Remember how I mentioned a second gathering (after that delightful dinner party last winter)?
Well sorry for the late notice but it’s happening today in Prospect Park, 3 pm ish, main lawn. Come out and play!
I’ll have a grill and some food/drinks; bring more to add to the mix. Look for a teal blanket to the right of the main grand army plaza entrance, or message/call/email if you need directions. (if you message and say you’re coming I’ll give you my #)
Feel free to bring friends so you don’t feel like that awkward tumblr person who doesn’t know anyone. You won’t feel like that once you get there, but feel free to bring friends just in case. :)
The couple was oblivious to the fact the music had ended. Minutes earlier they had been shaking their hips and rapping along to the famous closing song with everyone else, but when the music ended, they remained in their embrace. They began to kiss, and continued to kiss, with increasing vigor, as the other concert-goers streamed past, occasionally bumping an elbow or kicking the tote bag protected at their feet. They didn’t notice.
A large man, massive rather than heavyset, bald, brown-skinned, pierced, tattooed, approached them, raising both hands in a fist-pump of celebration and screaming in exultation and approval, “Gangsta kissing!!!!”
The pair continued to (gansta) kiss as the woman raised one arm and gave the man a thumb’s up.
"Give me a hug!" he continued.
The kissing couple paused, opening up slightly to allow the man to dive into the center, throwing his beefy arms around the two of them and yelling a satisfied, “Alllll riiiiiight!”
My bike got stolen, which makes me sad. But, as travelers everywhere tell themselves to get through incidents of food poisoning and missed flights, as single girls console themselves during bad dates: the bad isn’t so bad when you can make a story from it.
I haven’t got much of one in this case, but I’m sure some of you do. Post/email/message me with your sob stories of city thievery and I’ll repost so the world can weep with you in your time of loss. And also laugh at your good story. ;)
I only saw the hand that tossed the bottle; the face and body were obscured by a traffic light, or moving pedestrians at the crowded Chinatown intersection. The plastic bottle bounced off the rim of the garbage barrel and plunked down to the street, inches from where I held my bike still, waiting for the light to change. The body attached to the hand moved on, oblivious.
I began to lean over to reach for it when a small, geeky boy in oversized glasses and oversized T-shirt leaped from the sidewalk to the front of the garbage bin and swooped up the bottle.
He noticed me watching up and gawked up at me self-consciously. “Well done,” I said. “I was about to pick it up and throw it away.”
"I’m going to recycle it," he said, then hopped back onto the sidewalk and disappeared into the crowd.
102 degrees is a person
Slightly fevered, pulling back
the bright white corners of the sky,
(swinging feet out of bed)
A damp palm leaving imprints on passing mirrors, a pair of ice cubes turning juice to pale foam in the bottom of a sticky glass
Reeks of sun, sweat, sweet sick rotten things…
“I highly recommend it, you don’t need a cup of coffee, just start the day with a zip line.”—
New York City DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan on the new zip line (!) that will be part of NYC Summer Streets this year. Sadik-Khan has already tried the zip line. Twice. Yeah, we love this crazy city. (via wnycradiolab)
What about a zip line that ends at a tall glass of iced coffee?
It’s twilight in my neighborhood, balmy, breeze, fading streaks of sunset. A block party from First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum spills out over Eastern Parkway and down onto Washington.
I wear a girly dress, complementary jewelry, makeup, sunglasses, headphones. My hair is curled. I carry two large bags. I’m returning from a wedding; my day is done. I want nothing but wine, takeout, Netflix.
I walk down Washington with all the purpose of my typical New York stride, but a bit slower, cooler, taking in the night, the music, the breeze, the smoke from the jerk chicken grilling on the drum outside the Jamaican restaurant.
Groups of men hang out on the sidewalk, going nowhere, doing nothing. They stand on corners all evening long, observing, and occasionally calling out, if the girl is pretty.
One man calls out to me, “Hey mami, you need some help?” It doesn’t seem like an offer to carry my bags. I begin to shake my head to decline as I walk, without breaking stride, without altering my forward stare.
But he answers his own question. “Nah, you don’t need any help.” I switch from shaking my head to nodding, still without breaking stride or altering my gaze. “You have a good evening,” he calls to my back as I pass.
