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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tempting Fate

Morning Commute
Photo by myself on the subway platform during the rush hour commute.

Some people stand awfully close to the edge of the platform. The painted yellow line and tactile warning bumps guide passengers where to stand.


This weekend, Mark and I went to Whiskers, an alternative pet store on Second Avenue and 9th Street in the East Village.

Good friends of ours had recommended the place to us last year. They have two cats, and after initiating a new diet, the cats have lost weight and their previously scaly skin is back to normal. Happily, too, they're not shedding as much.

Our friends had told us to talk to Phil. When I walked in and looked around, I spotted an older guy perched in the corner with his chin in his hand. We locked eyes and he waved me over. This was Phil Klein, the pet guru.

I was whisked into the world of homeopathic pet dieting. My way of feeding my poor cat, Dida, has been completely wrong. I walked away with vials of enzymes and vitamins for Dida's rehabilitation. (Last week, after what we thought was a pulled muscle, we took her into the vet. She was diagnosed with a heart condition and was given medication for a blood clot in her hind leg).

Phil advocates feeding your cat limited amounts of food several times a day, and fresh foods, if possible. Earlier this month, Phil was interviewed on NPR about his holistic approach. Phil gives advice to dog owners too. A friendly woman with a miniature dachshund was next in line for a consult.

Little does she know, Dida is now my science experiment. Already she's grumbling about the feeding schedule. Food is taken away just before we go to bed, so there is no snacking. At 4:30 in the mornings, I am awakened by her meowing and standing next to me, stamping her foot. Eek.

I'm hopeful for the whole process. Tests from the vet show that she has a heart murmur but that there's no immediate danger. Her heart is clear of blood clots, which is great news.

I'll post about her progress from time to time. It would be amazing to have Dida's tests come back next year clear of a murmur.

For Phil's interview on NPR, click here.

For a recent post on Dida, click here


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Behind the Curtain

Prince Street, Soho
Photo by myself on Prince Street in Soho.

It was drizzly outside on Sunday morning, a typical rainy New York day.


I walked through Soho the other day to get to the Film Forum.

It was drizzly outside and early for a Sunday. All the shops were closed. Virtually no one was out, save for residents walking their dogs and a couple tourists.

It was wonderful.

I walked quickly down Prince Street, crossing a few cobblestone streets on the way that were wet with rain. Someone was sweeping the sidewalk, clearing away evidence from the night before. I felt like I was backstage just after a performance.

When I reached the Film Forum, I found my friend James inside with a mimosa in hand.

'I walked through Soho just now,' I said, still a little breathless. 'It's so quiet. No one's there.'

'I love that.'

James knew exactly what I meant. It's a familiar feeling, walking through the city when it's just waking up. It's a sliver of time when the city is yours alone.

For my experience at the Film Forum, click here.


Monday, April 28, 2008

For Your Viewing Pleasure

The Film Forum
Photo by myself at the Film Forum at Houston and Varick Streets.

This arty New York institution shows classic, foreign and independent first-run films.


This morning I met my friend James at the Film Forum.

Every spring, members are invited to a brunch and movie showing. I've been James' guest for the last few years. I must be the only one of his friends who is awake at 10 am on a Sunday.

We were lucky enough to see the most recent movie by Werner Herzog, 'Encounters at the End of the World', a documentary Herzog made of his trip to Antarctica. I highly recommend it.

Herzog has directed a number of movies over the last thirtysome years, including Nosferatu. He recently became more known to the mainstream with 'Grizzly Man', a documentary about the (crazy) man who thought he could communicate with grizzly bears.

Herzog is an incredible narrator, full of philosophical and quirky insights. The movie features stunning footage underwater below a heavy crust of ice and at the edge of an arctic volcano. Herzog also interviews the characters he meets at the end of the world, a motley assortment of scientists and wanderers.

Luckily this movie will be released to a larger audience, soon. If you're in New York, Encounters will be playing at the Film Forum, beginning June 11th.

The Film Forum
Lower photo by myself, showing the line outside the Film Forum this morning.

Related posts: The Arts - Live and on Videotape


Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Pedestrian City

Trombone Player
Photo by myself at the subway station at 34th Street, Penn Station.

These gentlemen drew a small crowd with their enthusiastic jazz performance.


Saturday Mark and I drove to the city. We planned to do some errands in the East Village, then drive up to Hell's Kitchen for some grub.

We should have taken the subway.

Around 14th Street and 8th Avenue, traffic came to a stop. Gridlock.

Cars were trying to make a turn when the light changed, but cars were already stopped in the middle of the intersection. People were honking and there was no movement for several minutes.

