Archive for the ‘New York’ Category

A City Manifesto:

In New York on October 7, 2015 at 10:29 pm

I must never make the mistake of believing that I actually live in New York. I mustn’t lie in bed in the morning killing hours as if I own them, brewing just another cup of tea and cracking just another egg without glancing through the window over grafitti-laced buildings and TV aerials to that art deco crown that like a needle, across the river, threads the sky.

I mustn’t imagine that frogs and beets and pieces of computer code also get to walk down 2nd Avenue, swinging boxes tied with string through bakery doors, walnut bread tight in their hands, melting between their teeth. Frogs and beets and pieces of computer code surely get up to some things, some days, but not this.

I mustn’t so pray to the volume on my phone that I forget that crazy men are singing! Right here in a car hurtling miles and miles per hour under ground for no reason other than that crazy men need a place to sing! Strollers need a place to be jostled, watches need a place to be glanced at, candy needs a place to be sold, seats need a place to be hogged, gossip needs a place to be caught up on, and shy minds need a place to so frequently, furtively, fleetingly fall in love.

I must never make the mistake of believing that I actually live in New York. I mustn’t walk by the hat shops and coffee bean shops and the square houses of warm light and liquid that might be called wine shops but should more appropriately, I believe, be called wine boxes, and believe that I know their secrets. The leaves fall and it’s autumn, the petals fall and it’s spring. Rooted to pavement, they see it every day, happening.

I might suppose that that patch of grass is a patch of grass under that tree, but I would be wrong. For the teenager it is weeknight freedom, for the baby it is a balance beam, for the shut-in it is a beacon, and it leads to the taco joint and the club and the ballerinas on canvas and the ballerinas on stage and the river and the highway. It is a synapse across billions of nerves firing into each other, though they’ve never even touched.

I mustn’t believe that I actually live in New York. If I did, I might forget that 66th and Broadway revels in song while yoga mats at St. Marks catch sweat beads while monkeys at Central Park West in that room past that dinosaur past that whale past that totem pole past that starry sky hold their pose, consummately, unflinching.

If I were to actually believe I live in New York, I might believe that I could know it, when in fact, the most I can do is meet it: the dirt, languages, siding, cigarettes, spires, applause, and afternoons. On the high-flyingest days, on the lowest meanest, I must never make the mistake of believing that I actually live in New York.

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Walking off a bit of bother in Central Park this May…

In New York on July 13, 2015 at 2:56 pm

…I saw a woman near tears and heard two men yelling and heard children sing the alphabet and a boy want to take a boat and a boy play cello and men dance and a dog whimper and a dog run and arms linked and hands held and ice cream licked and pretzels chewed and statues climbed and pictures drawn and a girl laugh and a girl smile and that girl was me

New to New York

In Life, New York on January 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm

This is a little wandering I did from mind to page in the New York city livin’ last year.  Internet, here it comes!


Today is my fifth in New York and I am spending it with a poppyseed homentaschen in the West Village.  I’ve had a few adventures thus far, and I think if I was a year younger I would be happy to list them off.

1. Poppyseeds = yum.

2. Subway = hot.

3. Park Slope = good.

The Park in Park Slope

And so on.

Paring down my first days into a list is like sculpting a prize pig; I used to think if my list was big enough, so was my life.  But what I’ve really enjoyed thus far are little stories, little moments.  Like earlier when two men gave me beets.  They were sitting on the steps of a Williamsburg brownstone, their hair half shaved, half dredded.  The brown beard noticed me a few steps away, map-hugging and called–

“How you doing?”

I smiled, explaining my recent move, taking two beets when they raised their carryout and handed me a fork.

Before the beets

I think most of America imagines New York is busy, a place where no one looks at each other and clack-shoed feet hit the pavement clack-shoedly.  But that’s not New York.  Neither is the game, the grime, the hustle bustle, start and stop.  New York is simply another place where humans live.  Sure the backdrop’s a concrete sky that grays the tenor of the days, but there’s really nothing different about being here versus there.  It’s like Ecuador, Ireland, Poland, London and home.  So many times in one day I almost see the old neighborhoods.

Columbia University (the neighborhood of kimchi and choir)

The other night a man with an umbrella gave me a presentation of each borough on a map in the subway.  He tapped my foot as he exited the train: “Have fun out there,” he said.

A gal in the subway corrected my posture as I stumbled on a bumpy ride.

At the Brooklyn Library, I helped an old man print.  After, a toddler tapped my hand to show me the pictures in her book.  Neither shared the color of my skin.

New York is a playground.  It’s a place to forget the troubles of being human and enjoy being.  We’ve got too many slides to climb here, too many swings to swing.

New York is the place where everyone is an immigrant.  Everyone remembers the draft of the revolving door that brought them to the busted kingdom.  Everyone remembers the stranger who was there as they spun through – with a little pause (which does mean more in city-time) that stranger laid a coat upon the newbie’s shoulders, patted it down, and pushed them on.