I had no plan. I just kept going, turning with free lights, til I broke out on the water, then followed the path down. There was a large crowd with lawn chairs and cameras out, news vans from several TV stations.
What’s going on, I asked.
The space shuttle is coming this way, a man said.
Flying? I asked, innocently.
No, it’s riding on a boat, under the Verrazano, he replied. It’s going in a museum.
Oh, OK. Everyone was here to take a picture of the space shuttle on a boat. Personally, I thought the clouds were more impressive.
Two young girls were playing on the sidewalk while two women in bright orange and red saris, apparently their mothers, sat on a nearby bench and observed.
Suddenly one of the two girls ran up to one of the women and half-whined / half-cried, “She says she’s going to call the police and arrest me!”
The other girl continued to dance about on the sidewalk, somewhat oblivious to the trauma she had caused
The woman took the girl in her lap and began speaking in what sounded like a South Asian language, then ended her speech, in heavily accented English, “Just tell her, ‘If you do that then I won’t play with you.’”
That seems reasonable: if you call the police to arrest me, I won’t play with you. The girl wiggled off the mom’s lap and returned to her friend. They kept playing, no police came, and everything was fine.
"HI!" Mama Jean, one of the older ladies at the wellness cafe where I volunteer, greeted me enthusiastically, with some element of surprise, as if she hadn’t seen me in a few weeks. "Good to see you!"
I greeted her in return and prepared to enter the cafe.
Then she added, affably, “You’re look like you’re getting bigger, you look good!”
I stopped. “Uh, I don’t think I am, actually.”
"No, you definitely look bigger!" she chirped, "you looking good!"
"Uh, I don’t think I am. Maybe this skirt isn’t flattering." I generously allowed, knowing full well my fitted pencil skirt, if anything, cleverly creates the illusion of a smaller waist. "But I’m pretty sure factually, I’m not getting bigger."
She kept insisting that I was bigger and I looked good until another woman in my age range intervened, “I’d just hold on to the second part of it. You look good.”
Before I could reply a younger man behind me walked by, trailing off as he passed, “Awwwwk-waaaard … .”
I can’t reblog, as it’s is hosted on Blogger, but here’s my unofficial “reblog” of part of one I enjoyed. Check out the full story here, and read more stories at the blog’s home page.
Earlier this week, I was heading back home from 14th and Eighth Avenue on the 1 train. I am always surprised at the subway crowd during mid-day rather than rush hour. The riders are more diverse, and I usually spot someone or something to inspire me.
Somewhere in midtown, either at 34th Street or 42nd Street, a young, bright-eyed gentleman got on the train with a huge suitcase. He struggled with his oversized bag, but he managed and sat next to me. He was obviously coming to New York for an extended stay, perhaps moving indefinitely, at least it appeared that way based on the size of his luggage. Probably in his twenties, he had blond hair and glasses. It was a humid day in Manhattan. Not the best weather for jeans and a long-sleeved plaid shirt.
This boy seemed like a fish out of water, but yet he belonged at the same time. Was this his first visit? I wanted to talk to him—-ask if he needed directions. I know how confusing the trains in New York can be when you don’t know how to use them. Then I glanced down and saw a piece of 8.5 X 11 looseleaf paper in his hand. He was staring at it, and soon so was I. It read, “Elton’s apartment—-502 West 122nd Street between Amsterdam and Broadway,” and a phone number. He had a destination, and luckily he was riding the correct train.
My imagination immediately took over. He was in Manhattan to stay in someone’s tiny walk-up apartment to make a go of it. Maybe he was a musician and going for classes at the Manhattan School of Music. Or perhaps he was planning to attend Columbia? Whatever the reason, it really didn’t matter at that point. It brought back memories for me. Remembering when I packed a suitcase about the same size to start my life in New York in 1985, I returned home the next day completely devastated due to the filthy apartment where I couldn’t stay. My dream had fallen apart. I was hoping that his outcome would be better than mine.
The blond-haired boy heading to Elton’s apartment is no different than I am, or anyone else who makes the move to New York City. We are all looking for that something that will not only fulfill us, but define us, and create the life we dream about.
"I’ll have one," I asked the bartender, my friend.