The reason for the hold up? Another one of those street fairs. Several blocks of Eighth Avenue were blocked off for kiosks selling hot dogs, fajitas and hats. Apparently we'd encountered the 'Chelsea Visiting Neighbors Festival', whatever that is.

I'm not vehemently against street fairs. They're a symbol of summer and as a pedestrian, they can be nice. It seems like there are so many of them though, and they all look the same. Traffic is terrible as it is. Why intentionally make things worse?

A quick look at the NYC.gov calendar shows that every Saturday and Sunday, several neighborhoods will be shut down for fairs and parades.

My advice? Walk, don't drive!


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Among Beautiful Things

Window Grille, Upper West Side
Photo by myself on Riverside Drive, around 76th Street.

Many precious architectural details can be found on the old buildings on the Upper West Side. Here, a beautifully curved double hung window is protected with an elaborate metal grille. Carved brackets support a balcony overhead.


Today, my coworker Cheryl and I went to survey an apartment for renovation.

Our clients, a lovely middle-aged couple, own a spacious apartment on the Upper East Side at 85th Street. The building fronts Gracie Square, which is a park along the East River with views out to Roosevelt Island.

The clients are avid collectors of traditional art. Framed Impressionist oil paintings and ink drawings were hung on every wall. I've been in some very fancy homes before, but this was fancy. There were bronze statues and marble fireplaces. There were heavy curtains at every window, each trimmed with colorful ribbon and tassels.

The apartment spanned two floors. There were several bedrooms, a media room, Living Room, Library, Dining Room, Powder Room, his and her bathrooms and dressing rooms. The Master Bedroom had a spacious sitting room. There was a maid's room, laundry room and crafts room. A graceful internal stair in the front hall connected the two floors. On paper, the place resembled a spacious two-story home except that it was on the high floors of a Manhattan apartment building.

Cheryl and I worked all afternoon, tip toeing around little tables arranged with bric-a-brac. We carefully measured all the walls and doors and windows. I had visions of little tables toppling over, spilling priceless objects to the floor.

Of course, our day was emergency-free. At the end of several hours, Cheryl and I measured all the rooms and documented the apartment with plenty of photographs.

The job was exhausting. Even though we were surrounded by ornate beauty, all we wanted to do was hurry home, pour a glass of wine and put our feet up.


Friday, April 25, 2008

All That Glitters

Columbus Circle
Photo by myself at Columbus Circle, at Central Park West and 59th Street.

The fountain in front of the AOL Time Warner Building is lit up in the evenings. This glamorous location makes you feel like you're in the midst of everything.


The other night I was watching the last episode of The Real Housewives of New York City, which I'd recorded. What can I say? I couldn't help myself.

Mark settled on the sofa next to me. After a couple minutes he asked, 'Who are these people?'

Obviously he can't understand us girls. Even though I started out resisting this show, these women grew on me. I admit it. They're a bit ridiculous. Some should just get over themselves. But like so many of Bravo's reality shows (Top Model, Top Chef, that tattoo show in LA), Real Housewives is seriously addictive.

No, these five women don't represent New York in the least. Their experiences and concerns reflect a very small demographic. I doubt any of them have taken the subway in years. What makes the show addictive are their personalities, which are strong, over-the-top and a little nuts.

Incidentally the top random keyword search that is referred to this blog is for the name 'Bethenney', for Bethenney Frankel, a natural foods chef on the show. Bethenney is the wittiest one of the bunch. Her troubled childhood and unsettled relationship status makes her the 'housewife' most women would find compelling, I think.

Anyway, Season 1 of Real Housewives is over. Mark has a reprieve.

For earlier posts on the show, click here or here.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Glimmer of Nature

Fresh Produce
Photo by myself at a Turkish market on 41st Street and 5th Avenue.

A salad bar and fresh produce are nicely presented to customers. Incidentally I was with coworkers when I took this photo, who don't know about this blog. One turned to me with a big grin on her face and said,'You're really crazy, you know that?'

One woman's bushel of zucchini is another woman's photo-op.


Thanks for all the kind wishes yesterday. Dida is very touched.

Mark and I will be going to a holistic pet food store in the East Village this weekend for advice. Thanks Brooklynite Kizz for making the suggestion. We'd heard about Whiskers from friends who radically changed the diets of their two cats, which are now sleek and happily interested in their food. We'll keep you posted!

It's been beautiful here these last few days. One great thing about living in Brooklyn is that many of the subways travel over bridges in the mornings. They emerge from dark tunnels to an expansive view of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan skyline.

