Essential

I will never tire of this view, this park, or NYC, even as the city changes in ways I don’t necessarily like and I renew my plea for a time machine. Central Park is a balm that calms me, a therapist who “centers” me without my having to ask.

P.S. If you’re a tourist and your tour guide tells you that the fountain toward the left (to the right of the thick tree) was used in the opening credits of “Friends”, request a refund pronto before he or she takes you to Starbucks and tells you it’s Central Perk.

(No idea why this text is so big. Fucking WordPress.)

Coffee Shop

When I lived near the Flatiron Building (2000 to 2004), I passed this place all the time and always marveled at the sign but never patronized the business. I took this photo in 2015, years after I moved to another neighborhood, and either that day or shortly thereafter, finally set foot inside.

It was everything I wanted it to be. Magnificently low-key. I was smitten with its complete lack of pretense, frills, or “ambience”. It wasn’t asking for attention, let alone begging; it wasn’t shouting “Look at me, look at me!” It just was. It had the attitude and vibe of the people, places, and things I have always held most dear.

Unfortunately, the coffee shop is no longer in existence, and neither is the sign. I will never forget it, though. I just wish I had passed through its door sooner and more frequently.

Thor

When I’m out and about in the city, I don’t plan my route even if I have a destination. I keep it loosely structured to allow for the whims of walking. If I’m out for a run or workout walk, I leave all decisions up to my feet, and they know that if presented with two options, one of which includes a dog, we take that one since that’s one of the major incentives to leave the house at all. Otherwise, we Robert Frost it (yes, I used his name as a verb and deserve censure), and see what happens.

September 21st was a workout walk. My only “goal” was Whole Foods on the way back, about a mile from home, to pick up some salad greens. Other than that, the city was my oy-ster and my only “rule” was Ten Thousand Steps Before Going Home, or TTSBGH, or, further, Titsburgh (you’re welcome).

My fleet feet took me down Central Park West. At the corner of 62nd and CPW, I saw a little bird on the sidewalk, on his side, and was glad that I’ve begun carrying a sheet of paper towel in my running belt for occasions like this.

I couldn’t tell if he was alive or not, but when I picked him up using the paper towel, he was warm and I could feel his tiny heartbeat, which made my own heart break and burst simultaneously. I talked to him, telling him it’s okay, it’s okay, little love, I’m taking care of you, and placed him in a square cement planter about hip height, several feet from where I found him. He rested among the plantings, and I instantly texted a friend who works with documenting birds who have crashed into buildings to ask how to handle this.

In the meantime, I Googled the World Bird Fund, on Columbus Avenue, and read what to do. I needed a paper bag to put him in, to transport him to the WBF for whatever attention he needed, which opened at 9:00, about an hour and a half away. I told him I’d be right back and ran to Whole Foods at Columbus Circle, bought two containers of salad greens using self checkout, where I procured the bag that was the real reason for my trip. I dashed back to 62nd and CPW to help him, praying he was still there.

He was there, and had moved from where I’d positioned him on his side, to an upright roosting position, much more alert. I opened the bag to scoop him into it and fold it over twice, per the WBF instructions, to walk him up Columbus Avenue. (My friend had messaged me back while I was running back and forth from Whole Foods, and I updated her on my progress.)

When I made contact with his little body with the paper towel, he flew away without hesitation, his wings flapping strongly, and flew across Central Park West to the park side!

I flailed with so much delight that I almost took flight as well, and clapped my hands, and said, “Good boy! Good boy! Good boy! Go! Go! Go!”, tearful and grinning like an absolute lunatic, gazing off into the part of the world where my little charge headed, relieved, elated, and filled with awe for his resilience and pluck.

I named him Thor in that moment, because it was a Thursday, he was a mighty warrior (even if he may have been a she), and he swung the hammer of his beautiful wings into the heavens like a tiny god.

