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I returned to New York after surviving an emotionally and physically draining weather storm. It started with the note from the boy I parted ways with in a Honda Civic last year, and ended this morning when I woke up in my mom's Seattle hospital room at 5 AM to catch my flight. The cantaloupe sized tumor removed from my mom's ovary is non-cancerous. However, it is uncertain whether my rekindled friendship with the boy will survive, even though he was the only one who remembered to call after the surgery. We are incredibly and irrationally attracted to each other.
After ten hours of working and wondering why I lived in New York, I found my way to an Upper East Side wine bar which was dimly lit. Two glasses of Sicilian Merlot and a large plate of warm pasta flecked with spinach and a creamy gorgonzola sauce is relaxing on a freezing snowy evening, even in a pretentious UES wine bar. Unfortunately, the blissful hum in my brain was pierced on my journey home by a busker armed with a high-pitched voice and an acoustic guitar lurking in the tunnel from the 7 shuttle to the 42nd Street train.
The plaque on the wall read "Montefiore Hospital for Chronic Diseases, New York."I had been instructed by the clinical aesthetician to relax, but I was having a difficult time unwinding in a small, windowless room harshly lit by fluorescent bulbs which hummed. I sat down on a thin foam core encased in green vinyl covered with a scratchy white sheet and shifted my eyes around the room- the desk of a disorganized person, an array of certificates in cheap frames, and a square white box on a metal stand. Muffled voices eased through the door into my scattered thoughts.
Feeling a bit feverish, I did not want to venture out into the freezing air and buy food. Being jostled and bumped with grocery carts while selecting Washington Fuji Apples is not my idea of a pleasant afternoon. However, a quick glance in the refrigerator revealed it was necessary. Otherwise, my roommate would take over the entire space with cups of half drank coffee, bowls of milk with a few soaked bits of cereal left, and full glasses of mysterious liquids. Was she seriously going to add fresh cereal to that bowl of milk and eat it for breakfast tomorrow?
Dear Grandma, I have been relaxing this weekend after being on the go for the last two weeks. A couple of friends visited over the three day weekend. On Saturday, we took the train to Philadelphia and sought out a couple of historic sites before settling into the restored City Tavern. John Adams called this tavern "the most genteel tavern in America."Leading citizens met here to discuss the "intolerable acts"of the government and later the signers of the Declaration of Independence proposed the revolution. We gossiped over a couple of Thomas Jefferson ales, and I thought of you.
I watched the blustery wind shake red leaves off the trees through windows embraced by elaborately carved gold painted frames. At the top of the marble staircase, I sampled wine, a horrible tasting Beaujolais ("It's just a marketing ploy to sell bad wine.-) and a buttery Chardonnay. There was no cheese, but a wide variety of raw vegetables. Old men with bad breath cornered us and attempted to enlighten us with their worldly knowledge. Later, we listened to a witty monologue concerning the history of French and American relations while Native Americans on bold red canvases looked down on us.
Since the lounge didn't serve tea, and the restaurant was closed for the evening, you suggested we call room service. Sipping tea in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria complete with a full sized tub was a lovely idea. However, it was the first time we had seen each other in over a year, and I had issues to address. Perhaps a discussion over Earl Grey would be appropriate. It was 3 am by the time the white gloved gentleman set the tray down on the desk, and it seemed too late to bring up such an emotionally charged subjects.
Michelle, I took this postcard from a Japanese Brasserie on Hudson Street in the West Village on a warm summer evening. I sat in the dimly lit, but immaculate bar and ordered a martini. The drink was for medicinal purposes. I had just experienced an extremely painful bikini wax and had recently been informed by an ER doctor that alcohol is underrated as a pain reliever. While I sipped the gin bruised with a couple of olives, I watched Japanese businessmen escape their meals for a cigarette outside on the sidewalk. Occasionally, black town cars pulled up to the curb.
I escaped the Midtown corporate environs today at 6:15 and squeezed onto a crowded subway heading west. I found the six story walk-up on the edge of the theater district. As I climbed the stairs, I listened to struggling actors' gossip on the landings and in the narrow hallways. I smiled as I slid past them and into a small dance studio with hard wooden floors and faded photographs. Here, I was going to attempt to move my awkward and lengthy limbs into fluid movements. I was going to learn the head slide, shoulder shimmy, rib circle, and hip drop.
"Hi Ms. Graham, I got to New York.... I have nothing to do for three whole days, so, if you have time..."When we broke up, I gave him my copy of When Harry Met Sally, because he only likes comedies. A few days later, he called and asked me to watch it with him. He had stopped it at the deli scene and wanted to finish it with me. Now, I was sitting in Katz' eating a pastrami on rye and sipping a black cherry soda across the table from the boy with a beer and Philly cheese steak.