I hope to get a photo from the train one of these mornings. Usually people are too busy making cell phone calls or checking their messages to even look outside, the instant they see sunshine.

It's too bad. They're missing the best part of the ride.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our Extended Family

Miss Dida in her bath
Photo of Dida by myself last year, in one of Dida's favorite locations.

Dida, our calico, likes to hide between the shower curtain and the shower liner when she's nervous. She thinks that no one can find her there.


Lately, Mark and I are dealing with our cat Dida, who is going through some health issues.

Dida suddenly started limping this weekend. She had a spazz attack Friday night in front of us, where she gallivanted all over us and the furniture. The next couple days, she had trouble getting up on the couch. She looked nervous and frankly a little weird. She spent a lot of time sleeping and alone which is unusual - she is usually very sociable.

Monday morning, Mark persuaded me to take Dida to the vet, since she was still acting strange. I'd call her name and try to make eye contact, but she'd stay sitting, hunched over, looking off into the distance.

Well, long story short, Dida has heart trouble. One of her hind legs was injured by a blood clot. It's my theory that Mark and I were witnesses to the exact moment of the clot, that is, when she had the spazz attack Friday night.

I raised two of Dida's kittens until they were around 7 years old, when they passed away suddenly a couple years ago. It's now coming together that all three have had congenital heart trouble.

Missy, a beautiful tiny calico that was so sweet and dear probably had an aneurysm. Suzy, an equally beautiful grey calico that was adventuresome and spirited had a blood clot to her hind legs. I had to put her to sleep after a long, distressed night at the emergency room.

Dida is lucky in comparison because we can try to medicate her condition. She's not an easy cat, however, and giving her pills or getting her in the carrier means a half-hour run around the apartment, much hissing and a wrestling match.

It's the plight of every pet owner - you commit yourself to your pet, making decisions for her best interest without knowing if you're doing the 'right' thing. I'm realistic about Dida's future. I'm prepared to keep her comfortable, pamper her, but not go to any extreme lengths where her dignity is compromised.

Tonight, Dida is extremely happy to be home from the vet, and is settled beside me on the sofa. She's forgiven me for our earlier wrestling match and is purring, with full knowledge that she's very much cared for.

Dida and her original litter of five kittens were rescued from the rail yards near Hell's Kitchen, around 42nd Street. Since the rescue, she hasn't stepped outside. She loves to watch birds and squirrels in her spare time.

Dida considers herself to be a true New Yorker.

Lower photo by myself last week. Dida rested comfortably on Mark's leg, while he slept.

For earlier posts about Dida, click here or here.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Cost of Living Here Part II or, Life in Playland

Times Square
Photo by myself at Times Square at 42nd Street and 7th Avenue.


Yesterday, I wrote that The New York Times reported that rent for an average Manhattan studio apartment reached $2,200 a month. I remember when the rent for a studio apartment reached $1,400, which seemed like a lot.

By the time I moved from my apartment on the Upper West Side three years ago, the rent for my rent stabilized two room studio reached $1200. It was a good deal and I managed to save a little money, which went toward a down payment for my apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I wound up moving after I met Mark, since the place was claustrophobic for more than one human.

I know people who've shacked up with several roommates in loft apartments until their 40's. I have to wonder whether people in New York aren't very different from people in other parts of the world. It seems like our chronological age here might be 35, but we act as if we're in our mid-20's.

No offense to New Yorkers who read this blog, because being young at heart isn't a bad thing. We don't have to have many responsibilities beyond ourselves. We can party til the wee hours every night, and there's always a party going on. We don't have to own a car or a house.

Welcome to Playland.

Related posts: The Cost of Living Here, It Takes a Village and The Rat Race.


Monday, April 21, 2008

The Cost of Living Here

Dogwood in Park Slope
Photo by myself in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

The dogwoods and magnolias are blooming now. The streets are pretty and springlike, lined with brownstones and flowering trees.


One of my new coworkers, Cheryl, has a dilemma - find a home for her dog or move out.

For whatever reason Cheryl's landlord is no longer permitting dogs in her building. She has a young Maltese, Sammy, who barks when nervous.

Cheryl's parents live an hour away in New Jersey and they can't have dogs in their apartment either. So poor Sammy shuttles to and from New Jersey, staying wherever it's safe for the moment. The apartment across the hall is being shown to prospective renters, so Sammy's in New Jersey for the next couple weeks.

