe as his leg leaned against the wrought iron gate, a crowd still wearing their Sunday best, mesmerized by the blaring sound.

Gray clouds were mere wisps as we walked the day away. I found so much more of the city that I forgot was there, and was reminded about how little I truly know, how our location dictates so much of our experience and how hard it is to motivate oneself to venture beyond.

Latest goal for the summer is to go to one new place or neighborhood haunt a week. Any suggestions on your favorites?

Friday, April 21, 2006


Is everything that feels good, actually bad? It seems so much that what we indulge in is toxic to our bodies, our careers, our relationships and well-being.

Fat, liquor, lust, impulsiveness, excessive sleep, sugar, gossip, shopping, splurging, venting, vapid glossies, channel-surfing, tanning, gorging, lounging…

And if, or rather, when, we do bend to temptation, our guilt kicks in, at least for me, and I spend days afterwards taking penance.

Drink too much? Flush out with a streaming hot shower, over the counter pain killers, sips of OJ, and a nap by the monitor. Swear to start that glass-of-water-for-glass-of- other ratio next time. Then swear to stop swearing.

Sunday nap past planned? Force off the down duvet, mutter, nudge to the gym, sweat out salt and sleep, return to fluff cushions, Lysol-swipe the sinks, cherry-pick lone socks from the wooden floors.

Wallet running dry? Vow to eat from the pantry, compile dinners from errant cans of tuna and powdered soup, grimace at the prospect, scan racks of dresses and cedar boxes of shoes to donate, build new looks by recombining old and end up pairing a white button down with shiny gray pants, grimace again.

When I was a little girl, my idea of growing up involved me devouring endless boxes of Fruity Pebbles (banned in my house), never chopping carrots for a salad (my nightly chore), lazing away Saturdays as past payment for weeding and flute lessons, overfeeding the cat with pounds of kibble (letting her munch up the spilled bits on the floor rather than cleaning them up), and never, ever going to bed at bedtime. And watching MTV as much as possible.

But somehow, that ideal blew clear out the window, though my parents no longer live close enough to impose those childhood restrictions. I don't need them to. I’m starting to do it myself. The should and should nots. No to this, and no to that, no more excess, and if I take more than my fair share, I better fill the pot back up with restraint.

I feel the need to take penance, all the time, for what I dabble in. Maybe I’m weak. Maybe it’s New York. There’s so much here to do, so many ways to sin against a healthy doctrine of hard work, tidied home, and frugal habits. Or maybe it’s being in this limbo of old enough to earn a paycheck but not smart enough to allocate it across savings, investments, and bills.

Thinking every other Friday with glee, “Free money!” And then running off to blow it all. The cash, the responsibility of the week, the organic lifestyle so rigidly adhered to and promises to keep…

And then the notion creeps in, the one which whispers to halt the trajectory towards adulthood no matter what society says, no matter how it goes against the grain of should. Jeopardize the steady, the calm, the collected. To trade off all the weight of supposed to in favor for what makes me smile.

The only hurdle then is how to maintain balance…

Because without that guilt of penance, without that nagging voice that tells me to buckle down, stop having so much fun, stop acting as though life was a music video and I'm the one starring, and for goodness sakes, do something with my life, I'm not sure I'd ever accomplish anything at all.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


There are a few songs out there that stay precious to me. Each spread in a vast ocean, and when I hear one, I ride the waves steady, swelling with feel-good reminiscence.

They have the power of the positive, fixed on repeat and blasted, the car’s windows down and sunroof open, my hair lashing my face as I drive.

On more times than I can count I’ve felt a song was written for the time being, for the moment lived, no matter what the artist’s intent was, or when the song was actually created. This is about me, this is about us. This was meant for right now.

Some take me to the rock beaches of Cape Cod, others to house parties in North Carolina. One to the stone piazzas of Florence, then the snowy peaks of the Alps. One to a lonely and studious semester in Brooklyn Heights, my room light dim and the song on a mix tape, the only tape I’ve ever kept in lieu of a CD. One to a hot, steamy night under the lights of Bowery. One to a cool roof deck in Midtown and a chilled glass of white. One to a morning when I held my future on a string, as dappled sun danced across Gothic buildings and Sycamore trees.