Early Spring weather brought everyone and their pug outside today. Every place I wandered, I was surrounded by people and noise, but I desired a quiet place in the sun to read and nurse a cappuccino to ease my aching head. Eventually, I found a sanctuary at a narrow West Village eatery for North Indian snacks. The staff was genteel, and I shared the long bar with a couple of German speaking punks while I dined on a hot paratha, which is grilled, stuffed flatbread. Across the street I discovered smooth stir brew coffee and Aunt Rosie's chocolate chip cookies.
Discovered the frenzied and wonderful world of B&H photography. I was initially daunted by the activity and massive amount of people in every square inch of the store, but was soon impressed by the responsiveness, efficiency, and knowledge of the staff dressed in dark suits, white shirts, and yamakas. Afterwards, I wandered a Brooklyn neighborhood in the drizzle hoping to find either Irish Soda Bread without raisins or an Italian grocery store that was open. Both escaped me, but I did discover a vibrant umbrella with hot pink flowers and a cartoonish figure of a pig outside a butcher shop.
Every day, throughout the day, I encountered unusual human behavior as I walk down the streets of New York. One right after another. I try to engrain the images on my brain to write down later or tell someone, but I typically forget. However, today I spied a guy walking down an uneven Sixth Avenue sidewalk wheeling a stand-up bass encased black canvas eating a slice with his free hand. The cheese was particularly stringy, and he attempted to delicately pick the pieces off his chin and put it in his mouth while leaning over at a 45 degree angle.
This morning I received an email from Dad: "Apparently there is a communication gap between your mother and sister." Later, said sister informs me, while I am spending a brief lunch sitting outside in the glorious sunshine and reading the paper, that she already caught our mom lying to her. I, being on the other side of the country, find this all really amusing. I would giggle to myself the remainder of the afternoon thinking about it. However, I am expected in Seattle for my birthday, but have managed to procrastinate the task of booking a flight for several days.
Subway observations while waiting for a red line train. There is no one particularly interesting or unusual waiting on the platform with me. People are probably thinking I'm the unusual one as I scribble bent over in my little black book, occasionally glancing up to see if there is any activity to report. Once on the train I notice a couple of people with Citarella bags and several people drowning out their day with iPods. Ipods have replaced cell phones as the lone traveler's technological distraction of choice. People prefer to listen to music or webcasts rather than their friends.
In a crowded women's bathroom on the fourth floor, a blood curdling scream pierced the conversation passing over the stalls. The startled conversation partner inquired about the cause of the outburst. "A cockroach!""I thought you were being murdered, geez!"More screaming invaded my head and caused slight pain. "It's getting closer! And I can't move!"I prayed that I would not get that toilet. I would pass it up, regardless how much I had to pee. I did not want a cockroach invade my personal space while I was in a delicate position with my pants about my ankles.
Happy St. Patty's from a beautiful Irish girl (literally, not physically) who does not celebrate the removal of snakes from Eire. Most of the people walking around today looked like giant green M&Ms. As I walked home this evening, I spied a wide circle of vomit that required me to step into the street to avoid getting the putrid bits on my shoes. Taking a break from college about 10 years ago, I worked in a pub in the Temple Bar neighborhood of Dublin and have encountered plenty of drunk Irish people. I refuse to venture into a bar tonight.
I have been researching how to become a freelance writer, and have been encouraged by success stories of women in the blogospere. A recent MBA grad couldn't find a job, but her blog about economics and politics got her a job freelance writing which led to a job at an economy magazine. Also, a shy Southern native and financial analyst who blogged about Wall Street, venture capital, and foreign policy was "discovered"and hired part-time to write gossip. This led to a full-time magazine gig. A popluar men's magazine hired a woman who wrote, "People I've Kissed: A Demographic Study."
Apparently, all my Seattle friends are snatching up real estate. One sent me his condo's website link which included floor plans. The other friend sent me 16 photos of her new grass green home, including a close up of the carpet. It looked like a high quality material. In fact, it looked like this expensive carpet my parents put in our house. I, as a clumsy indulgent teen, spilled pink nail polish on it in the corner of my bedroom and tried to cover up. Like, the hole I kicked in the bathroom door while enraged by my sister's behavior.
I hate New York. I should get a t-shirt with that statement. I have a white "I Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœheart' NYC"shirt which I have never worn. It was a gift. I hate waiting for fifteen minutes on a smelly subway platform and when the doors slide open two burly men standing right next to the doors don't move and you have to squeeze between them to the completely open middle of the car. Unfortunately, everyone else standing on the platform crams in right behind you and wedges you between a steel pole and someone who smells like stale cigarettes and whisky.
The placement of new parking meters sparked riots in Spain two weeks ago. Residents now have to pay to park their cars and move them every four hours. Many meters were damaged. In France, employment laws enraged youth last week. Protesters are bitterly opposed to a new law, which allows employers to end job contracts for people under 26 at any time during a two-year trial period without having to offer an explanation or give prior warning. Vehicles were set on fire, stores were damaged, and demonstrators hurled stones and bottles at officers. We quietly protest a three year war.
