Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer sweating

Central air conditioning does not come standard in most New York apartments - especially those pre-war walk ups like mine. What does come standard is night sweats, after-hair-drying heat exhaustion and cool drinks - lots of cool drinks. I tried to stay out of the apartment as much as possible - easy to do with so many summertime events in New York - and when all else failed, I'd escape the heat with a trip to the frozen tundra of the Apple store under the guise of learning more about my new Mac. I came across articles in the New York Times of city dwellers who decided to turn off their AC to save on energy costs, thus opting for alternative ways to keep cool - open windows, handmade fans, sitting outside in the park, bourbon laced ice chips. I was empowered with a "we're in this together" camaraderie and soldiered on through the incessant heat with thoughts of the money I was saving by not installing a window unit.

After sweating it out, er, toughing it out through several days of 100-degree June heat, I thought, "If I've made it this far, the rest of the summer should be a breeze..."

When July blazed in and there was no source of a breeze other than the 6-inch personal fan I held directly in front of my face as I lay sweating on my bed, I decided enough was enough. First thing in the morning I would call Bed Bath & Beyond where just days before I had defiantly walked by towering walls of boxed air conditioners strategically arranged at perfect taunting distance immediately inside the front door of the store, "Come here, little girl," they called from inside the cool, air-conditioned oasis, "don't you want to take us home?"
"Sure," I thought, "so you and Con Ed can take advantage of my pocketbook."
As fate would have it, instead of me making the call, the next morning my phone rang and the voice on the other end had an air conditioner query for me, "Hey, did you get an AC yet?"
"Um, no," I replied, still groggy with sleep.
"Well, do you want my old one? I'll clean it and bring it over whenever you're ready."

Thanks to my friendly neighbor Robby for a great deal on an AC, and bonus free delivery and installation! Now, if only Con Ed will be so kind!

My newest favorite spot in New York - sprawled on my bed in front of the cool-purring AC!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Some things never change

When my Crimsonette coach of five years came to New York last week for a dance clinic, I was excited to attend a few of the classes with her and catch up. In the five years since I twirled at Alabama, she has become a friend, and we have much more candid conversations and laughs than when I was a student and she was my mentor.

But as I lined up with all the other dancers (who were at least 10 years younger than me and, let's face it, actual dancers), my palms began to sweat. It wasn't that I cared what these hotshot kids thought of me and my creaky arms and legs - it was Marion. Was she watching me? What did she think of that jump? Are my arms moving at the correct angles? Am I staying on beat? I quickly realized the safety I had sought in the back corner to shield me from the gaze of the other dancers had put me right in Marion's line of sight. I felt like I was 19 again - wiping my palms on my shorts for a better grip, trying to kick higher, twirl faster and catch her attention with every toss of my baton. As my heart raced, I laughed that some things never change, but at least now I wasn't scared to grab Marion from the sidelines and make her dance beside me.

That was then: with Marion after Crimsonette tryouts when I made Captain in April 2000.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lightning Bug Flashes

In a city so bright with the lights of sky scrapers and flashing billboards, it's more than refreshing - a little startling, actually - to see a flicker of something much smaller and simpler, but glowing with memories from southern summer nights.

Drawn to the swarm of lightning bugs hovering over a patch of grass in Madison Square Park, my body stood there in the middle of the city, but my mind was living 20 years ago. A rush of memories of night time hide-and-go-seek with the neighbors while our parents gathered in the street to chat; whispers and "truth or dare" on our trampoline; running around bare foot in the dampening grass - so many memories and feelings, all come back so easily. Makes me wonder if the flashes of all the lightning bugs I've smiled into the dark at through the years were actually taking pictures for me, so looking into the flash again I can remember those daring, dark nights of youth.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Security Baton

My batons were among the many items Julie stragetically stuffed into my three suitcases for the move to New York City. I didn't have any reason in bringing them really; I had and still have no desire to be a spectacle by twirling in Central Park as so many people have suggested I do. I suppose I just wanted the batons to come along for the ride since they've been with me for most of my life anyway. And the thought did cross my mind that if couldn't find any new friends once I got to New York, at least I would have my trusty old batons - my grown-up security blankets.

Sadly, the main action they've seen over the last year is the inside of a closet; there was a trip back home for Alabama Homecoming, and a few struts around Jane's apartment to show off for guests. But that's a far cry from the starring role they played in years past when a baton might as well have been a permanent extension of my arm. In high school, Daddy yelled for me to "put the baton down!" when projects he asked me to do around the house were hindered by a baton in hand; I twirled so much in the kitchen that I finally mastered a very low two-turn - and never broke the big deck windows trying! In college, I usually had a baton in my hand while I studied in my dorm room, absently twirling it through my fingers.

Now that my twirling is limited to day dreams and memories, I have found a new use for the old gals...