These songs contain me, wrangle me back from the self-imposed stresses of the world. Money problems, uncertainties of purpose, questioning whether I’ll ever be good enough. These songs are constant, never turn away from me, never let me down.

They are my past in parts, and the flickering hope of my potential.

(What are the songs that give this to you?)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The City's Oil

When I’m on them, trains never leave, and when waiting, they never arrive.

The subways are stuck in a gelatin of immobility.

At arm’s length I hold a oil from class, knowing full well that it takes days to dry and leaves an impenetrable stain when lightly brushed by clothing.

I attempt to share the knowledge with the other riders. I think first to tell them it’s fresh paint, so their concern to keep my glowing picture intact will make them keep their distance. But that thought soon vanishes from my mind. What I tell them instead, is what really concerns them. That the paint in question will destroy their designer handbags, skinny jeans, vintage T-shirts, and supple suede in less time than it took for said shoppers to slap down the plastic to buy it.

They keep their distance.

When the train finally chugs into the station nearest my apartment, I step off in a rush, to breathe a bit less-stale air, to bound up the stairs, and to bring my painting home, where after dry and after scrutiny, I’ll toss it under my bed because it’s not good enough.

The doors open and I jump out, clunky and weighed down from my box of colors, my portfolio bag digging deep into my shoulder, inhaling low, only to remember. This is the spot, the exact spot, where no matter what time on what day it is, it reeks of heavy, acidic urine.

I stop inhaling. I hold my breath, shuffle up the stairs as I’m swept in the crowd, and try to keep the painting away from everyone’s outfits, though a pusher in a hurry, elbows several people before getting to me, and slams his way past, smearing his hand on the picture.

Because of the crowd, it’s tilted again, this time smearing me, my skinny jeans, my vintage T. I cringe. I left my smock in the classroom because it was too wet and too big, and far too unfashionable to ride home in. As if anyone would have cared.

Watercolors were meant for New York, for the subway. Pencils, pastels, ink. Recycled sketch pads. Quick drying, easy to move, fast, fast, fast.

Not oil. Oil is slow, slow, slow.

Oil was meant for the landscapes of Chile and Scotland, the portraits of royalty and their pearled lace collars, plump fruit and flowers bunched loosely on a starched tablecloth, figures swathed in cotton or bathing in green waters and sunshine.

Oil was not meant for me, not for the subway, and not for New York.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Range

Instead of taking the two hour trip for a glazed ham in Connecticut, I’m spending Easter simultaneously crouched on the couch and stealing glances out of our version of a picture window.

It’s a beautiful day for April, for New York. And each moment inside resonates with a grating nag.

You’re wasting the day.

But past my cotton pajama pants and quilt-covered lap is the Travel Channel, and it’s playing a special on the world’s greatest ranches.

Sprawling expanses, ginger horses grazing, great wood doors with brass knockers, a canopy of trees, lapis lazuli pools dotted with sun-drenched rocks, deep Jacuzzi style bathtubs with roaring fireplaces and a real picture window, one that opens into a basin of green.

Some are log cabins at the mountain’s point, heavy with antiques, oak paneling, copper fixtures. Others are low, dry spots in the valley, sporting sweeped dirt jumping arenas, clay courts, and man-made lakes.

It’s giving me a case of the gimmes. Some people lust after cars, jewels, chalets, penthouses and blanched mansions. I want a ranch at the end of a mile-long driveway with as many fireplaces as code allows. Somewhere close to a cold rushing river where I’ll wear duck boots and learn to cast a suitable line. Where I can make use of those childhood riding lessons and July spent grooming and mucking, and care for a horse of my own.

Sweet solitude, and open air. Strumming guitar, wood-burning oven and days wide and bright. There’s just something about that ranch ideal that calls to me. Where everything seems limitless, infinite, and smells like summer.