He rolled his eyes at me. “One oyster? They’re a DOLLAR.”
"I know," I told him, "But I just want to try them." Another eye roll. "OK FINE. I won’t have an oyster. Cancel my order. Sorry to be such a PAIN."
A moment later a wide, shallow plate full of ice was set down next to me, along with vinegar in a small tin cup, a lemon, and a small bottle of Tabasco. On the plate was a single opened oyster.
I downed it, then immediately wished I’d ordered more. “Man, that was incredible,” I exclaimed. This oyster was from Washington and had a pleasant sweet, briny taste, not too fishy. The aftertaste lingered, taunting me for my stupidity.
"Get more," the man next to me said.
"I can’t," I answered. "He already gave me crap for just getting one. I can’t be like, oh, I’ll have one more."
"Yes you can," he said, "you’re the customer."
"Nah, he’s my buddy, I don’t want to push my luck." Moments later the man’s order came: a plate of 6. "Good thinking," I told him.
"I’m not even hungry, I just figured, since they’re a dollar … " He tried one and immediately agreed with my assessment. "They ARE good."
"See?" I said.
He offered one to his girlfriend and she declined. Then he offered one to me and I did likewise.
"No," he said, "you HAVE to have another one."
"I don’t want to take your oyster."
"How about you eat as many as you want and if you can’t finish, I’ll help." I realized how dumb that sounded looking at his big plate of tiny oysters, five remaining bites. What man wouldn’t be able to eat that?
"Seriously," he said, "I really want you to have another one." He slid the plate over to me, and I finally relented, eating one more and making similar noises of appreciation.
We both turned to the girlfriend: “You have to try this!” She continued to protest as he downed three more oysters, then pushed the plate with the last one at her. “Come on, it’s the last one, eat it! Do it! You know you want it!”
She wavered a moment longer, then relented, and ate the last oyster.
"Dungeness," he said. "Hands down, the best. I tried the crab in Maryland but I’m here to tell you, Washington crab kills it. Dungeness all the way." His two friends, sitting next to him on the subway bench across from me, nodded in agreement.
I sat there for a moment, unsure if I should say anything, but they seemed inviting, so I interjected, “I’m glad to hear you say that! I just had an argument with someone yesterday about which state has better crab, and being from Washington, I’m glad to hear you confirm our state is better.”
"Really!" he said. "That’s funny. Well, I agree. Washington. Dungeness all the way."
"Where in Washington are you from?" his friend asked.
"A small farm town on the east side," I replied.
"What’s it called?" he pressed, "I’m from Washington too."
We played the where-you’re-from-who-you-know game for a moment, struggling to hear each other over the rumble of the train. “So,” I said, eyeing their backpacks, are you guys visiting from out of town? On some kind of national food tour?”
"Nah," the first speaker said. "We live here. But I’m on a permanent food tour. It just changes locations depending on where I am."
I laughed. The third friend added, “We’re going to LIC tonight, to get what is supposed to be the best burgers in the city.”
"Oh really?" I replied. "Where’s that?"
The girl gave me the name of the place, which I’d never heard of. We talked burgers and NYC’s best of until we reached Times Square, where they would transfer to the 7. “Bye guys,” I said. “Enjoy the burgers!”
They thanked me, wished me well, and with the kind of glee you usually only see in tourists, continued on their permanent food tour.
"What do you like about Annie Dillard?" he asked, pointing to my book and interrupting the letter I was writing to a long distance friend, telling her what I liked about Annie Dillard.
"Funny you should ask," I replied.
I’ve always thought, ‘what are you reading lately’ is a great pick-up line, at least, it’s something I’d like to be asked, something that could get me talking. Asking why I read it or what I like about it - even better.
I told him I was writing a letter on that very subject, explaining I love the way her writing makes me notice, how it puts me in a dream-like trance, like Proust, but about cells and algae instead of memory.
"And here I thought you just were just being pretentious."
"Nope, I’m just writing a letter and just reading for pleasure, because I genuinely like her writing. No plans for a thesis, or an article, or even a blog post. Well, maybe a blog post."
"That’s great," he said, "you’re actually reading to enjoy it! More people should do that. Are you writing to a man in a gulag?"