If Cheryl didn't live in a rent-stabilized apartment, where her rent is guaranteed not to rise beyond a certain percentage each year, she'd consider moving. Cheryl feels guilty about leaving Sammy home all day during work hours, so she's pursuing other options. So far, one of the contractors we work with may give Sammy a home with a yard in the suburbs.

By the way, there's an article in this week's New York Times about prices for rental apartments. The average studio apartment in Greenwich Village is now going for $2,200 a month. If you're planning on living there with someone else, you should know each other really well.

The average prices for a Manhattan one-bedroom is $3,100 a month. And then you have to factor in the security deposit and the broker's fee, if you can't find the apartment on your own.


Related posts: It Takes a Village and The Rat Race.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lost In the Crowd

Madison Square Garden
Photo by myself outside Madison Square Garden.

Yet another photo from my walk around Midtown the other day. The crowd is made up of tourists and commuters, which makes for an uncomfortable mix of fast walkers and saunterers.


In the Talk of the Town section of a recent New Yorker Magazine, there was a short article about the building crane that collapsed on March 15. A townhouse near the United Nations was seriously damaged and there were seven fatalities.

One of the tenants at 305 East 50th Street, Jhon Gallego, fell through the floor of his apartment was pinned in the rubble for a few hours. The friend that was staying with him was killed. After several hours, Gallego was pulled from the rubble with few injuries.

Now here's the rub. Not only was Gallego rescued, but he won the Mega Millions lottery exactly two months before the accident. Crazy, eh?

Hey, you never know.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Basta Cosi (Enough)

Riding the Bull
Photo by myself, at Bowling Green near Wall Street.

Italian tourists horsed around on the life sized bronze bull sculpture, a symbol of the Financial District. The bull represents a 'bullish' or prospering market.


As I wrote last night, Mark and I have been working hard and rewarding ourselves as a result.

It's an easy pattern to fall into - you give a lot to your job and your family. You stress out over other people's concerns. You work toward perfection in situations which are far from perfect.

There's always another opinion to win over, client to please, deadline to attain. Isn't life just stressful? It's easy to then think that you deserve more in return.

You eat more, drink more, indulge a bit more. Curiously, I feel that it's in these times of stress that one should scale back. While indulging less, I feel that one should actively value things (your loved ones, your job, your situation) more.

It's just my opinion, of course, an opinion that comes at the end of yet another long week. With the risk of sounding like a complete sap, I'll say this: all I need is a moment to stop in my tracks, close my eyes and tell myself that life is good. I don't need anything more. I already have enough.

For an earlier post about Zen, click here .


Friday, April 18, 2008


At the Bar
Photo by myself at a restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

To decompress from our jobs, Mark and I have taken to eating out and having a drink with our meals to relax.


Today, the weather turned out to be absolutely beautiful. It was fully Spring-like, with bright sunshine and a cool edge to the air.

People were out strolling about during lunch hour and eating on the sidewalk. Anyone visiting New York is really fortunate. These are perfect days to visit the city, with low humidity and the ideal temperature.

Anyhow, Happy Friday everyone. Cheers!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

One Place Serves All

Before the Knicks Game
Photo by myself in front of Madison Square Garden at 34th Street and 8th Avenue.

Raised above the street, this public plaza is busy at all times of the day. There can be a basketball game occurring inside alongside a three ring circus. The outdoor digital screen brings a bit of the arena outside.


I have to admit that I went to the cat show at Madison Square Garden several years ago.

There, I said it. I like cats, I thought it'd be fun, so I went.

It was a while ago, but I remember walking by rows and rows of tables with cat contestants. Some were in cages, some were in their carriers. Some were being preened and prepped for judging.

One woman was brushing a long haired white cat, fluffing its fur and sprinkling it with baby powder. Then she would lift the cat a couple feet above the table and let the cat drop and gently land on its toes. The whole process was repeated several times.

There were signs advertising cat breeders. There were cat products for sale. There were cat breeds I'd never heard of before, and a special group of cats that audience members had brought in to show. It was overwhelming and interesting.

And on the way out of the arena, I dropped in on the New York Rangers hockey game. Woohoo.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Life's Seedy Underbelly

Peep World, NYC
Photo by myself on West 33rd Street near 8th Avenue.

Not all of Manhattan is glamorous. There are still little pockets of an older, seedier New York still around, but you really have to look. Times Square, which used to be populated with strip clubs and x-rated video stores, is located only a few blocks north of this location. Now of course, Times Square is squeaky clean.


I was going to write about a certain place tonight because of the above photo. Various online searches went nowhere.

'Damien Hirst strip club 25th Street', I typed. '25th Street 6th Avenue New York x-rated'.