Of course, back-breaking work in a place far from the theater, boutiques, and bars of the bustling city is not for most people. If I do end up getting out there, I may find that it’s entirely not for me. But the ranches on the show are just so beautiful, so magical, it makes me think and wonder what if.

I hope that there is no limit to the number of lives I can live in one. I hope that I can be a city dweller, a country bumpkin, a writer, a cosmopolitan, a world-traveler, a doer, a do-gooder, a mediocre surfer, a wife, mother, and finally, a fat and happy grandmother all this time around. Because I want them all, and I’m nearing a quarter century old, and I have so much more life to live that sometimes it seems hard to articulate just how to do it all.

I wonder if there’s purpose to my ruminations and my desires. The only thing I can hold strong to is this.

I must have been meant to live all that I dream, or else I wouldn’t dream.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


At prep school I was the lead in a version of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, staged in an old wooden auditorium with bare-bones set pieces and big characters. The play was small in its ambition, but well received, and as a senior project for a veritably insane young man from Bermuda, it won a distinguished award for him, and accolades for us.

To promote the work opening that weekend, strange and puzzling signs sprang up around our green velvet campus.


Then, “CHANGE IS NOT GOOD.” (An ominous reference to the demons found in the characters after one awakes, either mad or actually changed. Eventually all players take part in destroying the 'changed', including 'himself'. This climaxed with the actors pummeling me with not-yet-ripened apples while I screamed at the top of my lungs in, at first, mock pain, then real. Against my suggestion and wishes, of course).

Something about the gentle slopes of two temperature fronts colliding always brings me to the question of change.

Thoughts now tend to clog the air—in my bedroom, on the subway, flowing through the streets.

Last night a phone call had me asking what could be. This morning, a chance meeting did the same.

Around the globe, how many are awaiting a thick packet, email, or affirmation of acceptance—to school, to jobs, to dreams?

How many of us told ourselves it would be today, this summer, this year, that something, anything, would finally happen, make sense, come to pass?

And how many, though change often is deeply desirous (maybe subconsciously in most cases), fear it?

Today I’m taking a vow to disregard fight or flight. To choose to face, and even pursue, the changes that could be. To echo an idea of walking into the uncertain, versus just standing and letting it wash over.

Easier said than done...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Eating the East Village

There are times when I imagine eating; envision the tastes, the experience, all day long. My mind rushes away from the yogurt at work, away from the ham and cheese assembled that morning in my shoebox kitchen, and away from the inevitable soup and frozen chicken that awaits, always ready for preparation in the evening.

There’s so much amazing food here. My roommate’s job affords him the luxury of eating out, or ordering in, every meal. At first I questioned whether he might become bored (especially as I enjoy the act of cooking). When I asked, he was incredulous.

Are you kidding? Look around you…
said his expression.

Out loud, “No.”

The more I pondered, the more ludicrous my initial thinking became. It existed on every street corner. Each eatery; stylish or not, possessed the ability to sate every craving imagined. Once I began mentally cataloging my favorites, I couldn't stop.

A place I love is best categorized French-Mex (and was, in a review by New York magazine). At Itzocan the queso fundito is a savory mix of poblanos, fresh sautéed mushrooms and salty chorizo; covered in gooey Manchego. It’s divine with a basket of warm tortillas and glass of white sangria. There, puckered semolina dumplings with fresh veggies floating in a clear broth--crunchy corn, more mushrooms and herbs--are the perfect complimentary entrée. Best of all, the restaurant seats only 15, maximum, and plays twangy guitar music just like that week in the Dominican Republic, where I had no appointments but one, to sip a Rum Punch by the pool and flip through a trashy, chlorine-splattered novella.

South, 7A is a picture-perfect brunch spot, if a table is ever open, offering a shrimp, pesto and tomato sandwich that soaks its crusty bread in a fine sheen of olive oil. Last time I sampled one, a ferocious wind carried an umbrella from the opposite side of the street, up, sailing over our heads, where it javelined into the rear window of a late-model Audi with a terrific crash, glass shards careening first into the air, then popping on the pavement as blue hail.

