Monday, May 26, 2008

Crossing bridges

I live in a city of bridges. Tunnels, too, but I rarely use them, as they mostly lead to New Jersey. Anyway. I live in a city of marvelous bridges. The Verrazano-Narrows is simply incredible, spanning two bits of land once deemed unspannable. I travel the Triborough Bridge more than any other, as it leads to my home-away-from-home, La Guardia Airport. Of course, Simon and Garfunkle made the Queensborough Bridge (aka, 59th Street Bridge) famous with "Feelin' Groovy" (the 59th Street Bridge song).

And then there's the BMW. That's how I remember the order of the three bridges connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn: Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg.

Yesterday, I took a late afternoon stroll across two of the bridges. Well, it wasn't exactly a "stroll" over the Brooklyn Bridge. The old beauty is celebrating her 125th birthday this week, and the walkway to Brooklyn was absolutely packed with people. It's usually bustling, but yesterday it was uncomfortably crowded. I was glad to exit at the other end and meander down to the riverside park (also crowded) to view the 8th Wonder of the World from below. As always, spectacular. Solid. Gothically beautiful. With the most breathtaking background in the world, the skyline of Lower Manhattan.

Still, I was seeking peace and quiet and the old Brooklyn Bridge wasn't the place to be on her birthday. So, why not try a different bridge? Why not indulge in a little adventure? I cast my eyes a few blocks north and headed for the Manhattan Bridge.

Aaahhhh. I had the thing pretty much to myself. I took my time heading back to Manhattan over the bridge, stopping now and then to take a picture or two - incredible views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan - as the sun was lowering over the City. Not even the subways trains crossing the bridge to my right disturbed me. It was a beautiful, clear evening, and I was oh, so thankful to have the place to myself.

At the end of the bridge, I was thrown onto Chinatown's Canal Street. Meandering through the less-traveled warrens north of Canal, I lucked upon Little Italy (tiny, as Chinatown has pretty much taken over the Italian sector) and a street fair. Lots of twinkly lights and sausage-and-pepper rolls. The smells! Yum!

I could have grabbed the subway there, but I was still in the mood to walk. One great thing about New York is that you can walk for miles, iconic images at every turn, until before you know it, you've gone 'way farther than you intended.

This happened to me last evening. I just kept walking. It was a gorgeous night, the streets were crowded (as always), and the energy palpable. It wasn't long before I was near NYU/Washington Square. I grabbed a burger at a diner, dropped into Cold Stone for a small strawberry ice cream, and headed for Union Square. Crossing all sorts of "bridges" along the way.

It was late and time to cross the bridge to Spanish Harlem. I didn't realize how physically tired I was until I took a seat on the #6 train. I'd walked long and hard, but it was worth it.

Crossing bridges can certainly clear the mind. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I need a little Christmas

Most years, I don't feel the need to get my Christmas "goose" until late July or August, but with a hectic schedule and priorities a-whack, I'm going to indulge in Christmas right now. Not the presents or all the hurly-burly, though I do enjoy both during December. No, not that part. Just my own personal Christmas Film Festival, cinnamon tea, and a frigid apartment caused not by snow outside, but by cranking up the a/c until the windows frost over. Brrrrrr!

Sometimes I need to be reminded of the big picture, the span of time. Lately, I've been buried too deep in the details of Now. That is a ponderous way to live. So I hereby raise my cuppa cinnamon tea, resolving to let Ebenezer Scrooge and George Bailey and Cindy Lou Who pull me out of the muck.

And once I've regained my vision, I shall take a walk over the Brooklyn bridge at sunset this evening, for perspective can be gained through other means besides Christmas classics. I do believe that all the silly fluff inside my head right now won't take up so much brain-space after that.

So I will celebrate Memorial Day by celebrating the Christmas spirit. For as Old Scrooge said, "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

Happy Memorial Day. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Catchin' up

When last you heard from me, the tulips were a-poppin' in Central Park (they're pretty much gone now), I'd never been to Syracuse (not that I sat around troubling myself about it), and George Bush was president (oh, wait - he still is president). I am still here, too, just completely buried in work. Blogging, alas, has had to sink to the bottom of the "to-do" pile. (Thanks for missing me, Winston!)

I do find time to walk Bailey in the Park (that's how I know the tulips are almost gone). And I did go to Syracuse for a conference over the weekend. The New York finger lakes district is really beautiful. I stayed with a friend who has a house (built in 1872) on one of the lakes, which was much better than having to park at the local Holiday Inn, I tell you.

Other than that, I'm all-work-all-the-time right now. I hope that things ease up a bit once the June 5-8 conference is over. For me, it's the "Little Red Hen Conference," after the fable of the little red hen who did all the work planting, tending, and picking the corn, though she had all sorts of volunteers to eat it. I'm the little red hen on this. But as far as I'm concerned, everyone's welcome to eat all they want, as long as they don't bitch and moan about anything. The time for "advice" passed about three weeks ago.

I'm taking Friday off so that I can have a 4-day weekend before the onslaught. It really is time to break out the seasonal clothing and put away the wool. That should help, right?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bouquets for All Mamas

Happy Mother's Day!
(Flowers courtesy Central Park Conservatory Gardens.)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Aren't you going to kiss me goodbye?"