I was trying to remember the name of a place near one of my old offices. Years ago, a coworker had told me that Damien Hirst, the British artist whose work includes a cow cut in half, used to visit this x-rated place. But I couldn't remember the name.

So I turned to Mark on the off chance that he knew.

'Okay, do you know of this place, around 6th Avenue and 24th Street? It was x-rated, and it had a funny name. Something Something. Then they added and 'S' so it wouldn't be so obviously...x-rated?'

Mark put his head down and laughed. 'Oh, Billy Stopless?'

Holy cow. Yes.

'Billy Stopless' was not the anonymous hole in the wall that I thought it was. It turns out that Billy's was a quirky, local landmark. Mark had gone in once with a bunch of buddies years ago. He found it to be a strange and grungy place, with not the most attractive dancers. (He didn't stay long!)

Billy's was originally called 'Billy's Topless', until Guiliani cracked down on adult establishments in the late 90's. Since the letters in the sign were all capitals, the owners only had to move the apostrophe for the name to be acceptable. I used to chuckle every time I saw the sign because of the silly name.

Billy's closed sometime around 2001.

For more about Billy Stopless, including a very small picture of the facade, click here.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again

Photo by myself of one of the banners suspended from the ceiling of the Main Post Office, at 34th Street and 9th Avenue.

On April 15th, the place is usually mobbed with camera crews, massage therapists and people offering tax advice. I stood on line one April 15th a few years ago (ah, never again).


I walked over to the Main Post Office tonight, to take some photos. On the way, I had to get through the crowds at Madison Square Garden. People were flooding the front steps, hawking tickets to the Knicks game (they lost to the Celtics, 99-93). Tourists were taking photos, commuters were headed home via Penn Station. Traffic was a mess.

Meanwhile, the sun was setting, casting a golden glow on the tops of the older buildings. I stood on the street corner and looked north - there was the top of the new New York Times Building, and the glimmering lights of Times Square.

It was a nice moment in the middle of the turbulent melee. People were shouting, cars were honking. Quietly, the sun set.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Working It Out

The Empire State in morning light
Photo by myself of the Empire State Building, in the morning light.

It was overcast today, so I'm showing a photo from several days ago. The Empire State Building rises above all other buildings. By night, the lights in the lantern change color to commemorate holidays and events. When Frank Sinatra passed away, for example, the lantern glowed a distinct shade of blue.

For the current ESB lighting schedule, click here.


The new job turns out to be much more stressful than the last job, due to politics. Oh dear. I'll give things a few months to play out before making any rash decisions.

I went to the gym tonight, since exercise helps you deal with stress better. I have to wonder about the percentage of New Yorkers who have gym memberships. I'm sure it's pretty high, since there are so many gyms and so many reasons for going: job stress, health and vanity.

After a mere 30 minutes on the elliptical machine, I felt absolutely amazing, I mean, really startlingly sublime. I came home to find Mark heating up some dinner and gave him an enormous hug. So if you haven't gone to the gym in a while, give it a try. Your friends and family will thank you for it.

Later, we caught today's episode of CBS Sunday morning, which we'd recorded. Guess what? There was a segment on exercise, with a celeb of yore.

Jack LaLanne was shown lifting weights, swimming and running around. The man is turning 94 years old this year and still works out two hours a day.

Inspiring? Oh yes. Time to strap on those running shoes!


Sunday, April 13, 2008

What are the Chances

Icons at the new public street toilets
Photo by myself, outside one of the new public toilets installed on the New York City streets.

Finally, public toilets have been installed for use on the streets. The icons transcend all languages: Unisex toilet, handicap accessible. Adults, please supervise your children. No smoking, and please, no more than 15 minutes to do your business.

I haven't dared venture in one of these things yet, and probably won't unless absolutely necessary.


Friday after seeing the Free Tibet peace rally in Union Square, I met Mark at a Bar 119, where he was having a drink with a buddy. It's a loud bar on 15th Street with cheap drinks and a pool table. Lo and behold, we wound up at the same bar as some of my ex-work friends who were playing pool.

What a small world it is. How many bars are there in New York, and what are the chances that you'd be in the same place at the same time as people you know well? The world is a very small place. I'm convinced of it.

These last couple months, I've been contacted by several ex-classmates, ex-coworkers and old friends. It's a nice feeling, and I can't help but wonder whether the trend is happening because recent shifts in the apartment. Could this be the result of feng shui?

Well, if you're in town tomorrow (Sunday) for the AIPAD show (Association of International Photography Art Dealers, I'll see you there. More than 75 art dealers and museums are displaying photography for purchase at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street and Park Avenue.