A half-block down, a night of overindulgence with my girlfriends commenced with us polishing off a second bottle of red wine and the cheese plate we told ourselves we wouldn't, waxing on our places in life, love, and all the rest.

A tiny sushi place with hospital green walls will never give us a bastardized Philadelphia roll no matter how much we want it, the wasabi in a bright pile next to our pink-fleshed fish. And the waitress never quite understands, English not being a strong suit, and our order is consistently a pleasant surprise.

The Lo-Side Diner is reminiscent of my college town’s tomato bisque on rainy days, before frat parties on Saturday night. A French jewel, just a few blocks east, serves cappuccino in soul bowls with whipped froth slipping up and over the edges, handed by a Frenchman with fingerless gloves; always the same tattered black shirt and wiry black beard.

Two weeks ago, I ate al fresco, far too soon, but was warmed regardless by the conversation and the pureed fava beans, pulsed with garlic and oil, surrounded on the pretty plate by roasted vegetables.

And there are so many others, just as deserving and more, if only I had the hours to list them.

If and when I ever move away from here, this will be what I will miss about New York the most.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sunday's Soiree

We came to the party not knowing what to expect, only that it was intimate and in SoHo and much labored over by two incredibly gracious and glamorous hosts.

We came bearing Mexican and Munich beer and a clear square cube filled with wheatgrass shoots, the roots like thin white fingers reaching to the ends of the box, far away from the hearty green of the blades.

We wore our casual best of the weekend—me in cotton empire waist, him deciding against that new hat, and didn’t have pockets for our hands.

We got lost along the way, thinking that we should bring wine too, oscillating between choices (that’s why we got the imported beer, because it was unusual and everyone would bring wine---no, no wine is classier, scrap the beer and leave it sweating on the streets).

We arrived after I tripped on cobbled stones, nearly losing the plant to the momentum of the spill, but both composing quick, my heels righted, the box leveled.

We entered into a legendary New York apartment, one which we thought didn’t exist, save for stories of our grandparents, their Manhattans and their Manhattan, their Park Avenue apartments, cigarette holders, fingers of Scotch, tweed suits and silk garters.

The studio was immaculate, (at first there seemed to be no television to speak of, later I saw a guest was blocking its view) light taupe walls and decorative arts, black and white photographs and the warm glow of dim-bulbed wattage.

But the patio…the patio was heart, soul, and party at once. Candelabras had wax fountains bubbling down their brass, wood furniture with a pomegranate umbrella growing from the tabletop, and all around plates upon plates of salted sugar snaps, crisp Gruyere rice balls toasted with Japanese breadcrumbs, eggplant and arugula pesto, proscuitto and caramelized onions, sweet pea mint crostini, and later, a yellow and brown Magnolia birthday cake.

Reds, whites, champagne, rosé. Tulip flutes and proper wine glasses. Vivacious guests, flashing conversation, and our crystal never dry.

Just like the parties we want to throw when we’re grown up.

With a proper apartment, my mother’s silver in use, and a complete set of gilded dishes, I’d be on my way.

Though for our upcoming celebration of Cinco de Mayo, we’re planning sangria, guacamole, fried chips and Beirut. Will it be remembered as fondly?

Sunday, April 09, 2006


We’ve shifted from charcoal to oils, and some of us are not taking it well. The paint is tacky, thick, and in our first assignment we’re forced to forgo our brushes for palette knives, which require a vigorous slapping of the pigment to the page.

And our models are getting testy. One jumps up mid-pose to stomp across the linoleum, barefoot and bare-bottomed, and slams the cracked door shut. A slight Brazilian girl titters.

“But he likes to be naked for us,” she whispers. “Why he has such a problem? I should have come naked to make him comfortable.”