Not only useful as a window prop, but when I go to sleep with my window open, I lay a baton on each side of me to deliver a swift whack in the face in the (unlikely) event someone tries to come in my window through the fire escape! The batons' new use may be far less glamorous than the twirling of the glory days, but they are certainly still the extension of my arm, my lifeline, my security batons!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bon Jovi

Nevermind arriving at the Great Lawn four hours before show time; nevermind the satisfaction of having a free ticket; nevermind the chatting and games to pass the time; nevermind the beautiful scenery of Central Park and Belvedere Castle; nevermind the "historical" significance of the New Jersey-born Bon Jovi playing the final shows of his tour in NYC; nevermind that I think Bon Jovi is way cuter now than in the 80s; nevermind that my zip-out-blanket was AGAIN the star of every picnic it goes to.

What I will remember most about the concert was the little boy next to us who knew every lyric to every song and had dance moves to match (the full-arm-circle air guitar was voted favorite).

And, if you're like me and haven't listened to Bon Jovi since the summer of '88 with a little Walkman on your neighbor's front porch, get out those old tapes, crank up the volume, close your eyes, and go back in time.

Richie Sambora and John Bon Jovi singing either "You Give Love a Bad Name" or "Blaze of Glory" or "I'll Be There for You" - who knows, they played all the old goodies!

Bon Jovi donned an array of shirts during the concert - different colors but all the same chest-bearing style.

Friday, July 11, 2008

NYC "Hinge"

Happening only twice each year, the sun aligns with the streets of New York so that light fills all the streets at the same time. I'm not sure that is the exact explanation of the "Hinge" sunset phenomenon, but it was noteworthy enough for mention on the NBC World News from New York, prompting my mother to call and tell me to go look at it. I can't vouch that all the streets were lit with the sunset at once, but I can say it was the most glorious sky I have seen in a long time!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Guess the Celebrity

Let's play "Guess the Celebrity"! Who is this star with a scratchy voice as recognizable as her face?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sailing Party Rules

Sailing Party Rules learned onboard the 150-foot schooner sailboat, Eleonora:

  • If you own the boat, you're exempt from the "No Shoes On Deck" rule.

  • The scenery can be as great as the sailing.

  • Exercise extreme caution while accepting champagne refills if you are standing less than a foot from the edge.

  • If you choose to wear a hat, beware of quick summertime winds.

  • Unless there is cute boat crew to rescue it!

  • Get a tour of the boat from the designer himself.

  • Don't let your shoes be the cutest part of your outfit.

  • If the boat is a-rockin', you better start a-dockin'!

Monday, July 7, 2008


For you, Heather!  I know, I know, their faces are blurry, but they were headed to a fire.  Just so you know, the guy above the 7 was waving!  
Will add more soon! ;)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

And it all comes crashing down

How does a leisurely Saturday afternoon of lounging on the couch with a magazine turn into a my-life-flashed-before-my-eyes moment and end with firemen in full fire-fighting regalia crowding into your tiny apartment?

By having a non-English-speaking super and an "I could care less" landlord handle the repairs on a leaking ceiling, that's how!

As the freshly repaired ceiling literally crashed all around me, Emily rushed from her room to see me curled screaming on the couch. We didn't know what to do other than stand in the rubble, and tremble, and laugh, and shake sheet rock out of my shorts, and take pictures - of course.

By the time we summoned our fireman friends from the station next door, my camera battery was completely dead, making me unable to capture the most humorous image of them all - Jose the Super's eyes as wide as saucers as the intimidating firemen so numerous in number they spilled into the hallway, informed us, "Ladies, if this is not fixed right and fast, you come over and get us."

Oh, we will, you hunka-hunka burnin love, we will!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Finally! Fireworks on the Fourth

Last year my hopes for a great first NYC 4th of July were about as high as the fireworks I dreamed of seeing explode over my beloved city. Having only lived here for a month, I would have been satisfied to watch the fireworks festivities by myself - just find me a good spot and a radio tuned to the patriotic music - but I was quite relieved to have been invited to a barbeque (something to do, with people!) Before accepting the invitation, I did inquire as to the location and if, indeed, it was a desirable vantage point for fireworks. All worries assuaged, I sat back and relaxed until the big day arrived...and it arrived with thick gray skies and a stormy forecast. And then a mid-day call - the barbeque was cancelled, bad weather to blame.

As the rain teetered from pour to drizzle back to pour, I watched with a glum face as all my fun and fireworks washed down the streets and into the gutters. As the 9 PM fireworks show approached, Jane, Cameron and I zipped up rain jackets, tightened our hoods and grabbed umbrellas, and we walked down the block to the East River and joined many others who had gathered to salvage a bit of the 4th of July spirit. Our spot was decent, and as we watched the first firework soar into the air and explode in a glow of color, our "oohs" and "aahs" quickly changed to "boos" and "hoos"...the rest of the fireworks show was completely covered with a huge cloud of smoke hanging low in the air! We did celebrate small victories of seeing colors peak here and there from the edges of the cloud, and we even found the humor in the situation as we wiped rain streaming down our faces. But hearing the loud claps and booms of the fireworks exploding and knowing there was such fabulousness on the other side of that cloud finally sent us back inside the apartment to watch the final minutes of the live national telecast. Inside, we were dry and we could see all the colors, but in hindsight, I love the memories of standing out on the street with all the other disappointed New Yorkers.