Mark and I are a little starved for visual inspiration. What better thing than to visit one of the largest exhibits of vintage and current photography for sale?

For more on the exhibit, click here.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Peace to All

Tibet Rally, Union Square
Photo by myself in Union Square.

Yet another peace rally on behalf of Tibet took place Friday night in Union Square. Monks chanted while people lit candles to form the words 'Free Tibet', along with a peace symbol.


Tonight I walked through Union Square and was surprised to find another peace rally going on. The candles created a delicate, vibrant atmosphere. There was a good crowd standing around, watching the candles being lit.

Monks were meditating and chanting a low tone in the background. I overheard someone say how magical the moment was. Then I looked at my watch and realized I was running late.

I walked around the south end of the square. Within just a few steps, I could no longer hear the monks chanting, since they'd been uttering such a low tone. The candles had disappeared from view. Just like that, I was immersed in the traffic and bustle.

I thought the moment was a poetic way of expressing something deeper, about Buddhism and meaning and other points of view, that can so easily slip away from us. You may just be on the brink of another world and not know it.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Here's to the Human Condition

Living on the Upper West Side
Photo by myself, on the Upper West Side, at Broadway and 78th Street.

The Apthorp comprises a whole city block. A courtyard in the middle provides space for cars to turn around on the ground floor, and allows in air into apartments far from the building exterior.

While I was taking this photo a passing pedestrian asked me what I what kind of building this was. He probably thought I was taking a photo of an embassy.

Ah no, it's just a lowly apartment building.


Today I was finally able to listen to the complete NPR podcast about Buddhism from the other day. That was followed by a podcast about a man talking about the lobotomy that was performed on him when he was 12 years old.

Listening to both these interviews, one concerning the Dalai Lama's philosophy and the other concerning one man's childhood experience, was illuminating. It helped me take my life in perspective.

We all have our situations, our shortcomings, challenges and fears. We have our strengths and the issues we're trying to overcome.

It's really just the human condition. The key is to remember that no one has it easy, even though it may seem that way from the outside.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

On the Job

NYPD Asleep
Photo by myself of a policeman in Herald Square.

It must be hard to be on your feet all day. This gentleman was taking probably a much needed break, as pedestrians, traffic and all else whirred by.


I've been listening to NPR podcasts at work lately, my small attempt at learning a few things while I still have brain cells.

Yesterday my ipod conked out in the afternoon, in the middle of a Fresh Air podcast, where Terri Gross was interviewing a reporter close to the Dalai Lama. I'd been entranced with what they were saying, about the Lama's non-violent philosophy in the face of such turmoil between Tibet and China. Then I suddenly found myself in silence. Gah!

The next couple hours were pretty tough to get through. I was doing some intense, detailed work and it was dead quiet around me.

I know there is a Buddhist lesson to be learned here. I know it. I was supposed enjoy the silence and hear the one hand clapping or the pitter pattering of each moment as they ticked by.

Patience, grasshopper.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Slowing Down to See the Details

Bronze Owl Statue
Photo by myself of one of the bronze statues near Herald Square.

Owls supposedly scare away pigeons, so you see a lot of them around the city in the attempt to curb pigeon droppings. In the olden days, stone masons carved them into building facades.

There are several bronze owl statues in a little park near Macy's. They're hard to see if you're in a rush.


There was a cute little blurb in The New Yorker magazine last week about some cross-pollination between Italy and New York.

A small group of Italians who call themselves L’Arte del Vivere con Lentezza, or The Art of Living Slowly, visited New York recently. They attempted to persuade New Yorkers to slow down and not compete so much.

I'm not sure how far they got, but their intentions were wonderful. Why kill yourself for first place, when you can settle for third place, or even last?

I have to say there's something to the Italian lifestyle that is eternally appealing. The idea of walking around the city after a late dinner, chatting with a loved one is brilliant.

Who needs the rat race?


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's a Big World In There

The Haier Building, NYC
Photo by myself inside the Haier Building in Midtown.

This building used to be a bank and to my knowledge is no longer publicly used. I was walking by one day when its giant bronze doors were wide open. A couple of technicians were inside, installing some equipment. I'm not sure what they were doing but it looked complicated!


I was browsing around online last night when I ran into an article about street photography that mentioned this blog.

Publicity is a wonderful thing, and unsolicited publicity is even better. I was flattered to read the article, especially since I consider myself very much a beginner.

As for photography, I've been astounded at how broad the art form is. There's 'street photography', which relies on chance timing in the field. There are posed scenes with or without people. There are portraits, there are landscapes, there are extreme closeups.