Pillow Talk

I’m not a “No one’s going to see me; I’m just at home bingeing on Doris Day movies all weekend” kind o’ girl. If, knock wood/god forbid/etc., a fire breaks out in the building and I have to evacuate, I want to look cute when I’m out on the sidewalk, especially since I’m sure one of the firemen would be looking for a girlfriend while he’s doing his job and fall in love with me pronto because, “Wow,” he’d think, “dig those pajamas, and hey, she’s kinda cute too, especially because she offered to bolt back into the burning building to get me a nice glass of pink lemonade.”

Anyway, these darlings are from the ’60s and never worn. YET.

A dressing down

I’m so sick of the abundance of “athleisure” and people schlumping around the city like slobs. Where’s the fun in looking like you just rolled out of bed, literally, shuffling down the street in shoes that look like slippers because they probably are, pants that are probably pajamas, and an attitude to match.

I can’t imagine anyone, years from now, looking back at this shitshow, getting nostalgic for the non-existent style, panache, and elegance that, when I look at old photos, makes me ache for a time machine.

I refuse to devolve. Give me real shoes and clothes any day.

O, so proud

Super-proud of myself for not only not devouring the entire package (family size!) of “peanut butter pie” Oreos last night but limiting myself to four, which I ate slowly enough to actually taste rather than wolf down like a rabid hobo. At room temperature, they were too easy to deconstruct, though, meaning nibbling off one of the cookies, revealing the filling, then scraping a bit of that off with my front teeth, leaving the other cookie and some filling for the next step, so I placed the remainder in the freezer and am already daydreaming about my next round of “fourplay”. (Ew.)

Cereal thriller

A “gentle reminder” to myself to stop eating more than one serving of Kashi Go Lean daily, not only to keep down expenses but to eliminate the fallout from consuming too much bran in one day.  My cereal of choice used to be raisin bran (Trader Joe’s with clusters), but after I demonstrated an alarming inability to not devour the box in one sitting, I banished it from my home.  I don’t want Kashi Go Lean to suffer the same fate, so after two egregious episodes with it, I’m enforcing limits.  My wallet and my digestion system sigh with relief.

Auntie Mime

I want to become a mime just so I can be called “Auntie Mime”, learn how to do makeup to look like Rosalind Russell, and dress in stunningly fabulous ensembles, including silken tunics, turbans, kitten heels, and other extravagant accoutrements, flitting around a variety of gorgeously appointed rooms with elaborate curving staircases, waving around a cigarette holder sans regular disgusting cigarette but into which a chocolate or candy cigarette was inserted instead, acting out all sorts of outlandish reactions to what everyone else was saying. But then again, there’s the little matter of mimes being annoying as hell. Oh well.

One Year

One year ago today, five excruciatingly long days after my first biopsy, the radiologist called with the imaging results. “How are you doing today?” she said.

“Well, that depends,” I said, my heart already pounding like mad, “on what you tell me.”

So she told me. And my heart pounded even madder as she explained my diagnosis and told me the next steps to take, which I wrote on a piece of paper with all the lip-biting carefulness of a first grader trying to get an “A” on a spelling test. Immediately upon that call’s end, I initiated those steps.

Over the next three weeks, I had two biopsies and more imaging (I got to experience a charming variety of biopsies, each more delightful than the one before), and three weeks and one day after my first diagnosis, in the relative darkness of the radiologist’s office, she delivered more heart-pounding news, and I almost literally fell out of my chair.

At that moment, everything around me seemed to be outlined in black, like a cartoon, so vivid and sharp, even in the low light, and I felt simultaneously numb and like I could feel every atom making up my body.

They were waiting for me one floor down at the surgeon’s office. I asked countless times if they knew I was coming, if they knew why I was coming, if all I had to do was go down there and they’d know what to do. Each time I was assured yes, yes, and yes.

And then I took more steps, both in terms of procedures/appointments and in physical steps to and from them.

Thus commenced the worst year of my existence but also the best, because I’m here in a chair now with no signs of falling out of it.