Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

There are new eyes looking out of Florence's windows. I mentioned that when I was a kid, the trees in the park below always let me know when Spring was coming. The tenant wrote back that she knew Spring was coming by how many more people were walking across the bridge. Oh, have times changed. When we all lived there, no one walked across that bridge.

The trees outside the windows I have lived in for the past 34 years never really tell me anything until it's summer and much too late to get excited. So the heralding of Spring has instead become that roller coaster of volatile weather - hot! cold! warm! cold again!

A chilly walk on 103rd Street the other day changed all that when I saw something I hadn't seen since I was a kid.

Flowers. At least what passed for flowers on the Lower East Side. Spring.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Memories: Zing Zing Zing Went My Heartstrings

This was before video games. This was before the internet. This was even before James T. Kirk appeared in the horizon on the Starship Enterprise.

And since we didn't have a television, excitement had to be found where ever we could find it and what better place than public transportation. The subway had that front car window, as good as any Coney Island ride. But if you were on a bus, you had both the window and the chance to pull the bell. A ride with sound effects! Couldn't be beat.

Then somewhere along the line they modernized the buses and those long cords begging to be yanked so the bells pealed like a Sunday church disappeared. Now most buses had subtle strips that only rang on the first request, thus sparing the bus driver from going batty from constant dinging all day.

And then today in the middle of a lovely meandering down Fifth Avenue on the M5, I looked up from my window seat only to see a cord. With a little sign:


Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Primary Reason We Are A Democracy

"Most people don't vote in the primary," the young candidate observed. "Candidates win with only a small group of people voting."

And yet in a crowded room filled with a medly of New Yorkers, plans were made to change all that, person to person, word to word, handshake to handshake.

previous posts on Reshma Saujani: Stepping out and Then Stepping Into

Reshma Saujani

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Poetry In Motion Without Getting On The Train

Her poem 'nocturne' adorns my door, confronting me every morning before I leap from my safety into the world outside to give up my bullshit and attempt the integrity Florence died in vain for.


only in the greatest need of peace
will you be able to resist
those whose motives lack beauty

our island is punished by winter:
beneath the snowfall we linger, our tongues buried in silence

There's a kind of suffering that requires a stage,
a play,
a monotonous soliloquy
about extravagant vices;
finally in act five, scene one
Truth enters disguised as Manipulation

in the absence of contentment
this world can not continue
and the end will not be
some great crash
(or some great class)
but a mute isolation of spirit

to heal ourselves
we will repair another's wounds

slumber in darkness
until a dream opens
your eyes
your bed was covered with shame once
but now it is quilted
with a passion for empathy

- Susan Scutti

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Memories: Ode to Food - Part 2

I didn't know where Florence kept the sugar in our house. And there certainly wasn't any honey. She had been once again ahead of her time, and during the golden era of sugar, fat, and pre-packaged everything we were forced to eat fruit and vegetables and other G-d awful healthy food. Soda and any kind of cake was relegated to Friday night at Gramma Sophie's house in Knickerbocker Village.

But with all my sneaking into friends' homes and oogling the forbidden fruit in their cupboards or at their tables, I fell in love with that little honey bear. It was a toy, it was a bear, it was sweet. It was all the things I yearned for rolled up in one.

Even now, I'd rather have that bear than a pot of organic honey made by bees who each had their own name.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ode To Food

Before it arrived, Florence shopped at the Essex Street Market until it was impossible to do so. Then she switched over to the Fruit Man, Chinatown and the expensive organic place, Commodies but only for the olive oil. Her fridge was filled with pots of healthy salt-free food she hated eating.

I didn't shop at all. My fridge was filled with order-up cartons and very little food resembed anything close to how it started out in this world .

Then Trader Joe's opened. A weekly offering of organic bananas to Florence began along with other exciting little things that for a while made food exciting to her again.

And soon after that I was figuring out how to heat things up without burning down the building and trying out different spreads and sauces on semi-burnt food.

These days, there's rarely any take-out containers in my fridge and most of the food looks like how it arrived on this earth.

And there's always organic bananas.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Class Trip

The teachers were snapping pictures. The firefighters were snapping pictures. Passer-byers were snapping pictures. And the kids just grinned and grinned and grinned.