Every word that leaves her lips is soft and with the most charming Portuguese accent. I grin at her automatically, though I’m not quite sure what she just said.

A chirp of his alarm and the model’s moment is up. We form a circle around our teacher, some of us clustered on the carpeted platform, some in rickety stools. She holds a slim book of pictures in her angled hands.

“Remember when you chose your complimentary colors, that next week they must be reversed. So chose wisely what is painted dark and what constitutes light.” Her long black hair hangs and shines like a prized animal’s pelt.

“But I really like mine.” A timid voice ventures. It belongs to a small woman who legally changed her name to Panama and is very generous with her extra supplies. “I was hoping that I could keep it and just start another.” Her first attempt sits on a sill facing us, a weird and amazing rendition of the model, boasting ghostly outlines.

“Me too,” I back her up. It was a process with many restrictions (the colors, the subject, the size) but mine came out not half bad, and I would very much like to keep it. “Could we, maybe, do that?”

Our teacher sighs and shakes her hair. She takes a deep breath.

“Has anyone ever studied Buddhism?”

A speechwriter by day raises his hand, smeared with green.

“Great. Okay. So what does Buddhism say about attachment?”

“Well, let’s see,” He looks towards the florescent lighting casting a buzz of light on him. “It’s basically what you’re trying to get away from. Because only without wanting things both physical and not, only then can you be enlightened.”

“Right. Very good.”

The Brazilian motions to the teacher, requesting permission to compound upon his answer. The teacher grants it by nodding her head.

“My grandfather is very old. So when he speaks, we listen to what he has to say.” She picks at a purple smudge on her smock.

“And he says this all the time that we leave this world with nothing but the… experiences we have had. So when I draw or do, I try to be attached to the… process of the experience. Because then the end of that process is just a… piece of the experience and it means nothing more than any other part that is not the whole. And I am free because I do not need it. So it could be burned or lost and because it is the… act of… learning that I value, it can never be taken away from me.” Her blue eyes fix on the teacher for approval.

“I think that’s true.” Our teacher says. “If only you can appreciate what you accomplish by knowing it, rather than pushing all of the worth onto being able to show that end result to someone, then you will be a true artist. Because you have to know that you are better than your last piece, and that it never defines you, and even if it is gone forever you can make a new one in its place.”

We sit though we should stand and return to our easels, our heads spinning with philosophy.

Suddenly I don’t want to keep my first try anymore.

And when we do paint over it, complimentary colors switched, the end result is terrible. It’s a hideous hodge-podge of where the last painting ends and the new one begins. I realize too late that I didn’t even take a picture to document the first one’s existence. All I have left is an inferior piece to show, and by looking at it, no one would ever believe what lies beneath could be pleasant on the eyes.

Except for one student, who loves her new painting, we all have lost.

One by one we throw them in the trash bin, like many students before and many after, and watch our once prized possessions smear together.

And we remind ourselves. Attachment only to the process, or not at all, to emerge as artists or enlightened.

Whichever comes first.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Chit Chat

“Don’t tell me how the clock works, just tell me what time it is.” (Anonymous; today, and to me)

I am Chicago born and Connecticut bred, but somewhere along the way I’ve picked up what my mother refers to as a “midwestern” mentality.

She means a drawl without the accent; a succession of pauses and wayward glances. A mention of the back-story, an interesting tidbit here, an “oh, wouldn’t you just guess it” there. It’s my dad forever appearing in my explanation, himself a talkative ex-hippie from Normal, Illinois.

We both chat up whomever we happen by; security guards, bus drivers, shoppers in the produce line, squeezing limes. Hours go by in a blink. My dad will be sent off for a simple errand (prodded by a last minute realization that we’re out of sour cream) and I’ll watch for his arrival at the back door many, many minutes later, my mother’s impatient nails tapping the crystal of her Tiffany watch, her mantra increasingly louder, “Where the HELL is your father?”

I always reply the same. “He’s probably talking to someone.”

We talk too much for most. Sometimes too fast, sometimes too slow.