Photography seems to have room for everyone, and any scene has the potential to yield a zillion different interpretations. I happen to be more spontaneous with my picture taking, while others prefer to stage the scene or adjust the light.

This brings me to one of the concerns I had when I began this blog. I was worried that if I wrote down my thoughts, I'd run out of things to say. What then?

The amazing thing is that just about every day, I have had something to say. Well, except those days when I've been too tired or busy to say anything, lol. Of course, knowing there are readers out there who actually read this blog helps motivate me when I'd rather just veg out.

How successful or interesting those thoughts are vary, of course, but they're still there. There are no limits to what there is to communicate.

I'm happy to say I haven't gotten to the bottom just yet.

Related posts: Inspiration and The Arts - Live and on Videotape.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Finally Home

Statue of Liberty
Photo by myself of the Statue of Liberty from the edge of Red Hook, Brooklyn.


I apologize in advance for my brain deadness tonight. It's been a long week and I'm in need of rest!

It's wonderful to have Mark back from his business trip. He was away for nearly two weeks in Buenos Aires, for work. The return trip took 11 hours on two planes, and he has to be in the office tomorrow. Fortunately the weather was sunny and wonderful, since it's late summer in South America.

Mark found Buenos Aires cosmopolitan and the people friendly, but in the end, he was a little homesick. Meat plays a big part in the Argentine diet, which we're trying to eat less of, and there isn't a whole lot of variety to the food.

There were also two strikes going on: one with the farmers, affecting all the restaurants, and one with the major Argentine airline, which canceled his initial flight home.

The cat and I are just happy that he's back. Hooray.

Happy Monday, everyone!


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Out Getting Some Air

Walking the Pets
Photo by myself in Madison Square Park, at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue.

I ran into this threesome on their daily walk. Both miniature pinscher and house cat were sniffing at everything.

Note: I received an email later from the Owner who was very nice and said his cat is much more adventuresome than his dog!


We had nice sunny weather today. The sidewalks and subways were packed with visitors from abroad. I have the feeling that it's going to be very crowded in the city this summer.

I'm not keen on the idea. Don't get me wrong. I think tourism is great for New York businesses. It's just that traffic gets tough during rush hour or when you're in a hurry to get places.

Many New Yorkers get out of the city on the weekends in the summer months, especially because of the heat and humidity. Mark and I will most likely take little trips or remain in Brooklyn. We're not one for crowds.

Incidentally, Mark returns from abroad tomorrow. Woohoo!

We're going to Long Island to see his mum and pick up Clive, Mark's Mini Cooper. I cannot believe how time has flown by. How can it be April already? That's one third of the year!


Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Walls Have Ears

Photo by myself in Midtown.

Typically in this region, garages are located on the side streets, which run east-west. The smaller scale buildings are found there as well, for residences and the occasional restaurant or store. The longer avenues, running north-south, are left for shop fronts, businesses and major skyscrapers.

There's a logic to how different types of buildings are situated, based on general foot traffic. I can't help but appreciate this logic, because after a while, it makes New York understandable on an intuitive level.


Today one of my new coworkers and I bonded over a long lunch. She told me all the gossip, and I'm sure there's plenty more to be had.

Once piece of info was particularly flabbergasting. I can't say what it is, of course, since the world is such a small place. Let's just say it's in the x-rated category. She told me as an old-timer letting the new generation in on one of the major office milestones. Isn't verbal history amazing?

So later I was off to happy hour where two other new hires were, and I let THEM know. But then they let one of the new hire's husbands know, who then announced it to EVERYONE at the happy hour.

When you have x-rated information, how could you not say anything? That kind of stuff is like wildfire. It's like knowing (and here's a purely hypothetical situation) that one of the male staff members wears female panties. That kind of thing.

To be sure, I'll be doing some crowd control immediately. I will issue a major shush. No one must divulge sources, though I'm sure all the other old timers know about the tidbit.

Every place has its skeletons, of course. Aren't the skeletons what make a place interesting?

As long as the skeleton isn't yours.


Friday, April 4, 2008


The New York Public Library
Photo by myself in front of the main branch of the New York Public Library at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue.

Daffodils are blooming in the giant urns outside this striking landmark, even though the weather is currently chilly.


TGIF everyone. What a long week.

Tonight I worked late, my first late-ish night. I hate panicking at the last minute, and all this is the mere attempt to panic early and avert certain disaster.

I'm no spring chicken, though and long hours are hard on my body. What's worse is that I have a couple young uns near me, who work quite hard. They work late each night and come in late in the mornings. It's like they've formed a team to make feel extremely old and has-beenish.