But this year the saddness of rain and clouds was gone (admitted, not forgotten) because I had a ticket to the Macy's Fireworks Spectacular! Televised on NBC! Serving free food and drinks! That ticket practically guar-an-teed a perfect spot to see fireworks bursting over the city! Though July 4th again taunted me with overcast skies and sprinkles, the weather did not blanket my spirits as I put together a red-white-and-blue outfit and headed to Brooklyn to enjoy the festivities.

As the show began, the rain peppered down, and the flop of last year threatened my thoughts, but this time, my eyes sparkled with the flashes of fireworks overhead!

Thanks to Macy's "star" employee - my roommate Emily - for winning tickets to the show!

How patriotically fantastically fun is our Uncle Sam?!

One of the many Founding Father heads bobbing around - George Washington tried to chop my neck with that axe! (Macy's used these in the Thanksgiving Day Parade - one of the only things I could see at the parade other than the balloons!)

"You Are Being Photographed" - I think we all know I have no problem with this information!

Even with the clouds and dreary sky, the city looked beautiful as it twinkled to life. See the Empire State Building's red, white and blue lights?

Overwhelmed with 30 minutes of constant fireworks from the three barges along the East River.

"Ooh! Ahh!" The glitter fireworks are always my favorite! And notice the television camera at the bottom (not bad if the only thing blocking the view is the camera broadcasting the event to the country!)

Katharine McPhee, Tiki Barber, Natalie Morales, and Gavin DeGraw - hosts and performers - signing off from the NBC telecast.

Following Emily's daredevil example, I joined her on the stage acting like we were supposed to be there, and I walked right up to Tiki and asked for a picture!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Gratitude for the Ordinary

I found it a little too ironic to be reading an article emailed from Katherine entitled "Gratitude" (about being grateful for the things that don't happen), while the bathroom and kitchen ceilings of my apartment bulged with water from a leak two floors above.  As I ran for more pots to catch the now spewing streams of water, I thought, "Am I supposed to be grateful that there is not a wild animal chasing me around the apartment right now, too??" Or should I just be remembering a happier time - like the 90 other days I've lived here - when there was no leak? 

The article illustrated this type of gratitude with the idea of "Being Grateful for Not Losing Your Wallet." It read: "When I was in college, a friend told me about what he called the 'lost wallet syndrome.' If you lose your wallet, you think, 'If only I would find my wallet, how happy I would be!' You’re overwhelmed at the thought of all the unpleasant consequences of losing your wallet, and to find it, in the wrong pocket of your backpack or slipped behind the sofa, sounds like bliss.

But then you find your wallet, and five minutes later – you’re right back to your usual state. This syndrome applies to medical tests that come back 'normal,' to near-misses on the highway, to trips to the grocery store when a child wanders away unnoticed, to be discovered in the next different aisle."

As I read, I laughed with ashamed agreement, for I have been stricken with this syndrome more times than I'd like to admit.  I knew as I dodged new drips from the ceiling that just as soon as this ordeal was over, I would be on my merry way, nary another thought of, "Gee, I'm so glad there's no leak today!"And without a doubt I would not think of new things to be grateful for not happening, like "Isn't it great that the toilet is not clogged?" or "I'm so happy we do not have loud neighbors."  

I'll fault my in-gratitude to the claim that maybe I'm just too optimistic to dream up all the horrible things that COULD be happening but are not; therefore, making me incapable of being grateful for all the things that don't happen.  But how much happier I would be if I could make myself aware of all the toast that does not burn, all the wallets that are quickly found, all the dogs that do not bark, and all the ceilings that do not leak.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mother's Day Blooms

An email and picture forwarded to me from my mother, sent by a life-long family friend, Teresa Newton, about my Grandma Maudie who passed away earlier this year at the age of 103, who always had a green thumb:

I just had to tell you this. When Arvie first went into the nursing home, Maudie would ride up with me each morning as I went to work. One day, she got in the car and had some pieces of a "mother's day" cactus that she had broken off her plant. She told me to just stick them in dirt and they would root. They did--and they grew and grew and bloomed every year. Then one year, it didn't bloom. The next winter, I was using an unvented gas heater and all of my cacti were dying, so I brought them to the office. Each year at Thanksgiving and Christmas I had blooms. But not my mother's day cactus--it never bloomed again. Periodically, I would threaten it with going on the garbage heap if it didn't bloom. That didn't work either. This week, I went in to my office one day, and guess what: Blooms! It's way past mother's day, but there are blooms. Maybe your Momma is working her flower magic from up above!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It's so hot

Window washers dangling from a building on West Houston Street.

It's so hot that today while I stood waiting to cross the street, a bird flew by my leg, and I actually felt a breeze from its flapping wings...and I wished a hundred more would come carrying little pails of water to splash on me!