"No, a man in a Russian prison infested with TB," I replied. I don’t know what made me say that, but it hit a weird nerve. The man told me of his time in Russia, people capriciously sent to prison, friends with TB, super TB. He asked how I’d heard of this problem. "Paul Farmer," I told him, "have you read anything by him?"
"No, I don’t read American non-fiction," he said, and he gave me his hierarchy of things he reads: Russian and German fiction, and poetry, some American poetry, barely any American fiction. Who’s pretentious now, I teased him.
We made a deal: I finish my letter while he compiles a list of American poets I must read, then we’ll have a drink together. Deal, we said, and shook on it. He began scribbling on a napkin and I concluded my thoughts on Annie Dillard.
Then he ordered us shots of whiskey and I stuffed the napkin with the poets in my book. “If you give me your email, I’ll send you the poems by each person that you have to read,” he said. Who could resist?
We talked for another hour while I slowly sipped my whiskey and he had another. He had to go outside to make a call and I got caught in conversation with someone else while waiting in line for the bathroom. He sat at the bar waiting for me for a little while, then eventually came to find me, apologizing that he was quite late to meet a buddy and had to leave. “I’m glad I met you,” he said, giving me a lingering hug.
The next morning when I looked in the Annie Dillard book for the napkin with the poets, it was gone.
Last week, I moved from Bushwick to Prospect Heights.
From my new apartment, my commute to a bakery in Cobble Hill is much simpler. Instead of walking to and then waiting for the G train, I walk one bock to the corner Classon and Bergen and hop on the B65 bus. The ride takes about eight minutes and drops me right in front of work.
Early Sunday morning, I was sitting at the bus stop, checking Twitter and the bus went right past me. I guess the driver wanted to me to be standing at attention or no dice. I looked up just as the bus cruised past. I bolted up and called out, “Oh, come on! I’m right here!” but it was already halfway down the block.
I let out a few expletives. The next bus didn’t come for another 30 minutes and walking would take about just as long. I was going to be late.
At that moment, a man on a tandem bike pulled up aside me.
“Need a ride?”
“Yea, I guess I do,” I said peevishly, still thinking about that driver.
“Where are you going?”
“I can take you down to Flatbush and you can catch the bus there.”
Deal. I got onboard. The bike wasn’t really a tandem, just modified to have a second seat with pegs instead of petals. I put my feet up.
As he pedaled down Bergen, I appreciated that he didn’t make small talk. It was a beautiful morning, sunny and still cool.
We passed the B65 and I gave the driver a wave. She didn’t see me that time either.
He pulled up to the curb at Flatbush. I jumped off and thanked him. He said sure and turned left.
Not generally a fan of big banks, broadly speaking, but credit where credit is due:
I entered the Chase on Flatbush and Park to close a ($12 monthly fee!) Chase checking account I’ve been holding onto out of sheer laziness. Based on my last experience closing an account, I expected a shuffle amongst tellers with limited authority, each offering a miniscule step forward, the need to talk to someone else, and prolonged attempts to convince me to change my mind.
Instead, “Jonel Ramus, Licensed Banker,” immediately offered me a seat, assuring me that he could handle the matter. He expressed regret that I was choosing to close my account. I prepared myself for the car-salesmanesque persuasion onslaught — but instead he merely asked, “Do you still have a place you can cash or deposit checks? I just want to make sure. Because lots of places will try to charge you for that. “
And when he saw I have a Chase credit card, he told me something I hadn’t realized: I can cash checks at any Chase for free as long as I haveanyChase account, including the credit card.
While I was sitting at his desk, my phone’s Mint.com app dinged the alarm that my Chase credit card had been hit with a fee, which I believed to be erroneous, related to a problem I thought I’d resolved. He offered, without prompting, to call the credit card division on my behalf and got it removed. Even though it took him about 10 minutes to place the call, argue my case, and wait for a decision that would ultimately cost his bank and benefit me, he did it cheerfully.
His assistance went beyond what I expected and he seemed sincere, especially because there was never a moment when I felt like I had to defend my decision to close the account, no lecture or warning about the credit card — just genuine helpfulness.
If you’re a Chase user in the general Prospect Heights / Park Slope area, I recommend you visit Jonel Ramus, Licensed Banker, for all your big bank banking needs.