I am an adept martini tippler and snob. And the martini at Mas (farmhouse) on Downing Street is dreadful. The house gin is Hendrick's from Scotland which is smooth and infused unexpectedly, but pleasingly, with cucumbers and rose petals. However, who the hell puts kalamata olives- with pits no less!- in a martini? I can see the greasy film on top of the pure liquid like an oil spill. Disgusting. A proper martini should have a skim of ice- not chunks or crystals, but a thin glace like a pond that is just beginning to freeze over for the winter.
It's amazing what you notice when one ventures outside their usual routine. Today after dealing with rude, snotty people at the Adventure Society cocktail function, I discovered a lovely cafÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© which creates creamy cappuccinos was also a festive wine bar that serves excellent food- roasted tomatoes over sea bass placed on asparagus spears with Prosecco sauce accompanied by a white wine from the Basque region of Spain which had a sweetness that balanced the salty fish. It was a bit loud- I thought my friend said she liked the doors, meaning two large men, but she had actually said dÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©cor.
Same gin, different bar. Another Downing Street locale called the Blue Ribbon. The martini was roughly shaken-up by bartender with the tattooed forearms and huge chunks of ice are staring at me. There are no kalamatas, but I am suspicious there are pits due to the lack of noticeable hole and no toothpick holding the three green globes together. How do I even get the olive sunken at the bottom of the glass between my rosebud lips? And what is one supposed to do with the pits after you delicately remove it from one's mouth? There is no courtesy plate.
Rode 23 miles on a silver bike from Mahopac, New York to a wooden bridge over the Croton reservoir. Noticed early signs of Spring as I pedaled through Putnam and Westchester Counties on the North Country trail. Pussy willows budding, geese swimming in small ponds, and people walking their small dogs. Unfortunately, there was no green emerging from the frozen ground or the branches of an abundance of deciduous trees. It seemed somewhat bleak. Occasionally, serious racers sped by in yellow jerseys like they were on the Tour de France yelling, "On your Left!!"inches away. Relax, it is Saturday.
Surrounded by an empty martini glass, scraps of paper inked with reminders, and a pile of New York Times sections from the Sunday paper, I contemplate the state of world affairs and where I want to be in it. I circled paragraphs in several articles, but I can't remember what my perspective is on the myths propagated by the mainstream media in regards to violence and international relations. Something about Americans not being that informed about what is happening in the majority of the world. People love New York for the diversity, but they don't even know where Taiwan is.
I want this impressively lavish bathroom. I would sacrifice a bedroom for this bathroom where pebbles under the sink are meant to represent eternity and I would indulge in weekly hot stone treatments by my personal masseuse. I would learn to cook dinner parties in this bathroom this is kept illuminated and warm by the marble hearth. I would have amazing sex in this bathroom where I could soak in a deep Zen tub while the light streams in on my glistening flesh and I admire the treetops views while I read erotic literature. Did I just share too much?
A tale of two French Restaurants: One is Le Perigold in Midtown where gentlemen in authentic accents and tuxedos pull out your chair in a spacious dining room. However, the overpriced food is disappointing . The other is the shoebox of a bistro, Tartine in the West Village where you must bring the wine and wait for a tiny table that is crammed inches from the door. The door will slam into the back of your seat throughout the meal, but you are too busy sopping up the broth your mussels are steamed in with a crusty French loaf to care.
In France, conversation often bounces between gastronomy and politics. Not that I have been to France, but I read it in the New York Times, so it must be true. I read this while sampling tasty white bean brushcetta and a light, fruity wine at a noisy Italian cafÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© in the West Village. I also learned that NYT food writers are less than brilliant, because another one believes "farmed salmon to be no less desirable a product in the kitchen"than wild salmon. Having lived in the Northwest for 12 years, I was stunned to have read such a statement.
Passing on the 2 hour wait for a table, we crowded into the bar at the always busy Po on Cornelia Street, but it was worth it. Bread, flavored olive oil, and bruschetta was placed before us while we tasted our red wine and gossiped about boys and homes. We split the special salad that was insignificant, because I can't remember what was in it. However, my white bean ravioli in a balsamic brown butter sauce was amazing. Also notable, the bartender who generously refilled our wine glasses and the mint gelato with a rich chocolate sauce were both delectable.
In a mixture of exhaustion and exhilaration, I returned back to where I started. The boy with the Honda Civic picked me up at the airport, but has upgraded to a green dented Accord that my sister sold him for $500. We exchanged friendly kisses on cheeks in front of the darkened American airways ticket counter. He looked sexy, and I looked like I had spent 6 hours on a plane. Over glasses of red wine in a quiet cafÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© with a fireplace, we exchanged insignificant pleasantries. I loved every moment of the conversation, regardless, but where were we going?
The Tip Jar