I thought as I walked away their class trip was way better than the one we took in first grade to the police station on Delancey and Clinton. There they showed us the cells and gave us stern warnings.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Memories: Flotsum and Jetsom

It was one thing for Florence to throw out two shopping bags filled with the letters of the woman who had loved her for four decades, or for me and Adrian to chuck into a private garbage truck two huge boxes of shoes and tapes and baby pictures and books left after an ignoble departure by my then-boyfriend.

These banishings offered an illusion that the time it took to heal was somehow faster and lighter.

But what never quite got thrown out were all those other things collected when part of a duo.

* How a good cup of coffee is made.

* Why Frebreze is bad.

* Who's in 'Who's Who's In America'.

* What is needed to shoot a documentary in Uranium City. In winter.

These virtual knick-knacks faded into the background until something, an errant comment or mundane moment illuminated the clutter from past relationships.

At the end, Florence couldn't remember who that woman was. The name meant nothing. But in a desperate attempt to be there for her and with her, the woman sent a little guitar keychain that played little electronic songs until the battery died. At that point Florence just strummed and soon after that, just clutched it, along with the keys to a home she no longer understood.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The insistence that art no matter what must live once again thwarts the belief that Theater Is Dead.

Because if a quiet lonely empty big bar on a Saturday afternoons doesn't call for someone to put a play on in it, then I don't know what does.

Visit the Dramatic Question Theater's facebook page to find out more about their Bar Series.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stepping Out And Then Stepping Into

Other than the rare night when the world suddenly changed, recent news and politics and idealism lived in wireless waves. Perhaps it was my electronic version of Florence's life long love affair with the New York Times, but I sought information alone in front of a variety of screens.

Not sure how this happened, but several phone calls by young, earnest sounding people urged me out of my home and into an apartment on St. Marks place to meet a candidate running for something or other.

I couldn't catch the name and honestly didn't care but the adventure of seeing a stranger's apartment was tempting. Of course it also didn't stop me from considering that I might be walking into a dangerous situation so wearing boots I could fight or run in I headed out with just I.D. on me. Old school habits die slow.

There in a new building that piped Michael Jackson in the elevator, in an apartment with no windows because it was sub-subterranean (and I hope discounted heavily in the rent), a young woman in a fierce black but tailored pants suit told a small group of residents that she was running for Congress and wanted our support.

Reshima Saujani either answered questions bursting with concern (the younger ones) or listened to criticism tinged with nostalgia for the days when demonstrating meant something (the older ones). I offered condolences.

But win, lose or draw, to step out of one's comfort zone and into the fray - be it a stranger's apartment, love or politics - requires strength and courage. And for that, gratitude and thanks for leadership by example is offered.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Memories: Two! Two! Two Memories In One!

When terribly young there was Dana as a beacon.

And when life required strength there was Veselka's Ukrainian Borscht.

How lucky I am that these days I have both.


Dana's profile and other short pieces are:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009
"If I Bring Forth What Is Inside Me, What I Bring Forth Will Save Me"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
"One Day I Wrote A Sentence"

Thursday, June 25, 2009
GUEST ARTIST: DANA - The Sad Little Crone

GUEST ARTIST: DANA - Wisdom of the Ages

Thursday, March 4, 2010

On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

Perhaps walking down the street or sitting in a diner no one would think we all had great plans and important dreams. After all, all four of us are over 50. We were supposed to have accomplished everything already or given up and been content with what we had.

But that's utter bullshit and stepping out of two hours of committed work to continue our dreams the possibilities were endless.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"She's A Native New Yorker"

Yuki's bag

We literally met on international ground.

Even though she was being just as polite as everyone else, there was something about her that felt very familiar. I, on the other hand, was not just a fish out of water.I was a big fish out of water and a bull in a teeny tiny china shop - pick two - and it was all I could do to sit still and keep my mouth shut so I wouldn't get fired on my first day of work.

But rushing down a sweeping corridor filled with priceless art and important people, out of nowhere she said, "Have you noticed everyone here is so fucking polite?!"

To which all I could say in a flood of relief was, "Oh Thank God. You're a fucking New Yorker!"