So as a result of the late-ish night, I have nothing really to say. I leave you with the above photo, which is the glimmer of a shred of hope that Spring is here. At last!


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Not Your Average New Yorker

Chess in Union Square, NYC
Photo by myself in Union Square.

Several chess tables are located outside in Union Square for anyone to use. You can often see strangers challenging each other to a quick game. Bring your own chess set!


Last night I caught a little of the television show, Real Housewives of New York City, yet another reality-based television show on the Bravo channel.

I'd previously promised myself not to watch the show because I knew it'd make me mad. Actually, I was first mad, then a little depressed.

I wouldn't want to be any of the privileged women on the show. The people shown are not even close to an average New Yorker. One 'housewife' admitted that raising a child in the private school system in New York costs a million dollars. And that's only from birth to high school. Ahem.

I wanted to tell all the women to get over themselves. On the other hand, I started feeling sad less for myself and my own non-millionaire status, than for them. The lives of these women sounded tough. There was the constant awareness of scarcity in the midst of plenty. It must be difficult to go around thinking that everyone wants to be in your shoes. You must always be fearing failure.

One twelve year old girl, the daughter of one of the 'housewives' says,'My mother tells me that I have to find a way to make my own money. Because you never know what's going to happen to your relationship. So you need your own money.'


Tough to hear from the mouth of so young and obviously not in a relationship. But I suppose it's good, realistic advice. In another episode (yes, I was sucked into watching a couple shows), her mother asks what she thinks she'll do after college.

Hello, this is a twelve year old girl who hasn't even started high school!?

Details, details.

Here's a sneak peek for those who might be curious:


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Au Secours

Whitney Museum, NYC
Photo by myself near the Park Avenue Armory at Park Avenue and East 66th Street.

The annual Whitney Biennale is on display there until June 1st, 2008. The event shows current work from around the world. The Whitney Museum is located several blocks away in a striking Brutalist building by architect Marcel Breuer.

For more information about the Biennale, click here


This morning I had my nose buried in the latest New Yorker. The subway was lurching along between the first stop in Brooklyn stop and Manhattan.

Suddenly out of nowhere, a woman yelled out, 'Is there a doctor on this train? Is anyone a doctor?! Does someone know CPR?!!'

My view was obscured from the sick passenger. Fifteen feet away from me, most people seemed calm. I doubt there were many doctors on a subway at nine in the morning, but there could have been an EMT, who knows.

Not to alarm anyone, but no one rushed over to the troubled end of the train. In fact, some riders went back to reading their magazines, or closed their eyes to get back to napping.

I was shocked. Maybe people decided that since they didn't know CPR, they could do whatever they pleased? Maybe they judged the lack of panic (aside from the shouting woman) as a sign that everything was okay?

The woman who shouted explained that the person had had a seizure. At that point, the train emerged from the tunnel to cross the Manhattan bridge. A couple passengers whipped out their cell phones.

I felt guilty. Should I do something? Should I have done something? How could I be shocked by people napping when I was equally inactive?

When the train pulled into the station a couple minutes later, an MTA guy jumped into our car. By then, the sick person had come to and was fine, refusing medical help. The train doors closed and we were off to the next stop. I quietly promised myself never to get sick on a train.

On my way home tonight, I saw a man trip on the sidewalk in the semi-darkness. A couple older men nearby came over to help. One rescuer picked up the man's hat, the other helped the man get on his feet.

I shouldn't give up my faith in New Yorkers quite yet.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Life in the Balance

Times Square, NY
Another photo from my quick walk through Times Square the other day, at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue.

Hm...I suppose that's a Chase Bank across the street?


Mark says Argentina is wonderful. He's there for another week for his job, filming a commercial for a major airline.

Usually Mark's here to answer my questions - is this photo better, or this one? What the name of that restaurant again? And he's always asking me the same question: 'Are you blogging? You're blogging, aren't you. You're blogging?'

I'm both enjoying and disliking this time while he's gone. It's great to be free to do anything that I want to do. But it's tough after being with someone most of the time to suddenly be on your own.

Finding a middle ground has been tough. Time is limited and after subtracting all the time spent at work, you're left with just a little bit to divide up between being together and doing your own thing.

Now that Mark is moving in, things will be better. Less time will be spent commuting back and forth, and having to remember whose clothes are where. We'll be able to cook more and make our own lunches, since we'll be stocking just one fridge.

For the last few days, the cat has tried to fill Mark's shoes but it's not the same. I fear our language differences are getting in the way.