When I was about eight years old, I decided to run away from home. I'd suffered some great injustice at the hands of my mother and felt I had no other choice but to leave the Frazier family far behind. I don't remember what it was that caused me to start packing my bags, but it the straw that broke this little 8-year-old camel's back. I was outta there!

I sulked and plotted and devised a completely ingenious plan to just walk away and start a new life. Maybe a family with no children who really wanted a smart-ass little 8-year-old girl. (Yeah, right.) Throughout the afternoon, I flounced in to announce my plans to Mother so that she could start being real sorry even before I left. Being a natural-born drama queen, I could do no less.

After gathering my meager but necessary belongings, I was set to bid adieu to hearth and home. I could do so much better, right? And anyway, Mother obviously had it in for me. I needed to find a new mother who would appreciate me and my creative little ways. Yep. I was ready to go.

Mother was washing dishes when I lugged my sack - yes, it was a sack, not a suitcase - of assorted life possessions into the kitchen. The moment was fraught with emotion.

"Well, I'm going now," I announced in my best, kid-full-of-confidence voice.

Mother - who'd put up my tirade all afternoon - turned to look at me with big sad eyes, took the slightest pause, then said, "Aren't you going to kiss me good-bye?'

Well, that did it. Kid-confidence turned to kid-puddle-o'-tears as I dropped my sack of belongings. Mother wiped the water and suds off her hands and bent down to give me a hug.

"Welcome home." And I was back in the fold.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Down 3

Woo-hoo! I thought for sure I'd gained a pound or two over the past couple of weeks, but at my WeightWatchers weigh-in today, I'd actually lost 3 pounds! Yea, me!

Only a few ounces to go before I reach my 10% body-weight goal. Then, on to my personal 25-pound goal.

(And thanks for the pep-talk, Jo.)

Monday, May 05, 2008

O fractious day! Callooh! Callay!

It wasn't a frabjous day. Nor was it brillig with slithy toves gyring and gimbling. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, get thee swiftly to a copy of "Jabberwocky.")

No, it was a fractious day. Ever have one o' dem? I just woke up lookin' for a fight. Why is that, I wonder?

Fortunately for me (and my job), I realized early on that I was going to be a sarcastic, irritated, impatient smart-ass all day, so I hid in my office and tried to avoid all human contact. Pretty hard when one works at the headquarters of religious denomination. I tried asking myself, "What would Jesus do?," but I think he'd a-been fractious, too.

The good news is that I didn't slap anyone or send out a bunch of pithy emails. No, I truly behaved myself. I knew I was dangerous and took the proper steps to contain my (potentially) dangerous behavior.

Now I'm home, having weathered the fractiousness of the day. The gin and tonic's helping, I can testify. Cheers!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Happy 25th, Baby Girl!

You're the joy of my life!

The picture at Kate's baptism has special significance this year,
since the priest who baptized her in 1983 will also officiate at her wedding in October. Thanks, Harry!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Night at the Red Food Store

I dreamed about the Red Food Store the other night. The one on Ringgold Road in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was a weird dream that featured the old familiar store with two identical Red Food Stores surrounding it. I was a little discombobulated when I woke up, as you often are when some place or person from the past suddenly pops up in the clouds of night for no discernable reason.

The Red Food Store. It didn’t sell red food. Well, I reckon it did, but it sold all the other colors, too. And it wasn’t painted red, either. In short, no clue as to why the grocery chain was called Red Food Store, but there you are.

Anyway, Friday evenings after supper, Daddy would head out to do the weekly grocery shopping, usually with one or two or all four of us chir'run in tow. See, Mother raised us to believe that going to the grocery store was a man’s job, like taking out the garbage and tinkering with cars. Daddy always seemed to enjoy doing this weekly chore, and I suppose Mother hated it, so the system worked well for them. (And wasn’t Mother clever, eh?)

So. Off we’d go on Friday evening with Daddy, wondering what little goodie we could talk him into buying. He could be a real pushover, as long as we didn’t go overboard. Fritos. Sprite. Some new-fangled cereal. And it was primo Daddy-time. He always seemed to be in high spirits – it was Friday, after all! – and we loved going with him. To the Red Food Store.

All those grocery store trips run in together, except for one. It was Friday. November 22, 1963. We got out of school early that day; once the news came that President Kennedy had been shot, well, that was that. We spent the afternoon in front of the TV set, watching the strange events unfold. I don’t remember whether Daddy came home early or not. My parents were no fans of Kennedy, but this event rocked even them.

Still, dead presidents are no excuse to break a cherished routine, I guess, and Friday night meant a trip to the Red Food Store. Maybe Mother and Daddy thought that doing something completely normal would keep us from being scared. Or maybe we just needed milk. But whatever the reason we headed for the store, as usual, on that bleak evening.

Very few people were out and about. The store was open, but empty. Everything seemed dark (well, yeah, it was late November, but even so . . .) and moving in slow motion. I can tell you that not much high-spirited stuff went on during that shopping foray. We were just going through the motions at the Red Food Store that night.

But one aberration doesn’t dampen the memory of all the other Friday nights, all the other jaunts to the Red Food Store on Ringgold Road in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with Daddy and the little Fraziers picking up the week’s necessities while choosing a few special treats.

And I’m remembering all that, as I sit here in New York City on a Friday evening, thanks to a strange little dream. (Though I do wonder about the meaning of the extra stores.)