It bothers New Yorkers, like my mother. She’s from a land always succinct and always to the point. Time is money and you’re wasting both.

But I see something in it: a conscientiousness, a harkening back to Rockwell and the Fourth of “Joo-ly”--that feeling which permeates every lazy summer day on the porch, sipping lemon selzer and licking frosting off a tri-colored cake, a moment where there's nowhere to go and nowhere to be and that's just fine. A consideration given to the desire to learn as much as possible from all people, and wanting to extend that same courtesy in return.

It does bother some. But it’s not bothersome. And if anyone gets sick of us, then we just talk to each other.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Women of the Waldorf

I sat at the highest end of the Waldorf, sampling a large chocolate-dipped strawberry, as punch-colored candles danced shadows across my hands. The crystal glasses, the silver forks, and the bone china before me lay untouched. Only a sweet berry was appropriate to taste; the bite nearly soundless. My Swiss dotted blouse was too slight for the chill of the temperature control, and the Irish linen napkin spread a thin blanket in my lap.

I was mesmerized.

The echo from the stage resonated with each word. At circular tables illuminated with the mastheads and fashions of Vogue and W, the ladies who lunched and the editors who skipped it, all sat quiet, their eyes to the sleek steel podium.

Beyond the ring were the heads of cities and divisions. Power suits, stovepipe pants, killer heels, and dripping jewels. These ball-busters shattered the glass ceiling long ago on the way up, and looked fabulous every step of the way.

These masters of men were women. And we were here to celebrate them.

On the stage: Ellen DeGeneres, Susan Saradon, Geena Davis, Diane Sawyer, Candace Bushnell, Katie Couric. The women who brought me near tears of laughter and possibilities were Jill Abramson, managing editor of the Times, the legendary Joan Hamburg, and Cynthia Leive, Editor-in-Chief, Glamour. They spoke of their struggles, their wishes, their loneliness, and finally, their success.

The content was inspirational, my thoughts were inspired. At $250 a head, the chicken would be remembered as decadent and the goodie bags; heavy with product. But for me, it all ignited my imagination.

I left beaming, skipping along in scuffed slingbacks, and asking myself a singular question, over and over.

When would I be one of them?

Yesterday's event, tomorrow's dream...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Little Peach

Heaven is a little peach.

Talk of money is not.

We’re on an aggressive savings plan. Our sugarplum dreams are ones of dazzling vacations, playtime upgrades, weekends spent prone adjacent deep blue pools. We wish to be responsible with money in the bank and freedom on our minds. We tell our roommates, our families, ourselves.

So why are we nestled at the blonde wood counter of momofuku (“little peach” in Japanese), the latest hotspot, nibbling at steamed pork buns, thick with Bershire belly, vinegary young pickles, scallions and sweet sauce? When our plan all along was to cook from the freezer, not frolick in the dwindling Sunday sun?

Between bites and sips of water—(we’re saving, after all)—he asks himself a question, a non sequitur.

“I wonder when I’ll be making enough money so that I no longer feel like I have nothing.”

I respond in kind. I have no idea how to answer that wonder for myself, let alone him. But do we really feel like we have nothing?

We live in the East Village, in the epicenter of the world for many people, and sampling the signature ramen; savory chicken and pork broth, shredded shoulder, sweet peas, thick noodles, and a poached egg quivering atop it all. With one stab of our chopsticks, the yolk runs yellow, oozing towards the edges of the bowl.

At our feet, a linen Scoop bag holds a pair of crisp jeans. He’s breaking in a hat, tagged by a notorious graffiti artist of the eighties, and an eye-searing turquoise blue shirt, just hours old.

When we’re supposed to be saving.

We thought we’d be making more money by now. Maybe we would be if we could spend a little less.

But there at the counter, with our steaming bowls, our elbows touching; our arms full and our wallets empty, we’re having too much fun being young and in the city and snapping up the experience to stop.

Everyone falls off the wagon, I tell myself.

(Back to the savings plan tomorrow.)